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University of Michigan Law School

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Criminal Law

Sentencing

Articles 1 - 19 of 19

Full-Text Articles in Law

From Grace To Grids: Rethinking Due Process Protections For Parole., Kimberly A. Thomas, Paul D. Reingold May 2017

From Grace To Grids: Rethinking Due Process Protections For Parole., Kimberly A. Thomas, Paul D. Reingold

Articles

Current due process law gives little protection to prisoners at the point of parole, even though the parole decision, like sentencing, determines whether or not a person will serve more time or will go free. The doctrine regarding parole, which developed mostly in the late 1970s, was based on a judicial understanding of parole as an experimental, subjective, and largely standardless art—rooted in assessing the individual “character” of the potential parolee. In this Article we examine the foundations of the doctrine, and conclude that the due process inquiry at the point of parole should take into account the stark ...


Random If Not "Rare"? The Eighth Amendment Weaknesses Of Post-Miller Legislation, Kimberly Thomas Mar 2017

Random If Not "Rare"? The Eighth Amendment Weaknesses Of Post-Miller Legislation, Kimberly Thomas

Articles

First, this Article surveys the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to analogize life without parole for juveniles to the death penalty for adults, and discusses the Eighth Amendment law regarding the parameters around death penalty statutory schemes. Second, this Article examines the state legislative response to Miller, and scrutinizes it with the Court's Eighth Amendment death penalty law-and the states' responses to this case law-in mind. This Article highlights the failure of juvenile homicide sentencing provisions to: 1) narrow offenses that are eligible for life without parole sentences; 2) further limit, once a guilty finding is made, the ...


What We Think, What We Know And What We Think We Know About False Convictions, Samuel Gross Jan 2017

What We Think, What We Know And What We Think We Know About False Convictions, Samuel Gross

Articles

False convictions are notoriously difficult to study because they can neither be observed when they occur nor identified after the fact by any plausible research strategy. Our best shot is to collect data on those that come to light in legal proceedings that result in the exoneration of the convicted defendants. In May 2012, the National Registry of Exonerations released its first report, covering 873 exonerations from January 1989 through February 2012. By October 15, 2016, we had added 1,027 cases: 599 exonerations since March 1, 2012, and 428 that had already happened when we issued our initial report ...


Racial Disparity In Federal Criminal Sentences, M. Marit Rehavi, Sonja B. Starr Dec 2014

Racial Disparity In Federal Criminal Sentences, M. Marit Rehavi, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

Using rich data linking federal cases from arrest through to sentencing, we find that initial case and defendant characteristics, including arrest offense and criminal history, can explain most of the large raw racial disparity in federal sentences, but significant gaps remain. Across the distribution, blacks receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than those of comparable whites arrested for the same crimes. Most of this disparity can be explained by prosecutors’ initial charging decisions, particularly the filing of charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences. Ceteris paribus, the odds of black arrestees facing such a charge are 1.75 times higher ...


Evidence-Based Sentencing And The Scientific Rationalization Of Discrimination, Sonja B. Starr Jan 2014

Evidence-Based Sentencing And The Scientific Rationalization Of Discrimination, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

This Article critiques, on legal and empirical grounds, the growing trend of basing criminal sentences on actuarial recidivism risk prediction instruments that include demographic and socioeconomic variables. I argue that this practice violates the Equal Protection Clause and is bad policy: an explicit embrace of otherwise- condemned discrimination, sanitized by scientific language. To demonstrate that this practice raises serious constitutional concerns, I comprehensively review the relevant case law, much of which has been ignored by existing literature. To demonstrate that the policy is not justified by countervailing state interests, I review the empirical evidence underlying the instruments. I show that ...


Rate Of False Conviction Of Criminal Defendants Who Are Sentenced To Death, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien, Chen Hu, Edward H. Kennedy Jan 2014

Rate Of False Conviction Of Criminal Defendants Who Are Sentenced To Death, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien, Chen Hu, Edward H. Kennedy

Articles

The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. There is no systematic method to determine the accuracy of a criminal conviction; if there were, these errors would not occur in the first place. As a result, very few false convictions are ever discovered, and those that are discovered are not representative of the group as a whole. In the United States, however, a high proportion of false convictions that do come to light and produce exonerations are concentrated among the tiny minority of cases in which defendants are sentenced to ...


