Washington State Top Court Nixes Life Without Parole for Minors

life without parole for minors

By Christopher Zoukis The trend by states moving to reject life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders continued this year when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional on October 18. In State of Washington v. Brian Bassett, the court noted that states were “rapidly…

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Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Double-Jeopardy Exception

double jeopardy exception

By Christopher Zoukis On December 6, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Gamble v. United States, raising the issue of whether sometimes defendants can face separate trials, and possibly conviction and sentencing, for the same violation in both state and federal courts, despite the Constitution’s provision against double jeopardy.…

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Florida Voters Restore Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights

Florida Voters

By Christopher Zoukis In the November mid-term election, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, the Voting Restoration Amendment, a ballot measure amending the state’s constitution to eliminate a provision that permanently removed the voting rights for well over a million state residents who have been convicted of felonies. The new amendment…

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Boston Mobster Slain Within Hours of Entering New Prison

Whitey Bulger killed in prison beating

By Christopher Zoukis Notorious Boston gang chief James “Whitey” Bulger was found murdered in his cell at the federal high-security prison in Hazelton, West Virginia on October 30, the morning after being arrived there from a Bureau of Prisons transfer center in Oklahoma City. Bulger was the chief organized crime…

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Bureau of Prisons Cuts Back on Halfway Houses and Services

halfway houses

By Christopher Zoukis Federal inmates expecting to be transferred from a penitentiary to a halfway house — what the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) calls a “residential re-entry center” — are being informed shortages of spaces mean they’ll face delays in their transfer, and consequently more time in prison. BOP can…

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DOJ IG’s Report: BOP Fails to Meet Needs of Female Inmates

female inmates

By Christopher Zoukis A report issued September 18 by the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) identifies shortcomings in how the leaders of DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the correctional facilities it runs fail to meet the needs of its female inmates. Women are about 7%…

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Supreme Court Weighs How to Define Violent Felonies Triggering ACCA

ACCA changes for career criminals

By Christopher Zoukis Congress passed the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) in 1984, aiming to bring longer sentences to violent career criminals. Under ACCA, federal defendants facing firearms possession charges can get much longer sentences if they have previously been convicted of three or more violent felonies or serious drug…

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