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January 31, 2006

Will the State of the Union include any sentencing coverage?

The confirmation hearings for both Justices Sam Alito and John Roberts confirmed my sense that traditional crime and sentencing issues are not matters of great political concern these days.  Of course, the war on terror and the death penalty were focal points in the hearings, but to my chagrin (see here and here) few other criminal justice matters were raised.

Consequently, I will be surprised if President George Bush's State of the Union Address tonight includes any sentencing coverage at all.  However, it bears recalling that President Bush's last two State of the Union Addresses have included some surprising sentencing coverage:

  • Calling America "the land of second chance," President Bush in his 2004 State of the Union address spotlighted prisoner re-entry issues and proposed "a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups."  Some background on these re-entry issues can be found in this post.

  • Asserting that in America "we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit," President Bush in his 2005 State of the Union Address  asserted that he was going "to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side."  In this post around the time of her nomination to the Supreme Court, I speculated that this surprising discussion of the importance of competent counsel might have been pushed by White Housel Counsel Harriet Miers.

January 31, 2006 at 08:36 PM | Permalink

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