June 01, 2017

From the Bench: Federal Sentencing: Time for a Second Look?

Hon. Paul G. Gardephe

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Sentencing in the federal criminal justice system is driven by retribution, not rehabilitation. In part for that reason, there are scant opportunities for sentencing modification, even for inmates who are serving lengthy sentences of 15 years or more. It was for this reason that so many inmates, in the waning days of the Obama administration, sought and obtained commutations of their sentences pursuant to the president’s pardon power. Many of the inmates who obtained relief had undergone rehabilitation while in prison such that their continued incarceration for the length of their original sentences was no longer necessary or appropriate. In many hundreds of cases, these sentences were drastically reduced.

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