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Feature: US Sentencing Commission to Examine Alternatives to Incarceration

The US Sentencing Commission, the panel that sets sentencing guidelines for federal courts, has signaled that it intends to focus next year on developing alternatives to imprisonment, a move that is welcomed by reform advocates, but opposed by conservatives and, likely, the Justice Department. The commission's intentions were mentioned in a recent filing in the Federal Register and come as a September 8 deadline for public comment has just passed.
Created in 1984, the Sentencing Commission consists of seven presidential appointees who are then confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel is charged with making sentencing recommendations which automatically take effect unless Congress proactively votes to reject them.

While Congress has repeatedly enacted tough new sentences in bouts of anti-crime or anti-drug hysteria, the Sentencing Commission is less prone to political passions and more likely to act as a restraining influence on congressional incarceration mania. The commission, for example, has for more than a decade urged reforms of the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparities that have seen thousands of African-Americans imprisoned for years for crack while mostly whites holding similar amounts of powder cocaine do far less time. Last year, the commission enacted changes in the federal sentencing guidelines to reduce sentences for crack offenders.

Despite objections from the Justice Department, the commission then went a step further, making the reductions retroactive so that some of the thousands of long-serving crack offenders could get out of prison a few months early.

But with some 2.3 million people behind bars in the US, including more than 200,000 in the federal system -- more than half of them drug offenders -- the commission signaled earlier this year that it wants to see more efforts to reduce those numbers. This summer, it hosted a two-day symposium on alternatives to incarceration, and now, with the Federal Register announcement, it appears the commission will continue down that path.
"The summer symposium was a really good coming together of criminal justice experts," said Kara Gotsch, director of advocacy for the Sentencing Project, a Washington, DC-based think tank. "There were judges, probation and parole people, law enforcement, academics, and advocates there to talk about what the states are doing in relation to alternatives to incarceration. They discussed successful programs that are diverting people from prison. The commission has demonstrated its interest in this issue and has said it would distribute materials from the symposium, so we are hoping the commission will look to apply some of this to alternatives to incarceration at the federal level, including expanding the sentencing grid to include alternatives."

Not everyone was so excited. In a weekend story in the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department seemed decidedly unimpressed. Spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said that while the department is interested about the use of expanded monitoring technologies, "we do not believe the use of alternatives should be expanded without further rigorous research showing their effectiveness in promoting public safety."

Similarly, Michael Rushford of the conservative, victims' rights-oriented Criminal Justice Legal Foundation warned that resorting to less mass incarceration could result in rising crime and violence. "I'm old enough to remember the 1960s and the sky-high crime and murder rates we had then," he said. "While there may be a role for diversion for young offenders, serious felony offenders need to be behind bars."

While it is unclear exactly what the commission might recommend, the summer symposium heard lots of talk about drug courts, residential and community corrections, and other alternatives to incarceration. It does seem clear that the commission wants to reduce the flow of new inmates before they get to the prison gates.
"We're going to be looking at what might fit at the starting point, before somebody is sent to prison," District Court Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, chairman of the commission, told the Wall Street Journal. But the commission will move cautiously, he said.

"The commission's priorities for next year are not yet finalized," said Gotsch, who is hoping it will also consider further reforms of crack sentencing and the mandatory minimum sentencing structure. "But we are encouraged by the symposium and this announcement. Advocates like us and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) will continue to push for modifications of the sentencing grid to make including alternatives to incarceration a priority. The issue is clearly on their radar, and that's a good thing," she said.

The Sentencing Commission can -- and should -- have an impact on Congress, Gotsch said. "If we can get them on board for alternatives to incarceration, that will be huge. When the commission speaks on a sentencing issue, Congress should listen."

Medical Marijuana: California Activist Grower Eddy Lepp Guilty in Federal Cultivation Case, Faces 10 Years to Life

Eddy Lepp, a medical and religious use of marijuana advocate named High Times "2004 Freedom Fighter of the Year," faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence and up to life after a federal jury in San Francisco found him guilty of conspiracy and cultivation of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Sentencing is set for December 1.
Eddy Lepp (from
Lepp was arrested in 2004 after DEA agents said they found some 32,000 plants in gardens on his property near Upper Lake. Although US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled the seizure was based on an invalid search warrant, she allowed prosecutors to enter into evidence 24,000 plants that were growing in plain view of a state highway.

