Category: Sentencing

California’s Crime Rates Reflect Dangerous State Policies

Katy Grimes of the California Globe has this story discussing what is making California’s cities more dangerous with recent data on crime rates.  Grimes mentions a few of the propositions that have impacted crime over the last decade. 

Proposition 47 largely decriminalized theft and drug crimes by reducing those crimes and a number of other “non-violent” felonies to misdemeanors; Prop. 57 allows early release for “non-violent offenders,” including rape by intoxication of an unconscious person, human trafficking involving a sex act with minors, arson causing great bodily harm, drive-by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, and hostage taking. 

However, there is one bill that was not highlighted.  AB 109 signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011 which allowed for the release approximately 30,000 felons from state prison with most going on probation rather than parole. This bill removed the option of prison sentences for crimes such as auto theft, drug felonies and domestic violence and replaced it with county jail time or rehabilitation services. 

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Some Sound Advice on Crack Sentencing

Assuming that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse can break away from his all-white country club, the Senate Judiciary Committee should have full attendance today for its hearing about crack cocaine sentencing.  As the Washington Post informs us, today’s hearing will center on the Biden Administration’s proposal to lower the cost of doing business for crack dealers by reducing their sentences and, as an extra bonus, making the reductions retroactive.  This will assure earlier release for this particular cohort of drug traffickers, a large percentage of whom will recidivate within five years, according to Sentencing Commission figures. (The number is actually higher than Commission reports, first because yet more dealers recidivate after the five year window, and second because drug trafficking is a notoriously under-reported crime in any event).

Crack sentencing has been a hot topic for years, going back at least to the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin and a man I’m proud to call a friend, then-Senator and later Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Back then, that self-same Washington Post had some sound observations on crack sentencing, observations Congress would do well to heed today.

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Criminal Released Early in San Francisco Stabs Elderly Woman

The NYPost has this story on a 94-year-old Asian woman, Ann Taylor, who was stabbed by a man who was under ankle monitor surveillance when he committed this unprovoked attack against her in front of her San Francisco residence. The man, Daniel Cauich, “…had reportedly been arrested five times last year on burglary charges, was sprung by a judge on June 7 to await his trial after his most recent arrest for burglary on May 18.” 

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Supreme Court Decides Two Change-in-Law Questions

The Supreme Court decided two cases today dealing with how to address existing cases when the law changes. Greer v. United States, No. 19-8709, addresses the situation where the defense lawyer does not object at trial, because the law seems settled at the time, but the Supreme Court later decides to the contrary. Terry v. United States, No. 20-5904, addresses which inmates convicted prior to the First Step Act can get their sentences for crack cocaine offenses reduced. Continue reading . . .

Fractured Supreme Court Cripples Armed Career Criminal Act

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a fractured decision that will severely limit the provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act that allowed the federal government to put away habitual felons who commit three violent felonies.

Definitions of crimes generally require both a bad act and a bad state of mind. For many violent crimes in many states, the bad state of mind may be either intentional or reckless. In deciding whether a prior conviction is for a violent crime, the Supreme Court looks only at the definition, not the actual facts of the crime.

Under today’s decision in Borden v. United States, No. 19-5410, violent crimes that could possibly be committed recklessly will no longer be considered “violent” for ACCA purposes no matter how clearly intentional the crime was in the actual case.

There is no majority opinion providing a coherent rationale for this appalling result. Continue reading . . .

Murderer to be Tried as a Juvenile Years After Conviction Under Proposition 57

MyNewsLA has this story on Kevin Orellana, an 18-year-old who was murdered by two brothers in 2013 while playing handball at Reseda’s Cleveland High School. Orellana was approached by Anthony and Michael Carpio, both identified as gang members. Michael was hitting and fighting Orellana when Anthony began stabbing him as a gang challenge. Anthony, who was 16-years-old at the time stabbed Orellana 10 times in his head and neck, from behind, leading to his death.

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Governor Newsom Releases More Violent Criminals

Katy Grimes from The California Globe has this story covering Newsom’s announcement on May 28th, “[He} granted 14 pardons, 13 commutations and 8 medical reprieves – for murderers, bank robbers, armed robbers, kidnappers, killers for hire, drivers of get-away-cars for murderers, and assaulters with firearms.” Yet again we are looking at the release of criminals who have been convicted of heinous, violent crimes that would lead any reasonable person to believe pose a threat to the safety and security of the community in which they are released into. 

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CA Double Murderer Gets Early Release

Fox LA has this story on Howard Elwin Jones, a gang member who murdered two teenagers at a party during Christmas in 1988. One of the boys, Chris Baker, was only 17 years old, and was shot by Jones on the assumption that the red Santa hat he was wearing indicated his membership in a rival gang. Jones was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison. SB 260 was signed into law in 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown, made Jones eligible for parole.  He had been denied twice until Jones had his third parole hearing in February by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s parole board and was found eligible for release.  The parole hearing excluded prosecutors per District Attorney George Gascon’s directive that their involvement in cases ends at sentencing. This murderer’s early release also included  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s review and approval. Jones is set to walk out from San Quentin on Monday. 

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More Coverage on the CA Death Penalty Case

LA Times reporter Maura Dolan has this comprehensive piece on the California Supreme Court’s oral argument in People v. McDaniel.  The question before the court is whether or not the law requires that a jury decide beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant should get the death penalty or life without parole, and the jury must also be unanimous in deciding the reasons for a capital verdict?  This requirement has never been part of the law or any accepted precedent.  If the court agreed, a ruling would probably throw out hundreds, if not all, previous death sentences in California.  An important takeaway from yesterday’s argument was the questioning of the murderer’s lawyer by Justice Goodwin Liu, a key liberal member of the Court, who asked if it is possible  “that this issue has simply been missed this entire time? For 150 years, we have missed this issue?”

Sentencing Reforms Enabling Assaults on Asians

Assaults on Asians became the major media’s crime de jour around the time that Joe Biden was sworn in as President.  For months now, we have been treated with almost daily news stories about Asians being attacked, beaten and robbed, often with very disturbing video.  The way the narrative was supposed to work was that President’s Trump’s labeling of Covid-19 as the Chinavirus led the ignorant white supremacists who voted for him to attack all Asians, because they are too stupid to single out just the Chinese.  But that narrative was debunked almost immediately when government statistics indicated that most of the attacks on Asians are committed by blacks and that this has been going on for decades.  It also turns out that most of the recent attacks are by habitual criminals left on the streets by bail and sentencing reforms championed by progressives and the major media.

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