Nation & World News

Drug Sentencing Guidelines Reduced For Current Prisoners

By Alan Greenblatt on July 18th, 2014

The U.S. Sentencing Commission on Friday voted unanimously to reduce terms for drug traffickers already in prison.

More than 46,000 drug offenders will be eligible for early release, unless Congress makes a move to stop the plan by Nov. 1.

On average, sentences could be reduced by more than two years.

“The magnitude of the change, both collectively and for individual offenders, is significant,” U.S. District Judge Patti Saris, who chairs the commission, said before the vote.

Such offenders won’t all be released. Their petitions will be considered individually by federal judges. None would be released before Nov. 1, 2015.

Despite the extra work, a majority of federal judges supported the change, NPR’s Carrie Johnson reported on Morning Edition.

“The driving factor for the committee’s decision was fundamental fairness,” Irene Keeley, a district judge in West Virginia, recently testified. “We do not believe that the date a sentence was imposed should dictate the length of imprisonment.”

The Justice Department has sought more leniency for some non-violent drug offenders in hopes of reducing sentencing disparities dating from the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.

The department, however, preferred a more limited approach than the Sentencing Commission has taken, arguing that only lower-level, nonviolent drug offenders without significant criminal histories should be eligible. That would have reduced the number of inmates who could petition for early release to about 20,000.

But the commission voted to make the reduced sentencing guidelines it adopted in April for most drug traffickers fully retroactive.

Although its guidelines are just that — non-binding recommendations — they hold great sway within the judiciary.

Prosecutors have expressed concern about the direction the commission is going. “The strong sentencing scheme that has been in place over the last 25 years in our country has contributed to the lowest crime rates in more than a generation,” the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys wrote in a letter to the commission.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Dante Martin waits for jury selection on Monday, Oct. 27, as he stood trial in Orange County, Fla.

Former Band Member Found Guilty In FAMU Hazing Case

A Florida jury found Dante Martin guilty of manslaughter for his role in the fatal hazing of drum major Robert Champion.


The commercial space ship, pictured here in an earlier test flight, crashed in the California Desert.

1 Dead After Commercial Spaceship Crashes During Test Flight

The Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two was undergoing a test flight when it crashed in the California desert. The spaceship is designed to take tourists to space.


Rita Jeptoo of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Women's Elite division of the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014.

With Reports Of Doping, World Marathon Majors Postpones Awards Ceremony

Rita Jeptoo, the accomplished marathoner who holds the course record at Boston, has reportedly tested positive for a banned substance. The Majors said it’s awaiting a decision by the governing body.


Nurse Kaci Hickox, right, and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, take delivery of a pizza at their home in Fort Kent, Maine, on Thursday. A judge has ruled that the state cannot compel Hickox to remain in isolation if she's not showing signs of Ebola infection.

Maine Judge Rejects State’s Bid To Restrict Nurse’s Movements

The request by state officials would have compelled Kaci Hickox, who shows no symptoms of Ebola, to isolate herself until Nov. 10.


He's not welcome in Vendargues. The French town has banned people from dressing up as clowns for the next month following violent incidents across the country.

No Joke: French Town Cracks Down On Clown Costumes After Attacks

The French town of Vendargues has banned people from dressing up as clowns for a month starting today. The move follows violent incidents across the country involving teens dressed as clowns.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments