In the largest one-time release in history, the Department of Justice will be commuting 6,000 inmates from federal prisons across the country.
According to the Washington Post, the inmates, who are all serving time for drug-related offenses, will be released by Nov. 2 in an effort to reduce overcrowding behind bars. Additionally, many of the prisoners received harsh sentences for their crimes. Once released, the majority of the prisoners will be sent to halfway homes and rehabilitation facilities before resuming their lives.
“It’s a remarkable moment,” sentencing reform advocate Mary Price said to the Post. “Over the past several years, the tone of the discussion about incarceration has changed dramatically. We have come to the realization that our punitive approach to drug crimes is not working and has produced significant injustices.”
The Department of Justice’s announcement comes months after President Obama granted clemency to 22 prisoners (since taking office, he has commuted 89 sentences—more than past four presidents combined). Government officials expect another 8,550 could potentially be released by November 2016.