179 drug offenders eligible for early release in east TN, part of national wave
As part of a national effort to re-think punishment for drug offenders, new sentencing guidelines are expected to reduce sentences for thousands of inmates beginning next month.
In east Tennessee, estimates show drug offenders will have their sentences reduced by a greater percentage compared to the national average.
On Nov. 1, the first wave – a total of 6,000 inmates nationwide -- will be released. Most will be coming from halfway houses or home confinement. More scheduled releases are expected to shrink the prison population.
In east Tennessee a total of 179 offenders will be eligible for release as part of the first wave, according to a report issued in August by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. In six or more years, the report estimates 1,104 offenders will be eligible for release.
The average drug sentence was 95 months. After the reduction, the average sentence will go down to 74 months -- a 21 percent reduction -- for offenders in east Tennessee, according to the report.
Nationwide, the reduction in sentencing is expected to be nearly 19 percent, or 25 months.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.