Washington State Top Court Nixes 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 abandoning” the practice, since youth…

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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. The Fifth Amendment to the…

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Federal Judge Rules County Jail Must Allow Addict Methadone

By Christopher Zoukis A federal judge in Boston has ordered officials at the Essex County House of Correction to allow an incoming inmate to take his doctor-prescribed methadone while he serves a sentence there. It was thought to be the first such order issued by an American judge. Geoffrey Pesce, a 32-year-old resident of Ipswich,…

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Departing AG Limits DOJ Consent Decrees

By Christopher Zoukis Shortly before resigning his post, as requested by President Trump, ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidelines for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to follow when seeking consent decrees with police departments or other units of state or local government. The likely result will be to keep DOJ out of investigations of state…

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Florida Voters Restore Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights

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 becomes Article VI, sections 4(a)…

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Boston Mobster Slain Within Hours of Entering New Prison

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 figure in New England, in…

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Bureau of Prisons Cuts Back on Halfway Houses and Services

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 let federal inmates with good-time…

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DOJ IG’s Report: BOP Fails to Meet Needs of 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% of all sentenced federal inmates…

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