Paul Hofer, of the Sentencing Resource Counsel Project for the Federal Public and Community Defenders, has conducted preliminary estimates looking at more of the data.He says, "It seems likely there will be an adverse impact on minorities from the exclusions." But being eligible for reductions is only the beginning.Anyone convicted of participating in a "continuing criminal enterprise." This is another label that's typically applied to drug offenders — anyone who's an "organizer, supervisor or manager" of a group of five or more people dealing drugs can be hit with a conviction for a "career criminal enterprise." The statute isn't used that often — only 239 people were convicted under it from 2006 to 2013, according to data from the US Sentencing Commission.But 77 percent of the time, it was used against black or Hispanic defendants. According to a 2013 report from the Sentencing Project, 62.3 percent of federal prisoners serving life sentences are African American — and 16.3 percent are Hispanic.That bill's called the CORRECTIONS Act, and it was introduced Tuesday by Sens. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call) The bill would allow some prisoners to participate in "recidivism reduction" education programs.In exchange for completing the programs, or for "productive activities" like prison jobs, they'd get a certain amount of time off their sentences. No one disputes that, thanks to Grassley's ascension, the Senate is less amenable to prison reform than it was last year, but there's some hope that he'd embrace this particular bill — after all, he voted for an earlier version of it in the last Congress.Many Hispanics in US prisons are noncitizens — and many of those noncitizens are either unauthorized immigrants (most of whom are serving time for immigration offenses) who'll be deported once they complete their prison terms, or formerly legal immigrants who lost their legal status because of their criminal conviction.
The bill tells the federal government to come up with a risk assessment tool.Prisoners conduct agricultural labor, which could make them eligible for reduced sentences under the new bill.