U.S. Sentencing Commission Votes to make New Federal Drug Guidelines Retroactive

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October 27, 2016
Denver, CO

The U.S. Sentencing Commission decided unanimously to make new sentencing guidelines fully retroactive for federal drug offenders, a government press release said today. There are now no limitations on sentence reductions for drug offenses. Now, 46,000 federal drug offenders will be able to file a motion in court to have their sentence reduced by an average of 2 years. This will only apply for those sentenced before November 1, 2014. Congress has until that date to disapprove the amendment.

Should Congress allow the guideline reductions to stand, the courts would be able to start hearing the appeals. Important to note is that, while the appeals will begin in November of 2014, releases will not begin until November 1st of 2015. Judge Patti B. Saris, the chair of the Commission, said, “The delay will help to protect public safety by enabling appropriate consideration of individual petitions by judges, ensuring effective supervision of offenders upon release, and allowing for effective reentry plans.” This amendment marks a victory for MPP and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, both longtime supporters of sentencing reform.

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