Recently in Sentencing Category
Q: In general, do you think the criminal justice system in this country is too tough, not tough enough or about right in its handling of crime?
A: 45% not tough enough, 35% about right, 14% too tough, 6% duh.
Gallup headlines the fact that "not tough enough" has dropped substantially over the years, but most of that drop has gone to the Goldilocks answer of "about right." Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth we have heard from academia and the press over the last decade or so, only 1 American in 7 thinks the system is too tough.
The other half of the split sample was asked specifically about drugs, with a quite different result:
A major criminal-justice overhaul bill seemed destined to be the bipartisan success story of the year, consensus legislation that showed lawmakers could still rise above politics.
Then the election, Donald J. Trump's demand for "law and order" and a series of other political calculations got in the way.
Senate Republicans divided on the wisdom of reducing federal mandatory minimum sentences. Other Republicans, unhappy that President Obama was reducing hundreds of federal prison sentences on his own, did not want to give him a legacy victory. A surge in crime in some urban areas gave opponents of the legislation a new argument.
Now, the Senate authors of the legislation say it is effectively dead.
"I do believe it is over," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No .2 Democrat in the Senate, who put considerable effort into difficult negotiations with Republicans to strike a compromise. "We missed an opportunity."
I agree with Senator Durbin that the Senate missed an opportunity -- an opportunity to multiply the Wendell Callahan scandal and endanger the country.
Criminal justice debt has aggressively metastasized throughout the criminal system. A bewildering array of fees, fines, court costs, non-payment penalties, and high interest rates have turned criminal process into a booming revenue center for state courts and corrections. As criminal justice administrative costs have skyrocketed, the burden to fund the system has fallen largely on the system's users, primarily poor or indigent, who often cannot pay their burden.
Unpaid criminal justice debt often leads to actual incarceration or substantial punitive fines, which turns rapidly into "punishment." Such punishment at the hands of a court, bureaucracy, or private entity compromises the Sixth Amendment right to have all punishment imposed by a jury.
An author who actually thinks there is a "Sixth Amendment right to have all punishment imposed by a jury" is so completely ignorant that, if you continue reading, you're just going to kill your brain cells.
(You also gotta love "the system's users," i.e., convicted criminals who skate with a fine but won't pay even that).
Credit to this entry on SL&P.
Unfortunately, no system is perfect, and in those isolated instances in which problems are identified, we work with our law enforcement partners to address them moving forward.
What lessons should we draw from this double outrage?
First, the excessively lenient sentence demonstrates why we cannot vest too much discretion to judges to grant leniency. In other words, it demonstrates--conclusively, in my mind--that we will always need "mandatory minimums" in some form for some crimes.
Second, Turner's release in 3 months when sentenced to 6 demonstrates that we need to be very careful with "credits" against sentences and award them only when they serve an important function.
Third, given the number of people guilty of serious crimes who are now sentenced to county jail in California, it is imperative that we build enough jail capacity to hold them for every single day for which they are sentenced, reduced only by those judiciously awarded credits.
Michele Hanisee has this post, titled Proposition 57 Unmasked, on the blog of the (LA) Association of Deputy District Attorneys. The ADDA also has this detailed analysis.
At the blog of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, George Hofstetter has a post titled Proposition 57 promises to increase the Proposition 47 crime wave.
Candace Lee Fox pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1984 in California Superior Court and, pursuant to a plea agreement, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of fifteen years to life. Approximately five years later, Fox successfully petitioned to withdraw her guilty plea after establishing that the sentencing court failed to inform her that she would receive a mandatory term of lifetime parole as a direct consequence of her plea. At her subsequent trial, Fox was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, and the special circumstance that the murder was committed in the course of a burglary. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In this 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas proceeding, Fox now argues that the State originally promised her a term of imprisonment no greater than seven and one-half years in exchange for her plea, and asks for specific performance of that purported agreement.
We refuse Fox's request and affirm the district court, because Fox chose in the state habeas proceedings to seek vacation of her conviction, rather than specific performance of the purported plea agreement. She therefore has no due process right to specific performance of the rescinded agreement.
A justice system reasonably aspires to be consistent in the application of law across cases and to account for the particulars of a case. Our goal was to create a prediction model of criminal sentence lengths that accounts for non-judicial factors such as weather and sports events among the feature set. The feature weights offer a natural metric to evaluate the importance of these features unrelated to crime relative to case-specific factors. Using a Random Forest, we found several expected crime related features appearing within the top 10% most important features. However, we also found defendant characteristics (unrelated to the crime), sport game outcomes, weather, and location features all predictive of sentence length as well, and these features were, surprisingly, more predictive than the defendant's race. Further investigating this predictive ability would be of interest to those studying the criminal justice system.
The case is Rauf v. State. See Justice Vaughn's dissent for the correct answers.
Does Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn have the requisite vertebrae to petition for certiorari? Let's hope so.