News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Applauds U.S. Sentencing Commission Vote Cutting Federal Prison Terms for Drug Offenses

Washington, DC (July 18, 2014) – This afternoon, the U.S. Sentencing Commission took a significant step, long urged by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and numerous allied organizations in the criminal justice community, to cut federal prison terms for drug offenses. The reform adopted today retroactively decreases the drug table set forth in U.S. Sentencing Guidelines §2D1.1 by two-offense levels across all drug types. In short, it means that, effective November 1 of this year, some 50,000 people currently incarcerated in the federal prison system for drug offenses could be eligible for a reduction of their sentence by an average of nearly two years, with releases beginning November 1, 2015.

NACDL President Jerry J. Cox explained why today's move by the U.S. Sentencing Commission makes so much sense, "What was done today by the Commission is eminently just. The federal government had already reduced the sentencing guidelines for these offenses going forward. What they did today was simply apply this fairer and more rational thinking to those who had already been sentenced and have been serving draconian sentences, at great public expense, in America’s federal prison system." Cox added, "And the data is in anyway. Individual states that have reduced previously inflexible sentences have uniformly seen declines in their crime rates. The common sense on criminal justice that appears to be taking hold in our nation’s capital is good for fairness and justice, it’s good for public safety, and it reflects a more prudent stewardship of taxpayer resources."

NACDL has long advocated for an end to mandatory minimums and for fairer and more rational sentencing policies. In connection with the Commission's consideration of the retroactivity of Amendment 3, adopted today, the Association filed this letter on July 7, 2014. Additional NACDL resources on sentencing reform can be found here.

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Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 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.