JaneAnne Murray
Associate Clinical Professor of Law

Prof. JaneAnne Murray Quoted by U.S. Sentencing Commission Chair on Issue of Guideline Retroactivity

At a hearing held on August 23, the Chair of the US Sentencing Commission quoted Professor JaneAnne Murray’s letter to the Commission on the issue of making certain criminal history amendments retroactive.  Murray, director of the Law School's Clemency Project, had canvased her incarcerated federal clientele to explain what a year or two sentencing reduction could mean for them, which is the most these amendments would do.  Quoting several of Murray’s clients in his remarks, Chair Carlton Wayne Reeves explained their impact: "For those who lack firsthand knowledge of incarceration, like me, for those like me, who are familiar issuing decades long sentences, a policy that results in a little over a year in average sentence reduction to some may seem minor.  But for those who have spent time in prison, or who have loved someone who has, there is nothing minor in my view about a year's worth of freedom."  He continued, quoting Murray's letter: "As one said, 'every single day I receive off my sentence puts me one day closer to my family.' As another said, 'any amount of reduction that could get me closer to seeing my father before he passes, possibly seeing my son graduate high school, or even getting to watch my son get married would mean the world to me.' And as a third person whose father was recently diagnosed with brain cancer told us, 'what would an additional year with my father mean to me? I lack the words to explain what comfort a single additional hug would mean to him or I.' Through our unanimous vote to pass our Criminal History Amendment, we acknowledge that there are individuals in custody of the Bureau of Prisons who are serving sentences longer than necessary to achieve the purposes of sentencing."  The Commission voted to make the amendments retroactive.