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DanHenson1/iStock/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice Tuesday confirmed that the doors of federal prisons all over the country will swing open for an estimated 6,000 drug offenders at the end of this month.

It is the largest-ever one-time early release of federal prisoners, and it comes as a result of U.S.

Sentencing Commission and Obama Administration efforts to reduce long prison sentences given to drug offenders. It is also part of an effort to cut down jail overcrowding.

It is not just non-violent offenders who are getting their freedom, a Justice Department spokesman said -- some of those being released have been convicted of violent crime, along with drug crimes.

But the vast majority are non-violent offenders, officials said. And the sentence reductions were not for the violent portion of offenders' sentences.

However, all of the prisoners who petitioned for release had to have a public safety determination made by a judge.

The judge could elect to release the prisoner, or to keep him or her locked-up.

About one-third of the prisoners to be released between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 are non-citizens, the Department of Justice said, and they will be turned over to Immigration and Customs officials for deportation.

Most of the former prisoners who are released into the community will still be supervised through a halfway house or home confinement, according to Justice Department officials.

“The Department of Justice strongly supports sentencing reform for low-level, non-violent drug offenders," said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in a statement Tuesday. "The Sentencing Commission's actions - which create modest reductions for drug offenders - is a step toward these necessary reforms.”

Yates also emphasized that even with these sentence reductions, the drug offenders in question have served substantial sentences. On average, according to DOJ, each inmate has already served 8.5 years of a 10 year sentence.

A similar program was undertaken in 2007 when inmates were released for sentences for crack were deemed too harsh.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SOMATUSCANI/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- The skies over the United States have seen two incidents of commercial pilots becoming incapacitated in-flight in just two days.

A United Airlines co-pilot lost consciousness mid-flight this morning, airline officials said, one day after the captain of an American Airlines flight died mid-flight.

“This is the very reason we have two qualified pilots in the cockpit, both trained to exactly the same standards,” said ABC News aviation consultant and airline pilot John Nance.

“The only difference in landing the airplane by yourself is that there are a few things that you're going to have to reach across the cockpit for -- but they're well within reach,” Nance added “You're very well trained to be able to do this solo.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the situation is very rare -- only nine pilots have died in-flight in the past 20 years.

In one remarkable case in 2009, a 60-year-old Continental Airlines pilot died at the controls three hours into an eight-hour flight from Belgium to Newark, airline officials said at the time.

After a doctor aboard the plane determined the pilot was clinically dead, his body was moved to a crew rest area, according to the airline.

Passengers were not informed of the pilot’s death until the co-pilots landed the plane safely in New Jersey -- where several passengers received cell phone calls from friends who told them what had happened. By federal law, flights longer than eight hours are required to have three pilots on board.

“It's really up to the co-pilot, who is now the acting captain, as to whether or not to tell the passengers everything that's going on,” Nance said. “It's really an individual decision.”

According to a 2005 study from Flight Safety Digest based on FAA data, 50 health incidents involving pilots occurred between 1993 and 1998. Thirty-nine of those incidents were classified as incapacitations and 11 were impairments.

These incidents occurred on 47 flights.

Commercial airline pilots are required by the FAA to retire at age 65, and pilots over 40 must get two yearly physicals.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Eric Crama/iStock/ThinkStock(MCLEAN, Va.) -- Parents in a Virginia suburb are protesting the opening of a gun store due to its proximity to a local elementary school.

Some students at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, can spot Nova Firearms right outside classroom windows and their parents argue the gun store's location is sending the wrong message, especially at a time when there have been a number of high-profile incidents around the country involving gun violence.

"That gun store is going to make my community less safe," said Deb Lavoy, whose daughter is a sixth grader at Franklin Sherman Elementary School. "I do not wish to deny the landlord his rent, but neither do I want more guns in my neighborhood, or a gun store as part of my daughter’s daily experience."

The store owners countered that they are complying with federal and state laws and are defending their right to remain open.

"I have every right to be here just as any other small business," store co-owner Rachel Dresser told ABC News. "We are transparent in what we do. We just needed more retail space so we expanded here."
Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, whose district includes McLean, is urging the owners of Nova Firearms to move the store.

"It is simply antagonistic to our community and frightening to concerned parents to locate a store selling firearms and live ammunition literally within 60 seconds walking distance to a school entrance," Foust said.

