The US Sentencing Commission today adopted an amendment which could reduce the sentences of thousands of federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses.

According to the USSC:

"The Commission is tasked by law with minimizing the likelihood that prison populations exceed capacity.
"Currently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons population exceeds capacity by around 32%. Under today’s change addressing this problem, the Commission estimates that:
"46,290 offenders would be eligible to have their cases reviewed by a judge to determine if their sentences should be reduced;
"Offenders eligible for a reduction could have their sentences reduced by an average of 25 months, or 18.8%. They would still serve 108 months, on average.
"Over time, these sentence reductions could result in a savings of up to 79,740 bed years (a bed year is the equivalent of one federal prisoner occupying a prison bed for a year).

This is not a done deal. Congress can still derail the effort by voting to disapprove the amendment. According to the USSC:

"Congress has until November 1, 2014 to disapprove the amendment to reduce drug guidelines. Should Congress choose to let the guideline reductions stand, courts could then begin considering petitions from prisoners for sentence reductions, but no prisoners could be released pursuant to those reductions before November 1, 2015."

The news release and more information and statistics regarding the federal sentencing guidelines can be found at the USSC site.

More statistical data and other information on mandatory minimum sentencing is available on our sister website, Drug War Facts.