New Sentencing Commission Recommendations on Federal Drug Offenders

Many federal drug offenders would serve reduced prison sentences, under recommendations adopted Thursday by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Acting unanimously, the commission agreed to new sentencing guidelines that are expected to cover about 70 percent of federal drug defendants. On average, the changes would cause drug sentences to decrease 11 months, or 17 percent, from 62 to 51 months.

The commissioner further estimated the changes would cut the federal prison population by more than 6,500 over five years. Judge Patti B. Saris, the chair of the commission called the reduction “an important step toward reducing the problem of prison overcrowding at the federal level in a proportionate and fair manner.”