Retrieving The Jailer's Keys

Attorney General Reno launches a review of mandatory drug sentences

WITH VICTORY IN THE WAR ON DRUGS NOWHERE IN sight and prison populations bulging, the 1980s' lock-'em-up approach to drug crimes has come under increasing attack. Now Attorney General Janet Reno says she too wants to reconsider the harsh mandatory sentences legislated by drug-war hawks during the Reagan-Bush era. Reno announced a sweeping review of federal drug- punishment policies to determine if packing prisons with small-time offenders -- say, sentencing a 19-year-old courier to five years for transporting as little as five grams of crack -- makes sense or justice.

Critics have long complained that mandatory minimums hurt the young, the...

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