Under federal court rules, Lepp could not mount a medical marijuana defense, and Judge Patel also refused to let him mount a religious use defense. As she pondered the religious defense issue, Patel said that while it may have been possible in a personal use case, it could not apply in a case where someone was growing thousands of plants and distributing them to anonymous parishioners.

"I truly feel I was very, very railroaded by the system, and specifically by (US District) Judge Marilyn Patel," he told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat after the verdict. Lepp said he is both a Rastafarian and a member of the Universal Life Church and that the marijuana was being grown for spiritual as well as medicinal purposes.

Lepp told the court that the plants, grown at a site known as "Eddy's Medicinal Gardens," were not his, but were being grown cooperatively by members of his church, the The Multi-Denominational Ministry of Cannabis & Rastafari. "All I did was make the land available to the ministry," he said.

Lepp is a well-known promoter of marijuana legalization and in recent years has been a fixture at West Coast marijuana reform conferences and festivals. Until she took ill, dying last November, his wife, Linda Senti, was his constant companion. The couple worked to gather petitions for Proposition 215 in 1996 and lobbied Lake County supervisors to set medical marijuana standards. Lepp was also known for publicly smoking marijuana in front of the federal building in Santa Rosa in 2002 in support of medical marijuana.

His attorneys said they planned to appeal on the religious defense and possibly other grounds. If those appeals fail, Lepp will spend much -- if not all -- of the rest of his life in the federal gulag.

Feature: Battle Over California's Nonviolent Offender Recovery Act Initiative Begins to Heat Up

With election day less than two months away, the battle over California's groundbreaking "treatment not jail" initiative is heating up. Known as the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA) and appearing on the ballot as Proposition 5, the initiative would divert thousands of drug users and drug-using lawbreakers into drug treatment and away from the state's bulging and budget-draining prisons. In doing so, it would build upon and greatly expand the effort begun with the passage of the "treatment not jail" Proposition 36 by voters in 2002.

According to NORA supporters, the initiative:

  • Requires the state to expand and increase funding and oversight for individualized treatment and rehabilitation programs for nonviolent drug offenders and parolees.
  • Reduces criminal consequences of nonviolent drug offenses by mandating three-tiered probation with treatment and by providing for case dismissal and/or sealing of records after probation. Limits court's authority to incarcerate offenders who violate probation or parole.
  • Shortens parole for most drug offenses, including sales, and for nonviolent property crimes.
  • Creates numerous divisions, boards, commissions, and reporting requirements regarding drug treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Decriminalizes possession of less than an once of marijuana.

The complex, ambitious proposal would not be cheap -- estimated annual costs to the state to implement it would be about $1 billion per year. But according to a July 1 analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, that spending would be more than offset by savings to the state of more than $1 billion annually in reduced prison and parole costs and a net savings of $2.5 billion in prison construction that would no longer be necessary.

NORA has broad support from a long list of California groups and individuals, including not only the entire treatment and recovery community, but also the League of Women Voters, labor unions, the former warden of San Quentin, and former US Secretary of State George Schultz.

"The treatment community gave Prop. 36 only mixed support at the time," said Al Senella, chief operating officer of the Tarzana Treatment Center and president of the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program Executives, both of which have endorsed Prop 5. "But as far as I can tell now, there is total support for the initiative in the treatment community. I don't know any treatment organizations opposing it."

"When you look at the Yes on 5 coalition, you find a wide array of addiction and public health advocates, youth advocates, the League of Women Voters, consumer federations, and on and on," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Southern California deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, which has spearheaded the Prop. 5 effort. "It really shows the breadth and diversity of Yes on 5; it really gives you a sense of what California has to gain and from how many perspectives," she said. "When you look at the 'no' side, it is dominated by law enforcement. That's very revealing."

While NORA has broad support from the treatment and recovery community and beyond, it is opposed by a formidable array of law enforcement and drug court interests. It has drawn the ire of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, which slammed it in a position paper earlier this year, as well as the opposition of virtually all of California's sheriffs, district attorneys, police chiefs, prison guards, and probation officers.

