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46,000 federal drug crime convicts could be freed

A group of federal judges charged with determining sentencing guidelines for federal crimes has decided to reduce the severity of punishments associated with nonviolent controlled substance violations in Florida and the rest of the nation. The justices are vying for the release of approximately 46,000 federal prisoners -- many of whom are serving multi-decade-long sentences for nonviolent federal drug crime convictions. Congress must now approve the reform, which was passed by the panel on a recent Friday.

The review panel -- called the U.S. Sentencing Commission -- already updated the guidelines that apply to new drug offense convictions back in April. The new measure, though, is intended to affect anyone who is currently serving time for nonviolent drug offenses retroactively. If passed, it could garner these individuals an early release.

A ranking member of the judiciary panel stated that the updated guidelines gained unanimous approval. She said that panel members supported the reforms for a variety of reasons. Not only will the new guidelines update the overly draconian leftovers of a bygone era, but they will also solve overcrowding issues in the federal prison system. Moreover, re-introducing 46,000 individuals into society so that they can start working and contributing the economy will both save tax money and generate tax revenue at the same time.

Just because an inmate has years of federal prison time ahead does not mean that the individual will have to spend all of that time in prison. Indeed, federal programs and new laws have already been passed that could affect those serving long-term sentences for federal drug crime convictions. A detailed review of a Florida inmate’s case by an attorney familiar with federal criminal law and sentencing requirements can determine what options may exist that could apply that person’s unique situation.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Drug offenders in federal prisons can seek shortened sentences (+video)", Harry Bruinius, July 18, 2014

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Ian F. Mann PA

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