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March 31, 2024

End-of-month round up of all sorts of stories and commentaries

March madness has been something of a work reality for me with all sorts of events and travel keeping me from fully keeping up with all the sentencing and criminal justice news of the month.  (The distractions of great March sports, from golf to college basketball to (fantasy) baseball, are also part of this story.)  As regular readers know well, my not-so-clever trick for catching up here on blog-worthy stories and commentaries is through a big round-up post.  So:

From the ABA Journal, "Eighth Amendment: 5th Circuit rules for prisoner allowed to sleep no more than 3.5 hours per night"

From The Atlantic by Keith Humphreys and Rob Bovett, "Why Oregon’s Drug Decriminalization Failed: The sponsors of the law fundamentally misunderstood the nature of addiction"

From the Brennan Center, "Why Inclusive Criminal Justice Research Matters"

From the Benhind the Bench Newsletter, "The Eugenics Origins of “Habitual Offender” Sentencing Laws"

From CNN by Mark Osler, "Biden’s failures in criminal justice could cost him an election"

From CNN, "The push to put Trump back in the White House is getting a boost from people he pardoned before leaving"

From the Los Angeles Times, "Days before Easter, Newsom announces dozens of pardons and commutations"

From Rick Nevin, "Young male imprisonment rates still falling in 2022, and the Sentencing Project get it wrong again"

From Newsweek by Jeff Hood, "President Biden Should Follow Through on Ending the Death Penalty"

From Newsweek by Cliff Stearns,The Death Penalty Is Important for America"

From the New York Times, "Woman Who Was Charged With Murder After Abortion Sues Texas Prosecutor"

From NPR, "Texas appeals court acquits Crystal Mason's illegal voting conviction"

From R Street by Christi Smith, "Trauma-Informed Corrections: Part Four of a Four-Part Series"

From Scientific American by the editors, "Opinion: Evidence Does Not Support the Use of the Death Penalty"

From USA Today, "'A stunning turnabout': Voters and lawmakers across US move to reverse criminal justice reform"

From WYPR News, "Judges use ‘arbitrary,’ ‘horrendous’ reasons to keep teens in adult court"

This lengthy and eclectic list of items that were piled up in my "to read" queue  do not have any clear themes and certainly do not capture the month that was.  But I hope there is something of interest for everyone, and I always welcome readers to flag additional items of interest.  With proposed sentencing guidelines and more notable SCOTUS action (and even more great sports and an eclipse here in Ohio), I am already gearing up for an exciting April.

March 31, 2024 at 12:19 PM | Permalink


Not understanding how 3 1/2 hours of sleep can possibly make sense for anyone. Why does it take an appeals court to decide that?

Posted by: William Jockusch | Mar 31, 2024 1:21:15 PM

The USA Today piece ("A stunning turnabout': Voters and lawmakers across US move to reverse criminal justice") should be ample evidence against the notion of tying the 8th amendment to anything like society maturing.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Mar 31, 2024 5:22:26 PM


We've gotta do SOMETHING about what's reported in that Rick Nevin piece. Looks like the USA Today article is it.

Come 2025 we'll get ourselves out of Biden's Bridge Collapse Economy with a construction boom in PRISONS! Lock them up!

Dictator on Day One! MAGA

Posted by: MAGA 2024 | Mar 31, 2024 7:31:50 PM

Continual sarcasm gets annoying. I tend to tune it out. Just in case any commenters here don't want to get tuned out.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Mar 31, 2024 11:32:42 PM

There are a lot of things in appellate cases that do not take an appeals court to figure out but which a party/attorney will try to argue anyhow.

Here in the Eighth Circuit, we just had a defendant argue that, in searching a car, a towel thrown over an object was equivalent to a closed container and that law enforcement needed a search warrant to move the towel. The argument went nowhere, but it was still made.

Posted by: tmm | Apr 2, 2024 5:10:46 PM

William Jockusch --

MAGA does very little here beyond sticking his tongue out at Trump. Once or twice, fine, I get it. Doing it continuously, with not even an attempt at seriously arguing a point, ummmmmmmm, no. It's tiresome and juvenile. Scrolling is indeed the correct response.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 2, 2024 6:08:40 PM

tmm --

I once had a defense lawyer argue, I think it was in the Sixth Circuit, that the court should ignore the governing Supreme Court case because "it was decided by only 6-3." I wish I were making this up.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 2, 2024 6:12:13 PM

I would certainly say that something under a towel is not in "plain sight" and that an officer has no business moving it.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 2, 2024 10:04:59 PM

Soronel, the officer had consent to search the car. The issue was whether he needed separate consent or a warrant to move the towel while searching the car to see what was under the towel.

Posted by: tmm | Apr 3, 2024 10:44:40 AM

Bill, but the three dissenters were right!!! So yeah, let's ignore the majority.

In today's news, that RINO wuss judge McAfee declined to take the First Amendment seriously. One of the charges against Trump is that he conspired to get a legislative session called to vote in his electors. How in the world could it possibly be a crime to get the legislature to go into special session and to vote--even if what would be voted on might be tossed. This makes McAfee a complete bozo.

McAfee is a wuss. He let Fani WIllis act out in open court--she should have walked out of court in handcuffs and a 90 day contempt sentence.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 4, 2024 5:25:21 PM

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