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Pelosi Statement on Reforms to Sentencing and Mandatory Minimums

San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after Attorney General Eric Holder outlined critical reforms to the criminal justice system and announced that federal prosecutors will take steps to prevent the application of mandatory minimum sentences to certain low-level drug offenders:

“Today’s announcement marks a critical step forward in our nation’s ongoing efforts to reform our criminal justice system.  The Obama Administration’s strong leadership on this challenge recognizes that the status quo – in our prisons, in our courts, at the local, state, and federal levels – is unjust, unsound, and unsustainable.  The bold, comprehensive strategy outlined by the Attorney General offers an effective approach to reducing prison populations and fighting the drug epidemic across the country.

“The steps unveiled today focus on stemming the tide of widespread incarceration by seeking appropriate sentences for non-violent drug offenders and supporting diversion programs as alternatives to incarceration.  These welcome initiatives also address the unnecessary use of mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses that simply overcrowds our prisons and extracts enormous costs to our society.

“Throughout my career in Congress, I have strongly opposed mandatory minimums, and I was proud to lead the Democratic Congress in enacting essential legislation to reduce disparities in cocaine sentencing in 2010; in addition, I have long supported alternatives such as drug courts and outreach programs to veterans that stress prevention and treatment.  I commend the President and the Attorney General for their leadership in this cause, and look forward to working on legislative efforts to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences once and for all.  Working together, we must build on today’s progress and establish a criminal justice system consistent with our values, with our highest ideals, with the best interests of the American people.”