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April 6, 2011

US Sentencing Commission makes guideline crack reductions permanent

As detailed in this official press release from the US Sentencing Commission, the USSC today promulgated a permanent amendment implementing the provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010."  Here is more:

Commission chair, Judge Patti B. Saris (District of Massachusetts) said, “The Fair Sentencing Act was among the most significant pieces of criminal justice legislation passed by Congress in the last three decades. For over 15 years, the Commission has advocated for changes to the statutory penalty structure for crack cocaine offenses. The Commission applauds Congress and the Administration for addressing the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenders.”

No crack cocaine offender will see his or her sentence increase based solely on the quantity thresholds the Commission set today in the federal sentencing guidelines. As a result of today’s action, the federal sentencing guidelines will focus more on offender culpability by placing greater emphasis on factors other than drug quantity.

Based on an analysis of the most recent sentencing data, the Commission estimates that crack cocaine offenders sentenced after November 1, 2011, will receive sentences that are approximately 25 percent lower on average as a result of the changes made to the federal sentencing guidelines today. Moreover, the Commission estimates that these changes may reduce the cost of incarceration for crack cocaine offenders in the federal prison system in the future.

Today’s vote by the Commission will set the triggering quantities of crack cocaine for the five and 10-year mandatory minimum penalties (28 grams and 280 grams, respectively) at base offense levels 26 and 32, which correspond to a sentencing range of 63-78 months and 121-151 months, respectively, for a defendant with little or no criminal history. This action maintains proportionality with other drug types insofar as the quantity of illegal drugs, including crack cocaine, required to trigger the five- and ten-year statutory mandatory minimum penalties is subject to the same base offense level no matter the drug type.

Pursuant to statute, the Commission must consider whether its amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines implementing the Fair Sentencing Act should apply retroactively. The Commission plans to hold a hearing on June 1, 2011, to consider retroactivity, and voted today to seek public comment on the issue.

April 6, 2011 at 05:14 PM | Permalink


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If the FSA is among the most significant pieces of sentencing legislation in the last three decades that just shows how little Congress does in that particular sandbox.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 6, 2011 5:37:51 PM

Very disappointing the USSC decided to keep the base offense levels at 28 & 32. Which means even if made retroactive many prisoners serving unjust sentences will not receive a reduction in their time. How they brag about all their work and yet leave first-time, non-violent offenders serving 20 years for a conspiracy charge is disgusting.

Posted by: ARN | Apr 6, 2011 8:34:32 PM

I think you erred in your statement. They set the base guidelines offense level at 26 and 32. I think you transposed the amount of crack cocaine, 28 grams, into the first number by accident.

Second, a comparison of the drug charts reveal great differences. Five grams of crack used to be a level 24. Now to get to level 24, you need 22.4 grams. Level 28 used to be 50 grams, and now requires 112 grams. Level 32 used to be 150 grams and now requires 280 grams. So I don't understand your point. How was anything "left the same"?

Posted by: Bill B. | Apr 7, 2011 10:10:34 AM

Wow, this is too cool. I am very like it, Thank you for sharing, let me so happy!

Posted by: Big pony | Apr 11, 2011 6:05:56 AM

I believe that whenever theres an adjustment with the sentencing laws there should not be a limit as far as the date, on who can take advantage of the misuse of excessive sentencing for crack-cocaine charges. There are some who can be rehabilitated and returned back to society as a asset.

Posted by: Carmen Bradbury | May 2, 2011 1:18:13 PM

Please be advised that if you( the sentencing commission)really want to make an impact in the unfair sentencing matter. It should not make a difference regarding weight, levels and all of the above that determines the sentencing quidelines. All African-Americans should deserve to benefit from the new quidelines. What should be fair for one should be fair for all. Let's keep in mine that, no matter how you may view this matter. Race played a vital role just look at the numbers. I live on one of the racist districts 8 in Iowa. My son is serving 30 years for conspiracy, not to mention that he had no priors or felonies on his record. Due to what others decided to say, to save themselves on there indictment. Please reconsider JUSTICE FOR ALL. THANKS !

Posted by: Cynthia | May 20, 2011 6:28:12 PM

I fill that people that got the crack law reduction that have got a mandatory 5 years supervise release due to the amount of drugs they got caught with should get cut as well the time imprisonment has changed so the probation should as well

Posted by: d day | Jun 28, 2011 1:15:09 AM

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