Exciting Stuff at the U.S. Sentencing Commission

Post Date: June 6, 2013

Lots of U.S. Sentencing Commission news to share this Friday. 

For those who are new to federal sentencing, the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) is the government body that writes and updates theU.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are used at sentencing in each of the 80,000 criminal cases going through federal courts each year.  So, in other words, the USSC and the guidelines are very, very important.

The USSC is composed of 7 voting commissioners who must be appointed by the President with the Senate’s approval.  They serve six-year terms, and at least 3 of the commissioners must be federal judges.  For awhile now, there have been three empty seats on the USSC.  Yesterday, though, the U.S. Senate confirmed three new commissioners to fill those seats.  They are:

  • Rachel E. Barkow of New York
  • Judge Charles R. Breyer of California
  • Judge William H. Pryor, Jr. of Alabama

You can read about their backgrounds in this press release from the USSC.  FAMM welcomes these new commissioners and looks forward to working with them on all the important guideline issues coming up this year.

And this year’s guideline issues are important, indeed!  Each year, the USSC sets forth a list of priorities — tasks it wants to tackle in the upcoming year — and asks the public for feedback.  This year’s list of priorities is out now, and public feedback is due to the USSC by July 15, 2013.  This year, there are 13 priorities the USSC is considering taking on.  You can comment on them by writing a letter to the USSC — all the how-to is here.  Your letter doesn’t have to sound like it was written by a Supreme Court Justice.  It’s important that the USSC hears how your or a loved one’s sentencing has impacted you.  Tell your story and offer your thoughts on each of the priorities that matter to you. 

For example, many FAMM supporters will be thrilled to hear that the USSC is considering changing the drug safety valve so that more people can qualify for sentences below the mandatory minimum term — that’s Amendment #1.  Or, you might be excited to hear that the USSC is considering a “drugs minus 2” amendment that would lower the guideline sentences for all drug types — that’s Amendment #2.  Write to the USSC and express your support.

And if you’ve got even more questions about the USSC and the guidelines, come to FAMM’s Facebook page today at 12:00 noon EST, for a Friday Facebook Forum in which FAMM will answer your questions about interacting with the USSC.

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