Press Release

For Immediate Release
Monday, July 22, 1996
Contract: Michael Courlander
(202) 273-4590


WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 22, 1996) -- The United States Sentencing Commission will convene a public hearing to hear suggestions for simplifying the federal sentencing guidelines August 12, 1996, at the Byron White Federal Courthouse, 1823 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m.

"Perhaps the greatest criticism of the guidelines I have heard - apart from their severity in certain drug cases, a result driven in large part by mandatory minimum statutes - is their complexity and rigidity," said Judge Richard P. Conaboy, Commission Chairman. "The Commission plans to examine these criticisms through its simplification project and search for workable solutions."

In 1995, the Commission initiated a multi-year project to comprehensively assess and refine its Guidelines Manual. During the first phase of this review, Commission staff examined data on more than 250,000 cases sentenced under the guidelines, numerous appellate decisions, academic literature, and extensive public comment. Commission staff prepared briefing papers on major guideline topics to provide a foundation for the project and to identify possible options for refinement.

While the hearing will be open to comment on all simplification issues, the Commission anticipates focusing its attention on relevant conduct/acquitted conduct, departures/offender characteristics, and drug sentencing/role in the offense. Anyone wishing to be considered as a witness should call the Commission at (202) 273-4590 no later than July 26, 1996. In addition to oral testimony at the hearing, the Commission is accepting written public comment on these issues.

Witnesses slated to testify include U.S. District Court Judges Lewis T. Babcock and Wiley Y. Daniel, Chief Probation Officer Richard F. Miklic and Federal Defender Michael Katz, all from the District of Colorado.

The U.S. 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, which went into effect November 1, 1987, structure the courts' sentencing discretion to ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive a similar sentence. The Commission has ongoing responsibility to monitor and amend the guidelines.


United States Sentencing Commission