(AURN) -- Just days after Attorney General Eric Holder announced major changes to the way the DOJ handles low level drug crimes, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to address concerns with mandatory minimum prison penalties.
On Thursday, the sentencing commission set as its top priority working with Congress to change federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.
The panel wants Congress to reduce the severity and scope of mandatory minimum penalties and consider expanding a law that exempts certain low-level nonviolent offenders from mandatory minimum prison terms.
First-time offenders can face a sentence of 19-24 years for possession of high quantities of heroin or crack. The laws have resulted in a disprortionate number of minorities being incarcerated.
Photo (top): The US Sentencing Commission during a day long public hearing on sentencing disparities in Washington, D.C. (uscourts.gov)
Photo (right): Crack cocaine (DEA)