Drugs, Law & Federal Penalties: U.S. Sentencing Commission Finally Reaches Quorum And Resumes Late Activities

The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), which establishes and advises Congress on federal sentencing guidelines, has reached a full panel enrollment for the first time since 2014 and, more importantly, a quorum for the first time in three years, which will allow the group to finally follow its mandate goal. 

The USSC was created in 1985 as an independent agency in the federal government’s judicial branch to provide transparency in federal sentencing policy guidelines, advise Congress and the executive branch in developing criminal policy, and analyze and distribute information for federal courts to help ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences.

Since 2019 and until August 4, 2022, it had been unable to reach a members quorum due to delays in Presidential appointments and Senate confirmations, a state of affairs that inhibited the implementation of drug sentencing and other reforms toward reducing disparities in the federal prison system. 

This included the First Step Act of 2018, a bipartisan criminal bill signed by former President Trump seeking to improve criminal outcomes and reduce the size of the federal prison population while creating mechanisms to maintain public safety.

The new panel is set to be led by US district judge Carlton Reeves of Jackson, Mississippi, the first Black chair in the commission’s 34-year history. Joining him are …

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