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Criminal Law

Sentencing Law and Policy Sentencing Law and Policy

News, issues, commentary and provides resources related to sentencing law and policy.
By Douglas A. Berman

Post Frequency: 31.8/day

Last Entry: November 20, 2014 at 10:03:11

Recent Entries: 9407

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"The Racist Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement"

Posted on November 20, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this recent New York Times commentary by Brent Staples. Here are excerpts: The state laws that barred nearly six million people with felony convictions from voting in the midterm elections this...


"Overcriminalization: Administrative Regulation, Prosecutorial Discretion, and the Rule of Law"

Posted on November 20, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Ronald Cass now available on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Recently, both practical and doctrinal changes have significantly reduced the degree to which criminal punishment fits...


Hoping to help Kickstart a notable new death penalty documentary

Posted on November 20, 2014
I am eager to promote widely an important film project from some folks in London focused on modern US death penalty stories. (I am partial to the project in part because one of my former students, Allen Bohnert, OSU Moritz...


Massachusetts special commission urges repeal of all drug mandatory minimums

Posted on November 19, 2014
As reported in this local article, "a special commission studying the state's criminal justice system recommended eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offenses in Massachusetts." Here is more about the commission's work and recommendations to date: The commission also...


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Missouri completes ninth execution of 2014

Posted on November 19, 2014
As reported in this AP piece, headlined "Missouri Executes Leon Taylor for 1994 Killing," the Show Me state showed another murderer that death sentences still get carried out in Mizzou. Here are the basic details: A man who killed a...


"Death, Desuetude, and Original Meaning"

Posted on November 19, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by John Stinneford now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: One of the most common objections to originalism is that it cannot cope with cultural change....


Some recent highlights from Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform

Posted on November 19, 2014
It has been a few weeks since I have done a round up of notable new posts from Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform, so here goes: "What?s next for the marijuana movement" ... is lots of action in the West...


Wonderful new on-line resource, Collateral Consequences Resource Center, now available

Posted on November 18, 2014
I am very pleased to be able to report on a very important addition to the criminal justice on-line universe, the Collateral Consequences Resource Center. This posting by Margy Love provides this background and something of a mission statement: The...


Marshall Project investigation, "Death by Deadline," looks at capital appeals impact of AEDPA

Posted on November 18, 2014
As noted here yesterday, The Marshall Project, an important new reporting outlet focused on criminal justice issues, is now running full steam and has now lots of notable new content on its slick website. And the big first feature from...


Investigation reveals "mandatory" Minnesota gun sentence not imposed in majority of cases

Posted on November 18, 2014
This interesting local investigative press report from Minnesota provides further evidence that mandatory minimum sentencing schemes are rarely applied consistently or evenly. The article is headlined "Mandatory sentences not always the case for Minnesota gun crimes," and here are excerpts:...


"Criminal Sentencing Reform: A Conversation among Conservatives"

Posted on November 18, 2014
Thanks to this post by Bill Otis at Crime & Consequences, I see that the Federalist Society recent National Convention included a panel discussion on sentencing reform, which can now be watched in full via YouTube at this link. Here...


"Does Prison Privatization Distort Justice? Evidence on Time Served and Recidivism"

Posted on November 18, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this very interesting article with empirical research on private prisons and time served. The piece, authored by Anita Mukherjee and now available via SSRN, has this abstract: I contribute new evidence...


Ninth Circuit upholds injunction, on First Amendment grounds, blocking California law requiring sex offenders to report report online activities

Posted on November 18, 2014
As reported in this Bloomberg story, "California can?t enforce a law to combat sex trafficking because it tramples on free speech rights of sex offenders by requiring them to report online activities, such as their Twitter, e-mail and chatroom accounts,...


The Marshall Project gets AG Holder to talk about his criminal justice reform work

Posted on November 17, 2014
I am pleased to see that The Marshall Project is now running full steam and has now lots of notable new content on its slick website. Though I am concerned that this notable criminal justice media project, like some others,...


"Death Penalty Drugs and the International Moral Marketplace"

Posted on November 17, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this timely new paper by James Gibson and Corinna Lain now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: Across the country, executions have become increasingly problematic as states have found it...


