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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: 34.8/day

Last Entry: October 23, 2014 at 17:29:30

Recent Entries: 9317

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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...


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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,...


Arizona prosecutors getting started at second (costly) run at death sentence for Jodi Arias

Posted on October 21, 2014
A high-profile (and high-cost) capital case starts its next big phase as reported in this new AP article headlined "Opening statements expected in Jodi Arias sentencing retrial." Here are the basics: Jurors in Phoenix will once again be asked to...


Bladerunner Oscar Pistorius sentenced to five years in prison for killing girlfriend

Posted on October 21, 2014
As reported in this lengthy CNN piece, "Oscar Pistorius' fall from grace culminated Tuesday with a five-year sentence in the shooting death of his girlfriend." Here is more: The sentence was imposed for the charge of culpable homicide, which in...


"Skewed Justice: Citizens United, Television Advertising and State Supreme Court Justices? Decisions in Criminal Cases"

Posted on October 21, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this intriguing new empirical study authored by Joanna Shepherd and Michael Kang. Here is the study's summary: The explosion in spending on television attack advertisements in state supreme court elections accelerated...


Koch Industries give "major grant" to NACDL to help with indigent defense

Posted on October 21, 2014
I noted in this post back in April that the Koch Brothers have a history of supporting criminal justice reform groups and efforts. That interesting story now has another interesting chapter as evidence by this new press release headlined "NACDL...


"Why Did the Supreme Court Sidestep Sentencing Dispute?"

Posted on October 20, 2014
The title of this post is not merely the question I had for a few Justices after the denial of cert last week in Jones v. US (lamented here and here), it is also the headline of this new National...


SCOTUS order list gets week off to exciting start for criminal justice fans

Posted on October 20, 2014
As reported here and here at SCOTUSblog and here at How Appealing and here at Crime & Consequences, the Supreme Court this morning issued this order list which included one notable GVR and three grants of certiorari. All of this...


New top Justice in Massachusetts urges repeal of mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenders

Posted on October 20, 2014
I just came across this notable Boston Globe article discussing this notable speech delivered late last week by the new Chief Justice of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Here is how the Globe article starts: The head of the state?s highest...


Reviewing Alabama's (somewhat successful) use of sentencing guidelines to reduce prison growth

Posted on October 19, 2014
As highlighted in this lengthy local article, headlined "Sentencing reform has slowed, not stopped, inmate growth," sentencing and sentencing reform in Alabama has been a dynamic process that includes sentencing guidelines intended to steer more offenders away from prison...


Judicial misconduct complained against Fifth Circuit Judge Jones based on provocative death penalty speech dismissed

Posted on October 19, 2014
Thanks to recent posts at Hercules and the Umpire and at Crime & Consequences, I see that the judicial misconduct complaint filed against US Circuit Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit based on a provocative speech she gave concerning...


"Good Conduct Time for Prisoners: Why (and How) Wisconsin Should Provide Credits Toward Early Release"

Posted on October 19, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Michael M. O'Hear. Here is the abstract: Wisconsin is one of about twenty states not offering good conduct time (GCT) to prisoners. In most states, prisoners...


"Good Conduct Time for Prisoners: Why (and How) Wisconsin Should Provide Credits Toward Early Release"

Posted on October 19, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Michael M. O'Hear. Here is the abstract: Wisconsin is one of about twenty states not offering good conduct time (GCT) to prisoners. In most states, prisoners...


With DAG James Cole also stepping down, new appointments will remark DOJ

Posted on October 18, 2014
As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, "Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said in an interview Thursday that, like his boss, he will soon leave the Justice Department." Here is more about the emptiness at DOJ and DAG...


Reviewing concerns about the efficacy and fairness of sex offender registried

Posted on October 18, 2014
AlJazeera America has this lengthy new piece about sex offender registries headlined "Sex-offender laws are ineffective and unfair, critics say: Experts say public registries don't reduce assault ? and sex offenders are increasingly challenging the rules in court...


ProPublica urges next AG to "Fix Presidential Pardons"

Posted on October 17, 2014
The title of this post is drawn from the headline of this strong new piece from the Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica. The full headline and subheadline provides the basics: "For the Next Attorney General, a Modest Suggestion: Fix Presidential Pardons; More...


"Cities Look for Ways to Get Free of Empty Jails"

Posted on October 17, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this intriguing Wall Street Journal piece from earlier this week, which carried the subheading "Drop in Crime and Lighter Sentences Swell the Number of Jails for Sale." Here are excerpts: After...


Author John Grisham says "we've gone nuts with this incarceration" of child porn downloaders

Posted on October 16, 2014
One of my (many) wonderful students alerted me to this notable UK press piece reporting on an interview with famous law author John Grisham who had some interesting (and likely-to-be-controversial) comments about tough sentencing for those who download child porn...


"Risk and Needs Assessment: Constitutional and Ethical Challenges"

Posted on October 16, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this timely and notable new paper by Melissa Hamilton recently posted on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Across jurisdictions, the criminal justice system is enamored with the evidence-based practices movement. The....


"Is Hillary Clinton ready for marijuana's 2016 push?"

Posted on October 16, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this notable and lengthy new CNN article. Here are excerpts: When Hillary Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 -- where the future first lady and Secretary of State says she...


"Elevating Substance Over Procedure: The Retroactivity of Miller v. Alabama Under Teague v. Lane"

Posted on October 15, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper by Brandon Buskey and Daniel Korobkin now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract: This Article proposes a framework establishing that the United States Supreme Court?s decision...


Will Eric Holder still be Attorney General well into 2015?

Posted on October 15, 2014
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this recent press report that "President Obama plans to wait on nominating a new attorney general to replace Eric Holder until shortly after the November election." Here is more...


Does the Constitution limit the age at which a juve killer can be tried as an adult?

Posted on October 14, 2014
The question in the title of this post is promopted by this AP story emerging from Pittsburgh sent my way by a helpful reader. The story is headlined "Boy, 10, Charged As Adult In Death Of 90-Year-Old Woman," and here...


Three Justices dissent from denial of certiorari in Jones/Ball acquitted conduct case

Posted on October 14, 2014
I am very disappointed to have to report that this morning the Supreme Court denied certiorari review in the notable federal drug sentencing case from DC involving Antwan Ball and his co-defendants concerning judicial fact-finding to increase a federal guideline...


AG Eric Holder officially says federal prosecutors should no longer require defendants to "waive their right to bring future claims of ineffective assistance of counsel"

Posted on October 14, 2014
I have long thought it both bad policy and ethically suspect to expect or require criminal defendants to waive future rights (as opposed to current rights) in a plea agreement. Consequently, I am very pleased to see this new press...


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