Attorney General Michael Mukasey has voiced opposition to the early release of hundreds of federal inmates convicted of dealing crack cocaine, but some U.S. Attorneys may not be getting the message, reports the Los Angeles Times. In at least three cases, federal prosecutors have supported efforts to win inmates reduced sentences. Two are in the Portland, Or., area, where one inmate is thought to have been released. A third, jailed in Massachusetts, could be released this summer.
The disconnect between Justice Department policy and how new sentencing guidelines are being applied suggests the issue may be more complex than the attorney general has indicated. Under rules approved in December, as many as 19,500 federal inmates may qualify for reduced sentences they received for dealing crack cocaine. Some Justice Department officials see little chance that the Democratic Congress will agree with Mukasey and overturn the rules. A federal prosecutor in Portland backed an early release in one case because the defendant was already living in a halfway house.