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January 14, 2016

Is there any chance any domestic criminal justice issue gets any attention during tonight's GOP debate?

The first big Prez debate of this big Prez election year takes place in South Carolina, and I am already assuming that any number of notable and important domestic criminal justice issues will be largely forgotten as GOP candidates spar again over the now-standard debate topics of immigration, ISIS and terrorism, and economic development.  Still, as this new Marshall Project piece highlights, the location of the GOP debate tonight was the site of a high-profile mass shooting, and that reality might perhaps enhance the (slim) odds we get a question or two about the death penalty or gun violence or the racial dynamics of crime, policing and punishment.  The MP piece is titled "Republican Candidates on Criminal Justice: A Primer," and here is how it sets up a review of what the GOP candidates in the prime-time debate have said so far on the campaign trail about these issues:

Race. Guns. The Death Penalty.

If these issues resounded anywhere in the past year, it was in Charleston, S.C., where Dylann Roof shot and killed nine parishioners in a Bible study class in one of the oldest black churches in the South.  The June massacre, apparently propelled by the gunman’s white supremacist views and coming amid a spate of killings of blacks by the police around the country, underscored a plaintive question being asked more and more: Do black lives matter?

Thursday night, Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for president gather in Charleston for their sixth televised debate, less than three weeks before their first big contest, the Iowa caucuses.  In the weeks after the killings at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the South Carolina Legislature finally confronted the racially divisive symbol of secession, the Confederate battle flag, and ordered it removed from the state house grounds.  But questions of race, guns and the death penalty have only intensified nationally since then.  Here’s how the candidates (listed in alphabetical order) stand on some of those issues, as reviewed by The Marshall Project.

January 14, 2016 at 10:08 AM | Permalink


The triple murder in Columbus should get some play. What are your thoughts about that Doug?

Posted by: federalist | Jan 14, 2016 12:56:51 PM

Lindsey Graham Kraker is on longer a candidate. Its not fried chicken daddy, its Shake N Bake. The debate will be about Trump.

Posted by: Beldar From Remulak | Jan 14, 2016 2:04:53 PM

Are you taking about the 3 family members killed in their home in Columbus, Georgia, federalist? Is there are reason you think this ugly local crime, which seems to be getting plenty of Georgia state attention but little national attention, merits discussion in a Prez debate set in South Carolina?

If we are going to focus on local crime based on location, I would rather see the GOP folks discuss whether the feds could/should do something about the daily death in SC at the hands of drunk drivers. According to a local article from this time last year, "data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [shows that] the Palmetto State is the worst in the nation in regard to the percentage of traffic deaths involving drunk driving."

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 14, 2016 3:47:33 PM

I recall Prof. Berman had a proposed rule where a certain level of seriousness (such as the murders in the church in S.C., I gather) would make it a federal murder case.

Would this murder incident fit or would something else have to be added?

Posted by: Joe | Jan 14, 2016 5:54:11 PM

Prof. Berman,

I think you might have missed the point of federalist's post. Per the Columbus Dispatch, the suspect was a sentenced drug dealer who was out of federal prison after receiving the benefit of changes in the sentencing guidelines. The story goes on to say that he was released after both his attorneys/federal prosecutors concluded that "his early release did not present a danger to the safety of the public".

Posted by: Cal prosecutor | Jan 14, 2016 6:11:00 PM

Thanks Cal prosecutor. I found the case to which federalist was referring, and I think it actually serves as a terrific example of how state and federal prosecutors wrongfully and harmfully use drug charges to make their efforts to put away dangerous people easier. Here, I think, is a link to a story about the case: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/01/12/0112-3-stabbed-to-death-on-north-side.html

According to the story, prior to the crack conviction and sentence that was later reduced, the defendant Callahan "was convicted in connection with a nonfatal shooting in 1999 and another drug case," and "in a Columbus police report from 2006, taken while Callahan’s federal case was pending, [the victim] said that he had beaten and choked her so severely that she thought he “would have killed her if a good Samaritan didn’t pass by” and "that Callahan was her live-in boyfriend of about a year and has been stressed because he is facing federal time."

Long story short, the accused killer in this sad case of domestic violence had a long history of violence that, for reasons I struggle to explain, seemingly got lost in translation when the feds went after him for a (low-level?) federal crack offense. I won't blame this violent man's violence on his being subject to the federal drug war, but I do not have any reason from this story to believe that keeping this violent man in federal prison longer for a crack offense, rather than in state prison for his violent offenses, would have be sure to prevent him from being violent again after he left prison.

