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A Handful of ACEs: Another Approach Under § 3553(a)

By David B. Savitz

Since lawyers are virtually unrestricted in the information they can present to the district court during sentencing under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 3661,1 this article advances the ACEs Study for consideration in their approach. A handful of ACEs has nothing to do with the game of poker, but rather the realities of life from which nearly all clients suffer, namely, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Lawyers encounter a substantial number of people who have suffered from a high number of ACEs that resulted in maladaptive risk behaviors and that, in turn, influenced the commission of the client’s offense conduct. Those negative life experiences and their consequences can be used in order to achieve a sentence that is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary” to comply with the purposes of sentencing.

ACEs Have a Relationship to Factors Considered Under § 3553(a)

Prime examples of risk behaviors revealed by ACEs research are the various types of substance abuse and frequentl

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