H.R. 261, The Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2007 (400 comments ↓)

  • This item is from the 110th Congress (2007-2008) and is no longer current. Comments, voting, and wiki editing have been disabled, and the cost/savings estimate has been frozen.

H.R. 261 would amend title 18, United States Code, to provide an alternate release date for certain nonviolent offenders.

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The Passion of the Comments

I’m always interested by the personal stories that show up in the comments here on WashingtonWatch.com. It’s a window onto people’s experiences in some of their most difficult times. Here’s a sampling. On H.R. 261, The Federal...

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February 10, 2007, 10:24pm (report abuse)



February 10, 2007, 10:43pm (report abuse)



February 10, 2007, 10:53pm (report abuse)



February 12, 2007, 7:52pm (report abuse)

I believe that this would not only be adventagous to our society by saving the tax payers money, but it will also help so many families that depend on others for help as well as our welfare system.

R Doyle

February 18, 2007, 8:25pm (report abuse)

With our country's finances in turmoil as our national debt rises and the nation's deficit is at an all-time high, we need MORE tax payers. If there are non-violent offenders out there than can contribute, then I say let them out ASAP!! Our nation spends more than $30k/yr on each inmate, which is more than the average American family's income. Why build more prisons when we can deport non-Americans, and release non-violent offenders over 45!


February 19, 2007, 10:20am (report abuse)


R. Blair

March 4, 2007, 12:37pm (report abuse)

I believe this to be a good bill. If I could add anything it would be that there be some type of reward for so called 'model prisoners'. It would encourage more obedience and general better attitude.

John Worthington

March 7, 2007, 7:56pm (report abuse)

If you are giving amnesty to millions of illegal aliens you can give amnesty to these real americans

Susan Taylor

March 8, 2007, 1:42pm (report abuse)

I support this bill 100% because it makes "sense" - something new for the US Govt. There are many people serving prison time for so-called "white collar" crimes that were given maximum mandatory sentences for actions that they did not "knowingly" commit as crimes. Others have actively murdered or sold drugs and our great justice system has them on the streets. How can this be "JUSTICE"? I now question everything I thought about this country's justice system. In our experience, an FBI agent abused my 14yr.old daughter and couldn't be prosecuted. They were the true criminal. Oh well, it's a new ballgame!


March 11, 2007, 9:23pm (report abuse)

I support this bill 100%. Everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance, especially when they are non-violent crminals,"white collar" crimes. They deserve parole, sex offenders and drug dealers do, it doesnt make sense.

Nora Callahan

March 12, 2007, 5:09pm (report abuse)

I wonder if it would be challenged constitutionally. Would a young person do more time than a middle aged person for the same offense.

That said, I think that it would make a great emergency resolution to solve over-crowding issues, and repeated yearly until the prisons came in line with capacity levels.

That said, no new prisons! We should put a federal moratorium on building more, forcing the legislators to revisit drug sentencing, and other non violent crimes. Mostly folks on drug sentences, are serving time on snitches words -- drug conspiracies, based on the wet snitche's words...

Earl Adams

March 13, 2007, 4:05pm (report abuse)

I support the bill 100%. I know of a good man who needed drug rehab instead of prison. He will be spending more time in prison than murderers if something like this bill is not passed....

Passionate about the Bill

March 14, 2007, 12:05am (report abuse)

Often times sentences for nonviolent crimes are too long and unnecissary. These prisoners need to be rehabilitated and reintroduced into society. We need to spend more money on rehabilitation and prevention rather than prisons where inmates are simply housed. Jail is not the only punishment after being convicted of a nonviolent crime. Often times those convicted face public humiliation, loss of their jobs,loss of their house, and perhaps even the effects of a broken household. So what is the point of adding 6 or 7 years of housing a non violent criminal. I am not saying non violent criminals should not go to jail, but I am saying if the time should fit the crime and until it is not, this bill needs to be passed so that those who have learned their lesson,and have served a considerable amount of time may be released from prision and become productive members of society again.


March 14, 2007, 4:42pm (report abuse)

I strongly support and hope & pray it comes to life.


March 19, 2007, 7:52pm (report abuse)

I pray that this bil pass, let the nonviolent go home. In some states, these guys would have been home by now anyway. Let's see this money used in a more positive way-GIVE THE HOMELESS A ROOF.


March 20, 2007, 3:02pm (report abuse)

Very very passionate about this bill and getting it passed. I think there are too many good men and women being held behind bars and wall and fences for mediocre crimes that really never hurt society and deserve an opportunity to prove themselves reliable citizens.


