U.S. to release 6,000 federal prisoners: Washington Post

DOJ to Release 6,000 Prisoners

The U.S. Justice Department is set to release about 6,000 prisoners early in the largest one-time release of federal inmates, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

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The release, scheduled for between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, is an effort to reduce overcrowding and provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past three decades, the newspaper said.

The inmates will be set free by the department's Bureau of Prisons. Most will go to halfway houses and home confinement before being put on supervised release, the Post said.

A Justice Department spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The early release follows action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal crimes. The panel reduced the potential punishment for drug offenders last year and made the change retroactive.

The commission's action is separate from an effort by President Barack Obama to grant clemency to some nonviolent drug offenders, an initiative that has resulted in the early release of 89 inmates.

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The sentencing panel estimated that its change in guidelines could result in 46,000 of the roughly 100,000 drug offenders in federal prison qualifying for early release. The 6,000 figure is the first batch in that process, the Post said.

There are 206,000 inmates in federal prisons, up from about 25,000 in 1980, according to the Bureau of Prisons website. There were a total of 1.56 million inmates in federal and state prisons at the end of 2014, according to Department of Justice figures.

The drumbeat for sentencing reform has come as U.S. crime rates have drastically declined over the past two decades. U.S. senators last week proposed a plan to reform criminal justice, aiming to scrap sentencing laws that lead to overcrowding.

The Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group, welcomed the move but said it was no substitute for a systemic makeover. "Congress still needs to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform," Michael Collins, the group's police manager, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)

RELATED: See Twitter reactions to Obama's move to reduce the sentences of federal prisoners

Reactions to Obama communting Prison sentences
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U.S. to release 6,000 federal prisoners: Washington Post
Obama commutes sentences to 46 prisoners convicted for nonviolent offences: http://t.co/95EBB9WnAt http://t.co/VMeM8ttFd5
Wonderful..Just what we need: lighter sentences! CNN: President Barack Obama commutes sentences of 46 drug offenders http://t.co/T07nb9dlIa
President Obama commutes the excessive sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders. #POTUS once again proving he's no lame duck! Continuing his recent trend of leaning just a bit left of his moderate philosophy. I'd like to think he's purposely positioning himself to emerge from the Oval Office as an influential leader for social justice and community activism. #90Commutations #46PresidentialPardons #CriminalJusticeReform #DisproportionateSentences
@POTUS is moving forward on #CriminalJustice reforms http://t.co/1lVvNRYHqU #Equality
Obama commutes sentences of more prisoners than past four presidents combined http://t.co/EH7zkV4APC
Obama commutes sentences for 46 drug offenders. The other 337,000 jailed drug offenders will receive commemorative Obama bobblehead dolls.
“We made a terrible mistake 30 yrs ago when we created the laws that sent these men and women away for so long." http://t.co/CYkJ8wOzCU
The actual number Obama has helped is relatively miniscule, but where he comes down on mass incarceration is huge... http://t.co/oRZZccsU4j
Curious about those who won thus lottery and how "connected" they may have been. Aren't you? http://t.co/I9RuQ3qxHm #FelonVote
#wareagle Demaryius Thomas' mother prison sentence commuted by Barack Obama http://t.co/4p3trlXSnh via @MGMAdvertiser
Why hasn’t Obama pardoned way more people?: President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offen... http://t.co/GSJiutw4ue

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