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October 28, 2021

USSC releases "new" guideline manual as Acting Chair describes recent Commission activities

The US Sentencing Commission today published on its site this two-page letter by Acting Chair Charles R. Breyer (which is dated September 15, 2021). The letter discusses the release of a "new" Guideline Manual as well as recent work by the Commission. All federal sentencing fans will want to check out the whole letter, and here are just some of the interesting excerpts:

As many of you know, since early 2019, the United States Sentencing Commission has been operating without the quorum of four voting members required by statute to promulgate amendments to the sentencing guidelines, policy statements, and commentary. Thus, the 2018 edition of the Guidelines Manual, which incorporated amendments effective November 1, 2018, was the last version of the Guidelines Manual released.

The Commission has received feedback indicating that hard copies of the 2018 Guidelines Manual are significantly worn and that there is a limited supply of new copies available.  In addition, the Commission has identified the need to update Appendix B, the accompanying volume to the Guidelines Manual that compiles the principal statutory provisions governing sentencing, the Commission, and the drafting of sentencing guidelines.  Congress has amended several of the statutory provisions contained in Appendix B since the Commission released the 2018 Guidelines Manual.

As acting chair of the Commission, I am pleased to transmit this edition of the Guidelines Manual, which is a reprint without changes of the guidelines, policy statements, and commentary contained in the 2018 Guidelines Manual featuring a new cover in Berkeley blue....

Although lacking the quorum necessary to promulgate guideline amendments, the Commission has introduced several interactive tools and other resources to assist with guideline application over the past few years....

The Commission continues to perform other statutory duties while it awaits the appointment of new voting commissioners.  Over the past few years, the Commission has met the growing demand for the Commission’s work products, resources, and services, as evidenced by an impressive increase in the Commission’s website traffic. The Commission continues to release new and informative sentencing data, research, and training materials....

The Commission also continues to work on several important policy priorities, including examining the implementation of the First Step Act of 2018.  To inform a newly constituted Commission and to provide Congress and others a timely assessment of the First Step Act’s impact, the Commission has been collecting, analyzing, and reporting data on the five sentencing provisions contained in the Act.  In 2020, the Commission released The First Step Act of 2018: One Year of Implementation, a comprehensive report comparing data from the first full year following the enactment of the Act with data from fiscal year 2018, the last full fiscal year prior to its enactment.  More recently, the Commission published a report analyzing how courts are ruling on compassionate release motions after the First Step Act and during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Commission is currently collecting further data on compassionate release motions, including the reasons courts are asserting for granting and denying such motions, to inform Congress and the public, as well as its own policymaking.  

October 28, 2021 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

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