Twenty-seven 27 Marylanders have been released so far under the retroactive change in federal sentencing guidelines on cocaine cases, says the Maryland Daily Record. The change was designed to close the historic (and some argue, racist) gap in punishment between crack and powder cocaine. In addition, 113 other federal crack offenders from the state have won reductions in their sentences, ranging from one month to almost five years, said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein.
While the U.S. Sentencing Commission initially estimated that only 279 state residents would be eligible for any reduction, as of Friday, 598 prisoners have asked to have their sentences slashed. Perhaps no agency has worked more on the issue than the federal public defender, who has been tasked with investigating every flagged inmate's eligibility and then representing the vast majority of the eligible hundreds. Rosenstein said “a significant number of the offenders are likely to re-offend.” It is Felix Mata's job to prevent that from happening, to the extent possible, by easing their return to society. Mata is national coordinator for U.S. Probation's Defendant/Offender Workforce Development Initiative.