Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thousands to be Released from Federal Prison

The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is:
... set to release about 6,000 inmates early from prison — the largest ever one-time release of federal prisoners — in an effort to reduce overcrowding and provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past three decades. 
The early release follow the U.S. Sentencing Commission's unanimous decision to reduce "the potential punishment for future drug offenders." It then made that change "retroactive." The Post also reports that, "eventually," as many as "46,000 of the nation’s approximately 100,000 drug offenders in federal prison" could qualify for "early release."

On average, those who will be released will have served 8 1/2 years (instead of 10 1/2) and each inmate "must petition a judge who decides whether to grant the sentencing reduction." The Post notes judges nationwide "are granting about 70 sentence reductions per week." Justice Department officials say "about one-third of the inmates who will be released in a few weeks are foreign citizens who will be quickly deported."
Federal prison costs represent about one-third of the Justice Department’s $27 billion budget. The U.S. population has grown by about a third since 1980, but the federal prison population has increased by about 800 percent and federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent over capacity, 
A group of senators has also recently introduced a "criminal justice reform bill" that would "shorten the length of mandatory-minimum drug sentences" and apply the reduction retroactively. See story here.

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