That all said, now that I see the case federalist is referencing, I do see the potential basis for it to serve as a possible prelude to a GOP debate question about federal sentencing reform and the Fair Sentencing Act. Interestingly, I do not think any of the remaining GOP candidates were in Congress when the FSA was passed, so in some sense it would be a fair question to all to ask if they would have supported or opposed the FSA.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 14, 2016 6:40:06 PM

"I won't blame this violent man's violence on his being subject to the federal drug war, but I do not have any reason from this story to believe that keeping this violent man in federal prison longer for a crack offense, rather than in state prison for his violent offenses, would have be[en] sure to prevent him from being violent again after he left prison."

All I can say is wow--first of all, both a prosecutor and a federal judge signed off on the idea that this guy wasn't a threat to public safety. Obviously, Doug can't defend that. So what's the back-up, well he would have eventually been violent--or with more pusillanimity, well, there's no proof he would not have been violent. Of course, all that double-talk cannot obscure the bare fact that there are two kids on a slab in a morgue right next to their mom, and they wouldn't be there without sentencing reform. One would think, though, that some decent respect would preclude that sort of sophistry before the victims are buried.

The other underhanded defense--a criticism of the Franklin County DA and the sentencing of this criminal. Be that as it may--the bottom line is that this criminal was in federal prison, and he got an early release. That there is blame to go around doesn't mean that we should be letting thousands of criminals go free early. Doug also implies that "this violent man's" violence is somehow separated from his crack dealing. Drug dealing, for many many drug dealers, is about violence--cold-hearted violence.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 14, 2016 9:53:49 PM

Oh, I get it; because this anecdotal exemplar shows that one guy who was released under a program which tempered justice with mercy was later accused of a violent crime, our justice should no longer be tempered with mercy hereafter. Where's the flaw in that logic? Pro tip, anytime your argument has to resort to a "heinous" offense cherry-picked from breathless reporting out of the 24-hour news cycle, your premise is weak.

Posted by: MarK M. | Jan 15, 2016 12:17:48 PM

Mark, it's difficult to overestimate the idiocy of your comment. First of all, there is little doubt the guy killed three people so your "accused of a violent crime" is a bit of a euphemism both on the crime itself and the fact that he did it--too transparent and a clumsy bit of sophistry there. Second, you completely overstate my argument--instead of noting that (a) this guy wasn't anywhere close to a "non-violent offender" under any ordinary meaning of the term when he was released and (b) the judge and the prosecutor obviously drop the ball, you say that I am just arguing that there should be no mercy in the criminal justice system. Nothing could be further from the truth. Third, three dead people (from just one criminal) ought to focus questions on whether this was a good idea--but you dismiss this as an anecdote. Fourth, I don't get the scare quotes around "heinous"---under anyone's definition, this was a heinous crime.

Wow, that's a lot of stupidity in a couple of sentences. A misguided sense of moral superiority and ideological blinders will do that. If two dead kids and their mom doesn't get you to pull over and think, then what will? I get that it's somewhat unfair that the merits of the "mercy" will be judged on what happens post facto, but criminals in the federal pokey are often very dangerous, and the bias, it seems to me, ought to be on keeping them locked up until their sentence is up. That's the takeaway here.

Man, it's fun to (rhetorically) whip a little ass.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 15, 2016 12:53:28 PM

Prof. Berman. Find the mildest, most peaceful drug dealer, perhaps a Grateful Dead fan. Now, try to sell drugs in his vicinity. Report back.

All drug dealers are violent, and half are murdered at a young age. The murder tsunami of the 1980's and 1990's was caused by drug dealing. There is no such thing as a non-violent drug dealer That is another lawyer fiction, among thousands.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 15, 2016 2:37:27 PM

federalist, what I do not understand, and would like you to explain in this context, is why your logic about where our incarceration "bias" should be would justify anything other than an LWOP sentence for any and every person convicted of any and every offense that you think is about violence.

