USSC 2019 Amendment Cycle - FAMM


USSC 2019 Amendment Cycle

U.S. Sentencing Commission kicks off the 2019 Sentencing Guidelines amendment cycle.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has just released a set of proposed priorities for its work that could result in new and amended guidelines late next year.

Every year the Commission publishes proposals for its work and asks for public comment on the proposals. Every year, FAMM writes to the commission to tell the commissioners what we think of their proposals. This is your chance to weigh in with your opinion of the proposals. You can also tell the commission what you think should be on their priorities list, but isn’t.

There is much in this year’s set of proposed priorities that should interest FAMM members. They include work focused on Congress — including how Congress defines career offenders — and work to promote changes to mandatory minimums, including the so-called “stacking requirement” of 18 U.S.C. sec. 924(c). The commission is also looking at studying the guideline that considers whether family ties and the impact on minor children of losing a parent to prison should be grounds for a lower sentence.  These are important priorities for FAMM and we will be writing a letter to the commission supporting these as priorities.

And, the commission has a tantalizing reference to studying the use of compassionate release, asking if the guideline for judges considering compassionate release motions (sec. 1B1.13) “effectively encourages the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to file a motion for compassionate release when ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons’ exist.” We are not quite sure what that means, but any attention on federal compassionate release is welcome and reform is needed. FAMM has worked on compassionate release for years and testified before the commission in 2016. Much of what we asked for made it into the current compassionate release guideline.

But, some proposed priorities we would like to see are  missing, including any reference to relief for first offenders, a priority the commission pursued but then dropped last year without a vote. See our discussion about that here and here.

FAMM will be writing in response to the commission’s invitation and you can too. All the information is here.  The deadline for the commission to receive comment is August 10, 2018.  We will keep you updated on our work on this in the weeks to come.