U.S. to Release 6,000 Inmates From Prisons

The release, scheduled to start at the end of the month, will be one of the largest one-time discharges of federal inmates in American history, officials said.

Comments: 260

  1. And the Democrats/liberals wonder why law abiding American citizens want to own guns? Drug dealers are criminals, and should not be coddled. They may be non-violent, but they are directly responsible for violence perpetrated by drug users.

  2. We are not talking about drug dealers here, mostly drug
    users.

  3. When was the last time you had a shoot out with a drug dealer--or anyone?

  4. Yes, I do wonder why law abiding American citizens want to own guns. All of us just found out about this prison release now. What was the reason for owning guns yesterday before you knew about this? And the day before? And the day before that? Admit it. You're just making it up as you go along because you just like having guns. All the rest is window dressing.

  5. Thank you!

  6. The results are predictable. Over 50% of those released will reoffend--and many in the same way. It is a fundamental blindness of Liberalism--regarding human nature--in this case, failing to understand that releasing drug-dealers back into the general population will beget recidivism. Drug dealers will return to the streets and become--what else??....drug dealers. It's the lure of easy money for the non-skilled and lazy--who believe that people working for a living are suckers. Let's agree to come back a year from now--and review how on-target was my prediction. Think reverse-Nike....Just Don't Do It!.

  7. There will be high rates of recidivism, as there always have been with anyone released from prison -- because when you've gone to prison, it's harder to get a legal job. Compound that with the fact that prison puts former criminals in close contact with -- who else? -- other criminals, and you have a snowballing problem that quickly grows to sizable proportions. If you think bad policy is a good reason to keep people locked up for non-violent offenses, I know a place that might help you -- and no, it's not prison. It's an intro to logic course.

  8. So according your post, we should permanently lock up "drug dealers" because they will almost always be...drug dealers? Sound more like an early 20's politician. "Marijuana/Alcohol is gonna make your children felons and eat your babies! Be afraid!"

    So your solution is permanent incarceration? That sounds more like a fascist state. I mean, if they are all going to just commit more offenses we might as well just execute them all right? It's time that the American cowardice regarding criminals come to an end. "They're going to get me and they should be locked away!" <--- not a valid argument with non-violent offenders.

  9. It costs upward of $30K annually to keep someone in prison. No doubt you feel that that is money well spent.

    How would you feel about spending the same 30K on treatment/education/job programs for those released to PREVENT recidivism?

  10. This article makes fleeting mention of half-way houses. Will there be any effort to prepare these victims of our perverse system for their return to a society that they may not recognize when they return? Should we expect people who have served sentences for perhaps decades to immediately adjust? A real commitment to justice for these people would involve developing a robust program to assist them in their transition back to normal life.

  11. I would also like to know how many of the people being released still need treatment for substance abuse and addiction issues, and what services are available and accessible for them so they can engage in such treatment as soon as they are released.

  12. It's nice to see a little sanity in the treatment of low level nonviolent offenses. We don't need to be the nation with the highest per capita incarcertion rate.

  13. We don't need to be the nation with the highest per capita incarcertion rate

    High incarceration rates keep law abiding citizens safe.

  14. That leaves approximately 2,594,000. In this context, 6,000 is a deceptively large number. It's a drop in the bucket.

  15. where do you get that statistic? The article cites a number of at least 50,000. At least means more than, but that's a huge margin of error you're citing.

  16. Unless YOU or one of Yours is that 'drop' in the bucket who now gets freedom, Stephen.

  17. Long overdue.

  18. Who needs weed? You can drink as much beer as you want and start a fight in any big league ballpark in the country.

  19. About time!

  20. I hope this can be expanded to the state and local level.

  21. I do to but, standing in the way are all the private prisons which Podunk towns have gone into debt to build. Imagine their bond ratings if this were to happen !!

  22. I'd expect a liberal from illinois to advocate the opening of our prison doors. Tell me Hanzel, would you feel the same way if these drug dealers were given state assisted lodging in your neighborhood? And if in your sanctimonious progressive mind you actually support such action, I would be curious to know how you would feel after aforementioned drug dealers starts selling dope to your daughter/son/wife/etc

  23. YAAAAAAAAAY!

  24. A bipartisan act of long overdue humanity, justice and intelligence.

    Has this Congress lost its idiotic 'lock 'em up and throw away the key' mind ?

    I can't believe the United States actually has a functioning Congress.

  25. The people move with glacial slowness to end the War on Drug Users.
    We should all get a life and cease worrying about the "victimless crimes" that others (and many of us, of course) commit.
    As Nisargadatta says, "the man who thinks he knows what is right for someone else is a dangerous person."
    Think for yourself?

  26. Remember: Don't believe everything you think!


  27. Nisargadatta also said "Punishment is but legalized crime. In a society built on prevention, rather than retaliation, there would be very little crime. The few exceptions will be treated medically, as an unsound mind and body."

  28. Long overdue and an indication that people from very different parts of the political spectrum can work together for justice.

  29. The so-called War on Drugs has been a massive failure and a startling waste of tax dollars.

  30. Also a startling waste of lives and a destruction of families.

  31. And a financial bonanza for privatized prisons (which didn't even exist in the US before the so called "war on drugs")

  32. I agree HDNY,

    Releasing drug dealers back among the population is destructive to the families of their next victim. With the high rate of recidivism among drug users in this country it should only be a matter of time before they are out there ruining lots of other people's lives.

    Drug dealers should be locked away not given a kiss on the check and sent back out among the lambs.

  33. This is a small step in the right direction. The politicians responsible for making drug use a criminal as opposed to medical matter, ruining the lives and families of millions of non-violent "offenders" at a cost of billions of dollars to US taxpayers while exporting death and destruction throughout the world, should be held accountable.

  34. As I said in my post, "thanks Joe Biden"......

  35. So the war on drugs started in 1970 or so? Forty five years later, what have we learned? We have learned that what we have been doing for the last 45 years has not worked. We have more drugs and more drug addicts. Why are Americans so stupid?
    How about this? Provide all drugs -- whether they are legal or not -- to addicts at walk in clinics. To receive the drugs, the addicts must be enrolled in a treatment program. And in so doing, they are automatically registered in residential and occupational programs.
    We show compassion for people with addictions. We help them off the streets. We offer them a chance to get their lives in order. Let's learn from our mistakes for a change.

  36. We need more of this sort of forward thinking. I don't have all the answers, but the Drug War is clearly a failure.

  37. A very good idea, but the Regressives, I mean Republicans, will never agree to the expenditure.

  38. It costs $28,900 per year to incarcerate a person in a federal prison. If they spend that much in helping these people make the transition back to civilian life, it may have a chance of working. Somehow I think they'll end up getting the short shrift and many will wind up back in prison.

  39. @Peter Too bad that it doesn't work that way. There is no cost savings unless prisons are abandoned at no cost and the staff is fired at no cost, none of which will happen. So the cost per prisoner will merely go up.

  40. I did the math, $180,000,000. Could really help reestablish these individuals in society. I wonder how much of this will go to pork barrel projects courtesy of Congress, instead.

  41. With all those empty beds maybe we can start prosecuting the crooks who were responsible for the financial meltdown in 2007-08 and those at GM who were responsible for the deaths of at least 124 people.

  42. Naah, statute of limitations for Blankfein & Co. GM, yeah!

  43. Great idea!! They will be able to pay for their upkeep in the prison and there will be no additional cost to the taxpayer. How about throwing in the executives in charge of the prisons?

  44. So let me guess, the first thing let's do is get these people up on the voter rolls and registered as Democrats.

  45. Oh Goody!

  46. No, the goal is to get them work and support habits of success. To become producers and contributors. The prohibition against voting still stands. Check the facts before going snark!

  47. It's really hard for the average person to understand what doing time in Federal Prison is like. Precious time lost, or time in hell, would describe it. So much is taken when you go to prison, and to get out earlier than expected is a humbling gift. Hopefully those affected will remember what their time inside was like, and use their remaining days for their good, and the benefit of a greater society.

