The Norman Transcript

August 14, 2013

Changes long overdue

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Attorney General Eric Holder’s call for changes in federal prosecution of low-level drug offenses will take a beating frome some corners, but it’s long overdue.

Mr. Holder told the American Bar Association he will encourage federal prosecutors to divert low-level offenders to drug treatment and community service rather than face lengthy minimum sentences in federal prisons.

“We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget,” Mr. Holder told attorneys meeting in San Francisco this week.

There are about 25,000 drug convictions in federal court each year. Just under half of them are for low-level offenses such as street level dealers and couriers. Simple possession cases are rarely filed in federal court.