By Michael Caruso
Earlier this week, David posted an article that lamented Judge Charles Bryer's status as the sole member of the United States Commission (USSC). But that description is not entirely accurate. Judge Breyer is the sole voting member of the USSC. There are currently two “ex officio” members of the USSC. Both ex officio members are employees of the Department of Justice—a designee of the Attorney General of the United States and the Chairperson of the United States Parole Commission.
Since the creation of the USSC in 1984, and despite persistent efforts, there never has been an ex officio representative from the Federal Defender community. Unlike the USSC, the majority of state sentencing commissions have a public defender representative to provide them with advice and input at crucial stages of the decision-making process. Because we represent over 65% of those charged in federal criminal cases, a public defender representative would improve transparency and accountability in sentencing policy and provide the Commission with an internal defense perspective and balance.