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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: 33.8/day

Last Entry: October 31, 2014 at 16:33:00

Recent Entries: 9340

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"Shrinking Prisons: Good Crime-Fighting and Good Government"

Posted on October 31, 2014
the title of this post is the headline of this thoughtful new piece from The Atlantic. Here are excerpts: Liberals have long advocated prison reforms like reduced sentence lengths and alternatives to incarceration. Recently, however, conservatives have put these ideas...

New reduced federal drug sentencing guidelines about to become official

Posted on October 31, 2014
Hard core federal sentencing nerds know that November 1 is a special day because it is the official date on which any proposed changes to the sentencing guidelines proposed by the US Sentencing Commission become official in the absence of...

"Physicians, Medical Ethics, and Execution by Lethal Injection"

Posted on October 30, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this new article by I. Glenn Cohen, Robert Truog, and Mark Rockoff available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: In the wake of the recent botched execution by lethal injection in...

Notable criticism of Pope's advocacy against LWOP and "nurturing mommy" approach to government

Posted on October 30, 2014
As noted in this post last week, Pope Francis spoke out last week against life imprisonment and harsh sentencing systems focused more on punishment than social justice. This intriguing new American Spectator commentary by Mark Tooley takes issue with this...

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New York Times editorial makes the case for California's Prop 47

Posted on October 30, 2014
Today's New York Times has this editorial headlined "California Leads on Justice Reform: Prop 47 Could Take the State a Step Further in Reducing Overcrowding." Here are excerpts: For a long time, the conventional political wisdom was that no one...

Is the death penalty really dying a slow death . . . in Texas?!?

Posted on October 29, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new piece from The Atlantic, headlined "In Texas, the Death Penalty is Slowly Dying Out: The Lone Star State carried out its fewest executions since 1996 this year."...

Federal judge (improperly?) delays imposing max sentence on fraudster to allow time to consider withdrawal of plea

Posted on October 29, 2014
This Newsday article provide an account of a seemingly unusual development as a federal district judge was about to throw the book at a high-profile white-collar defendant. Here are the details: Onetime New York Islanders part owner Stephen Walsh was...

Notable pitch for California Prop 47 based in mental health concerns

Posted on October 28, 2014
This new Sacramento Bee commentary, authored by Darrell Steinberg and Rusty Selix, makes an interesting pitch for Proposition 47 in California. The piece is headlined "Prop. 47 can help fix prison mental health crisis," and here are excerpts: Earlier this...

BJS releases latest official data on adult offenders on probation or parole

Posted on October 28, 2014
Today the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released its latest data on adult offenders under community supervision via the publication excitingly titled "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2013." This BJS webpage provides this summary of...

Back from dead, fugitive fraudster gets 30 years in federal pen

Posted on October 28, 2014
As reported in this AP piece, a "former Georgia investment adviser was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday for committing fraud that fueled a bank's collapse, cost investors millions of dollars and turned the accused banker into a fugitive...

Notable new Cato working paper examines "Marijuana Policy in Colorado"

Posted on October 27, 2014
Dr. Jeffrey Miron, who is director of economic studies at the Cato Institute and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, has just produced this significant new Cato working paper titled "Marijuana Policy in Colorado...

"Truth, Justice, and the American Style Plea Bargain"

Posted on October 27, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this article by Ken Strutin now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: In the 2011 term, the Supreme Court decided two cases, Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, which...

Interesting analysis of how summer impacts crime rates

Posted on October 27, 2014
This Governing article provides an interesting look at the impact of summer on crime rates. The piece is headlined "Where Summer Crime Spikes the Most," and here are excerpts: It?s common for law enforcement agencies to experience an uptick in...

Two condemned New Mexico murderers left behind after death penalty repeal seek relief from NM Supreme Court

Posted on October 27, 2014
As reported in this local article, headlined "Convicted murderers ask to be taken off death row," in New Mexico the "last two inmates on death row are asking the state?s highest court to get them off the list." Here is...

Prosecutors in South Africa indicate they plan to appeal Pistorius outcome

Posted on October 27, 2014
As reported in this article, headlined "South Africa prosecutors to appeal against Pistorius sentence," it appears that the Blade Runner is not done running from serious legal difficulties. Here are the bascis: South Africa?s state prosecutor plans to appeal against...

