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Notice

Sentencing Guidelines for the United States Courts

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

United States Sentencing Commission.

ACTION:

Notice of final action regarding amendment to Policy Statement § 1B1.10, effective November 1, 2014.

SUMMARY:

The Sentencing Commission hereby gives notice of an amendment to a policy statement and commentary made pursuant to its authority under 28 U.S.C. 994(a) and (u). The Commission promulgated an amendment to Policy Statement § 1B1.10 (Reduction in Term of Imprisonment as a Result of Amended Guideline Range) clarifying when, and to what extent, a sentencing reduction is considered consistent with the policy statement and therefore authorized under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2). The amendment expands the listing in § 1B1.10(d) (as redesignated by Amendment 1 of the amendments submitted to Congress on April 30, 2014) to include Amendment 782 (Amendment 3 of the amendments submitted to Congress on April 30, 2014) as an amendment that may be available for retroactive application. The amendment also inserts a new subsection (e) to the policy statement with a special instruction requiring that any order granting sentence reductions based on Amendment 782 shall not take effect until November 1, 2015, or later, and adds a new application note to § 1B1.10 to explain and clarify this special instruction.

DATES:

The effective date of this amendment is November 1, 2014. However, as a result of the special instruction, offenders cannot be released from custody pursuant to retroactive application of Amendment 782 before November 1, 2015.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jeanne Doherty, Public Affairs Officer, 202-502-4502, jdoherty@ussc.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch of the United States Government. The Commission promulgates sentencing guidelines and policy statements for federal sentencing courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(a). The Commission also periodically reviews and revises previously promulgated guidelines pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(o), and specifies in what circumstances and by what amount sentences of imprisonment may be reduced if the Commission reduces the term of imprisonment recommended in the guidelines applicable to a particular offense or category of offenses pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(u).

The amendment to Policy Statement § 1B1.10 set forth in this notice and the text of the amendments submitted to Congress on April 30, 2014 (published in 79 FR 25996 (May 6, 2014)) are also available on the Commission's Web site at www.ussc.gov.

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Authority: 28 U.S.C. 994(a), (u).

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Patti B. Saris,

Chair.

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1. Amendment: Section 1B1.10, as amended by Amendment 780 (Amendment 1 of the amendments submitted to Congress on April 30, 2014, 79 FR 25996 (May 6, 2014)), is further amended in subsection (d) by striking “and” and by inserting “, and 782 (subject to subsection (e)(1))” before the period at the end;

and by adding at the end the following new subsection (e):

“(e) Special Instruction.

(1) The court shall not order a reduced term of imprisonment based on Amendment 782 unless the effective date of the court's order is November 1, 2015, or later.”.

The Commentary to § 1B1.10 captioned “Application Notes”, as amended by Amendment 780 (Amendment 1 of the amendments submitted to Congress on April 30, 2014, 79 FR 25996 (May 6, 2014)), is further amended by redesignating Notes 6 and 7 as Notes 7 and 8, respectively;

and by inserting after Note 5 the following new Note 6:

“6. Application to Amendment 782.—As specified in subsection (d) and (e)(1), Amendment 782 (generally revising the Drug Quantity Table and chemical quantity tables across drug and chemical types) is covered by this policy statement only in cases in which the order reducing the defendant's term of imprisonment has an effective date of November 1, 2015, or later.

A reduction based on retroactive application of Amendment 782 that does not comply with the requirement that the order take effect on November 1, 2015, or later is not consistent with this policy statement and therefore is not authorized under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2).

Subsection (e)(1) does not preclude the court from conducting sentence reduction proceedings and entering orders under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) and this policy statement before November 1, 2015, provided that any order reducing the defendant's term of imprisonment has an effective date of November 1, 2015, or later.”.

Reason for Amendment: This amendment expands the listing in § 1B1.10(d) to implement the directive in 28 U.S.C. 994(u) with respect to guideline amendments that may be considered for retroactive application. The Commission has determined that Amendment 782, subject to the limitation in new § 1B1.10(e) delaying the effective date of sentence reduction orders until November 1, 2015, should be applied retroactively.

