The U. S. Sentencing Commission has just approved several amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines which will allow judges to take into account a criminal defendant’s age, military service, and mental or emotional condition in determining whether a more lenient sentence is appropriate. The changes will take effect on November 1 unless Congress objects.
The new guidelines will potentially reduce the sentences for defendants who have a recent criminal history and allow judges to send certain nonviolent drug offenders to treatment programs rather than jail. The amendments reflect a recent judicial trend toward more lenient sentencing for certain types of defendants, such as military veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have developed behavioral problems and persons convicted of viewing child pornography but who are not themselves molesters.
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