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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: 86.7/day

Last Entry: May 22, 2015 at 15:01:52

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"Who Are Woman Sex Offenders and Why Are They Treated Like Men?"

Posted on May 22, 2015
The title of this post is the headline of this intriguing piece posted at Dissedent Voice written by Sonia Van den Broek, who admits at the start of the piece how she became a female charged with a sex offense:...

"Federal Sentencing Error as Loss of Chance"

Posted on May 22, 2015
The title of this post is the title of this notable new piece available via SSRN authored by Kate Huddleston. Here is the abstract: Federal courts have taken the wrong approach to discussing sentencing error. Circuit court opinions in career...

Two notable voices from the (far?) right calling again for drug war and sentencing reform

Posted on May 22, 2015
The two recent stories about recent comments by notable advocates reinforce my sense that more and more traditional (and not-so-traditional) conservative voices are feeling more and more confortable vocally criticizing the federal drug war and severe drug sentencing: Headline: "Grover...

Examining what qualifies as an LWOP sentence for purposes of Graham and Miller

Posted on May 21, 2015
This new piece at The Marshall Project, headlined "Life Expectancy: How many years make a life sentence for a teenager?," spotlights an Eighth Amendment issue that has been engaging lower courts in the five years since SCOTUS in Graham began...

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"How America Overdosed on Drug Courts"

Posted on May 21, 2015
The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy and critical analysis of the modern drug courts movement appearing in the Pacific Standard magazine. The subheadling highlights its main themes: "Hailed as the most compassionate way for the...

After Boston bomber's condemnation in liberal Massachusetts, is the death penalty really "withering away"?

Posted on May 21, 2015
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this lengthy new commentary by George Will carrying the headline "Capital punishment?s slow death." Here is the full commentary, which claims to be making a "conservative case against capital...

New Vera Institute of Justice report highlights the true, high "Price of Jails"

Posted on May 21, 2015
The Vera Institute of Justice has just published this important new report titled, "The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration." I received a press release about the report which provides this summary of its coverage and...

Nebraska legislature votes by large margin to repeal state's death penalty

Posted on May 20, 2015
As reported in this new AP article, " Nebraska lawmakers gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill abolishing the death penalty with enough votes to override a promised veto from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts." Here is more: The vote...

Spotlighting who profits from "Piling on Criminal Fees"

Posted on May 20, 2015
Professors Ronald Wright and Wayne Logan have this important new Huffington Post article summarizing the important themes from their important article titled "Mercenary Criminal Justice." Here are excerpts: Criminal courts sometime function as fee-generating machines...

Has death penalty administration now become a "testing ground for toxic drugs"?

Posted on May 20, 2015
The question in the title of this post is prompted by the subheadline of this lengthy new New Republic piece: "Lethal Entanglements: Lethal injection was supposed to be a cleaner, more humane version of capital punishement. Over the past five...

Some recent posts of note from Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform

Posted on May 19, 2015
I have not recently done in this space a round-up of posts of note from Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform in a few weeks. Here is an abridged listing of MLP&R posts that might be of special interest to sentencing...

Is a former lobbyist and former federal prisoner likely to be a uniquely good sentencing reform advocate?

Posted on May 19, 2015
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this notable new CQ Roll Call article headlined "Out of Prison, Ex-Lobbyist Pushes Sentencing Overhaul." Here are excerpts: Kevin Ring helped write a bill in the 1990s that toughened...

"NY Senate votes to create registry of violent felons"

Posted on May 19, 2015
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new AP article sent my way by a helpful reader. Here are excerpts: The New York state Senate has voted to create a public list of those convicted of...

Notable sentencing and clemency comments from newly-confirmed Deputy Attorney General

Posted on May 19, 2015
I just came across this recent Washington Post profile of Sally Quillian Yates, the new number two at the Department of Justice. The piece is headlined "New deputy attorney general: ?We?re not the Department of Prosecutions?," and here are some...

Debate over harms of online drug market now at center of upcoming sentencing of Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht

Posted on May 19, 2015
As reported in this Wired piece, headlined "Ahead of Sentencing, Ulbricht Defense Argues Silk Road Made Drug Use Safer," the defense in a notable drug sentencing case is making a notable new claim about the nature and consequences of the...