On Estimating Disparity And Inferring Causation: Sur-Reply To The U.S. Sentencing Commission Staff, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi Jan 2013

On Estimating Disparity And Inferring Causation: Sur-Reply To The U.S. Sentencing Commission Staff, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi

Articles

In this Essay, Professors Starr and Rehavi respond to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s empirical staff’s criticisms of their recent article, which found, contrary to the Commission’s prior work, no evidence that racial disparity in sentences increased in response to United States v. Booker. As Starr and Rehavi suggest, their differences with the Commission perhaps relate to differing objectives. The Commission staff’s reply expresses a lack of interest in identifying Booker’s causal effects; in contrast, that is Starr and Rehavi’s central objective. In addition, Starr and Rehavi’s approach also accounts for disparities arising ...


Mandatory Sentencing And Racial Disparity, Assessing The Role Of Prosecutors And The Effects Of Booker, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi Jan 2013

Mandatory Sentencing And Racial Disparity, Assessing The Role Of Prosecutors And The Effects Of Booker, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi

Articles

This Article presents new empirical evidence concerning the effects of United States v. Booker, which loosened the formerly mandatory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, on racial disparities in federal criminal cases. Two serious limitations pervade existing empirical literature on sentencing disparities. First, studies focus on sentencing in isolation, controlling for the “presumptive sentence” or similar measures that themselves result from discretionary charging, plea-bargaining, and fact-finding processes. Any disparities in these earlier processes are excluded from the resulting sentence-disparity estimates. Our research has shown that this exclusion matters: pre-sentencing decision-making can have substantial sentence-disparity consequences. Second, existing studies have used loose causal ...


Did Booker Increase Sentencing Disparity? Why The Evidence Is Unpersuasive, Sonja B. Starr Jan 2013

Did Booker Increase Sentencing Disparity? Why The Evidence Is Unpersuasive, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

The Sentencing Commission’s recent report on the effects of United States v.Booker makes a number of very worri- some claims.The most alarming is that the gap in sen- tences between otherwise similar Black and White men has nearly quadrupled: from 4.5 percent before Booker, to 15 percent after it, to 19.5 percent after United States v. Kimbrough and United States v.Gall. 1 The Commission further claims that interjudge disparity has increased in two-thirds of the federal districts, and that interdistrict variation has also increased.2 If its findings were accurate, and if these changes ...


What Does Graham Mean In Michigan?, Kimberly A. Thomas Jan 2010

What Does Graham Mean In Michigan?, Kimberly A. Thomas

Articles

In Graham v. Florida, the United States Supreme Court held that life without parole could not be imposed on a juvenile offender for a nonhomicide crime.1 In this context, the Graham Court extensively discussed the diminished culpability of juvenile criminal defendants, as compared to adults. The Court relied on current scientific research regarding adolescent development and neuroscience. While the narrowest holding of Graham has little impact in Michigan, the science it relies on, and the potential broader implications for adolescents in Michigan, are significant.


Sentence Reduction As A Remedy For Prosecutorial Misconduct, Sonja B. Starr Jan 2009

Sentence Reduction As A Remedy For Prosecutorial Misconduct, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

Current remedies for prosecutorial misconduct, such as reversal of conviction or dismissal of charges, are rarely granted by courts and thus do not deter prosecutors effectively. Further, such all-or-nothing remedial schemes are often problematic from corrective and expressive perspectives, especially when misconduct has not affected the trial verdict. When granted, these remedies produce windfalls to guilty defendants and provoke public resentment, undermining their expressive value in condemning misconduct. To avoid these windfalls, courts refuse to grant any remedy at all, either refusing to recognize violations or deeming them harmless. This often leaves significant non-conviction-related harms unremedied and egregious prosecutorial misconduct ...


Frequency And Predictors Of False Conviction: Why We Know So Little, And New Data On Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien Jan 2008

Frequency And Predictors Of False Conviction: Why We Know So Little, And New Data On Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross, Barbara O'Brien

Articles

In the first part of this article, we address the problems inherent in studying wrongful convictions: our pervasive ignorance and the extreme difficulty of obtaining the data that we need to answer even basic questions. The main reason that we know so little about false convictions is that, by definition, they are hidden from view. As a result, it is nearly impossible to gather reliable data on the characteristics or even the frequency of false convictions. In addition, we have very limited data on criminal investigations and prosecutions in general, so even if we could somehow obtain data on cases ...


