The Justice Department will avoid charging certain low-level and nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that carry mandatory minimums, Attorney General Eric Holder will announce Monday. The policy shift will allow certain defendants -- those without ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels -- to avoid what Holder called "draconian mandatory minimum sentences."
Holder, in a speech before the American Bar Association in San Francisco on Monday, will also announce that the Justice Department is giving U.S. Attorneys throughout the country a greater amount of prosecutorial discretion. "Some issues are best handled at the state or local level," Holder will say, according to prepared remarks provided by the Justice Department. "And that’s why I have directed the United States Attorney community to develop specific, locally-tailored guidelines – consistent with our national priorities – for determining when federal charges should be filed, and when they should not."
The "Smart On Crime" plan that Holder is announcing intends to lower the overall federal prison population. As part of that measure, Holder will announce, elderly prisoners who committed no violent crimes and served a significant portion of their sentences may be eligible for early release.