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March 11, 2013

Judge Rakoff calls for fraud guidelines to be "scrapped in their entirety" in favor of a "non-arithmetic, multi-factor test"

As reported in new press accounts here and here, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff gave a speech late last week at a white-collar offense conference which should warm the heart of critics of the existing federal sentencing guidelines. The start of this Reuters piece provides these highlights:

A prominent Manhattan judge has called for federal sentencing guidelines to be revamped, saying their current emphasis on losses in white-collar crimes has led to irrational results.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, a longtime critic of the sentencing guidelines, told attendees of a Las Vegas legal conference Thursday that the United States should move away from its current system of distilling offenses into numbers for calculating a sentence to one that was more flexible.  "My modest proposal is that they should be scrapped in their entirety and in their place there should be a non-arithmetic, multi-factor test," he said.

Rakoff made the remarks during a lunchtime keynote address at the National Institute on White Collar Crime conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.  The ABA's white-collar group has recently created a committee that includes Rakoff as a member to focus on how white-collar sentencing guidelines should be changed.

The guidelines came into place following the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which gave birth to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.  The goal at the time was to reduce discrepancies in sentences.

Rakoff argued that the "fundamental flaw" of the guidelines is they assume every situation can be distilled into a number for the purpose of then calculating a sentence.  He called the numbers assigned to various situations "arbitrary."

"The Sentencing Commission to this day has never been able to articulate why it has two points for this, or four points for that," he said.  "These are just numbers.  And yet once they are placed the whole thing is blessed and said to be rational."

March 11, 2013 at 07:12 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"Rakoff argued that the "fundamental flaw" of the guidelines is they assume every situation can be distilled into a number for the purpose of then calculating a sentence. He called the numbers assigned to various situations "arbitrary."

I pretty much agree with this...In many districts its like Booker nerver happened.

"The Sentencing Commission to this day has never been able to articulate why it has two points for this, or four points for that," he said. "These are just numbers. And yet once they are placed the whole thing is blessed and said to be rational."

Absolutely true..
Take this for an example: Its the conversion of drug qtys to Marihuana equiv

Marihuana Ratio to
1 Gram Equivlant Powder Cocaine
Cocaine 200 gm 1:1
Meth 2 kgm 10:1
New Crack 3.6 kgm 18:1
Psuedo 10 kgm 50:1
Pure Meth 20 kgm 100:1

Why is Psuedo 5 times that of meth...If what was found was not pure meth. Why are they
hammering you at the same rate as if you were making pure meth.

In other words if a group cooked their psuedo, the conversion would be 20% less
drug qty than the guy who did not.. Nobody can explain this and I cannot believe
that this has not been challenged in Federal Court. Talk about pulling nthibngs out of ones @ss,
the feds are the absolute best...Seems like I'm not the ONLY one who thinks this way.. When
you have a multitude of Federal Judges that think the system is wrong and sucks, one would think.

Would anyone care to take a stab at this and explain it to my feeble mind....
it would get fixed... But I forgot.. To get re-elected to their honorary do nothing vaccum level
status, one cannot appear to be weak on crime...Nor do anyting, in this way never any FLACK..

Powder coke is the basis for crack and it is 18 times lower not higher, so you cannot use the excuse they are cracking down on manufacturing.. With meth beig 10 tmes higher than coke, they've already covered that angle.. Come on boys & girls, step up to the plate...

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Mar 12, 2013 10:03:24 AM

Correction 20% of, not 20% less, I am headed for coffee now...Enjoy the read..

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Mar 12, 2013 10:06:54 AM

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