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Sally Yates, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia shown here at a 2009 press conference, testified on the government's proposal to reduce thousands of drug sentences retroactively Tuesday.
About 101,000 of the inmates held in the federal prison system are there for violations of the nation's ridiculous drug laws. Slightly more than half of them—55 percent—are serving terms of 10 years or more. But a fifth of them could see their slam time reduced by an average of 23 months if a proposal by the United States Sentencing Commission unveiled Tuesday is approved in July. The commission sets guidelines for federal offenders. The Justice Department supports the plan. Sally Yates, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels testified in favor of it at a hearing on the subject in Washington, D.C., Tuesday:
“We believe that the federal drug sentencing structure in place before the amendment resulted in unnecessarily long sentences for some offenders that has resulted in significant prison overcrowding, and that imprisonment terms for those sentenced pursuant to the old guideline should be moderated to the extent possible consistent with other policy considerations,” Yates said.
In a press release, Attorney General Eric Holder said:
“Under the department’s proposal, if your offense was nonviolent, did not involve a weapon, and you do not have a significant criminal history, then you would be eligible to apply for a reduced sentence in accordance with the new rules approved by the Commission in April. Not everyone in prison for a drug-related offense would be eligible. Nor would everyone who is eligible be guaranteed a reduced sentence. But this proposal strikes the best balance between protecting public safety and addressing the overcrowding of our prison system that has been exacerbated by unnecessarily long sentences.”
In April, the commission approved a proposal to reduce sentences for drug crimes based on the quantities involved. It is estimated that that proposal would cut 11 months off the average new drug sentence. That new proposal would apply a retroactive sentence reduction to thousands of prisoners. If it is approved, it could mean a heavy workload at the Justice Department. According to commission calculations, some 51,000 inmates could be eligible, Yates said, and as many as 60,000 inmates could file applications for reduced sentences. Each of those would have to be thoroughly examined.

The reduced sentences would only be approved for individuals who had not been given a mandatory minimum sentence for a firearms offense, a sentencing enhancement for possession of a dangerous weapon, an enhancement for using, threatening or directing the use of violence, an enhancement for engaging in an aggravating role in the main offense, or an enhancement for obstruction or attempted obstruction of justice.

In a May 27 letter to the commission's co-chairs, researchers said that reducing sentences of half the imprisoned federal drug offenders would save the government 83,525 "bed years," a measure of what it costs to keep one person incarcerated for a year. At $30,000 a year per prisoner, that would save the Justice Department about $2.4 billion.

Under the current structure of drug law and sentencing, less time behind bars for non-violent offenders is most assuredly in the nation's interest. But, ultimately, we should go a good deal further by reforming drug law and related sentencing from stem to stern. Hundreds of thousands of drug-offenders' lives—and the lives of their kin and other loved ones—have been ruined by these draconian and utterly inappropriate prison terms, made worse by the racial bias in the criminal justice system, in general, and in the sentencing guidelines, in particular, despite reform of the cocaine sentencing disparity. The sooner that deeper reform comes, the better for us all.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Here are two poignant charts of the number of (26+ / 0-)

    of people in jail, or "engaged" with our criminal justice system. About half are incarcerated for drug offenses.

    Over half this post focuses on a call for President Obama and the state governors to pardon all of those in jail for non-violent drug offenses.

    Just say no to our insane drug laws.

    America's war on drug users has caused too much devastation to people who should be received drug and mental health counseling instead of this cruel and unusual punishment. Many were self-medicating for depression or other psychological issues in a society where we do not provide sufficient health care for those with mental health issues.

    We used go burn the mentally ill at the stake as witches in some primitive places. Now we incarcerate them in penitentiaries. Shame on us.

