Want to know what the U.S. Sentencing Commission is going to be up to for the remainder of 2011 and most of 2012? Get it straight from the source: Chair Patti Saris covers it all over at the U.S. Courts' website.
Among other highlights, says Judge Saris,
The Commission is hard at work on three comprehensive reports to Congress. The first is a report on mandatory minimum penalties and their role in the federal sentencing system after the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker. It will include, among other things, an assessment of the compatibility of mandatory minimum sentencing provisions with the guidelines system established by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and of the impact of mandatory minimums on unwarranted sentencing disparity. The report also will address broader drug policy issues, including whether to expand the application of the safety valve provision at 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) that exempts certain offenders from mandatory minimum sentences.Obviously, FAMM supports expansion of the "safety valve," which we worked hard to create in 1994 and which is still one of the only ways out of receiving a mandatory minimum drug sentence in federal court. We've also been supporting the Commission's efforts to put out a new report on mandatory minimum sentences. The last (and only) report came out in 1991, and 20 years later, it's time for the Commission to take another hard look at these draconian sentences.
In the interview, Judge Saris also makes protecting and improving the advisory (not mandatory) sentencing guidelines a priority, goals FAMM shares:
My priority is to make the advisory guidelines system as effective as possible in a post-Booker world. Seventy-five percent of district court judges have expressed strong support for this advisory guideline system. While some have criticized this system, over 80 percent of sentences are within the guidelines or based on government sponsored departures and variances. Nonetheless, we must work with Congress, the Executive Branch, and the courts to fix the least-followed guidelines, especially those for child pornography. Economic fraud is another area that needs work.Keep checking FAMM's website for updates on all the action happening at the U.S. Sentencing Commission in the coming months.