Federal Drug Sentences: Yesterday the Federal Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to reduce the federal prison sentences for drug offenders. Another link here. Importantly, the reduced sentences will apply to people already in prison for drug offenses beginning November 1st of 2015. If Congress does not vote to disapprove the reductions before November 1st, the new rules will become retroactive.
This means that those currently serving federal drug sentences can be eligible for a reduction in their sentence beginning November of next year The delay was put in place in order to ensure that judges have time to review each case and prevent dangerous prisoners from being released. This reduction will not be automatic, instead each eligible prisoner would have to petition the court for a reduced sentence. Then, a federal judge will have to review each case to determine that the prisoner does not pose a danger to the community if released early.
There are currently about 46,000 prisoners serving federal drug sentences who could potentially qualify for early release. The Middle District of Florida has the fifth-highest number (1,494) of potentially eligible prisoners in the nation. Florida as a whole has nearly 3,500 federal inmates that could potentially be eligible for reduced sentences.
Allowing current prisoners serving federal drug sentences to apply for sentence reductions will save taxpayer money and reduce the already crowded federal prison population. Hopefully the Sentencing Commission and the Justice Department will continue to enact more sensible drug policies and sentencing terms.
Eligible inmates could have their sentences reduced by an average of 25 months. If you have questions about whether a current inmate serving a federal drug sentence in the Middle District of Florida (which includes Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville) could be eligible for a sentence reduction, please contact Hillsborough Defense to speak with us about how we can assist you in this process.