Improving Criminal Jury Decision Making After The Blakely Revolution, J. J. Prescott, Sonja B. Starr Jan 2006

Improving Criminal Jury Decision Making After The Blakely Revolution, J. J. Prescott, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

The shift in sentencing fact-finding responsibility triggered in many states by Blakely v. Washington may dramatically change the complexity and type of questions that juries will be required to answer. Among the most important challenges confronting legislatures now debating the future of their sentencing regimes is whether juries are prepared to handle this new responsibility effectively - and, if not, what can be done about it. Yet neither scholars addressing the impact of Blakely nor advocates of jury reform have seriously explored these questions. Nonetheless, a number of limitations on juror decision making seriously threaten the accuracy of verdicts in systems ...


What They Say At The End: Capital Victims' Families And The Press, Samuel R. Gross, Daniel J. Matheson Jan 2003

What They Say At The End: Capital Victims' Families And The Press, Samuel R. Gross, Daniel J. Matheson

Articles

Perhaps the most common complaint by American crime victims and their families is that they are ignored-by the police, by the prosecutors, by the courts and by the press. However true that may be for capital cases in general, there is at least one consistent exception: the great majority of newspaper accounts of executions include at least some description of the reactions of the victims' families and of any surviving victims. It seems to have become an item on the checklist, part of the "who, what, where, when, why, and how" of execution stories. When no family members are available ...


Lost Lives: Miscarriages Of Justice In Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross Jan 1999

Lost Lives: Miscarriages Of Justice In Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

In case after case, erroneous conviction for capital murder has been proven. I contend that these are not disconnected accidents, but systematic consequences of the nature of homicice prosecution in the general and capital prosecution in particular - that in this respect, as in others, death distorts and undermines the course of the law.


Hard Cases, Carl E. Schneider Mar 1998

Hard Cases, Carl E. Schneider

Articles

Robert Latimer was born in 1953 on a farm on the prairies of Saskatchewan and grew up to own a 1,280-acre farm. In 1980 he married, and that year Tracy, the first of four children, was born. During her birth, Tracy's brain was terribly damaged by lack of oxygen, and severe cerebral palsy ensued. By 1993 Tracy could laugh, smile, and cry, and she could recognize her parents and her siblings. But she could not understand her own name or even simple words like "yes" and "no." She could not swallow well and would so often vomit her ...


The Romance Of Revenge: An Alternative History Of Jeffrey Dahmer's Trial, Samuel R. Gross Jan 1995

The Romance Of Revenge: An Alternative History Of Jeffrey Dahmer's Trial, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

On Feb. 17, 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to fifteen consecutive terms of life imprisonment for killing and dismembering fifteen young men and boys. Dahmer had been arrested six months earlier, on July 22, 1991. On Jan. 13 he pled guilty to the fifteen murder counts against him, leaving open only the issue of his sanity. Jury selection began two weeks later, and the trial proper started on Jan. 30. The jury heard two weeks of horrifying testimony about murder, mutilation and necrophilia; they deliberated for five hours before finding that Dahmer was sane when he committed thos crimes. After ...


The Romance Of Revenge: Capital Punishment In America, Samuel R. Gross Jan 1993

The Romance Of Revenge: Capital Punishment In America, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

On February 17, 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive terms of life imprisonment for killing and dismembering 15 young men and boys (Associated Press 1992a). Dahmer had been arrested six months earlier, on July 22, 1991. On January 13 he pled guilty to the fifteen murder counts against him, leaving open only the issue of his sanity. Jury selection began two weeks later, and the trial proper started on January 30. The jury heard two weeks of testimony about murder, mutilation and necrophilia; they deliberated for 5 hours before finding that Dahmer was sane when he committed these ...


The Reincarnation Of The Death Penalty: Is It Possible?, Yale Kamisar Jan 1973

The Reincarnation Of The Death Penalty: Is It Possible?, Yale Kamisar

Articles

Fifty years ago Clarence Darrow, probably the greatest criminal defense lawyer in American history and a leading opponent of capital punishment, observed: The question of capital punishment has been the subject of endless discussion and will probably never be settled so long as men believe in punishment. Some states have abolished and then reinstated it; some have enjoyed capital punishment for long periods of time and finally prohibited the use of it. The reasons why it cannot be settled are plain. There is first of all no agreement as to the objects of punishment. Next there is no way to ...