“Today the United States Sentencing Commission unanimously voted to publish proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines, including a proposed amendment that could increase the use of alternatives to incarceration for first-time offenders. The Commission also agreed to conduct a two-year study of MDMA and synthetic drugs. The original public comment period will be open through February 20, 2017 with a reply period closing on March 10, 2017. Read the press release.
“Today’s public meeting afforded the current commissioners the opportunity to work together for the last time, as the terms of Chief Judge Patti B. Saris (Chair of the Commission), Judge Charles R. Breyer (Vice Chair), and Commissioner Dabney L. Friedrich will expire at the end of the current congressional session. Praising her colleagues, Chair Saris remarked, ‘Commissioner Friedrich and Judge Breyer demonstrated a remarkable commitment to improving federal sentencing policy and brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Commission. I am deeply honored to have worked with them, and all of the commissioners, these past six years to make the guidelines more efficient, effective, and just. The proposed amendments were evidence-based, data-driven, and adopted in a collegial and bipartisan fashion. I thank all the commissioners and staff for their hard work. I am confident that the future Commission and its staff will remain dedicated to this serious and important mission.’
“Chief Judge Saris stated, ‘Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the federal sentencing guidelines. So much bipartisan progress has been made in criminal justice reform. I am hopeful that the 115th Congress will pass meaningful legislation, adopting the Commission’s unanimous recommendations to reduce the statutory mandatory minimum penalties for drug trafficking and to expand the so-called ‘safety valve,’ the mechanism to reduce sentences for non-violent, low level offenders.’ The Commission will announce a new Acting Chair at the conclusion of this session of Congress.
Read the Chair’s full remarks from today’s meeting.