Pubdate: Sat, 24 Aug 2013
Source: Anniston Star (AL)
Copyright: 2013 Consolidated Publishing
Author: Brian Gilmore
Note: Brian Gilmore is a writer for Progressive Media Project.


At last, we can celebrate a couple of breakthroughs in the quest for 
equal justice in America.

When Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Aug. 12 that he was 
instructing federal prosecutors to no longer seek mandatory minimum 
sentences in some nonviolent drug offense cases, it marked a huge step forward.

"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for 
no truly good law enforcement reason," Holder told the American Bar 
Association in San Francisco.

Holder's announcement is really about the failure of the so-called 
War on Drugs. Since the 1970s, it has needlessly destroyed many lives 
and ravished whole communities. The federal prison population alone 
has expanded by 500 percent, according to the Sentencing Project. The 
overall prison population now exceeds 1.5 million.

Despite ridiculously long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, 
illegal drugs can be found everywhere and anywhere in the United 
States. Holder also noted that mandatory minimum sentencing policies 
are racially discriminatory. Most of the individuals who keep going 
to jail under these sentences are black or Latino, despite the fact 
that whites consume illegal drugs on par with blacks and Latinos.

Equal justice also scored a huge victory when U.S. District Judge 
Shira Scheindlin recently ruled against the city's long-standing 
"stop and frisk" law. Calling the policy "indirect racial profiling," 
Scheindlin said it was used almost exclusively against blacks and 
Latinos, violating their Fifth and 14th Amendment rights to due 
process and equal protection.

Attorney General Holder and Judge Scheindlin moved us two steps 
closer to equal justice in America. We should be grateful to them for that.
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