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October 17, 2013

Is it too early want the new Senator from NJ to get going on sentencing reform?

Though Senator-Elect Cory Booker has not yet been sworn in, I am already eager to see if, when and how he might start trying to deliver on his campaign call for federal criminal justice reform. Linked via this page from his website, Senator-Elect Booker has championed an array of reform ideas in this white-paper titled "Reforming America's Criminal Justice System: Refocusing on Delivering Results, Aligning with Our Values, and Reducing the Burden on Taxpayers." Here is just a snippet of some of the sentencing-related reforms he is calling for in that document:

Increase federal funding for proven, evidence-based programs like drug and community courts, that divert low-level drug offenders from prison....

Facilitate a structured, national conversation about the decriminalization of marijuana...

Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses...

Eliminate the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine....

This all sounds good to me, Senator-Elect Booker. Feel free to let me know how I can help.

October 17, 2013 at 06:44 PM | Permalink

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With a name like "Booker" ... seems appropriate.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 17, 2013 7:51:02 PM

I don't have any confidence in a man who has an imaginary crime victim friend named "T-Bone." Sorry, Professor, this guy will put whatever reforms are needed to create bigger crime problems in the community to advance the liberal agenda.

Look to Rand Paul and Mike Hill for more significant, smart-on-crime reforms that both reduce incarceration time as well as significantly reduce recidivism. BOTH sides of the coin are needed for effective reform, and Booker's agenda only advances the former without caring about, and indeed, NEEDING, recidivists to advance his political agenda.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Oct 17, 2013 10:06:59 PM

