Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sentencing Nerd Red Alert!

Sentencing nerds, we have a red alert!  The guideline amendment process for 2011 has begun!

Confused about how the U.S. Sentencing Commission amends the federal sentencing guidelines?  Understand the process by reading this new factsheet on how a guideline gets changed, from proposal to retroactivity.

Each year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission suggests changes to the federal sentencing guidelines, which apply to all cases sentenced in federal courts.  Some changes are big; others are small; and some could mean reduced sentences for people already in prison or for people on their way to prison in the future.

Each January, the Commission starts the amendment process by proposing changes to the guidelines.  The public (including FAMM) gets 60 days to submit its thoughts, gripes, and comments on these "proposed amendments."  The Commission listens, then decides what shape the final version of the amendments will take.  On May 1, the Commission submits the amendments, giving Congress 180 days to reject them.  If there are no rejections, the amendments go into effect on November 1 and apply to everyone sentenced on or after that date -- unless the Commission decides that an amendment will be retroactive, in which case it can apply to people sentenced before that date.

Just like clockwork, the Commission announced its proposed amendments to the guidelines last week.  You can read all the amendments and get a summary of them right here.  Nerd out, sentencing nerds!