Press Release

Attorney General Eric Holder to Resign

AG Holder Made Unprecedented Efforts to Address Mass Incarceration and Failed Drug War

DPA Calls On President Obama to Appoint Replacement Who Will Follow Through on Crucial Criminal Justice Reforms

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Tony Newman, 646-335-5384&nbsp;</div>
Bill Piper, 202-669-6430</div>
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that he will be resigning from office once a replacement is found. Drug policy and criminal justice reform advocates expressed disappointment he is leaving office, praising his leadership and calling on President Obama to nominate a replacement who will carry on Holder’s reform work.
"Holder will go down in history as the Attorney General who began unwinding the war on drugs and steering our country away from mass incarceration,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “President Obama should replace him with someone who is going to carry on that legacy of reform."
"I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder for working to help improve sentencing laws that have broken our criminal justice system and led to the mass incarceration of many low-level nonviolent drug offenders," said Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance, who served 12 years under New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s accomplishments include:
  • Calling on policymakers at all levels to find ways to reduce the number of people behind bars.
  • Supporting efforts in Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission to reduce punitive sentencing. 
  • Supporting policies that made the sentences of thousands of prisoners shorter and fairer.
  • Changing how the Justice Department charges people to reduce the application of draconian mandatory minimum sentencing.
  • Establishing guidance allowing states to legalize and regulate marijuana with less federal interference.
  • Establishing guidance to make it easier for banks to deal with state-legalized marijuana businesses.
  • Promoting efforts to re-integrate formerly incarcerated individuals into society and eliminate barriers to successful re-entry.
  • Working to end the “school-to-prison pipeline”, including working with the Departments of Education to scale back "zero tolerance" school discipline policies. 
  • Advocating for the restoration of voting rights for the formerly incarcerated.
  • Urging federal law enforcement agencies to identify, train and equip personnel who may interact with a victim of a heroin overdose with the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.
Late last year, Attorney General Eric Holder offered a forceful critique  of U.S. mass incarceration policies, at a meeting of the hemisphere's security ministers in Medellín, Colombia: 
"The path we are currently on is far from sustainable," said Holder. "As we speak, roughly one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars. Although the United States comprises just five percent of the world's population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. While few would dispute the fact that incarceration has a role to play in any comprehensive public safety strategy, it's become evident that such widespread incarceration is both inadvisable and unsustainable. It requires that we routinely spend billions of dollars on prison construction -- and tens of billions more, on an annual basis, to house those who are convicted of crimes. It carries both human and moral costs that are too much to bear. And it results in far too many Americans serving too much time in too many prisons -- and beyond the point of serving any good law enforcement reason."
"From rolling back punitive sentencing laws to letting sensible marijuana policies move forward, Attorney General Holder moved the U.S. away from the failed policies of the past,” said Piper. “Now is the time for President Obama to double-down on these reforms by replacing him with someone who will be as bold or bolder."