DOJ Plan: Cut 20K Inmates' Jail Time by 23 Months

Holder-endorsed proposal would reduce nonviolent offenders' sentences

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 10, 2014 10:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some 9% of the federal prison population could see their sentences reduced by an average of 23 months thanks to a new Justice Department proposal endorsed by Eric Holder. The US Sentencing Commission voted in April to reduce drug sentences for nonviolent offenders in the future; this proposal, presented to the commission by the DOJ today, would offer retroactive eligibility for shortened sentences to some prisoners. As many as 20,000 could ultimately be affected, CNN reports.

The move is part of Holder's "Smart on Crime" plan, which aims to lower the prison population and reduce prison time for nonviolent drug crimes. Not everyone who applied for a reduced sentence under the proposal would get one; it would apply only to those without "significant" criminal histories. Holder is expected to discuss the proposal, which will be voted on next month, later today; in his prepared remarks, he notes that it "strikes the best balance between protecting public safety and addressing the overcrowding of our prison system."

US Attorney General Eric Holder delivers his keynote address at a tribal conference on the campus of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ND, on Thursday, June 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Kevin Cederstrom)
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