1,900 U.S. Inmates Eligible for Release In Crack Penalty Change


Darryl Flood thought he would have to wait until 2013 to get out of prison, more than a decade after he pleaded guilty in a federal cocaine case. Now, says the Associated Press, he could be freed two years early, as one of thousands of federal inmates to benefit when a change goes into effect today changing sentences for crack cocaine to be closer to the penalties for powder cocaine.

The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act reduced the disparity for future cases. This summer the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets federal sentencing policy, decided to apply the act to inmates already serving time. The commission estimates about 12,000 inmates could benefit overall. The effect of the change will largely be spread out over the next several years, with inmates getting an average of three years shaved off. But nearly 1,900 prisoners are estimated to be eligible for immediate release.

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