March 20, 2007, 5:17pm (report abuse)

Reform the system, and send the corrupt judges, lawyers and prosectors to prison.

B Young

March 22, 2007, 9:31am (report abuse)

The sentences for the most part are much longer in the federal system than in the state prisons and there isn't parole in the federal system. The current federal system is unfair. It harms children. Children should be allowed to have more contact with their parents than just visiting in an over-crowded, noisy visiting area on the weekends. They need to be able to play with and learn from their parent. A lot of these inmates held jobs, supported families, helped in their communities. Now they are being warehoused at government expense. It's a hardship on families to maintain ties when their parent is several hundred miles from home. It is a further economic burden on a family struggling to make ends meet with a parent incarcerated and having to bear the costs of travel to maintain that relationship. There are no federal facilities in my state. For my children to see their father we must travel 700 miles each way. This bill needs to pass and put families back together.


March 25, 2007, 7:40am (report abuse)

100% all the way. Please pass this bill. My husband is in prison for doing something that he was not aware of. He trusted someone who was suppost to have given an oath to serve this country righteously.

Many people are in prison for stupid idiotic reasons. Ruining people lifes and their families. My son cries for his daddy. Ya right lets just put people away for NOTHING!!!! That is exactly what is going on.

The people that actually did something are not getting rehab. because there is no money in the system. They just sit, watch TV and write letters. Come on, lets wake up!!!

My husband and many others are much better out in society forming jobs and paying taxes. The people that prosecute them know that they are innocent. Lets get it straight. Start working are the people that are really quitly.


March 25, 2007, 4:23pm (report abuse)

You gotta be kidding me, these people committed crimes, and should be kept away from society and children for as long as possible. When you do a crime, you need to be punished. There doesn't need to be an act made, just keep things the way they are. If someone is truly good, they'll get out. But I don't want my children living in a world with convicts free to roam the street.


March 26, 2007, 3:59pm (report abuse)

I support this bill totally. Give those who are not a threat to others a chance to recapture their lives. I will continue to pray for this bill to pass into law.

Ken Meyers

March 27, 2007, 8:55am (report abuse)

I think this bill is one of the most sensible items the goveronment has considered in several years. It puts good hard working Americans who made a mistake back into the working world to help support America with purchasing power and taxes paid. Let's get this bill passed.

Jim Stone

March 27, 2007, 10:26am (report abuse)

There are quite a few of offenders who meet all the qualifications who only a few years ago would have been slapped with a fine and porbation and not incarcerated. The point is, they do not have criminal minds and are caught by a system that is totally broken. It would sure be appreciated if these go through.

Joyce Cooper

March 27, 2007, 10:29am (report abuse)

This is an answer to my prayer, lower the age though, so many young people with children are wasting their lives because of this. The over crouding is bad, visiting is cut short even for people who drive a long way to get there.

Bob Bacon

March 27, 2007, 10:50am (report abuse)

Many of the prisoners in question have large amounts of restitution hanging over their heads and can not pay on it with their 20 cents per hour jobs.

They have been caught on their first offense, usually a dumb mistake.

They are not a threat to society and while in prison they are not able to pay their share of taxes and social security.

With the crowded prison conditions it’s a wonder that there has not been an out break of uncontrollable diseases.

Their spouses are going through very hard times trying to keep their life style above the poverty level.

T. Rich

March 27, 2007, 12:01pm (report abuse)

The federal sentencing guidelines are so rigid with no parole, while violent criminals like murderers and rapists are consistently given lighter sentences and early release. Our prisons are full of non-violent offenders who are wasting precious time and energy which could be better spent on the outside, doing community service and contributing to society. Let's pass this amendment!


March 27, 2007, 3:18pm (report abuse)

I support this legislation.

E Reed

April 2, 2007, 1:31am (report abuse)

How is possibble that someone can kill someone and receve a lower sentence than someone who gets chareged on a federal comspiracy case. Its not fair non violent offendes deserve a second chance


April 5, 2007, 11:23am (report abuse)

I strongly believe they should pass this bill! I also believe that they should do their time for the crime,but at the same time if it is not a violent crime such as murder, and so forth...why not give them a chance to get out early, and get on with their lives that they have left. Life is short, and my fiancee is missing half of his son's childhood over DRUGS! He has made mistakes, and no I dontr approve of it,but he didn't kill anyone! There are murderers out here getting less time then he got, and he didn't do half of what he did! He was young and stupid! Thanks for reading my comment have a good day!Please let's get this BILL PASSED!