    Colorado tax revenue from medical and recreational marijuana booms in April while others are in jail

     photo state-and-federal-prison-population-1925-2010-number-of-people-nixon-launches-war-on-drugs-source-bureau-of-justice-statisti_zpsa56c0316.jpg

     photo US_correctional_population_timeline_zpse0233c0c.gif

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:29:44 PM PDT

    •  Sorry about the second plot being cut off. (22+ / 0-)

       photo US_correctional_population_timeline_zpse0233c0c.gif

      BTW I've read several times that one third of African American men between the ages of 18 to 65 are involved in some way with the criminal "justice" system, mostly for drug offenses.

      If we had a different Supreme Court if might have been possible to challenge these laws being unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. (egual (sic) protection clause.) I know egual is not spelled with a "g" but the proper letter to use there doesn't not work, and neither does my replacement keyboard.

      Just think of my as one of your "diversity" writers in the meantime - struggling against the stifling oppression of the constraints of those who mindlessly adhere to the conventional 26 letter alphabet. We could just as easily get by with 25 letters. In these hard and austere times this is a small sacrifice for improved efficiency.  

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:53:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Sure Hope "Could Apply" Involves Ready Assistanc (7+ / 0-)

    to the point of active notification.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:37:17 PM PDT

  •  Has the fever broken? (10+ / 0-)


    "the northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see. Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee". - Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon

    by Joe Jackson on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:38:47 PM PDT

  •  So it's economics that ends the drug war. (14+ / 0-)

    Between the staggering cost of enforcement and incarceration and the healthy revenues from legal weed, we'll finally be rid of Richard Nixon's gift to humanity.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:43:44 PM PDT

    •  Live By the Buck (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, hbk, sethtriggs

      Die by the buck.

      The Drug War has always been nothing but the power to take other people's life, liberty and property by abusing due process of the law.

      Now the economics have swung around, because every American war eventually costs to much to always lose.

      Just beware whatever new scam the 1% are replacing the old one with. It will be worse.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:10:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Disproportionately (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, Eric Nelson

        black people's life, liberty and property.

        •  Black and Hispanic (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio, KenBee

          From the ACLU:

          The Office of Research and Data's analysis of racial impact of retroactive application of the two-level reduction indicates that over 74% of the offenders whose senteces will be reduced are Black or Hispanic.
          •  Thanks for the correction! (0+ / 0-)
          •  blacks 4x to whites diary here... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eric Nelson

            blacks 4x whites

            the racial aspect of this long sad history is a cost to be born on this country's citizens for a long dam time..and if we elected the people that created it and maintained it and failed to correct it...sadly, we deserve to pay.
            Those that tried to fix it will pay right along with the guilty.

            Pay in terms of money and energy and lives wasted...maybe we could have even fixed something important...

            This machine kills Fascists.

            by KenBee on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:26:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  KenBee, (0+ / 0-)

              so sorry I'm just seeing your comment.  I was able, still, to rec your diary.  A commenter there asked if the disparity in sentencing was evident in cases other than MJ.  The first that comes to my mind is in application of the death penalty - in fact, my state halted the use of the DP because studies clearly show racial bias in its application.

              As far as the application of retroactive drug sentencing goes, it seems there is a recognition in the legal community (ie., justice dept., courts, lawyers, advocates, etc.) of the racial bias in drug arrests from the testimony at the U.S. Sentencing Commission hearing.  It's a real shame, though, that their impetus for changing the system mostly has to do with saving money and not with fair outcomes in the justice system.

  •  Free the Political Prisoners (6+ / 0-)

    The DO"J" is now admitting that the basis for these people's imprisonment is obsolete politics. Why mamby-pamby compromise? Any compromise with injustice is still unjust.

    Just change the laws to legalize all drug activity except where it aggravates some other lawbreaking (including raising risks, like DUI). And then free everyone who no longer has a law sentencing them to jail.

    Then it's time to talk about compensating them for the life we robbed from them.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:07:18 PM PDT

    •  It's worse than obsolete politics. (0+ / 0-)

      It's an unholy matrimony of crony capitalism and corrupt careerism.

