2015 October 6

Justice Department to Release 6,000 Prisoners –Beginning of the End of the War on Crime?


The U.S. Department of Justice on this day announced that it would begin releasing about 6,000 federal prisoners between October 30 and November 2, 2015. About two-thirds of the prisoners will be placed in community-based halfway houses or home confinement before being placed on supervised release. Another one-third are foreign nationals who will be deported.

The release of so many federal prisoners –the largest single release in history– was one part of a growing national trend to turn away from the policy of massive incarceration. The U.S. Sentencing Commission had previously reduced sentences for drug offenders. Many states have taken steps to reduce overly harsh prison sentences. And similar reforms have growing support from both conservatives and liberals in Congress by 2015.

The recent changes by the U.S. Sentencing Commission could result in the release of as many as 46,000 of the nearly 100,000 drug offenders in federal prisons who qualify for early release. The Sentencing Commission in the fall of 2015 estimated that an additional 8,550 federal inmates could be eligible for early release by November 1, 2016.

Putting all the recent developments together, it could be that the beginning of the end of the war on crime and the war on drugs has begun.

Read: Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010)

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