Although the opposition had been relatively quiet until this month, last Friday it fired a broadside over NORA's bow when noted actor Martin Sheen penned a "no on NORA"
in the Sacramento Bee. Sheen wrote that he opposes Prop 5. because "it will do so much harm to so many people" because it lacks the teeth to punish offenders who fall off the wagon. "Successful rehabilitation needs accountability and so often demands direct intervention in the life of someone who is addicted to drugs, rather than waiting for them to seek treatment 'when they are ready,'" he wrote.

Prop. 5 is the product of "harm reduction theory" and would shift resources from programs that meet his approval, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Sheen complained. "The real problem with Proposition 5 is that it is not about stopping drug use," he wrote. "If it were, it would mandate funding for ongoing drug testing instead of prohibiting that funding, and it would not give drug sellers a reward for the harm they do to so many." The initiative is "poorly designed and dangerous," Sheen warned.

"I certainly respect Martin Sheen's feelings and experiences, but to generalize and universalize them to public policy is the wrong approach," responded Dooley-Sammuli. "We don't want to decide what's best for 36 million Californians based on one man's perspective. He's concerned that Prop. 5 won't work, just like he was concerned that Prop. 36 wouldn't work, but we know now that it did work. I'm not so sure Martin Sheen is up to speed on the research in these areas, and he's wrong again. I'm disappointed he isn't any closer to achieving understanding."

"Martin Sheen is a celebrity, and perhaps that will sway some folks, but he did the same thing with Prop. 36, and he didn't sway enough folks," said Senella. "I respect the fact that he and his son had issues and overcame them, but his position is driven by his personal views, not by the data and expert opinion. And while he wrote an op-ed, I don't see him putting up millions for an effective opposition campaign. He is just giving the opposition a voice, not financial muscle."

Sheen isn't alone. While the powerful state prison guards' union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, hasn't taken an official position on Prop 5 -- mainly because it is busy trying to recall Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) over budget issues -- it will do so soon, said union spokesman Lance Corcoran.

"We haven't taken an official position, but we have done an analysis, and we see this as basically a get out of jail free act," he said. "We think Prop. 36 has arguably not been successful, and we think Prop. 5 will be a failure, too. This is not something that will be good for California," he warned.

Susan Blacksher is executive director of the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources, the largest residential treatment care provider organization in the state. For Blacksher, NORA is a necessary deepening and broadening of Prop. 36, whose success was limited by lack of resources, she argued.

"Prop. 36 didn't anticipate the sheer volume of need, and similarly, many counties did not fully recognize the magnitude of their addiction problems," she explained. "They assumed they would be picking up people who were early in their drug-taking careers, but almost from the beginning we began to see that the people coming through the program had more severe problems than anticipated. There were just not enough resources for the volume of people and the severity of their problems."

Arguments made by law enforcement and the drug court organizations that NORA should be opposed because it did not offer sufficient sanctions for relapses was "like throwing out the baby with the bathwater," Blacksher said. "NORA has been brilliantly crafted taking into account all the issues we've been discussing over the past six years, and there was a lot of discussion about sanctions. Some of us in the recovery movement think short term sanctions like flash incarceration can make sense if used as part of treatment, and not just punishment," she said, "but why are we making such a big deal about this when the rest of it makes so much sense?"

Blacksher said she understood the frustration of law enforcement and drug courts over the issue of sanctions, but it was not enough to invalidate NORA. And, as she noted, "Their jails and prisons are so full, something has to happen."

"You would think the judges and prosecutors who led the way on drug courts would support what will be the nation's largest expansion of drug courts," said Dooley-Sammuli. "I'm disappointed there as well. What I think we're really seeing is a turf battle, where folks would rather protect their turf than support what will be an expansion of drug courts. Unfortunately, the folks who run those courts are resisting what have been proven to be the best practices."

"The drug court people believe strongly in accountability, and so does the treatment community," said Senella, "but the drug court people believe they should have full authority. Prop. 36 didn't give them that, and neither does NORA. NORA does give them a great deal, it gives them additional authority, but not as much as they want. And although drug courts will get substantially more funding under NORA, they oppose it because it imposes some criteria on them about when they can impose their sanctions."

"I was alive in the 1960s when we went through this drill before," said Michael Rushford of the conservative, victims' rights-oriented Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. "Crime rates tripled while we were diverting felons to the streets. Not everyone remembers that and, unfortunately, if you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it," he said.

