Which state bears the brunt of Obama’s mass release of prison inmates?

Which state bears the brunt of Obama’s mass release of prison inmates?

The largest single early release of convicts took place last week, orchestrated by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, whose members were appointed by President Barack Obama.

So which state ended up with the largest number of the 6,112 inmates who were set free? That would be Texas, which received 578.

While the government described the inmates as non-violent drug offenders, an Associated Press analysis of nearly 100 cases identified career felons who carried semi-automatic weapons and had past convictions for robbery and other violent crimes. Others moved cocaine shipments across state lines and participated in international heroin smuggling.

If past is prologue, Texans have legitimate public-safety concerns about the early release. A 2002 federal study of freed non-violent offenders found one in five were rearrested for violent crimes, including more than 700 murders and more than 600 rapes, within three years.

State Rep. James White, vice chairman of the House Corrections Committee, said coordination between state and federal authorities remains shaky.

“Are they releasing illegal immigrants, or violent offenders who had their original sentences bargained down? We don’t know,” the Republican told Watchdog.org, adding:

I hope the federal government doesn’t do anything that is ill-advised or ill-planned that loses public support for criminal justice reform. Based on what’s happened in the past, I’m skeptical.

Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said the state has “no involvement in the release or supervision” of the federal convicts.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees the Bureau of Prisons, did not respond to Watchdog’s request for information by deadline.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office also did not comment.

Previously, the DOJ admitted difficulties in identifying low-risk inmates. But the Sentencing Commission is opening the prison doors anyway.

Up to 8,000 more federal inmates are ticketed for early release next November. As many as 46,000 could have their sentences reduced under the new, more lenient guidelines.

“When examining recidivism statistics across the nation, it is clear that without proper counter-recidivism policies, many of these nonviolent offenders risk returning to a life of crime,” according to a new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Read more by Kenric Ward at Watchdog.com.

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent and writes for the Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org. Formerly a reporter and editor at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Kenric has won dozens of state and national news awards for investigative articles. His most recent book is “Saints in Babylon: Mormons and Las Vegas.”

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