Crime

Sheriffs Across The Nation Criticize Government's Decision To Release More Than 6,000 Federal Inmates

| by Karin Sun

Local law enforcement officials across the country have expressed concern over the release of more than 6,000 inmates from federal prisons in early November. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice made the controversial decision to free 6,112 inmates from federal prisons to reduce overcrowding and to lighten sentences for low-level drug offenders, according to The Washington Post.

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The inmates were released between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, and 77 percent of them have been placed in halfway houses or home confinement, Justice Department officials said, reports Fox News.

In the wake of their release, sheriffs across the country are voicing their concerns about the safety of local residents and whether the newly freed inmates will be able to adjust and successfully integrate back into society.

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 “There's no transition here, there's no safety net," Paul Babeu, sheriff of Arizona's Pinal County, told Fox News.

“On average these criminals have been in federal prison for nine years — you don’t have to be a sheriff to realize that a felon after nine years in jail isn’t going to be adding value to the community," Babeau continued. "A third are illegals and felons so they can’t work. What do we think they are going to do?”

"This is the biggest sham they are trying to sell the American people," he added.

Other local law enforcement officers expressed their concerns for the safety of the communities the released felons are returning to, saying that there is a high chance that they may re-offend.

“If [the Obama administration is] not capable of making honest and prudent decisions in securing our borders, how can we trust them to make the right decision on the release of prisoners who may return to a life of crime?” Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, said.

The inmates in question have been sentenced for a variety of offenses. While an Associated Press review in October found that many were low-level drug offenders, some had convictions for more serious crimes, including robbery and trafficking cocaine and heroin.

"For [the Justice Department] to tell me or tell citizens that they’re going to do a good job and these inmates are non-violent, when in many instances drug crimes, drug purchasing, drug trafficking are related to other, violent crimes — I’d be amazed if the 6,000 ... being released are non-violent,” Eavenson said.

A Department of Justice official said in a press conference in October that every inmate who was granted early release had to undergo a public safety assessment.

The decision to release the inmates was made following action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to reduce federal sentencing guidelines for low-level drug offenses and apply the reductions in sentencing retroactively to cases that have already been tried.

As a result, 46,000 federal inmates currently serving sentences for drug-related offenses could be granted early release.

Although only the 6,112 inmates have been released so far, more are expected to be freed as the Department of Justice continues to review individual cases.

Drug offenders currently make up 48.3 percent of the federal prison population, according to statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in October. 

Sources: Fox News, The Washington Post, Federal Bureau of Prisons / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons