Washington, DC - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder - who testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission last month in support of a proposal to reduce the federal sentencing guidelines for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders - released the following statement Thursday in response to the Commission voting to formally adopt those changes:

“This action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission represents a milestone in our effort to reshape the criminal justice system’s approach to dealing with drug offenders. This reduction in the federal sentencing guidelines, while modest, sends a strong message about the need to reserve the harshest penalties for the most serious criminals. At a time when prison and detention costs consume nearly a third of the Justice Department’s budget, it simply makes sense to explore alternatives to incarceration and renew our emphasis on treatment and prevention.

“It is now time for Congress to pick up the baton and advance legislation that would take further steps to reduce our overburdened prison system. Proposals like the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act would enhance the fairness of our criminal justice system while empowering law enforcement to focus limited resources on the most serious threats to public safety. I look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on these types of common-sense reforms.”