    For the politicians who crafted the laws that have ended up locking up so many non-violent offenders (thanks Joe Biden) to have sentences scaled back and make it retroactive is truly a rebuke. The "drug war" has been a epic failure from the start, and it's hard to imagine the reality of those harmful policies are just now becoming clear to the craven lawmakers.

    People leaving prison after having their lives torn apart and squashed by our "justice system" suffer from a form of PTSD, and hopefully they will get some help successfully integrating into their new lives. Shame on the politicians for letting this go on so long, but grateful that some people who have been locked up for far too long are finally going to see the light of day.

  48. When you next door neighbor is a "non-violent offender," you'll finally understand how they wound up in prison. Good luck to you on that.

  49. To state "nonviolent" drug offender is as ignorant as it gets!

    ANY drug dealer is causing the destruction of the local community, family unit, individual user.

    The results of the illegal sale and its use are catastrophic. Violent turf wars, theft of property, and the destruction of the family unit. I really don't need to justify my argument, the proof is in every community across America.

    Again, to state "nonviolent" is pure ignorance.

    Most likely the small percentage being released have done long stretches and a commutation of their sentence is due, but nonviolent, ridiculous statement!

  50. I used to be one of those that didn't think much about sentencing durations. Then I read a piece about Shon Hopwood and his contention that anything over 5 years for a non-violent offense is excessive. Thinking about that idea, if I lost 5 years over any period of my life there would be a phenomenal gap in life experiences and connections with people. Now I am stunned every time I hear about our justice system throwing down 10 year, 20 year, and 30 year sentences.

  51. Aboutti me.

    Our "drug war" is as pointless and useless as our activities in Afghanistan, Iraq et alia.

  52. Yet, we have some of the lowest crime in decades. Failure?

  53. Way, way, way beyond pointless. Unbelievably destructive, all of our "wars", especially if you're on the wrong end of it all.

  54. What exactly is a non-violent drug dealer, anyway? Is that like a military dictator who never personally pulled the trigger on the people who died during his regime?

  55. There is a big demand for drugs ranging from dangerous drugs like heroin, crack cocaine to less dangerous drugs like cocaine to relatively safe drugs like marijuana. Drug dealers who have not been directly engaged in violence, could be considered to be responsible to adverse health effects of their customers, but one can make that same argument about the fast food industry. The average American's health is threatened far more by eating too much fast foods than by smoking pot or inhaling cocaine.

  56. I think the article refers to drug users, not dealers.

  57. "Is that like the military dictator who never personally pulled the trigger?"

    No. It's like your own kid or the good neighbor you like, minding his own business smoking a joint and getting thrown into a prison for it because people like you can't discern the shades of grey in the vast philosophical region between black and white.

  58. It should be 6,000 inmates a day are released for 180 days. We need to let the non-violent drug offenders free and use the emptied cells for white collar crime.

  59. So you would rather live next to someone who sells dope rather than someone who is guilty of insider trading?

    When your daughter starts whoring herself out for money because she got addicted to smack courtesy of the newly released drug dealer next door lets revisit this conversation shall we?

    ...pathetic.

  60. and yet you think the bankruptcy of an entire nation is somehow more noble than the status of who your daughter chooses to sleep with? I would assume that's none of your business, and if she's on drugs and needs help - then obtain it. but white collar crime is far more costly to this nation than the frat boy who sold to her, sir.

  61. It has been a long time coming.

  62. Good. Now provide 6,000 full-ride scholarships to kids in the projects using the money saved.

  63. Why not to the best qualified not just minority projects residents?

  64. Awesome--a small change in terms of the numbers, but great for those $6000 folks. What's gonna happen to the saved money, too?

  65. bonuses for private prison executives. What else?

  66. This is a humane and overdue development.

  67. Rcaine, you're sick to speak that way and I'm happy I don't have to live in the same country as you anymore.

  68. I hope "my" inmate is among them! I worked for a publisher once and a letter was routed to me from a prisoner in Texas doing something like 25 years for a small marijuana offense. He sweetly asked for books to keep himself occupied and told me some detail about his life that made me so sad. I sent him a bunch of books, and did it again the next year. Horrible, how so many lives have been ruined.

  69. Agreed, not to mention the $ wasted. The War on Drugs, what a waste. The war should only have been against major traffickers not petty pushers, and users.

  70. It's horrible, just horrible. It's like a meteorite fell out of the sky and hit this guy. He wasn't doing anything wrong, just minding his own business, and he ends up in prison.

    I know a man who worked for the Federal Public Defenders office. I asked him about these various claims one reads about by people who say they had just a little bit of pot, Or it was their boyfriend who was selling the drugs, not them, and they end up with a lengthy prison sentence. He said all the cases he knew about involved wholesale amounts - kilos, not ounces - of illegal drugs.

    Don't believe everything your read in a letter from someone behind bars.

  71. Don'[t believe everything an inmate tells you about his life.

  72. Most of these released inmates will be located to large cities. You know, the ones (SF, LA, Chi, NY, DC, etc) run by progressives. If you thought things couldn't get worse (fire departments responding to homeless drunks, bloated pension plans, poor performing schools), they just have...

  73. What a great thing to do....i'm in on this change in policy 100%.
    .

  74. I'm really not clear on this.

    First paragraph:

    "WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prison as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and ’90s, according to federal law enforcement officials."

    Last paragraph:

    "The changes would be retroactive if the legislation is enacted, and lawmakers estimated that up to 6,500 prisoners — many of them charged with offenses related to crack cocaine — could qualify for resentencing under the changes."

    Is this the same ~6000 people? Or what?

  75. Thank you Laura for your careful reading of the article! I too am confused about your quoted paragraph examples (first & last)...
    "...nonviolent drug dealers in [?from} the 1980s and ’90s..."Does this mean the 6,000 inmates have been locked up for 20-30 years? for crack cocaine? and/or are they non-violent marijuana users and/or sellers, etc. who are serving more recent prison lock-ups...?

    I hope the author researches and clarifies who these prisoners are: by their "crimes" and "length of lock-up" in Federal Prison...!?
    Thank you for your good question...

  76. It's a good first step.

    "The war on drugs" has been a colossal failure from Day 1, just like Iraq has been colossal failure since March 2003.

    But without people on the outside to support the reintegration of these people into society, releasing them from prison will not fix any problem. It will simply shift the responsibility for dealing with the problem to someone else.

    And given that we don't even help most of the homeless vets who served the country, or give adequate medical care to vets, it's hard to believe that released prisoners will receive any support at all.

    Conservatives will continue to push "An eye for an eye...and the whole world blind" philosophy, like Inspector Javert in "Les Misérables."

  77. Despite the acerbic comments here, it's hard to see this in anything other than a positive light. It's a bi-partisan action that gives people their lives back while reducing government spending--stop complaining and celebrate an example of effective government. I hope we see more efforts towards prison reform and reduced incarceration, and more examples of our elected officials doing something other than squabble.

  78. Good! A drop in the bucket!!!!!

    Millions more need to be released who are imprisoned on the 'word' of snitches trying to get reduced sentences and anyone caught with a minimal amount of drugs with no other non-violent charges against them. ANYONE imprisoned on marijuana charges should be released immediately.

    The war on drugs has been a tragedy, a monument to entrenched racism in our judicial system and a waste of money, resources and millions of lives of non-violent 'drug offenders' - many of whom are innocent of any crime.

    It's not possible to rebuild all these lives. But at least set them free.

  79. These empty jail cells should be made available for violent felons, those who use guns in their criminal activities. If we are truly concerned with gun violence, why not begin sentencing anyone who even brandishes a gun in the commission of a crime to a minimum sentence of five years without parole with sharply escalating sentences when victims are shot and killed. These criminals exceed by far the numbers of mentally ill young men, and their victims, that make the national news with their massacres.

