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October 23, 2022

US Sentencing Commission reports receiving "more than 8,000 public comment submissions pertaining to proposed priorities"

This past Friday, the US Sentencing Commission reported on the public comments it received in response to the USSC's tentative policy priorities for the 2022-2023 guideline amendment year (which were announced late last month).  Here is how the USSC describes on its website homepage what was set its way: "The Commission received more than 8,000 public comment submissions pertaining to proposed priorities for the 2022-2023 amendment year."

I would guess that eight thousand(!) comments amounts to some kind of record for the USSC.  This large number of comments surely reflects a kind of "pent up demand" given the need for guideline reforms to fully implement the First Step Act and other issues that have festered over the last four years while the Commission has lacked a quorum.  But I also suspect it reflects that many advocates may realize, circa Fall 2022, that the new USSC may be more willing and more able to advance certain federal criminal justice reforms than any other federal actors right now.

The USSC has provided a "sample of these letters" reflecting public comment at this link.  It is notable and interesting to see comments there from a Senator, from multiple federal judges, from prosecutors and defense attorneys, from probation officers, and from all sorts of interest groups and interested individuals.  Kudos to everyone involved in sharing a wide array of views to help the USSC's with its important work.  And, this Friday brings the first public US Sentencing Commission hearing in nearly four years, on October 28, to finalize the USSC's priorities for the coming amendment year.

A few prior related posts:

October 23, 2022 at 12:07 PM | Permalink


Priority 1: move text of application notes into text of Guideline

Priority 2: eliminate the categorical approach for any Guidelines enhancement that, due to judicial gloss, requires that approach.

Posted by: Da Man | Oct 24, 2022 12:26:10 PM

Da Man - you'd be da man if you could do that...

Posted by: atomicfrog | Oct 24, 2022 1:00:26 PM

I don't either proposal is controversial. There is a circuit split over whether the commentary should be binding on courts -- clearly the Commission intended it to be.

As for categorical approach, that was adopted in the context of STATUTORY sentence enhancers, where opening up the range of punishment (dependent on judicial fact finding at sentencing) might work Sixth Amendment problems. With Booker having rendered the Guidelines advisory, there's no more Sixth Amendment problem and so no need for the inane categorical approach when it comes to Guidelines enhancements. But if no one wants minitrials about prior convictions at sentencing, then I am all for the Commission enumerating all the federal crimes (and similar state crimes) that qualify. We have better things to do than spend our time deciding whether depraved heart murder is a crime of violence just because one can be convicted for omitting to do somethning.

Posted by: Da Man | Oct 25, 2022 4:19:22 PM

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