Baker Institute expert available to comment on drug-sentencing reform


Jeff Falk

Baker Institute expert available to comment on drug-sentencing reform
Jones: These new policies will increase government coffers without reducing safety

HOUSTON – (Aug. 12, 2013) – In a speech at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said federal prosecutors will no longer seek mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders as part of a broad new effort to focus on violent crimes and national security while reducing the nation’s enormous prison population.


Nathan Jones, the Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and an expert on drug violence, is available to comment on the near- and long-term implications of this development, both nationally and in Texas.

“Holder should be applauded for his speech to the American Bar Association calling for a reduction of federal mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases,” Jones said. “The policy will be achieved by directing prosecutors to omit the amounts of drugs in their indictments when the defendant is charged with a nonviolent drug offense that is unconnected to organized crime. Omitting the amount avoids triggering mandatory minimum sentences. The policies also expand compassionate release programs, leave more drug cases under the purview of the states and increase drug-treatment programs for nonviolent offenders in lieu of incarceration.

Jones said incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders is a waste of taxpayers’ money. “These new policies will increase government coffers without reducing safety,” he said. “They are also morally just. Harsh drug sentencing disproportionately harms minorities. According to a June report from the American Civil Liberties Union, blacks and whites use marijuana at comparable rates, but blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested.”

The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Jones. For more information, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.


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Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.