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President Obama Calls for Early Release of More than 5,000 Inmates

11:00 PM, Jun 2, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Obama Adminstration said it's a matter of fairness.

For years people caught in possession of crack cocaine were punished far more harshly than those with powder cocaine.

Mandatory sentencing requirements put some first time users away for more than 10 years.

While Congress has changed those requirements, thousands of offenders are still in jail from when they were in place.

"I am against it. I am die-hard against mandatory minimum sentences, said criminal Defense attorney Whitney Lonker.

Lonker said lives have been ruined under minimum sentencing requirements, and it's time to level the playing field.

"Crimes, even though they're charged the same, there are different circumstances behind them."

President Obama's plan would take some of those circumstances in to account. 

It would retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act passed in 2010 to give some 5,000 prisoners early release.  Many of their sentences would be reduced by more than 37 months. 

But more than 12,000 qualify under the minimum mandatory sentencing statute.

The Attorney General has argued that half of those prisoners should remain locked up because their crimes were violent, or involved a gun.

"Many times they go together in criminal law. Guns and drugs, drugs and guns. They go together," Lonker explained.

Still, Lonker said if the inmate has served the time for the gun charge, they, too, should be released under Obama's plan.

"If you've already done your time for the gun charge and there is a federal release of prisoners, they should be included."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am against it. I am die-hard against mandatory minimum sentences," said  Criminal Defense Attorney Whitney Lonker.

She says lives have been ruined under minimum sentencing requirements, and it's time to level the playing field.

"Crimes, even though they're charged the same, there are different circumstances behind them," said Lonker.

President Obama's plan would take some of those circumstances in to account. It would retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act passed in 2010 to give some 5,000 prisoners early release.

Many of their sentences would be reduced by more than 37 months.

But more than 12-thousand qualify under the minimum mandatory sentencing statute.

The Attorney General has argued that half of those prisoners should remain locked up because their crimes were violent, or involved a gun.

"Many times they go together in criminal law. Guns and drugs, drugs and guns. They go together," said Lonker.

Lonker says if the inmate has served the time for the gun charge, they too should be released under Obama's plan.

"If you've already done your time for the gun charge and there is a federal release of prisoners, they should be included," she said.

Some opponents of the plan however want the President's administration to scrap the whole idea.

At least 2 members of Congress have called on the President to reverse his position, and keep the inmates in jail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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