Published on: Thursday, October 19, 2017

On October 10th, the United States Sentencing Commission closed receiving written comments to proposed amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines, including proposed amendment 3 related to “First Offenders/Alternatives to Incarceration.”  The Sentencing Project, Human Rights Watch, Gamaliel, and ACLU submitted a joint comment pointing to “criminological research . . . and evidence suggest[ing] that a broader cohort of people than at present could be sentenced with the federal system more efficiently without incarceration.”  The comment, which is annotated with citations to relevant and useful social science research (including USSC data), suggests specific ways to modify proposed amendment 3 to expand the group of defendants eligible for non-incarceration sentences under the Guidelines.  According to the comments, “[d]oing so would not compromise public safety, but would save tax dollars, preserve families and enhance rehabilitation.”  Of course, after Booker, the guidelines are not mandatory.

Public notice of the proposed guideline amendments is available here.  All public comments submitted on or before October 10th, including those of the Federal Defender Guideline Committee, are available here.  Written reply comments must be received by the Commission no later than November 6, 2017.  The training branch provides sentencing resource articles and other materials to help you understand federal sentencing law and argue for the best possible sentence for your client.