I surmise you consider any and everyone dealing any federally prohibited drug (including marijuana, like Weldon Angelos) to be involved in "cold-hearted violence." If this is so, why then should we take a chance in ever letting any of the roughly 300,000 of those criminals out of state or federal prison, ever? Similarly, I assume you think any and everyone involved in a firearm offense, any assault, any sexual offense and any kind of homicide is also a possible threat, so let's just lock them all up and throw away the key on all of them, too.

I will readily admit that if we give every felon the death penalty or LWOP for a first offense, we would reduce recidivism outside the prison walls. How does the logic of you complaints here stop anytime short of urging LWOP sentences for any and every serious offense in order to keep potentially dangerous people locked up until they are no longer potentially dangerous?

As for SC: do you consider alcohol dealers dangerous, too? They sure were during Prohibition, but not so much now. Ergo my belief that ending drug prohibition is likely the best way to reduce violence now associated with drug dealing.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 15, 2016 3:35:04 PM

Doug, you're pivoting again. You appear to have conceded defeat on the stuff you said upthread. Now you try the dubious line of attack that the logical extension of my position is that we LWOP all violent crimes. Um no. First of all, all I was talking about was the reduction of validly imposed and lawful sentences. That has to attach some sort of presumption/bias that such sentences aren't to be disturbed. That's a far cry from the decision process when someone is to be sentenced (or when setting the max sentence), where public safety is NOT the only consideration. (Note: I've said similar things before about public safety not being the only consideration in sentencing.) What we're talking about here, and you don't defend it, is a release of some guy who had a history of severe violence in the then recent past. You apparently think that it's somehow a defense that you can twist my words into some reductio ad absurdum criticism of my position. That's just silly. So to answer your question about my position on this particular sentence reduction NOT leading to a logical conclusion that all sentences should be LWOP for violent crimes is that upsetting a judgment is different from an initial determination. But even if the logic did--we're talking about human decisions and judgment, i.e., things that aren't susceptible to pure logic anyway.

Your surmise is without basis as well. Your post upthread (thankfully abandoned) posited that you could separate this guy's drug dealing and his violence. My point is that a large percentage of drug dealers are willing to use violence to protect their turf. I didn't say all were--just that there is a pretty strong correlation. And, once again, you mischaracterize my position. I guess that's what I'd do--since you cannot come out and defend the decisions that led to the deaths of three completely innocent people. I don't treat (and never have) public safety as the absolute categorical imperative (although, I would argue that this guy's crimes should have kept him behind bars for a lot longer, maybe until he is fifty--shooting someone then almost choking girlfriend to death and drug dealing probably merited a sentence of 25-30 years). So given that he got a sentence that was already probably a gift (putting aside the fact that he offended two separate sovereigns--I am talking about justice here), there was NO reason to give him more of a gift, particularly when he was supposed to be "non-violent" before getting it.

This case illustrates the broken promises of the self-titled "smart on crime" crowd. The public is given promises that we can release people, reduce costs and resurrect lives--and what do we get, terrible judgments and tragedies that should have been prevented (or, in Doug's parlance, delayed).

This thread also reveals why people have every right to despise elite opinion. Instead of re-evaluating your stated commitment to releasing thousands of criminals, you make silly besides-the-point arguments that get swatted away with little effort. There are three dead people. And you cannot even open your mind to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, you've overestimated the system's ability to release people and not impose an intolerable risk to the public.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 15, 2016 5:28:18 PM

Prof. Berman. The Era of Prohibition was great, and has a falsely bad reputation. It prohibited the correct substance. It only achieved a 50% reduction in consumption of alcohol due to lack of public support. Otherwise, it was an era of economic boom, all kinds of social pathologies decreased. I looked at the death rate from cirrhosis, a marker for alcoholism. It dropped. So despite lack of real enforcement, Saudi Arabia style, Prohibition was a success. Its lesson should be applied, please, do not impose any prohibition that does not have public support.

I count the prohibition against marijuana on the list of lawyer stupidity, or worse corruption paid off by drug cartel front organizations donating to our politicians.

Alcohol kills 100,000 people a year itself. Then you will find alcohol over the legal limit in half the car crashes, half the murder victims, half the murderers, and half the suicides. The latter takes more life years than cancer because it takes the young, high achieving person with a lot of responsibility, including a lot of good lawyers. Siucide is also more painful than losing a loved one to an accident of a disease. The surviors will take it personally, and often blame themselves.