Senator Booker,
Please consider changing the three strike law. It is unjust, and many are behind bars for violent crimes, even though no one was harmed, because the prosecutor's found a way to allow people whom has harmed no one, who too had fall victim to the violent crime statue. I personally know of a man, whom has been incarcerated under this law, and has never harmed anyone. And has been sitting in NJSP for 16 years, and is completely reformed for the same. If you happen to see this, I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this very serious matter with you. He is a model citizen behind the prison walls, and has got his GED, Attended Blackstone institute, and obtained his Associates, in law as a Paralegal. He is Executive Secretary for the NAACP branch 2020, and has completed many many programs from the 12 step, parenting, and many others, and with perfect attendance. With him behind the prison walls, it is now having an effect on his health. The stress is taking it's toll on this man. Now it is going to cost the tax payed more to house this reformed man, as he now has health problems. I fear Prison will be the death of him. I have all of his transcripts, and it is disgusting, to say the least of all the injustices done to him. And he had no money for a lawyer, and was treated unfairly. He did believe he deserved to serve time in prison, as he had a severe problem with alcohol and drugs, since the age of 8, as it was given to him on a daily basis from his own mother, and her pimp. This is the very first time he has been reformed since the age of 8 years old. And he knows and takes complete responsibility for picking up that bottle, the day these crimes transpired. (He never denied committing these crimes, he just has no recollection of doing so.) When his mother signed him out of school in the 7th grade, and threw him into the streets, he lived under the boardwalk, with a silverback gorilla on his back, never mind monkey. So, he soon resorted to sterling to survive, and to keep his gorilla at bey, so it would not wreak havoc on his mind and body,. (DT's and convulsing) When he robbed 2 stores in a Self induced blackout, he was tried each separately, even though they transpired on the same day, jousts minutes if each other. The judge acknowledged that he had a severe problem, and said that he knew Greg (my best friend since childhood) would stand before him again in the future. Greg asked that he be able to be sent to detox. And rehab, before going to prison, as he felt this was his chance to become clean, as he so desperately wanted, but had no insurance, and indigent beds, were hard to come by. The judge denied him, knowing that he was sick with addiction. He continued to use in prison, as it was plentiful on the inside.,When he robbed again in a self induced blackout later down the road, just as the judge predicted, and could have prevented, he was sentenced under the 3 strike law to LIFE! During his pretrial, Greg asked that the courts do not use a small pocket Swiss army knife, found in his kitchen drawer, that the police found inside if his apt., As Greg's girlfriend gave police permission to search his apt. It was not her apt. and had no rights to give the police permission to search. The judge did side with Greg, and it was on record, (I have it in my possession, as well as 2 other's all of Greg's transcripts) that the knife would not be brought into the trial. They brought it in anyway. The head juror had worked inside the Judge's home, other's had people in their immediate family either working in law, as lawyers, police officers, etc. And some other jurors had been in trouble with the law. And the judge allowed this. When Greg asked the judge, why he does not have a mixed jury of nationalities, the judge replied that he did not realize that Greg was African American. Really? Out of all nationalities, why African American? How racist! When Greg tried to appeal for the time he received, and ngot reform, and all the wrongs in his trial, the courts wrote to him several times, explaining that they had lost his files. After the timely filing date had passed, he received a letter from the courts that they had found his files. When he applied for an appeal, he was denied for untimely filing. He explained what had happened, with the letters from the courts loosing his files, and he needed more time due to this, and we still had those letters, and he was still denied an appeal. This is Grossly unjust. And inexcusable. He had a Dr. That specialized in drug addiction, and it was said, upon that Dr's evaluation, that Greg, would be a great candidate for reform, and he felt Greg would live a productive lawful life, if given the chance to do so. I am a respected woman, and have raised 6 children, 5 professionals, 2 that are Dr.'s, and my 18 year old graduating this June, and also going to med school. I have NEVER been in trouble with the law my entire life, other than parking ticket, and I feel my judgement is spot on, and do not keep company, with hardened criminals. Greg deserves a second chance in life. When he committed the first crimes as an older teen, he was NEVER given the chance for reform, even after asking the courts for help before serving his sentence. I ask that you please contact me in regards to this very sad case. Greg has never been in trouble in the prison community, and is COMPLETELY REFORMED! His rap sheet just looks bad, as I believe, he served as the poster boy for the first to be sentenced under this law, in a Ocean County. I know a Lot about drugs and alcohol, as my mother in law and I had many conversations regarding Greg's case. She too thought that this was unjust. And she knew what she was talking about, as she was the owner of the IDRC in middlesex county, as well as the counselor for the middlesex jail. Please email me regarding this subject if urgency, as time is ticking, and no one is disposable. Especially one who has never been given the chance to reform, and start anew. He has repented, and paid his dues, for the crimes he committed when he was a very sick man. Please help myself, amongst many, who back him, do he may be given the chance at life again, since the age if 8 years old. He is putting in for a commute of sentence 2014, for good cause shown. Please contact me.
Respectfully,
Teresa Castor
I have faith in my father. Still trying to perfect myself, in his image. And doing my share to spread the word of God! Amen!

