by: Stephen Sebald
At the end of this month, approximately 6,000 inmates in federal prisons across the country will be released early after serving substantial portions of their sentence, as was confirmed earlier in the month by the Department of Justice. This is a one-time early release program, and comes as part of efforts to reduce jail overcrowdings, as well as reform the long sentences which are given to non-violent drug offenders.
Each prisoner who petitioned for release under this one-time act has been cleared by a judge as safe to reenter the public, and most of those former inmates will be supervised through halfway houses and home confinement. About a third of the prisoners who will be released are not American citizens, and will be deported by Immigration and Customs following their release from the prison.
It’s not the first time something like this has been put into place, and with prison reform campaigns now sweeping the public opinion, it’s not likely to be the last, either. In 2007, many inmates were released from lengthy sentences when crack laws were reformed, and the Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has released statements pushing for sentencing reform. She stated that “modest reductions for drug offenders is a step towards these necessary reforms,” which are for “low-level, non-violent drug offenders”.
For this current wave of releases, the prisoners will be set free between October 30th and November 2nd. Additionally, all of the prisoners who are being released have served the majority of their sentence. According to statistics by the Department of Justice, those released have served an average of 8.5 years of a 10 year sentence. Any individuals who had been convicted of a violent crime that are being released are having their sentence reduced on the non-violent part of their sentence.
At Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox, we have extensive experience with the broken laws which lock up far too many non-violent offenders, who are often profiled and jailed at staggering rates. We know that half of all arrests have to do with drugs, and that African Americans are 3.7 more times likely to be arrested for the use of marijuana. Many non-violent offenders are confined to jails because of long mandatory sentences that are longer than the need to be and longer than they historically have been. When poor people must use the legal counsel of an overworked public defender, they suffer inadequate representation and often face unfair sentences. Even if they’re innocent, too many current prisoners have pleaded guilty because they were unaware of their options and did not receive an adequate defense.
For expert defense lawyers who will fight aggressively and seriously for your rights and freedoms, you’ve come to the right place. Call us at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox at (814) 833-1987 for a free phone consultation to discuss your case and hear about our extensive trial experience that we will use to get you the best results possible. We will continue to push against profiling and unfair drug sentencing, and will use our expertise to help you.