Saturday, February 28, 2015

Life Imprisonment Sentences in the Federal System

The U.S. Sentencing Commission issued a report on life in prison in the federal criminal justice system.
In fiscal year 2013, federal courts imposed a sentence of life imprisonment in 153 cases. The number of these cases in prior years has varied, with the highest number of life sentences having been imposed in fiscal year 2009, when the courts sentenced 280 offenders to life imprisonment. As of January 2015, there were 4,436 prisoners incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons serving a life prisonment sentence. 33 They accounted for 2.5 percent of the federal sentenced offenders in the BOP system.
Read the Entire Report

Friday, February 27, 2015

Justice Lab: Crack is Wack

This is the sixth in a series from Dana Goldstein of the Justice Lab at The Marshall Project, Top 10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline:

Crack is wack

There is little doubt that decreased demand for crack and heroin drove some of the initial drop in crime in the early 1990s. Crack was “a single generation drug,” Rosenfeld says. “The younger generation saw the devastation crack was doing in the neighborhoods and to their older cousins, brothers, sisters, and parents. You think to the image of the crack head. It wasn’t a pretty sight. There was nothing cool about it.” Yet because the cooling of the crack market happened so long ago, it is not a likely cause for the continued decline over the past two decades.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Life or death: Which punishment is worse?

The Washington Post asks: What’s worse – being sentenced to be executed or to spend the rest of one’s life in prison?
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber's, defense team includes two attorneys famous for ensuring that the former is replaced with the latter: Judy Clarke from San Diego, who has brokered many high-profile plea deals, and her frequent litigation partner David Bruck of Virginia. During the jury selection process, which is wrapping up in Boston this week, they have focused on drawing out jurors’ views on the death penalty, and with some regularity have elicited the response that life imprisonment is the harsher of the two options while the death penalty is “the easy way out.”
These potential jurors may have a point. Tsarnaev, 21, has been in solitary confinement for a year and a half. Like a handful of other inmates in the U.S., he has also been subjected to “special administrative measures,” or SAMs, while in pretrial detention; if he is sentenced to life imprisonment, SAMs will almost certainly remain in force.
On Wednesday, as the court continued to interview potential jurors, the Boston Bar Association issued a statement calling on the Justice Department to take the death penalty off the table  and arguing that a plea agreement in exchange for a life sentence would be in the interests of justice. If a plea agreement were to happen, Tsarnaev would stay alone in his cell, under SAMs: He could never have physical contact or a private conversation with anyone except a prison guard for the rest of his life.
To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mangino talks death penalty on PCN

Watch my interview on PCN regarding Governor Tom Wolf's death penalty moratorium in Pennsylvania.  To watch CLICK HERE

Justice Lab: The Tech Thesis

This is the sixth in a series from Dana Goldstein of the Justice Lab at The Marshall Project, Top 10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline:

The tech thesis

Air conditioning and television brought people from the streets into their homes, a safer environment. Cars are now much more difficult to steal, because of sophisticated ignition and locking systems. The introduction of debit cards, including for the distribution of welfare benefits, means people carry less cash, which makes them less likely to become victims.
“These forces change the dynamic of normal life,” Roman says. “How much do they explain the crime decline in the 1990s? A little bit. But they are dwarfed by the end of the crack epidemic and all the violence associated with it.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Does cold weather impact crime rates?

The deep freeze gripping the eastern half of the country has become a sort of test case for a popular notion about the relationship between weather and crime: Law-breaking slows when it's cold, and picks up as the temperature rises, reported NBC News.
Reports from many of the places hit hardest by record-shattering cold, including those that rarely see ice or snow, seem to support the theory. Police calls are down in Memphis. Major crimes have plunged in Boston. Rural Medina County, Ohio is enjoying a near-stoppage in property crime. New York just celebrated 12 consecutive days without a murder — the longest such stretch since the NYPD began collecting data in 1994. 
The premise makes sense, anecdotally. It also has been repeatedly tested by researchers, who've come to similar conclusions.
"The general pattern is that extreme weather tends to cause an across-the-board decrease in crime when it's cold," said Matthew Ranson, an economist for the Cambridge, Massachusetts, consulting firm Abt Associates. He recently published results of a study in which he combined 30 years of data across the country and found "a very strong historical relationship between temperature and crime." 
To read more CLICK HERE      

Monday, February 23, 2015

Justice Lab: Aging Boomers

This is the fifth in a series from Dana Goldstein of the Justice Lab at The Marshall Project, Top 10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline:

Aging boomers

Historians agree that the crime wave of the 1960s and 1970s had a lot to do with the baby boom: There were more young men than ever before, and young men are the people who commit most crimes. As the boomers aged out of trouble in the early 1980s, crime fell. But from 1992 to today, the period of the crime decline, there was no significant decrease in the number of young men in the United States. This suggests the size of the youth population is no longer a major driver of crime.
A small caveat: Some experts believe the growth in the population over the age of 50 has contributed to better public safety, because there are more adults monitoring young people’s behavior. “My sense is that there is some connection there,” Rosenfeld says, but if so, it would account for only a small percentage of the crime drop.