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December 17, 2008

Notable new stories from the most dysfunctional sentencing state

In the wake of Blogo-gate, there has been lots of talk about what state should be considered most politically corrupt.  That got me to thinking about which state should be considered most dysfunctional when it comes to sentencing.  And these headlines (and the underlying stories) reminded me why a state other than California would have a hard time making the case for most dysfunctional:

These stories highlight just some of the many reasons California is clearly the most dysfunctional sentencing state.  Whether we focus on the death penalty, prison overcrowding, constitutional sentencing jurisprudence or federal habeas review, California has something crazy and problematic going on both politically and practically.  I guess the California-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation never has to worry about running out of things to do. 

December 17, 2008 at 12:35 PM | Permalink


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Come on, Doug, you know that California doesn't even hold a candle to Ohio!

We've had 2 rounds of resentencings of the same inmates: the first as a result of Senate Bill 2 and the OSC's Comer decision, the second as a result of Blakely and the OSC's Foster decision. We have a sentencing commission who wants to increase mandatory minimums and mandatory prison sentencing, and a legislature that has completely failed to change the sentencing code in response to a four-year old decision that struck multiple code provisions as unconstitutional. We have a record number of prison inmates during a period of relatively low crime by historic levels. We have more people scheduled to be executed in the next year than all other states except Alabama and Texas, but all inmates recieving capital sentences have one less level of state appeals than those receiving non-capital sentences. And there is a proposal being floated by the governor's office to close six prisons, triple-bunk all inmates, and cut most programming.

Why are you overlooking the problems in your own state?

Posted by: Jay Macke | Dec 17, 2008 1:59:36 PM

Nothing you've indicated comes anywhere close to the problems they are having in California, though you've done a good job convincing me that Ohio is not as sound as I sometimes think.

Everything you mention is MUCH worse in Califorinia --- where the state Supreme Court sought to dodge Blakely entirely, where they cannot even agree to have a sentencing commission, where 3-strikes laws are crazy, where death row has 30 times the number of persons ever executed in the state, where federal judges may order the release of 50,000 inmates, and where few are even paying attention......)

Posted by: Douglas A. Berman | Dec 17, 2008 4:34:32 PM

Touche. I'll tell you what--when a federal judge actually forces California to cut 50,000 inmates loose, I'll happily buy you lunch! And next session, when the Ohio legislature enacts the three-strikes law they've been mucking about with, we'll talk again, okay? ;)

Posted by: Jay Macke | Dec 17, 2008 5:37:08 PM

Running out of things to do is a "worry" that has never crossed my mind.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Dec 17, 2008 5:57:37 PM

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