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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Drug Sentencing Guidelines Reduced For Current Prisoners

Unless Congress stops a proposed plan by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, more than 46,000 low-level drug offenders will be eligible for early release from prison, according to NPR. The commission unanimously voted to reduce sentence terms for low-level drug traffickers already incarcerated.

“This amendment received unanimous support from Commissioners because it is a measured approach,” Judge Patti B. Saris, Chair of the Commission, said in a news release. “It reduces prison costs and populations and responds to statutory and guidelines changes since the drug guidelines were initially developed, while safeguarding public safety.”

Congress has until November 1st to put a stop to the plan which could reduce sentences by an average of more than two years, according to the article. Federal judges will consider each offender’s petition separately and no prisoner will be released before November 1, 2015.

“This modest reduction in drug penalties is an important step toward reducing the problem of prison overcrowding at the federal level in a proportionate and fair manner,” said Saris in a news release in April. “Reducing the federal prison population has become urgent, with that population almost three times where it was in 1991.”

The Justice Department says reducing mandatory minimum sentences will save the American taxpayers billions of dollars.

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