New Reports: Drug Sentencing & Human Rights

(From The Sentencing Project)

I’m pleased to pass along two recent documents on sentencing and human rights issues that The Sentencing Project has submitted to policymaking bodies.

U.S. Sentencing Commission: Sentencing for Drug Offenses

As a result of a determination that federal drug sentences have been too severe, in April the U.S. Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress an amendment that would reduce these penalties by two “levels” in the sentencing guidelines structure. That amendment will go into effect on November 1st unless disapproved by Congress. The Commission will now vote on July 18th on whether to make this amendment retroactive, potentially affecting up to 50,000 persons currently in prison and reducing sentences by an average of nearly two years. Our submission to the Commission argues in favor of full retroactivity, for reasons of fairness, public safety, and reducing racial disparity.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Racial Disparities

Along with 11 allied civil rights and justice reform organizations, we have also just submitted a shadow report regarding racial disparities in the justice system to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Our report documents continuing disparities in incarceration, the imposition of juvenile life without parole, the death penalty, and felony disenfranchisement. The review of United States’ compliance with the CERD convention will take place in August.

We will keep you posted on developments with these issues.


Marc Mauer