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Petty Drug Criminals Fill BOP

Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a study to determine if the growing use of mandatory minimum sentences was causing overcrowding in the federal prison system. The study, produced by former Deputy Attorney General Philip Heyman, the BOP and selected U.S. Attorneys, found that 16,316 or 21.5% of federal prisoners have no violence in their records, no involvement in sophisticated criminal activity and no previous prison time.

These prisoner's average sentence was 81.5 months which meant they would serve about 69 months. Their average sentences were about 2.5 times longer than before sentencing guidelines and the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug and weapons crimes. Two out of three received mandatory minimum sentences. 42.3% were couriers or played peripheral roles in drug trafficking. The length of the sentence had no effect on whether they returned to crime. Many defendants are receiving prison time who would have previously received probation. Despite the study the congress and senate are continuing the expanded use of mandatory minimums and increasing the penalties for an ever wider variety of crimes.

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