Sensenbrenner: U.S. System Needs More Mandatory Prison Sentences


Some Republicans want to overhaul federal sentencing and bring back more mandatory prison terms to bring more order back into the process, says NPR. “A criminal committing a federal crime should receive similar punishment regardless of whether the crime was committed in Richmond, Va., or Richmond, Calif., and that’s why I am deeply concerned about what’s happening to federal sentencing,” said House Crime Subcommittee chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

Since the Supreme Court acted in 2005 to make the sentencing guidelines advisory — not mandatory — Sensenbrenner said, judges in places like New York City have imposed sentences below the guideline ranges almost half the time. Judges only a few hours further north in New York are still following the guidelines. Former prosecutor Matt Miner, who has served as GOP congressional aide, says, “We have a federal system. There should be consistency not just in the same courthouse and on the same floor or district by district but across the country, and we’re failing in that.” Douglas Berman, a law professor and sentencing expert at Ohio State University, said, “The way you make sure the guidelines get due respect is to make them respectable.”

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