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Federal General Prison Talk, Introductions & Chit Chat Topics & Discussions relating to the Federal Prison & the Criminal Justice System that do not fit into any other Federal sub-forum category. Please feel free to also introduce yourself to other members in the state and talk about whatever topics come to mind that may not have anything to do with prison.

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  #1  
Old 01-12-2005, 08:38 PM
mike'smom mike'smom is offline
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Default E-mail from FAMM re Supreme Court Decision

Just received this E-mail and wanted to share. (Think maybe it's time
we bombard Congress)



Sentencing guidelines are not mandatory: Ball now in Congress' court

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling on January 12 in two eagerly awaited cases, United States v. Booker and United States v. Fanfan. The Court stated that the rule announced in Blakely applies to federal sentencing guidelines and that sentencing guidelines violate the U.S. Constitution to the extent that they require a judge to impose a sentence using facts beyond those admitted by the defendant or found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court then struck down the part of the 1987 Sentencing Reform Act that makes the guidelines mandatory. Though the guidelines are no longer binding on judges at sentencing, the Court directed judges to consult the guidelines before imposing sentence. This decision makes the federal sentencing guidelines effectively advisory, requiring a judge to consider the guideline ranges but permitting him or her to increase or decrease a guideline sentence so long as the sentence is reasonable.

"This is an historic day for federal sentencing," said Mary Price, general counsel of FAMM. "Essentially, this decision will permit judges, who have decried the harshness of the guidelines, more room to do justice by weighing role in the offense, the severity of the offense, and other factors, such as drug addiction, age or the impact of incarceration on families. However, it provides little protection for defendants facing harsh sentencing judges. They must face them without the Sixth Amendment protections many had hoped for," said Price.



WHAT'S NEXT?

In his opinion, Justice Breyer signaled the next big thing for sentencing reform. "Ours, of course, is not the last word: The ball now lies in Congress' court. The National Legislature is equipped to devise and install, long-term, the sentencing system, compatible with the Constitution, that Congress judges best for the federal system of justice," wrote Breyer.



Challenges lie ahead. Congress may try to move quickly to reform federal sentencing. "This opinion provides guidance to courts to conduct sentencing while Congress considers the options. Federal lawmakers have a tremendous opportunity to reform federal sentencing laws but we urge them to proceed not with haste but with care," said Price. "Quick fixes will create unforeseen problems, and it is critical that Congress take the time to hear from and consider the views of the judiciary, criminal justice practitioners, scholars, the Sentencing Commission and the public. FAMM will focus our attention on them to make sure this ruling and its results apply to the greatest number of FAMM members," she said.



WHAT IS FAMM DOING?




FAMM is evaluating the decision with a team of attorneys and sentencing experts to understand how it will eventually affect our members. As soon as we have more information, we will post it on the FAMM website and make it available in print form.



RESOURCES ON BOOKER AND FANFAN CASES



FAMM's website, www.famm.org, contains an archive of information on the Booker and Fanfan cases.



You can also read the full opinions at the U.S. Supreme Court website. http://www.supremecourtus.gov/.



The law firm Goldstein & Howe and Professor Douglas Berman maintain two separate websites that are excellent resources on the Supreme Court and sentencing policy. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) also maintains a website. All of the websites contain a wealth of information on the Booker and Fanfan cases. Click the following links to visit:

- Doug Berman

- Goldstein & Howe

- NACDL





HOW YOU CAN HELP

FAMM's federal legislative campaign will continue to monitor and guide efforts on these major developments. The support of members like you is critical to this work.Click here to make your donation today.



Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a national, nonprofit, non-partisan organization that promotes just sentencing policies. For more information, visit www.famm.org or call (202) 822-6700.







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  #2  
Old 01-12-2005, 08:53 PM
melbo melbo is offline
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I just checked my e-mail too. That is awesome. Yipee!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-12-2005, 09:15 PM
lovehurts lovehurts is offline
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A girlfriend of mine told me about this also. My husband told me about meetings they have been having and that they had one today about this. And that they are told to get their paperwork together, some may be coming home sooner than we all thought!
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  #4  
Old 01-14-2005, 04:41 AM
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kintml2u kintml2u is offline
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Default 2nd News Flash from FAMM

Understanding Booker and Fanfan: Federal sentencing guidelines are advisory, but mandatory minimum sentences still stand


Dear FAMM friends,

On January 12 in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal sentencing guidelines are in part unconstitutional because they direct judges to increase sentences based on facts not found by a jury.

The Supreme Court fixed the problem by removing the part of the law that tells judges they must use the guidelines to impose sentences.

The courts must now consider, but are not bound to impose, a sentence according to the guidelines. The sentencing guidelines are now advisory - but mandatory minimum sentences are NOT affected by this ruling.


WHAT DID NOT HAPPEN?

