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Holder's Drug Sentencing Switch Follows Minnesota Policy

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MANKATO, Minn. -

Attorney General Eric Holder's announced on Monday that the Justice department would ease up on mandatory minimum drug sentences.
 
And court authorities here in our area say that's perfectly in line with what the Minnesota court system has been doing for years. 
 
The only prominent criticism toward Eric Holder's announcement this week was the fact that he's actually behind the times.

Plenty of states, including Minnesota, have already been making the effort to keep nonviolent drug offenders out of prison, instead placing them into the drug court program.
 
Addiction Expert Mike McGinnis says, "We have people that are nonviolent being equated with high-level rape and murder, violent crime as a whole - all occupying our over-crowded prisons. They're a poor response. This group does better in long-term supervision, like drug courts."

The benefits for addicts make up the brunt of the argument for avoiding prison time.

But the financial impact may be even greater.

McGinnis says, "If you take a look at what substance abuse as a whole costs this country, the cost of putting someone in prison is exorbitant. Treatment costs less than 1% in the nation as a whole.

Whenever you look at the prison costs - the lodging, food, everything that comes along with that - the cost to the country is extraordinary."

The success of the drug court program may just have gone national.