For quite some time now, there has been serious discussion about reforming sentencing guidelines throughout the country. Federal drug sentences, in particular, have been scrutinized.
Not long ago, the U.S. Sentencing Commission unanimously voted in favor of expanding an ongoing effort to reform federal criminal sentences. The most recent move by the commission, however, applies retroactively to those who are currently serving drug sentences behind bars.
By making the reform fully retroactive, about 46,000 will be able to reduce the sentences they are currently serving by an average of 25 months. This is much higher than other proposals that were suggested, which were expected to less than half as many people, according to the Courthouse News Service.
Of course, many people serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses are probably eager to receive a sentence that is truly fair. However, petitions cannot be filed until Nov. 1, 2015, more than a year after the commission's ruling. Rules were supposed to be modified this year, but the most recent changes will apparently put an additional burden on federal officials to prepare.
The reality is that many people facing unfairly lengthy federal sentences probably feel like justice cannot wait. They've already served time, and want to work on moving forward in order to build a new life. Unfortunately, federal officials are dragging their feet.
Given the complexities of federal criminal charges and sentencing, individuals may need to seek trusted advice. This may be especially true for those who believe they will be eligible to have sentences reduced in 2015.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Retroactive Sentencing Reductions Will Bring Relief to Thousands," Adam Klasfeld, July 18, 2014