April 5, 2007, 12:10pm (report abuse)



April 7, 2007, 10:51pm (report abuse)

this is a good bill, the age is a little unreal though. Like said before, nonviolent offenders are often younger, who just got caught in the Federal System, that even when the crime is so simple, they are spending 3 times the sentence of a state offender for the same crime. Lots of these young offenders have small children who need their parent home helping support them.

Juliana Bezerra

April 8, 2007, 11:16am (report abuse)

Lower the age! I think that there are a lot of people that are in and should not be, they are good people that commited a mistake, it's said in the bible that we should forgive them, why not?


April 8, 2007, 12:57pm (report abuse)

I completely support the bill. These people deserve a 2nd chance. Everybody makes mistakes. Judges are much too hard on these types of crimes these days and us tax payers are paying for unecessary imprisonments, families are suffering and no good comes out of any of it.

L thomas

April 9, 2007, 4:02pm (report abuse)

i belive that the bill shall go on. not only will there be familys bac together but it will be a happy one.


April 10, 2007, 11:45am (report abuse)



April 11, 2007, 7:30am (report abuse)

I fully support the bill.

Nancy Baker

April 11, 2007, 9:34am (report abuse)

I support this bill because non-violent crimes ought to be handled differently than violent crimes. Today, the sentences are more severe for monetary crimes than those crimes that result in bodily harm. If a person has made a single mistake, he should have the opportunity to correct that mistake by rehabilitating. Our congress states that they are interested in the rehabilitation of criminals but, continues to allow sentencing practices that render the criminal incapable of return to society. If there is no treat to society, there should be a program for a criminal to return to society in a manner that will allow him to earn income, secure housing, and function in society.

shania jones

April 12, 2007, 9:42am (report abuse)

i agree

Michael de Angeli

April 13, 2007, 4:02pm (report abuse)

Our prisons are grossly overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, sentenced unfairly due to mindless sentencing guidelines, and who deserve a second chance. Keeping them in prison is a needless burden on the taxpayers and serves no useful purpose. The availability of probation encourages good behavior and rehabilitation; precluding it only encourages recidivism.


April 14, 2007, 3:26pm (report abuse)

At a time when we are uncovering so many cases that have been wrongfully accused and sentenced, i believe it is important to reduce the prison population especially in the case of these non-violent white colar crime prisoners. There should be proper help for young people mixed up in drugs, not prison where they have no reason to lift their heads high and look for a brighter day, they are only experiencing shame, abuse and more ideas shared in prison on more crimes. Then we have these families in the United States that are being seperated for years because of a white colar crime. Should there be restitution and some kind of community service as a punishmentand so the offender can be allowed to continue working caring for his or her family in a manner of which has been ignored in our country, to stick together as a family and as a community. I support this bill 100%.

Richard Ratner

April 15, 2007, 10:47pm (report abuse)

This bill needs to be passed. It was wrong for the federal system to get rid of parole in the first place, and now it faces obscene overcrowding, escalating costs to the taxpayer, and the uselessness of keeping non violent offenders incarcerated for years more than are necessary to serve the purposes of justice.

D. Dettles

April 16, 2007, 8:36am (report abuse)

I support this bill 100%. The disparity between the State and Federal sentencing is outlandish. So many of these non-violet offenders have been in the wrong place at wrong time or have made that one stupid decision

Sara Loope

April 16, 2007, 2:18pm (report abuse)

The prison system was designed to keep the public safe from violent criminals. It makes no sense to incarcerate people who pose little or no risk to society. I believe the passing of this bill could be a partial solution to our overcrowded prison system. Next we can move on to reforming drug policy and fighting the War on Drugs which causes more harm to society than good.


April 17, 2007, 7:05pm (report abuse)

I total agree with this


April 19, 2007, 8:41pm (report abuse)

The age should be lowered to at least 37, 45 is too old. I think the age limit will inhibit many rehabilitated offenders the opportunity to return to society. Lower the age


April 20, 2007, 12:34am (report abuse)

I agree with the bill. However, 45 is way too old. The age limit should be AT LEAST 35. AGE 45 is WAY TOO OLD.

Antonio Espinal

April 23, 2007, 6:08pm (report abuse)

I have an old time friend in jail for many years: Jose A. Tamayo. He is a non-violent prisoner that really deserves to be integrated into our society. He deserves a pardon like the one indicated on HR-261. I hope legislators listen to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee call and approve this bill.

