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September 21, 2010

AG Eric Holder stating that DOJ sentencing recommendations will be released "later this year"

Long-time readers may recall that I was pleased when, way back in early 2009, then-new Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department was conducting a comprehensive internal review of federal sentencing and corrections issues.  I was pleased in part because AG Holder and others had intimated that DOJ would go public with the results of this review and make reform recommendations to Congress and the US Sentencing Commission.

But then as 2009 turned to 2010 (and early 2010 turned to late 2010) without any formal public report from DOJ on these issues, I came to the unhappy conclusion that the prevailing political winds had led to a determination by DOJ that it should not make public the result of its internal review.  So, I was both surprised and excited to discover this paragraph deep in a public speech delivered by AG this past Friday at the 2010 Bench/Bar Conference in Pennsylvania (with my emphasis added):

Over the past year, we have also been reevaluating federal sentencing and corrections policies to ensure that the proper balance is struck in promoting public safety, punishing criminals, avoiding unwarranted sentencing disparities, and reducing recidivism. Recommendations are currently in development and will be released later this year, but we were — and we all should be — heartened by the recent passage of the Fair Sentencing Act. The crack/powder sentencing disparity was a symbol of unfairness in our system and, though there’s more work to be done, its reduction is an encouraging step forward.

Given these comments by the AG — as well as by the fact that the US Sentencing Commission is going to be releasing new crack sentencing guidelines based on the FSA and a new report on mandatory minimum sentencing provision — I am starting to think that the upcoming lame-duck period for Congress in November and December might be a time for some exciting/interesting criminal justice developments.

September 21, 2010 at 09:56 AM | Permalink

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