Justice Department to begin release of over 6,000 federal inmates under new guidelines


The Department of Justice on Friday will begin releasing some 6,112 federal inmates under the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s new sentencing retroactivity guidelines for drug offenders.

This will be the largest one-time release of federal inmates ever, a law enforcement official told Fox News.

The timeframe for release by the DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons is Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. Under the terms of these new sentencing guidelines, which took effect on Nov. 1, 2014, the Justice Department was given one year to prepare for the release of these prisoners.

In a background briefing on Wednesday, a Justice Department official told reporters that 77 percent of those being released in the coming days are currently in half-way houses or in home confinement.

As an official put it, their release will serve as an “official handoff” from the Bureau of Prisons to probation.

Of those 6,112 federal inmates slated for release, 1,764 will be turned over to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where they will either be deported or face deportation proceedings.

According to a law enforcement official, under the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s guidelines, inmates who were deemed eligible under the new rules could apply for release. Each case was then reviewed by a federal judge in the district in which the inmate’s case was tried in order to determine whether it would be beneficial to public safety to grant the prisoner early release.

The Justice Department official at Wednesday’s briefing explained that the DOJ was conscious of public safety when granting each inmate early release, adding that every prisoner who applied under these new guidelines underwent a public safety assessment.

According to data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, judges denied roughly 26 percent of the total petitions they had received, as of Oct. 8.

According to statistics provided by the Department of Justice, “the average sentence of inmates receiving a reduction is 10.5 years. The sentencing reductions will bring those sentences down to an average of about 8.5 years.”

All 50 states will receive inmates, as will the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. Texas, Florida and Illinois will see the highest number of released federal inmates – Texas will receive 597, Florida will receive 310 and Illinois will have 260 prisoners claim residency within its borders, according to Justice Department data.

When pressed by Fox News about the possibility that these inmates could contribute to an already heightened crime level in some major U.S. cities, one law enforcement official dismissed the idea by saying the vast majority of these soon-to-be-released inmates have already spent a significant amount of time in half-way houses or in home confinement reintegrating into their respective communities.



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