      I read about one case where a woman who lived with a man she new was a minor dealer.  Which is wrong, of course, but while she got a substantial sentence for racketeering, her boyfriend's boss got off with no jail time.  Why? Because he cut a deal to throw everyone who worked for him under the bus, along with anyone else associated with them. It was a deal that let the most dangerous criminal go free in order to goose up the prosecutor's career conviction stats.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 06:43:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dangerous Criminal? (0+ / 0-)

        Unless I have evidence to the contrary, I don't believe the boss was a "dangerous" criminal. Nor were any of the others.

        Not that they couldn't be dangerous criminals. Criminalizing drugs and their trade has made it possibly the best crime for actually dangerous criminals. But all I know from your post is that their crime was dealing drugs, which isn't in itself dangerous. Except to the dealers, who get no police protection (they get police arresting them, except when they bribe people) amidst competition with plenty of reason to be dangerous.

        Really, this whole discussion is about how drug criminals shouldn't be jailed. Where are you coming from with this "dangerous criminal" charge? All you know is a story you read somewhere about some casualties of the Drug War, which means it's almost certainly not true, at least not entirely - especially any part about "dangerous criminals".

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:19:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  have you noticed the sturm and drang over mj use (0+ / 0-)

      lately..'new studies' etc all of a sudden mj is killing people and ruining teens if jail was good for them. Make a man of em yessirree!

      the 'tax it and heavily regulate it'crowd, killing this with the Serious People now in charge, co-opting the parade as always....yeah right, these same assholes who promoted and signed off on and weren't objecting to the origins of the War on Drugs.  Accommodating those Serious People really is awful politics. Instead they should be excoriated for letting this get this bad in the first place...yet they will always be seen as the reasonable centrists. gah...
      Nixon and Reagan...why does god hate us so?

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:34:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Democrats Against Freedom (0+ / 0-)

        I also notice that Democrats are interfering with prohibition repeal. Even in Colorado, the Democratic governor opposed legalization, and continues to obstruct where he can. In Florida, Debbie Wasserman Shultz is opposing the state medical marijuana reforms (that 90% of the state's people support), though it has nothing to do with her role in Congress ("as a mom" or some BS).

        Repealing marijuana prohibition should be a top Democratic priority. It is perfectly in line with the Democrats healthcare marketing PR, with their voters' values and interests (especially the constituencies heavily jailed), with the "reasonable government" image, with the grassroots economic rhetoric, with "reality based" (ironically enough). And perhaps most importantly because it is exactly the issue with which Republican "libertarians" could snatch ideological victory from the jaws of practical defeat - stealing it from Democrats.

        But maybe that's the point. Democrats always seem to be more self defeating than otherwise defeatable, while usually losing. It's starting to be clearly a feature, not a bug.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:05:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This only accentuates the fact that it is time to (6+ / 0-)

    completely disband the war on drugs warriors, the DEA. They were a completely unnecessary and redundant federal agency which have been given far too much power over the decades. It's time we finally cut them loose.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:17:40 PM PDT

  •  20,000 down 1,000,000 to go (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BelgianBastard, Vetwife, Silencio, 417els

    About time.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 02:55:34 PM PDT

    •  Well, 80,000 to go, maybe. (0+ / 0-)

      There are some really bad people locked up - not many, but some.

      •  and including some gun nuts who deal mj (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and grow and distribute, with weapons in possession...and with the ripoffs and invasions an almost necessary thing.

        What to do about those people? some of them are bad people and have no compunction about useing violence to do whatever they want...yet all they could be jailed for are the attached crimes of guns with the drug sales or growing felonies, and were then felons (*drug war felons at that) in possession.

        It's a fair challenge to reduce the sentences of those people who would be dangerous assholes different from some doofus who got stuck driving for the unknown an invisible and unprosecuted boss/grow owner...those drivers and low level dumbshits are a waste of money to keep locked up, dumb as they are they were just low level flunkies...there should be a lot of easy cases to reduce sentences for tho..and the sooner the better.

