A drop in the bucket

… but a good step.

6,000 inmates to be freed as US eases drug sentences

The Justice Department is preparing to release about 6,000 inmates from federal prisons starting at the end of this month, as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and 1990s, federal law enforcement officials said. […]

The release will be one the largest discharges of inmates from federal prisons in American history. It coincides with an intensifying bipartisan effort to ease the mass incarcerations that followed decades of tough sentencing for drug offenses, such as dealing crack cocaine, and that have taken a particularly harsh toll on minorities.

“Today’s announcement is nothing short of thrilling because it carries justice,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, a senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Far too many people have lost years of their lives to draconian sentencing laws born of the failed drug war. People of color have had to bear the brunt of these misguided and cruel policies. We are overjoyed that some of the people so wronged will get their freedom back.” […]

“The drug war has devastated families and communities, and it is time for the healing to begin,” said Anthony Papa, a spokesman at the Drug Policy Alliance, who spent 12 years behind bars on a mandatory minimum drug sentence.

We’ve got a long way to go — so many people are caught up in the criminal justice system because of the drug war. But maybe, we’re moving in the right direction.

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