  80. Gotta love it when the left and the right are working together on a serious issue. Thank you to the Senators and Obama pushing this.

  81. Drug dealing is violence. "Nonviolent drug dealers" is not only an oxymoron, it's an absurdity.

  82. Professors and scholars Angela Y. Davis and Michelle Alexander and many others are to be commended for their tireless advocacy against mass incarceration and for keeping this issue in the nation’s conscious as well as bringing international attention to it.

    President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder are also to be commented for their leadership in elevating this national disgrace.

    Talented young men and women, primarily from communities of color fuels the prison industrial complex, as the War on Drugs specifically targets black and brown communities. Lives are effectively being destroyed for minor non-violent drug offenses that result in long sentences for possession of small amounts of drugs that are currently being legalized in states across America. Not only are there long lasting negative consequences for the individual, as a prison record effectively denies one access to meaningful employment opportunities as well as public benefits such as education, housing, and voting, there are negative consequences for the families, children, and communities of the incarcerated.

    The next step is to dismantle policies that make it extremely difficult for the formerly incarcerated to find meaning employment opportunities.

  83. Another Obama success. Another feather in his cap. Seems, as his term is coming to an end he is adding feathers at a fast legacy. History will compare him perhaps with other great Presidents like FDR and LBJ.

  84. LBJ? He does not seem in the same league as FDR.

  85. Sarcasm and we all know it.

  86. People who are users, not violent and don't steal to support a habit, should be released (and never should have been locked up).

    And I agree they should be put through drug treatment programs at taxpayer expense.

    But someone has to ask the question, how many times do they get to relapse.

    Do they ever have to accept responsibility, change their behavior and become productive. Or are we offering lifetime support.

    There isn't unlimited money for such programs.

  87. Once one is an addict, it is about physical compulsion, not responsibility. The behavior is driven by the need that occurs on the cellular level. Not all have the ability to simply kick their addictions.

    We need to have proper centers where registered addicts can get drugs safely, without the need to commit crimes or to take the chance of catching diseases or overdosing. This is done without a lot of hoopla in other industrialized democracies and it works well. It can be done here, too, without all the moralizing and finger wagging.

  88. We should all thank the Obama Administration for so fundamentally streamlining our government. The three-branch system has proven to be so unnecessarily cumbersome. What's great about Obama is that he acts like a King.

    Each one of the 6000 was charged under laws duly passed by Congress and then tried and sentenced by Article III courts. So what? King Obama thinks the laws and courts were wrong, so the inmates will be summarily released. He, after all, has a pen and a phone.

    Like many Americans, I am tired of the taxpayer expense of incarcerating large numbers of economically non-productive drug abusers, and would be open to Congress debating meaningful reforms. That debate, however, would have to consider the carnage many of these people caused when they were out on the streets, wrecking communities to feed their habits. King Obama's unilateralism is not how our government is supposed to work.

    Who will be called to account when many of these people resume their drug use and all of the nasty social side-effects that come with it? Oh yeah! Then we will be asked to fund drug treatment and recovery programs.

  89. as long as you are open minded about the program

  90. The problem is the drug laws - not the drug users. I have smoked pot several times a week for the last 40-years. In that time I have launched several corporations and been awarded multiple patents in renewable energy. It is not drugs that is harmful - it is sending people away to prison for drugs that harmful.

    Do you see Colorado with legal pot falling apart? No you don't Not sure why you call the president - a king? He is doing what he is constitutional allowed to do. Most judges would disagree with you - as their hands were tied and forced to hand out long and unreasonable sentences.

    In England - heroin addiction is treated as a illness - addicts get their drugs legally and pay very little and guess what - most hold jobs and are completely functional.

  91. My friend has apparently not bothered to read the US Constitution, which commits clemency to the executive, "King" Obama. Try this out: Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution of the United States provides: “The President . . . shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

  92. I still remember reading about a guy caught in TX with a couple of Mary Janes in his pocket sentenced to spend a couple of years in jail.

    The key is non-violent. I also still remember the three strikes and you are out - thanks Rocky - BTW anybody remember Megan - the heroine of many late night TV pundits.

  93. Obviously this doesn't make a dent in "mass incarceration." Unless it's followed by more substantial releases, it will be just another establishment lie.

  94. Prison reform and sentencing reform is overdue. But simply cutting loose "6,000 inmates" is a recipe for disaster, especially since the post-prison care and monitoring will, no doubt, be as inadequate for them as it routinely is for people generally released from prison.

  95. About time.

    All the "war on drugs" has done is perpetuate the central and south american criminal cartels, and provide lots and lots of cushy, highly paid jobs for mostly white male Americans in local, state & fed law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecutors and the criminal defense industry -- along with ancillary money makers such as "counseling" services, anti-drug advertising and the like.

    All of the backs of people whose wares cause a lot less sickness, death and heartache than do those of the Busches, the Strohs, the Coors, the Gallos, the Brown family and countless others -- yet the latter are mostly still esteemed socialites and leaders in their respective communities. I've nothing against beer, wine and whiskey but what a farce!

  96. I'm sure all the bleeding heart liberals are cheering. Sanctuary cities, open boarders, open prisons, no consequences. Its all fun and games until these criminals turn back to their old ways. Somehow I feel our well meaning progressive friends would have a change of heart if and when their sons and daughters start getting hooked on the juice that these crack heads will undoubtedly start pushing again.

    'Non violent drug offense' is as laughable as non impregnating rape. Just because the damage is not right there in your face doesnt make it any less devastating. Well done Liberal America, well done.

  97. You noticed the part about a bi-partisan group of legislators introducing this bill, right? You've surely read that much of the impetus for reforming the sentencing laws comes from the conservative wing of the Republican Party, right? You undoubtedly are aware that states with the lowest incarceration rates also tend to have far lower crime rates, right? And, clearly, you know that study after study has shown that for non-violent crimes, diversionary programs are far more effective at reducing crime and recidivism, right? Or did your right wing rage blind you to all that?

  98. The consumption of alcohol results in thousands of drunk driving accidents annually that kill both users and innocent people alike. And how much domestic violence in the U.S. is alcohol a factor in? Do you blame liberals for that as well?

    BTW - Apparently you didn't read in this article on how this is the result of rare bi-partisan agreement in Congress. Sorry that I'm disrupting your big bad liberal screed with some real facts.

  99. I think this is a great plan.

    But just to be fair, transparent, and accountable I think that the public officials who think it is sound to release all of these "non-violent" offenders should be held personally, criminally and civilly liable for any crimes they commit, no different from a corporation releasing harmful, toxic wastes or dangerous products.

  100. Corporations are rarely held accountable for their crimes.

  101. Im sorry, but drug dealers are not "non-violent" criminals. Let's just stop and think about all those who have died from drug overdoses, and where did they get those drugs? Let's think about all the people who have died in urban areas protecting turf and drug lords. Let's think about all the devastated families of drug addicts and dealers too. I'll bet they have suffered lots of violence! "NON VIOLENT"?? I don't think so. And just because they are not incarcerated, doesn't mean we are saving any money people. It just means we are spending on social progamming in another way. It's really simple, you break the law, you go to jail. And you don't get let out early because of overcrowding. My workplace is overcrowded, but no one is tossing any one out into the street because of this!! And I suppose no one has contacted the halfway houses which are about to be descended upon? Or has anyone thought to contact all the drug rehab places in the country so that they can get ready for an onslaught? Anyone looking at the typical recidivism rate for drug addiction? Hmm...

  102. Yes these people caused damage feeding their habits. But you must remember that their habits are being fed because of the war on drugs. To stop them we need to ease prison sentences, which will reduce the drug prices as there's no high risk in the bussiness anymore. Most dealers would stop and actually look for a job if they have to work 24/7 for fifty bucks. The next step would be actually treating drug users as patients and not as 'criminals' who could end up in jail.
    To stop people from doing drugs you don't have to lock up the providers either, they will always find another one. You have to legalise all drugs. People will naturally manage its economy and make the price go way down, which will reduce the amount of dealers, which will reduce the amount of users.
    It's like a paradox, an endless battle agains our spirits this war on drugs.

