« Holiday road | Main | More on Alito and the criminal docket »

November 24, 2005

A sentencing turkey for Thanksgiving

I had planned to celebrate one of my favorite holidays by doing a reprise of my Giving Thanks post from last year.  However, news I received via e-mail suggests I should devote my one post today to relay news that House Judiciary Chair James Sensenbrenner is working on a real sentencing turkey.  Here are the highlight — really lowlights — of the report I received about new crime legislation in the works:

Rep. Sensenbrenner is planning an omnibus crime bill package that would pass the House on the suspension calendar (so it could not be amended) and be sent to the Senate in hopes that it, or some more palatable version of it, could pass by unanimous consent there before the end of the year.  It could include H.R. 1279 (gang bill); HR 3132 (sex offenses, including obnoxious habeas provision); and HR 1751 (court security bill).

The House sponsor appears to be willing to pare some unpopular parts of the bill to lure the Senate, maybe including the mandatory minimums (like the one for failure to register as a sex offender), maybe other stuff.  They are banking on the fact that the Senate wants a court security bill and maybe others.  The language for this omnibus should be ready by the time the members return from recess.

This is a story to watch closely after the holiday weekend.

November 24, 2005 at 03:32 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e200d83497753d69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A sentencing turkey for Thanksgiving:

Comments

... They are banking on the fact that the Senate wants a court security bill and maybe others ...

If the Senate really wants a court security bill (HR 1751) they need to have their heads examined imho. The bill is a grossly irrational overreaction to recent instances of courtroom violence or violence directed against judges.

For starters instead of limiting itself to court security the bill drastically changes statutory minimal penalties for murder of any kind. Typically by a factor of two (10 to 20 years, 6 to 10) and in some cases from "any number of years" to "no less than 30". This is a tectonic shift in US sentencing philosophy that they try to sneak in under the pretense of providing for better court security.

They don't seem to realize that the proposed changes are not even in the best interest of the justice system. Rigid sentencing is bound to produce more deeply aggrieved citizens who out of sheer desperation will lash out at the system they perceive, justly or not, as unjust and inhumane. Citizens desperate (or mentally unstable) enough to resort to courtroom violance are totally immune to 10 vs 20 years type of argument. In short the bill will provoke more courtroom or anti-judicial violence not less. It's sole purpose seems to be crude, draconian retribution.

The bill is troubling on a much more fundamental level. Consider this:

.. The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws ...

The plain reading of the above is that the life of a bum sleeping under the bridge has the same value as that of anybody's else. In other words, murder, kidnapping, etc should be treated equally regardless of who was the victim or who committed the crime. Carving special protection of the laws for those who work for the government (bulk of this bill) offends the very essence of the order of things in democratic societies. It could even be considered a serious abuse of government power.

Believe it or not, the bill arms US judges and prosecutors. So if this passes US civilian court system will be the only one in the entire world where prosecutors and judges show up in courtrooms carrying guns. The sheer lunacy* of this provision is beyond description.

---

And finally note the whole premise of this bill seems seriously misguided, there is no epidemic of courtroom violence in this country, a few sorry incidents that were regretful and likely statistically unavoidable. Throwing some money for better equipment, training and testing of security personnel in US courts is all that is needed here.


---
(*Just imagine some 70 years old judge with severely impaired vision and hearing mistaking some commotion in the courtroom for attack on him pulling out his Berreta from under his robes with his trembling hands and starting to shoot.)

Posted by: wg | Nov 25, 2005 2:09:25 AM

I am a retired academic criminologist,
writing a newsletter and a book on the
crime policy process. I am interested
in how you found this out. It should be
in the mainstream press, which may or
may not kill it. Any help you can give
me on this sentencing turkey is
appreciated. It is a crime against
democracy.

Posted by: Michael Israel | Dec 1, 2005 4:49:59 PM

nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web
nice web

Posted by: richard | Jun 26, 2007 1:48:10 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