Today, almost 6,000 people in federal prison will be released. This is part of drug law sentencing reform, and 227 of those who will be free were from North Carolina cases. In nearly 80 of those cases, the Eastern District of North Carolina was responsible for sentencing.
This is reportedly the first of many thousands of federal prisoners who will be eligible for early release. Last year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission adopted several changes that included reducing prison time for those inmates who are considered nonviolent drug offenders. Not all who are eligible will be released.
According to the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District, "Officials on all sides of this issue are working diligently to ensure the safety of our communities and a smooth transition back into society" for those that are set free.
About a third of the budget for the U.S. Justice Department is for prison spending. Right now, about half of the population in federal prisons is drug offenders. The "War on Drugs" brought about the minimum sentencing requirements in the 1980s, but due to overcrowding and harsh penalties to nonviolent drug offenders, the sentencing commission made changes that include reductions in prison sentences.
Each inmate's history is reviewed to be considered for early release. Violent acts in prison and other infractions could result in an inmate not being released early. The courts in the Eastern District have put together a four-part approach to help the inmates who are released early integrate back into society. This includes court programs where offenders will check in with probation and parole officers and others, job programs to help offenders find employment, programs to help offenders adjust to day-to-day life after prison and call-in programs so that help is easily found by offenders.
If you believe that a loved one is eligible for early release, you can find more information by speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Source: The News-Observer, "Federal prison release includes more than 200 NC cases," Anne Blythe, Oct. 29, 2015