Minnesota prosecutors on board with federal call to revise war on drugs

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Minnesota attorneys sound generally supportive of a call by the nation's top prosecutor to reassess the country's fight against drug crimes.

Attorney General Eric Holder said this week that too many prison cells are occupied by low-level drug users service long sentences.

The Associated Press reports Minnesota is already practicing what Holder's preaching. A corrections official says most low-level drug offenders get jail stints and probation, while only the more serious criminals are targeted for prison terms.

That's one reason Minnesota has an incarceration rate that's second lowest among the states, according to data compiled by an advocacy group called The Sentencing Project.

An official with the Minneapolis-based Council on Crime and Justice tells MPR the flipside of the low incarceration rate is the long terms of probation that Minnesota hands out. Mark Haase says - on balance - the state has some of the harshest drug sentences in the country.

Holder announced in a speech in San Francisco this week that the Justice Department will no longer seek mandatory prison sentences for low-level drug offenses, saying the incarceration has been ineffective.

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