Congressmen Cohen and Armstrong Applaud Advance of Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

November 17, 2021
Press Release
Judiciary Committee sends measure to the full House

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Kelly Armstrong (N.D., at large) today applauded the Judiciary Committee vote advancing their bill, the Prohibiting Punishment for Acquitted Conduct Act, to the full House. The measure would end the unjust practice of judges increasing sentences based on conduct for which a defendant has been acquitted by a jury.

Congressman Cohen, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, made the following statement after the Committee vote:

“This legislation closes a loophole in federal sentencing law that allows a judge to enhance a defendant’s sentence based on conduct they were acquitted of by a jury of their peers. It’s a matter of basic fairness and advancing it on a bipartisan basis shows both the need for criminal justice reform and that such reform is possible. I look forward to working with Congressman Armstrong to make it a reality.”

Congressman Armstrong made the following statement:

“I applaud my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for their passage of the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act. The right of criminal defendants to be judged by a jury of their peers is a foundational principle of the Constitution. The current practice of allowing federal judges to sentence defendants based on conduct for which they were acquitted by a jury is not right and is not fair. I will continue to work with Congressman Cohen to get its full consideration on the House floor.”

A similar measure introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was considered in the Senate Judiciary on June 10 and advanced to the full Senate.