        Local jails in calif are full of the court ordered cal state prison reduction inmates and dangerous criminal fools are being released on low or no bail that otherwise would be held of bonded out at much higher bail. That IS as dangerous as can be: there is no end of stories how those people go on to keep doing crimes knowing bail and jail is no big thing.

        It's now not a war on drugs, it's a war on us, and must stop and be fixed NOW.

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:46:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Drug Hysteria was touched off by the Death (8+ / 0-)

    of Len Bias of an overdose on June 19, 1986. The Drug Warriors immediately seized onto the NBA star's death and ruthlessly exploited it in the media generating an atmosphere of hysteria. That wave of popular hysteria led to the passage of the draconian, and punitive Crack Cocaine laws, and also the Federal prohibition against Marijuana (just  to pile on).

    "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." ~ Thomas Jefferson

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:10:41 PM PDT

    •  NBA star is a bit of a reach, (0+ / 0-)

      given that he died within two days of being drafted and never played a second in the pros. But he was the most beautiful college player I've ever watched in person -- sheer poetry in motion. Too bad that wasn't his legacy instead of the hell his death unleashed.

    •  Actually, the drug hysteria started from (4+ / 0-)

      actual abuses in the nineteenth century when opium was a common ingredient in patent medicines. It was whipped into a fever against Chinese and opium, and then a much worse fever when various forces discovered in the 1920s that most crime could be pinned on Blacks supposedly hopped up on cocaine and marijuana. Also William Randolph Hearst hated industrial hemp.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:53:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  racial racial racial all the way (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson

        and a way for the dominant white culture to keep the workers and colored/nonwhites under yet another economic yoke. Any white people caught up in it...workers or if high society, haha, fixed by the system.

        I am impressed with the small town drug ripoffs by the town and county cops we read about recently...I am sure that has always been the case, nothing new about it.

        Stinking badges indeed.

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:51:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  One small step for reason, (6+ / 0-)

    one giant leap for the American justice system.


    I ride the wild horse .

    by BelgianBastard on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:34:47 PM PDT

  •  Make some room for the bankers (5+ / 0-)

    and Wolves of Wall Street.


    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:37:05 PM PDT

  •  I always felt there was more to the drug war (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, 417els, KenBee

    The majority according to many stats are AA and poor white and other minority status.   Of Course a Reagan wanted all of the possible D voters locked away with rights stripped.  
    You know.. I would really hate to know I could not lead on my own merit or her husband's rather, without locking up the population, taking away rights, gerrymandering and cheating on voting districts plus blocking voting places.
    This says so much about the morality and the whole platform of the republican people.  They DO not represent the majority of We the People.

    Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:39:41 PM PDT

  •  Re (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LLPete, stringer bell, ypochris
    under the department’s proposal, if your [drug] offense was nonviolent, did not involve a weapon, you shouldn't be in prison to begin with and those who put you there are horrible criminals themselves

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:44:03 PM PDT

  •  No! They can't do that! (0+ / 0-)

    Why, just think of the poor prison-for-profit kingpins! They won't be able to do as much blow of as many hookers anymore );

  •  I like Neil Young's honest 1971 acknowledgement (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, ypochris, rocksout, KenBee

    of the "damage" of hard drugs (, combined with love for addicts (a little part of it in everyone), a redeployment of drug war savings to drug/adverse childhood experience treatment and jobs programs, and total marijuana legalization to be treated same as alcohol. Nixon chose war over love in action, and the response is a total failure.

    Enough. Sad people left behind by capitalism employ coping strategies, one of which is whatever drugs are around. Huffing does not lead us to declare a war on gasoline and spray paint.

    I'm glad for the tiny baby step, but that is all this proposal is.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:12:03 PM PDT

  •  Interesting to see how the For-Pofit Prison (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rocksout, Eric Nelson, SGA

    Industry reacts to this. The ones I'm aware of demand a high...80%...occupancy contractual agreement with a state.

    They can certainly "create incidents" which will cause deserving people to become ineligible for the program.   They WILL.  Guaranteed.

