Sentencing Reform

Is the White House turning criminal justice policy over to Van Jones and Kim Kardashian?

Featured image I hope not, but there’s reason for concern. This morning, the White House announced: Members of the Administration are hosting a listening session about the clemency process. The discussion is mainly focused on ways to improve that process to ensure deserving cases receive a fair review. Here is the list of those who were to participate: INTERNAL ATTENDEES: Jared Kushner Ja’Ron Smith Brooke Rollins Chris Liddell EXTERNAL ATTENDEES: Rachel Barkow »

The folly of leniency-for-felons legislation: A response to John Malcolm

Featured image John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation has responded to my critique of his article defending the leniency-for-criminals legislation being pushed in the Senate. I appreciate his response. Like a good lawyer writing a reply brief, Malcolm begins by citing the points he made that I didn’t dispute. Let me begin by returning the favor. Here are points I made that Malcolm does not dispute. I consider them decisive. First, Malcolm »

Report: Trump strongly opposes lenient sentencing legislation

Featured image Last week, it was determined that the leniency-for-drug felons legislation being pushed by Democrats and some Republicans will not be brought to the Senate floor before the November elections. Left open was the question of whether it will be brought to the Senate floor afterwards. The answer to that question lies, I believe, in the position President Trump takes. If he supports leniency-for-felons legislation, it might well get a floor »

A strange day for Trump and Sessions

Featured image This morning, President Trump attacked his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, once again. He complained that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department.” Trump fails here to distinguish between taking control of the Russia investigation and taking control of the Justice Department generally. He also fails to recognize that it’s not the Attorney General’s job to protect the president or to promote his political interests — to be the president’s »

Law enforcement leaders urge Trump to reject jailbreak bill

Featured image At a White House meeting this afternoon, President Trump reportedly decided that the leniency-for-criminals legislation Jared Kushner, Sen. Chuck Grassley, and a host of liberal Democrats have been pushing is too politically difficult to endorse before the elections. Let’s hope he understands that the legislation is politically fraught after the elections, as well. The legislation is also terrible policy. This point is forcefully made in the following letter, hand-delivered to »

Tom Cotton and Hugh Hewitt discuss jailbreak legislation [UPDATED WITH GOOD NEWS]

Featured image Our old friend Sen. Tom Cotton joined our old friend Hugh Hewitt on Hugh’s radio program to discuss the leniency-for-criminals legislation that has been picking up steam in the Senate. Tom forcefully stated the case against passing such legislation, especially in the midst of the opioid epidemic. Hugh and Tom discussed a recent tragic episode of which I was unaware. In New Haven, Connecticut, in one park, 70 people overdosed »

In defense of Tom Cotton’s critique of leniency-for-criminals legislation

Featured image Last week, Sen. Tom Cotton wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal opposing the lenient sentencing legislation now under serious consideration by Congress. I summarized Sen. Cotton’s article here. John Malcolm and Brett Tolman of the Heritage Foundation have responded to Cotton. They deny that the legislation is soft on crime. Malcolm is a respected conservative legal analyst. I’m not familiar with Tolman, but I’m confident he is too. »

Tom Cotton on the leniency-for-criminals legislation

Featured image Our friend Sen. Tom Cotton has written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal opposing the latest jailbreak legislation that I discussed here. He argues: [U]nder no circumstances should Congress cut mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes or give judges more discretion to reduce those sentences. That foolish approach is not criminal-justice reform—it’s a jailbreak that would endanger communities and undercut President Trump’s campaign promise to restore law and order. »

Jailbreak legislation is back and worse than ever

Featured image Three years ago, liberal Democrats and naive Republicans pushed hard for leniency-for-criminals legislation. It provided for a sharp reduction of mandatory minimum sentences for drug felons, to be applied retroactively so as to free many thousands of drug felons before they completed their sentences. The leniency legislation also included “corrections reform.” The focus here was on ways to rehabilitate prisoners, using methods that sponsors claimed, quite speciously, have worked well »

Our under-incarceration problem, Atlanta edition

Featured image When he was 14 years-old, Jayden Myrick was arrested for armed robbery. He agreed in a plea deal to a 15 year sentence. The final seven years were to be served in adult prison. But after just two-and-half years in juvenile detention, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs set Myrick free. She put him on probation and placed him in a special program whose director claimed could keep tabs »

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 »