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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: 40.3/day

Last Entry: September 13, 2014 at 17:11:13

Recent Entries: 9194

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Recent posts of special note from "Hercules and the Umpire"

Posted on September 13, 2014
I regularly read U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf's notable blog, "Hercules and the Umpire," an the last few weeks have brought more than the usual must-read posts from the judge on topics that should be of special interest to...


"20 Years Later, Major Crime Bill Viewed As Terrible Mistake"

Posted on September 12, 2014
The titleof this post is the headline of this notable new NPR segment, and here are excerpts: Twenty years ago this week, in 1994, former President Bill Clinton signed a crime bill. It was, in effect, a long-term experiment in...


New Urban Institute report spotlights "graying" of federal prisoners

Posted on September 12, 2014
I just learned of this notable new report authored by KiDeuk Kim and Bryce Peterson at the Urban Institute titled "Aging Behind Bars: Trends and Implications of Graying Prisoners in the Federal Prison System." Here are excerpts from the the...


Symposium papers on "NSA Surveillance: Security, Privacy, and Civil Liberty"

Posted on September 11, 2014
Though not focused on core sentencing issues, a new set of symposium papers published in a great law journal at Ohio State may be of interest to many blog. The Summer 2014 issue of I/S: A Journal of Law and...


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"Marijuana, Federal Power, and the States"

Posted on September 11, 2014
The title of this post is the title of the exciting symposium taking place all day tomorrow, Friday, September 12, at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. The website for the event with the full schedule of speakers is...


Sixth Circuit panel finds mandatory 15-year imprisonment term not grossly disproportionate for possession of shotgun shells

Posted on September 11, 2014
Because I filled an amicus brief on behalf of defendant Edward Young and participated in oral argument as well, I am much too close to the Eighth Amendment issue resolved against the defendant today in US v. Young, No. 13-5714...


Despite another round of drug-based appeals, Missouri and Texas both able to complete executions today

Posted on September 10, 2014
As reported in AP article here and here, both Missouri and Texas completed execution today. Here are the leads from the two AP piece: From Mizzou: "A Missouri inmate was put to death Wednesday for killing two people during a...


Might all video visitation companies be eager to have prisons and jail prohibition in-person visitation?

Posted on September 10, 2014
Regular readers know I believe modern technologies can and should be used as much as possible to improve the functioning and efficacy of modern crimnal justice systems. Consequently, I tend to be a supporter of expanded use of video technologies...


"Misdemeanor Decriminalization"

Posted on September 10, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable and interesting new paper by Alexandra Natapoff now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: As the U.S. rethinks its stance on mass incarceration, misdemeanor decriminalization is an increasingly....


Pitching argument to pitch death penalty as failed government policy

Posted on September 09, 2014
Daniel LaChance has this notable new op-ed in today's New York Times headlined "What Will Doom the Death Penalty: Capital Punishment, Another Failed Government Program?". Here are excerpts: To opponents of the death penalty, recent accounts of botched executions and...


Split Third Circuit panel concludes Allenye error can be harmless

Posted on September 09, 2014
Sixth Amendment fans will want to find the time to check out the Third Circuit's notable opinion today in US v. Lewis, No. 10-2931 (3d Cir. Sept. 9, 2014) (available here). The start of the majority opinion (per Judge Fisher)...


Group of world leaders call for end to criminal drug war and urges experiment with legalization

Posted on September 09, 2014
As detailed in this AP report, a prominent group of prominent international leaders "urged a global overhaul of drug policies on Tuesday, calling for some drugs such as marijuana to be regulated, an end to incarceration for drug use and...


Will and should federal judge Mark Fuller get the same professional treatment as Ray Rice?

Posted on September 09, 2014
The provocative question in the title of this post is a slightly different phrasing of the question in the headline of this provocative AL.com commentary by John Archibald. That headline is "Superstar Ray Rice cut from team; will 'superstar' judge...


Pregame preview of another high-profile insider-trading sentencing in NYC

Posted on September 08, 2014
This new BloombergBusinessweek article, headlined "Mathew Martoma, Convicted SAC Trader, Gets Sentenced Today," provides these basics about a not-so-basic, white-collar sentencing scheduled in federal court today: Around 9 pm on November 8, 2011, a pair of FBI agents pulled up...


"The Dilemmas of Excessive Sentencing: Death May Be Different But How Different?"

Posted on September 08, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this essay by Michael Meltsner now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: This article is adapted from a speech given by the author in honor of Hugo Adams Bedau, inaugurating...


