Thousands of drug defendants receive shorter sentences

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Sentencing Commission says more than 26,000 federal drug offenders have received shorter prison terms because of sentencing guideline changes put in place two years ago.

The Sentencing Commission, an independent panel, says 70 percent of drug criminals who sought a sentence reduction under the new guidelines received it.

The commission voted in 2014 to substantially lower sentencing guideline ranges for drug crimes and then applied the change retroactively.

At the time, the commission estimated that more than 46,000 inmates could be eligible to seek a reduced sentence.

The commission says inmates’ sentences were cut by an average of two years.

Advocates of the early release plan have said it would cut prison costs and scale back some of the harsh sentences that were once routine in drug cases.