No doubt studies of all other criminals would reveal alcohol to be the most crimogenic substance on earth, 100 times more than lead, genetics, bastardy, name any other factors you wish. The statistic showing more people in the ages of criminality using marijuana than alcohol should be counted as a factor in the mysteriously low crime rate in a time of economic distress.

You may not prohibit marijuana if you allow alcohol, and allow it to be advertised.

I demand to know the campaign donation sources of politicians who oppose its legalization. If their donations come from drug cartel front organizations, they should be impeached, and arrested.

Although I deride appellate court judges, I would not be above federal litigation to legalize marijuana on pure policy grounds. I would not even try to be hypocritical with "medical usage." Medical uses are now covered by scripts for Marinol, filled at the drug store. It should be legal to smoke to get high.

Federal judges are kind of intellectual, and would enjoy a thorough debate between experts. I am aware of the negative news about marijuana, but the utility calculations clearly favor legalization, as does logic and consistency.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 16, 2016 1:09:18 AM

"I will readily admit that if we give every felon the death penalty or LWOP for a first offense, we would reduce recidivism outside the prison walls. How does the logic of you complaints here stop anytime short of urging LWOP sentences for any and every serious offense in order to keep potentially dangerous people locked up until they are no longer potentially dangerous?"

Praise, the Lord. A lawyer who knows what everyone else knows, down to special ed kids in Life Skills class.

The choice to be made is to allow 16,000 murder victims (and 100,000 unresolved missing persons cases) a year for a few lousy lawyer government make work jobs, and protect the super-predator, ultra-violent felon. Or to kill them all, end crime and move on to glory.

In exchange for ending crime, I am willing to cut the lawyer profession by a half, quadruple its wages, and raise its public esteem by ten fold, to where it belongs given the essential utility product the lawyer profession provides, the rule of law.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 16, 2016 1:18:59 AM

You may be "whipping" something, but it has absolutely nothing to do with me. Additionally, this is still over your head; this is one guy. The population of the U.S. is approximately 315 million. Maybe you'd like a new federal law passed with the alleged victims' names attached to it, complete with press releases, soundbites, promises and solemn vows; I'm sure that would make everyone safer. Plus, violence has little to do with it. We can't build enough prisons to lock up forever everyone who's convicted of a violent crime. They will stay longer--as they should--but most are going to get out and somebody's got to determine which and when. Finally, "accused" is exactly what this guy is. Unless and until a jury finds him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, this guy is as innocent as you, me, the gardener, and O.J. If you don't like the United States Constitution, advocate for a putsch.

Posted by: MarK M. | Jan 16, 2016 1:55:17 AM

As usual, federalist, you are the one who tends to pivot and mischaracterize and dodge the real meaning and import of your concessions and claims.

First, you concede that the tragic killing of three innocents can and should be attributed to the killers failure to get a sufficiently severe sentence for his prior violence. Especially with the benefit of hindsight, this should be the real lesson and it is why many advocate for much harsher sentences for domestic violence.

Second, the fact many drug dealers will use violence to protect their turf is not itself a logical reason to assume all drug dealers are violent and must be treated that way at sentencing. That is the logical flaw which has led to problems with the costs and increased public safety problems we see associated with the war on drugs. This is where logic and reason should take opinions on sentencing reform, but then you are quick to say we ought not expect pure logic to have sway here. Oh okay, I guess then I can just say this horrible case is what when logic is ignored.

Third, you give away the game in your last phrase when you talk about intolerable risk rather than any risk. I surmise you concede from this phrase that every sentencing decision --- whether initial or retroactive --- creates some risk to the public. So at issue is how much risk should we tolerate in the decisions to achieve other ends. This of course is the same ultimate public safety issue when the law is changed to let people drive 75 mph rather than 55 or to allow a new opioid to be sold by big Pharma. And while I hope with all these decisions we reduce public risks as much as possible, I see the benefits of taking certain risks to make our drug sentences more just for thousands of non violent offenders are often tolerable.

You and Bill and others can and should keep saying we should not take these risks because they are intolerable, just like I say that I think the drunk driving risks remain intolerable in light of how we could change our sentencing and regulators laws. And Prez Obama says the risk of letting people buy guns without a rigorous background check is intolerable. And so it goes. It is a shame that the FSA did not come up during the GOP debate, and I keep waiting to hear anyone who voted for the FSA to come out and say that this tragic mass murder leads him to conclude his vote for the FSA was wrong.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 16, 2016 9:57:24 AM

Mark, you're a nitwit. You totally mischaracterized my post, and now try to say that I am in over my head because, why, I look at a guy who had a serious and then recent violent past who lucked out and then got even luckier? To the extent that the "nov-violent" weren't supposed to get out, the public was lied to---this guy was violent, and posed an obvious risk to public safety given his extreme violence.

