Federal Register Notice of Final 2003 Priorities



Sentencing Guidelines for United States Courts

AGENCY: United States Sentencing Commission.

ACTION: Notice of final priorities.

SUMMARY: In June 2003, the Commission published a notice of possible policy priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2004. See 68 FR 39173 (July 1, 2003). After reviewing public comment received pursuant to this notice, the Commission has identified its policy priorities for the upcoming amendment cycle. The Commission hereby gives notice of these policy priorities.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Courlander, Public Affairs Officer, Telephone: (202) 502-4590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The United States Sentencing Commission, an independent commission in the judicial branch of the United States Government, is authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 994(a) to promulgate sentencing guidelines and policy statements for federal courts. Section 994 also directs the Commission periodically to review and revise promulgated guidelines and authorizes it to submit guideline amendments to Congress not later than the first day of May each year. See 28 U.S.C. § 994(o), (p).

As part of its statutory authority and responsibility to analyze sentencing issues, including operation of the federal sentencing guidelines, the Commission has identified certain priorities as the focus of its policy development work, including possible amendments to guidelines, policy statements, and commentary, for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2004. While the Commission intends to address these priority issues, it recognizes that other factors, such as the enactment of legislation requiring Commission action, may affect the Commission’s ability to complete work on all of the identified policy priorities by the statutory deadline of May 1, 2004. The Commission may address any unfinished policy work from this agenda during the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2005.

For the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2004, and possibly continuing into the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2005, the Commission has identified the following policy priorities:

(1) implementation of the PROTECT Act, Pub. L. 108–21, including guideline amendments addressing the directives to the Commission in (A) section 401 pertaining to downward departures; (B) sections 401, 504, 512, and 513 pertaining to new and existing sex offenses and offenses involving virtual pornography; and (C) section 608 pertaining to increased penalties for offenses involving the trafficking of GHB;

(2) consideration and implementation of recommendations made by the Commission’s Organizational Guidelines Advisory Group;

(3) consideration and implementation of recommendations made by the Commission’s Native American Advisory Group;

(4) continuation of its work implementing the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, Pub. L. 107–273, including guideline amendments pertaining to (A) assaulting or threatening federal judges or other officials described in 18 U.S.C. § 111 or § 115; and (B) a new offense, at 18 U.S.C. § 931, prohibiting violent felons from purchasing, owning, or possessing body armor;

(5) consideration of guideline amendment proposals related to the public corruption guidelines in Chapter Two, Part C (Offenses Involving Public Officials);

(6) continuation of its work on the 15 Year Study, which is composed of a number of projects geared toward analyzing the guidelines in light of the goals of sentencing reform described in the Sentencing Reform Act and the statutory purposes of sentencing set forth in 18 U.S.C. §3553(a)(2);

(7) continuation of its policy work related to manslaughter, particularly consideration of guideline amendment proposals providing specific offense characteristics in §2A1.4 (Involuntary Manslaughter), and other homicide offenses;

(8) continuation of its policy work related to immigration offenses, including offenses under §§2L1.1 (Smuggling, Transporting, or Harboring an Unlawful Alien) and 2L1.2 (Unlawfully Entering or Remaining in the United States);

(9) continuation of its work with Congress and other interested parties on cocaine sentencing policy consistent with the recommendations made by the Commission in its 2002 report to Congress, Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy;

(10) consideration of guideline amendment proposals pertaining to terrorism, including terrorism offenses involving man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and other similar weapons and the illegal transportation of hazardous materials;

(11) consideration of guideline amendment proposals pertaining to compassionate release programs;

(12) other miscellaneous and limited issues pertaining to the operation of the sentencing guidelines, including (A) offenses involving the unlawful sale or transportation of drug paraphernalia; and (B) offenses involving the receipt or possession of stolen mail;

(13) implementation of other crime legislation enacted during the first session of the 108th Congress warranting a Commission response;

(14) review of the limitation on the base offense level (i.e., not more than level 30) provided in subsection (a)(3) of §2D1.1 (Unlawful Manufacturing, Importing, Exporting, or Trafficking (Including Possession with Intent to Commit these Offenses); Attempt or Conspiracy); and

(15) continuation of its multiyear research, policy work, and possible guideline amendments relating to Chapter Four (Criminal History and Criminal Livelihood), which may include (A) assessment of the calculation of criminal history points for first time offenders and offenders who are in the highest criminal history categories; (B) assessment of the criminal history rules for minor offenses, juvenile offenses, and expunged convictions; (C) assessment of the criminal history rules for related cases; and (D) consideration of other application issues relating to simplifying the operation of Chapter Four.

AUTHORITY: 28 U.S.C. § 994(a), (o); USSC Rules of Practice and Procedure 5.2.

Diana E. Murphy,

United States Sentencing Commission: