Doing 25 to Life
U.S. Sentencing Commission in Austin to consider testimony on impact of 1984 sentencing reform law
By Jordan Smith,
9:30AM, Thu. Nov. 19, 2009
It's the 25th anniversary of the federal Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, do you know where your U.S. Sentencing Commission is? If you guessed Austin, you're right.
The Commission sets guidelines for criminal penalties in federal cases. The guidelines have been controversial at times – including the notorious 100-to-one crack to powder cocaine sentencing disparity created by lawmakers, which the Commission has long recommended be changed. Commission recommendations become law unless Congress acts to change them.
The Commissioners, a group of presidential appointees, are meeting in Austin today and tomorrow at the UT Law School's Eidman Courtroom. This is the sixth of this year's seven meetings where the members will consider the effect sentencing guidelines have had over the last quarter century. This morning (from 10:15-11:30am) the Commission will hear from lawyers and professors on alternatives to incarceration. The panel will include Dallas Co. District Attorney Craig Watkins and UT School of Social Work professor Diana Dinitto.
The commission meets from 8am to 3pm today, Thursday, and from 8:45am to 1pm tomorrow, Friday. The entire agenda is here. The two-day event is free and open to the public. A map showing location of the courtroom is here.