Today, the Sentencing Commission voted -- unanimously -- to publish for comment its proposed amendment to reduce the drug guidelines by two levels. All drugs. Across the board. Two levels. Down.
The proposed "all drugs minus two" amendment, as dubbed by FAMM, ties the mandatory minimums to levels 24 and 30, rather than 26 and 32. The full press release is here. If successful, it could go into effect November 2014, and could even be made retroactive.
This is amazing for a number of reasons, as noted by Doug Berman, and it reflects a trajectory that began with the reduction in the crack guidelines in 2007, followed by another reduction in 2010, then the Fair Sentencing Act, the proposed Smarter Sentencing Act, and the President's recent pardons in several crack cases. Last Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed, Crack Cocaine Limbo, advocating that the FSA be made retroactive.
For today: this is an argument for a below-guideline variance for every drug defendant. While the Sentencing Commission action is a proposal, it is also the Commission's expert and experienced and published position that the drug guidelines are too harsh.
More support is available at http://www.ussc.gov, including recidivism studies and Commission recommendations to Congress for reduced mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases, expanding the applicability of safety valve, and increasing good time credit (see previous blog post).