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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.

DOJ releases updated charging policy for cases brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The Department of Justice has released its updated policies for bringing criminal cases under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Among other things, the updated policies state, for the first time, that the DOJ will not pursue charges against “good-faith security research,” which includes efforts to hack into a network without access in order to expose or identify potential risks and vulnerabilities. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that focuses on civil liberties in the digital context, has lauded the new policies as a “good start,” while cautioning that they do not “go far enough.”

DOJ Releases Annual First Step Act Report; Sentencing Commission Releases Updated Compassionate Release Report

Last month saw two important reports issued by the DOJ and the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The DOJ released its Annual First Step Act Report, which details the BOP’s efforts to implement the FSA, which reflects that inmates are benefiting from new programing that lets them earn time of their sentences and reduce their recidivism rates. The Sentencing Commission also released an updated Compassionate Release Report, which reflects trends among inmates requesting compassionate release or sentence reductions from the courts.

Senate Confirms Several US Attorneys and US Marshals

Last month, 10 of President Biden’s nominees for US Attorney and US Marshal were confirmed after senate republicans lifted a hold on the nominations. The US Attorneys will serve in Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, the Virgin Islands, Utah, and New Hampshire. President Biden also announced five more nominees for US Attorney.

President Biden Appoints Pardon Attorney; Issues Over 75 Pardons and Sentence Commutations

Last month saw a lot of progress towards expanding clemency to individuals serving time in federal prison or living with a federal conviction. The Attorney General appointed a new Pardon Attorney, Elizabeth Oyer, who previously worked with the federal public defender’s office in Maryland. Shortly after her appointment, President Biden announced 3 pardons and 75 sentence commutations, mostly for individuals convicted of non-violent drug offenses. The Administration has signaled more clemency grants are forthcoming.

President Announces Seven Nominees for U.S. Sentencing Commission

After lacking a quorum for over three years, and thus not being able to develop or update the federal sentencing guidelines, the U.S. Sentencing Commission should soon have its full slate of 7 commissioners. President Biden’s nominees to the commission include former and current federal judges, former and current prosecutors and public defenders, and other advocates with experience in federal sentencing issues.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Releases 2021 Annual Report and Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics

This week, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which has lacked a quorum for 3 years, released its annual compilation of federal sentencing statistics, the “sourcebook.” The Commission’s report includes statistics regarding the length of sentences imposed based on the type of offense, the demographics of the offender, the jurisdiction for prosecution, and other measures. The sourcebook also reports on appeal issues and sentence modifications and reductions. Among the most notable stats…

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