Jackson State Alumnus becomes first Black Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission

Judge Carlton Reeves served as a district judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. (Courtesy of Christina Cannon)

Judge Carlton Reeves will become the first Black person to serve as Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission was created by Congress under the Ronald Reagan Administration to promote transparency and reduce sentencing disparities.

Five Commissioners are appointed by the President of the United States to lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a five year term. Judge Reeves was not only nominated to become a commissioner, but was later appointed as Chair early August.

“My new Commission colleagues are all highly experienced professionals with vast knowledge of and broad expertise in the criminal justice system. Our diverse backgrounds and expertise will bode well as the Commission works to address these complex issues in a bipartisan matter,” Reeves told the Jackson State Newsroom—his alma mater.

Reeves received his B.A. in Political Science in 1986 and later received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1989.

As racial tensions rise across the nation as a result of the recent killings of Black people-such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery–Black Americans have voiced their concerns regarding policies and laws to protect Black people.


As Chairman, Reeves has the opportunity to create policy reform and analyze injustices within sentencing courts on the federal level. Commissioners are responsible for reviewing and amending sentencing guidelines in the judicial branch as well as assisting with developing crime policies.

His term as Chairman will expire on October 31, 2027.








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