Amendment 782 reduced by two levels the offense levels assigned to the quantities that trigger the statutory mandatory minimum penalties in § 2D1.1, and made parallel changes to § 2D1.11. Under the applicable standards set forth in the background commentary to § 1B1.10, the Commission considers the following factors, among others: (1) The purpose of the amendment, (2) the magnitude of the change in the guideline range made by the amendment, and (3) the difficulty of applying the amendment retroactively. See § 1B1.10, comment. (backg'd.). Applying those standards to Start Printed Page 44974Amendment 782, the Commission determined that, among other factors:

(1) The purposes of the amendment are to reflect the Commission's determination that setting the base offense levels above mandatory minimum penalties is no longer necessary and that a reduction would be an appropriate step toward alleviating the overcapacity of the federal prisons. See 28 U.S.C. 994(g) (requiring the Commission to formulate guidelines to “minimize the likelihood that the Federal prison population will exceed the capacity of the Federal prisons”).

(2) The number of cases potentially involved is large, and the magnitude of the change in the guideline range is significant. The Commission determined that an estimated 46,000 offenders may benefit from retroactive application of Amendment 782 subject to the limitation in § 1B1.10(e), and the average sentence reduction would be approximately 18 percent.

(3) The administrative burdens of applying Amendment 782 retroactively are significant but manageable given the one-year delay in the effective date, which allows courts and agencies more time to prepare. This determination was informed by testimony at the Commission's June 10, 2014 public hearing on retroactivity and by other public comment received by the Commission.

The Commission determined that public safety, among other factors, requires a limitation on retroactive application of Amendment 782. In light of the large number of cases potentially involved, the Commission determined that the agencies of the federal criminal justice system responsible for the offenders' reentry into society need time to prepare, and to help the offenders prepare, for that reentry. For example, the Bureau of Prisons has the responsibility under 18 U.S.C. 3624(c) to ensure, to the extent practicable, that the defendant will spend a portion of his or her term of imprisonment under conditions that will afford the defendant a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for his or her reentry into the community. The Commission received testimony indicating that some offenders released pursuant to earlier retroactive guideline amendments had been released without having had this opportunity. In addition, for many of the defendants potentially involved, their sentence includes a term of supervised release after imprisonment. The judiciary and its probation officers will have the responsibility under 18 U.S.C. 3624(e) to supervise those defendants when they are released by the Bureau of Prisons. The Commission received testimony from the Criminal Law Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States that a delay would permit courts and probation offices to prepare to effectively supervise this increased number of defendants.

The Commission concluded that a one-year delay in the effective date of any orders granting sentence reductions under Amendment 782 is needed (1) to give courts adequate time to obtain and review the information necessary to make an individualized determination in each case of whether a sentence reduction is appropriate, (2) to ensure that, to the extent practicable, all offenders who are to be released have the opportunity to participate in reentry programs and transitional services, such as placement in halfway houses, while still in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, which increases their likelihood of successful reentry to society and thereby promotes public safety, and (3) to permit those agencies that will be responsible for offenders after their release to prepare for the increased responsibility. Therefore, the Commission added a Special Instruction at subsection (e) providing that a reduced term of imprisonment based on retroactive application of Amendment 782 shall not be ordered unless the effective date of the court's order is November 1, 2015, or later. An application note clarifies that this special instruction does not preclude the court from conducting sentence reduction proceedings before November 1, 2015, as long as any order reducing the defendant's term of imprisonment has an effective date of November 1, 2015, or later. As a result, offenders cannot be released from custody pursuant to retroactive application of Amendment 782 before November 1, 2015.

In addition, public safety will be considered in every case because § 1B1.10 requires the court, in determining whether and to what extent a reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment is warranted, to consider the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that may be posed by such a reduction. See § 1B1.10, comment. (n.1(B)(ii)).

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[FR Doc. 2014-18147 Filed 7-31-14; 8:45 am]

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