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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: 42.4/day

Last Entry: September 01, 2014 at 14:09:18

Recent Entries: 9163

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Gendered perspective on Ohio's challenges with opioids and prison growth

Posted on September 01, 2014
As reported in this recent Toledo Blade editorial, headlined "Women in prison: A big increase in female inmates should prompt changes in how Ohio?s courts deal with addiction," Ohio has struggled of late with an increase in its prison population....

Lots more highlights from Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform

Posted on September 01, 2014
It has been a few weeks since I did a round-up of recent posts at Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform. Here are some of the latest posts from a a variety of bloggers, with my own little bit of organization...

"Rational Criminal Addictions"

Posted on August 31, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing paper now available on SSRN and authored by Manuel Utset. Here is the abstract: This article argues that repeated criminal misconduct, at least in some areas, has the characteristics...

Shareholders of private prison corporations already profiting from border problems

Posted on August 31, 2014
As this CNN Money article highlights, because of the "crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, ... Wall Street is betting that it will result in a boom for private prisons." Here is more about who can profit from a need for...

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"The criminalisation of American business"

Posted on August 30, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new Economist cover story, which carries the subheadline "Companies must be punished when they do wrong, but the legal system has become an extortion racket." Here are excerpts: Who...

Could capital reprieve cost Colorado Gov his office?

Posted on August 30, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this lengthy Denver Post article, headlined "Colorado's pro-death penalty voters could make Hickenlooper pay." Here are excerpts: The cold-blooded murders of three teenagers and a manager late one night...

"Mass Probation: Toward a More Robust Theory of State Variation in Punishment"

Posted on August 29, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing new paper by Michelle Phelps available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: Scholarship on the expansion of the criminal justice system in the U.S. has almost exclusively focused on...

New Hampshire Supreme Court rules Miller is substantive and retroactive to prior JLWOP cases

Posted on August 29, 2014
Today the New Hampshire Supreme Court in In re Petition of State of New Hampshire, No. 2013-0566 (N.H. Aug. 29, 2014) (available here), declared that the Supreme Court's Eighth Amendment ruling in Miller v. Alabama should be applied retroactively. Here...

Based on additional 3553(a) justifications, Eighth Circuit affirms "profound downward variance to a sentence of probation" in multi-million dollar fraud

Posted on August 29, 2014
Especially in the years right after after Booker, the Eighth Circuit garnered a (seemingly well-deserved) reputation as one of the circuits most likely to reverse below-guideline sentences as too lenient. But after a number of those reversals were thereafter reversed...

At third federal sentencing, elderly child porn defendant gets one year in prison and lawyer pledges SCOTUS appeal

Posted on August 28, 2014
Regular readers and hard-core federal sentencing fans are familiar with the long-running dispute over the sentencing of child porn downloader Richard Bistline. The latest chapter of this saga, but apparently not the last, unfolded in federal district court yesterday as...

How should governments approach a product that research suggests reduces overdose deaths, domestic violence and Alzheimer's?

Posted on August 28, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this week's research news indicating, as reported in recent posts here and here, that reform of marijuana prohibition and/or marijuana use might alleviate some of biggest social ills and...

Drug addiction specialist laments that "our prison system does little more than teach addicts how to be better addicts"

Posted on August 27, 2014
I just saw this notable recent Washington Post commentary by David Sack, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist, headlined "We can?t afford to ignore drug addiction in prison." The piece merits a full read and here are excerpts: As the addiction...

"Brady's Blind Spot: Impeachment Evidence in Police Personnel Files and the Battle Splitting the Prosecution Team"

Posted on August 27, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing and timely new article by Jonathan Abel. Here are excerpts: The Supreme Court?s pronouncements in Brady v. Maryland and its progeny place a constitutional obligation on prosecutors to disclose...

"Rebellion: The Courts of Appeals' Latest Anti-Booker Backlash"

Posted on August 27, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new essay about federal sentencing and appellate practices by Alison Siegler available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: For over twenty-five years, federal courts of appeals have rebelled against...

Based on Burrage, split Sixth Circuit panel reverses federal hate crime convictions for Amish beard-cutters

Posted on August 27, 2014
Regular readers may recall lots of coverage early last year concerning the unusual federal hate crime prosecution and sentencing of a group of Amish who assaulted others in their community in the midst of a religious dispute. The convictions were...

