The United States Sentencing Commission voted to allow for retroactive sentence reductions and adopted its next set of policy priorities Thursday, including the potential of amending how acquitted conduct is treated in sentencing. The latter decision came after the Supreme Court denied several petitions for writs of certiorari related to judges' use in sentencing of conduct in other cases in which defendants were acquitted. The commission will delay any order granting reduced sentences to ensure that all who are likely to be released have the opportunity to participate in reentry programs and transitional services. The commission will assess if certain Bureau of Prisons practices are effective in meeting the purposes of sentencing.
“Our decision today is one that brings hope to thousands of currently incarcerated people and their families. We listened to a full spectrum of views and considered the full costs associated with incarceration balanced with the time needed to review petitions and prepare for successful reentry,” said U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, commission chair. The guideline amendments are being sent to Congress for a 180-day review period ending Nov. 1. If Congress does not act to disapprove the amendments, courts can begin considering petitions for sentence reductions and could order a reduced term of imprisonment effective Feb. 1, 2024, or later.