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U.S. Sentencing Commission Decision to Allow Thousands of Individuals Convicted of First-Time Offenses to Retroactively Appeal Their Sentences

August 29, 2023

On Thursday, August 24, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted 4-3 in favor of new amendments passed in April to apply retroactively, meaning that beginning in February 2024, thousands of individuals convicted of first-time offenses will be able to petition courts for sentencing reductions.

According to Law360.com, “The criminal history guidelines reform from the commissioners — all of whom were appointed by President Joe Biden — was passed unanimously in April, and will create a provision that provides a two-level decrease to the overall offense level for defendants with no previous convictions, absent certain aggravating factors. It is to become effective Nov. 1 [2023].”

In response to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s decision, JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) President/CEO, DeAnna Hoskins, issued the following statement:

“JustLeadershipUSA celebrates the decision of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to retroactively apply the new amendments and allow thousands of individuals convicted of first-time offenses to appeal their sentences and seek reduced prison time. This is a major victory for the criminal justice reform movement, and it’s a step in the right direction toward decarceration and rolling back the racially unjust history of ‘mandatory minimums,’ ‘three strikes’ laws, etc.

“As one of the only national, tax-exempt criminal justice organizations in the U.S. that is both founded by and led by formerly incarcerated people, because of their lived experience, JLUSA leaders know better than anyone how damaging these laws have been to the lives of millions of justice-impacted Americans. While this is a good decision, and we celebrate it, we continue to echo the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech 60 years ago this week, ‘We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ So, the work continues. Onward!”

Stephen Knight

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