January 30, 2014
Contact: Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
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COMMENT OF JUDGE PATTI B. SARIS,
CHAIR, UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION,
ON THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE’S BIPARTISAN VOTE
TO REPORT THE SMARTER SENTENCING ACT
RECIDIVISM AMONG FEDERAL OFFENDERS
“Today’s action by the Senate Judiciary Committee to report legislation to reduce severe mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenders is an important first step toward addressing rising federal prison costs and a federal prison population that far exceeds capacity. I am gratified that the Committee acted consistently with several of the specific recommendations the United States Sentencing Commission made in its 2011 report on mandatory minimum penalties and again to the Committee this fall.
I hope that the full Senate and the House of Representatives will act to pass this legislation which will begin to address concerns about prison costs and population and to improve the fairness of federal sentences. The Commission will continue to monitor Congress’s work on this crucial issue and to evaluate whether amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines may aid in these efforts as well.”
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The United States Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines provide structure for the courts’ sentencing discretion to help ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences.