6,000 drug felons will be released starting November 1st, in an effort to reduce the strain on taxpayers’ money and rethink sentencing policies in these cases.
According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, it is the sentencing policies established during the War on Drugs era that are too harsh. In addition, they’re too expensive, placing an unnecessary strain on taxpayers’ money. Now, with the release of the 6,000 drug felons, a new set-up needs to be built.
As 6,000 drug felons will be released starting November 1st, the event is both acclaimed and met with suspicion. For the thousands of felons finally getting a chance to return home or to the communities they belong to it may be a dream come true. However, the way they will cope with re-entry is anxiously debated. Parole officials, federal judges who have signed the petitions, lawyer and advocates can’t pinpoint the type of support the former inmates might receive. Or how they might cope with what is for many a different reality.
Elizabeth Toplin, working as a federal public defender stated:
“Some are coming out after three years, some after 20. It’s a different world. These guys come out of jail and they’ve never seen a cellphone. Unless we intervene properly, when people come home, they just don’t have the resources to go back”.
A part of the drug felons set for release have been moved to home confinement or halfway houses. Another approximately 2,000 drug felons will be deported upon release. The rest will return to their communities under supervised release. Which costs only 3,900 dollars yearly, compared with an approximate 30,000 dollars annually representing the cost of prison stay. The economic argument of early release is convincing when numbers are taken into consideration.
However, the former inmates’ re-entry needs to be considered appropriately as well. In Philadelphia, the Re-Entry Court screen at-risk felons for intensive probation. The aim of the program is to cut recidivism. During the last five years it has been largely successful. Only 20 percent of the 240 participating in the intensive probation program have fallen back.
The program is a success story for at-risk felons. It includes counseling, housing, tutoring, training for jobs as well as health care. The majority of the social services are covered by volunteers.
In light of the upcoming release of the 6,000 drug-felons, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, Mark Mauer believes that the early release will not impact public safety too much. In addition, he stated that a new frame for discussions is now open. More comfortable and open than during the War on Drugs era.
Photo Credits: Pixabay
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