US panel votes to reduce drug-dealing sentences

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Sentencing Commission has voted to reduce the length of federal prison sentences for most drug dealers.

The commission says it estimates that the changes approved Thursday would affect roughly 70 percent of federal drug trafficking defendants and would reduce by 11 months the average length of sentence for drug offenders.

The commission believes the change, which would reduce the sentencing guideline levels across drug types, would cut the federal prison population by more than 6,500 over five years.

Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed the proposal at a meeting of the commission last month.

In a statement Thursday, he called the commission's action a "milestone" but said Congress needed to do more to ease the "overburdened prison system."

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