Recently in Sentencing Category
More than 10 percent of Washington, D.C.'s spiking number of homicides this year have involved previously known violent offenders who have recently been released from prison, says Police Chief Cathy Lanier said yesterday, the Washington Post reports. Lanier said that of 91 homicides this year, ten offenders "have previous homicide charges and are recently back in the community," He added: "Ten. That's significant and it's different from anything we've seen before," she said. Fifty-five of the homicides still are open cases.
Lanier, who addressed reporters with Mayor Muriel Bowser, said that she still did not know what was driving the city's rising homicide count, up 28 percent from this time last year. City officials are under pressure to show that they are undertaking a meaningful strategy to stem the tide. District police have responded by fanning out in some neighborhoods and by altering their patrols and visibility in other neighborhoods, Lanier said. But the slayings have continued, sometimes in the course of petty arguments. "In some of the violence we've seen recently, it has just been dispute resolution with a gun. It's that simple," said Lanier. Bowser said police were reviewing deployment strategies and considering "preventive measures" such as better lighting and cameras in public housing and high crime areas.
Those who want a mass reduction in sentences often tell us that America is, or at least it should be, the Land of Second Chances. The question they routinely omit is, second chances to do what?
But in many...states, including Michigan, New Jersey and New York, drug sentences are already reduced. There is no avoiding the politically poisonous question of releasing violent offenders or reducing their long sentences. "We need to start what's going to be a long and difficult conversation about violent crime," [Ryan] King [a sentencing reform expert] said.
I was startled by these calculations for New Jersey, for example: Cutting in half the number of people sent to prison for drug crimes would reduce the prison population at the end of 2021 by only 3 percent. By contrast, cutting the effective sentences, or time actually served, for violent offenders by just 15 percent would reduce the number of inmates in 2021 by 7 percent -- more than twice as much, but still hardly the revolution many reformers seek.
New Jersey could reduce its prison population by 25 percent by 2021. But to do it, it would have to take the politically fraught step of cutting in half the effective sentences for violent offenders.
In other words, the real debate over how to deal with criminals has hardly begun. And that debate will inevitably have to be argued state by state on terms that may well cause the bipartisan agreement on the need for change, focused on nonviolent offenders, to break down.
Actually, the real debate has begun, just in disguised terms. Any bill introduced as designed for non-violent offenders will be subject to floor amendments to take changes in incarceration where the reformers actually want them to go: To a return of violent crime.
This is what happens when we become obsessed with incarceration per se and oblivious to the reasons criminals get incarcerated to begin with.
Ultimately, the reform movement will have to touch on people's emotions, too. But instead of Otis's reliance on fear, disgust and anger, reformers will need to inspire feelings of empathy, forgiveness, and understanding. They'll need to create a culture where a person like Otis would never speak of a "thug" menacing your "daughter," because he knows that such demagoguery will earn him more opponents than friends.
The title of the article is "Meet the last man standing." The thesis is that Bill is the only voice opposing the movement to soften sentencing. It is good to see Bill's prominence as an advocate recognized, particularly by a partisan outlet for the other side. The assertion that he is the only one is, of course, preposterous. The exaggeration is even greater than the earlier National Journal article about me and the death penalty.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey is a stronger advocate in this fight than the article lets on. As noted in this post, the Association of Assistant United States Attorneys has done significant work in this area. CJLF is also an important voice, although we have focused more on California than on the present federal controversy.
Despite the article's deficiencies, Bill's forcefulness and effectiveness as an advocate makes him a force to be reckoned with, and the recognition of that fact is well deserved.
Heroin deaths are spiking in the U.S., concerning lawmakers who proclaim it an epidemic and public health issue.
Between 2012-13, the number of U.S. drug overdose deaths resulting from heroin spiked from 5,900 to 8,200, said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy Center.
"I've been with [the] DEA almost 30 years, and I have to tell you, I've never seen it this bad," Jack Riley, acting deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said at a House judiciary subcommittee hearingTuesday.
Only in a parallel universe could our lawmakers be considering lighter sentencing for heroin at a time that its lethal impact has never been more appalling.
If there is to be a vote in Congress on lowering drug sentences, it should be taken one drug at a time. There may be many who would vote to lower sentences for pot. But if there are those who also want to lower sentences for heroin (or meth or Ecstasy or numerous other hard drugs), it would improve visibility and accountability if legislators would stand up, one at a time, and say so, drug-by-drug.
There was a day when liberals and libertarians agreed that visibility and accountability were valuable qualities in government. We may see soon if that is still their view.
The Obama administration objects to key provisions in a bipartisan criminal justice bill in the House that has picked up support from both the tough-on-crime end of the Republican Party and advocates of overhauling federal prison sentencing guidelines, BuzzFeed News has learned.
The bill's sponsors say the Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective Justice Reinvestment Act of 2015 -- or SAFE Act -- takes the best ideas from state criminal justice efforts in recent years and applies them to the federal system, but Obama administration officials have told supporters of the bill they don't like several of its provisions, including a key one that would essentially create a federal version of the drug court programs an increasing number of states use to divert low-level, first-time drug offenders away from prison and into probation.