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More than 200 federal drug inmates in NC to be released early

Posted October 9, 2015

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— A push to overhaul criminal sentencing is prompting the early release of thousands of federal drug prisoners, including more than 200 in North Carolina.

About 6,000 inmates are due to be freed from custody in the coming month, the result of changes made last year to guidelines that provide judges with recommended sentences for specific crimes. Federal officials say roughly 40,000 inmates could be eligible for reduced sentences in coming years.

Many of them are small-time drug dealers targeted by an approach to drug enforcement now condemned by many as overly harsh and expensive. But an AP analysis of nearly 100 court cases also identified defendants who carried semi-automatic weapons, had past convictions for robbery and other crimes, moved cocaine shipments across states, and participated in international heroin smuggling.

On November 1, about 100 inmates in eastern North Carolina will be paroled back into society.

"I think it is going to be a challenge," said U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker. "We are working with federal probation, we are working with re-entry counselors to come up with a plan."

Walker said the challenge is that federal probation is overbooked, even without an influx of new releases.

"They have more to do than they can do, and this will only add to that burden," he said.

Once out of prison, Walker said it is ultimately up to the freed prisoners to take advantage of transition opportunities. He said he also understands that people may feel uneasy about the massive release of inmates.

"I understand that concern, but I am also quick to add that on average, we are talking about an eleven month reduction on inmates who served significant prison sentences," Walker said.

Walker said his staff is challenging petitions of violent offenders and those who break the rules in prison.

Supporters of lighter drug sentences say there's no evidence that longer punishment protects public safety. Studies show that inmates released early aren't more likely to reoffend than those who serve their entire sentences.


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  • Charlie Watkins Oct 11, 2015
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    "Studies show that inmates released early aren't more likely to reoffend than those who serve their entire sentences."
    The same study also stated that Gitmo prisoners who are released will not return to the fight. This same study also proved that grits will kill fire ants and barking at the moon will regrow lost hair.

    These are some smart people.

  • Wayne Douglas III Oct 10, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Na. We can't do that. Remember that putting them to death, is cruel and unusual punishment. No matter just how cruel and unusual, they were to their victims, they all have more rights than you, I and every other law abiding citizen. You should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting this.

  • Dale Hayden Oct 10, 2015
    user avatar

    I have a better idea lets put everybody on death row to death, in the United States and that will free up some space and get rid of the sorry people on death row and do it now

  • Sonja Yagel Oct 10, 2015
    user avatar

    More drugs coming to the streets, there is no law anymore, especially with the current president we have who wants all illegal immigrants kept in this country as well as opening the jail house doors for convicted criminals.

  • Bill Simmons Oct 10, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Can you provide me with your source on that statistic? Thanks!

  • Wayne Douglas III Oct 10, 2015
    user avatar

    My drug dealer of choice, is UPS. That dude is always on time. At least half of these folks will be back in prison within a year.

  • Edward Tilley Oct 10, 2015
    user avatar

    ""Studies show that inmates released early aren't more likely to reoffend than those who serve their entire sentences.""

    Maybe not, but they are able to reoffend sooner, which will ultimately mean more offenses.

    I am amazed at the lack of common sense of the folks who write this stuff!