13 Aug 2013

Lower sentences mooted for some drug offences in US

10:08 am on 13 August 2013

US Attorney General Eric Holder says America's prison policy is failing and has announced a reduction in the use of mandatory sentencing for some drug offences.

Mr Holder said certain low-level drug offenders with no ties to organised crime will no longer face mandatory minimum sentences.

''We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate - not merely to convict, warehouse and forget," Mr Holder said in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco on Monday.

He advocated sending people convicted of low-level offences to drug treatment and community service programmes instead of prison.

The BBC reports the United States has one of the world's biggest prison populations. Some 47% of prison inmates have been incarcerated for drug offences, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.