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Good and Bad News On Recency and Federal Sentencing Guidelines October 13, 2010

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

On November 1, amendments to the 2010 U.S. Sentencing Guidelines take effect. Defendants whose federal sentences would have been enhanced by two criminal history points for “recency” of the offense – for example, when an offense was committed within a certain period of time following release from prison – are getting some good news. They will no longer be subject to the additional penalty, thanks to a new amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines that repeals the recency enhancement.

Recency enhancements have been criticized because they double count criminal history, are negligibly helpful in predicting recidivism, and penalize ex-offenders for the failure of the criminal justice system to help them return to secure and law-abiding lives. Problems with the way criminal history is counted are the most often cited reason by judges for varying or departing from the calculated guideline
sentence, and are among the reasons why the Sentencing Commission proposed the guideline change.

But current federal prisoners will get no relief from the new rule, since the U.S. Sentencing Commission did not make it retroactive, declining to vote on retroactivity at a hearing on September 16.

FAMM asked the U.S. Sentencing Commission to make the repeal of the recency amendment retroactive, pointing out that it would enable almost 8,000 prisoners to seek to lower their sentences by an average of 13 months. We reminded the Commission that implementing recency retroactivity would be relatively easy in light of the experience gained in preparing for and carrying out the retroactive crack guidelines, starting in 2008. Of course, FAMM also told the Commission that making the change retroactive would be the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, comments by commissioners indicated there was no support for applying the new rule to people currently in prison. No one supported retroactivity and three commisioners spoke against it, citing, among other things, a letter from the Criminal Law Committee (CLC) of the Judicial Conference of the United States that said it was concerned about the burden that retroactive application would place on the courts. While FAMM understands the concerns, we are nonetheless deeply disappointed by the Commission’s decision.



1. preciousa - October 18, 2010

This law of measure 11 is all bad lets change it prison is no places for any one 15 thought 21 at the age of 18 there leaning to be adults
18 to 21 they are adult this mandatory sentencing of 7 year and 6 mouth is ment for the sex abuser rapes and muders a sex offender will get 3 years for molesting but a person who robes some one ever if its with a wepen but the wepen was not used get 7 y 6m
it.s even wores when the person is enacent let change this law the sencent should fite the crime