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 Courtâ€™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. Todayâ€™s hearing has been called to assess changes in sentencing since that decision and implications for policy development.
Mauerâ€™s testimony will focus on issues of racial disparity in federal sentencing, and will raise the following issues:
â€¢Â 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
â€¢Â Enhanced guidelines discretion for judges now makes disparities in the imposition
of mandatory penalties even more significant, a development which adversely affects black males.
â€¢Â Responses to disparity in sentencing can best be addressed by expanding use of
the â€œsafety valveâ€ in many drug cases and by creating a broader array of non-prison sentencing options.