U.S. Sentencing Commission Allows Thousands of Prisoners to Petition for Reduced Sentences
Last month, the United State Sentencing Commission voted to allow thousands of federal drug prisoners to petition for reduced sentencing. According to Famm.org – an organization committed to advocating against mandatory minimum sentences – the historic vote will apply to as many as 46,290 prisoners servicing federal prison sentences for drug crimes, the largest number of federal prisoners to benefit from a retroactive amendment.
FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) hailed the unanimous vote as a victory for the many prisoners and families affected by overly harsh drug sentences. Changes to draconian drug laws and sentencing policies have been sweeping the nation, and in April, the Commission voted to lower federal drug guideline sentences for prisoners sentenced on or after November 1, 2014. Last month's vote ensured that the amendment to lower sentences would also be retroactive and apply to those who are currently incarcerated. Prisoner will now have the right to petition federal courts for reduced sentences that match those of incoming prisoners. Similar retroactive votes were made regarding crack cocaine sentences in previous years.
Last month's vote will have one of the largest drug sentencing impacts to date. Additional details about the decision include:
- Eligible prisoners could have sentences lowered by an average of 25 months.
- Sentence reductions could result in significant cost savings, including saving up to 79,740 "bed years" – a bed year is one federal prisoner occupying a bed for one year.
- The earliest possible release date will be November 1, 2015.
As a proud financial supporter of FAMM, The Hammer Law Firm, LLC supports the recent decision and believes that it helps restore a sense of fairness to our criminal justice system. As Attorney Nicole Chiravollatti states,"the federal sentencing commission took a bold step in the right direction for families affected by mandatory minimums on federal drug charges. Hopefully the spirit of the federal government's actions will be felt by the states and lead to more sensible solutions to drug charges at the local level too."