The Federal First Offender Improvement Act of 2010
H.R. 6059 was introduced by Congressman Pierluisi (D-PR) on July 30, 2010. The bill expands the current but rarely-used Federal First Offender Act (18 U.S.C. § 3607) of 1987 by enabling judges to sentence a wider range of low-level nonviolent drug offenders to probation. Currently, judges are able to sentence defendants convicted of simple possession to probation and dismiss the case if the individual successfully completes the terms of probation.
Under H.R. 6059, federal judges could sentence drug offenders (offenders to those guilty of §§ 841, 844, and 846 offenses) and who met the following criteria to probation:
- Not have used violence or credible threats of violence or have possessed a firearm or other dangerous weapon (or induce another participant to do so) in connection with the offense;
- Not have their underlying offense have resulted in death or serious bodily injury to any person;
- Was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others, as determined under the sentencing guidelines and not have been engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, as defined in section 408 of the Controlled Substances Act;
- Had not previously benefitted from this provision; and
- Had not previously been convicted of a crime of violence or other offense punishable by more than two years of prison.
The bill also eliminates the previous requirement that an offender must have been less than 21-years-old at the time of the offense to apply for expungment of their record, expanding it to offenders of any age found guilty of an offense under section 401, 404, or 406 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841, 844, 846).
The proposed legislation would not allow Judges to sentence below a mandatory minimum.
Thousands of bills are filed in Congress each year. All are referred to the committee or subcommittee of jurisdiction, but very are scheduled for a vote. The Federal First Offender Improvement Act of 2010 was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on September 20, 2010.
No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate. It may take several years to develop the type of support needed for this bill to pass both the House and the Senate. (A bill needs 217 votes to pass the House of Representatives and at least 50 votes to pass the Senate.) FAMM believes that it is worth the time and commitment needed to pass H.R. 6059.