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Senate Subcommittee to Hear Testimony on “Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level”

On Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at 2:30PM, the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism will hold a hearing on decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level. The witnesses include Dr. Malik Burnett, medical director of the Maryland Department of Health’s Center for Harm Reduction Services, Edward Jackson, the Chief of Annapolis Police Department, Weldon Angelos, a former inmate who received a pardon and is now the president of the Weldon Project, Steven Cook, a former Associate Deputy Attorney General under Jeff Sessions, and Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter known for his attempts to link marijuana to violent crime and mental illness.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Releases Two New Reports: Life Sentences in the Federal System & Older Offenders in the Federal System

The U.S. Sentencing Commission released two new reports regarding offenders serving life sentences in federal prison and older offenders sentenced in federal court. The reports include a substantial amount of data regarding the types of offenders sentenced to life imprisonment or “de facto” life imprisonment. The reports also illustrate the differences in how older offenders are sentenced compared to younger offenders, as well as other characteristics of older offenders.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Releases Report: “What Do Federal Firearm Offenses Really Look Like?

This month, the Sentencing Commission released a new report regarding federal firearm offenses. The report primarily looks at the kinds of sentences imposed on firearm offenders, including the Guidelines for more firearm offenses under USSG 2K2.1. The report includes data on recidivism rates, penalties, offender demographics, propensity for violence, etc.

Senate Confirms New ATF Director

This week, the senate confirmed Steven Dettelbach as the new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, often referred to as the “ATF,” on a 48-46 vote. Director Dettelbach is the first ATF leader confirmed in seven years. The confirmation comes on the heels of Congress passing new gun control measures that, among […]

DOJ Appoints New BOP Director

The DOJ recently appointed a new Director of the BOP. Colette Peters, who has been the director of the Oregon corrections department since 2012, has been described as “reform-minded” and will assume her duties on August 2, 2022.

DOJ Proposes Final Rule to Allow Inmates On CARES Act Home Confinement to Remain Free

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice proposed a final rule authorizing the director of the BOP to “allow prisoners placed in home confinement under the CARES Act to remain in home confinement after the expiration of the covered emergency period,” in this case the COVID-19 pandemic. It was previously unclear whether inmates would have to return to prison when the pandemic ends. The proposed rule includes a significant amount of background information regarding the CARES Act, home confinement, and the BOP’s emergency operations.

Comments may be submitted until July 21, 2022 through the “ website” or mailed to the Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, 320 First Street NW, Washington, DC.

U.S. Senators Strike Potential Deal Creating New Firearm Offenses; DOJ Continues Aggressively Pursuing Gun Trafficking Cases

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that a group of democratic and republican senators had agreed on the framework of an agreement for legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. The potential legislation would push states to enact “red flag” laws, require background checks for juvenile and mental health records, and create new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and straw purchases. The news comes as AG Garland and the DOJ’s task forces have increased enforcement actions based on unlawful firearm purchasing and distribution.

Sentencing Commission publishes report on recidivism rates for former inmates in BOP programs

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has published a report titled Recidivism and Federal Bureau of Prisons Programs: Drug Program Participants Released in 2010. The report studies the recidivism rates of former inmates who participated in some of the BOP’s programs, such as the Resident Drug Abuse Treatment Program, Occupational Education Programs, and Federal Prison Industries jobs. Among other things, the report reflects that inmates who completed drug treatment programs while in custody had a relatively lower rate of re-offending.

White House Announces Executive Order on “Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices”

On May 25, 2022, President Biden issued an executive order aimed at creating new policies to promote trust in law enforcement, while holding officers accountable for misconduct, and improving the conditions of inmates in federal detention facilities. The order does a number of things, including increasing funding for investigating and prosecuting civil rights violations, improving law enforcement training, restricting no-knock warrants, and implementing the First Step Act to improve conditions in detention facilities and increase eligibility for early release.

DOJ Announces New Policy Targeting Potential Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents

On May 20, 2022, the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the Department of Justice announced several new initiatives for investigating and prosecuting alleged hate crimes. The DOJ’s pess release also lists specific actions that the DOJ has taken “in response to a rise in hate crimes and hate incidents,” including creating and filling several new positions dedicated to pursuing hate crime investigations and prosecutions, adding new types of hate crimes, increasing prosecutions for hate crimes, and increasing funding for programs to investigate and prosecute such crimes at the state and local level.

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