Federal officials, defense lawyers, advocacy groups and experts will testify next week on mandatory minimum sentencing during a daylong, public hearing by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
The commission is gathering information for a mandated, comprehensive report to Congress on mandatory minimum penalties and their impact on the federal sentencing system. Congress last October ordered the review as part of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Chief Judge William Sessions III of the U.S. District Court of Vermont said the wide-ranging study “will be the most up-to-date and definitive work on this very important topic.” The report is due to Congress by Oct. 28.
Congress included in the hate crimes act a list of topics to be investigated, including:
*assessing the effects of mandatory minimum sentencing on the goal of eliminating unwarranted sentencing disparity, the other goals of sentencing, and the federal prison population; *assessing the compatibility of mandatory minimum sentencing laws and the current federal guidelines system; *describing the interaction between mandatory minimum sentencing and plea agreements; and *discussing means other than mandatory minimums by which Congress can act in regard to sentencing policy.
The May 27 hearing will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Mecham Conference Center, Ground Floor, South Lobby of the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, located at One Columbus Circle, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.