July 01, 2015

Sentencing

The ABA urged the U.S. Sentencing Commission to add an additional item to its list of proposed priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2016, in comments sent to commission Chair Patti B. Saris on July 22. ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman suggested that the commission expand the commentary in Guideline Section 1B1.13 regarding the reasons that may be deemed “extraordinary and compelling” to justify a motion for reduction in a term of imprisonment by the director of the Bureau of Prisons. Susman attached ABA testimony delivered to the commission in 2007 by Stephen A. Saltzburg that reaffirmed the ABA’s position on the commission’s obligation to give policy guidance to courts considering sentence reduction motions. “Although several years have now passed since our last submission on this issue, the growth of the federal prison population and particularly the advancing age of that population make our proposal more salient than ever,” Susman wrote. He also noted the focus in the Justice Department’s ongoing clemency initiative to address the unfair results from severe sentences for individuals where the sentencing under current laws and polices would be significantly different. He offered the association’s assistance in working with the commission on this “important legal mechanism that could be of great significance in helping reduce our nation’s unnecessary reliance on incarceration of the aged, infirm, and nonviolent offender.” Other areas tentatively proposed by the commission as priorities include: mandatory minimums; overall structure of the guidelines; statutory and guideline definitions relating to the nature of a defendant’s prior convictions; child pornography offenses; recidivism, probation and supervised release; offenses; recidivism, probation and supervised release; and resolution of circuit conflicts.

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