Over 6,000 nonviolent drug offenders are being released early this weekend and sheriffs across the country are concerned for the safety of their citizens.
The release is the largest one-time release of federal inmates in U.S. history, and advocates for the release are saying that it will be handled responsibly. The mass release was a response in a decision by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to reduce sentences for most drug trafficking offenses, which coincides for a push to rethink federal sentencing, according to Fox News.
But the main concern is how the ex-inmates will adjust.
“There’s no transition here, there’s no safety net. This is the biggest sham they are trying to sell the American people,” Sheriff Paul Babeu of Arizona’s Pinal County told FoxNews.com.
“On average these criminals have been in federal prison for nine years — you don’t have to be a sheriff to realize that a felon after nine years in jail isn’t going to be adding value to the community. A third are illegals and felons so they can’t work. What do we think they are going to do?” said Babeu, also a congressional candidate.
Despite these concerns, the government is providing a transition. 77% of the inmates are already in home confinement or halfway houses, according to the Justice Department. Also, 1,764 of the inmates were handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation proceedings. Any one state is to receive the average number of 80 inmates, but Texas will get 597 inmates.
However, sheriffs on the Mexico-U.S. border were skeptical of both the deportation claim and the risk these inmates will bring to their communities.
“If [the Obama administration is] not capable of making honest and prudent decisions in securing our borders, how can we trust them to make the right decision on the release of prisoners who may return to a life of crime?” Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, told FoxNews.com.
Last month, a review from the Associated Press found that while many of the prisoners were low-level drug dealers, some did have prior convictions for robbery. Others were charged with moving serious drugs like heroin and cocaine. And according to WGME in Maine, one inmate was a former “drug kingpin” who was once on “America’s Most Wanted.”
“For them to tell me or tell citizens that they’re going to do a good job and these inmates are non-violent, when in many instances drug crimes, drug purchasing, drug trafficking are related to other, violent crimes – I’d be amazed if the 6,000 … being released are non-violent,” Eavenson said.
Approximately 46,000 other cases may be reviewed in the future for possible early release.