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Press Release: Cold-Blooded Murders Result from Criminal Justice Reforms

WASHINGTON, DC / Feb. 9, 2016 -- A video produced by the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys highlights the risks America takes when it releases drug traffickers early from prison, as would happen under legislation currently under consideration in Congress.

The video highlights the cold-blooded murders in Columbus, Ohio last month of two children and their mother – ten-year old Anaesia Green, her seven-year old sister Breya Hammonds, and their mother Erveena Hammonds – when, as police charge, their throats were slit by Hammonds’ ex-boyfriend, Wendell Callahan, a federally-convicted cocaine trafficker released early from federal prison. Callahan would still have been behind bars at the time of the murders but for his early release from prison due to "sentencing reform" legislation passed by Congress in 2010.

Now, even broader “sentencing reform” bills are under consideration that would offer early release to thousands more violent offenders and traffickers in hard drugs. The releases would occur through the retroactive reduction of sentences they are currently serving.

NAAUSA's video reveals the empty promises of sentencing reform backers that only “low-level, nonviolent” federal inmates will benefit from sentencing reductions. Regardless of whether violence was undertaken in the particular crime for which the drug trafficker is jailed, and still less whether the offender is imagined to be “low risk” by the government, as Wendell Callahan was, why should unsuspecting future victims bear the risks of inevitable mistakes in early release decisions? In a humane country, the risks of error are borne by those who made their own choices, like drug pushers, not by defenseless children, like Anaesia and Breya. This is all the more true, and all the more urgent, when the hardships of recidivist crime will be visited disproportionately on marginalized and minority in neighborhoods where drug trafficking is rampant.

Unfortunately, the risks are greater even that that. The proposed early release of thousands criminals with violent backgrounds will occur in addition to the early release of as many as 46,000 drug traffickers over the coming years, due to the Congressionally-unchecked actions of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. All of this is playing out against the backdrop of our country’s worst heroin epidemic in decades, and the largest annual increase in murder -- 17% -- in over a generation.

The NAAUSA video is on the NAAUSA website at naausa.org.

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The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys is a national professional association representing the interests of Assistant United States Attorneys employed by the Department of Justice. Assistant United States Attorneys are the career-level federal law enforcement officers in the 94 United States Attorney Offices responsible for federal criminal prosecutions and civil cases involving the United States Government.

About NAAUSA

The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys (NAAUSA) is the voice of Assistant United States Attorneys in the Department of Justice and Congress helping safeguard justice and promoting the interests of AUSAs.

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