"Sure, I could see some diversion for juveniles, but when you're talking about felony offenders, there need to be consequences," Rushford continued. "Prop 5. would let somebody with $50,000 worth of meth avoid prison; it would let a repeat car thief avoid prison. It's a bad deal."

"These kinds of arguments are simply not based on facts or an accurate reading of the initiative," said Senella. "You can't have $50,000 worth of meth and just walk away; you can't go around stealing cars and just walk away. For these kinds of cases, judges will have complete discretion. If the judge decides this guy is stealing cars because he's strung out on something, he may be a good candidate for diversion, but it is in no way a free ticket out of trouble."

Despite five years of evaluations and annual reports on the efficacy of Prop. 36, neither the legislature nor Gov. Schwarzenegger have taken the initiative to implement the recommendations of the various reports. That's why it's up to the public, said reform advocates.

"People say California needs this, but something this big should go through Sacramento," said Dooley-Sammuli. "We say yes it should, but it hasn't. The federal courts have already taken over medical care in our prisons and there is a November 17 hearing to see if they should put the entire California Department of Corrections under receivership as well. The state government has proven incapable of action on this."

"The legislature and the governor can't or won't acknowledge what the public believes is important and what the science has demonstrated," said Senella. "In approving Prop. 36, the public showed that it was important to voters and their loved ones that treatment was a priority instead of prison as a method of dealing with addiction," he said.

"The only way to move forward on this is through the initiative process," he said. "That's why we need and support NORA. What has gone on in California corrections is clearly not working -- we have the second highest recidivism rate in the nation. Our current approach is not what the science indicates is necessary. It's absolutely clear that if you treat the addiction, you do a great deal for the recidivism rate."

"One way or another, the future of prison overcrowding in California will be decided in November," said Dooley-Sammuli. "Either by the voters on election day or by three federal judges later in the month. Rehabilitation and treatment has a lot of support among California voters. So far, we have let addiction drive our record-setting incarceration rates. The voters understand that."

Republicans Promise to Continue the Drug War

Pete Guither points out that the Republican Party’s newly released platform pledges to continue the disastrous and increasingly unpopular war on drugs:

Continuing the Fight against Illegal Drugs

The human toll of drug addiction and abuse hits all segments of American society. It is an international problem as well, with most of the narcotics in this country coming from beyond our borders. We will continue the fight against producers, traffickers, and distributors of illegal substances through the collaboration of state, federal, and local law enforcement.

In 2008, I’m beginning to doubt that anyone is going to win any votes with this kind of language. Given the risk of rubbing the libertarian crowd the wrong way, it wouldn’t have surprised me to see this rhetoric left out altogether. Of course, that would have been a conspicuous omission, I suppose, and you can bet that we’d have more than a few words to say about that.

On the plus side, Pete noticed that the section called "Locking Up Criminals" omits drug crimes from the list of offenses for which the Republicans support mandatory minimum sentencing:

We support mandatory sentencing provisions for gang conspiracy crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, rape, and assaults resulting in serious bodily injury.

That’s really a rather positive sign, indicating that we may be moving towards a bipartisan consensus that our drug laws have gone too far.

I’m also tempted to theorize that Obama’s decision to bring Biden onto the ticket may have been a contributing factor here. Months ago, Dick Morris editorialized in favor of attacking Obama on sentencing reform, arguing that by supporting revised crack sentencing guidelines, Obama wants to let thousands of crack dealers out of jail. It’s cynical and ruthless ploy that becomes considerably harder to pull off with Biden on the ticket. Given his central role in pushing through the original sentencing disparity, and his recent evidence-based reversal, Biden has all the credibility to blow any "soft on crack" attacks back to the '80's where they belong. I’m no fan of Biden’s drug war record, but there’s an interesting dynamic here, which I'll concede to those who've argued that Biden's awful history could end up providing cover for reform.

Which brings us to the obvious question: if the democrats don’t support mandatory minimums for drug offenses, and the republicans don’t support mandatory minimums for drug offenses, who does?

