Post Date: May 1, 2014
On April 30, the U.S. Sentencing Commission sent Congress eight amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines. Among those recommended guideline changes was one that would lower all drug sentencing guidelines by two levels. At FAMM, we refer to that amendment as “Drugs Minus Two.” This change would lower the sentencing guidelines for drug offenses by an average of 11 months per defendant.
Congress has 180 days (6 months) to consider the amendments it received yesterday. If Congress takes no action to stop them, the amendments will automatically become law effective November 1, 2014, so anyone sentenced ON or AFTER that date will benefit from the lower sentencing guideline.
We know that you are eager to know whether this amendment will be made retroactive. So are we. As we have often said, justice shouldn’t depend on the date you were sentenced. At this point, it’s impossible to say whether prisoners will be able to ask judges to lower their sentences by two levels. But the good news is that you can now write to the Sentencing Commission urging them to make the amendment retroactive. Yesterday, the Commission kicked off the official comment period by posting in the Federal Register a request for public comment about retroactivity of the Drugs Minus Two amendment (Amendment #3). They will accept letters until July 7, 2014, so that means start writing – and tell your family members to write! We want to generate 40,000 letters by July 7th telling the Commission why Drugs Minus Two should apply to those already in prison. Other dates to remember: On June 10, 2014, the Sentencing Commission will hold a hearing on whether to make Drugs Minus Two retroactive, and we will be there to testify! And on July 18, 2014, the Commission will vote on the issue.
The Commission told us that 20,000 people had written to support Drugs Minus Two. Let’s double that number in support of retroactivity!