'Tis a Gift to Be Simple: A Model Reform of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

22 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2006


This essay introducing the June 2006 edition of the Federal Sentencing Reporter (Vol. 18, No. 5) describes two important contributions to the movement for real reform of the federal sentencing system. First, Professor Bowman summarizes the recommendations of the Constitution Project Sentencing Initiative (CPSI) report on federal sentencing. The CPSI report, reproduced in this Issue, cautions against any over-hasty legislative response to the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker, suggests some near-term improvements to the existing federal sentencing system, and then sets out a framework for a reformed and markedly simplified federal sentencing regime. Second, Professor Bowman describes the contents of a set of Model Sentencing Guidelines for the federal system drafted by a working group of sentencing experts and based on the framework set out in the CPSI report. These Model Guidelines, which make up the bulk of this Issue of the Federal Sentencing Reporter, contain a simplified sentencing table and a revised approach to criminal history; procedural rules governing the determination of facts that determine sentencing range and facts relevant to setting sentences within range; simplified guidelines for economic crimes, environmental crimes, firearms offenses, immigration, perjury, and obstruction of justice; guidelines for sentencing factors applicable to all offense types, including rules governing adjustments for guilty pleas; and rules governing departures. Each of these segments contains model guidelines language and advisory notes, as well as drafter's commentary explaining the issues faced and choices made in the course of composing the model rules. The text of the Model Guidelines and drafter's commentaries will be separately posted on SSRN.

Keywords: criminal law, federal criminal law, sentencing, federal sentencing, United States Sentencing Commission, sentencing commission, sentencing guidelines, Constitution Project, sentencing reform, economic crime, fraud, immigration, firearms, environmental crime, perjury, obstruction of justice

JEL Classification: H10, K10, K14, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

Bowman III, Frank O., 'Tis a Gift to Be Simple: A Model Reform of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Federal Sentencing Reporter, Vol. 18, 2006, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-25, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=927929

Frank O. Bowman III (Contact Author)

University of Missouri School of Law ( email )

Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO MO 65211
United States
573-882-2749 (Phone)

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