  103. Are you talking about Big Pharma being the dealers? You are right, Oxycotin has caused more overdoses in a single day than marijuana has caused since the beginning of time.

  104. Buying, selling and using drugs is, in fact, a non-violent crime. The reason is because it is voluntary. Violent crimes have one "participant" who is not volunteering to be part of the activity or transaction. They are doing so only under the threat or use of violence and that is what makes it a violent crime. When a mugger puts a gun in your back and demands that you hand over your wallet, you are giving him the money only under threat of violence. You are not volunteering to give him your money and that is why robbery is a violent crime. When someone participates in a drug transaction, no one is forcing him. Both the buyer and seller are volunteering of their own free will to participate and that makes it a non-violent "crime." Just because drugs can be damaging to the body does not make their use "violent." McDonald's food can also be damaging to the body and that does not make a crime of buying a Big Mac. As far as the violence that goes along with drug dealing, that is ENTIRELY the result of drugs being illegal. Legalize drugs and the violence goes away. Look at Prohibition of alcohol to see an example of how legalization ends the violence of a black market.

  105. Let's make sure to track what happens when these folks are released. Hopefully, those released do not commit a ton of crimes, but they may cause a ton of trouble. Then we can learn if this turns out to be a good idea or a bad idea based on facts, not preconceptions.

  106. "but they may cause a ton of trouble" , this idea is what "justified" mandatory minimum sentencing. Most people in the US just don't get it. Why do we(US) incarcerate 25% of the world's prisoners: we are revengeful people.

  107. How about let's make sure there are initial social supports and job training opportunities so they can stay out of trouble.

  108. This is a perfect "chicken and the egg" scenario. If they do commit crimes after release, it probably has less to do with how they got to prison, than the disruptive nature of losing a portion of your life in prison and being released w/ little or no skill, in addition, to a large section of the work available to you being denied either due to a prison record, or racial bias.

  109. What groups in NYC are helping these people being released? How can I help? It would be great to have this kind of info in the article, to connect the national story to the local reality. Thank you

  110. Amen.

    We need to legalize all drugs and end the cartels, gangs, and overdoses.

    And house the homeless rather than housing folks who have homes who used or sold drugs.

    Proceeds should go to treatment, made readily available to everyone who seeks it.

    And cops can be returned to heroes rather than intrusive nannies and dishonest interlopers.

  111. Exactly right. Legalize all drugs and focus on treating those who abuse substances. If some voluntary transactions are illegal, freedom cannot be preserved. The only way for police to find voluntary transactions is to invade our freedom because in a voluntary transaction, no one is running to the police to report the "crime."

  112. how can you argue it failed? after the explosion of drug related crimes in the 70's and 80s and the mass incarceration during the 90's and 00's, crime is now at it's lowest level since the 1950s. that includes a population that has grown from 150 million in 1950 to 350 million people in 2014. failed? i think the numbers tell the hard truth about the what mass incarceration has accomplished.

  113. Oh, I have an idea. Let's lock everyone up. If we put everyone in jail, there will be no crime!

  114. That is the dumbest thing I heard. Crime has dropped in every country including the ones that legalized drugs since the 50s. Besides it is a war on drugs, which has failed since so many people use it and die from overdoses from it. The cia under reagans administration was the one that started the crack epidemic.

  115. Let's see if the elite will put there money where their mouth is. Do you think they will allow these people to move into their neighborhoods (e.g. Montclair, NJ)? Will they offer them jobs?
    I suspect a sharp increase in lawlessness and homelessness. What a horror.

  116. One thing is certain.
    This will not make Americans safer.

  117. And that's exactly why this administration is doing it.

  118. Isn't there a word for when a government puts its citizens in danger? Police state? Egypt, Libya, ???

  119. Many people charged with possession of non-lethal drugs, marijuana in particular, are also charged with intent to traffic, even though police had nothing to base that charge on but an assumption. People end up in jail because they're convicted of 'intent to traffic' when in many cases, the person charged had absolutely no intention of selling any of what they possessed. Most defendants cannot prove, or afford to attempt to prove, that they're not a drug dealer. Those who do attempt to fight their intent to traffic charge end up with a sentence for possession that's at or close to the maximum allowed. Unfortunately, it's all part of the game prosecutors play. A conviction is virtually guaranteed, and jail sentences are profitable to the Prison Industry. Jails were never intended to make money but in America, that's what it's all about.

    Releasing 6000 people is a start but is barely a surface scratch to a system that needs a thorough sandblasting. There is absolutely no reason for most of these people to be put into halfway houses. This, in my opinion, is just another way to fatten profits for the Industry. The US Government has a very, very long way to go here. As I said, this is a start, but by no means is it a good start.

  120. Great comment. I was Federally imprisoned when I was caught with ten pounds of small medical-marijuana plants. I was charged with "intent to manufacture marijuana for the purposes of delivery" and was given an offer to plead to one count. If I had refused, I would have had an additional "weapons" count stacked on top because there was an old shotgun (which I had gotten for my 15th birthday) on the premises; and an additional term would have been stacked on top for not "accepting responsibility" for my "crime". I could have ended up facing 45 years in prison. There is no medical defense in Federal law for possession of cannabis, so I took the plea.

    At the sentencing hearing, I used the time to explain the benefits of cannabis, and its history. I also showed my legal income from the two years prior (an average of $100,000 a year, 20 years ago) and my medical history, proving to any reasonable person that I was not a "dealer". The judge agreed, and gave me the "minimum" he could under the guidelines; I received 6 1/2 years in prison (later reduced to 5 when the Clinton guidelines were eased).

    Until the drugwar is ended and cannabis re-legalized, this insanity will continue. Thanks for your comment.

  121. For many of the families it will be considered a miracle.

  122. Wear the pants, the shirt and shed the tears of a mother that lost her child to a high level drug dealer "no doubtably" convicted. I would assume you have no children and perhaps live a sheltered life.
    Once these prisoners are released, certainly it will take a bit of time, but the recidivism rate will more than likely be greater than people realize. Think of the officers throughout the nation that will have to deal (once again) with the same criminals. How many peace officers will lose their lives to these criminals after they are released. No one knows and only time will tell. Hopefully the government will track and make public the statistics for each and every one of the soon to be Parolees.
    I am for making someone's life better, however, I ask that the current administration complete a thorough and definitive psychological background on each releasee. Additionally, I've learned that the so called "GPS monitored ankle bracelets" are not very reliable. In fact, in some cases, the bracelets (which I'm sure the government will insist the releasees wear) are not very reliable in alerting authorities when a violation occurs. Please Google and read for yourself.
    I went off track a bit and apologize, but wanted to jump ahead and let everyone know the leg bracelet is not the solution the administration will ultimately come up with.
    I simply DO NOT want to see or hear of a single life lost associated to any of the six thousand proposed releases.

  123. The next challenge for those who will be released is an unforgiving society.

  124. @Gregory Walton. I don't feel that it has anything to do with being "unforgiving". It's more about fear, trust and a choice between the convicted and the not accused.

  125. or perhaps felons who loved society so much they dealt drugs to it, despite the consequences it would have (i.e., addiction, over dosing, etc.).

  126. If the crime was selling cannabis, I think society will forgive this "crime"

  127. How many of these sentences were plea bargains for violent offenses?

  128. Criminalizing the use of drugs is the worst human rights abuse the U.S. government has perpetrated since the Vietnam War. It may be stupid and risky to use drugs, but it should not be a crime to be stupid. It is deplorable that most Americans have passively accepted the government's claim to have the right to ruin people's lives by sending them to prison, break up their families, and condemn released drug offenders to the miserable status of ex-felon. The drug war has been and continues to be a crime against humanity. Just substitute the word "alcohol" for "drugs" in the statements above if you still support the drug war.

