ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The U.S. Justice Department has issued a new policy calling for shorter prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

In St. Louis, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan says he agrees with it.

“The object of the criminal justice system is to do justice, not to be the most severe, and to give an individual too much time is just as much of an injustice as to give somebody too little time,” he said Monday.

Callahan says his office will continue to focus on giving maximum sentences to those with violent criminal histories and let the state and local courts deal with the lesser drug offenders.

“We’re trying to attack the more large-scale drug operations and individuals that have drug connections to Mexico and South America,” he added.

For the average drug user, Callahan says, a “lock ’em all up and throw away the key” approach doesn’t work.

“The prison population has grown exponentially over the last ten to fifteen years,” he said. “The War on Drugs is 35 years old and trying to measure the progress of it, there isn’t much to measure.”

Meanwhile, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was asked about the policy change Monday at a press conference in Kirkwood. He says Missouri has and will continue to push for non-violent drug offenders to get treatment.

“We’re one of the states that began, a number of years ago, the drug court program and have seen an enhancement of that,” he said. “We called, in a bipartisan way, for the Pew Charitable Trust to do a study for our state to look at ways we could ensure the penalty fit the crime.”


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