Sentencing Commission Votes to Make Two Amendments Retroactive

Posted by Sean P. CecilAug 30, 20230 Comments

The United States Sentencing Guidelines are about to be officially amended for the first time since the 2018 passage of the First Step Act. The proposed Amendments become law in November, absent congressional intervention, which is unlikely based upon history and this country's ongoing legislative dysfunction.

Last week, the Sentencing Commission voted to make two of the pending amendments retroactive! After February 2024, the "Zero Point Offender" guidelines offense level reduction and the removal of the "status points" enhancement will be retroactive. This should allow incarcerated people to move the court for a sentencing reduction. However, because guidelines sentencing is discretionary, individual results will vary widely depending on the sentencing philosophy of their judge, their criminal history, and the facts and "relevant conduct" of their case. Some judges are unlikely to reduce sentences at all, and can reasonably be expected to find that the sentence was properly calculated based upon their assessment of relevant sentencing factors. Others, in the interest of avoiding sentencing disparities, will follow the new guideline. It will be interesting to see how the retroactivity decision plays out, something the Commission will surely track over the next few years.