46K May Get Reduced Drug Sentences

Rich Pedroncelli/AP,Rich Pedroncelli

FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2011 file photo, concertina wire and a guard tower are seen at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif. Prison officials announced Monday, April 23, 2012, a master plan to reduce prison spending and end federal oversight of vital prison functions like health care and mental health.

More than 46,000 people will be allowed to petition for reduced prison sentences for drug crimes, thanks to a unanimous vote by the U.S. Sentencing Commission on Friday. That’s the largest number ever to benefit from a guideline amendment being made retroactive, said Families Against Mandatory Minimums. The earliest possible release date is November 2015 (delayed from Nov. 1, 2014). “This amendment received unanimous support from commissioners because it is a measured approach,” said Judge Patti B. Saris, head of the commission. “It reduces prison costs and populations and responds to statutory and guidelines changes since the drug guidelines were initially developed, while safeguarding public safety.” Prisoners who successfully petition for a reduced sentence will have an average of 25 months shaved off, while still serving 108 months on average.