Reduced Minimum Sentences for Low-Level Drug Crimes


cannabisDid you know that there are roughly 199,000 federal inmates in the nation? Of this number, around 50% are individuals who have been convicted of drug crimes. Even more surprising than this is the fact that from 1988 to 2012, the sentences for these types of crimes have been over doubled in length. Now, a new federal sentencing reform is close to being passed and it could help save money and keep the lower level drug crime offenders from serving an extensive sentence.

With current, higher minimum sentencing guidelines, it costs roughly $1.5 billion to keep some of these federal inmates imprisoned. This is because even those offenders who have no history of violence or who have committed low-level offenses are given longer minimum sentences or have life without parole for certain drug crimes.

The new reform gives judges the power to deliver a shorter sentence if they feel the case is not as serious.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t fix the issue regarding the current federal prison population. Based on a new study, of the current drug offenders in federal prison, more than 50% of them have no history of a violent crime. Less than 14% are high-level leaders. Less than 14% have a history of violence or violent crimes.

The current sentencing guidelines often rely on prosecutor's using the minimum sentencing on low-level offenders in order to reach the higher, leaders of drug operations. A law from 2010 shows that this tactic is not necessary and even when shorter sentences were offered, low-level offenders were still willing to cooperate.

While the proposed reform may help a little bit, further reforms will be needed to make any kind of real dent in the federal prison population.

If you were arrested for and charged with a drug crime, rely on a Columbus drug crime attorney to help you navigate the legal process. At The Koffel Law Firm, we are familiar with the statistics involving low-level drug offenders. We work to build a strong case on your behalf and defend your rights. Call today and learn how we may be able to help you.