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Attorney General Holder Hopes to Cut Sentences of up to 20,000 Prisoners Under New Rules

In a proposal that could have a far-reaching impact on the Black community, Attorney General Eric Holder is urging the U.S. Sentencing Commission to cut the sentences of as many as 20,000 federal prisoners serving time for nonviolent drug offenses.

It is Holder’s latest move to reform the sentencing guidelines that he has said disproportionately affect African-American males.

The Justice Department appealed Tuesday to the U.S. Sentencing Commission to make some prisoners retroactively eligible for reduced sentences. The commission has already approved a measure to reduce drug sentences for future nonviolent offenders. This would apply to offenders already in federal prison — affecting an estimated 9 percent of the 217,000 federal prisoners. The pitch was made by Sally Yates, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and Charles Samuels, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Not everyone in prison for a drug-related offense would be eligible,” Holder said Tuesday. “Nor would everyone who is eligible be guaranteed a reduced sentence. But this proposal strikes the best balance between protecting public safety and addressing the overcrowding of our prison system that has been exacerbated by unnecessarily long sentences.”

“We believe that the federal drug sentencing structure in place before the amendment resulted in unnecessarily long sentences for some offenders and that has resulted in significant prison overcrowding,” Yates said in prepared remarks for the hearing.

In other Justice Department news, a bipartisan group of 21 senators sent a letter to Holder asking for the department to investigate the Veterans Affairs scandal.

Authored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., the letter follows an internal audit by the VA released Monday showing more than 57,000 veterans had been waiting for up to three months for a medical appointment, and that an additional 64,000 who enrolled in the agency’s health care over the past decade may have never been seen by a doctor. This audit came on the heels of an interim inspector general report from the Phoenix VA facility finding that 1,700 veterans were waiting for a primary care appointment but not found on any waiting list. The Phoenix facility is the one that initially made news when it was reported that up to 40 veterans died waiting for care.

“Evidence of secret waiting times, falsification of records, destruction of documents, and other potential criminal wrongdoing has appalled and angered the nation, and imperiled trust and confidence in the Veterans Health Administration,” the senators said in the letter. “While we commend and appreciate the IG’s pursuit of his inquiry, an effective and prompt criminal investigation must inevitably involve the resources of the Department of Justice, including the FBI.”

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2 thoughts on “Attorney General Holder Hopes to Cut Sentences of up to 20,000 Prisoners Under New Rules

  1. I believe the max amount time an inmate will recieve is 23 months off their time. These folks are trying to pull the wool over black people eyes.

  2. I need to try to help people to understand what obabma has been doing since he has been in office regarding black people, especially black men incarcerated for crack cocaine offenses. This may be a bit long. In 1986 an act was passed called the Anti Drug Abuse Act. It stated one gram of crack cocaine was treated like 100 grams of powder cocaine. In 1986 under the Fair Sentencing Act Obama signed, it was changed to 100.1 grams of powdered to 18.1 grams of crack cocaine. The disparity existed for 20 years, before it was addressed, and still did not undo the damage of two decades. The defendants sentenced between 1986, and 2010, according to the 6 Circuit Court of appeals said those persons should have the opportunity for retroactive redress. Keep in mind between 1988 and 1995 in 17 states that included large cities, not one white person was tried for crack cocaine related offense. Then in another court US v Blewett it was ruled that the fair sentencing act should apply to all defendants, including those sentences prior to it passage. The court decision was fair, but the Obama justice department seeked to OVERTURN THE RULING. We are talking about 5000 mostly black men, leaving prison, but will not, and Obama is doing this for the most cynical of motives. I believe the Prison Industrial Complex, made donations to Obama campaign. Why is Obama fighting to keep these black men in prison. The US v Blewett, appeal has not been heard yet. If they loose, they will probably appeal to the USSC, dragging these people lives on in these prison, when a court said they should let them go. In the meantime, since the election is not that far off, what they are doing now is for political reasons. We need to ask Obama is he still gonig through with the appeal? When Holder comes out talking about reducing sentences, ask him about US v Blewett. The 23 months some will get, if they are released, their time was already short. These men should be released. Then Holder said, only the nonviolent ones, and no weapons, what does that mean? So if someone was arrested for dealing drugs, with a weapon on them, not that they used a weapon in dealing drugs, is he saying these people will not get a reduction in their sentence? Folks, I am telling you Obama is unreal, a black man handling other black men lives like this.

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