More than 7,000 crack cocaine offenders have received reduced sentences since March, when the U.S. Sentencing Commission put retroactive sentence guidelines into effect to offset what the commission felt were overly harsh punishments for crack cocaine related crimes, reports the Washington Post. It is an open question whether they will succeed or return to a life behind bars. Most of the reductions so far have been granted in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, covering Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, covering California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, Nevada, as well as other states and territories, has granted about the same number of reductions as the smallest jurisdiction, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington.
About 35 percent of inmates who were granted reductions by federal courts had been released as of May 31. Nearly 90 percent of those who received the tough sentences for crack cocaine were black men and women. Most users and dealers of powder cocaine are white and Latino.