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November 19, 2004

The USSC's wonderful data plans

I have on good authority that we will be seeing early next week the US Sentencing Commission's long awaited "15 year report."  I know the USSC has been working very hard on this project for a number of years, and the report should be chock-full of data and analysis of the pre-Blakely state of federal sentencing.  And I expect that the information and conclusions from the Commission’s comprehensive pre-Blakely assessment of the operation and efficacies of the federal guidelines should be of enormous value to everyone contemplating the post-Blakely direction of federal sentencing reforms.

In addition, I was also giddy to hear from a very trustworthy source that the USSC may also try to release this month, perhaps even before Thanksgiving, some of the preliminary data the USSC has collected concerning the post-Blakely state of federal sentencing.  In my testimony to the USSC earlier this week, I stressed the value of public dissemination of that data, and Judge Castillo indicated the Commission would try to release the data as soon as possible.  I am both amazed and very gratified to learn that we may possibly see this data within a matter of weeks (and maybe even before John Madden does his annual turkey nonsense).

Of course, if you need a USSC fix before the data deluge, remember that you can access all the written testimony from this week's hearings here, as well as a transcript of the panels (which includes the interesting Q & A portions) here.  (My prior summaries of the USSC hearings are here and here.) The transcript of the session with Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, US DOJ is here, and you can in the Q & A count how often he stressed that he is "not endorsing but merely describing" (quite favorably) the Bowman fix.

November 19, 2004 at 06:19 PM | Permalink


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Given the burgeoning federal deficit, and the even more frightening budget problems of the states, maybe it's time to start pointing out again the wasted financial costs of excessive imprisonment. Where are the latest studies, showing that whatever maybe be gained or saved for society as a result of incapacitation or marginal deterrence from imposing a 20 year sentence on a cocaine dealer (or marijuana grower, even more so) as compared with a five year sentence is outweighed X-fold by the costs of imprisonment and of the social harms to the defendant and his/her family and community? Does the Sentencing Project have this information? How about public policy experts on the costs of crime like Prof. Mark Kleiman at UCLA and others?

Posted by: Peter G | Nov 20, 2004 8:13:14 PM

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