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A New Day in the City of Brotherly Love

If you haven’t heard, the new district attorney of Philadelphia is a lifelong defense lawyer who used to sue the government for violating people’s civil rights. He even ran on a campaign against overcriminalization. It’s a pretty amazing thing. Now the city’s top prosecutor has put his money where his mouth was during the campaign. Read More

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The Most Patriotic Thing

Here’s a gift for the holidays: James P. Gray arguing relentlessly against drug prohibition as he has for twenty-five years now. He calls it the best thing, the most patriotic thing, that he can do for his country. If you don’t know Jim Gray, you should. He’s a former state judge from Orange County, California who used Read More

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Reasonable Minds Can Differ

But they will usually find more to agree on. Case in point: this short interview with the junior U.S. senator from Utah. He’s considered one of the more conservative members of Congress, but he’s also part of a bipartisan group that’s pushing to reform our criminal justice system. As a former federal prosecutor, he’s asked how he feels about the justice Read More

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They May Be Intelligent, But Are They Wise?

Speaking of fair shakes, here is a wise word of caution about the emerging, expanding use of computer programs to evaluate people in the justice system, whether at bail hearings, sentencings, or elsewhere. The author is a former software engineer at Facebook who’s now studying law at Harvard. Her point isn’t that we shouldn’t use or consult these programs, but Read More

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California’s New Law of Fair Shakes

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, take note. Earlier this month, California enacted the Fair Chance Act. This means that, beginning next year, many employers can no longer ask about or look into criminal convictions until they’ve decided a person is right for the job. That means they can’t ask about convictions anymore on a job application. Read More

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No Correlation Between Drug War and Use

According to an independent, well-regarded think tank, there is statistically no reason to think that we can reduce drug abuse by locking more people up. The nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts spelled it out in a letter this summer to a federal commission that’s looking at ways to combat the widespread problem of opioid abuse. Its study, which drew on data Read More

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The Modern Public Square

This week brought us another unanimous U.S. Supreme Court case that’s arguably more important because it concerned the First Amendment. The issue was a North Carolina law that made it a felony for registered sex offenders to use any social-networking site that let minors join. So, to be clear: that’s any social-media site, period, that let minors join. That Read More

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Judge Not, Lest We Be Judged

If you’re still not sold on the power of redemption, I may not be able to sway you. But consider this guy. He committed a carjacking at 16 and spent eight years in prison for it. Today, at 35, he has a wife, two bouncy sons, and now, a law degree from Yale. He just graduated last month. I Read More

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A Model Penal Code for the 21st Century

Charging decisions, which we wrote about last week, matter for many reasons. They drive plea bargains, and they affect sentencing. You file a felony, for example, so that the guy will plead to a misdemeanor without giving you much trouble. It happens all the time. Bad charging decisions, though, don’t just cause wrongful convictions or unjust sentences. They cause other consequences that Read More

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The New Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Now that Neil Gorsuch has been sworn in, we’ll begin to find out how he wields the law as a member of the highest court in the land. Some say he’s a natural successor to the Justice whose seat he fills, Antonin Scalia. Here is a profile of Mr. Gorsuch that compares his views to those of Mr. Scalia Read More

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