Marc Mauer to testify before U.S. Sentencing Commission today on federal sentencing options

Marc Mauer, Executive Director of the Sentencing Project, will testify today at a hearing of the U.S. Sentencing Commission on federal sentencing options following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Booker v. United States.

The Booker decision changed the federal sentencing guidelines from a mandatory system to an advisory one, thus granting greater discretion to federal judges. Today’s hearing has been called to assess changes in sentencing since that decision and implications for policy development.

Mauer’s testimony will focus on issues of racial disparity in federal sentencing, and will raise the following issues:

• That there is no single cause of racial disparity in sentencing outcomes, and we need
to examine how decisionmaking at each stage of the court process affects ultimate
outcomes.
•  Enhanced guidelines discretion for judges now makes disparities in the imposition
of mandatory penalties even more significant, a development which adversely affects black males.
•  Responses to disparity in sentencing can best be addressed by expanding use of
the “safety valve” in many drug cases and by creating a broader array of non-prison sentencing options.