C. Jacob

April 24, 2007, 11:37am (report abuse)

I think this bill will help alleviate some of the overcrowding along with the several economic factors that are afected by mass incarceration. My fiancee is a non-violent prisoner that doubles as an excellent father to two daughters and needs to be integrated back into society so that he can teach them how not to repeat the cycle he fell into. Also it is crucial that families be put back together to prevent children from growing up without parents and suffering vast emotional damges by the awful events that follow a parent's imprisonment. I have to strongly agree with D. Dettles' comment also.

K. Hammer

April 24, 2007, 6:57pm (report abuse)

These young people, non violent offenders, sentenced for such a long time, what kind of life will they have when they get out. They made a mistake,they need a chance to live a productive life. Besides prison overcrowding and the expense, the toll on their lives will cost them so much more. Please change the drug war and give these people a chance to live productive lives.

A. B.

April 25, 2007, 11:13am (report abuse)

This bill is just what we need, but the age should be lowered. there are too many young men and women in the system who need to be with thier children during thier childhood. If its not a violent crime, then they should be given the chance to come home and share there lessons with their children and society. Just one dumb judgement is all it takes to change a life, but one realization and truth changes many lives.


April 26, 2007, 12:47pm (report abuse)

From someone who has worked in criminal defense for 21 years, this bill makes sense. Sex Offenders, predatory offenders and violent offenders would not be eligible so it is a safe and cost effective way to resolve the overhead and population problems in the prison system

Ellis Lacombe

April 27, 2007, 5:48pm (report abuse)

The nonviolent offender relief act would put people back with their families and into society where they can do the most good.This would reduce the overcrowding in federal prisons and also help the economy.


April 29, 2007, 4:00pm (report abuse)





Mrs. Lacy

April 29, 2007, 7:19pm (report abuse)

My husband is about to be sentenced for a non violent crime, but due to the current laws he will be gone for 5-7 years that is serving 85% of his time. Since there is no parole in the federal system. My husband is 24 we have three children. This bill will not affect him becuase of the age limit, but I hope they consider changing that. There are hundreds of fathers that can't come home where they are needed. Not in overcrowded prisions adding more pain to our economy. I strongly support this bill, I just hope that my congressman Don Young will push for to, but I doubt it.


April 30, 2007, 7:02pm (report abuse)

I completely support this bill. Why are such people incarcerated for ridiculous lengths of time? Families suffer, tax payers keep paying and nobody wins. Strict Probations and electronic monitoring of non violent First offenders are both solutions to this. We are fighting a war to free people yet we are locking our own people up left and right. This system is broken.


May 1, 2007, 4:22pm (report abuse)

I support this bill HR 261, studies show

that recedivism for offenders over

45 is practically nil


May 2, 2007, 11:52am (report abuse)





May 2, 2007, 12:56pm (report abuse)

To incarcerate non-violent, elderly,first offenders makes no sense. These are the people who can give to the system in innumerable ways. They should never have been sentenced and should be able to give back to their communities and families. SEND THEM HOME WHERE THEY BELONG!

Lyle Waggoner

May 2, 2007, 7:44pm (report abuse)

I support the bill HR261. Some of these people could do lots of good if released early.


May 3, 2007, 4:09pm (report abuse)

I support the bill HR261 a thousand percent. Federal system is Draconian and people must serve 85% of the overbearing sentence they receive. It's forced the prisons into massive overcrowding, when community service would have been an answer instead.


May 3, 2007, 9:37pm (report abuse)


A wife without a husband

May 4, 2007, 1:36am (report abuse)

So many people support this bill. So many people support bringing back parole to the federal system, yet this bill will most likely never get passed. Majority of bills never reach the floor, unless there is someone really pushing for it, like our dumb*ss president wanting an Iraq bill.


May 7, 2007, 1:36pm (report abuse)

Hardened criminals get less time than nonviolent offenders! Prisons are overcrowded. The government is wasting our tax dollars. I'm for it!


May 7, 2007, 5:08pm (report abuse)

I support the bill 100%. It is pass due for action to be taken to release non-violent offenders to be returned to their families. America is in need of family unity.

A Wife's Voice

May 8, 2007, 2:40pm (report abuse)

No one knows a man better than his wife(other than GOD). Therefore when the voice of a wife speaks out "FOR THIS BILL", Then someone has to listen. PASS THIS BILL and SEND MY HUSBAND HOME!!!!!!!