NY Times editorial astutely praises "Justice Reform in the Deep South"

Posted on May 18, 2015
Throughout too much of America's history, the term "Southern Justice" would invoke shudders and fear. (Indeed, as discussed here, Norman Rockwell used this term as the title for his historic painting depicting the deaths of three civil rights workers killed...

Six new SCOTUS opinions, but nothing too exciting for sentencing fans

Posted on May 18, 2015
The next six weeks are the SCOTUS law nerds version of March Madness: the regular SCOTUS season of hearing oral arguments and deciding relatively easy cases are over, and the last weeks of the Term are going to involve the...

Deterrence, jurisdiction and the death penalty after many murders in Waco bar brawl

Posted on May 18, 2015
The title of this post are the topics I am now thinking about inspired by this lengthy news article, headlined "Capital murder charges expected in Waco biker shootout," discussing possible charges in the aftermath of a bloody bar fight. Here...

DC Circuit on child porn and sentencing manipulation and nonfrivolous arguments (aka departures and variances and Booker, oh my!)

Posted on May 18, 2015
I sometime consider Washington DC to be a land like Oz where weird, and sometimes magical, sometimes scary, sometimes bizarre, events can transpire. Thus, when reading the DC Circuit's recent opinion in US v. Bigley, No. 12-3022 (DC Cir. May...

"Does Michigan's sex offender registry keep us safer?"

Posted on May 17, 2015
The question in the title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new Detroit Free Press article. The piece carries this subheadline: "Experts say such registries can be counterproductive; courts question constitutional fairness." Here are excerpts of a...

After reversal of most serious charges, elderly nun and fellow peace activists released from federal prison

Posted on May 17, 2015
As reported in this AP article, headlined "3 anti-nuclear activists released from federal prison," a notable federal civil disobedience case has taken some notable new turns this month. Here are the details: An 85-year-old nun and two fellow Catholic peace...

"Towards a Theory of Mitigation"

Posted on May 16, 2015
The title of this post is the title of this new paper on SSRN co-authored by me and Carissa Hessick. Carissa is rightly the first name on the article, as she did most of the hard (and good) work, and...

Spectacular work on sex offender registration rules and other "collateral" stories at CCRC

Posted on May 15, 2015
Regular readers surely recall me highlighting all the great work still being done regularly over at the Collateral Consequences Resource Center. The newest post by Margy Love there, "50-state survey of relief from sex offender registration," demostrates why CCRC must...

"America?s Deadliest Prosecutors"

Posted on May 15, 2015
The title of this post is the main headline of this notable new Slate piece, which highlights the central role that different prosecutors can and do play in the administration of the death penalty. Here are excerpts: ?I think we...

You be the judge: what sentence for Georgetown's video voyeur Rabbi?

Posted on May 15, 2015
This Washington Post article provides background on a notable sentencing in a DC local court today in which, as highlighted below, the prosecution and defense have radically different sentencing recommendations. Here are the details: Sentencing for Barry Freundel, the once-influential...

Capital jury concludes character of crime matters most in death sentencing of Boston bomber

Posted on May 15, 2015
I was on the links on a lovely spring afternoon when this news broke (via CNN): "Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death." As the title of this post highlights and as I suggested in some prior posts, I...

Any predictions about how long the capital jury will need to deliberate in the Boston bombing case?

Posted on May 14, 2015
As this Boston Globe article reports, "jurors began deliberating Wednesday on the sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, sorting through a complex 24-page verdict slip meant to help them decide whether the Boston Marathon bomber should be sentenced to life in prison...

"Is Burglary A Crime Of Violence? An Analysis of National Data 1998-2007"

Posted on May 14, 2015
The title of this post is title of this interesting federally funded empirical research. Here is the abstract: Traditionally considered an offense committed against the property of another, burglary is nevertheless often regarded as a violent crime. For purposes of...

Extended coverage of messy Oklahoma execution and execution methods

Posted on May 14, 2015
The just-released June issue of The Atlantic magazine has a lengthy cover story headlined "Cruel and Unusual: The botched execution of Clayton Lockett ? and how capital punishment became so surreal." This piece is a long and valuable read, and...

Senator Cornyn highlights his plan to "ensure that prisons don?t become nursing homes behind bars"

Posted on May 13, 2015
This recent post spotlighted the Washington Post's extended front-page story about the graying of America's prison populations. Notably, Senator John Cornyn has now penned this letter to the editor to explain what he is trying to do to deal with...

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