As Federal Prisons Grow, DOJ Would Cut Some Penalties for Lesser Offenders


As federal prison populations swell, the Justice Department is seeking sentencing changes that would keep tough penalties for violent and repeat drug offenses, but cut or provide alternative sentences for less serious offenders, USA Today reports. Sentencing changes, including mandatory minimums set in the 1980s “led to great success, but they also took a great human and fiscal toll,” the Justice Department’s Jonathan Wroblewski told U.S. Sentencing Commission chair Patti Saris.

The commission said it might amend guidelines for gun offenses, drug crimes, economic crimes, and probation violations. If the government fails to control prison spending, it will have to cut in other areas, including investigations, prosecutions and prevention programs, the Justice Department said. DOJ recommends revising sentencing guidelines for immigration crimes to make clearer when a past conviction triggers a higher sentence. Justice suggests higher penalties for firearms trafficking and gun buyers who lie to purchase guns for other people, such as felons, who are prohibited from owning firearms.

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