New Two Level Decrease in Drug Sentencing Levels Reduces Time in Federal Prison

The U S Sentencing Commission voted today to reduce the time a defendant has to stay in prison. A defendant's sentence may be reduced by 12 to 30 months via the new guidelines. An additional 18 month reduction is available via the RDAP Program.
By: Jail Time Consulting LLC
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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - April 11, 2014 - PRLog -- Today, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to reduce the sentencing guideline levels that are currently applicable to most federal drug trafficking cases. They also provided a caveat—the offenders, to be eligible for this reduction, must be defendants and they must not have been sentenced already. This amendment is not retroactive and will not reduce the sentence of any sentenced federal inmates already in prison. The vote was unanimous and amended the guidelines to lower the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table across all drug types. Unfortunately, these new drug guidelines under this amendment would still remain linked to statutory mandatory minimum penalties. If this amendment goes into effect on November 1, 2014, it is estimated that almost 70 percent of all federal drug trafficking defendants would qualify for the change. The average reduction in the defendant’s sentence is estimated to be 11 months, from a sentence of 62 months to a sentence of 51 months on the average.

The Commission stated that this year they have given precedence to both addressing federal prison costs and capacity and also a commitment to ensuring public safety. Estimates by the Commission indicate that if these changes reducing the drug guidelines are put into effect, the federal prison population would be reduced by more than 6,500 inmates over five years. They also feel that the long-term impact will be even greater.

Although this is merely a first step and is only a modest solution to the problem of over prosecution and prison overcrowding, it is an important step. Judge Patti B. Saris, Chairwoman of the Commission stated, “This modest reduction in drug penalties is an important step toward reducing the problem of prison overcrowding at the federal level in a proportionate and fair manner.” She went on to say, “Reducing the federal prison population has become urgent, with that population almost three times where it was in 1991.” Michael Frantz, Consultant at Jail Time Consulting stated, “This is a fact that most of us have known about for years and we only hope it is not too little to late.”

The new Drug Quantity Table amendment would, if it becomes effective on November 1, 2014:

Usually reduce the base offense levels by two levels for all drug types in the Drug Quantity Table in guideline in the 2010 Federal Sentencing Guideline Manual, Chapter 2, §2D1.1, “Unlawful Manufacturing, Importing, Exporting, or Trafficking (Including Possession with Intent to Commit These Offenses); Attempt or Conspiracy, which governs drug trafficking cases;

It would also ensure that the guideline penalties remain consistent with the existing five- and ten-year statutory mandatory minimum drug penalties. It will do this by structuring the Drug Quantity Table so that offenders eligible for the five- and ten-year mandatory minimum penalties would receive base offense levels 24 and 30, which correspond to a guideline range of 51 to 63 months and 97 to 121 months, respectively. The existing levels of 26 and 32 correspond to 63 to 78 months and 121 to 151, respectively. This two base level decrease from 26 to 24 could reduce the defendant’s sentence by 12 months at the low end and by 15 months at the high end.  The two base level decrease from 32 to 30 could reduce the defendant’s sentence by 24 months at the low end and 30 months at the high end;

It would maintain 38 as the highest base offense level in the drug quantity table for the highest quantities of drugs;

Career offenders and drug offenders who use firearms or violence will not benefit from this amendment. Currently there are existing guideline and statutory enhancements that increase guidelines sentences for career offenders and drug offenders who use firearms or violence.

The Commission also voted to prepare a study or analysis of the impact of making the drug amendment retroactive and will consider the issue as required by statute. Currently, this amendment, if adopted, will not affect any existing federal inmates.

At present, the only way an inmate now in federal prison can reduce his sentence, if he used drugs or alcohol, is by his admission to the 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program also called RDAP. Federal Prison Consultant Michael Frantz stated that this program can provide the inmate a sentence reduction of up to twelve (12) months and another six (6) months in a halfway house. This reduces his time in federal prison by up to eighteen (18) months depending upon the length of the initial sentence.

“Defendants not yet sentenced now have even a greater opportunity to reduce their time in federal prison”, says Federal Prison Consultant Michael Frantz of Jail Time Consulting,  “They can benefit from the new proposed 2-level decreases in the Sentencing Guidelines and if properly coached, educated, and prepared for the very important Presentence Investigation Interview, benefit from an additional eighteen months out of prison via the RDAP program.” He reiterates that proper preparation for the Presentence Investigation Interview is not only the key, but it is a must!

The amendment will be transmitted to Congress by May 1, 2014. If Congress does not act to disapprove some or all of the amendments, they will go into effect November 1, 2014.

Contact Michael Frantz for details, 954-522-2254.


Michael Frantz is a leading Federal Prison Consultant with Jail Time Consulting (JTC) and the Prison Consulting Group (PCG). The staffs of JTC and PCG provide sentence reduction strategies, research, and many pre- and post-sentencing services for their clients. Michael has authored a bestselling book on federal prison titled, “Jail Time, What you need to know…Before you go to federal prison!” He has also authored over thirty-five JT Special Reports© on various federal prison issues affecting both the inmate and his/her family. They are available on the website. He is a nationally recognized authority on federal prison and has published over 50 articles nationwide. Mr. Frantz has been contacted as a federal prison expert resource by the Fox News Network, the Oprah Winfrey Channel, ABC’s 20/20 news show, the New York Times, and many television stations and radio stations nationwide.  He can be reached at 954-522-2254, or toll free at 800-804-4686, or at His website for Jail Time consulting is visit

Michael Frantz, Director Jail Time Consulting LLC
Source:Jail Time Consulting LLC
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Tags:2 Level Sentence Reduction, US Sentencing Commission, Rdap, Drug Level Reduction, Presentence Interview
Industry:Government, Legal
Location:Ft. Lauderdale - Florida - United States
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Page Updated Last on: Apr 11, 2014
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