During a speech to the American Bar Association earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder called for major changes to the country's criminal justice system, starting with a reexamination of what Holder referred to as the "so-called" war on drugs.
Holder is asking federal prosecutors not to pursue charges that come with mandatory minimum sentences in low-level drug offense cases where there is no connection to large-scale criminal activity.
"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law enforcement reason," Holder said.
The other major changes are the expansion of a policy that allows for release of "inmates facing extraordinary or compelling circumstances - and who pose no threat to the public," and an increase in the use of drug treatment and community programs that can be effective alternatives to prison time.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOLDER'S SPEECH:
• AG's call for drug war reform draws mixed comments in Minn.
MPR News reporter Mark Zdechlik gathered reaction to Holder's speech from Minnesota prosecutors.
• Eric Holder's urgent sense of justice
"Civil libertarians may chuckle (or gasp) at the idea of Holder as a rights torch-bearer...Yet, it's Holder whose tenure will reach farthest into the everyday lives of black Americans," wrote Ana Marie Cox in The Guardian.