Recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to adopt changes in the guidelines that judges use in sentencing white collar crimes – to be effective this coming November. The decision came in part as a reaction to the overpopulation crisis in the prison population, and increasing costs of incarceration. The current state of sentencing for economic crimes reflects public outcry that followed the Enron case and other crises in the early 2000s. This resulted in steady increases in the length of prison sentences for white collar crimes, where federal courts routinely hand out sentences of 10 or 20 years – and sometimes significantly more – in a wide variety of fraud cases.
The purpose of the commission is to serve as an independent agency to establish sentencing practices in federal court and to help congress develop efficient crime policy.