The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently called for comments on its proposed policy priorities for the upcoming year. The Brennan Center filed comments to assist the Commission with its strategic priorities.
Since 1980, the federal prison population has increased by almost 790%. Much of this increase has been attributed to the increased length of prison sentences for drug offenders. While many states have implemented innovative sentencing reforms to address mass incarceration, the federal government has not.
In the following comments, the Brennan Center emphasizes the pivotal role the Commission can play in working with Congress, issuing reports, and amending the federal sentencing guidelines.
Specifically, the Brennan Center suggests:
- Reducing the severe effects of mandatory minimums penalties
- Reducing the severity of drug trafficking sentences
- Focusing recidivism studies on alternatives to incarceration
- Preventing restrictions on judicial discretion
- Examining the effects of sequestration on the federal system
These critical reforms can reduce the size and severity of the federal justice system and catalyze a nationwide shift away from “business-as-usual” in criminal justice.
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