The Justice Department is asking for changes to sentencing guidelines that would provide reduced or alternative sentences for less serious drug crimes, USA Today reports. The proposal would not lessen penalties for violent and repeat drug offenses.
Jonathan Wroblewski, Director of the Justice Department’s policy and legislation office, made the requests in an annual report sent to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets sentencing policies for the federal courts. The Sentencing Commission reviews the policies annually, and considers whether to amend them.
“Violent crime in the United States is now near generational lows,” Wroblewski wrote. “At the same time, the U.S. prison population exploded and overall criminal justice spending with it.”
Many states have already implemented the types of changes recommended by the Justice Department, in reaction to prison overcrowding and budget cuts. They have implemented shorter sentences for non-violent offenders, and increased efforts to prevent repeat offenses.
“These changes have no doubt sprung in part out of budgetary necessity,” Wroblewski stated. “But they have also come from a growing understanding of new research into what works among various approaches to sentencing and corrections.”