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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: 115.1/day

Last Entry: April 14, 2014 at 12:45:20

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Would embrace of "judicial corporal punishment" help remedy mass incarceration?

Posted on April 14, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this provocative new commentary by John Dewar Gleissner and given the headline "Who is biased against prison and sentencing reform?". Here are excerpts: Private prison companies and the guards?...

Two notable circuit discussions of federal consequences of child porn production

Posted on April 14, 2014
I have just come across two notable circuit opinion dealing with the criminal and civil consequences child porn production. One was handed down late last week by the Fourth Circuit, US v. Cobler, No. 13-4170 (4th Cir. April 11, 2014)...

House Judiciary Chair suggests Smarter Sentencing Act still facing uphill battle on the Hill

Posted on April 14, 2014
CQ News has this important new article on federal sentencing reform developments in Congress under the headline "Goodlatte: Don't 'Jump to Conclusions' on Mandatory Minimums." Here are excerpts: House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., is not convinced that Congress...

Another notable (and astute?) local shaming sentence for elderly bully

Posted on April 13, 2014
As reported in this AP piece, "Ohio Judge Sentences Man To Wear 'I AM A BULLY' Sign," another notable sentence involving shaming has made national news this weekend. Here are the details: A man accused of harassing a neighbor and...

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"Vacancy in Justice: Analyzing the Impact of Overburdened Judges on Sentencing Decisions"

Posted on April 13, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing empirical paper I just noticed on SSRN. Authored by Jason Best and Lydia Brashear Tiede, here is the abstract: Vacancies are one of the greatest challenges facing the federal...

Is SCOTUS now no longer all that interested in criminal justice issues?

Posted on April 13, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this chart concerning the make-up of the Supreme Court's merits docket this Term from the latest Stat Pack put together by the folks at SCOUTSblog. The chart highlights that...

"Bombshell or Babystep? The Ramifications of Miller v. Alabama for Sentencing Law and Juvenile Crime Policy"

Posted on April 12, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this symposium foreword authored by Paul Litton and now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: This short essay, which serves as the Symposium Foreword, argues that the rationale of Miller...

"Abandoned: Abolishing Female Prisons to Prevent Sexual Abuse and Herald an End to Incarceration"

Posted on April 11, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing new article by David Frank now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: Because the U.S. is unable to prevent widespread sexual violations of incarcerated women, it should apply...

Was it "disrespectful" to the judiciary (or, in fact, quite helpful) for AG Holder to order prosecutors not to oppose application of pending drug sentencing guideline reduction?

Posted on April 11, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this National Review article, headlined "Judge: Holder ?Disrespected? Judicial Branch In Sentencing Change," about a verbal skirmish that emerged during yesterday's US Sentencing Commission meeting to approve formally a...

Is New Hampshire on the verge of becoming the next state to abolish the death penalty?

Posted on April 11, 2014
As reported in this local AP article, headlined "On revote, N.H. Senate panel endorses death penalty repeal measure," the Granite State appears to have now moved a step closer to possible repeal of capital punishment. Here are the details: The...

"Death Delayed Is Retribution Denied"

Posted on April 10, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new article by Russell Christopher now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: Does death row incarceration for upwards of thirty years or more impermissibly impose the suffering of...

US Sentencing Commission to vote on reducing drug sentencing guidelines

Posted on April 10, 2014
As detailed in this official notice, "a public meeting of the [US Sentencing] Commission is scheduled for Thursday, April 10, 2014, at 2:30 p.m." On the official agenda is "Vote to Promulgate Proposed Amendments," and as reported in this prior...

First Circuit hears argument on whether Eighth Amendment might limit deportation as collateral consequence

Posted on April 10, 2014
This National Law Journal piece, headlined "Court Weighs Whether Deportation Fits Crime," reports on an interesting case that was argued before the First Circuit yesterday. Here are highlights: A federal appellate court heard oral arguments Wednesday about whether immigration judges...

Notable NY Times op-ed asks "What is prison for?"

Posted on April 10, 2014
The new Marshall Project's editor in chief, Bill Keller, has this lengthy op-ed in this morning's New York Times under the headline "College for Criminals." There is much of note in the op-ed, and I found these closing paragraphs especially...

