U.S. agency recommends shorter prison sentences for drug offenders

By Julia Edwards WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Up to 70 percent of all federal drug offenses could carry shorter prison sentences if the recommendation passed on Thursday by an agency that advises U.S. federal judges on sentencing is not opposed by Congress. The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s recommendation reflects a policy supported by the Obama administration to bring punishments for low-level drug offenders in line with the severity of their crime. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he opposes lowering sentences. The amendment would not reduce penalties for drug traffickers with the greatest drug quantities, and sentencing guidelines already take into account whether the drug offense was combined with violence or possession of a firearm.

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