Posted by: Teresa | Oct 18, 2013 2:16:54 AM

Senator Booker,
My name is Teresa, and I am a public advocate. Please consider changing the three strike law. It is unjust, and many are behind bars for violent crimes, even though no one was harmed, because the prosecutor's found a way to allow people whom has harmed no one, who too had fall victim to the violent crime statue. I personally know of a man, whom has been incarcerated under this law, and has never harmed anyone. And has been sitting in NJSP for 16 years, and is completely reformed for the same. If you happen to see this, I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this very serious matter with you. He is a model citizen behind the prison walls, and has got his GED, Attended Blackstone institute, and obtained his Associates, in law as a Paralegal. He is Executive Secretary for the NAACP branch 2020, and has completed many many programs from the 12 step, parenting, and many others, and with perfect attendance. With him behind the prison walls, it is now having an effect on his health. The stress is taking it's toll on this man. Now it is going to cost the tax payed more to house this reformed man, as he now has health problems. I fear Prison will be the death of him. I have all of his transcripts, and it is disgusting, to say the least of all the injustices done to him. And he had no money for a lawyer, and was treated unfairly. He did believe he deserved to serve time in prison, as he had a severe problem with alcohol and drugs, since the age of 8, as it was given to him on a daily basis from his own mother, and her pimp. This is the very first time he has been reformed since the age of 8 years old. And he knows and takes complete responsibility for picking up that bottle, the day these crimes transpired. (He never denied committing these crimes, he just has no recollection of doing so.) When his mother signed him out of school in the 7th grade, and threw him into the streets, he lived under the boardwalk, with a silverback gorilla on his back, never mind monkey. So, he soon resorted to sterling to survive, and to keep his gorilla at bey, so it would not wreak havoc on his mind and body,. (DT's and convulsing) When he robbed 2 stores in a Self induced blackout, he was tried each separately, even though they transpired on the same day, jousts minutes if each other. The judge acknowledged that he had a severe problem, and said that he knew Greg (my best friend since childhood) would stand before him again in the future. Greg asked that he be able to be sent to detox. And rehab, before going to prison, as he felt this was his chance to become clean, as he so desperately wanted, but had no insurance, and indigent beds, were hard to come by. The judge denied him, knowing that he was sick with addiction. He continued to use in prison, as it was plentiful on the inside.,When he robbed again in a self induced blackout later down the road, just as the judge predicted, and could have prevented, he was sentenced under the 3 strike law to LIFE! During his pretrial, Greg asked that the courts do not use a small pocket Swiss army knife, found in his kitchen drawer, that the police found inside if his apt., As Greg's girlfriend gave police permission to search his apt. It was not her apt. and had no rights to give the police permission to search. The judge did side with Greg, and it was on record, (I have it in my possession, as well as 2 other's all of Greg's transcripts) that the knife would not be brought into the trial. They brought it in anyway. The head juror had worked inside the Judge's home, other's had people in their immediate family either working in law, as lawyers, police officers, etc. And some other jurors had been in trouble with the law. And the judge allowed this. When Greg asked the judge, why he does not have a mixed jury of nationalities, the judge replied that he did not realize that Greg was African American. Really? Out of all nationalities, why African American? How racist! When Greg tried to appeal for the time he received, and ngot reform, and all the wrongs in his trial, the courts wrote to him several times, explaining that they had lost his files. After the timely filing date had passed, he received a letter from the courts that they had found his files. When he applied for an appeal, he was denied for untimely filing. He explained what had happened, with the letters from the courts loosing his files, and he needed more time due to this, and we still had those letters, and he was still denied an appeal. This is Grossly unjust. And inexcusable. He had a Dr. That specialized in drug addiction, and it was said, upon that Dr's evaluation, that Greg, would be a great candidate for reform, and he felt Greg would live a productive lawful life, if given the chance to do so. I am a respected woman, and have raised 6 children, 5 professionals, 2 that are Dr.'s, and my 18 year old graduating this June, and also going to med school. I have NEVER been in trouble with the law my entire life, other than parking ticket, and I feel my judgement is spot on, and do not keep company, with hardened criminals. Greg deserves a second chance in life. When he committed the first crimes as an older teen, he was NEVER given the chance for reform, even after asking the courts for help before serving his sentence. I ask that you please contact me in regards to this very sad case. Greg has never been in trouble in the prison community, and is COMPLETELY REFORMED! His rap sheet just looks bad, as I believe, he served as the poster boy for the first to be sentenced under this law, in a Ocean County. I know a Lot about drugs and alcohol, as my mother in law and I had many conversations regarding Greg's case. She too thought that this was unjust. And she knew what she was talking about, as she was the owner of the IDRC in middlesex county, as well as the counselor for the middlesex jail. Please email me regarding this subject if urgency, as time is ticking, and no one is disposable. Especially one who has never been given the chance to reform, and start anew. He has repented, and paid his dues, for the crimes he committed when he was a very sick man. Please help myself, amongst many, who back him, do he may be given the chance at life again, since the age if 8 years old. He is putting in for a commute of sentence 2014, for good cause shown. Please contact me.
Respectfully,
Teresa Castor
I have faith in my father. Still trying to perfect myself, in his image. And doing my share to spread the word of God! Amen!

Posted by: Teresa | Oct 18, 2013 2:18:39 AM

The system is too broke to fix.