Fourth Circuit deepens (via dramatic split opinion) circuit split over fixing sentencing problems via 2255 motions

Posted on April 09, 2014
Though one needs to be a hard-core federal sentencing or habeas aficionado to really enjoy all the action, even casual fans may want to check out the extraordinary work of a Fourth Circuit panel yesterday in Whiteside v. US, No....

Reviewing how US prisons now serve as huge warehouses for the mentally ill

Posted on April 09, 2014
This MSNBC article, headlined "Prisons are the ?new asylums? of the US: Report," effectively summarizes a new study documenting that that US prisons now "house ten times more people with mental illnesses than its hospitals." Here is more: The report,...

Retro Report provides reminder of "When Youth Violence Spurred ?Superpredator? Fear."

Posted on April 09, 2014
The New York Times together with Retro Report puts together articles and videos looking back a media coverage and the aftermath of high-profile stories of years gone by. The latest production is available here under the headline "hen Youth Violence...

Lots of notable sentencing activity via the Sixth Circuit on this hump day

Posted on April 09, 2014
I have long found that Wednesday seems to be a popular day for circuit sentencing decisions, and today the Sixth Circuit was involved in two notable sentencing actions. One action involves the decision, noted in this order, to grant en...

AG Eric Holder advocates for Smarter Sentencing Act in testimony to House Judiciary Committee

Posted on April 08, 2014
As reported via this DOJ press release, Attorney General Eric Holder testified this morning before the US House Committee on the Judiciary. Here are parts of the AG's prepared remarks that should be of interest to sentencing fans: Across the...

How many states now require judges to consider military service and/or PTSD at sentencing?

Posted on April 08, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted in part by this short local article headlined "Calif. Bill Urges Judges To Consider PTSD In Sentencing Of Military Veterans." Here are the basics: A bill moving through the state...

NY Times debates "What It Means if the Death Penalty Is Dying"

Posted on April 08, 2014
The Room for Debate section of the New York Times has this new set of notable commentaries discussing the death penalty in the United States. Here is the section's set up: Last week, lawmakers in New Hampshire heard testimony on...

"Imprisonment Inertia and Public Attitudes Toward 'Truth in Sentencing'"

Posted on April 08, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing new paper by Michael O'Hear and Darren Wheelock now available via SSRN. here is the abstract: In the space of a few short years in the 1990s, forty-two states...

Does a imprisoned white supremacist have a right to an anti-Kosher diet?

Posted on April 07, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this local article from Illinois headlined "White Supremacist Hale Sues Bureau Of Prisons For Violating His Rights." Here are the basics: It was nine years ago today that Matt...

"Billion Dollar Divide: Virginia's Sentencing, Corrections and Criminal Justice Challenge"

Posted on April 07, 2014
The title of this post is the title of a new report by the Justice Policy Institute, which was released last week, is available here, and is summarized via this press release. Here are excerpts from the press release: As...

If it clearly cost thousands of innocent lives through heroin abuse, would most everyone oppose modern marijuana reforms?

Posted on April 07, 2014
I engendered an intriguing debate over research data, criminal drug reform and public safety concerns in my post here last week titled "If it clearly saved thousands of innocent lives on roadways, would most everyone support medical marijuana reforms?"...

"Reviving the Excessive Fines Clause"

Posted on April 06, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Beth Colgan now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: Millions of American adults and children struggle with debt stemming from economic sanctions issued by the...

Noting the very cautious politics still surrounding pot legalization

Posted on April 06, 2014
Today's New York Times has this interesting lengthy article discussing pot politics under the headline "Despite Support in Party, Democratic Governors Resist Legalizing Marijuana." Here are excerpts: At a time of rapidly evolving attitudes toward marijuana legalization ? a slight...

Dueling sentencing reform perspective from Heritage and Crime & Consequences blogs

Posted on April 05, 2014
Two recent posts from two notable blogs are worthwhile weekend reads as the debate over federal sentencing reform continues to heat up in Congress. First, via Heritage, this post by Israel Ortega asks "Can We Get Some Americans Out of...

"Is the Death Penalty Starting to Make a Global Comeback?"

Posted on April 05, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this intriguing Slate commentary. Here are excerpts: An Indian court today sentenced three men to death for the horrific gang rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai last year. They are the...

"Should T.J. Lane's 3 life sentences get another look from the appellate court?"

Posted on April 04, 2014
The title of this post is the question in the headline of this local editorial discussion of a high-profile school shooter who might be the type of juvenile murderer that even the US Supreme Court would conclude can be given...

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