October 7, 2015 / 5:09 PM / in 2 years

U.N. chief hails U.S. plan to release thousands of prisoners

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stands at the unveiling of a digital installation titled "Assembly of Youth" at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations secretary-general welcomed on Wednesday a U.S. decision to release some 6,000 federal prisoners to ease overcrowding and provide redress for people who had received disproportionately long sentences for non-violent drug-related offenses.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also “welcomes proposals that aim to consider early release of additional prisoners who are serving sentences disproportionate to their crimes, many of which are drug-related,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The U.S. Justice Department is set to free the prisoners early in the largest one-time release of federal inmates, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Depriving someone of liberty should be a last resort, Dujarric said, adding that Ban believed “consideration needs to be given to alternatives to criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs, with an increased focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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