POAG Meeting Minutes - Feb 20 & 21, 2002

Probation Officers Advisory Group to the United States Sentencing Commission
February 20 & 21, 2002
Washington, D.C.
Minutes of Meeting

Probation Officers Advisory Group members in attendance were: Chair, Ellen Moore (11th Circuit); Cathy Battistelli, Chair Elect (1st Circuit); Colleen Rahill-Beuler (2nd Circuit); Joan Leiby (3rd Circuit); Elizabeth Ervin (4th Circuit); Barry Case (5th Circuit); David Wolfe (5th Circuit); Phelps Jones (6th Circuit); Rex Morgan (7th Circuit); Jim Mitzel (8th Circuit); Bob Musser (9th Circuit); Ken Ramsdell (9th Circuit); Debbie Marshall (10th Circuit); Ray Owens (11th Circuit); Theresa Brown (DC Circuit); Cindy Easley (FPPOA Ex-Officio Member); and John Fitzgerald (FPPOA Ex-Officio Member).

February 20, 2002

The meeting opened with comments made by Pamela G. Montgomery, Director and Chief Counsel of the Office of Education and Sentencing Practice. Ms. Montgomery provided information relating to the upcoming training events as well as a recent training event which was held in South Dakota to address Native American issues. Ms. Montgomery noted that it appears the United States Sentencing Commission's focus this year will be revisions of the drug guideline to include addressing penalty ratios with respect to cocaine base and powder cocaine, revisions of Chapter Four -- Criminal History, and a 15-year study of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines since the effective date of November 1, 1987. Other focus areas may include USSG §5G1.3, USSG §2K2.4, and USSG §3E1.1.

POAG was provided an agenda with respect to various members of working groups that would be making presentations of proposed or revised guideline issues.

Committee Reports

Donald A. Purdy, Jr., Chief Deputy General Counsel, met with POAG and provided a synopsis of the Criminal Law Committee's concerns with respect to USSG §5G1.3, particularly sentences that were already completed versus undischarged terms of imprisonment. Mr. Purdy also provided insight as to the proposed revisions for USSG §2K2.4 and the establishment of a new guideline in Chapter Four to be used in conjunction with 2K2.4. Mr. Purdy noted that the importance of the revision was based on the perception that the congressional directive at 18 U.S.C. §994(h) calls for the sentence imposed to be as near the statutory maximum penalty as possible. It was also noted that the decision rendered in U.S. vs Labonte was impacting the need for the revision. Mr. Purdy noted that the work group would be extremely interested in POAG's response as to any application issues with respect to the proposed revised guideline.

Drug Policy

Louis W. Reedt, Acting Director of Office and Policy Analysis, and Kenneth Cohen, Director of Office of Legislative Affairs, presented a summary of the revisions proposed that impact the drug guidelines.

Sentencing Alternatives and Acceptance of Responsibility

Charles R. Tetzlaff, General Counsel, presented a summary of the proposed amendments with respect to acceptance of responsibility and sentencing alternatives. Mr. Tetzlaff also commented on DOJ's proposal with respect to acceptance of responsibility and asked for POAG's feedback with respect to issues that have been presented for comment. As to sentencing alternatives, Mr. Tetzlaff noted that his committee would be extremely interested in any feedback POAG had with respect to the option of imposing a sentence which required placement in a halfway house for sentences with a range that included one year or less.


Pam Barron, Deputy General Counsel, presented historical information with respect to the creation of the terrorism guideline and also spoke about the Sixth Circuit's ruling in U.S. vs Graham.

Cultural Heritage

The proposed amendment at USSG §2B1.5 was introduced by Paula J. Desio, Deputy General Counsel. The amendment seeks to recognize the special harm done by theft or damage to items of cultural heritage. These are items that have special historical, cultural, or spiritual significance. Differing from §2B1.1, offenses would have a base offense level of eight. Also different would be an assessment of value as opposed to loss. There would be adjustments if the items were taken from locations such as national parks or cemeteries, resources such as human remains, purpose for financial gain, or were part of a pattern of similar behavior.

Tim McGrath, Staff Director, addressed POAG and provided a synopsis of the 15-year study of the United States Sentencing Guidelines which should be completed during 2003 - 2004. It was noted that this review would provide an assessment to Congress as to the effectiveness or lack thereof of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Mr. McGrath noted that the data with respect to the recidivist study should be available in approximately four months. This information may possibly be used to determine if criminal history changes are merited within the sentencing guidelines. Mr. McGrath noted that the Commission has formed two new advisory groups: Native Americans Advisory Group and Organizational Guidelines Advisory Group. The Native Americans Advisory Group members will be announced this summer and their scope defined. The Organizational Guidelines Advisory Group will be chaired by Todd Jones. The group's first meeting is scheduled for March 8, 2002. Mr. McGrath spoke briefly about the upcoming national training to be held in Palm Springs, California, in May as well as the upcoming Sentencing Institute in early June.

The Probation Officers Advisory Group began their deliberation on issues that were presented. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:45 PM.