Sentencing Reform

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 »

Our under-incarceration problem, California edition [UPDATED]

Featured image Keith Boyer, a police officer in Whittier, California, was shot and killed earlier this week. The killer is believed to be Michael Christopher Mejia. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mejia is “a career criminal with a history of drugs and violence.” He has “cycled in and out of jail for repeatedly violating the terms of his release.” Here are the details: Court records show that Mejia was sentenced in »

The tragic reality of sentencing reform

Featured image Steve Cook is president of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys. He has been a key figure in the fight against softer sentencing for federal drug felons and the early release of such felons. Writing in LifeZette, Steve explains why the sentencing reform legislation being pushed in Congress would have tragic consequences for innocent Americans. He writes: Not all crimes are preventable — but some are. The serious »

No jailbreak legislation this year

Featured image The bipartisan jailbreak legislation — known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act — is dead in this session of Congress. Sens. Dick Durbin and John Cornyn, key backers of the Act, have basically conceded defeat. Cornyn said he had hoped the House would move more quickly and provide momentum for the legislation in the Senate. But, he added, “apparently we ran out of time.” In reality, the demise of »

Weldon Angelos finally released from prison; why did Obama leave him there so long?

Featured image Weldon Angelos was the poster prisoner for opponents of mandatory minimum sentencing and those who want the minimums reduced. And for good reason. Angelos was unjustly sentenced under the mandatory minimums to 55 years in prison after being convicted for selling marijuana. Are there other instances of unjust sentences under the minimums? Almost certainly. Yet, advocates of sentencing leniency seem hard-pressed to find them. Of the cases cited in the »

Crime as an issue in 2016

Featured image Bill Otis wonders whether crime will be a significant issue in the 2016 presidential election. It could. Although the crime rate remains low compared to what it was in the days when crime policy was a major issue (and a winning one for Republicans), crime has spiked in many cities and drug addiction has soared. Moreover, the two presidential candidates set the issue up nicely. Donald Trump is a tough »

Nationwide crime wave confirms the Ferguson effect

Featured image Heather Mac Donald, writing in the Wall Street Journal, describes the crime wave that is sweeping the nation, and attributes much of it to the Ferguson effect. She notes that even some who initially denied the Ferguson effect now admit that the phenomenon is real. Mac Donald points to Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, who was an early and influential critic of the Ferguson »

Sen. Tom Cotton on Crime and Justice in America

Featured image Senator Tom Cotton delivered an important address today at the Hudson Institute on crime and justice in America. Cotton said he believes that the criminal-leniency bill in the Senate — which would, among other things, lead to the release of many thousands of federal drug felons from prison — is dead in this year’s Congress. What the Senator didn’t say is that he deserves much of the credit for rallying »