Report finds drop in inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences

Report finds drop in inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences

The number of federal inmates convicted of offenses carrying mandatory minimum prison sentences dropped 14 percent over the past six years, though these inmates still make up more than half of the prison population, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission's latest report.

The July report found that there were 92,870 federal inmates convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty as of Sept. 30, 2016, which is down from 108,022 in 2010.

But inmates convicted of offenses carrying mandatory minimum sentences still accounted for more than half, 55.7 percent, of all inmates in the Bureau of Prisons's custody in 2016, though that represented a slight decline from the 58.6 percent in 2010, the commission reported.

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The commission is attributing the decline to Obama-era orders urging federal prosecutors to be more lenient with nonviolent, low-level drug offenders.

The report also found the average length of sentences for offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty was 110 months, nearly four times the 28 month average of offenders who are convicted of an offense that doesn't carries a mandatory minimum penalty.

Those convicted of offenses carrying mandatory minimums in recent years, the report said, tended to be more serious offenders like drug traffickers.

The commission said the report is its first major update on the impact of mandatory minimum penalties since 2011.

Updated: 1:34 p.m.