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March 13, 2014

"Attorney General Holder Urges Changes in Federal Sentencing Guidelines to Reserve Harshest Penalties for Most Serious Drug Traffickers"

The title of this post is the title given by the Justice Department to this press release with AG Holder's statements to the US Sentencing Commission concerning drug guideline reform.  Here are just a few highlights:

The Justice Department strongly supports the Commission’s proposed change to the Drug Quantity Table. If adopted, this amendment would lower by two levels the base offense levels associated with various drug quantities involved in drug trafficking crimes. This would have the effect of modestly reducing guideline penalties for drug trafficking offenses while keeping the guidelines consistent with current statutory minimums – and continuing to ensure tough penalties for violent criminals, career criminals, or those who used weapons when committing drug crimes.

This straightforward adjustment to sentencing ranges – while measured in scope – would nonetheless send a strong message about the fairness of our criminal justice system. And it would help to rein in federal prison spending while focusing limited resources on the most serious threats to public safety. Let me be clear, my primary obligation as Attorney General is to ensure the safety of the American people. The changes that I have implemented over the past year are designed to do exactly that – while making our system more fair and more efficient.

This proposed amendment is consistent with the “Smart on Crime” initiative I announced last August. Its implementation would further our ongoing effort to advance commonsense criminal justice reforms. And it would deepen the Department’s work to make the federal criminal justice system both more effective and more efficient when battling crime and the conditions and behaviors that breed it.

March 13, 2014 at 01:43 PM | Permalink


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Isn't that a statement that should be placed in front of any crime though? "Toughest punishment for X should be reserved for the most serious violations of X". But that's really not the way it works in the system of mandatory minimums. Thats closer to the concept of adding up guideline scores and letting the judge decide whether the range fits the case, which is not the way it works today, and this new strategy still relies on the Bill Otis types of the world and "prosecutorial discretion". Nice start, not enough.

Drug offenders arent the only ones that suffer when mandatory minimums reign.

Posted by: Skeptical | Mar 13, 2014 3:33:02 PM

I'm not sure if I have incorrect info or he, but the all drugs minus 2 does not cut levels by 2 for all drug offenses, it stops at level 36, which is the same inmates who couldn't use the fsa. Unless they changed the all drugs minus 2 proposal he is wrong and it doesn't help all most everyone who has been in prison over 15 years. If you had a DUI before you were convicted you could end up above a 36 which is a cut off for this proposal, please correct me if I am wrong.

My Fiance is a 38 and it doesn't help her.

Posted by: chris | Mar 13, 2014 3:34:05 PM

1) There are no specialists in crime. So the burglar is a rapist. The shoplifter is a serial killer. It is part of the job description of corner crack dealer to also be an assassin and to dispatch any competitors that may appear.

2) Over 95% of adjudicated charges are fictitious, usually representing huge discounts on the real charges in the indictment. Any one relying on adjudicated charges to call a felon non-violent can only be one thing, a lawyer dumbass.

3) Holder is a notorious pro-criminal black racist, and race whore. Nothing he says will be ever go against the underlying interest of the black criminal, nor ever promote the safety of the black crime victim. The first is a client of the layer dumbass, the second generates no lawyer dumbass income and may rot. One should presume that is lying or being stupid. The same may be said for anyone who believes him or is influenced by him.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 14, 2014 12:21:55 AM

Skeptical --

"Isn't that a statement that should be placed in front of any crime though? 'Toughest punishment for X should be reserved for the most serious violations of X'. But that's really not the way it works in the system of mandatory minimums."

Wrong. The "toughest punishment" is the statutory MAXIMUM, not the statutory minimum. What Congress is saying by imposing a statutory minimum is that the seriousness of the crime by itself deserves at least a certain rock bottom punishment that cannot be finessed by naïve or ideologically-driven judges.

Unless one believes that all judges are flawless, and thus deserve 100% discretion 100% of the time, Congress is wise to place at least that minimal constraint on what they can do.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2014 10:10:49 AM

works for me bill Of course I think one good turn diserves another. It's long past time our congress had a few mandatory minimums of their own. You know like you have "X" time once congress first meets for the year to pass a balanced budget.

and like most current so-called "civil laws" failure to do so will result in a nice long prison sentence.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 14, 2014 12:45:59 PM

rodsmith --

I don't know that I'm in complete agreement with your remedy, but you are right on the money in asserting that it's time for some serious accountability for Congresses that pass phony budgets year after year.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2014 5:20:02 PM

why not? last time I looked their main purpose was to provide for the common defense. I would think the first step in that would be to know how much damn money you have to do it with! so taking out days, weeks or months over retarded resolutions that are not even laws should be considered a crime if the budget has not been done first.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 16, 2014 1:41:39 AM

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