As of Nov. 1, 179 drug offenders have been released in St. Louis and the surrounding area under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office. Of the 179, 50 have been released into the community, while the remaining reside in halfway houses. Deputy Chief Probation Officer Scott Anders says they’ve had an orientation for the first two groups to be released to ensure they have assistance.
“We’ve been providing them with information and resources even prior to their release from the prison to the halfway house,” Anders said. “Then we start working with them immediately when they arrive at the halfway house.”
The recent increase in inmates being released stems from decisions made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission last year reducing penalties for drug related offenses. S. Carleen Reck, executive director of the Criminal Justice Ministry, says there’s always a concern when it comes to resources for reentry programs, but thinks people rise to the cause when there’s a greater need.
“People understand that they would be paying to keep them in prison,” she said. “And here’s a chance to let somebody get a new life—if they get help.”
Matt Osterrieder, a legislative specialist for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, said in an email, “The Commission studied the recidivism rates of crack cocaine offenders who were released early pursuant to a similar amendment and found that those offenders released early were no more likely to reoffend than offenders who had served their original sentences.” (A link to that study can be found here: Recidivism Among Offenders Receiving Retroactive Sentence Reductions: The 2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment)
A total of 408 inmates were granted a reduction in Missouri’s Eastern District, and the remaining 229 inmates are scheduled for community release in the future.