6,000 Prisoners Set For Early Prison Release by the Justice Department

In an effort to reduce overcrowding and provide relief for drug offenders who received harsh sentences the Justice Department announced it will release 6,000 federal inmates early from prison between October 3 and November 2.  

Most will be sent to halfway houses and home confinement before being put on supervised release, according to a recent article by the Washington Post.  About one-third of those released are foreign citizens who will be deported, said Justice Bureau of Prison officials.

Last year, the United States Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal crimes, reduced the potential punishment for future drug offenders.  The commission then made the Guideline changes retroactive.

Commission officials estimated that the Sentencing Guideline changes could result in 46,000 of the nation’s 100,000 federal drug offenders qualifying for early release.  Mary Price, General Counsel for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group that supports sentencing reform told the Washington Post:  “The number of people who will be affected is quite exceptional.”

Moreover, according to a Justice Department officials, on average about two years will be taken off of eligible inmates sentences.  Officials also said most of the federal inmates set to be released have served lengthy sentences already, some for decades.

This change in correctional policy comes after an era of unprecedented growth in the United States prison population. According to Justice Department officials, since 1980 the federal prison population has increased by 800 percent and federal prisons are operating at nearly 140 percent capacity.

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Michael Harwin

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