It is a system of, by and for current and former prosecutors (legislators, sentencing commission members and judges) and it fiercely guards the terrifying powers it's bestowed on itself.

It is riveted on making sure no plausibly guilty person slips through unpunished; It accepts as tolerable collateral damage the prospect a number of innocent and wrongly accused will be swept up and destroyed in the process. It is numb to the notion any of its laws or punishments might be too harsh.

Its safety and longevity is ensured by the existence of seething champions like Eric Knight, federalist and Bill Otis -- and their relentless advancement of harsh, punitive "agendas" of their own. Politics since the 1970s has been good to crime-issue demagogues. Lawmakers routinely crank out prosecutor-friendly laws. Courts typically seem to like prosecutors better than defense lawyers and routinely wink at or defer to cops and prosecutors who push the envelope.

Of course I wish Booker and other reformers luck but I don't see anything improving in the foreseeable future regardless of their efforts.

Posted by: John K | Oct 19, 2013 10:51:33 AM

John K wrote:

"Its safety and longevity is ensured by the existence of seething champions like Eric Knight, federalist and Bill Otis -- and their relentless advancement of harsh, punitive "agendas" of their own."

You have completely taken my entire argument and twisted it 180 degrees. In fact, I AM for reform of the entire criminal justice system that conforms back to Constitutional standards. I won't recant my entire position at it takes a lot, but suffice to say that the entire system is rigged to failure because of its "finite encapsulation" (my term) of both punishment and rehabilition/reintegration with the community. In short, there is a zero-sum calculation in which punishment (incarceration) is balanced with rehabilitation/reintegration (treatment, community supervision, programs, etc.). When one part is emphasized, it must deimphasize the other part.

To that end, Booker, along with most liberals, wants to emphasize only the latter without the former, particularly with appropriating funds for this purpose. Yes, many conservatives want to emphasize incarceration and punishment with reducing costs, but liberal emphasis is more prevalent in society in the media and politics.

(My solution is to separate the punitive from the rehab processes, and create a new sentencing paradigm that addresses this function, which need Constitutionally-supported arguments).

Posted by: Eric Knight | Oct 19, 2013 5:35:16 PM

Eric Knight --

"...suffice to say that the entire system is rigged to failure because of its 'finite encapsulation'."

In what sense is a 50% drop in crime in a single generation a "failure"?

What were the results when we had a more rehab-based system in the 60' and 70's?

P.S. I do apologize, however, that John K swept you up with federalist and me. John tends to see ANYONE who supports seriously punishing criminals, even to a small extent, as Really Bad Actors.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 19, 2013 6:18:03 PM

John K --

"It is riveted on making sure no plausibly guilty person slips through unpunished..."

Actually, the standard is not plausible guilt. The standard is guilt BRD. Most of the time that is provided by the defendant's stating under oath at the plea proceeding that yes, he did it. The rest of the time it's found by a unanimous jury of 12 unbiased strangers. Are they all thugs too? Do tell!

"It accepts as tolerable collateral damage the prospect a number of innocent and wrongly accused will be swept up and destroyed in the process."

Going to jail is not a lick of fun, but it doesn't typically "destroy" those who experience it, see, e.g., http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2013/09/the-living-hell-of-federal-pri.html

And there is no system on earth, ever, that does not tolerate a risk of erroneous conviction. The only conceivable such system would be one that refuses to convict anyone. Do you disagree? Is that what you want? What legal standard do you propose other than guilt BRD?

"It is numb to the notion any of its laws or punishments might be too harsh."

It is aware of the agenda you and your allies sold to the country in the 60's and 70's, and the crime wave and attendant massive increase in human misery that came with it.

You are correct: We're not going to be suckered again.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 19, 2013 6:41:47 PM

Let the new guy get sworn in and get situated in there. I sent him a copy of former Congressman William Clay's book called Just Permanent Interests. It is a good read for anyone. New Jersey elected a worthy candidate. Time will tell if he can be effective in that dysfunctional place called DC (Dysfunctional City).

Posted by: Liberty1st | Oct 21, 2013 9:24:22 AM

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