AG Eric Holder testifies about crack cocaine sentencing

(Photo: Department of Justice)

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says some prisoners incarcerated for crack cocaine offenses should get a benefit from a new law that lowered crack sentences.

Holder testified Wednesday before the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which oversees federal sentencing guidelines. The commission is considering making a change that would reduce the sentence of some inmates previously incarcerated on crack offenses by an average of three years. The change could bring an earlier release for as many as 1 in every 18 federal prisoners, or approximately 12,000 inmates.

Holder told the commission that he supported the earlier release dates. But he said prisoners who used weapons in committing their crimes or who have significant criminal histories should be prohibited from getting reduced sentences.