    The first I heard of For-Profit Prisons was several years back when Richard Cheney was investing his money in them.  That single fact, alone, was enough to prove how despicable such operations are.

    "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

    by 417els on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:16:55 PM PDT

    •  Relatively few federal offenders are in (6+ / 0-)

      private prisons - typically 8 - 15% depending on how you count them - and that includes folks in home confinement and nonsecure facilities. Not typically this kind of offender, unless they've already got one foot back in the real world.

      It would only be a threat to the for-profit prison industry if the states were to decide to follow suit of their own accord.

      •  Thanks for pointing this out. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson, Villanova Rhodes

        I can't imagine that there isn't a drive to privatize more federal prisons.  It's a mark of the greedy sadistic beasts exemplified by Cheney.

        "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

        by 417els on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:00:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  where are the (cough) prison guard unions on this? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Villanova Rhodes


        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:54:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've been wondering that myself since (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          these stories came along. There was a time I would have known, but I don't have those contacts anymore. My hunch is that they support it both officially and unofficially at the numbers likely to be actually affected, because they hate the overcrowding -- it makes their jobs much harder. But if they see it as a prelude to a much larger release program that might be a different story. It's a good question. Probably someone around here has current knowledge.

  •  Good? It is a fantastic step that will save lives (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RMForbes, scott5js

    and tons of bucks. Would not have happened under a Republican president. No way.

    •  It's certainly fantastic for the 20,000... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, KenBee

      ...but a very high percentage of the people this proposal will not  reduce the sentences of would not be in prison at all if our drug laws were sane, and they are far from that. So, yes, one big hurrah, and congratulations to the administration for finally making this move. But we should not be made complacent by this improvement when, even after this proposal is fully implemented, there will still be 80,000 drug offenders in federal custody and 220,000 in state custody. Except for those who engaged in violence or clear-cut threats of violence, none of them should be.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:04:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent move (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, KenBee

    putting the brakes on: 21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor - July 21, 2011

    A move long needed. And it seems another confirmation of what the Powell Memo 1970 had as the "conservative" movement plan for this country.

    The CEPR  study (pdf) observes that US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also "substantially higher than our own longstanding history." The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about "100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people." After 1980, the inmate population "began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from "about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008."
    Racial targeting also a key factor in the agenda:
    Michelle Alexander points out in her book  The New Jim Crow  that more black men  "are in prison or jail, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850." Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates.
    This is such good awareness and action to see happening

    Thx MB

     - good deal:

    The sooner that deeper reform comes, the better for us all.

    I don't know where the "conservatives" keep their play book where imbecile GOP legislators get their moves but it's virtually unchanged or getting worse  - that is (Rachel Maddow video @ link):

    republican immigration amendments: 99% for the 1% or immigration reform for corporations

    Immigration reform amendments by republicans

    Ted Cruz intends to, but not yet proposed amendment:

    To provide that no person who has previously been willfully present In the U.S. while not in lawful status shall be eligible for U.S. citizenship
     Zero path to citizenship coming from former Canadian Cruz

    And from Mike Lee who actually did propose this amendment:

    To exclude certain employment of domestic services from the prohibitions on unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens.

    ..domestic service means: services performed by cooks, waiters, butlers, housekeepers, governesses, maids, valets, babysitters, janitors, laundresses, furnacemen,  caretakers, handymen, gardeners, footmen, grooms and chauffeurs of automobiles for family use.

    So a under-paid, unrepresented, disenfranchised, non-voting  black-market labor pool for the 1%ers.

    I’m hoping that the republicans keep on unraveling publicly just like this.  And that The white supremacist Heritage foundation  with members including Richard Spencer and Jason Richwine is inextricably tied around the necks of each and every republican supporting this.

  •  This is a good idea 4 the "federal prisoners" b... (0+ / 0-)

    This is a good idea 4 the "federal prisoners" but what abt "State prisoners?"

    •  each state is different, and the fed prosecutions (0+ / 0-)

      are pretty successful..98% I read recently.