"this guy is as innocent as you, me, the gardener, and O.J."---good god, this is stupid. Would an acquittal revive the dead? The point is that he killed them, whether a jury says so or not.

As for Doug, I don't pivot. I stay remarkably on point. There are three people dead. That I acknowledge the obvious--that locking up every violent criminal for life is simply not serious--does that mean I am precluded from pointing out the obvious failure here (which you cannot even forthrightly admit).

Basically what happened in here Doug, is that you said something stupid and intellectually dishonest (no evidence that he wouldn't have done this had he served his entire federal time--yeah, maybe, is the argument that we should accelerate the pain so to speak). Of course, you couldn't admit this so you try to play let's go down the rabbit hole. All because what, some guy commits attempted murder with a gun, tries to choke his girlfriend to death and then sells crack and gets out after like 12 years? There are hard cases--Weldon Angelos is one of them--but you will argue to the rhetorical death over his sentence, and expect a re-examination of his sentence, but when a dangerous guy gets out early and kills three people, you don't fault the obviously cursory re-examination of the early release.

"Second, the fact many drug dealers will use violence to protect their turf is not itself a logical reason to assume all drug dealers are violent and must be treated that way at sentencing." Really? Where have I made such an assumption--other than to say that legislatures should factor in the violence associated with drug dealing in designing sentencing regimes. I think the bigger assumption is that drug dealers are "non-violent" if they aren't currently serving a sentence specifically related to violence.

"And Prez Obama says the risk of letting people buy guns without a rigorous background check is intolerable. And so it goes." Of course, Obama has dropped gun crimes prosecutions significantly, so forgive me if I don't accept your president's bona fides. But more to the point, you're talking apples and oranges. Given the fact that we live in a free society that protects the right to keep and bear arms, some of the risk allocation question has been answered, and he is un-American for suggesting that a sacred right is up for negotiation.

The bottom line---we have an indefensible decision here and there are three people dead. You have no idea how many others have been victimized. And you want to get into a theoretical discussion about risk and risk allocation. Well, I guess I would too were I stuck defending such an awful decision. But to say that I am pivoting is just rich.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 16, 2016 12:05:14 PM

"First, you concede that the tragic killing of three innocents can and should be attributed to the killers failure to get a sufficiently severe sentence for his prior violence."

I forgot to mention this ridiculous sentence. What's your position now--that because the state dropped the ball somehow that should have inured to the benefit of this criminal when his sentence was being re-examined? And so I conceded nothing--just stated the obvious--nothing I wrote justified the idea that where blame can go around that somehow this triple murder isn't a bust on the FSA? Is this the sort of thing they teach at Harvard Law?

Posted by: federalist | Jan 16, 2016 12:24:24 PM

federalist, you remain a legend in your own mind. Let's try to go through this slowly. The potential "failure" here, as you put it, is multifacited: perhaps a failure to treat prior violence seriously among state prosecutors and judges, perhaps a failure to provide effective rehab services while in state custody, perhaps a failure by federal prosecutors to stress prior violence at initial sentencing for a (low level?) crack offense, perhaps a failure of rehab programming in federal prison, perhaps a failure by prosecutors and judges to consider this prior violence when considering FSA reductions.

If we had unlimited resources and a serious commitment to try to lower the risk of these kinds of events, we could and should look at all the work done at all these prior sentencing moments and see how we might do better in the future. Notably, I see current bills for sentencing reform seeking to do just that through greater embrace of risk assessment tools in federal corrections. (And, if you think assigning fault is important, I am sure there will be plenty of fault we could spread around. But same could surely be said for most any mass killing with the benefit of hindsight.) I have said before and will say again that these incidents should be closely examined --- perhaps through a special criminal justice agency --- to try to reduce the risk of repeating a bad outcome.