(This blog post was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Death Penalty: More Executions in Iran, Saudi Arabia

Even as a worldwide campaign to end the death penalty for drug offenses gears up, the resort to the ultimate sanction continues apace, especially in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. According to reports compiled by the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain, this month Southeast Asia is reporting no drug executions, but it's a different story in the Middle East, especially in Iran.
International Anti-Drugs Day drug burn, Tehran
But not just Iran. On August 21, Saudi Arabia got in on the action, executing two Pakistani nationals for smuggling drugs. The pair were beheaded by the sword after they were caught smuggling heroin in the eastern city of Damman. That was the 63rd execution this year in the country, with drug offenders accounting for between a third and one half of them.

Meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic, the executioner has been busy this month. On August 7, three men convicted of drug trafficking and murder were executed in a prison in the holy city of Qom. Authorities provided no details of the murder for which they were convicted, but said they were caught with 1,080 kilograms of opium. They were identified only by first names.

Four days later, three unnamed convicted drug traffickers were hanged in a prison in the southeastern city of Zahedan. They had been caught with 30 kilos of morphine and 22 kilos of heroin.

Things got really busy last week. On August 20, two men were hanged after being convicted of drug smuggling inside a Tehran prison. One of them had been sentenced to life in 2007 for smuggling, but was upgraded after being caught doing it again while imprisoned. That same day, yet another drug trafficker was executed in Zahedan. Bahrum Nikpur was hanged after being found guilty of possessing 14 kilos of opium and six kilos of heroin. Also that same day, four people were hanged for rape and drug trafficking in an unspecified prison in Iran.

It is not clear if there were four drug trafficking rapists, whether it was rapists and drug traffickers executed together, or how many were rapists and how many were drug traffickers. All the same to anti-drug zealots, perhaps.

Death Penalty: More Executions in China, Saudi Arabia

Despite a global trend toward abolition of the death penalty, a number of countries continue not only to use the ultimate sanction, but to apply it to nonviolent drug offenders. The latest round-up of drug offender executions from the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain includes the following:

  • Chinese media reported on July 11 that 10 people were executed in central China as "heinous criminals that seriously violated social law and order." Some were executed for murder, some for drug trafficking offenses. It is unclear how many of the 10 were drug offenders.
  • China was back at it again last week, when state media reported three members of an international drug trafficking group were executed in east China. They were accused of smuggling drugs into the country. No names were given for the executed Chinese drug offenders.
  • The Saudi Arabian official news agency reported Thursday that a convicted Nigerian drug trafficker was beheaded by the sword in Mecca. Shuaib Ali Mohammed had previous drug trafficking convictions and got a death sentence for trafficking cocaine.

Hands Off Cain presented its annual report on the state of the death penalty late this week. Look for an article here next week on how things are looking in 2008 and the state of the movement to end the death penalty for drug offenses.

Job Opportunity: Media Relations Director, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Washington, DC

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to challenge inflexible and excessive prison terms required by mandatory sentencing laws. FAMM seek to restore judicial discretion so the punishment fits the crime and the individual. FAMM's national membership include individuals, organizations, prisoners and their families concerned about achieving sentencing equity.

Responsibilities include working with the communication director and other staff to maximize the reach and impact of FAMM's campaigns and programs through the media; writing press releases, white papers and supporting materials, including resource lists; managing media relations, announcements and editorial placement; pitching reporters and arranging interviews to get FAMM's messages out; planning and coordinating policy-related media events for state and federal campaigns; writing op-eds and letters to the editor of newspapers on behalf of staff and public officials; updating FAMM media lists with national and state contacts; managing, archiving and distributing media clips on FAMM and related issues to staff and email lists; updating website pages with news clips, press releases and related resources; coordinating media training for members and program staff; and speaking at educational forums and meetings.

Qualifications include at least 2-4 years of media relations experience, including significant writing and editing experience, preferably in a related area; creativity in packaging stories on sentencing and fearlessness in pitching ideas to reporters; familiarity with and a passion for criminal justice related issues; experience creating and managing policy-related media events; and an ability to work independently and as part of small teams with multiple responsibilities.

This is a full-time position with salary commensurate with experience. Benefits include generous vacation and holiday schedules and medical, dental and disability insurances.

Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume to Monica Pratt Raffanel at For more information, see No phone calls please.

FAMM is an equal opportunity employer.

