Saturday, July 19, 2014

Thousands of felons could have drug sentences lessened

By Jerry Markon and Rachel Weiner — July 18 at 8:16 PM, WashPost

The U.S. Sentencing Commission decided Friday that nearly 50,000 federal drug offenders currently in prison are eligible for reduced sentences, a move that could flood the nation’s courts and prosecutors with applications for leniency.

By a unanimous vote, the commission made retroactive an earlier change that had lightened potential punishments for most future drug offenders who are sentenced starting in November. Friday’s move extends that change to 46,000 current inmates, allowing them to have their cases reviewed again by a judge.

The action by the commission — an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal crimes — means that nearly half of the nation’s 100,000 federal drug inmates can apply for reductions. Those eligible could have their sentences shaved by an average of about two years, the commission said. Congress has until November to void the move, which would take effect next year, but there is little indication of opposition on Capitol Hill.

(More here.)

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