U.S. Justice Department may release hundreds of non-violent drug offenders
Last week, the Department of Justice announced that it planned on reviewing clemency (early release) applications for the thousands of inmates who have already served long sentences for non-violent drug offenses due to racial bias and mandatory minimums. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the change would be focused on the people who would have received shorter sentences if they were charged with the same crime today, and that the department might hire dozens of new attorneys to process the wave of expected applications.
Inmates who would be affected include Barbara Scrivner, sentenced to 30 years in prison for occasionally helping her former husband, a drug-dealer. Everyone involved in her trial agrees that, if she were charged today, she would have gotten less than the 20 years in prison she has already served.
This initiative is part of a larger plan by the Department of Justice and the White House to remedy decades of overly harsh and racially biased sentencing in America. Given the scope of the problem-such as the exploding prison population-there is still work to be done, but releasing these inmates from prison is a worthwhile step in the right direction.