Tell the Sentencing Commission to make crack guideline changes retroactive!
Update: The United States Sentencing Commission has extended the deadline for public comment on making the proposed crack guideline changes retroactive (if those changes go into effect on Nov. 1). The new deadline for public comment is Nov. 1, 2007.
On May 1, 2007, the United States Sentencing Commission proposed an amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines that, if enacted, will reduce the base offense level for crack offenses by two levels, resulting in shorter sentences for most crack defendants sentenced after November 1, 2007. FAMM supported the Commission�s proposed amendment to the crack guidelines and also asked the Commission to make the amendment retroactively applicable to those who were sentenced before November 1, 2007. Click here to read more about the proposed guideline amendment.
If the amendment is not rejected by Congress � and we don�t expect it will be � it will go into effect on November 1. Unless the Commission makes it retroactive, however, it will only reduce sentences for defendants sentenced under the crack guideline on or after November 1. But, if the Commission makes the amendment retroactive, prisoners who were sentenced before November 1, 2007 under the sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses can ask their sentencing judges to reduce their sentences as if the reduction had been in effect at the time they were sentenced.
Your chance to write about retroactivity
The Commission has just issued a call for public comment from any interested member of the public on the retroactivity issue. Now is your chance to write to the Sentencing Commission and tell them to ensure that thousands of individuals currently serving unjustifiably harsh sentences for crack have a chance to benefit from the sentence reductions, if the amendment goes into effect on Nov. 1, 2007. All letters are due by November 1, 2007.
FAMM encourages all of its members � particularly those with loved ones serving crack sentences in the federal prison system � to urge the Commission to make the crack amendment retroactively applicable. To help you, we have prepared a letter that you can print out and mail to the Commission. You can personalize the letter to include the name of your loved one who is serving a sentence for a crack offense, or send it as is.
We will also be mailing out postcards about this campaign to our members who do not have access to the internet. Numbers count, so please ask your family and friends to write to the Commission in support of retroactivity. Typed or handwritten letters are best, and don’t forget to include your contact information in the letter.
- Click here to use the FAMM action center to send your letter.
- If you write your own letter, please send it to: United States Sentencing Commission, One Columbus Circle, NE, Suite 2-500, South Lobby, Washington, DC 20002-8002, Attention: Public Affairs – Retroactivity Public Comment.
- All letters are due by November 1, 2007.
Important note: In most cases, the sentence reduction only applies to guideline sentences above or between the mandatory minimums. If your loved one is serving a mandatory minimum sentence of five or ten years, for example, even a retroactive guideline amendment will not shorten his or her sentence. Also, even if the amendment is made retroactive it is still up to the judge to decide whether to reduce the prisoner�s sentence.
Should the amendment be made retroactive, FAMM will provide guidance and resources for prisoners who would be eligible to petition the courts for reduced sentences.
If you have questions about what this means, please call (202) 822-6700 and ask to speak to Molly Gill.