Intriguing concurring sentiments about federal child porn downloading cases from Judges Noonan and Reinhardt

Posted on September 08, 2014
Late last week, two judges on the Ninth Circuit made noteworthy an otherwise forgettable decision in US v. Hardrick, No. 13-50195 (9th CIr. Sept. 4, 2014) (available here), through their concurring opinions in a run-of-the-mill affirmance of federal conviction of...


Former SAC trader Mathew Martoma gets lengthy (but way-below guideline) federal prison term of nine years for insider trading

Posted on September 08, 2014
As reported in this new USA Today piece, headlined "Ex-SAC Capital trader gets 9-year sentence," a high-profile white-collar sentencing has resulted in a below-guideline (but still lengthy) prison term for an insider trader. Here are some of the interesting details...


Editorial laments how some part of Ohio are "addicted to prisons"

Posted on September 07, 2014
The Toledo Blade has this lengthy new editorial headlined "Addicted to Prisons" that discusses lots of interesting facets of Ohio's criminal justice system. Here are excerpts: Stark differences in judges, as well as access to local treatment programs, have created...


"Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies"

Posted on September 07, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new report from The Sentencing Project. Here is how The Sentencing Project summarizes its content on this overview webpage: This report examines how racial perceptions of crime are a...


"Reducing Guilty Pleas Through Exoneree Compensations"

Posted on September 05, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing new article available via SSRN authored by Murat Mungan and Jonathan Klick. Here is the abstract: A great concern with plea-bargains is that they may induce innocent individuals to...


"Systemic Barriers to Effective Assistance of Counsel in Plea Bargaining"

Posted on September 04, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable paper I just saw on SSRN authored by Peter Joy and Rodney Uphoff. Here is the abstract: In a trio of recent cases, Padilla v. Kentucky, Missouri v. Frye,...


Oklahoma releases extensive report concerning problems with Lockett execution

Posted on September 04, 2014
As reported in this lengthy Tulsa World article, headlined "IV errors, lack of training cited in Oklahoma botched execution report," the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety released today this lengthy official report concerning the seemingly ugly execution of Clayton Lockett...


Former Virginia Gov McDonnell (and wife) now facing high-profile federal sentencing after jury convictions on multiple charges

Posted on September 04, 2014
As detailed in this FoxNews report, headlined "Ex-Virginia governor, wife found guilty on corruption charges," a high-profile federal criminal trial is now over and a high-profile federal sentencing process is about to begin. Here are the basics: Former Virginia Gov...


You be the sentencing judge: decades or just years for mistaken home shooting in Detroit?

Posted on September 03, 2014
This new Detroit Free Press article, headlined "Attorney: Wafer wants to apologize at sentencing today for porch shooting," sets out the basic sentencing arguments being presented to a Michigan judge in a high-profile homicide case. Here are the details: Theodore...


Third Circuit panel splits over whether placing child porn in shared folder constitutes distribution

Posted on September 03, 2014
A Third Circuit panel today split on an interesting question of computer crime law involving child pornography. Here is how the majority opinion in US v. Husmann, No. 13-2688 (3d Cir. Sept 3, 2014) (available here) gets started: David George...


"Life sentence for buying marijuana?"

Posted on September 03, 2014
The question and title of this post comes from the headline of this new CNN commentary by Vanita Gupta, who is deputy legal director at the ACLU. An editorial note at the start of this piece provides this background: "CNN's...


New report that Missouri is using controversial execution drug despite claims to the contrary

Posted on September 03, 2014
A helpful readers altered me to this notable new NPR affilate story headlined "Missouri Swore It Wouldn?t Use A Controversial Execution Drug. It Did." Here is how the lengthy piece gets started: In Ohio, the execution took 26 minutes, as...


"Rethink sentencing and parole to solve aging, costly prison population"

Posted on September 02, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this new editorial from a local South Carolina paper. Yet, even though focused on some Palmetto State particulars, many of the points and themes in the editorial have broad applicability in...


"A 'Holocaust in Slow Motion?' America's Mass Incarceration and the Role of Discretion"

Posted on September 02, 2014
The provocative title of this post is the title of this provocative new article available via SSRN and authored by (former federal prosecutor) Mark W. Osler and (current federal judge) Mark W. Bennett. Here is the abstract: Numbers don?t lie:...


Another drug sentencing sign of these political times in Massachusetts

Posted on September 02, 2014
This local article from Massachusetts, headlined "Candidates back reform of drug sentencing guidelines," provides more evidence that political candidates these days appear much more likely to support repeal or reform of severe drug sentencing laws rather than support increasing sentences...


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