Sentencing Commission Retains Tribal Issues Advisory Group

The US Sentencing Commission seeks applications by October 24, 2016, for a standing advisory group that consults with Indian Country regarding federal sentencing issues. It will also study the findings and recommendations contained in the May 2016 Report, and consider amendments to the Guidelines Manual.

Download: Notice (PDF), Charter (PDF)

Previous posts: Final Report

Tribal Issues Advisory Group’s Final Report on Impact of Sentencing Guidelines

Link to final report (PDF) here.

Link to previous coverage here.

Some key recommendations:

      • Adding commentary to guide when tribal court convictions may be considered for a possible upward departure in the defendant’s criminal history category.
      • Establishing a standing advisory group on tribal issues to assist the Commission on changes to the Guidelines impacting American Indian defendants, to advise on and assist in tribal consultation, and to form the basis for a new TIAG when appropriate.
      • Creating a process for the collection of better data on federal court sentencing to allow for study of the protection order provisions of the Guidelines and analysis of sentencing disparity concerns as detailed herein;
      • Considering the recommendations of other working groups regarding juvenile offenders, including possibly collapsing sentencing zones A, B, and C into a single zone.

Pascua Yaqui Review of the Impact of Sentencing Guidelines on Tribal Communities

Download comments here.

The United States Sentencing Commission’s Tribal Issues Advisory Group visited the Reservation last week.  The issue they were investigating was whether there was disparity between a tribal member sentenced in federal court, when compared to a similarly situated defendant in state court. The information and data collected over the past year showed no disparity for the Tribe.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Tribal Issues Advisory Group

From Mary Smith at NABA:

The Sentencing Commission recently published a Federal Register notice seeking comment on the possible formation of a Tribal Issues Advisory Group.  Links to that notice and a new publication on Native American federal offenders are below:

The group is soliciting comments widely and would welcome comment from the Native American community.




Dean Washburn Testimony on Tribal Law and Order Act before the U.S. Sentencing Commission — Updated

Dean Kevin Washburn has posted the abstract of his written testimony on the Tribal Law and Order Act before the United States Sentencing Commission on SSRN. He will be appearing later today. Testimony is here.

Here is the abstract:

Under longstanding policy, the U.S. Sentencing Commission takes the position that tribal court convictions ought not be counted for purposes of evaluating a convicted defendant’s criminal history. Because in some cases this policy underestimates a defendant’s criminal history, it undermines the utilitarian and retributive purposes of federal sentencing. The Tribal Law and Order Act, currently pending in Congress and supported by the President, should cause the United States Sentencing Commission to reconsider its position on tribal convictions. The Act would provide clear federal authorization for tribal court felony sentences of up to three years per offense as long as tribal governments provide counsel to indigent defendants. I stop short of recommending a particular outcome because I believe that the Commission ought to consider the views of tribal governments before deciding. However, if the Act becomes law, the Commission should take this opportunity to re-open the question and consult with tribes about the future of this provision.