News Release

NACDL Applauds U.S. Sentencing Commission Vote on Retroactive Reduction for Many Incarcerated Individuals

Washington, DC (Aug. 25, 2023) – The nation’s criminal defense bar applauds the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s August 24 vote to make retroactive the recent amendments to sentencing guidelines that permit targeted, evidence-based sentence reductions. As a result, beginning on February 1, 2024, courts can begin resentencing certain currently incarcerated individuals who could be eligible for reduced sentences.

The Commission voted to make two recent amendments to the criminal history guidelines retroactive. The amendments (1) eliminate status points in some cases and (2) authorize an additional two-level downward adjustment for certain zero-point defendants whose instant offense did not involve specified aggravating factors. For example, many individuals convicted of economic crimes or drug offenses that did not involve violence or credible threats of violence could see months or years taken off their sentences. The Commission estimates that 11,495 incarcerated persons will be eligible for a retroactive sentence reduction under the status points amendment and 7,272 defendants under the zero-point defendant amendment.

NACDL had filed comments urging the Commission to make the amendments retroactive, stating: “With retroactivity, thousands of people will be eligible for release over the next several years. Without it, these same people will serve what may be unnecessarily lengthy terms of imprisonment at great cost to the prisons that house them and to the integrity of the criminal justice system that unfairly detains them.” 

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, Chair of the Commission, said, “Our decision today is one that brings hope to thousands of currently incarcerated people and their families. We listened to a full spectrum of views and considered the full costs associated with incarceration balanced with the time needed to review petitions and prepare for successful reentry.”


Jonathan Hutson, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 480-5343 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.

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