On Monday, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law filed a letter to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on a proposed amendment to federal sentencing guidelines
that help federal judges determine appropriate sentence for federal offenders.
In the letter, the Brennan Center supports retroactive application of Amendment 3
. Otherwise referred to as the “drugs minus two” amendment, this reform modestly reduces the length of most recommended sentences for drug trafficking offenses. The letter urges the Sentencing Commission to apply that amendment to offenders already incarcerated, not just offenders who will enter the system in the future.
Retroactive application of Amendment 3 would alleviate overcrowding and budgetary pressures by modestly reducing sentences for as many as 51,000 federal drug offenders
currently incarcerated in federal prison. If even half of these offenders have sentences reduced by a year the federal government will save $750 million in incarceration costs. The Brennan Center urges the Commission to make Amendment 3 retroactive without restrictions or carve-outs as a measure to increase rationality and fairness in the federal justice system.
“Retroactive application of this amendment is a reasonable step towards right-sizing the federal justice system,” says Jessica Eaglin, Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “Many of these offenders are serving sentences that are now considered excessively severe, given recent reforms. We urge the Commission to make the amendment applicable to as many qualified offenders as possible.”
Comments to U.S. Sentencing Commission on Drugs-Minus-Two Sentencing Guideline Amendment