While he conceded that Nova Firearms is allowed to sell guns at the current location near the school, he added, "this is an issue of judgment, not legality."

The store's owners relocated the shop near the elementary school after a failed attempt to expand at its previous location in Virginia. Dresser, and her co-owner James Gates, said they needed a larger location in part to offer gun-safety classes for both adults and children.

Members of the community balked when the store opened and staged a protest a week ago. The fight is also getting heated online as more than 2,000 people have signed a petition to kick-out Nova Firearms from its current location.

Even locals who do not have children at the school expressed their concern.

"I'm outraged by this. It shows poor judgment," Dr. Bita Motesharrei, a local doctor, told ABC News. "It attracts the wrong crowd."

Meanwhile, gun-rights supporters are rallying behind Nova Firearms, saying it's not a threat to the McLean community and the owners are within their legal rights to sell guns on a street that also houses an auto body shop and a bank.

Vance Gore, the PTA president at Franklin Sherman Elementary School, has two children at the school and said "the community at large is still grappling with the issue."

"I would say many parents are deeply troubled by the opening of the gun store right next to the school," Gore said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

JaysonPhotography/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- Authorities are investigating how Kiersten Cerveny, a successful doctor, wife and mother of three, died after a night out partying in Manhattan this weekend.

Cerveny lived in suburban Manhasset, Long Island, with husband Andrew Cerveny and their children. The Cervenys, both dermatologists, met in 2004 as medical residents at the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans, according to their 2009 wedding announcement in the New York Times.

She graduated magna cum laude from Duke University and received her medical degree from Tulane University, according to the wedding announcement, which also noted that she had a previous marriage before Andrew that ended in divorce.

Here is the timeline surrounding the dermatologist's mysterious death.


Cerveny met friends at a hotel at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night, according to police sources.


The 38-year-old was out until 2:30 a.m. with her friends, using alcohol and cocaine, according to police sources.

The group went to a bar on New York City's Lower East Side, where Cerveny met a man with whom she was Facebook friends, police sources said.

Cerveny and the man left the bar between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., taking a cab to an apartment building in Chelsea, police sources said.


Surveillance video shows Cerveny and the man entering the building in Chelsea at 4:25 a.m., according to police sources, who noted that the taxi driver took them to the driver's apartment.

Cerveny was found in the apartment building lobby around 8:30 a.m. Sunday and was declared dead at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

One of the men she was out with had called 911, disappeared and called 911 again to check on Cerveny's status, police said.


There was no evidence of robbery or sexual assault, according to police sources, and bruises discovered on her neck were determined to be from a prior medical procedure.

Investigators brought in Cerveny's husband, as well as one of the men she was out with, to be questioned, but no one was arrested, police said.

When asked today whether her death resulted from an overdose, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, "At this juncture that is the direction this case seems to be going. We have no indication based on our investigation there is any foul play suspected. We believe at this time it had to do with the ingestion of narcotics."

Police were told Cerveny consumed a significant amount of alcohol and cocaine that night. The autopsy is pending the results of toxicology tests, according to the medical examiner's office.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

iStock/Thinkstock(CARLSBAD, Calif.) -- A mother is suing the city of Carlsbad, California, after she says police allegedly assaulted her in front of her children on the way home from a birthday party in 2013.

The 2013 incident was caught on cellphone video and shows officers pinning Cindy Hahn during the arrest.

Her lawyer, Mark Geragos, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Hahn against the city of Carlsbad and five officers. The lawsuit claims that Hahn “suffers permanent memory loss and brain trauma” as a result of the beating, and that the police reports filed about the incident were false.

“The only thing correct in this, in the documents that they filed with the court is the spelling of her name,” Geragos added.

The Carlsbad Police Department said in a statement, “We are prepared to provide a complete and detailed account of the facts of this incident in a courtroom, including what is not shown on the video released by the plaintiff’s attorney."

Hahn said the situation started when she asked a police officer about a car alarm that was going off. Hahn says she called the non-emergency police hotline to complain about the officer’s response.

Immediately after, Hahn said that same officer pulled her over for an alleged seatbelt violation. The next thing she knew, Hahn says, she was pinned to the ground.

“I was reaching for him for help. And what he did next. I have a lot of … issues with memory from the blow,” Hahn said.

Hahn originally faced up to two years in jail, charged with resisting arrest and battery. But according to Geragos, once the district attorney saw the video, those charges were dropped.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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