Taking another step back from the failed war on drugs, the Obama administration has ordered prosecutors to refile charges against defendants in pending drug cases and strip out any references to quantities that may trigger mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

The new policy applies to defendants who meet four criteria: their offense did not involve violence, the use of a weapon, or selling drugs to minors; they are not leaders of a criminal organization; they have no significant ties to large-scale gangs or drug trafficking organizations; and they have no significant criminal histories.

Guess the Basciano boys caught a break. Well, at least two out of the three did.

“By reserving the most severe prison terms for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers or kingpins, we can better enhance public safety,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. during a speech before the annual conference of the Congressional Black Caucus. “We can increase our focus on proven strategies for deterrence and rehabilitation. And we can do so while making our expenditures smarter and more productive.”

The Justice Department policy follows efforts by individual states to control the soaring cost of incarcerating huge numbers of nonviolent offenders. The difference is that the state changes needed to be approved by state legislatures; the Obama administration is moving without waiting to see whether Congress will approve the legislation.