More drug war collateral damage: "Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required"

Posted on October 26, 2014
The title of this post includes my extra bit of spin on the headline of this notable front-page New York Times article, which gets started this way: For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her...

Media coalition sues Arizona on First Amendment grounds seeking more info on executions

Posted on October 26, 2014
As detailed in this article from The Guardian, the "secrecy imposed by Arizona on the source and quality of the lethal injection drugs it uses to kill death row inmates has been challenged in a new lawsuit brought by the...

"Jury Says Castrated Sex Offender Should Be Freed"

Posted on October 25, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this notable AP story out of California. Here are the intriguing details: A Southern California jury on Friday found that a castrated sex offender who preyed on young girls should no...

Due to Alleyne, Kansas Supreme Court requires resentencing of murderer of abortion provider

Posted on October 25, 2014
As reported in this local article, headlined "Kansas Supreme Court vacates Roeder's 'Hard 50' sentence," the top court in the Sunflower State reversed a state mandatory minimum sentence in a high-profile murder case. Here are the details: The Kansas Supreme...

Unpacking the reasons given for public support and opposition to the death penalty

Posted on October 24, 2014
Gallup now has published this intriguing piece, headlined "Americans: 'Eye for an Eye' Top Reason for Death Penalty," which provides some interesting additional insights concerning Gallup's latest polling data on support for capital punishment (reported here)...

ACLU flies suit against Florida county's latest sex offender residency restrictions

Posted on October 24, 2014
As reported in this local article, headlined "ACLU sues over rule on where sex offenders can live in Miami-Dade," a notable new lawsuit has been brought against a community that has a long sad history of difficulties with sex offender...

Split Minnesota Supreme Court rules lenient sentence in rape case was abuse of discretion

Posted on October 24, 2014
As reported in this local article, headlined "Minnesota Supreme Court criticizes probation sentence in rape case," the top appellate court in Minnesota recently took the unusual step of overruled a trial judge's sentencing decision as an abuse of discretion...

Election season round-up of posts on pot politics from Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform

Posted on October 24, 2014
For various reasons and in various ways, I find the politics of modern marijuana reform even more interesting than its policies and practicalities. Consequently, a number of my recent posts at Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform have focused on political...

Gallup polling shows "Americans' Support for Death Penalty Stable"

Posted on October 23, 2014
Gallup has this new report highlighting that "[s]ix in 10 Americans favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, generally consistent with attitudes since 2008." Here is more: Americans' support for the death penalty has varied over time, but apart from...

Pope Francis now advocating for total abolition of LWOP sentences as well as the death penalty

Posted on October 23, 2014
As reported in this story from the Catholic News Service, the leader of the Catholic Church can now be added to the list of persons vocally advocating against life without parole sentences. Here are the details: Pope Francis called for...

"How Changes in American Culture Triggered Hyper-Incarceration: Variations on the Tazian View"

Posted on October 23, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Christopher Slobogin now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: American imprisonment rates are far higher than the rates in virtually every Western country, even after...

Seventh Circuit affirms stat-max 90-year sentence for child molester despite ugly childhood

Posted on October 22, 2014
An interesting Seventh Circuit sentencing opinion yesterday in US v. Horton, No. 14-1559 (7th Cir. 2014) (available here), highlights that a horrible criminal offense can (and often likely) will lead to an extremely long prison sentence even when a defendant...

Does new DOJ appointee want to decriminalize all drug possession ... and would that be so bad?

Posted on October 22, 2014
The questions posed by the title of this post are prompted by this recent commentary authored by Cully Stimson and titled "The New Civil Rights Division Head Wants to Decriminalize Possession of All Drugs." Here are excerpts: So who supports...

Graphic representation of female prisoners around the world

Posted on October 22, 2014
I just tripped across this interesting piece and infographic published last month via Forbes. The piece is headlined "Nearly A Third Of All Female Prisoners Worldwide Are Incarcerated In The United States," and here is the text that goes along...

"The Death Penalty?s 'Finely Tuned Depravity Calibrators': Fairness Follies of Fairness Phonies Fixated on Criminals Instead of Crimes"

Posted on October 22, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this new article by Lester Jackson available via bepress SelectedWorks. Here is the abstract: It has been loudly and repeatedly proclaimed by opponents that capital punishment is ?unfair.? In their view,...

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