Retroactivity of Drug Guidelines Amendments

Today, the United States Sentencing Commission has scheduled a vote as to whether the November 2014 Amendments to the federal drug sentencing guidelines will apply retroactively. The new Amendments reduce the drug sentencing guidelines by 2 points and can result in a sentence reduction of 6 months to 2 years for many inmates. Most legal commentators are confident that the Commission will in fact vote for applying the new guidelines retroactively, the question is whether it will apply generally, i.e. to all drug offenders currently incarcerated in federal prison or to a limited and specified group of inmates. The Department of Justice is arguing for “limited retroactivity,” meaning only those inmates with no aggravating (non-violent) sentencing factors, enhancements and limited criminal histories. Many legal experts suggest that it would more appropriate to allow judges to be judges and permit individual inmate to apply to a judge and allow the judge to consider an inmate’s history, offense and offender characteristics and prison record.

1 thought on “Retroactivity of Drug Guidelines Amendments”

  1. In an ideal world, retroactive sentencing would clearly be a good idea. I mean, quite frankly the fact that some drug crimes are criminal in the first place is nothing short of spectacularly stupid. However, I'm also aware that some people are put in prison on drug crimes as a last resort because the government can't try them for their worse crimes. For example, some guy may run the mob or a drug cartel, and they can't pin it on him, but they do find marijuana on his person and charge him for that. It's hard to justify letting "that guy" out.

    But at the same time, evidence is necessary to prove someone runs a drug cartel or does a violent crime anyway. Without evidence, the DA could be wrong. So it's tough. But in an ideal world, yes, it's crucial that the government shorten sentences for those that have drug crimes. Prisons of all places are not a place to ensure someone is off drugs.

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