Death Penalty: Indonesia Gives Go-Ahead for More Executions

Indonesian authorities executed two Nigerian men, Iwachekwu Okoye and Hansen Anthony Nwaliosa, for drug trafficking on International Anti-Drug Day, June 26. They were the first executions of drug offenders in the island nation since 2004, but Indonesian authorities are warning they won't be the last.

Executions for drug offenders had been on hiatus, but that has changed since the county's Constitutional Court upheld the death penalty for drug offenses late last year. Indonesia had suspended executions for drug offenders in 2006 while the court was considering the constitutional case and had not executed a drug offender for two years prior to that.

Now, the country's attorney general is warning drug offenders on death row their days could be numbered. In a statement late last month, Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said executions would be expedited for the 58 drug offenders sentenced to death there.

That could still take some time, Deputy Attorney General A. Ritonga told the New York Times on Sunday. "Death row inmates will only be executed according to the law, after their appeals are exhausted," he said.

Ritonga added that death row prisoners can apply for clemency. But Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has publicly said he will not pardon drug offenders.

Angus Reid Poll: Canadians Want Some Offenders in Alternative Reform Programs, Four-in-five respondents think personal marijuana use should not be punished with a prison term

[Courtesy of Angus Reid Strategies] [VANCOUVER – Jul. 16, 2008] – Canadians are open to the idea of having some non-violent offenders punished with alternative penalties rather than prison, but reject the scheme being applied to cases of credit card fraud, drunk driving and arson, a new Angus Reid Strategies poll has found. In the online survey of a representative national sample, seven-in-ten respondents (70%) would like to see the justice system using alternative penalties—such as fines, probation, or community service—rather than jail to punish non-violent offences. Four-in-five respondents (80%) think that personal marijuana use should not be punished with a jail sentence, but rather with an alternative penalty. However, most respondents disagree with granting this option to persons convicted for other non-violent offences: 62 per cent of respondents oppose using alternative penalties for credit card fraud; 72 per cent oppose this rationale for drunk driving convictions; and 84 per cent oppose it for arson. Respondents living in Ontario (74%) are more likely to support the idea of sentencing non-violent offenders through alternative reform programs. Ontarians are also the most inclined to support alternative penalties for personal marijuana use (85% compared to 73% in Alberta, the lowest regional level). Albertans are adamantly opposed to granting alternative penalties to credit card fraud offences (72%), drunk driving (85%) and arson (92%). Conversely, two-in-five respondents in Quebec would support punishing credit-card fraud and drunk driving with sentences other than jail. Overall support for alternative penalties for non-violent offences is higher among respondents with at least one university degree (78%), those in the middle-income bracket (73%), and those over the age of 55 (74%). This is the third in a series of four Angus Reid Strategies surveys that look at the way Canadians feel about their justice system. CONTACT Mario Canseco, Director of Global Studies, 604-647-3570, For more information, see:

United States Sentencing Commission's Symposium on Crime and Punishment: Alternatives to Incarceration

The United States Sentencing Commission will host a Symposium on Crime and Punishment in the United States: Alternatives to Incarceration on July 14-15, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The symposium will focus on various sentencing options available within the federal and state systems, including the use of sentencing alternatives in combination with and/or in lieu of imprisonment. Presenters at the symposium include federal and state judges, congressional staff, professors of law and the social sciences, corrections and alternative sentencing practitioners and specialists, federal and state prosecutors and defense attorneys, prisons officials, and others involved in criminal justice. Approximately 250 individuals representing the federal and state criminal justice communities, academia, and public interest groups have been invited to attend. Topics to be examined include – * drug courts and treatment options for certain offenders; * alternative sentencing options in the federal and state systems; * restorative justice-based programs; * prison programs resulting in reduced sentences; * the Second Chance Act and re-entry issues; and * collateral consequences of convictions. Created by Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the U.S. Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government. Its principal purposes are (1) to establish sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts, including guidelines to be consulted regarding the appropriate form and severity of punishment for federal offenders; (2) to advise and assist Congress and the executive branch in the development of effective and efficient crime policy; and (3) to collect, analyze, research, and distribute information on federal crime and sentencing issues. For more information about the symposium, contact the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs at 202/502-4597.
Mon, 07/14/2008 - 9:00am - Tue, 07/15/2008 - 5:00pm
Washington, DC
United States

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