Tag Archives: Criminal justice

First Step (Act) in the Right Direction

BENJAMIN LONGNECKER—The recent passage of the First Step Act retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, addressing a politically and legally-charged topic in criminal justice reform: the disparate sentencing of nonviolent drug offenders who use powder and crack cocaine. After Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, a person had to possess 100 […]

When Is a Guideline Not a Guideline?: Supreme Court Says Sentencing Guidelines Have Force of Law for Ex Post Facto Purposes

BY MATTHEW E. KOHEN — On June 10, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Peugh v. United States. This case—involving the retroactive application of U.S. Sentencing Guidelines—implicates interesting constitutional concerns. In a term where some of the opinions issued (see, e.g., Salinas v. Texas and Maryland v. King) caused […]

Murderer’s Sex Change: Cruel, Or Just Unusual?

BY KELLY HEARD — When the Honorable Mark L. Wolf, a Massachusetts District Court judge, recently handed down a landmark ruling that Massachusetts taxpayers must foot the bill for a prisoner’s gender reassignment surgery, outrage ensued. Senator Scott Brown referred to the ruling as “an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars.” Brown’s opponent and Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth […]