The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling on the Justice Department to see that prisoners who were wrongfully given sentence enhancements are released immediately. The ACLU urges “immediate action to identify and support the release of a large number of wrongfully imprisoned federal inmates. There are dozens and possibly thousands of people wasting away in federal prison serving unjust sentences due to “felon in possession of a firearm” convictions, mandatory minimum guidelines or “career offender” sentence enhancements, even though their previous convictions were not “predicate felonies” and should not have qualified them for those enhancements. An appeals court decision in U.S. v. Simmons clarified the definition of a “predicate felony offense,” but a year later, many who should have had their sentenced reduced or thrown out are still behind bars.
In August 2011 a decision was handed down by the Fourth Circuit Court in United States versus Simmons. The Court found that federal inmates who were prosecuted in North Carolina were innocent of the federal crimes for which they were charged, or did not qualify for a sentence enhancement, yet a year later these prisoners have not been released. click here to go to website
A June 14, 2012 USA Today article that reported this miscarriage of justice set events in motion to rectify this situation. It is expected that federal inmates wrongfully convicted or given unwarranted sentence enhancements will be freed soon.