Drug criminals once described by prosecutors as unrepentant repeat offenders are among those poised to benefit from new sentencing guidelines that are shrinking punishments for thousands of federal prisoners, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

Many defendants cleared for early release starting this fall fit a more sympathetic profile: small-time dealers targeted by a draconian approach to drug enforcement. But an AP analysis of roughly 100 court cases also identified defendants who carried semi-automatic weapons, had past convictions for crimes including robbery and assault, moved cocaine shipments across states and participated in international heroin smuggling.

One inmate whose punishment was cut was described in 2012 as a “calamity waiting to happen.” Another was caught with crack and guns while awaiting sentencing in a separate drug case.

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