Early release for non-violent drug offenders in Georgia

The criminal justice system has undergone a major sea change over the past few months. This change of approach towards some non-violent offenders has led to the largest release of federal inmates in history. Over the past week, a reported 6,000 non-violent drug offenders were released back into society.

The program that lead to their release is the result of a bipartisan effort to reduce the federal prison population. Over the last decade, the number of inmates in federal prison has skyrocketed to over 220,000. The system cannot sustain these numbers. A 2014 commission made the decision to cut the sentence time of non-violent drug offenders. The average time in prison is ten and a half years, but that time is being cut by two years. In addition to decreasing prison time, the commission is also reviewing the disparity in sentencing minimums for cocaine. Offenders caught with crack cocaine face steeper penalties than those with the powdered form.

Though many see these sentencing changes as a positive move toward improving the criminal justice system in America, these decisions are not without their critics. New York City's Police Commissioner believes that these changes will create problems for local law enforcement. Commissioner William Bratton believes that releasing prisoners without programs for job training and drug treatment will lead to the return of offenders to prison.

What does this mean for Georgia inmates that are housed in federal prisons? Some of these inmates may be eligible for early release. Georgia defendants that are currently facing drug charges may also be eligible for reduced sentences. Those who may be categorized in one of these categories should seek the counsel of an experienced criminal attorney.

Source: CBS news, "Amid fears of recidivism, massive U.S. prisoner release underway," Jeff Pegues, Oct. 30, 2015

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