It seems Democrats and Republicans have finally found something they can agree on: We’re losing the war on drugs.

Mandatory minimum prison sentences instituted in the 1980s have led to severely crowded jails, with federal prisons operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity, according to Associated Press reports. Those prisons are holding more than 219,000 inmates ”“ with almost half of them serving time for drug-related crimes and many of them with substance use disorders, the AP reports.

Attorney General Eric Holder has cited reports showing the prison population has grown 800 percent since 1980, and that black men receive longer sentences than whites.

Incarcerating people, particularly for longer than they may deserve, costs us a lot of money as federal taxpayers. It also reaps a societal cost as people are pulled out of their lives, away from their families and their jobs, and often have trouble integrating back into daily life.

Earlier this week, Holder announced his new approach to this problem, dubbed the “Smart On Crime” initiative, in which he has told the 94 U.S. attorneys under his direction to stop charging non-violent drug offenders with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences. His plan would instead send such offenders to drug treatment and community service programs, according to    press reports.

This approach is similar to what’s being done in many states, and it’s a long time coming. Drug abuse often leads to violent crime, and must be addressed, but our prison systems should not be clogged with people whose only real crime is being in need of substance abuse treatment. Holder’s new approach would still severely penalize those who have ties to drug cartels, dealers and gangs, but would not require low-level offenders to be charged similarly.

Along this vein, the AP reports that Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have introduced legislation that would also help, by giving federal judges the authority to decide on mandatory minimums for drug offenders.

According to Holder’s statements, 17 states have already begun funding less prison construction and more programs for treatment and supervision. This new approach should help rehabilitate people and reduce recidivism rather than letting them wallow in punishment for drug use with no guidance on how to overcome their addictions.

Holder’s proposal is a step in the right direction ”“ not only for substance abusers and their communities, but for all of us who pay for bigger prisons in which to lock them up without fixing the real issue at hand.