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April 18, 2009

Should the US Sentencing Commission have more members?

A conversation with a thoughtful sentencing observer got me to thinking about whether folks interested in significant reform of the federal sentencing system might urge a novel structural change in a key federal sentencing player.  Specifically, perhaps the US Sentencing Commission, which only has seven members and has often through its history been beset with disruptive vacancies, ought to be bigger.  Many state sentencing commissions are double the size, and there are lots of reasons to believe that larger, more diverse commissions are better able to propose, promote and protect new and needed sentencing reforms.

April 18, 2009 at 05:27 PM | Permalink


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I would once again go in the opposite direction.

Once a group gets above a certain size no work will come from that group due to differences among the members.

Pare it down to three members, don't worry about the vacancies. If something needs to change about sentencing badly enough the vacancies will get filled in and because you only need the agreement of two people change will be far easier to accomplish. And as an added bonus because action will be expected in that case Congress can then step in to fix anything it doesn't like afterward.

(Witness Congress itself as a body beset by the size problem I mentioned)

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 18, 2009 6:00:45 PM

All legislative bodies should have large numbers of evenly matched factions. Gridlock is good for the public by allowing only ideas that everyone believes are good.

That goes for the Supreme Court. These dunces should have their idiotic, unlawful, and unconstitutional idiocies restrained by having an even number of justices. That way, 5-4 decisions would not frustrate the public. Then add 991 more idiots to their number, to at least reach for the wisdom of the crowd. End the lifetime appointment, an idea enacted 100 years before the description of Alzheimer Dementia, and of the three Great Boners of the god like Founding Fathers.

Prof. Berman: List me as one of the owners of the law.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 18, 2009 8:34:25 PM

It goes without saying, lawyers need to be excluded from all legislative seats, all benches, and all policy positions in the executive. They are to be excluded as felons are. These rent seeking cult criminals are far more dangerous and damaging than allowing a bunch of convicted crooks to plunder our government. The lawyer knows about nothing, not crime, not nothing. It just knows criminal cult doctrines and rent seeking. It is totally unfit to serve on a sentencing commission.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 18, 2009 8:41:45 PM

With Judge Sessions as the new Chairman of the USSC (just announced by Obama) I'd bet a lot of you naysayers will change your tune and lay off the FDR-like chatter about packing the Commission with like-minded apparachiks.

Be honest, it's not really a plurality of opinion you want, simply your opinion. "Let the jail doors swing wide!"

Posted by: dweedle | Apr 20, 2009 5:41:38 PM

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