SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Nearly 600 of the more than 5,500 federal inmates serving sentences for drug crimes and scheduled for early release from prison next month are in Texas, which is the most of any state.
The release is part of a cost-cutting measure intended to reduce the nation's huge prison population.
U.S. officials estimate that more prisoners sentenced in the federal judiciary's Western District of Texas are set for early release than any other region in the country, the San Antonio Express-News reported, citing figures provided by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Texas judicial districts likely have so many offenders affected by the new guidelines because of the large number of low-level drug smugglers caught at the border, said San Antonio defense attorney John Convery, who is a former federal prosecutor.
"It's a general recognition that the guidelines were inviting judges to sentence people too harshly," Convery told the newspaper.
The inmates set to go free in November are among the first of what could eventually be tens of thousands eligible for release.
The changes are part of an effort to rethink decades-long sentences for drug offenders.