Nearly as suddenly, violent crime began to ebb across the country. The reasons for the drop-off are vigorously debated, with many liberals denying any link to incarceration rates. But William G. Otis, a top Justice Department official under the first President George Bush who is an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, said there was little doubt in his mind that one reason for the decline was that "the people who have been committing these crimes are now in jail."Still, he expressed satisfaction with Monday's ruling because it reduced reliance on mandatory sentencing and gave discretion back to judges who may still decide to put someone away for life.
"It's a mistake for the system to carve out classes," he said. "You should look at each case individually."
Just so that I won't be misunderstood, my "satisfaction" with the opinion in Miller lay in its rejection of a blanket rule barring LWOP and its embrace of a case-by-case approach, not in its Constitutional holding that a penalty in force in 29 states is cruel and "unusual."
I take further heart that the case-by-case approach was set forth by Justice Kagan, giving credence to her confirmation hearing testimony that she would not adopt the one-size-fits-all rule for death penalty cases used by Justice Marshall, for whom she clerked.