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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/day

Last Entry: November 28, 2014 at 10:21:45

Recent Entries: 9428

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Texas Justice calls for state's death penalty to be abolished

Posted on November 28, 2014
As reported in this local article, "Texas Court of Appeals Justice Tom Price on Wednesday denounced the death penalty, saying that Texas' 2005 life without parole law makes it unnecessary and that the possibility of executing a wrongfully convicted person...


Latest New York recidivism numbers provide more to be thankful for

Posted on November 28, 2014
This New York Daily News article, headlined "Ex-cons returning to New York prisons for new felonies hits all time low: data," reports on encouraging news about recidivism rates in the Empire State. Here are the details: The number of ex-cons...


So grateful for so much...

Posted on November 27, 2014
including all the folks who regularly check out this blog and help ensure that I continue to benefit so much from sharing stories and ideas here about sentencing law and policy. Rather than stay on topic, here is a humerous...


"The Neuroscientific Case Against Retributive Justice"

Posted on November 26, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this interesting new article by Stephen Morris and Robert Robinson available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: Retributive Justice is the theory of justice according to which individuals are either rewarded...


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Some unusual suspects working to stop Texas from executing mentally ill condemned murderer

Posted on November 26, 2014
This new Mother Jones article reports on some of the interesting persons who are eager to prevent Texas from carrying out a notable death sentence next week. The article is headlined "Can Ron Paul and Conservative Evangelicals Save a Texas...


Senator Rand Paul links Ferguson tragedy to harms of the modern drug war

Posted on November 26, 2014
Regular readers know I am always interested in Senator Rand Paul's distinctive perspective on criminal justice issues. This new Time op-ed, headlined "The Politicians Are To Blame in Ferguson," has Senator Paul touching on broader themes as he connects recent...


Nearly a year into clemency initiative, turkeys remain more likely to get Prez Obama pardon than people

Posted on November 26, 2014
As detailed in this AP story, headlined "Obama Defends Legal Authority ? to Pardon Turkeys," there was much jocularity at the White House today as President Obama continued the White House tradition of giving executive grace to a couple of...


Rounding up some blogsphere reactions to events in Ferguson

Posted on November 25, 2014
In part because it is not a sentencing story, I have not had much to say about all the high-profile events in Ferguson, Missouri in recent months. But, not surprisingly, a number of other notable criminal law bloggers have shared...


"Did Marijuana Kill Michael Brown?"

Posted on November 25, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this provocative and interesting new piece by Jacob Sullum now up at Reason. Here is how the piece starts and ends: In a radio interview on August 18, a self-identified friend...


Can and should out-going Maryland Gov commute death sentences to ensure LWOP after state's capital repeal?

Posted on November 25, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this Baltimore Sun article discussing the interesting procedural and practical issues now surrounding the fate of Maryland's death row prisoners and the decisions facing the out-going Maryland Governor who...


"Will Texas Kill an Insane Man?"

Posted on November 24, 2014
The question in the title of this post is the headline of this lengthy New York Times editorial. Here are excerpts: On Dec. 3, Texas plans to execute an inmate named Scott Panetti, who was convicted in 1995 for murdering...


USSC Chair's discussion of "A Generational Shift for Drug Sentences" now in print

Posted on November 24, 2014
I noticed via the US Sentencing Commission's official website that Chief Judge Patti Saris, Chair of United States Sentencing Commission and federal district judge, has now in print this law review article titled ?A Generational Shift For Drug Sentences...


Pleased to see Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform make the ABA's Blawg 100

Posted on November 24, 2014
I am pleased and intrigued to see that the ABA Journal's annnual Blawg 100, which once gave lots of love to this blog (see here and here and here and here), has now decided to give some love to my...


Reviewing the potential and pitfalls in a notable problem-solving court in NYC

Posted on November 23, 2014
Today's New York Times has this terrific lengthy account of the work of a unique "problem-solving court" in New York. The piece is headlined "In a Queens Court, Women in Prostitution Cases Are Seen as Victims," and here are small...


"On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration"

Posted on November 23, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new report from the Vera Institute of Justice as part of a new initiative called Justice Reform for Healthy Communities. A helpful report overview starts this way: Each year,...


Notable comments from AAG about Justice Reinvestment

Posted on November 22, 2014
Earlier this week, Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason delivered these interesting remarks for DOJ's Office of Justice Programs at a big Justice Reinvestment Summit. The full speech is worth review, and here are a few excerpts I found noteworthy: I...


Interesting look at California's Proposition 47 and undoing collateral consequences

Posted on November 22, 2014
I just noticed, over at the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, that California Federal Public Defender Jeffrey Aaron has this new posting exploring the impact of his state's approval of Proposition 47 which downgraded various felonies to misdemeanors...


Unpacking why DOJ is so concerned about federal prison populations and its costs

Posted on November 21, 2014
As highlighted in this effective piece by Andrew Cohen published by The Marshall Project, earlier this month Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department?s Inspector General (and a former member of the US Sentencing Commission), authored this memorandum describing DOJ's concerns with...


Ohio and Utah moving forward with distinct fixes for lethal injection drug problems

Posted on November 21, 2014
As reported in this two article, legislatures in Ohio and Utah are taking quite different approaches to the problems poised by the unavailability of some drugs historically used for lethal injection executions. The headlined of these stories highlight the basics:...


"'Power and Greed and the Corruptible Seed': Mental Disability, Prosecutorial Misconduct, and the Death Penalty"

Posted on November 21, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Michael Perlin available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: The Supreme Court?s death penalty jurisprudence is based in large part on the assumption that jurors can...


"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...


Significant sentencing reform afoot in Michigan

Posted on November 20, 2014
As reported in this Detroit News article, headlined "Michigan prison sentence reforms gain momentum," the Great Lakes state is moving toward some significant sentencing changes. Here is how the article starts: State lawmakers are poised to act on a legislative...


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...


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...


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