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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: 334.6/day

Last Entry: February 27, 2015 at 19:04:27

Recent Entries: 9703

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AG nominee Loretta Lynch one step closer to confirmation

Posted on February 27, 2015
As reported in this Politico piece, "Loretta Lynch cleared a key vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday in her bid to become the nation?s next attorney general, picking up support from three Republicans on the panel in favor...


"A Second Chance: Education's Role in Reversing Mass Incarceration"

Posted on February 27, 2015
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new Atlantic commentary by Irwin Weathersby. Here is how it starts: The American Journal of Men?s Health published a study this month titled "I Want a Second Chance" that...


How might US Sentencing Commission's new Tribal Issues Advisory Group deal with marijuana law and policy?

Posted on February 27, 2015
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this notable new US Sentencing Commission press release, which was released on a day I am participating in the first ever Tribal Marijuana Conference (some background here via MLP&R)....


So many modern marijuana reform stories, so little time (but lots of space at MLP&R)

Posted on February 27, 2015
As briefly noted in a prior post, today I have been attending and participating in the first ever Tribal Marijuana Conference. In part because the conference is so well-conceived and in part because the issues are so dynamic and multi-faceted,...


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Split Connecticut Supreme Court works through Miller application issues

Posted on February 27, 2015
As reported in this local AP piece, headlined "Connecticut court tosses 100-year sentence imposed on teen," the top court in the Nutmeg State issued a notable and significant ruling on juvenile sentencing in the wake of recent SCOTUS Eighth Amendment...


Encouraging recidivism realities after three-strikes reform in California

Posted on February 26, 2015
This new New York Times article, headlined "California Convicts Are Out of Prison After Third Strike, and Staying Out," reports on some good post-sentencing-reform news from the West Coast. Here are excerpts: Mr. Taylor, 58, is one of more than...


US Sentencing Commission released report on LWOP sentences in federal system

Posted on February 26, 2015
I am intrigued and pleased to see that today the US Sentencing Commission has released this effective (reader-friendly) new report titled "Life Sentences in the Federal System." The entire 20-page report is a must read for anyone (like me) who...


"Can life in prison be worse than death" ... for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

Posted on February 26, 2015
The question in the title of this post is drawn from the headline of this notable Washington Post article discussing the current (and likely future) prison realities for the Boston marathon bomber. Here are excerpts: What?s worse ? being sentenced...


"Eighth Amendment Presumptions: A Constitutional Framework for Curbing Mass Incarceration"

Posted on February 25, 2015
The title of this post is the title of this notable new article by William Berry II now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: The Supreme Court?s conceptualization of the Eighth Amendment over the past decade has focused on...


More notable new posts from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center

Posted on February 25, 2015
As regular readers know, I have made a habit of noting here notable posts from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center because the topics covered there are so interesting and get so little attention in the mainstream media (or many other...


SCOTUS in Yates rejects broad interpretation of federal criminal statute via fascinating 5-4 split (with Justice Alito as swing vote)!!

Posted on February 25, 2015
I often tell students that one or many reasons I find many sentencing and related criminal justice issues so fascinating is because the really hard and interesting Supreme Court cases will rarely be resolved through the traditional (and traditionally boring)...


Prez Obama talks about criminal justice reform with members of Congress and...

Posted on February 25, 2015
This piece from The Hill, headlined "Obama meets with lawmakers on criminal justice reform," reports that talk about federal criminal justice reform is continuing among most (but not all) key federal policy-makers: The bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers included Sen...


"Rape in the American Prison"

Posted on February 25, 2015
The title of this post is the title of this lengthy new Atlantic article about a part of the subjective experience of imprisonment for all too many prisoners despite notable efforts by Congress to address the problem of prison rape....


Passage of Smarter Sentencing Act is reportedly "very important" to Prez Obama

Posted on February 25, 2015
This notable new USA Today piece, headlined "Bipartisan sentencing bill gets White House support," reports that President Obama indicated at a meeting yesterday with congressional leaders that he was interested and eager to have the Smarter Sentencing Act become law...


Two notable and timely new reform reports from The Sentencing Project

Posted on February 24, 2015
Via an e-mail from The Sentencing Project (reprinted in part below), I received this summary (with links) to two notable new reports from the group: [Here are] two new reports from The Sentencing Project documenting changes in criminal justice policy...