  129. It is about time we addressed many of these life shattering penalties for minor drug offenses. Bravo!!

  130. Perhaps if all states embrace the ban the box legislature regarding job applications, these folks and hundreds of thousands of other folks (still awaiting release from state prisons) will have a chance at gaining meaningful employment (if the economy picks up and jobs are created). The public sector is a great place to start but it is primarily filled with the "employment by nepotism" policies (like the Kim Davis' who come from a lineage of state workers). This includes government jobs and school districts. Lots of good people out there that made a mistake and was punished severely. Their crimes cannot even measure up the atrocities that happen behind closed govt Workers' doors. Many problems lie ahead for these folks as they quickly age into retirement i.e. Housing, jobs, and chronic illness.
    I also wonder how these prisons will fare when there is a slight shortage of free labor. Perhaps the govt will find another activity to criminalize against the black and Hispanic communities... It's all cyclical and it becomes transparent as we age..

  131. I agree with the tenor of many remarks made here already; I wish to add the rhetorical question:

    "Can we now - authoritatively and definitively, without rebuke or meaningful response - call this a miserably failed policy?"

    And so, unable to soon rectify or balm the socio-economic wound in American culture these ill-conceived, failed bodies of law produced, can we please look to the future about which laws and protocols being advanced and maintained NOW are likely to have the same outcome...?.... so that we not cut ourselves again?

    Can we please examine the efficacy of supermax prisons, the existing federal prohibitions on commonly normalized substances, the seizure laws and what happens to the proceeds of seized property, the administration of the death penalty in those states where it exists, crime involving law enforcement officers, the administration of bio-evidence and its part in the appeals process?

    These are just strobe flashes of many issues related to Justice administration in America, but for me this news item calls to mind the basic notion behind each of them in their future - valorous, warring, get-tough policy (made in the anger that "fear" can cause) is a debunked, discredited notion.

  132. As a criminal lawyer, I am familiar with the extremely harsh sentences imposed on certain first-time, non-violent offenders. And even some second-time offenders involved in the lowest kind of street-level drug transactions. Sentences driven by unreasonable Sentencing Guidelines and needless mandatory minimums. Sentences that seldom fairly reflected an offender's relative culpability. The present reforms and policies--laudable as they are--will, I fear fail if we do not make adequate resources available to ex-offenders who will be struggling to get back into society and if society does not adjust its perceptions and understanding of the prison experience to help these new members of society make a smooth re-entry into our world.

  133. The war on Drugs is a complete failure and has led to disrespect for law enforcement, devastation of our country's inner cities and disenfranchisement of minority communities. It is high time these people are released and sentencing laws changed.

  134. I'm torn because non-violent drug 'crimes' should never have been prosecuted with such vigor, and in fact to this day marijuana possession is still being strictly enforced and prosecuted. Unfortunately, I see this as ultimately a political ploy, timed for the pending elections, that will allow more potential democrats to vote, since the released individuals will have their voting rights returned.

  135. I guess doing something right is likely to enhance their chances at the poles. So be it.

  136. Thank you. The battle for justice continues, unabated. We'll get it right sooner of later. People should NEVER be locked up for non-violent marijuana crimes. Use these empty cells for the Wall Street Bankers and other white-collar criminals.

  137. Hippie go home... You really think drug dealers are innocent victims of the system? They made a choice to deal drugs (some of the 6000 include those who pushed more than just mary jane FYI) and now you want to let them out?

    They choice to break the law. Choices have consequences. Nobody forced them to push drugs on other people. I fear for the future of our country that people like you can vote.

  138. So you want to empty the prison cells of non-violent criminals, and put other non-violent criminals in them?

    Wouldn't it be better to put murderers and rapists in them?

  139. This really isn't a liberal/conservative issue. This is a common-sense versus being-a-goof issue. Of course non-violent "drug offenders" should be released. Heck, let 'em out and let them do all the drugs they want, so long as they don't hurt other folks. If people want to self-medicate with happy-pills, or even OD on heroin, let them do it. The idea that someone is in jail for non-violent drug offenses is just boneheaded - regardles of your political views on socialized medicine, economics, free-trade, or gun-rights. Where I live, some guy was just walking done the street, and some goof shot him with a hunting arrow, and killed him. This was just a guy out for a walk. Now he is dead, for no reason at all. Police resources need to focus on finding and locking up the nut-cases and the violent, ignorant goofballs who like to break things and hurt people for fun. The Europeans have this one right. Let the druglovers do their drugs, and view it as just a social problem. Keep your cops working on the bad stuff, and your prisons for the hard, violent cases that must never breathe free air.

  140. These are pushers being released not users. They deal death to your children which is no different than shooting someone

  141. As long as they weren't selling drugs to people under the age of 21 I'm ok with it -- you have a right to kill yourself if you want to. However, anyone who was selling to young people should not be let out. They have most likely hurt many people that may not have been mature enough to make that decision.

  142. OMG - this means trouble. Felony rates always rise when convicts are set loose.

  143. You have to wonder if the length of time some of these prisoners have spent behind bars has now made them ineligible to find employment. Do they have housing with family? Will it turn into more killings since the ones dealing NOW will not want to give up any profits to some of those getting out who will return to plying their trade. Crack and heroine dealers are dangerous.....

  144. Just another fake reform.

    The Federal prison population is over 200,000:

    http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie.html

    This release represents less than 3% of that population, and isn't a meaningful change. So long as the drugwar keeps going; so long as addiction is considered to be a criminal problem; so long as cops have the right to mess with honest people because they are smart enough to use cannabis instead of a dangerous drug like alcohol--then the insanity will continue. This "reform" is just another attempt by our corporatist overlords to try to fool the masses while continuing the appalling thefts and destruction committed by the prison-industrial complex. (I served 5 years in Federal prison for growing ten pounds of small medical-marijuana plants. I know whereof I speak.)

    End the drugwar, repeal the Controlled Substances Act, abolish the DEA, and turn addiction over to the doctors where it belongs. Or see the misery continue. There is no other choice.

  145. And read Roberto Saviano's book Zero Zero Zero in which he advocates legalization of cocaine. Note that this book explains how the Mexican cartels are almost at the level of world government. Private fleets of submarines, jet freight planes. catapults over Donald Trump's wall, governments in thier pockets, way out in front of the DEA.

  146. Bravo but too slow! The United States is second only to the Seychelles in its incarceration rate, thanks in large part to overly harsh penalties for nonviolent crimes. We spend too much money incarcerating people for too long. This is a long overdue step in the right direction.

  147. It will be interesting to see whether any of these released inmates file suit for a new form of wrongful imprisonment and/or civil rights violation and win!

  148. This is fantastic news, no doubt. But, it is a baby step forward. For perspective, on average, over 10,000 ex-prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons every week. And according to the U.S. Department of Justice, over the course of a year, 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison.

    http://www.justice.gov/archive/fbci/progmenu_reentry.html

  149. Can you explain your assumption that letting convicted criminals (particular federal prisoners) out of prison early is necessarily a good thing?

  150. Ok, now post the reincarnation rates for those same numbers. Your only putting out half the info

  151. It is good news that an injustice is being addressed and corrected. Sometimes it is hard to admit you were wrong and those that were bravely admitted they were.

    Thank you.

  152. When bankers get caught manipulating currency trades from which they benefit in the amount of an estimated 38 Billion dollars, the Feds strike a deal, give us about 8 billion of it and we will look the other way. No one went to jail. When Emily is caught with a little marijuana in Daddy's Range Rover, she is scolded by dad and he gets her a good lawyer, (like there has ever been a good lawyer), or she goes to summer camp, I mean a short stay in Malibu. The guy who sold it to her gets slammed against the hood of a polices car, then spends 20 years in Jail. This isn't fair, they both are just as guilty. But the dealer suffers the consequences. Emily gets the new BMW to go to Hobart and the less well off kid from the Bronx goes to jail. He no longer sees his kids, and has the shame. So. why not have him give a portion of the proceeds to the Feds like the bankers ?

