US plans lower sentences for drug users
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - The United States has announced plans to reduce its use of mandatory sentences for drug offences in order to tackle a cycle of poverty and incarceration in overcrowded jails.
In remarks to the American Bar Association, Attorney General Eric Holder called minimum jail terms "counterproductive" while noting the need to stay strict but be smarter about tackling crime.
And he warned that, while the total US population has increased by about a third since 1980, the prison population has soared by 800 per cent.
The United States accounts for five per cent of the world population but nearly a quarter of all people imprisoned, he said.