Retroactivity Takes Another Step Forward
By Derek Gilna
On June 10, the U.S. Sentencing Commission took testimony regarding making the two-level reduction retroactive. It has indicated that it will accept public comment on this issue through their email address of firstname.lastname@example.org. Pass this on to your friends and relatives.
To recap, this round of reductions will only affect drug offenders. White collar offenders’ possible reductions are still in the discussion stage, with no discernible timeline for adoption. However, the two-level reduction first came under serious discussion by the Commission a little more than one year ago, so we will watch this closely. Although there has been no mention of career offenders in this scenario, mandatory minimum sentences will definitely be eligible for reduction.
The Commission has published two studies that indicate that retroactivity will be occurring, including one that discusses the impact of retroactivity on the length of sentences, and one that shows that people receiving sentence relief under the crack laws come back to jail at a lower rate than those who received no relief. The Commission has already done the math on who will be released, and it projects that up to 50,000 current prisoners would be released over a 6-year period, a very welcome number, to be sure. Almost 5,000 would be eligible for immediate release. There’s something about that word, “immediate,” that caught my attention.As with the Crack Laws, modifications of sentence will be made based upon petitions filed under 18 U.S.C Section 3581(c)(2), will not be affected by the Booker decision, and will not require the defendant’s presence in court to gain relief. Therefore, filing a well-drafted petition to take advantage of this new sentence relief becomes even more critical