On Friday, the United States Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to make retroactive an April decision to reduce the penalties for most drug crimes, meaning it will now “apply to nearly 50,000 federal inmates who are serving time under the old rules.”
Consequently, tens of thousands of federal inmates being held on drug offenses will be eligible to apply for early release beginning next year.
In testimony before Congress and the Sentencing Commission, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has pushed for reductions in drug sentences. Highlighting racial disparities, he has cast prison policy as a civil rights issue. He has separately begun a Justice Department review to help nonviolent prisoners apply for presidential clemency.
“This is a milestone in the effort to make more efficient use of our law enforcement resources and to ease the burden on our overcrowded prison system,” Mr. Holder said.