WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal panel that sets sentencing policy eased penalties this year for potentially tens of thousands of drug dealers. Now, defense lawyers and prisoner advocates are pushing for similar treatment for an arguably less sympathetic category of defendants: swindlers, embezzlers, insider traders and other white-collar criminals.
Lawyers who have long sought the changes said a window to act opened once the U.S. Sentencing Commission cleared a major priority from its agenda by cutting sentencing ranges for nonviolent drug dealers. The commission, which meets today to vote on priorities for the coming year, has already expressed interest in examining punishments for white-collar crime. And the Justice Department, though not advocating wholesale changes, has said it welcomes a review.
It’s unclear what action the commission will take, especially given the public outrage at fraudsters who stole their clients’ life savings and lingering anger over the damage inflicted in the 2008 financial crisis.