Tie vote ends effort to end the death penalty in Montana

Posted on February 24, 2015
As reported in this local article, headlined "House deadlocks on bill to abolish death penalty in Montana," a very red state came had a death penalty repeal bill come (surprisingly?) close to passage. Here are the details: The state House...


"Can prisons predict which inmates will commit more crimes?"

Posted on February 24, 2015
The question in the title of this post is part of the headline of this new lengthy AP article, which follows with the headline "States trying secretive, psychological assessments." Here are excerpts from the piece: States are trying to reduce...


Urging more media coverage of the "truly guilty and violent"

Posted on February 23, 2015
Via consistently helpful Marshall Project, I came to see this interesting recent piece by Steve Bogira titled "Guilty As Charged" at the Social Justice News Nexus site. Here are extended excerpts: The mainstream media and ?social justice? journalists treat criminal...


Senators respond to NY Times criticisms of their sentencing work

Posted on February 23, 2015
I noted and commented here last week on this New York Times editorial about on-going debates over proposed federal sentencing reforms. Today, the New York Times reprints two letters from the Senators whose work was subject to the Times' criticisms...


SCOTUS denies review for Eighth Amendment challenge to 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for possessing shotgun shells

Posted on February 23, 2015
I am quite bummed, and more than a bit grumpy, that the Supreme Court this morning denied certiorari review via this new order list of Edward Young, who is serving a "mandatory fifteen-year prison sentence for the crime of possessing...


"What rights do felons have over their surrendered firearms?"

Posted on February 23, 2015
The question in the title of this post is the substance of the title of this helpful SCOTUS argument preview of Henderson v. US authored by Richard Re over at SCOTUSblog. Here are excerpts which highlight why I think of...


Oscar speech by John Legend spotlights the New Jim Crow stat about hyperincarceration of blacks in US

Posted on February 23, 2015
I watched most of last night's Oscar festivities while trying to get some work done and with most of it with a finger on the fast-forward button on the remote control. I did so, in part, because we can always...


Early report on the early impact of Proposition 47 in California

Posted on February 22, 2015
This new Los Angeles Times article provides an assessment of what we know and do not know so far about the impact of the big criminal justice reform passed by California voters back in November. The lengthy piece is headlined...


Sentencing as racial education: federal judge schools killers when imposing punishment

Posted on February 22, 2015
A number of helpful readers have made sure I did not miss the remarkable story, highlighted in sources as diverse as NPR and The American Conservative, of the remarkable speech by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves read to three young...


"PTSD in the Prison System"

Posted on February 22, 2015
The title of this post is the title of this paper by Julie Ann Davis now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: The treatment of Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in the federal prison system has fallen in quality,...


New Oregon Gov pledges to continue curious capital moratorium created by her corrupt predecessor

Posted on February 21, 2015
As reported in this new Reuters piece, headlined "New Oregon Governor Kate Brown to extend death penalty moratorium," a change in leadership at the top of the executive branch in the Beaver State is apparently not going to bring any...


"Who Watches the Watchmen? Accountability in Federal Corporate Criminal Prosecutions"

Posted on February 21, 2015
The title of this post is the title of this new paper by Michael Patrick Wilt now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: The Department of Justice entered into hundreds of deferred and non-prosecution agreements (DPAs and NPAs) with...


Can Sentator Ted Cruz, who says "Smarter Sentencing Act Is Common Sense," get SSA through Congress?

Posted on February 20, 2015
Long-time readers and most federal sentencing policy gurus know about the long-time discussion of the Smarter Sentencing Act. The SSA seemingly had lots of bi-partisan support when got through the Senate Judiciary Committee in the last Congress, but the drug...


Virginia's former first lady facing sentencing after hubby got only two years

Posted on February 20, 2015
Today brings another high-profile white-collar sentencing in the federal court in Virginia as Maureen McDonnell, former first lady, is to come before the same judge who sentenced former Virginia Gov Robert McDonnell to two years' imprisonment last month...


Philadelphia DA sues Pennsylvania Gov asserting execution moratorium is "lawless" and "flagrantly unconstitutional"

Posted on February 20, 2015
As reported in this local article, "Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has sued Gov. Tom Wolf over the death penalty moratorium he imposed last week." Here the basics: In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Williams asks the state Supreme Court to...


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