The Supreme Court decisions do not affect mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the laws that Congress passes requiring fixed sentences for certain federal offenses, mainly involving drugs and weapons. Judges must still impose those mandatory minimum sentences, which are usually 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years in length, and are usually specified as a mandatory minimum in the defendant or prisoner's pre-sentence investigation report (PSR).

The Court's decision only affects federal sentencing guidelines, giving judges increased discretion. Unfortunately, mandatory minimum sentencing laws remain untouched and could become even more attractive to members of Congress who want to rein in judges. To learn the difference between mandatory minimum sentences and sentencing guidelines, go to http://www.famm.org/si_federal_sentencing.htm


CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

Federal sentencing guidelines are now advisory, allowing judges to tailor sentences to the defendant's role in the offense. No longer will judges be forced to calculate penalties under the sentencing guidelines grid and deliver a sentence they believe over-punishes the defendant. Instead of punishing by the numbers, the guidelines have become "guidance" for judges to use in considering what sentence is appropriate for each defendant.

Justice Breyer's opinion cites FAMM's amicus brief for the principle that punishment should return to the concept, embodied in law by Congress, that a sentence must be "sufficient, but not greater than necessary" to comply with the purposes of sentencing. With advisory guidelines, judges will be better able to breathe life into that principle.

Of course, these advisory guidelines are not ideal. For example, they continue the use of acquitted and uncharged conduct to increase sentence length, and retain relaxed evidentiary rules at sentencing that do not ensure accurate outcomes. That said, for now, the advisory guidelines are a workable sentencing system that Congress, the judiciary, and the public can live with while FAMM and others work with Congress to improve our federal sentencing system.

WHAT IS FAMM DOING?

FAMM is evaluating the opinion to determine whom the opinion might benefit and how prisoners can seek relief, if any is warranted.

We cannot yet answer your questions about whether the opinion can be applied retroactively, that is to people whose sentences were finalized on appeal before the decision was handed down. We are evaluating the opinion and will post information on our website.

DEFENDANTS & PRISONERS - IF YOU:

- Are awaiting trial, plea proceeding or sentencing: consult your lawyer.
- Have been sentenced but not yet appealed, or believe you cannot appeal: consult your lawyer.
- Have appealed and the appeal is pending: consult your lawyer.
- If your appeal has been decided but you are considering an appeal to the Supreme Court: consult your lawyer.

- If you are preparing a petition under 28 U.S.C. sec. 2255 (your first post-conviction petition) and your deadline is approaching, you may have a Booker claim. We are not in a position now to advise you on how to state that claim, however, you should not delay past the deadline for your petition. We are evaluating the decision and will try to have more information available shortly.

- If you have already submitted your first post-conviction petition under 28 U.S.C. sec. 2255 and it is still pending, you may wish to supplement your petition with a Booker claim. We are not in a position at this time to advise you on how to state that claim.

- If you have filed and lost your 28 U.S.C. sec. 2255 claim, you may have some time to determine whether you can revisit any Booker issues in your case. We encourage you to wait until we can complete our evaluation. We will provide information on our website and in print form.

FINDING AN ATTORNEY

FAMM is not a law firm and cannot provide lawyer referrals. If you are considering hiring a lawyer, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has a member directory of lawyers on their website. NACDL does not do referrals and can't help with individual cases. You should know that the lawyer's membership in NACDL is not an endorsement. You should exercise your judgment and research his or her ability and experience in federal post-conviction matters. Do not call the NACDL looking for a lawyer.

The American Bar Association (ABA) also has a "lawyer locator" service that can be accessed on their website. Again, you should know that the lawyer's membership in ABA is not an endorsement. You should exercise your judgment and research his or her ability and experience in federal post-conviction matters.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

You or a loved one should continue to visit http://www.famm.org/ and read our information on the Booker and Fanfan cases, and links to other excellent sources of legal information that we provide there.

If you do not have Internet access, we will send you a packet of information as soon as it is available. Please give us your name, address, telephone number and email address.

Printer-friendly version (in Adobe Acrobat format).

CONTACT FAMM

FAMM
1612 K St. NW
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel: (202) 822-6700
Fax: (202) 822-6704
Email: famm@famm.org
Website: http://www.famm.org/

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a national, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that promotes just sentencing policies. For more information, visit www.famm.org or call (202) 822-6700.
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  #5  
Old 01-14-2005, 11:51 AM
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I am loving this, we have been waiting on this decision as have MANY MANY inmates and loved ones,.....SOOOOO HOPE is flying high! Thanks for the heads up! ~~Staci
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Old 01-14-2005, 10:48 PM
frmbeliever frmbeliever is offline
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How does this benefit someone that is already doing time. Iam still praying for an increase in good time. that I know for sure will bring our love ones home sooner. Ada
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