Opportunity After Federal Prison

The United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey had some interesting comments about community release after incarceration. Normally, the American standard of criminal justice involves putting away the bad guys. After that, the narrative seems to stop.

Unfortunately for that narrative, and fortunately for defendants and inmates, nearly everybody that goes to prison gets release. What happens then? Most don’t know.

In early July, 2014 the United States Sentencing Commission released and confirmed their new drug guidelines that will not only make drug sentences shorter, but apply them retroactively (eventually)1.

Below is an excerpt from an opinion article written by the above-mentioned US Attorney regarding opportunities for inmates after they get released, but the entire piece entitled “Ex offenders get time, now they need opportunity” is worth a full read.

Every year, my office prosecutes several hundred defendants who have violated criminal laws passed by Congress. For most of those defendants, a term in federal prison is warranted. Whether they are public officials who betray their oaths, predators who threaten the safety of our neighborhoods and our children, or thieves who cheat the health care system, investors or the government — incarceration is the appropriate punishment.

But prison is usually not meant to last forever. More than 95 percent of federal prisoners will be released after serving their sentences. Altogether, 700,000 federal and state prisoners are released every year, along with millions more who stream through local jails.

Most return to their communities, trying to put their lives back together and avoid the pitfalls that got them in trouble. Bearing the stain of their convictions, they compete for jobs, look for housing and seek educational opportunities.

A staggering number don’t succeed. Nationally, two-thirds of people released from state prisons are arrested again; half of those will end up back inside. Forty percent of federal prisoners return to jail in the first three years.

This level of recidivism is unacceptable. Offenders, their families and their communities are devastated by it. Public safety suffers for it. And with more than $74 billion spent annually on federal, state and local corrections, we can’t afford it.

Prison alone isn’t enough. Any smart law enforcement model prevents crime by supporting ex-offenders. That is why my U.S. Attorney’s Office — along with federal judges, the federal public defender, and the U.S. Probation Office — began the “ReNew” program, a federal re-entry court in Newark. Those leaving federal prison at serious risk of reoffending are invited to participate.

They are closely supervised, meeting biweekly with federal Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo, our office, and the federal defenders, and more regularly with probation officers. And they are supported in obtaining housing, jobs, education, counseling and legal assistance. My office provides services to the team and participants and supervises research into the program’s efficacy.

This week, the judge will preside over the first graduation ceremony for those who have successfully completed 52 weeks in the program. It is a hugely inspiring milestone for everyone involved, but especially for the graduates reimagining their lives despite great adversity….

Recently, my office launched the New Jersey Re-entry Council, a partnership with acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman, other federal and state agencies, and NGO community members to share resources and ideas.

But there is one more partner we need: you. Finding a job after release is the most important key to success. In a recovering economy, securing a job after prison can be especially difficult. If you have a company that can train or hire our participants, or if you have access to housing, we need to hear from you….

One of every 100 adults in the United States is behind bars. Most will come home. They will have paid their debt and need a chance to support themselves, their families and their communities. We can look at ex-offenders returning to our communities as a risk, or we can help give them that chance. The potential rewards for their lives, for the economy and for our safety are incalculable.

  1. The Sentencing Commission is using a phased and delayed approach to actually releasing inmates early from federal prison []

Nearly 4,000 Federal Inmates Have Received Crack Cocaine Sentence Reductions

Status Update: Crack Sentence Reductions

In this new article from The Commercial Appeal, the story of one of the many federal inmates getting their crack cocaine sentences reductions is laid out. According to a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), over 3,700 inmates have already had their sentences reduced. An excerpt from the article:

Orreco Lyons received an early Christmas present last month when a federal judge in Tennessee reduced his crack-cocaine trafficking sentence from 71/2 years to just over six years, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Lyons, 31, is one of thousands of federal prisoners who are benefiting from a retroactive change in federal sentencing laws that aims to narrow the disparity of punishments for crack-cocaine offenders versus those sentenced for powder cocaine.

Reductions, which can range from a few months to a few years, depend on a number of factors, such as whether an inmate has a prior criminal record, whether other crimes also were committed and whether a weapon was involved. Federal Public Defender Steve Shankman of Memphis is reviewing more than 200 cases. He believes that up to 80 percent “will receive some relief.” With the retroactive change going into effect last Nov. 1, 1,480 inmates were immediately released and 2,256 others had sentence reductions but still had time to serve before being released, said Ed Ross, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

60% of Estimated Sentences Still Need Reductions

The United States Sentencing Commission, when considering making the reduced sentences retroactive, estimated that over 12,000 inmates were potentially eligible for a sentence reduction.

That means that about 8,000 federal inmates are still waiting to have their sentences reduced. These reductions don’t happen automatically, however. To find out how this process is done, give PCR Consultants a call for a free Crack Cocaine Sentence Reduction Consultation.

Let Us Help You!

Call us at (480) 382-9287 and get a free consultation to find out more information about how we can help reduce or terminate federal probation or supervised release terms.

For more ways to contact us, visit our contact us page for contact form and e-mail addresses.

Learn about us and how our services work on our about page. You can learn more about these crack cocaine sentence reductions on our main page on this issue.