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The Federal First Step Act of 2018

Here’s more meat on the bones of the new sentencing law from last week. Earning credit toward early release. You can earn 10-15 days of credit for every thirty that you participate in certain programs. These may include work programs, academic classes, vocational training, trauma counseling, substance-abuse treatment, faith-based services, and family-building and parenting. The credits Read More

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On the Friday Before Christmas …

When all through the House, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse: Congress enacted a major change to federal sentencing law. It’s called the First Step Act, and you may have heard about it. Here’s a press release on it from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. What does it do? About ten things. Read More

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The Pros and Cons of Bail Reform

We’ll see how California’s new bail law plays out in practice. On one hand, it promises to treat rich and poor alike when it comes to keeping someone in jail until any trial. It says everyone will get out within twelve hours on a misdemeanor charge, with some exceptions. And if you’re accused of a Read More

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New California Criminal Laws in 2018

We’ve already touched on four of them: Recreational pot. A ban-the-box law for employers. An overhauled sex-offender registry beginning in 2021. New rules for picking juries in civil and criminal cases. Here are five more this week, with five more to come next week. Lawyers can advise clients on cannabis. This is Assembly Bill 1159. It amended the Read More

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New Year’s Resolutions

Speaking of compliance, here are two businesses that ended the year resolving charges they violated U.S. trade sanctions by dealing with blocked countries, people, or entities. Both cases show how the government enforces its sanctions regime, and they illustrate how an ounce of prevention can beat a pound of cure. Both cases were brought by the Office of 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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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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Our Federal Prisons Are Fueled By Drugs

That’s the takeaway from this report by the federal courts and U.S. Sentencing Commission. To summarize, there are almost 200,000 people in federal prison today, and almost half of them (or 48%) are there for drugs. Almost all of them (93%) are men, and the vast majority are young, minority men. The breakdown is 35% Hispanic, 35% black, and 27% Read More

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White-Collar to Blue-Collar in One Day

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two notable decisions on the same day. One was a civil white-collar case, the other a criminal drug-trafficking case, and in both cases, the Court reversed the lower-court ruling on appeal. In the civil case, the Court imposed a five-year statute of limitations on SEC cases that seek to disgorge profits. That’s Read More

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