6,000 federal prisoners to be released by Nov. 2
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - By November 2, around 6,000 federal inmates will be back on the streets. The Justice Department is set to release these non-violent drug offenders starting Friday, in order to help the overcrowding issues in federal prisons.
According to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), more than 200,000 inmates are in federal custody, with nearly half of those charged with drug offenses. Thousands of those will walk out next week — a move the Justice Department said will help the system's overpopulation problem.
Last year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted on a policy called "Drugs Minus Two" which shaves an average of two years off the sentences for non-violent drug offenders. The policy was made retroactive and now, it's time for the first wave of resentenced inmates to be released.
"It's hard to believe that 6,000 inmates are going to be released all at one time, with no endangerment to public safety," said a skeptical District Attorney John DeRosier. "A number of these people, for example, have criminal histories of violent crimes, but they weren't convicted of violent crimes."
Though they'll be put in halfway houses or home confinement, there is the potential of felons falling back into old habits.
"Texas is directly between where we are in Louisiana and the drug-mecca of the world, which is Mexico," said DeRosier, "Texas is a conduit for drugs coming into Louisiana. So to suggest that 1,000 or 1,500 people in Texas who are former drug dealers — and I hope none of them go back to drug dealing — but that's not particularly realistic."
Those eligible for the two-year sentence reduction range from low level charges to major drug rings. Each inmate's case must be signed off on by a federal judge.
This week marks the first of many mass release dates. The next is scheduled for November 1, 2016.
According to The Washington Post, about 60 inmates will be released in Louisiana. The probation office said about six of those will be in Calcasieu and surrounding parishes.
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