There has been quick action after federal authorities reduced the mandatory sentencing guidelines for some drug offenses.
As you know, the new reduced federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses, approved last year by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, went into effect retroactively on Monday. By Tuesday, about 400 court orders from around the country modifying prison terms had been processed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Under the new guidelines, about 1,600 prisoners could petition for immediate release. Roughly 3,000 prisoners are eligible to petition for prison term reductions that could allow their release within a year. As many as 20,000 can petition for some reduction in their prison terms.
In the nearby Eastern District of Virginia – which has the largest number of crack cocaine convictions with nearly 2,000 inmates are eligible for release within the next year – one federal public defender has submitted petitions for the release of 16 clients, one of whom was freed yesterday.