  153. Yet another stupid soft on crime policy by the left. Let's assume that these really are 6000 people who were convicted of non-violent drug crimes, even though we know the high level of violence among drug users and sellers. How many cars, homes, and businesses were broken into to pay for these drugs? How many shoplifting incidents happened to obtain money for drugs? How many muggings happened? These people may not have been caught committing these crimes, but they were convicted of drug crimes that are correlated with these property crimes. It is common knowledge among the corrections community that the vast majority of people who are in prison use drugs, even if they are not in prison for the drug crime. Why do we want to let these criminals loose to prey on the public? I don't. Mr. Obama has the Secret Service to protect him; normal Americans don't.

  154. So, in your eyes, a conviction for one crime (nonviolent drug offense) automatically makes them guilty of all other crimes, no matter who actually committed them?

    If believing that one needs to be found guilty by a jury of their peers is "stupid soft on crime policy by the left" then I am 100% for "stupid soft on crime policy by the left." It beats what you are trying to sell.

  155. Yeah, let's get tough on crime again. Caught smoking pot or speeding in your car? Federal penitentiary for you.

  156. 6000 is not that many, considering how many are incarcerated. I'm willing to give this effort the benefit of the doubt.

  157. Why do many of you see this as a benevolent and just act? The government has no money..that's why these people are to be released.

  158. I am surprised that the for profit prison system is allowing this to happen. Great.

  159. The for-profit prison system gets lots of attention but is is pretty small and doesn't have that much influence.

  160. Approximately 10% of American prisons are for-profit. Less than 10% of state prisons, where most convicts (particularly street-level drug offenders) are found, are for-profit. Approximately 19% of federal prisons are for-profit. As noted, the vast majority of incarcerated Americans are in state prisons.

    Keep speaking truth to power.

  161. You don't do time in Federal prison for possession. My guess organized crime can't recruit experienced and otherwise qualified drug dealers from the street anymore and used their political connections to get these people released.

  162. "Three strikes"/mandatory sentencing has affected a lot of small-timers, though.

  163. my guess is you're a glass half empty kind of guy.

  164. Nice conspiracy theory. How did Jade Helm workout?

  165. Government is going bankrupt and can no longer afford the "3 hots and a cot" being provided to the people in the cage. Good news...

  166. Thank god. Let's keep this up. After all the non-violent offenders are released, we should start releasing people, maybe the oldest ones first, who have had years of good behavior in prison. Especially if they have family willing to take them in. We can start now putting together housing and services that can help people acclimate to life outside prison walls.

  167. Of course you will open your home to them...right? Perhaps you could start a trend..."adopt a felon"? As far as the sane among us are concerned, we WERE paying to house and feed them...where they couldn't harm anyone. I guarantee you one thing, being in prison on a "non-violent" offense does NOT equate to the individual being "non-violent". But individuals such as yourself are always happy to put others at risk to satisfy your moral angst.

  168. Agreed! Nobody said life is fair. Let's just turn our cities, streets, subways, buses, parks and everything into a deadly jungle. After all we can lock ourselves in our homes. Nowadays the Grocery stores and Amazon will deliver. Just be careful unlocking the deadbolts to pick them up.

  169. So now; when will states follow the lead of Federal Prisons? With tens of thousands of individuals languishing in State prisons for non violent drug [possession] crimes (the 100-to-1 crack/powder cocaine fiasco), the justification simply does not exist; except to prove that Crime- pays quite well in terms of annual state correction's budgets, salaries, new housing development and a steady revenue stream into "prison communities" spread throughout this nation's poorest communities.

  170. If one considers the effects that drugs and alcohol have on living tissue, the sale of drugs or alcohol to an addict or an alcoholic can not be described accurately as a non-violent act. It is a key link in the chain of destruction of a body and a soul.

  171. This is a good beginning of the end of an insane system. We still have far to go, but I am grateful that we are least headed in a better direction.

  172. Drug dealers destroy lives, and most will be back in business.

  173. As opposed to the legal makers and sellers of products containing alcohol? How may lives have they destroyed compared to those who are in the illegal drug trade?

  174. Yep....just like the corner liquor store!

  175. Federal inmates sentenced for non-violent drug crimes are a drop in the U.S. prison bucket. How about some real reporting, NYTimes? Find out how many prisoners nationwide fit these criteria.

    And don't look just at prisons financed by the government. Let's find out how many drug "criminals" are being housed with our tax dollars in the private jails and prisons of the for-profit prison-industrial complex.

  176. Approximately 17% of all incarcerated persons in America were convicted of non-violent drug-related crimes (this includes those who plead down from more serious charges, which may have involved violence). Approximately 45% of all incarcerated persons in the US were convicted of violent crimes.

    Approximately 10% of prisons in the United States are for-profit. Fewer than 9% of state prisons, where the vast majority of convicts are incarcerated, are for-profit.

  177. The problem with this scheme isn't who is being let go, it's who is letting them go. You have here an administration that is besieged by problems all over the world, many of them of its own making. Can an administration that is bombing hospitals in Afghanistan and unable to prevent Chinese hackers from stealing our secrets and has just negotiated a lousy nuclear deal really be trusted to pick out the correct prisoners for early release?

  178. I initially misread this article and thought, “What a great idea!” Then I reread the opening para:

    “The Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prison as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and ’90s, according to federal law enforcement officials.”

    Not users; dealers. And, as the article goes on to indicate, dealers in hard drugs, not just pot.

    Dealers in hard drugs being released to return to their neighborhoods, link up with their suppliers, and start peddling to the true victims: The addicts. Those addicts more often than not have little in the way of resources, and most likely commit crimes, violent if resisted in the act, to feed their habits. Dealing hard drugs is not a “non-violent” crime, any more than buying the services of a contract killer is non-violent.

    Then, the children, looking for role models. Well, maybe we can put up signs around grade schools forbidding dealer operation in their neighborhoods. Yeah, that’ll do the trick, hard drug dealers are well known for obeying regulations.

    Unless the release program differentiates between dealers of hard drugs on the one hand and users of, say, marijuana, on the other: It is a dreadful idea.

  179. So are you for.the prohibition of alcohol as well based on your views?

  180. Back in the mid-1990's I visited prison industries at Fishkill in NY, to demonstrate equipment for their production of furniture for the state office buildings. My first impression upon entering the prison was, "the white guys have the black and hispanic guys in prison." I worked with a few prisoners for a few hours, and at the end of the demonstration/trial, they thoroughly cleaned and neatly packed up the equipment. I remarked to the supervisor that they were the best crew I had ever demonstrated to, and he replied that they were short timers, would get out within a few months and were on their best behavior.
    It is long past time that the war on drugs and minorities ends and the release of these prisoners is the first step in ending that destructive and racist war.

  181. We're still number one! In number of prisoners.

  182. We are exceptional!

  183. I know first-hand that people are not born seeking trouble. Behavior stems from surroundings, in and out groups, socialization, depression, or mental illness from some stressor. A kid born into a terrible area is very likely to become a product of his/her poor surroundings. The same holds true within healthy surroundings and supportive personal relationships that people develop with one another.

    The man in prison for dealing drugs very likely started his behavior as coping mechanism for mental illness or from perceived acceptable behavior in his social circle. The poor coping leads to prison and deficient socialization with other within those walls without any true treatment. No wonder why he may be statistically more likely to reoffend.

    The ideology that “justice must be served” gets pushed far too hard as the ultimate solution to every deviant act. Our problem never stemmed from the person’s actions. We have been using fire on a sore that needs to be bandaged. The problem to be focused on is managing the mental illness. Health awareness, stigma, and social resources are our need. Treatment and awareness will even work towards eliminating the mass shootings that we see so often. Imagine that we may not need to “reform gun laws.”

