- Pubblicato Sabato, 01 Ottobre 2011 09: :01
NYT September 28, 2011
The rise in mandatory minimum sentences has damaged the integrity of the justice system, reduced the role of judges in meting out punishment and increased the power of prosecutors beyond their proper roles.
A Times report this week shows how prosecutors can often compel suspects to plead guilty rather than risk going to trial by threatening to bring more serious charges that carry long mandatory prison terms. In such cases, prosecutors essentially determine punishment in a concealed, unreviewable process — doing what judges are supposed to do in open court, subject to review.
This dynamic is another reason to repeal mandatory sentencing laws, which have proved disastrous across the country, helping fill up prisons at a ruinous cost. These laws were conceived as a way to provide consistent, stern sentences for all offenders who commit the same crime. But they have made the problem much worse. They have shifted the justice system’s attention away from deciding guilt or innocence. In giving prosecutors more leverage, these laws often result in different sentences for different offenders who have committed similar crimes.
Mandatory minimums have created other problems. As the United States Sentencing Commission concluded, such sentences have fallen disproportionately on minorities. African-Americans recently made up 24 percent of the federal prison population but 33 percent of those given mandatory minimum sentences. Excluding immigration cases, Hispanics accounted for 30 percent of the prison population but almost 40 percent of such sentences.
These laws have helped fill prisons without increasing public safety. In drug-related crime, a RAND study found, they are less effective than drug treatment and discretionary sentencing.
The American Bar Association, the Judicial Conference of the United States and every major organization focusing on criminal justice opposes mandatory minimum sentences. The federal and state governments should get rid of them — and the injustices they produce.
- Pubblicato Sabato, 01 Ottobre 2011 08: :54
NYT September 25, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After decades of new laws to toughen sentencing for criminals, prosecutors have gained greater leverage to extract guilty pleas from defendants and reduce the number of cases that go to trial, often by using the threat of more serious charges with mandatory sentences or other harsher penalties.
- Pubblicato Sabato, 01 Ottobre 2011 08: :42
Gaile Owens will be released on parole after the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole voted to free her after a quarter-century in prison, according to Tennessee Department of Correction records.
Former death row inmate Gaile Owens takes step toward freedom
- Pubblicato Sabato, 01 Ottobre 2011 08: :39
Middletown Journal September 25, 2011
Keeping track of sex offenders costly
September 26, 2011
- Pubblicato Sabato, 24 Settembre 2011 05: :31
From Prof Berman site September 23, 2011
A remarkable case produces today another remarkable reasonableness review outcome via a split Ninth Circuit that affirms a way above guideline sentence based on an uncharged murder. Here is how the majority opinion in US v. Fitch, No. 10-10607 (9th Cir. Sept. 23, 2011) (available here), gets started:
David Kent Fitch was convicted by a jury of nine counts of bank fraud, two counts of fraudulent use of an access device, two counts of attempted fraudulent use of an access device, two counts of laundering monetary instruments, and one count of money laundering. The applicable Sentencing Guidelines range was 41-51 months. At sentencing, however, the district judge found by clear and convincing evidence that Fitch had murdered his wife, and that her death was the means he used to commit his crimes. Relying on that finding, he imposed a sentence of 262 months.
Fitch appeals his sentence, arguing that the district court committed procedural error and that, in any event, its sentence was substantively unreasonable. Because Fitch has never been charged with his wife’s murder, his sentence is a poignant example of a drastic upward departure from the Guidelines range — albeit below the statutory maximum—based on uncharged criminal conduct. We have not had occasion to address a scenario quite like this, but are constrained to affirm.
Here is how the dissent concludes its opinion:
We simply do not know any of the circumstances of Bozi’s disappearance. We know that she has disappeared and that Fitch immediately exploited her disappearance for his own benefit. While Fitch may indeed have been played a causative, or a concealing, role in Bozi’s disappearance, the record contains no evidence that sheds light on the manner of his involvement or the degree of his involvement. There is certainly no clear and convincing evidence of premeditated murder. The district court’s finding is simply not supported by the record. The substantial departure applied pursuant to § 5K2.1 was therefore an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.