Monday, October 12, 2015

Texas will see most federal drug offenders released

With the advent last year of new rules from the federal sentencing commission, the largest number of federal drug prisoners scheduled to be released in the coming months and years will return home to Texas. An attorney quoted by the SA Express-News explained, “The reason they’re being released is because the Sentencing Commission lowered the guideline, and a judge granted a motion made by the defendant to have their sentence lowered under that guideline.”
More than 50,000 people sentenced between 1991 and October 2014 will likely be eligible for some sort of sentence reduction, with the average change being 23 months, according to the Sentencing Commission. The average sentence under the new guidelines will be 8.5 years in prison.

Nearly 4,000 offenders sentenced by judges in the Western District of Texas, which is headquartered in San Antonio and stretches west to El Paso and north to Waco, are likely eligible for reduced sentences.

Judges in the Southern District of Texas, which includes Houston, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, have granted the most reductions, 870.

Most will be released over the next five years as their new prison terms expire.

When it announced the reductions last year, the Sentencing Commission said it delayed releases until November to give the Justice Department, which oversees the Bureau of Prisons, time to prepare for the influx. Many of those being released next month are likely already in halfway houses.
In all, "The Justice Department expects 6,000 low-level drug offenders will be released next month under new sentencing guidelines. About a third will be deported and more than 4,000 will be returning to society. In total to date, 13,187 offenders have received a sentence reduction under the program." Even so, in the most recent period more than 62 percent of federal drug sentences involved mandatory minimums, so the situation has been mitigated but not resolved.

1 comment:

Texas CURE said...

Considering the wisdom behind the recent reduction of federal maximum minimums, Texas legislators, such as John Whitmire, Dean of the Senate and chair of the Criminal Justice Committee should take a hard look at the Texas penal code and determine which crimes can stand a reduction in sentencing. Senator Whitmire (D) and State Rep. Jerry Madden (R) were hailed as pathfinders for the progressive criminal justice changes they initiated in recent years; Proving that "smart on crime" innovations, such as creating alternatives to long term incarceration, benefit both felons and Texas taxpayers.
The parole laws deserve special scrutiny. There are thousands of prisoners who could be paroled tomorrow without creating a threat to the public. Instead of costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year, they should be paroled so they can become taxpayers themselves.

Michael W. Jewell, President, Texas CURE