The article discusses the mechanics and implications of the new zero-point offender amendment in Section 4C1.1 of the U.S. sentencing guidelines, set to go into effect on Nov. 1. The amendment is designed to be retroactive, allowing for the reduction of sentences for individuals who qualify, with an effective date of Feb. 1, 2024.
The authors reveal that the new ground for a departure down to “a sentence other than a sentence of imprisonment” for those qualifying for the zero-point offender adjustment should be applicable in retroactive cases. They contend that this departure provision allows courts to impose a time-served sentence on individuals already serving time.
The article delves into the guidelines for retroactive application, stating that reductions should not be below the minimum of the amended guideline range. However, the authors point out that if a defendant previously received a downward departure or variance below the original range, they may still qualify for a retroactive adjustment.
In conclusion, the authors encourage counsel to advocate for both retroactive and prospective application of the zero-point offender adjustment, emphasizing its potential to significantly reduce sentences for individuals with zero criminal history points. They highlight the importance of utilizing the amendment as a step toward decarceration and hope that their articles prompt counsel to work towards this goal.