The federal government yesterday freed the first of what could be thousands of federal inmates convicted on crack-cocaine charges to benefit from amended U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines that retroactively reduced their sentences, the Washington Times reports. Four federal inmates in Virginia were the first to see freedom, taking advantage of the retroactivity of the commission amendment in December that set yesterday as the initial release date. Attorney General Michael Mukasey wants Congress to stop the releases.
Of the 19,500 offenders eligible nationwide for reductions in their sentences, the largest share of them – 1,944 – are in federal prisons in Virginia. Other judicial districts with high numbers are Texas with 1,677; Florida, 1,456; Illinois, 997; and North Carolina, 972. Mukasey says nearly 80 percent of those eligible for release have prior criminal records and are “very likely to commit another crime.”