There are thousands of federal drug crime convicts that are going to be released soon due to a change in drug sentence rules, but most of them will be deported to their nations of origin.
The US Sentencing Commission voted this week to take about two years off of the sentences of 45000 inmates that are in prison for federal drug crimes. The first ones are going to be released in November 2015.
Old policies that were sending drug offenders away for nonviolent crimes are being abolished, which is part of a criminal justice reform plan that is getting a good deal of bipartisan support in Congress. Back in 2007, the sentencing commission reduced sentences for crack offenders as well. Prisoners will need to apply to have their sentence reduced with the help of their lawyers, and the judges will have up to a year to decide who should get early release.
Many people who are benefitting from this new change are going to be sent out of the US though as soon as they get a reduced sentence. About 25% of the inmates who qualify are not citizens of the US. Many of these offenders were caught with drugs in their cars as they tried to cross into the US. Many of them were prosecuted in TX. Of the 10,290 prisoners who are in TX, about ⅓ are going to be deported.
This large number of noncitizen offenders could give the state quite a break. The justice system lacks the probation officers and facilities to handle the large surge of that will occur when the first prisoners are released next year.
According to a public defender in West Texas, there would not have been nearly enough facilities to handle all of the prisoners that were going to walk free.
Providing judges with up to a year to think over the early release cases is also going to allow ICE enough time to ensure that it has enough beds and facilities for prisoners as they are waiting to be deported.
Many of the noncitizens are eager to be released even if they are going to be deported. Many of them are already emailing authorities and asking when they can get out.
One of the reasons for this is probably that people who are illegal in the US are not eligible for many of the programs that are available in US prisons. They also are not allowed to live in facilities with lower security. Overall, it is a much harsher sentence for noncitizens.
However, many of the prisoners who are released and deported to Mexico will probably try to come back into the US, as many of them have families here. If they are caught trying to get back in, they can get 10 years in prison.
Prisoners who have legal immigration status but still were not citizens can try to fight deportation but it is difficult.