Recently in Sentencing Category
Rather than being locked away to rot, bad actors could be employed productively in the workforce. The gains of that employment could be transferred to victims and governments, while simultaneously serving as a deterrent cost. And to the extent that monetary transfers cannot achieve optimal deterrence, humankind is capable of inventing alternative nonmonetary sanctions to fill the gap.
Since 2011, California has gone further than other states in the rapid dismantling of its tough-on-crime policies, so we have been keeping track of California crime rates as compared with the nation as a whole. Here are graphs showing 2011 to 2015 with data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports.*
The "realignment" bill, AB109, took effect in October 2011, and one would not expect much effect in the first couple of months. So we can consider 2011 to be a base year. California shows a jump in violent crime the following year while the rate for the country as a whole was essentially flat. California had a sharp jump in property crime for 2012, while the national rate was declining.
A defendant may not be punished more than once for a single physical act that violates multiple provisions of the Penal Code. The charging document in this case identified the same forceful taking of a vehicle as the physical act completing the actus reus for both robbery and carjacking. Where the same physical act accomplishes the actus reus requirement for more than one crime, that single act cannot give rise to multiple punishment. Because that is precisely what happened here, Corpening's one-year robbery sentence must be stayed.
The [Center's] report also recommends a reduction in sentences for major crimes that account for a majority of the prison population -- aggravated assault, murder, nonviolent weapons offenses, robbery, serious burglary and serious drug trafficking. (Under such a system, the typical inmate convicted of, say, robbery would serve 3.1 years, as opposed to 4.2.) If these reforms were retroactively applied, the authors estimate, more than 200,000 people serving time for these crimes would be eligible for release.
Under a saner system, the report says, nearly 40 percent of the country's inmate population could be released from prison without jeopardizing public safety.
The next day, a story buried in the same paper reported that drug overdose deaths have increased by 33% over the last five years, according to the CDC. A more thorough story on this issue was written by Michael Casey of CNS news. A 2015 report by the Urban Institute found that 99% of drug offenders in federal prison were convicted of trafficking. Anyone familiar with criminal trials understands that virtually all of the dealers got a plea bargain.
In California, as a result of Proposition 47, which converted felony drug possession to a misdemeanor, drug arrests are down dramatically. Under the state's Realignment law, most drug dealers do not go to prison anymore and users, if police even bother to arrest them, are cited and punished with a few hours in a local jail as reported in the Desert Sun.
There has been much debate on this blog regarding whether drug dealers should be considered violent criminals. Assessing the hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed by the illegal drugs they sell, I would say yes. Mr. Rhee and others who think like him would likely disagree, as I am sure that they would be quick to deny any connection between the mass release of federal and state drug dealers and the increase in overdose deaths.
But it's a bunch of hooey. Today the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics released supplemental data on Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010.
How many prisoners released in 2005 were rearrested by 2010, and for what crimes?
For those committed for violent offenses, 33.1% were rearrested for another violent offense. For those whose most serious commitment offense was classified as a property offense, 28.5% were rearrested for a violent offense.
Is that a big difference? No, it is a small, bordering on trivial, difference. The premise that "nonviolent offenders" can be released without placing law-abiding people at increased risk of violent victimization is just plain wrong.
Hundreds of criminals sentenced by D.C. judges under a...law crafted to give second chances to young adult offenders have gone on to rob, rape or kill residents of the nation's capital....
In dozens of cases, D.C. judges were able to hand down Youth Act sentences shorter than those called for under mandatory minimum laws designed to deter armed robberies and other violent crimes. The criminals have often repaid that leniency by escalating their crimes of violence upon release.