The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) voted unanimously to reduce sentences for the majority of federal drug trafficking defendants. The move will effect up to 70% of all federal drug offenses, reducing the sentence by an average of 11 months per case.
Unless Congress votes to stop the amendment, it will go into effect on November 1st. Attorney General Eric Holder recommended that the commission vote in favor of the move.
Specifically, the commission voted to amend federal guidelines to lower the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table across multiple drug types.
“This modest reduction in drug penalties is an important step toward reducing the problem of prison overcrowding at the federal level in a proportionate and fair manner,” says Judge Patti B. Saris, chair of the Commission. “Reducing the federal prison population has become urgent, with that population almost three times where it was in 1991.”
The Department of Justice estimates that the amendment will reduce the federal prison population by roughly 6,550 inmates over five years.