Some W.V. Crack Offenders Set For Early Release

WHEELING, W.V. (AP) - Nearly 100 federal inmates serving time for crack cocaine offenses in West Virginia's Northern District will be released from prison next week under revised sentencing guidelines.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld said Thursday that among other things, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduces the disparity between penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses.

The inmates are scheduled to be released on Tuesday and are the first group of federal crack cocaine offenders to benefit from the act.

The inmates include 52 in the area around Morgantown, Fairmont and Clarksburg; 24 in the Wheeling area; 10 in Elkins and 6 in Martinsburg. The offenders will remain under court-ordered supervision.

Ihlenfeld says an estimated 12,000 offenders nationwide will be released early, either next week or in the future depending on the length of their original sentences.

In 2007, the U.S. Sentencing Commission also modified its guidelines and a large number of inmates were released.

Ihlenfeld said he's spoken with police chiefs, sheriffs, state police and drug task forces in the Northern District about the early releases.

He pointed to a study by the Sentencing Commission showing that of the 16,433 offenders released across the country in 2007, 30.4 percent committed crimes within two years. The most common offenses were drug possession, drug distribution, assault and battery and driving under the influence.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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