July 13, 2014
USSC Chair reiterates Commission's sentencing reform message to House Judiciary Committee
This past Friday, US Sentencing Commission Chair, Chief Judge Patti Saris, testified at this hearing of Over-Criminalization Task Force of the Committee on the Judiciary of the US House of Representatives. Her lengthy written testimony is available at this link, and here is a summary paragraph from the Chair's discussion of recommended mandatory minimum reforms:
Based on [our] analysis, the Commission continues to recommend unanimously that Congress consider a number of statutory changes. The Commission recommends that Congress reduce the current statutory mandatory minimum penalties for drug trafficking. We further recommend that the provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which Congress passed to reduce the disparity in treatment of crack and powder cocaine, be made retroactive. Finally, we recommend that Congress consider expanding the so-called “safety valve,” allowing sentences below mandatory minimum penalties for non-violent low-level drug offenders, to offenders with slightly greater criminal histories than currently permitted.
Republican and Democratic members of this Task Force and others in Congress have proposed legislation to reform certain mandatory minimum penalty provisions. The Commission strongly supports these efforts to reform this important area of the law.
Notably, as this official press release highlights, Judge Irene Keeley, chair of the Judicial Conference Criminal Law Committee, echoed similar messages in he testimony to the House Task Force:
A representative of the Judicial Conference today told a House Judiciary Task Force that policy initiatives curbing over-federalization of criminal law, reforming mandatory minimum sentences and amending the Sentencing Guidelines have the support of the Judicial Conference, but that the Judiciary currently lacks the resources to shoulder resulting increased workload.
“Policy-makers must not create a new public safety crisis in our communities by simply transferring the risks and costs from the prisons to the caseloads of already strained probation officers and the full dockets of the courts,” said Judge Irene Keeley, chair of the Judicial Conference Criminal Law Committee. “Lasting and meaningful solutions can be attained only if the branches work together to ensure that the correct cases are brought into the federal system, just sentences are imposed, and offenders are appropriately placed in prison or under supervision in the community.”
July 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Permalink
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I thin of over-criminalization as criminalizing harmless conduct, mala prohibita without external validation, outside of lawyer rent seeking, and tortious conduct and sharp business practices, that are actually good for the economy, such as insider trading.
This over-criminalization is itself a crime, since a defendant is falsely kidnapped and detained so a few lawyers can have a job.
Sentencing reform for serious, real crimes is silly and evil. Just more enableing, protection, and empowering of criminals, by the lawyer for a fee.
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 13, 2014 12:17:14 PM
If I were a prosecutor, I could come after every reader with three felony counts a day.
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 13, 2014 12:18:13 PM
With the comment below being posted, its safe to say the 2 level drop by drug qty will not be made retroactive. What a shame.
“Policy-makers must not create a new public safety crisis in our communities by simply transferring the risks and costs from the prisons to the caseloads of already strained probation officers and the full dockets of the courts,” said Judge Irene Keeley, chair of the Judicial Conference Criminal Law Committee. “
Posted by: Midwest Guy | Jul 13, 2014 10:43:29 PM
Inser foot in mouth. I read the detail of a link, below is what it says. Great news.
To correct what Chief Justice William Rehnquist called “the unintended consequences” of mandatory minimums, the Conference supports the policies contained in H.R. 3382, the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013. The Conference also has endorsed legislation precluding the “stacking” of mandatory minimum sentences. The Conference most recently supported, with certain conditions including delayed implementation, retroactivity for the Sentencing Commission’s recent amendments to the Drug Quantity Table. Implementing this policy on a retroactive basis will result in many inmates being released from prison and into the custody of probation officers, who work for the Judicial Branch. Without delayed implementation for the Judiciary to seek necessary resources and prepare for this influx of offenders into the probation system, public safety could be compromised.
Posted by: Midwest Guy | Jul 14, 2014 5:25:36 AM