"The Quiet Army: Felon Firearms Rights Restoration in the Fourth Circuit"

Posted on November 16, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this new paper by Robert Luther III now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: This article discusses the restoration of firearm rights for felons and specifically addresses the methods by...


Does latest FBI report of crime's decline provide still more support for lead-exposure-crime link?

Posted on November 16, 2014
Regular readers know I am always drawn to the (often overlooked) social science research suggesting lead exposure levels better account for variations in violent crime rates than any other single variable. Consequently, I am happy and eager to note this...


"Does Prison Privatization Distort Justice? Evidence on Time Served and Recidivism"

Posted on November 15, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable paper by Anita Mukherjee now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: I contribute new evidence on the impact of private prisons on prisoner time served and recidivism by...


Examining Crawford after a decade

Posted on November 15, 2014
First Impressions, the online companion to the Michigan Law Review, has this new on-line symposium titled "Crawford v. Washington: A Ten Year Retrospective." Here is how the editors introduce the pieces and links thereto: No one disputes the significance of...


NY Times debates "Parole When Innocence Is Claimed"

Posted on November 14, 2014
The Room for Debate section of the New York Times has this new set of pieces discussing parole practices and claims of innocence. Here is the section's set up: With the increasing notoriety of cases in which prisoners have proved...


Over lengthy dissents, en banc Eleventh Circuit shuts 2255 door to claims based on advisory guideline misapplication

Posted on November 14, 2014
The Eleventh Circuit has today provided some special weekend reading for hard-core federal sentencing fans with a special interest in finality issues (which, I realize, might be a small group). Specifically, the en banc ruling together with dissents in Spencer...


Notable new AG Holder comments on reducing crime rates and incarceration levels

Posted on November 14, 2014
Last night Attorney General Eric Holder gave this speech at the Southern Center for Human Rights and had a lot to say about crime and punishment. Here are some passages that caught my eye (with one particular phrase emphasized): Over...


"'I Expected It to Happen/I Knew He'd Lost Control': The Impact of PTSD on Criminal Sentencing after the Promulgation of DSM-5"

Posted on November 13, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new article by Michael Perlin now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: The adoption by the American Psychiatric Association of DSM-5 significantly changes (and in material ways, expands)...


Florida finally completes execution 22 years after murderer's horrific crime

Posted on November 13, 2014
As reported in this AP article, a "Florida man who fatally shot his sleeping wife and then raped and killed his young stepdaughter 22 years ago was put to death Thursday for the child's slaying." Here is more: Chadwick Banks,...


"A Comprehensive Administrative Solution to the Armed Career Criminal Act Debacle"

Posted on November 12, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable and timely new piece authored by Avi Kupfer and available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: For thirty years, the Armed Career Criminal Act (?ACCA?) has imposed a fifteen-year...


Split South Carolina Supreme Court declares Miller retroactive AND applicable to state's nonmandatory LWOP sentencing scheme

Posted on November 12, 2014
As reported in this local article, "at least 15 South Carolina felons serving life sentences for homicides they committed while they were minors are eligible to return to court to be resentenced for their crimes, a divided S.C. Supreme Court...


Federal judge wonders if marijuana sentencing should be impacted by state reforms

Posted on November 12, 2014
As reported in this Oregonian article, a "federal judge in Portland last week delayed the sentencing of a convicted bulk marijuana runner from Texas, saying he needed to get a better read on the U.S. Department of Justice's position on...


Notable past remarks by AG-nominee Lynch on criminal justice reform to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Posted on November 11, 2014
I just came across these remarks delivered by Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch in August 2014 to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Switzerland as part of the US delegation. These remarks were intended to share with...


New York City mayor announces new policy concerning marijuana enforcement

Posted on November 11, 2014
As reported in this New York Times article, headlined "Concerns in Criminal Justice System as New York City Eases Marijuana Policy," the NYC's new mayor and old sherrif are bringing a new approach to marijuana enforcement to the Big Apple....


Legislation to get Ohio back on track with lethal injections being fast-tracked

Posted on November 11, 2014
As reported in this local article, headlined "Death-penalty reform bill would protect execution drug makers, physicians who testify," it appears that the state legislative process is moving forward to enact new regulations to help Ohio get back into the business...


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