Record number of inmates released early, DA says some in Tri-Cities are committing new crimes

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- President Obama has granted early release to nearly 950 federal inmates to date, but a local district attorney said that second chance is having a negative impact in some communities.

The president’s decision to shorten hundreds of prisoner’s sentences is more than the previous 11 presidents combined.

The federal government has said reducing the sentences of non-violent drug offenders gives them a fair sentence and helps reduce overcrowded prisons.

“I think the public’s going to be paying the price,” District Attorney for the First Judicial District Tony Clark said.

Clark said some of the offenders are landing right back in the system.

“There was home invasion where two people were killed in Chattanooga. Right here we have now drug dealers under investigation I can’t going to a lot of it but we have, there’s five or six individuals that we have a new drug investigation that were released early in this area that I’m dealing with right now and that’s just one case,” Clark said.

Almost all of those receiving early release are considered nonviolent drug-offenders, but Clark said at the federal level that rarely exists.

“You’re talking kilos of cocaine, you’re talking hundreds, maybe thousands of grams of methamphetamine, robberies,” Clark said. “Drug dealing on their level is by its nature violent.”

Obama has granted 944 offenders clemency, including 324 who were serving life sentences.

East Tennessee Federal Community Defender Beth Ford said last year, drug laws have over incarcerated people and sentences do not have to be extremely long for someone to get rehabilitated.

But Clark isn’t convinced, he said in the last few months, “We’ve had 12 to 15 re-offend,” Clark said.

Of the hundreds granted early release, many will see their sentences end in 2017 or 2018, after Obama has left office.

“Whether it changes under a new administration I don’t know Ii hope it will, I can only see it getting  worse,” Clark said.

Friday the deputy attorney general of the Department of Justice said the department is continuing to review more drug petitions submitted under the clemency initiative.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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