The U.S. criminal justice system is constantly criticized for its high rates of incarceration. Recently, we have discussed Alabama’s high rates of imprisonment for non-violent crimes, including drug crimes. Earlier this month, President Obama commuted the sentences of 8 inmates, including one Alabama inmate who had been convicted for drug crimes involving crack cocaine. The administration sees the act as part of an effort to reduce unduly harsh sentences for drug crimes and to stop the overcrowding of federal prisons.
According to reports, the inmates had already served a partial sentence and had been convicted prior to the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. Our Birmingham defense attorneysare experienced with handling complex criminal matters. We are dedicated to raising awareness involving defendant and inmates’ rights and to reduce the harsh penalties delivered in drug crimes case.
The Fair Sentencing Act was a legislative attempt to reduce the gross disparity between individuals convicted of crack cocaine versus powder cocaine crimes, a distinction that has also been linked to disparities in income and race. The 2010 law was intended to reduce prison terms and to minimize the harsh penalties against individuals arrested and charged with drug crimes involving crack cocaine.
The President commuted the sentences of additional prisoners after releasing just one prisoner who had been sentenced to over 20 years for distributing cocaine. After commuting the sentence for one prisoner, others were recommended by the Justice Department. The White House as well judges and other officials see commuting the sentences as a step in the right direction to restore the rights of individuals who have been charged with crimes.
In addition to the a 8 commuted sentences, the president also granted pardons to 13 prisoners who had been convicted of drug crimes and other federal white collar crimes, including embezzlement, wire fraud and money laundering. Reports indicate that the Justice Department has been urging the reduction of the federal prison population which has been on the rise since 1980. According to these same reports, the prison population has grown by 800%.
The prison population costs tax payers over $80 billion every year to pay enforcement officials and to maintain correctional facilities. In addition to commuting these sentences, the President is also urging Congress to make additional changes in sentencing laws. The adjustments aim to reduce prison sentences, ensure that taxpayer money is spent wisely, and protect the rights of individuals in minimizing harsh and unnecessary prison sentences.
The efforts are especially targeted at reducing prison sentences for individuals convicted of non-violent crimes. Legislators are also looking at reducing mandatory minimum jail terms. The actions received support by both parties and leaders at the American Civil Liberties Union saw the action as a huge success. The ACLU has also pointed out that there are still thousands behind bars serving extreme and undue sentences in both state and federal prisons.
Our legal team is committed to protecting the rights of Alabama citizens who have been arrested and charged with drug crimes. Remember that in the state of Alabama, you could face extended jail time and extremely harsh penalties for the conviction of a non-violent crime.