Two positive reports on positive public health results from marijuana reform and use

Posted on August 26, 2014
My Google news feed with marijuana headlines was topped this morning with these two notable reports about research suggesting both legal reform and usage can have positive public health consequences: From Newsweek here, "In States With Medical Marijuana, Painkiller Deaths...

Notable federal case impacted by SCOTUS Miller ruling nearly two decades after initial sentencing

Posted on August 26, 2014
This local story out of Kansas City, headlined "Judge orders new sentencing hearing for defendant in deaths of six KC firefighters," reports on a notable new legal development in an old case as a result of the Supreme Court's Eighth...

Though guidelines recommend two years or less, feds request 10-year max for woman who bought guns for killer

Posted on August 26, 2014
An interesting and challenging federal sentencing is scheduled this week in upstate New York, and one of many reasons the case is noteworthy is because federal prosecutors are requesting a statutory maximum sentencing term of 10 years in prison when....

Significant Third Circuit ruling on the consequences of a defendant's appeal despite an appeal waiver

Posted on August 26, 2014
A helpful reader altered me to a significant ruling today by the Third Circuit in US v. Erwin, No. 13-3407 (3d Cir. Aug. 26, 2014) (available here). Here is how the opinion starts: This case presents the novel question of...

What's the likely Ninth Circuit timeline for deciding the fate of California's death penalty in Jones v. Chappell?

Posted on August 25, 2014
As first noted in this post a few days ago, California Attorney General Kamala Harris has officially noticed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit in Jones v. Chappell, No. 2:09-cv-02158-CJC (C.D. Cal. July 16, 2014) (available here), the remarkable case...

Is Chicago now providing more support for the claim that more guns means less crime?

Posted on August 25, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new Washington Times article (hat tip: C&C), which carries the headline "Chicago crime rate drops as concealed carry applications surge; City sees fewer homicides, robberies, burglaries, car thefts...

"Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America"

Posted on August 25, 2014
Thanks to this new posting at The Crime Report, I see the exciting news that Jonathan Simon's new book about mass incarceration and California's dysfunctional role therein has been released by The New Press. The book's title makes up the...

Detailing the high cost of an aging prison population in the Palmetto State

Posted on August 24, 2014
This lengthy local article, headlined "Graying of SC prisons will cost state?s taxpayers," reports in a South Carolina context an issue facing nearly every American jurisdiction as the costs of past tough-on-crime policies come due. Here are excerpts: An inmate...

"Clemency and the Unitary Executive"

Posted on August 24, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Rachel Barkow now available on SSRN. Here is the abstract: President Obama?s use of enforcement discretion to achieve important domestic policy initiatives ? including in the...

Will third time be a charm in federal sentencing of child porn defendant Richard Bistline?

Posted on August 24, 2014
Regular readers and those who follow closely federal sentencing of child pornography offender will recall the name Richard Bistline: as detailed in posts linked below, the Bistline's sentencing created a kind of battle royale between US District Judge James Graham...

Perspective on victims' perspectives on the death penalty

Posted on August 23, 2014
Today's Washington Post has this intriguing new commentary headlined "Death penalty debate isn?t simple for families of victims." Here are excerpts: Botched executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona and continuing problems with lethal-injection drugs have put the death penalty back...

Residency restrictions keep NY sex offenders confined after serving their senetence

Posted on August 23, 2014
The problematic consequences of some sex offender residency restrictions is highlighted in this recent New York Times article headlined "Housing Restrictions Keep Sex Offenders in Prison Beyond Release Dates." Here is how the article starts: Dozens of sex offenders who...

"It?s Time to Overhaul Clemency"

Posted on August 22, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this recent New York Times editorial. Though I wish the headline was something more like "Prez Obama sucks for failing to overhaul clemency during his six years on the job," I...

Third Circuit finds "reprehensible" conduct regarding victim restitution not grounds for revoking supervised release

Posted on August 22, 2014
A Third Circuit panel yesterday handed down an interesting ruling in US v. Bagdy, No. 13-2975 (3d Cir. Aug. 21, 2014) (available here), reversing the revocation of supervised released despite calling the defendant's conduct "reprehensible." Here is how the Bagdy...

California Attorney General seeking appeal in Jones v. Chappell capital case

Posted on August 22, 2014
As reported in this Los Angeles Times piece, headlined "California AG Kamala Harris to appeal ruling against death penalty," the Ninth Circuit will now be called upon to consider the remarkable decision last month by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney...

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