FAMM Statement on U.S. Sentencing Commission Decision Not to Launch Crucial Studies - FAMM


FAMM Statement on U.S. Sentencing Commission Decision Not to Launch Crucial Studies

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Contact: Rabiah Burks

Press release

FAMM Statement on U.S. Sentencing Commission Decision Not to Launch Crucial Studies

WASHINGTON – FAMM is highly disappointed that the U.S. Sentencing Commission declined to include two studies of great importance to federal prisoners and their families in its list of priorities for 2019. One of the studies would have examined the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) dysfunctional compassionate release program, and the other would have reviewed the guideline that governs whether judges can reduce a sentence to lessen the impact of parental incarceration on children. The Commission voted on its 2019 priorities on August 23.

Many experts, advocates, and affected individuals had written the Commission, urging it to undertake the two studies.

FAMM General Counsel Mary Price provided this statement on the Commission’s 2019 priorities:

“We are baffled that the Commission decided to forgo the compassionate release study, citing a lack of data and information as the reason for not going forward. This explanation is incomprehensible: The first step in any study is to gather data and information. In fact, the BOP provided compassionate release data to a bipartisan group of senators in January of this year that clearly shows how broken the program is. The senators learned that compassionate release is granted infrequently and that delays are so common that 81 people died awaiting a BOP decision.

“We are equally disappointed at the Commission’s decision to abandon the family ties departure study because the departure ‘operates as intended.’ That may be true, but that is hardly reason to cling to the status quo, considering the departure rules as they currently stand are quite restrictive. A study could be the first step in changing those limitations.

“As disappointed as we are, we can only imagine what the Commission’s decisions mean for the families and prisoners whose lives are affected by its actions and who had written to the Commission in support of these studies.”

FAMM is a nonpartisan, national advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice reforms to make our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM promotes change by raising the voices of families and individuals who are directly affected by counterproductive sentencing and prison policies.  

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