Reducing Federal Drug Sentences | WYPR

Reducing Federal Drug Sentences

Jul 28, 2014

Credit flickr/smath

About 100,000 people are incarcerated for federal drug crimes in the United States. The crimes could be “manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute” to “acting as a principal administrator, organizer or leader of a continuing criminal enterprise.” Those convicted of federal drug crimes can serve anywhere from a year to life in prison. A little over a week ago, when the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to reduce federal drug sentences, about half of those 100,000 offenders became eligible to have their sentences reviewed by a judge…which means that there is a possibility that their sentences could be reduced.

This was a follow-up to a decision made in April to reduce the sentences of future offenders. These amendments are part of the first changes in decades to federal drug sentences. What impact could this have on inmates from Maryland and when could we start to see reductions in sentences? Sheilah asks James Wyda, Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland.

In several Tweets earlier today and just below the audio above, we referred to James Wyda as "John Wyda". We regret the error.