But the FSA impacted literally tens of thousands of cases, and hundreds of thousands of people. Are you saying this very bad outcome means that any and all good outcomes in thousands of other cases should be ignored or considered inconsequential as we debate similar future reforms? That is where the rubber hits the road, especially when assert we live in a free society but fail to see that our decision to preclude a free market in certain drugs creates a tendency for certain drug dealers to resort to violence in their trade. This was the lesson of alcohol Prohibition, but our free society continues to struggle to see how prohibition produces drug violence rather than diminish it.

I am not trying to have a theoretical discussion at all. I am trying to understand what you think this case should mean for future reform efforts and future sentencing decisions, both state and federal. I suspect from prior comments that you think clemency is a better way to handle these issues, but Mike Huckabee could tell you that innocent people can end up dead when sentences are reconsidered that way, too And that is why I am really trying to understand how you would suggest we decide what is an intolerable risk in this setting (or in the setting of gun control or driving laws or any other setting in which out governments have to balance commitments to both freedom and public safety.)

You bring up Weldon Angelos. Would releasing him now present an intolerable risk? Releasing him in 10 more years? 20? And why do you think the initial 55 year sentence merits respect when he was offered a deal of 16 years if he were to plead guilty to acts he claims he did not commit? Preserving a seemingly wrong sentencing outcome seems to me as worrisome as seeking to undo a seeming sound one.

Speaking of risk, is it intolerable that Justice Scalia's work in Johnson will free a number of repeat offenders? How about those released in California due to voter approved three-strikes reform and Prop 47? How about those released from marijuana arrests after state reform? Should we seek to change all standard retroactivity doctrines and policies?

I pressed you on what you think is the proper way to adjust sentencing practices in the wake of this case because we obviously cannot go back in time and fix the tragic outcome. But we can and should try to do better in the future. So that is the basis of my questions to you, federalist, what does doing better in the future mean in your view?

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 16, 2016 4:24:19 PM

Doug, you're the one who led with your chin on this thread, not me. The "well, you can't be sure he wouldn't have committed violence after he got out" was ridiculous, and I called you out on it. Now you want to talk about all the good outcomes from FSA---but you and I both know that this tragedy (which NEVER should have happened because this guy should not have had his sentence reduced--funny that you cannot even say that) isn't the only one coming out of FSA---how many of them subsequently committed crimes and how serious were they?

Maybe in another thread. I think I've done my job here--it's clear that three corpses (how many more will there be) doesn't move you to reconsider your views.

As for Angelos--you know, I really don't know when he should get out. My guess is that he has learned his lesson. I doubt that come January 21, 2017 he will be in a federal prison. We'll see.

As for Scalia, um he's got a duty under the Constitution. Different issue.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 16, 2016 6:49:46 PM

federalist, surely other crimes will be committed by FSA released-early prisoners, and other crimes will be committed by not-early released prisomers, and other crimes will be committed by folks who have never been to prison. I hope that all sentencing reforms will try to reduce crimes with the least restrictions of freedom possible.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 16, 2016 11:47:36 PM

Well, it appears that there was a significant amount of discussion revloving around the courts. However, very little (if any) mention was made for criminal justice system reform. However, we did get very detailed analysis on whether Ted Cruz should be eligible or not for the presidency. Blame the moderators and Trump for this fiasco, and all the candidates for not mentioning one word about the real problems facing the sentencing and correctional systems.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Jan 17, 2016 10:37:13 AM

Trump is far down the list here -- no one is obligated to take his remarks as seriously as some do, nor does it deny the chance to focus on other things too. Unlike the proverbial dumb blonde, we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

I thank "Doug B." for his long remarks.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 17, 2016 12:01:04 PM

I think, Doug, one thing you may wish to consider in your full-throated support for drug dealers getting out early is that diffuse decision-making covers up accountability and leads to people getting out that really shouldn't. You want the up-front commitment to release and the due diligence on the back end is a far lesser consideration or even besides the point. I just wish you were forthright enough to admit that.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 18, 2016 12:09:12 PM

Actually, federalist, I want wiser sentencing laws that better assess up-front who should be imprisoned for a long time and who should not. Because federal law has not done that especially well, we get a system that is forces to make back end release decisions that, I agree, can get less consideration than they may merit. And you are right that accountability is diffuse and problematic, going all the way back to decisions by Congress and others to over-use prison for certain offenders in a manner that itslef may contribute to these offenders being even more risky/dangerous whenever they are released from prison.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 19, 2016 2:04:28 AM

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