The federal sentencing commission is recommending the reduction in drug sentences be applied retroactively to 46,000 prisoners currently incarcerated.
The sentencing commission has recently recommended that a two level reduction in the guideline level be applied to all drug offenses.
The reduction is based on attempting to minimize the amount of nonviolent drug offenders who are incarcerated in the federal system. The strict and harsh sentencing in federal drug cases has led to a serious overpopulation of federal prisons which has placed the majority of these prisons at overcapacity and cost the taxpayer vasts amounts of money to attempt to keep up with the ever-increasing prison population.
Nonviolent drug offenders have faced extreme mandatory minimum sentences and very high guideline levels; the sentencing commission is attempting to curb this trend. Eric Holder the Attorney General has also recommended to his offices that they avoid charging extreme mandatory minimums which do not allow judges to exercise discretion against nonviolent drug offenders.
By applying this reduction retroactively approximately 46,000 prisoners may receive up to a 25 month reduction in their sentence. This will alleviate some of the costs and housing of these prisoners and allow the federal prison system to focus on violent offenders and others deserving of long incarcerations. Drug offenders are being viewed as requiring treatment or rehabilitation rather than long incarceration.
It is out of necessity that Congress and the sentencing commission has finally realized that their strict and harsh sentencing of drug offenders has overburdened our prison system. Retroactive application of this guideline reduction still must be passed by Congress which is expected. The reductions will then begin in November with a review of each individual Case to see whether there would be any danger to public safety prior to approving the release.
Congress waged a war on drugs with extreme penalties against drug offenses such as trafficking in drugs and distribution. Trafficking means possession of such a large quantity of drugs that it can be assumed it is not for personal use but rather distribution. When you hear of a trafficking charge it means that the person is being charged with possession with the intent to distribute based on the large amount of drugs in their possession. The war on drugs filled our federal prisons with a large amount of drug traffickers. These drug traffickers have been overpopulating our prsions requiring taxpayers to pay for new prisons and have overcrowded the existing system. Our federal prison system cannot handle the volume and length of inmate sentences it has been supporting. Something needs to change, thus the recommendation to reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenders to relieve some of this pressure.
Frank Fernandez is a Boston criminal lawyer who handles federal drug cases.
Crimes ranging from drug trafficking to possession with intent to distribute both in federal and state court are carefully reviewed and represented. As a Boston criminal lawyer Mr. Fernandez agrees with this new reduction and is happy to offer a free consultation for those facing drug related charges in either federal or state court. For free consultation please call 617-393-0250.