Thanks to Mark Bennett for posting a .pdf to the Texas defense lawyers listserv of the recent letter by the Federal Defenders concerning sentencing reform to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The email contained specific instructions that the .pdf was a public document and was meant to be disseminated, so here’s a link.

I haven’t finished all 70 pages of it yet, but here are some highlights for what the Commission should do:


  • Reform the relevant conduct guideline;
  • Narrow the career offender guideline to the extent possible within statutory limits and recommend to Congress that § 994(h) be repealed;
  • Reassess and adjust the guidelines that are based on mandatory minimums, including the crack guidelines;
  • Amend the guidelines to give the courts more flexibility to sensibly use alternatives to incarceration under the guidelines;
  • Prepare an updated study of mandatory minimum laws;
  • Eliminate the unwarranted disparity in mandatory minimums for crack and powder cocaine;
  • Reduce the overall severity levels and the prison population;
  • Increased focus on rehabilitation;
  • Increase flexibility and simplicity.


Sounds reasonable to me.