New York (AP) About 1,600 prisoners are eligible for immediate release this week after new federal guidelines on crack-cocaine offenses went into effect today.
There are nearly 20,000 inmates across the country who may see their prison terms reduced over the next 30 years under the new rules. Each prisoner has to ask for a reduction and go before a judge.
The government is easing mandatory sentences for crack-related crimes versus those involving powdered cocaine. It has been seen as racial discrimination, because four of every five crack defendants in the U.S. are black, while most powdered-cocaine convictions involve whites.
The justice department says it's more worried about crack defendants set to come up for release later, saying they include more violent offenders than the first wave.