Mark Harris, a partner in Proskauer’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Group, recently spoke to Joe Mont at Compliance Week to discuss the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s proposed changes to the guidelines for punishment of white collar crime. Besides his ongoing focus on white collar sentencing in his legal practice, Harris serves as a member of the Board of Editors of the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and is a contributor to the leading treatise Practice Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Harris told Compliance Week that he has mixed feelings about the Sentencing Commission’s proposed amendments. While Harris found the Commission’s review encouraging, he hopes the modest changes that resulted are the first step towards a more wholesale revision.
The guidelines have been too focused on loss amount measured in dollars to the exclusion of almost everything else. Prison terms have risen with monetary losses without empirical evidence that these lengthy sentences provide greater deterrence, Harris explained.
The article tracks the Commission’s review process, mandated by Dodd-Frank, and the reactions to the changes among academics, public defenders, and members of the white collar bar including Harris. In addition to the guidelines’ focus on losses, critics point to inconsistent application and insufficient discretion for judges.
We will continue to cover these developments and provide updates as the proposals are transmitted to Congress on May 1; and barring objections, go into effect on November 1.