    The country with the most shootings, mental health issues, and people in prison. It’s far too easy and comfortable for us to just lock these people together. Sadly, justice is immediate comfort. Lets solve the problem from the stem.

  184. By all means, the drug sentencing of the past was too harsh. But where do these released inmates go? They cannot stay in a halfway house forever. The rent is too high for working people. There is extremely limited affordable housing. There is limited full pay housing. There are limited on the books job opportunities for the unskilled. More so if they have a criminal conviction. Whether or not you put it on the application, work history gaps are always asked about. Was the full picture looked at?

  185. I agree that it is the humane and right thing to do and release non-violent offenders so they can resume their lives, but make no mistake this will not save any Federal Dollars. The cost to rehabilitate, retrain, educate, etc., etc., will cost the Federal government quite a bit of money. This may well be a worthy expense since these folks can rejoin society as contributing citizens - This is the net gained benefit, not saving dollars.

  186. Perhaps it's not about dollars, it's about souls.

  187. thank you

  188. I don't think even the most comprehensive community corrections programs cost anywhere near as much as incarceration.

  189. We must now "Ban The Box' so this people can get jobs, housing and start a new life.
    We know the sentencing was unfair and many went on about their lives after being caught with drugs simply because of the color of their skin. Now we must do the same for those caught up in this situation so that they can move forward. "Ban The Box" and reinstate voting rights after release. Stop "Stop and Frisk."

  190. This experiment has already been done: CA's Prop 47 released nearly 3000 prisoners. San Francisco's crime rate has soared. There's no guesswork as to what the outcome will be here.....

  191. Please state your source. There has been an increase of automobile break-ins here, but the crime rate has not "soared". Violent crime has actually gone down.

  192. Has it been definitively proven that one caused the other? I doubt it. Crime rates are complex phenomena.

  193. You reduce overcrowding by killing the worst offenders when the prisons are full.
    If the prisons are full then the punishment is clearly worth the crime!
    Bottom line you can waste $40k a year on a criminal or you can kill them.
    Have you got $40k lying around to waste?

    This ones for you Donald! I dare you.

  194. Ok. So all these people being released were not violent. But they were dealing larger amounts of drugs. It's not state prisoners, it's federal prisoners. Now when they get out they still have a record so job opportunities will be lacking to say the least. And they just spent how long in prison? Living in that environment tends to make people antisocial and often violent. I can't wait to see the reincarnation rates

  195. 'Reincarnation rates"? Whoo, doggies! Do you mean "reincarceration"? Or do you mean "recidivision"?

  196. "I can't wait to see the reincarnation rates." Reincarnation - good to read that you have faith in this program and cannot wait to see the rebirth of the released prisoners. That they will be reborn, be renewed, go forth, and prosper.

    Or, did you mean re-incarcerated? This word seems more in tune with the rest of your post.

  197. Yay! I bet they're just dying to find out.

  198. I think this is a no-brainer. The sentences were too rigid, didn't allow the possibility of rehabilitation. Dealing with nonviolent drug crimes harshly was popular 20 years ago. It didn't work. It's only good for companies running private prisons.

    I know the law-and-order types are screaming about being "soft" on crime. But we know that continuing what doesn't work and expecting a different outcome is (insane, not too bright, hard to justify.) There are bipartisan efforts to change sentencing laws- and this at a time when Congress can't agree on very much at all.

  199. Reality check money be better spent on invading mexico an get rid of drug lords who sending their poison meth an crack into usa ruining tens thousands children lives for life

  200. Sure. Let's invade Mexico. Great idea. Next Canada: Because we can...........

  201. Now only about 2 million more wrongfully convicted, non-violent drug offenders to go. Drop in the bucket.

  202. or rightfully convicted. HOw can you be so sure they are "wrongfully"" convicted.

  203. Does this include those who plea bargained for lesser charges which otherwise would have been classified as violent or weapons possession crimes?

  204. No, this only includes the immeasurably larger percentage who are innocent but were forced to accept plea bargains (by bandstanding prosecutors trying to prove how tough they are and get re-elected), who would otherwise have been sentenced for decades for "crimes" they never committed.

  205. karo 2951,

    no doubt all incarcerated drug dealers (or most) do not "deserve to be there". THey are all "victims " of racism, etc.

  206. karo, no one - not the President, not this article, and none of the released prisoners - has indicated that the released prisoners were wrongly convicted. If anything, these prisoners were selected precisely because they did not disavow their criminal acts.

    Thus, you're a liar, spreading falsehoods on behalf of that jolt of sanctimony, and the sense of relief that accompanies re-directing self-antagonism at external targets.

    Morality is not costume jewelry.

  207. Now, legalize cannabis and regulate it and tax it like alcohol. Also, allow farmers to grow hemp. Two thinks that will certainly continue tor educe the prisoner population at the federal and state level. Also, this will put a huge dent in the flow of black market cannabis.

    Despite detractors, and some half truths, legalized cannabis is working in Colorado.

    The federal government should not just dump 6.000 people on the Us, without them being placed in gainful employment.

  208. I wouldn't go that far to say that legalized Marijuana is working in Colorado. Tax wise, yes. But how many more people are getting hooked on a drug that they don't need to be? More people are also driving under the influence; that is dangerous.

  209. A case could be made that some drug dealing is a violent act. What the deal led to death by overdose or vehicular manslaughter or suicide of the user?

  210. Oops, omitted a word:

    A case could be made that some drug dealing is a violent act. What IF the deal led to death by overdose or vehicular manslaughter or suicide of the user?

  211. No Eric, by definition cases which were violent would not be included in these. Most of these cases are low-level offenders, and all are must be non-violent; most were part of conspiracies where they were wrapped up in bigger cases and charged with drugs they never actually dealt, or simply convicted under mandatory minimums. Would the banker who sold a mortgage that failed be held responsible for the buyer who committed suicide when his house went under? By your definition...yes.

  212. That would mean that alcohol " dealers" would fit this bill as well... or are they exempt because it's legal?

  213. Releasing all those prisoners early in California was just what we needed--thousands of unemployable drug addicts with no place to go. Our crime rates are climbing fast.

  214. "Predictions are difficult, especially when you are talkng about the future."

    Yogi Berra.

    The Justice Department action here sounds like a home run.

  215. Yeah, let's keep people locked up because we have no idea what else to do with them. That could apply to many people out here on the street today.

  216. These are not addicts. They are pushers. We have a wonderful president, don't we.

  217. In theory, I guess that financing programs (for "job training") for parolees makes more sense than warehousing them in prisons. However, there is no need to reinvent the wheel: western European nations as well as Australia, have programs that work. Hopefully, this change in policy will have a positive outcome for thousands.

  218. yeah, I am sure those drug dealers can make as much at some low level job than drug dealing. Plus there will be employers breaking down walls to hire them. You are aware that recent college grads are being hired for min. wage jobs? How would a prison convict compete, assuming they even wanted to go straight?

  219. Not with SCOTUS in command!

  220. This need not be a good news. One unforeseen problem is, some of these non-violent offenders may engage in violent crimes when they can't find work. We have to have a jobs-program for ex-offenders who have hard time to find jobs. Employers don't want to take chances on ex-offenders.

    The other day I interviewed one of my patients, a white woman who spent some 6 years prison following a drunk-driving accident where a pedestrian was killed. She was convicted of manslaughter. She is a well-educated, very well spoken, and attractive enough woman in her late 30s. She is on parole now. She was hired as a gas-station clerk, but when they learned she was on parole for manslaughter, she was told it was there policy not to hire people who were ex-offenders! There are numerous such stories.

