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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: 35.1/day

Last Entry: October 20, 2014 at 16:59:35

Recent Entries: 9306

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"Why Did the Supreme Court Sidestep Sentencing Dispute?"

Posted on October 20, 2014
The title of this post is not merely the question I had for a few Justices after the denial of cert last week in Jones v. US (lamented here and here), it is also the headline of this new National...


SCOTUS order list gets week off to exciting start for criminal justice fans

Posted on October 20, 2014
As reported here and here at SCOTUSblog and here at How Appealing and here at Crime & Consequences, the Supreme Court this morning issued this order list which included one notable GVR and three grants of certiorari. All of this...


New top Justice in Massachusetts urges repeal of mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenders

Posted on October 20, 2014
I just came across this notable Boston Globe article discussing this notable speech delivered late last week by the new Chief Justice of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Here is how the Globe article starts: The head of the state?s highest...


Reviewing Alabama's (somewhat successful) use of sentencing guidelines to reduce prison growth

Posted on October 19, 2014
As highlighted in this lengthy local article, headlined "Sentencing reform has slowed, not stopped, inmate growth," sentencing and sentencing reform in Alabama has been a dynamic process that includes sentencing guidelines intended to steer more offenders away from prison...


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Judicial misconduct complained against Fifth Circuit Judge Jones based on provocative death penalty speech dismissed

Posted on October 19, 2014
Thanks to recent posts at Hercules and the Umpire and at Crime & Consequences, I see that the judicial misconduct complaint filed against US Circuit Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit based on a provocative speech she gave concerning...


"Good Conduct Time for Prisoners: Why (and How) Wisconsin Should Provide Credits Toward Early Release"

Posted on October 19, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Michael M. O'Hear. Here is the abstract: Wisconsin is one of about twenty states not offering good conduct time (GCT) to prisoners. In most states, prisoners...


"Good Conduct Time for Prisoners: Why (and How) Wisconsin Should Provide Credits Toward Early Release"

Posted on October 19, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Michael M. O'Hear. Here is the abstract: Wisconsin is one of about twenty states not offering good conduct time (GCT) to prisoners. In most states, prisoners...


With DAG James Cole also stepping down, new appointments will remark DOJ

Posted on October 18, 2014
As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, "Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said in an interview Thursday that, like his boss, he will soon leave the Justice Department." Here is more about the emptiness at DOJ and DAG...


Reviewing concerns about the efficacy and fairness of sex offender registried

Posted on October 18, 2014
AlJazeera America has this lengthy new piece about sex offender registries headlined "Sex-offender laws are ineffective and unfair, critics say: Experts say public registries don't reduce assault ? and sex offenders are increasingly challenging the rules in court...


ProPublica urges next AG to "Fix Presidential Pardons"

Posted on October 17, 2014
The title of this post is drawn from the headline of this strong new piece from the Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica. The full headline and subheadline provides the basics: "For the Next Attorney General, a Modest Suggestion: Fix Presidential Pardons; More...


"Cities Look for Ways to Get Free of Empty Jails"

Posted on October 17, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this intriguing Wall Street Journal piece from earlier this week, which carried the subheading "Drop in Crime and Lighter Sentences Swell the Number of Jails for Sale." Here are excerpts: After...


Author John Grisham says "we've gone nuts with this incarceration" of child porn downloaders

Posted on October 16, 2014
One of my (many) wonderful students alerted me to this notable UK press piece reporting on an interview with famous law author John Grisham who had some interesting (and likely-to-be-controversial) comments about tough sentencing for those who download child porn...


"Risk and Needs Assessment: Constitutional and Ethical Challenges"

Posted on October 16, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this timely and notable new paper by Melissa Hamilton recently posted on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Across jurisdictions, the criminal justice system is enamored with the evidence-based practices movement. The....


"Is Hillary Clinton ready for marijuana's 2016 push?"

Posted on October 16, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this notable and lengthy new CNN article. Here are excerpts: When Hillary Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 -- where the future first lady and Secretary of State says she...


"Elevating Substance Over Procedure: The Retroactivity of Miller v. Alabama Under Teague v. Lane"

Posted on October 15, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Brandon Buskey and Daniel Korobkin now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: This Article proposes a framework establishing that the United States Supreme Court?s decision...


Will Eric Holder still be Attorney General well into 2015?

