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In an effort to tackle discrimination, racism and the war on drugs, Attorney General Eric Holder is making a move to shorten sentences in federal drug cases, a Justice Department official said.

The plan would cut prison terms for many drug convicts by an average of nearly a year.

Holder plans to announce his endorsement of the new development on Thursday at a meeting of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. That panel recommended the change in January. According to Politico:

That change would affect suggested sentences for about 70% of federal drug trafficking convicts. Those with moderate amounts of drugs would see reductions, while those involved with small or large quantities would not benefit, an official said.

The change won’t be voted on by the commission until at least April, but the official said that in the meantime Holder will instruct federal prosecutors not to oppose defense motions seeking sentences in the proposed, lower ranges. Under the proposal, the average federal sentence for drug trafficking would drop from 62 months to 51 months, the official added.

Holder’s endorsement is part of the Obama Administration’s “Smart on Crime” initiative — an initiative that seeks to reduce the burgeoning federal prison population and associated costs, while preserving public safety.

The change will cut the Bureau of Prisons inmate count by approximately 6,550 at the end of five years.

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” Holder said last year.

When new sentencing guidelines are approved, prisoners already sentenced can apply to a judge to be re-sentenced, according to Politico.

Read more about Holder’s endorsement here.

SOURCE: Politico | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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