K. Sparks

May 8, 2007, 2:52pm (report abuse)

I am 100% for this bill. It is ashame that as a society, we keep non-violent, first time offenders that have NO record whatsoever longer than we keep murders, rapists and child pornographers in prison. We as tax paying citizens have to pay to keep these "so called" prisoners in prison, if I', not mistaken about $44,000 a year. Then we have to turn around and send more money to these prisoners so that they can "buy" their personal hygiene items, good tennis shoes, etc. For a country that is about freedom, our judical system is a total farce. People over the age of 45 should have some rights after they have spent a year in prison. As a family member that needs my husband back to help make ends meet with all of the amenities of our society going higher and higher, this bill should be passed by every person in the Senate, Congress and the President.


May 8, 2007, 9:04pm (report abuse)

Given the fact that men and women are still incarcerated and they meet the criteria of the HR261 bill does not say much for America being a free country. How could anyone be a threat to society if they meet all of the requirements of this bill. America need to get smarter before they become the poorest country in the world. Spending tax payers dollars to imprison these kinds of people is completely insane. Washington....Please add up the cost before it is too late.

Debra Morgan

May 9, 2007, 6:24pm (report abuse)

Considering the current state of our overcrowded prisons, this bill makes complete sense. I hope it passes.

Joyce Raburn

May 9, 2007, 9:15pm (report abuse)

Sounds reasonable to me.

R King

May 10, 2007, 9:44am (report abuse)

After 6 years in federal prison, I can personally attest that taxpayer's dollars are wasted on non-violent criminals. The public would be better served by allowing these inmates to serve a smaller portion of their time and then pay fines and restitution as part of their early release. This would ensure that the victims receive recompensation and the government would recoup a cost of confinement. Due to the fact that the federal system gives alot of time for non-violent offenders, it is difficult for many of these to have a job that will be worth anything when they get out versus doing a small amount and then released. Our country needs to give some people a second chance, especially those who are non-violent. If they mess up during the early release period, then put them back for the long term, but lets at least give them a chance. If nothing else, think of the family unit and the importance of the parent being involved in children's lives.


May 10, 2007, 11:17am (report abuse)

Our Government is always complaining about wasteful spending and so do the people. Then why are we keeping non violent offenders in jail for 10-20 years and releasing sex offenders and murderers earlier just so they can do it again? A man or women can spend less time in a state facility for murder than someone with a drinking or drug problem. Keeping them behind bars serves no purpose to the community or to better themselves.


May 10, 2007, 6:26pm (report abuse)

I support this bill 100% Let it pass and pass quickly.

K Jones

May 11, 2007, 1:14am (report abuse)

I think this bill would be an excellent decision. How can we lock up nonviolent offenders practically all their life yet let murders, rapists &child molesters walk free after only a few year sentence? It makes a person question our judicial system doesnt it?

vinnette walker

May 11, 2007, 4:13pm (report abuse)

I there are a lot of non voilent people locked up for many years, while there are a lot of murders nd child molesters walking around free.

L Orlando

May 13, 2007, 1:45pm (report abuse)

This is a great opportunity to bring people back into mainstream society to be productive citizens. This will also provide some costs savings.

Coleman Blue

May 13, 2007, 2:40pm (report abuse)

This bill will save dollars, lives, marriages and families.

All of which are good things for taxpayers.

President Bill Clinton said that if they can be controlled simply by telling them not to cross the yellow line and they don't then they must be released.

I have been there - I have seen the women 60+ who are only a threat to themselves because they can't walk very well and the only person they hurt when they took money was themselves.

This MUST pass.


May 14, 2007, 12:39pm (report abuse)

This bill will definitely save money and lower the inmate population.

M. Carter

May 14, 2007, 1:53pm (report abuse)

As someone whose father is affected by this bill...I am strongly in favor of it! I agree with all the comments in favor of this bill. Not having to pay taxes for my dad's room and board is a bonus in itself and being home with his family is a bonsu for us!

Melissa L Carter

May 14, 2007, 1:58pm (report abuse)

From someone who would personally benefit if this bill passes. My dad is 75, first time offender of a nonviolent crime and yet there are Child molesters who are out and about walking our neighborhoods! My dad was sentenced to 33 months! He was made an example of... please release him to serve the remainder of his time here on earth at HOME with his loved ones!

Stormy A Martin

May 14, 2007, 2:54pm (report abuse)

Please pass this bill..releasing non violent people would benefit a lot of families. Emotionally and financially.

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