« Back to School, Blakely style | Main | Yet another helpful (future FSR) resource »

August 30, 2004

Alternative (sentencing) universe?

One of the many fascinating issues arising in the post-Blakely world is the legality and appropriateness of alternative sentencing. Recall that orders from the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have "recommended" to district courts that they announce an alternative sentence "in the interest of judicial economy," although I speculated here about whether such an unusual procedure would in fact be economical. Also recall that Judge Goodwin is on record in US v. Johnson, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16077 (S.D. W. Va. Aug. 13, 2004), saying that alternative sentencing is unwise and perhaps unlawful (details here). Finally, I cannot help but note that, perhaps "in the interest of judicial economy," the Sixth Circuit's recent opinions in Koch did not say a word about the court's alternative sentencing order.

Whatever courts and observers might think of alternative sentencing, apparently the Federal Bureau of Prisons is not a big fan of the practice. The recent memorandum from the Judicial Conference's Criminal Law Committee to all federal judges, judicial executives, court clerks and chief probation officers (discussed here) includes this interesting and telling paragraph on alternative sentences:

As the agency responsible for administering the execution of federal sentences, the Federal Bureau of Prisons advised the Committee of its concerns with regard to the issuance of alternative sentences. It is the Bureau of Prisons' position that its staff cannot unilaterally determine whether an appellate court's decision invalidates the primary sentence of a criminal judgment that sets forth an alternative sentence. Consequently, the Bureau of Prisons indicates its intention that a sentence alternative to the one primarily imposed will be executed only upon unequivocal direction from defendant's sentencing court through an amended criminal judgment, or other re-sentencing order.

This passage — as well as Judge Goodwin's Johnson opinion and the extended silence from the Fourth and Sixth Circuits on this issue — confirms my general sense that alternative sentencing is a better idea in theory than in practice.

I know a good number of courts, following this initial suggestion of Judge Cassell in his path-breaking Croxford ruling, have imposed alternative sentences of some form. I wonder if anyone has been able to tally how many alternative sentences have been announced or has tried to study the basic characteristics of such rulings. Though perhaps a nightmare for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the statement of alternative sentences seems like an academic's dream.

August 30, 2004 at 01:45 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e200d83440b7b853ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Alternative (sentencing) universe?:

Comments

Iam interested because I am a defendent in a Federal Case seeking alternative sentencing.

Posted by: Christina Q | Apr 21, 2005 12:41:14 AM

nec m300 battery

Posted by: laptop battery | Oct 14, 2008 5:30:58 AM

As usual, these astrophysics questions prove to be much more
challenging than they initially seem. I had been working on issues
close to this one, so I had got to believe that half the way was done,
but this field is so fascinatingly complex and spread out that every
question about it is a new beginning.

Posted by: generic propecia | Apr 27, 2010 12:22:19 PM

This is such a fabulously intriguing idea, these books that will never be written. And now I so want to read them all, mostly due to your skill with evocative covers. I look at them and feel the story within. Or the story that could be within. I'm not sure if I should thank you or curse you...

Posted by: viagra online | Sep 29, 2010 2:14:16 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB