An independent panel is considering reducing the sentences of inmates
incarcerated in federal prisons for crack cocaine offenses, which would make
thousands of people immediately eligible to be freed.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets guidelines for federal
prison sentences, established more lenient guidelines this spring for future
crack cocaine offenders. The panel is scheduled to consider today a proposal to
make the new guidelines retroactive.
Should the panel adopt the new policy, the sentences of 19,500 inmates
would be reduced by an average of 27 months. About 3,800 inmates now imprisoned
for possession and distribution of crack cocaine could be freed within the next
year, according to the commission’s analysis. The proposal would cover only
inmates in federal prisons and not those in state correctional facilities, where
the vast majority of people convicted of drug offenses are held.
It also addresses the disparate racial impact of the law. Good read.