    Unless we entice employers with monetary reward, like $2-3/hour to hire ex-offenders, most employers would be reluctant to hire such people. This may also be the case with inner-city minority youths who are HS dropouts. they are the ones who are tempted to resort to petty crimes. They should also be subsidized with $2-3/hour so that they would be eager to work. Provide jobs to them in different ways, even if the jobs are make-work programs. In the end, the cost will be mostly paid for by reduced penal expenses.

  221. If a drug dealer can make $5000, $10,000 a week why would he take a job making $8 per hour.

  222. Ahhh, don't be so pessimistic. "States across the country are passing laws intended to make ex-offenders more likely to find jobs and, as a result, less prone to commit crime again. Behind the legislative trend is an unusual combination of budget-conscious officials seeking to trim prison populations and activists opposing “structural discrimination” against applicants with criminal records." – http://americaswire.org/drupal7/?q=content/states-easing-restrictions-ag...

  223. "We have to have a jobs-program for ex-offenders who have hard time to find jobs."

    How about a jobs program to provide jobs for the currently unemployed who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, I would think that if anyone deserves a $2/3 "subsidy" it should be them rather than ex-convict drug dealers.

  224. I hope that there's some serious re-acclamation planned for these former inmates returning to communities that have changed massively while they were locked up. In DC, at least, many will return to find that their old neighborhoods are now hipster playgrounds, with studio apartments renting for $2000 a month.

  225. This is an affront to all law abiding citizens who are trying to keep their families safe.
    Obama is out of control. The Justice Department doesn't make laws and neither does the President! The inmates were sentenced by judges in the Judicial branch of government.

  226. Actually, no they weren't. The judges were obeying the then-new sentencing guidelines, and many of them protested from the bench and in their opinions.

  227. Matt, your words are a statement about yourself. It is your thought process that is unsafe. It is my belief that you take pleasure in knowing that there are those who are suffering, locked up rather than rehabilitation in a multiplicity of ways that benefit society, and the convicted individual.

  228. Well that was a poorly thought out knee jerk reaction. We used to have laws against Witchcraft, but when we became enlightened the laws were repealed and anyone in jail for the offense was released. Is this not reasonable and just?

  229. Many of us are, well, quite high on the Justice Department action to release nonviolent prisoners convicted of drug crimes.

  230. People often ask me how Canada can afford free healthcare, generous parental leaves, low cost day care, old age pensions etc. Well one big reason is that by incarcerating people at a much lower rate than in the U.S (at about the world's median rate of 125 per 100,000 as opposed to the US rate of 750 incarcerated per 100,000), we save billions of dollars that are then spent on making our lives much easier (and we are grateful). The fact that the the U.S with just 5% of the world's population has 25% of the world's prisoners, roughly 2.3 million behind bars, is staggering. Releasing six thousand is a drop in the bucket and still people protest.

    Perhaps the way to gain their support on this issue is to remind them that the average cost to the U.S. taxpayer to keep an inmate in a federal prison in 2014 was around $30,600 per year (and in some states that figure is far higher). I think even the most hardened law and order types could appreciate the savings. Just releasing those 6,000 inmates would save over 18 million tax dollars a year.

  231. Agree. In fact, even better, 180 million dollars would be saved!

  232. maybe Canada does not have as many drug dealers to incarcerate, on a per capita basis , as the US.

  233. So the bottom line is that serious drug offenders/pushers should not be incarcerated because it's too expensive? I'm all for saving tax dollars, but when bad people are not held accountable for their crimes society ends up being the one who suffers. Here in Calif. the government and courts have determined that our prisons are overcrowded, therefor felons are routinely released early. And sure enough, crime rates are on the rise.

  234. We need to address the current lack of opportunities for ex-cons as well.

  235. when you become use to making $5000 per week pushing drugs why would you want to work at McDonalds.

  236. Shouldn't the currently unemployed get first crack at any available jobs rather than ex-con drug pushers?

  237. can't they just go back to pushing drugs? is that not what many, if not most, will do? That does not sound like a lack of opportunity to me.

  238. Wake up. These are not drug users who are caught with personal amounts of drugs. These are pushers who sell these drugs to your children Mr and Mrs America. The majority of them will be out on the street selling drugs to your little Tommy or Sue. We have a president who has totally lost it.

  239. We fear each other so much that we own more guns than anybody and lock up a greater percentage of our citizens than anybody. Seems that people only feel safe with you if you legally buy a gun. Then your neighbors assume that you'll always be rational- otherwise they wouldn't be so eager to support your right to buy it in the first place.
    If you are so worried about Tommy or Sue, try some parenting.

  240. Not our kids we are concerned about. Many of those in jail are from one parent homes..if they are that lucky. You are free to help as many of them as you like. So how many will it be?

  241. No, YOU wake up! We had two pushers living right in our neighborhood, selling drugs to the children of Mr. and Mrs. America who happened to drive up in pretty expensive cars for high school kids.

    Did these two little darlings go to Federal prison? Of course not. They got a slap on the wrist and were allowed to live their lives, though both were later arrested for one offense or another while in college.

    I suspect those in Federal prison were from the inner cities and a different skin color.

    Look, you hate the President, I get it. But please don't tell those of us who've lived some of the nonsense and seen the sentencing disparities to wake up.

  242. There has been no war in America's history, with the sole exception of the Civil War, that has resulted in inflicting as much collateral damage on it's citizenry as this misbegotten War on Drugs.

  243. I think the wisest thing to say is "We'll see." I hope the best for these folks and their families. Best of luck to you and your families.

  244. what about the families of those who may be victimized by these felons. Or are they not human?

  245. you do realize that for far less for the cost of incarceration the government could subsidize a wpa style employment program

  246. For the same cost we could have sent these people to Harvard or Yale.

  247. If you read the article you would know that most of the 6500 inmates being released were in jail for crack cocaine convictions and not cannabis. just saying.

    from article: lawmakers estimated that up to 6,500 prisoners — many of them charged with offenses related to crack cocaine — could qualify for resentencing under the changes.

  248. Check your spectacles, bro, that's 6.5K additional, as stated: The changes would be retroactive if the legislation is enacted, and lawmakers estimated that up to 6,500 "other" prisoners. The key word is Other.

  249. Bravo. Let's hope that there is help and services to help these folks get their lives and acts together after they are released so that they can vote for Bernie Sanders.

  250. And I thought Article 1 section 9 of the Constitution, "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.", prohibited ex post facto laws. Silly me, believing that the Constitution would restrict the Administration from doing what it wants.

  251. It's my understanding that ex post facto laws prohibit the criminalizing of past, previously legal, behavior. I don't see that being the case here.

  252. Well perhaps states like Colorado and Oregon should welcome these inmates with welcoming arms and sell weed legally now...

  253. Act in haste, repent at leisure. War on drugs, war on terror - next time let's hit the pause button when someone raises the alarm and screams, "Something must be done and done now!!", shall we? And any politicians who's changed their tune between then and now better not be polishing any halos. Just admit you made a mistake, apologize and move on. We don't want to hear the rest of their self-serving, insulting tripe.

  254. I couldn't agree more. Doing something just to do something is always a mistake. Take gun control. Somebody is going to do something, and all it is going to do is put more burden on law abiding citizens.

  255. Well Said! Thanks for the mature comment.

  256. a little international perspective: indonesia and saudi arabia still execute people for selling narcotics. possession also can have severe penalties, like public flogging. mexico and other american countries have called for liberalized drug laws in the past, but have been diplomatically rejected by the US. surely, the world is watching today.

    humans often like drugs. governments often do not, except for tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and those with a patent or an expired patent.

  257. i wonder how many of these "non-violent" drug dealers were truly violent-free in their career.

  258. The US incarcerates a higher portion of its citizens than ANY other country on the planet. "The Land of the Free"???? What a joke.

  259. Non violent? How many violent crimes were committed by people on drugs? By people trying to get money to buy drugs? Also dealers are being let out because when they were arrested, their act was non violent. How many dealers protect their turf with violence?