Analysis of changes to federal sentencing guidelines points to fallacies behind Feeney Amendment
Point-by-point highlights of changes available on NACDL Web site
Washington, DC (October 17, 2003) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers'' Federal Sentencing Guidelines Committee has released its analysis of changes to the sentencing guidelines by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, passed October 7 in response to Congressional directives contained in the Feeney Amendment to the PROTECT Act.
Available at www.nacdl.org/departures, the committee has produced both a policy analysis and a point-by-point analysis of the changes made by the Sentencing Commission. The changes go into effect on October 27.
The policy analysis, by committee co-chair Mark Allenbaugh, points out the lack of deliberation prior to the addition of the Feeney Amendment to the popular PROTECT Act, the primary purpose of which was Amber Alert legislation.
The changes "result from a process driven by the Ashcroft Justice Department that involved distortions of the facts, particularly the principal fact that the overwhelming majority of all downward departures are granted at the express request of government prosecutors rather than in the exercise of independent judicial discretion," wrote Allenbaugh, formerly a staffer for the Sentencing Commission. Data released by the Commission earlier this month refute the Justice Department''s argument that the increase in departures is indicative of "soft-on-crime" judges.
"The Commission, unfortunately, bowed to pressures from the Ashcroft Justice Department and eliminated nine separate grounds for departure without sufficient empirical evidence to support that action," Allenbaugh wrote.
For more information, go to www.nacdl.org/departures, or contact Kyle O''Dowd, NACDL Legislative Director, at (202)872-8600x226.
Allenbaugh is a criminal defense lawyer in Washington, DC. He can be reached at (202)296-1322.