A US government plan to release thousands of drug inmates over prison overcrowding has sparked fears of recidivism and flare-up of crimes.With Historic Release of Drug Offenders & Help for Re-entry, US Takes "First Step" on Prison Crisis | Democracy Now!
Some 6,600 inmates will be freed over the weekend, with 16,500 expected to get out in the course of the first year. More than 40,000 federal felons could be released early over the next several years, the US Sentencing Commission said.
The sentencing commission decided a year ago to lower maximum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and to make the change retroactive, with the inmate releases effective November 1, 2015. Sentences were reduced an average of 18%, CNN cited the commission figures.
About half the inmates to be released were convicted of crack and powder cocaine offenses, followed by methamphetamine at 31.2%, heroin at 7.4% and marijuana at 8.9%. About 2.7% of the inmates were convicted of Oxycodone offenses and 1% Hydrocodone offenses.
The program is part of efforts by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to reduce the federal prison population which has grown to more than 200,000 inmates.
In the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history, more than 6,000 inmates have been freed early under a resentencing effort for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. Decisions by the U.S. Sentencing Commission last year reduced prison terms for certain drug offenses and applied those changes retroactively. Most have been released to halfway houses and home confinement, while close to one-third—about 1,700 people—are undocumented immigrants who now face immediate deportation. The release comes as President Obama has announced a series of steps to help former prisoners readjust to society, including "banning the box"—barring federal agencies from asking potential employees about their criminal records on job applications. We discuss the Obama administration’s steps and the societal challenges for newly freed prisoners with three guests: Susan Burton, founder and executive director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project, which provides support to former prisoners after their release; Five Mualimm-ak, a former prisoner and founder of Incarcerated Nation Collective, a collective of previously incarcerated people; Victoria Law, a freelance journalist, former prisoner and author of "Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women."