The Champion

November 2003 , Page 6 

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NACDL News

By Daniel Dodson

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NACDL was encouraged in September by the decision of the federal courts’ policy-making body to seek repeal of recent restrictions on judicial sentencing discretion. The Feeney Amendment, which was enacted April 30, 2003, as an amendment to a popular child protection bill, calls for restrictions on the authority of federal judges to impose sentences outside the narrow range specified by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Since 1987, federal sentencing discretion has been limited by the sentencing guidelines, which prescribe sentencing ranges based primarily on the type of offense and the defendant’s criminal history.

“The Feeney Amendment represents an unwarranted attack on the independence of the federal judiciary. It’s also bad sentencing policy. No sentencing system can predict the full range of offense and offender characteristics relevant to sentencing. Without judicial discretion to tailor the punishment based on unforeseen circumstances, our criminal

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