In a press relese today, the newly constituted United States Sentencing Commission issued tentative policy priorities for the 2022-2023 amendment year—with top focus on implementation of the First Step Act of 2018. According to the press release:
The Commission lost a voting quorum shortly after enactment of the First Step Act, preventing the Commission from amending the federal sentencing guidelines. The First Step Act, which authorized defendants to file motions in federal court, helped facilitate a substantial increase in compassionate release filings during the COVID-19 pandemic but the Commission recently reported wide variation in grant rates among the federal courts (more here).
The Commission also proposed a focus on implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 relating to firearms penalties under §2K2.1, one of the most common sentencing guidelines applied annually. The act created new penalties for straw purchasers and increased penalties for other firearms offenses.
In addition, the Commission proposed consideration of several circuit court conflicts that have emerged since the loss of a quorum. Commissioners also identified as a priority further examination of the guidelines relating to criminal history in light of the agency's studies on recidivism and complications in the application of the career offender provision.
U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, Chair of the Commission remarked, “This amendment cycle is a particularly exciting and challenging one for the Commission. It will require swift consensus-building among my colleagues and thoughtful feedback.
The Federal Register Notice is here.