The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) has made adjustments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The following reforms were addressed by the Commission: invocation of compassionate release for seriously ill inmates and the elderly, modified conditions of supervised release and probation, the sentencing of child pornography offenders who use peer-to-peer software to commit their offenses, and increased penalties for animal fight crimes.
Before the end of an inmate's term of imprisonment, federal law allows judges to release them on the recommendation of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons based on “compelling and extraordinary reasons.” The court makes a determination whether such reasons exist, if the Bureau of Prisons files a motion. Such a motion is often initiated by the inmate or their family. Fortunately, the commission modified the guideline's policy statement at §1B1.13, expanding the definition of what constitutes “compelling and extraordinary reasons.”
Conditions of Probation & Supervised Release
The amendment clarifies, rearranges, and revises the conditions of probation and supervised release to make them simpler for probation officers to enforce and for defendants to understand. For some conditions, the classifications of “standard”, “special” and “mandatory” have been changed. In some conditions, Mens rea* requirements are added. The changes are also aligned with proposed changes to National Judgement Form (AO245B), that are endorsed by U.S. Court's Administratives Office and Criminal Law Committee.
Child Pornography Circuit Conflicts
The Commission modified the guidelines of child pornography to resolve inconsistent applications and circuit conflicts of guidelines in two areas. The first half of the amendment addresses the accountability of child pornography distribution over peer-to peer networks, and the other half addresses cases involving toddlers and infants.
Learn more about Child Child Pornography Circuit Conflicts
Congress increased penalties for animal fighting from 3 to 5 years in 2008, and enacted legislation in 2014, making it a criminal offense to attend an animal fight, or to cause a person under the age of 16 to attend an animal fight. In response, the Commission modified an existing departure provision and increased the base offense level from 10 to 16.
Learn more: §2E1.3 - Animal Fighting
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