EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Convicted drug offenders in federal prisons will be heading back home earlier than they expected. Last year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a part of the judicial branch, pushed for more reasonable guidelines for those types of prisoners.
The Eastern District of Texas has some of the highest numbers of inmates who got time shaved off their sentences.
U.S. Highway 59 has been deemed a pipeline for drug trafficking from the bottom of the U.S. to the top.
"This particular district has had a lot more drug crimes because of the trafficking of through East Texas that get caught on traffic stops and drug distribution," said Al Charanza, a Lufkin attorney.
The stops leave drug traffickers busted in the Eastern district of Texas behind federal prison bars for years, decades, and even life.
"I agree the federal sentencing for drug crimes were high," Charanza said.
Beginning November 1st, an amendment to federal sentencing guidelines has changed that for of those convicted criminals.
Over 400 of them were sentenced right here in the Eastern District of Texas. The district is ranked 8th in the entire country for the amount of inmates eligible for reduced sentences.
An example is David Dunman sentenced in 2012.
"He received a very high sentence, and he had little to no criminal history," Charanza said.
Frank and Leia Lopez were sentenced in 2013 for their roles as "meth smurfs," those people who collect enough pseudo-ephedrine to make meth.
The inmates got from two to three years shaved off their sentences.
Eastern Texas federal drug offenders saw an 18 percent decrease from current sentences.
"The federal government is trying to do the right thing through the courts to reduce sentences to appropriate sentences that seem to be fair and reasonable to the law," Charanza said.
Charanza said revising the "lock him up and throw away the key" type sentences will help with rehabilitation and families and benefits even those who manage to steer clear of trouble.
"This means a savings to the tax payers because we won't be paying $40 to $60,000 to keep them confined," Charanza said.
"We don't have to lock them up to see that they can law-abiding citizens," Charanza said.
The average sentence in the Eastern District of Texas was 106 months. After the guideline revision, it is 86 months.