      This reform though should lead the way for states to reduce their populations.

      Calif is facing mandatory prison reductions as (even) the supreme court (state or fed?...dunno) has mandated reductions based on iirc racial and inhumane conditions..can't remember exactly at the moment..I think it was an action brought about by prison reformers.

      Gov Brown has fought it, but the anticipation (and perhaps state budgets because of partly, unpaid taxes by corps. offshoring their profits as well) has lead to states dumping prisoners and the costs of them on impoverished counties, which often have to triage heavily and release dangerous criminals with low or no bail sometimes, the released are getting the message that you can do a lot of petty shit and jail and police are not a big deal, so keep doing what you do best. arrrgh.

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:05:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And the Other 480,000? (0+ / 0-)

    Estimates are there are about a half-million non-violent drug prisoners in our federal prison system. When are they going to get out?



  •  Good move (0+ / 0-)

    I would be surprised to see it go through before 2017, but at last a President has put this issue out there. Consider it a trial balloon and respond.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:32:02 AM PDT

  •  Rick Wershe is serving life for drug possesion (2+ / 2-)
    Recommended by:
    navajo, cville townie
    Hidden by:
    scoop, despaminate3000

    Freedom can't come soon enough for my friend Rick.

    Rick Wershe is currently serving a life prison sentence in the Michigan Department of Corrections for a single drug possession conviction from January 1988. When he was arrested he was only 17 years old. Newly uncovered evidence proves he was led into the life of being a teenage drug dealer by the federal government. Rick was recruited by a narcotics task force made up by the FBI, DEA, and several Detroit Police Department detectives in 1984 as a 14 year old juvenile, encouraged to drop out of high school and eventually put to work as a paid undercover operative in some of the state's most dangerous criminal organizations for the next three years.
       Following his conviction, he was sentenced under Michigan's ultra-tough "650-Lifer Law", a law erased from the books in 1998, allowing him to be eligible for parole.In the three times before the parole board in the last decade, he's been rejected every time. As of 2012, he was the only minor sentenced under that law in the whole Michigan prison system that remains behind bars. He is also the only person in the country convicted as a minor for a non violent crime facing the prospect of serving a life sentence.
       In the 25 years Rick has been incarcerated, he has cooperated with law enforcement extensively. Prosecutors have said that without his help, the largest police corruption case in Detroit's history would not have been possible. Some of the people ending up being convicted included members of Coleman Young's family.
       Rick's situation doesn't feel right in many ways. This site will hopefully educate people who are unfamiliar with his situation , however isn't intended for "fans" to glamorize or endorse his behavior.
       Once a boy who made a mistake, Rick is now simply a man in his mid-40's in search of a second chance.

    This is a letter from a retired Detroit police officer to the Michigan Parole Board in June, 2012.  ->

    This is a letter to the Michigan Parole Board from a former FBI agent who worked directly with Rick Wershe when he was working undercover for them and the Detroit Police Department. He is someone who knows the truth and is not afraid to speak up. ->

  •  Cost savings are both over- and under-stated. (0+ / 0-)
    In a May 27 letter to the commission's co-chairs, researchers said that reducing sentences of half the imprisoned federal drug offenders would save the government 83,525 "bed years," a measure of what it costs to keep one person incarcerated for a year. At $30,000 a year per prisoner, that would save the Justice Department about $2.4 billion.
    Overstated:  If you read the letter, this is a savings over time, not per year, so the implication is an over-statement of the savings to the DOJ.  .

    Understated:  They've developed an estimate of the savings to the DOJ.  The real savings are much higher.  The stats in that same letter put the average age of the prisoners at about 35 - 40.  Just for starters, these are people who cannot be in the workforce (and paying taxes) because of their sentences, and who may well have children who are in foster care, at public expense.  These are costs to the taxpayers that DOJ has not tried to assess, and they are high, too.  

    If we're going to use a cost basis for this decision, let's keep in mind that there are many indirect costs that should be considered as well.

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