Posted on October 15, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this recent press report that "President Obama plans to wait on nominating a new attorney general to replace Eric Holder until shortly after the November election." Here is more...


Does the Constitution limit the age at which a juve killer can be tried as an adult?

Posted on October 14, 2014
The question in the title of this post is promopted by this AP story emerging from Pittsburgh sent my way by a helpful reader. The story is headlined "Boy, 10, Charged As Adult In Death Of 90-Year-Old Woman," and here...


Three Justices dissent from denial of certiorari in Jones/Ball acquitted conduct case

Posted on October 14, 2014
I am very disappointed to have to report that this morning the Supreme Court denied certiorari review in the notable federal drug sentencing case from DC involving Antwan Ball and his co-defendants concerning judicial fact-finding to increase a federal guideline...


AG Eric Holder officially says federal prosecutors should no longer require defendants to "waive their right to bring future claims of ineffective assistance of counsel"

Posted on October 14, 2014
I have long thought it both bad policy and ethically suspect to expect or require criminal defendants to waive future rights (as opposed to current rights) in a plea agreement. Consequently, I am very pleased to see this new press...


Refusing to take up acquitted punishment, passive virtues, SCOTUS reputation, and cert-denial-deal speculation

Posted on October 14, 2014
I cannot resist the urge to use this space to reflect upon (and perhaps salve) my disappointment in the learning the certiorari petition in Jones v. US, No. 13-10026 ? a case in which I wrote this SCOTUS amicus brief...


"Could firing squad make a comeback in Utah, elsewhere?"

Posted on October 14, 2014
The question in the title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new article discussing, yet again, possible alternatives to lethal injection as a means to carry out death sentences. Though covering some familiar ground, this article provides...


"Will Oscar Pistorius serve any prison time for killing Reeva Steenkamp?"

Posted on October 13, 2014
The question in the title of this post is the first line of this AP article headlined "Factors that may affect if Pistorius spends time in prison." Because I know very little about South African sentencing law and procedure, I...


Noting how politicians can be pro-life and pro-death (penalty) in Texas

Posted on October 13, 2014
This local story on modern Texas politics, headlined "Being pro-life in gov's race doesn't extend to death row," highlights what concerns about the sanctity of life real mean in the Lone Star State. Here are excerpts: When Attorney General Greg...


Oklahoma AG requests additional delay before state gets back to executions

Posted on October 13, 2014
As reported in this Reuters article, "Oklahoma's attorney general has filed a request to delay three upcoming executions in Oklahoma due to a lack of drugs and to provide more time to implement new lethal injection protocols, according to court...


Documenting a notable California legal crusade against sex offender restrictions

Posted on October 12, 2014
This lengthy local article, headlined "Pair seeks repeal of sex-offender laws in California," provides a detailed review of a notable effort to take down via court challenges local sex offender restrictions. The piece merits a full read, and here are...


"Confronting Cognitive 'Anchoring Effect' and 'Blind Spot' Biases in Federal Sentencing: A Modest Solution for Reforming a Fundamental Flaw"

Posted on October 12, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing new paper by U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett. Here is the abstract: Cognitive "anchoring effect" bias, especially related to numbers, like sentencing guidelines ranges, is widely recognized in cognitive...


Oklahoma has impressive early success with revised earned credit program

Posted on October 10, 2014
This local article, headlined "Most Oklahoma inmates granted early release since March have stayed out of trouble," reports on another positive state criminal justice reform effort. Here are the details: Santajuan M. Stepney was released from prison in March after...


Wyoming Supreme Court joins group deciding SCOTUS Miller ruling is retroactive

Posted on October 10, 2014
As reported in this local article, headlined "Casper man convicted of murder as a teenager now has possibility of parole," the Wyoming Supreme Court had a big ruling yesterday on juve life sentences. In Wyoming v. Mares, 2014 WY 126...


Texas succeeds with new laws intended to disrupt school-to-prison pipeline

Posted on October 09, 2014
Discovering the (perhaps somewhat unexpected) success of reforms in (perhaps somewhat unexpected) states is one of the great joys of following closely state-level criminal justice policy and practice. For example, this new local article showcases how Texas is achieving success...


"Fifteen Years of Supreme Court Criminal Procedure Work: Three Constitutional Brushes"

Posted on October 09, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this lovely essay by Daniel Richman now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: This essay ? written in connection with a French National Research Agency project on ?Neo or Retro...


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