A record 6,000 criminals currently serving time for various crimes in federal prisons nationwide will be set free by the department’s Bureau of Prisons between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2. The U.S Sentencing Commission, an independent panel that sets federal sentencing policy, has authorized the largest one-time release of federal prisoners and estimates prison terms to be cut by an average of 25 months.
Roughly 2/3 of the inmates, many repeat offenders, will be ordered to report to halfway houses or be under strict supervision while others will be released to immigration authorities for “eventual deportation”. However as we’ve seen before and continue to see, those who have been deported do not always stay out of the country as instructed. Out of the 188,382 criminal aliens deported in 2011, at least 86,699, 46% of criminals, had been deported earlier and illegally returned to the United States.
Eric Holder supported the change, referred to as “Drugs Minus Two”, and while the commission estimates that an additional 8,550 inmates will be eligible for release between this Nov. 1 and Nov. 1, 2016, the Justice Department estimates that roughly 40,000 prisoners could benefit from the program in the years to come.
While many of the criminals set for release are referred to as small time offenders, AP analysis of roughly 100 court cases has identified defendants who carried semi-automatic weapons, had past convictions for crimes including robbery and assault, moved cocaine shipments across states and participated in international heroin smuggling. The move has drawn critics, including some federal prosecutors, judges and police officials, who raise obvious concerns that allowing so many inmates to be released at the same time could cause crime to skyrocket.
While it is necessary for the inmates looking for an early release under the change must appeal to the court, judges are left grappling with supporting the lighter drug sentences versus public safety. So far, about three-quarters of requests had been granted as of August, 2015.
While some research suggests that incarceration has lost its potency and others struggle to prove that the “incapacitation effect” does work, one thing is for sure: the mean streets of America are about to get a little meaner.