President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Tom Nee, President of the National Association of Police Organizations, and Attorney General Eric Holder, in the Oval Office before speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House at an event honoring the National Association of Police Organization's Top Cops. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Tom Nee, President of the National Association of Police Organizations, and Attorney General Eric Holder, in the Oval Office before speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House at an event honoring the National Association of Police Organization’s Top Cops. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Although incarceration has a role to play in our justice system, widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable,” Mr. Holder’s speech says. “It imposes a significant economic burden “” totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone “” and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.” – Justice Dept. Seeks to Curtail Stiff Drug Sentences [New York Times]

IN A SPEECH at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco on Monday on justice and the damage of stiff drug mandatory minimum sentences, Attorney General Eric Holder will make a historic announcement on drug policy from the Obama administration.

Mr. Holder’s speech on Monday deplores the moral impact of the United States’ high incarceration rate: although it has only 5 percent of the world’s population, it has 25 percent of its prisoners, he notes. But he also attempts to pre-empt political controversy by painting his effort as following the lead of prison reform efforts in primarily conservative-led Southern states.

Under a policy memorandum being sent to all United States attorney offices on Monday, according to an administration official, prosecutors will be told that they may not write the specific quantity of drugs when drafting indictments for drug defendants who meet the following four criteria: their conduct did not involve violence, the use of a weapon or sales to minors; they are not leaders of a criminal organization; they have no significant ties to large-scale gangs or cartels; and they have no significant criminal history.

For example, in the case of a defendant accused of conspiring to sell five kilograms of cocaine “” an amount that would set off a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence “” the prosecutor would write that “the defendant conspired to distribute cocaine” without saying how much. The quantity would still factor in when prosecutors and judges consult sentencing guidelines, but depending on the circumstances, the result could be a sentence of less than the 10 years called for by the mandatory minimum law, the official said.

HALLELUJAH. Can I get an amen?

Now, if only the Obama administration would back off on marijuana seizures and arrests, especially for small quantities, as well as medical marijuana facilities.

The war on drugs is one of the worst U.S. policies ever concocted.