Pubdate: Wed, 07 Oct 2015
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Note: The Washington Post
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is set to release about 6,000 
inmates early from prison - the largest 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 inmates from federal prisons nationwide will be set free by the 
department's Bureau of Prisons between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2. Most of 
them will go to halfway houses and home confinement before being put 
on supervised release.

The early release follows action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission - 
an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal 
crimes - which reduced the potential punishment for future drug 
offenders last year and then made that change retroactive.

The commission's action is separate from an effort by President 
Barack Obama to grant clemency to certain nonviolent drug offenders, 
an initiative that has resulted in 89 inmates being released early.

The panel estimated that its change in sentencing guidelines 
eventually could result in 46,000 of the nation's approximately 
100,000 drug offenders in federal prison qualifying for early 
release. The 6,000 figure is the first tranche in that process.

"The number of people who will be affected is quite exceptional," 
said Mary Price, general counsel for Families Against Mandatory 
Minimums, an advocacy group that supports sentencing reform.

The Sentencing Commission estimated that an additional 8,550 inmates 
will be eligible for release between this Nov. 1 and Nov. 1, 2016.

Along with the commission's action, the Justice Department has 
instructed its prosecutors not to charge low-level, nonviolent drug 
offenders who have no connection to gangs or large-scale drug 
organizations with offenses that carry severe mandatory sentences.
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