“Acquitted conduct sentencing” is a practice that allows federal judges to sentence defendants based on charges for which a jury found them to be not guilty. It is a flagrant violation of numerous due process rights enumerated in the Constitution. Jurists across the ideological spectrum—from the late Justice Scalia to Justice Ginsburg—have condemned the practice for many years, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly failed to accept an appeal that would review the constitutionality of the practice.
Abolishing acquitted conduct sentencing is a top priority of the Due Process Institute. We are currently working on substantial research that will help advocates quantify and understand this issue better. Stay tuned to this page for new scholarship about the practice of acquitted conduct sentencing at both the federal and state levels!
We urge legislators on both sides of the aisle to bring this unfair and unconstitutional practice to an end before more Americans are sentenced to decades in a prison cell on the basis of unproven allegations that juries have heard and purposefully rejected.
The Due Process Institute is grateful to work with many diverse allies who support the #JuriesDecide education, advocacy, and litigation campaign as part of a broad coalition and through their own efforts!
What do Justices Scalia, Stevens, Ginsburg, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh
and a DC juror have in common?
Learn more about Juror #6 and the injustice that occurs when we don't let
Due Process Institute supports amicus efforts to abolish acquitted conduct sentencing.
Criminal justice reform news website "The Appeal" covered the issues of acquitted conduct sentencing, explaining the practice, why it's wrong, and the latest news about the bill the Due Process Institute is supporting.
"Although this is a problem that will come as news to some, it is the rare one that can (and might) be remedied."
Robert Ehrlich, former governor of Maryland, writes in Law360 that acquitted conduct sentencing is wrong and that federal law is in need of serious reform.
"The bottom line: Acquitted-conduct sentencing effectively divests individuals of their Sixth Amendment right to trial-by-jury by divesting citizens of their historical and constitutional role in the administration of criminal justice. "
Writing in the Washington Times, editor David Keene says that acquitted conduct sentencing "throws out the guarantee that a defendant is to be judged by a 'jury of one’s peers,' makes a mockery of jury trials and the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard to which the prosecution is supposedly held in criminal cases.