Eric Holder : Wanted Return of Mandatory Minimums and Tougher Pot Penalties
As U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Eric Holder sought to raise marijuana penalties and restore mandatory minimum penalties for drug crimes. From the Washington Times, December 5, 1996 (via Lexis.com):
Eric Holder yesterday said he will seek to make marijuana distribution in the District a felony and reinstate mandatory-minimum sentences for convicted drug dealers. Mr. Holder,...said the D.C. Council's vote a year ago to repeal mandatory minimums was "misguided," leading to a backlog in the court system. He also warned that the city is on the verge of an explosion in violence associated with the sale and use of marijuana.
"The truth of the matter is that marijuana is a significant problem for the city," said Mr. Holder in an interview. "Crack cocaine still drives most of the violence in this city, but marijuana violence is increasing. We need to nip it in the bud."
His proposals have two thrusts: The first involves setting minimum sentences of 18 months for first-time convicted drug dealers, 36 months for the second time and 72 months for every conviction thereafter.
Mr. Holder would also make the penalty for distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana a felony, punishable with up to a five-year sentence. Currently, the crime is a misdemeanor, regardless of the quantity of the marijuana or if the buyer is a child, Mr. Holder said.
The Washington Post, 7/12/2000 (Via Lexis.com):
The D.C. Council voted yesterday to toughen the maximum penalties for the distribution of marijuana, making it a felony subject to a five-year prison term rather than a one-year misdemeanor....Eric H. Holder Jr. began pushing for tougher marijuana penalties in the District in 1996, when he was the U.S. attorney.
Eric Holder in his March 20000 weekly briefing as Deputy AG on the need to target drug users:
(available on Lexis.com):
....[T]he violence that we saw in the early '90s, the late '80s was fueled by the rise in sale of crack cocaine and the violence that was connected to it.
In Washington, D.C., where I was the U.S. attorney, we attributed about one-half of all the homicides to the drug trade, and I don't think that's atypical. I think that's probably a pretty consistent figure that you'd see around the country. So if we deal effectively with the drug problem and the sale of drugs, the use of drugs, we'll also have a positive impact on the violence problem.
QUESTION: The sale and use of drugs in the United States, where is it? Is it holding even, is it going up slightly, has it been decreased? What's the status? I ask you to draw from yesterday's report.
HOLDER: Well, I mean, I think that, you know, we've made some major inroads in the drug problem but we don't have -- I mean, if you think back there was a Time magazine article I remember on -- a cover story on cocaine and -- this was sometime back in the late '80s -- and at that point, I remember reading the article and the article seemed to indicate that, you know, it was drug[s] being used by the middle class and that there were not many consequences for that use. We obviously know that that is not true now.
We really have to concentrate on the hard-core drug users that continue to use drugs, continue to have negative impacts on the communities in which they live, and so we have to redouble our efforts I think in that regard.
QUESTION: Is consumption (OFF-MIKE)?
HOLDER: You know, I don't -- I think, as opposed to the late -- I don't -- it depends on the time frame. Certainly, I think, as opposed to the late '80s and the early '90s, I think consumption is down. But that's only one of the measures as to whether or not we're getting a handle on the drug problem.
|< Ignore Him | Cheney, Gonzales Indicted >|