6,000 U.S. inmates to be released under new guidelines

Roughly 6,000 inmates will be released from federal prisons, as part of an effort to reduce prison populations and decrease penalties for nonviolent drug offenders, charged in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The New York Times reports that the release is scheduled to take place from October 30th through November 2nd. This will be one of the largest single event discharges from federal prisons, in United States history. Officials have decided to stay anonymous, due to discussing details not formally announced by the Justice Department.

Many of the inmates will be moving, initially, into halfway houses, as arranged by The Bureau of Prisons.

The United States Sentencing Commission reduced penalties for many nonviolent drug crimes, through new guidelines, in April. These new guidelines also made some previous charges retroactive. The move applies to over 50,000 inmates that were sentenced under the old guidelines.

The United States currently has one quarter of the world’s prison population. Across party lines there is agreement that prison spending needs to be reduced. Prison spending accounts for a third of the Justice Department’s budget.

Lawmakers are examining new ways to scale back sentences for federal prisoners, with nonviolent drug charges. A group of senators proposed an overhaul of the existing mandatory minimum sentences.

The new changes would work retroactively if the legislation goes through. Lawmakers anticipate that up to 6,500 prisoners could qualify for re-sentencing, under the new benchmarks. Many of those imprisoned were charged with offenses relating to crack-cocaine.

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