March 13 – The Senate Reports Smarter Sentencing Act text

The Judiciary Committee report on The Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013 has been delivered, with the revised text of the Act as reported by the Committee.

jail_guy_cartoon-749696There is nothing in the Act as reported that grants any retroactivity, other than for crack offenses that could have gotten an 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) reduction except for a mandatory minimum that changed in The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.  The revised Smarter Sentencing Act gives the Sentencing Commission a lot of leeway, and its assignment could be read as supporting making changes retroactive, but passage of this bill – if that happens – won’t have any real impact on existing federal prison populations.

Of course, all of this presupposes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will bring this to a vote before the end of the year.  He’s notorious for letting bills – such as the ill-fated Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2011 – die even after a bipartisan Committee unanimously recommends it.

Update – March 14:   The Wall Street Journal  reported this morning that a new agreement between Senate Republicans and Democrats has resulted in “under a fresh process that could clear the way for the chamber to pass other bipartisan bills.”    Among the bills that the Senate expects to consider using the new procedure – in which Harry Reid agrees to bring bills to a vote and Republicans agree to limit the number and reach of amendments they introduce – are “a manufacturing bill, federal sentencing changes and stalled energy-efficiency legislation.”

Perhaps we may yet see the Senate consider the Smarter Sentencing Act.  If so, we still have the House or Representatives to worry about.

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