1. Enactment of the SGA

Succinctly stated, the SGA was enacted because it was perceived that the old system of sentencing was not working as desired. Because the old system also heavily relied upon the Federal Parole Board’s discretion in determining exactly how long a convicted defendant would remain in custody after imposition of a specific sentence, even further disparity under the old sentencing scheme was possible. For example, typically, no matter what a defendant would be sentenced to under the old system, because of parole provisions Defendants would actually serve only about one-third of the original sentence in prison.

Under the mandatory SGA, however, if an individual was sentenced to prison under those guidelines, he/she would serve almost the entire sentence imposed since parole had been abolished and only applied to those sentenced in court before November 1, 1987. Today, the U.S. Parole Commission, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, determines if someone is eligible for parole for certain federal and D.C. prisoners. For more information on the work of the U.S. Parole Commission please visit their website at: http://www.justice.gov/uspc/index.html . With the implementation of the sentencing laws, the U.S. Parole Commission has seen its role shrink and almost terminated in the last 30 years.

Next Section: 2. The Impact of the SGA on Plea Agreements

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