Department Of Justice To Release 6,000 Prisoners By The End Of The Month

In an effort to lessen overcrowding in prisons, the Department of Justice is scheduled to release about 6,000 prisoners by the end of October. In addition, setting the prisoners free is also an action to roll back severe penalties that were given to drug dealers, who are non-violent, during the 80s and 90s. The freeing of 6,000 prisons will be nationwide and will start on October 30 up to November 2.

According to the Washington Post, one-third of the prisoners to be released are not U.S. citizens who will be deported to their homelands, and the remaining two-thirds will be sent to home confinement or halfway houses before being set free on a supervised release.

IONE, CA - AUGUST 28: Inmates at the Mule Creek State Prison interact in a gymnasium that was modified to house prisoners August 28, 2007 in Ione, California. A panel of three federal judges is looking to put a cap on the California State Prison population after class action lawsuits were filed on behalf of inmates who complained of being forced to live in classrooms, gymnasiums and other non-traditional prison housing. California prisons house nearly 173,000 inmates with over 17,000 of them in non-traditional housing. The Mule Creek State Prison has had to modify several facilities to make room for an increasing number of inmates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Last year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an agency that is responsible for mandating federal crime policies, reduced the severity of punishments for drug offenders. The change that was set forth was retroactive, which is part of why the prisoners from the past three decades are being released early.

After the new guidelines have been set, prisoners can now seek for the reassessment of their cases from federal judges. The inmate’s behavior in prison will be assessed, along with their potential to do harm when released.

The lessening of the sentences of drug offenders, however, does not mean that they will not be paying for their crimes accordingly. A deputy attorney general that works with the Department of Justice said that drug offenders will still be given substantial prison time.

Moreover, the release of drug offenders will not be automatic. For the safety of the general population, federal judges are going through each case for consideration and will decide whether or not the inmate will pose a threat to the public when released.

CHINO, CA - DECEMBER 10: Inmates at Chino State Prison, which houses 5500 inmates, crowd around double and triple bunk beds in a gymnasium that was modified to house 213 prisoners on December 10, 2010 in Chino, California. The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments to appeal a federal court's ruling last year that the California state prison system would have to release 40,000 prisoners to cope with overcrowding so severe that it violated their human rights. More than 144,000 inmates are currently incarcerated in prisons that were designed to hold about 80,000. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The mass release of 6,000 prisoners is one of the largest in history. Jesselyn McCurdy from the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement following the announcement of the prisoners’ release, as reported by the NY Times.

“Today’s announcement is nothing short of thrilling because it carries justice. Far too many people have lost years of their lives to draconian sentencing laws born of the failed drug war. People of color have had to bear the brunt of these misguided and cruel policies. We are overjoyed that some of the people so wronged will get their freedom back.”

The news of the 6,000 prisoners’ release was met with both praise and contempt. While there are those who believe that these prisoners have spent enough time for their crimes, there are those who fear that many of the released prisoners will not be able to get jobs to support themselves and will just return to a life of crime.

A former police chief from South Bend, Indiana, Ronald Teachman, said that prisoners who are set free are “angry and more likely to offend.”

According to Prison Studies, the United States has the highest number in prison population, roughly one-fourth of the prison population in the entire world, at 2.2 million prisoners. The U.S. is followed by China, which has 1.6 prisoners. With the number, it is no surprise that prisons across the country are overpopulated. One thing Democrat and Republican lawmakers agree on is the reduction of prison spending, which is currently at one-third of the overall budget of the Department of Justice.

What do you think about the mass release of 6,000 prisoners? Do you think they deserve a second chance at life, or do you think that their release from prison will bring harm to the public? Share your comments below.

[Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images]