Sentencing Reform

Our under-incarceration problem, D.C. edition

Featured image A few days ago, the Washington D.C. police fatally shot 22-year-old Marqueese Alston. According to the police department, Alston fired on officers who chased him into an alley. The department has produced a photo of the gun they say Alston used. The officers who chased Alston reportedly had their body cameras on, but as far as I know the footage has not been publicly released. Thus, we cannot say for »

Poll: Most Americans favor the death penalty

Featured image The Pew Research Center has released a poll showing that 54 percent of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder. That’s up from 49 percent two years ago. (As Kent Scheidegger has explained, this number understates opposition to abolishing the death penalty, but I’m focused here on the trend). The death penalty has always had the support of a plurality of Americans. However, that support declined dramatically »

Trump frees big-time narcotics-trafficker even Obama didn’t help

Featured image At the urging of Kim Kardashian, President Trump has commuted the life sentence of Alice Johnson, a convicted drug-trafficker. Johnson served 21 years of her sentence. Johnson was, in the words of the judge who sentenced her, the “quintessential entrepreneur” in a multi-million dollar cocaine ring in the Memphis area. It dealt tons of cocaine for millions of dollars. At Johnson’s trial, the evidence linked her drug ring with Colombian »

Facts on recidivism undermine case for leniency legislation, Part Two

Featured image Taylor Millard, one of the excellent writers at Hot Air, has taken issue with an article by Daniel Horowitz on recidivism as it relates to sentencing reform, including the FIRST STEP legislation (which is back door sentencing reform). I cited Horowitz’s article in my post, “Cold Facts on Recidivism Undermine Case for Leniency Legislation.” Thus, I want to bring Millard’s arguments to the attention of readers interested in the issue »

FIRST STEP in a jailbreak, Part Two

Featured image I’ve written before about the “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act” (FIRST STEP). Passed by the House with overwhelming support and backed by President Trump, FIRST STEP is backdoor sentence reduction legislation. Indeed, it’s big-time sentencing reduction. Former federal prosecutor Thomas Ascik demonstrates this in an article for The Hill. He shows that most federal prisoners could serve close to 40 percent of their prison sentences »

Cold facts on recidivism undermine case for leniency legislation

Featured image Last week, the Department of Justice released an updated study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showing that 83 percent of prisoners released by states are re-arrested within nine years of their release. 44 percent of released state prisoners were arrested during the first year after release, 68 percent were arrested within three years, and 79 percent within six years. The study encompassed 30 states and accounted for 77 »

First step in a jail break [UPDATED]

Featured image The House has passed the “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.” Why the ridiculous name? Because it spells out FIRST STEP. FIRST STEP is an appropriate name. As we will see, this legislation is intended to be the first step towards a jail break. A combination of Democrats and libertarians, aided by Sen. Charles Grassley who is neither, has been trying for several years to reduce »

U.S. correctional population declines for ninth straight year

Featured image At the end of last year, the Department of Justice reported that the number of adults supervised by the U.S. correctional system dropped for the ninth consecutive year in 2016. The correctional population includes persons supervised in the community on probation or parole and those incarcerated in prisons or local jails. From 2007 to 2016, the proportion of the adult population under the supervision of U.S. correctional authorities decreased by »

Sen. Cotton to propose longer mandatory minimums for opioid pushers

Featured image Senator Tom Cotton will introduce legislation next week to combat the opioid epidemic in America. The proposal will impose penalties for fentanyl distribution and trafficking that better reflect the severity of the crime. It will also provide resources to the Post Office to stop shipments of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids arriving from overseas. Fentanyl, a fully synthetic opioid, is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Dumped into the U.S. »

The death penalty for some drug dealers?

Featured image At the campaign rally in Pennsylvania last week, President Trump seemed to advocate the death penalty for some drug dealers. Now, reportedly, the administration is finalizing a plan for responding to the opioid crisis that includes capital punishment for dealers in some cases. Politico says: According to language circulating this week, the Trump administration will call for the death penalty as an option in “certain cases where opioid, including Fentanyl-related, »

Lenient sentencing legislation clears committee but with mortal wounds

Featured image As expected, the lenient sentencing bill — “The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — pushed by a bipartisan group of Senators cleared the Judiciary Committee this week. Unexpectedly, at least to me, five Republicans voted against it, including Majority Whip John Cornyn, who sponsored the legislation two and a half years ago. The vote was 16-5. In addition to Cornyn, Sens. Hatch, Cruz, Sasse, and Kennedy voted no. Six Republicans »

Grassley accuses Sessions of ingratitude for opposing jailbreak legislation

Featured image Sen. Chuck Grassley has blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for criticizing the lenient sentencing legislation Grassley and others are pushing in the Senate. The bill would would slash mandatory minimum sentences for many federal drug crimes and cause the release of many drug felons before they have served their full sentence. Grassley says he’s incensed, and has the right to be, because of what he has done for the Attorney »

Leniency legislation is back

Featured image Two years ago at this time, a bipartisan coalition of Senators was pushing legislation that would have slashed mandatory minimum sentences for many federal drug crimes. Such a bill had cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wisely declined to bring it up for a vote in the Senate because his caucus was divided on the merits. Now, Team Leniency is trying again. The same bill that »

Our under-incarceration problem, Maryland/Delaware edition

Featured image America has an under-incarceration problem. Too many people whose history of criminality shows they should be in jail are on our streets committing crimes, including heinous ones. I’ve written about this here, here, here, and elsewhere. Today’s news brings more evidence of the problem. Radee L. Prince killed three co-workers and wounded two others at his workplace in northern Maryland and then drove to Delaware where he shot a sixth »

To appease kneelers, NFL backs leniency for felons

Featured image Hoping to bring an end to kneeling during the National Anthem, NFL owners are meeting with the players’ union. To smooth the way, the League has endorsed legislation that would mean lighter sentencing for drug felons. It’s unlikely that the NFL’s endorsement counts for much at this juncture. For one thing, it’s widely understood that Roger Goodell has enough trouble managing his own business without branching off into the nation’s. »

Left balks as Sessions returns DOJ to rule of law

Featured image President Trump may be disillusioned with Jeff Sessions, but the Attorney General is doing an outstanding job. Perhaps his most significant accomplishment is returning the DOJ to the rule of law by reinstituting guidelines that require prosecutors to charge the most serious offenses and ask for the lengthiest prison sentences. One indication of the significance of this accomplishment is the howling from Team Leniency, including two former Obama-appointed prosecutors — »

Angry with Jeff Sessions, the New York Times revises history

Featured image “Unity Was Emerging on Sentencing. Then Came Jeff Sessions.” So declares the New York Times in a story bemoaning the failure of Congress to pass sentencing reform legislation in 2016 and the recent order from Attorney General Sessions to end lenient charging practices at the Department of Justice. Jeff Sessions certainly deserves credit for opposing the lenient sentencing legislation. His effort was heroic. But Times reporter Carl Hulse distorts the »