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May 17, 2005

Justice Kennedy reiterates his ABA comments on federal sentencing

I see, thanks to Mike at Crime & Federalism (to whom I also owe thanks for these nice comments), that law.com has available this piece reporting on comments concerning federal sentencing made by Justice Anthony Kennedy last week at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference.  Here are the highlights:

[Kennedy] said he and his judicial colleagues are working with Congress to rehire some of the 1,300 probation and sentencing officers who were laid off last year due to budget cuts. 

He said these officers are needed in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in January that struck down the use of mandatory federal sentencing guidelines. "The only thing worse than sentencing under the guidelines is sentencing without the guidelines," he said, calling sentencing "the hardest thing judges do."

In a comment that won't endear him to DeLay and other conservatives, Kennedy suggested that criminal sentences in the United States are too long, noting that U.S. sentences are eight times longer than those in Western Europe. "We have to rethink the sentencing system," he said. "We have 180,000 prisoners in the California state system alone."

Asked about a bill just passed by the House to impose tough mandatory minimum sentences for gang-related offenses, Kennedy said he "strongly opposes" mandatory minimums, saying they lead to overly harsh sentences.

Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy rightly notes here that these potent quotables actually are just a reiteration of points that Justice Kennedy made two years ago in this potent speech to the American Bar Association.

May 17, 2005 at 01:05 AM | Permalink


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