Tell the U.S. Sentencing Commission How to Change Federal Sentencing

The U.S. Sentencing Commission wants to hear from you. Take action today urging them to reduce life imprisonment, end racial disparities, and make federal sentencing more fair and just.

The Importance of the U.S. Sentencing Commission 
The U.S. Sentencing Commission writes and updates the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which help shape the sentences imposed by judges in federal courts. Changes to the Sentencing Guidelines can play an important role in reducing mass incarceration.

Every year, the Sentencing Commission revises the guidelines and invites feedback on proposed changes, drawn from a list of potential priorities generated by the Commission. This year, for the first time, the Commission is inviting the public to play a greater role in shaping their priorities.

How to Share Your Thoughts 
Share your thoughts through this webform. Under “Upload an Attachment or Enter Comments” click “Enter Comments” in order to type directly into the webform. Comments are public, so be mindful of what information you share.

The Sentencing Project urges the Commission to decrease federal incarceration rates and racial disparities, reform the drug sentencing guidelines, and reduce life without parole sentences. You can join us in calling on the Commission to take up those priorities by copying and pasting the text below. We encourage you to add your own thoughts and stories about why federal sentencing reform matters to you and your family.

Sample Comment 

Dear Judge Reeves:
Over fifty years ago, the United States embarked on the path to mass incarceration. To ensure that our country does not experience another fifty years of mass incarceration’s harms, I urge you to take bold steps to decrease incarceration.

Lower Federal Sentences
In 1980, federal prisons held 25,000 people; now, over 158,000 people are incarcerated for federal crimes. Longer sentences have been a major driver of this growth. But longer sentences do not prevent crime – instead, they fracture families and impoverish communities. I urge the Commission to lower recommended sentence ranges to downsize the federal prison population.

Decrease Racial Disparities 
Racial disparities are pervasive within the federal criminal legal system. Black men are dramatically overrepresented within federal prisons and receive sentences that are 13% longer than white men. Hispanic men receive sentences 11% longer than white men. The Commission should continue to study and work to reduce racial disparities in federal sentencing.

Reduce Life Without Parole Sentences
Life without parole sentences are inhumane and unnecessary to protect public safety. Currently the Guidelines recommend that all level 43 base offenses receive a sentence of life without parole, regardless of whether the individual has any prior criminal history. The Commission should amend the Guidelines to give judges more discretion, especially for those with no or little criminal history.

Reform Drug Sentences
Federal drug sentences have significantly contributed to mass incarceration. The Sentencing Guideline’s current focus on the quantity and purity of drugs involved in an offense – rather than an individual’s actual responsibility, history, and capacity for rehabilitation – results in inappropriate sentences. I urge the Commission to work towards ending the War on Drugs by adopting more rational drug sentencing policies.

Thank you for this opportunity to suggest priorities for the Commission.

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