The US Sentencing Commission is holding hearings today on whether to make “Drugs Minus Two” retroactive. FAMM’s General Counsel Mary Price will testify this afternoon, and is live tweeting the event.

In a nutshell, the Sentencing Commission has pretty extraordinary powers. On April 30 of this year, they sent an amendment to Congress which would lower the sentencing guidelines for drug offenses by an average of 11 months per defendant, according to FAMM.

Congress has 180 days in which to act. If they do nothing, the amendments automatically become law on November 14, 2014 — meaning anyone sentenced on or before that date will automatically benefit from “Drugs Minus Two” (lowering all drug sentencing guidelines by two levels).

But the Commission has the power to decide whether “Drugs Minus Two” would be retroactive or not, and that’s what the hearing today is about. And according to Mary Price’s tweet above, the DoJ seems to be raising some objections to making it retroactive.

In addition to today’s hearing, the Sentencing Commission is having an open comment period on retroactivity until July 7. The Commission says that 20,000 people have already written in support of retroactivity, and FAMM is hoping to double that number. If you’d like to comment on making “Drugs Minus Two” retroactive there is a letter writing tool here.

Others testifying today in include Pat Nolan of the American Conservative Union Foundation, Jesselyn McCurdy of the ACLU, and Bob Bushman of the National Narcotic Officer’s Associations’ Coalition.

According to the Sentencing Project, over half the people in the Federal prison system are there on drug-related charges, so retroactivity would impact an enormous number of people.

FDL also supports the passage of the Smarter Sentencing Act, which is designed to reduce the US prison population among non-violent offenders.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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