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Supreme Court Weighs How to Define Violent Felonies Triggering ACCA

Congress passed the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) in 1984, aiming to bring longer sentences to violent career criminals. Under ACCA, federal defendants facing firearms possession charges can get much longer sentences if they have previously been convicted of three or more violent felonies or serious drug crimes. The 10-year maximum sentence for being a

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Virginia Expands Defendants’ Access to Prosecution Evidence

After considering for years whether to revise its criminal procedure rules to broaden defendants’ access to information that will be used to prosecute them, the Virginia Supreme Court has decided to expand defendants’ pre-trial access to prosecutors’ evidence. An order issued September 5 by the top state court will require state prosecutors (known locally as

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Is It Curtains For The First Step Act?

Back in February, the House of Representatives by a 360-59 margin passed H.R. 5628, the “First Step” Act – an acronym for the “Formerly Incarcerated Re-enter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.” With bipartisan co-sponsors, Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the bill had cleared the House Judiciary Committee by a 25-5

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“Making a Murderer” Defendant Asks Supreme Court to Undo Conviction

Brendan Dassey, the younger defendant convicted of crimes covered in the hugely popular 2015 Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse his conviction, arguing police coerced him into making false confessions. Dassey’s uncle, Steven Avery, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2005

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Department of Justice Finds Higher Recidivism Rates for State-Released Inmates

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has taken a new look at recidivism rates for inmates released from state correctional institutions; the new study found recidivism rates over longer periods of time are higher than previously thought. Its new analysis, “2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” essentially updates

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Prison Reform and Redemption Act: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Introduction On July 24, 2017, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives titled the “Prison Reform and Redemption Act” (PRRA).1 The bill is co-sponsored by nine members of the 115th Congress, four of whom are fellow Republicans. According to the text of the proposed legislation, its purpose is “To provide for

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Man Ticketed for Singing in Car in Canada

Everybody stop dancing now. On September 27, 2017, Taoufik Moalla was driving to the store when the 1990 C&C Music Factory hit “Everybody Dance Now” came on the radio. Inspired, Moalla began loudly singing along with the catchy tune. Fortunately for the citizens of St. Laurent, Canada, local police were on patrol and were able

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Overzealous Prosecutors Getting the Boot

All across the nation, a major pushback against hardline, tough on crime prosecutors is taking place. In the same election cycle which saw the elevation of “law and order” candidate Donald Trump to the presidency, several high profile prosecutors have been voted out of office. In Chicago, incumbent Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez lost the

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Jury Nullification: A Crucial Check on Government Power

The power of government in everyday American life cannot be overstated. In the criminal justice setting, the government is essentially all-powerful. When accused of a crime, a citizen faces arrest at the hands of armed police, incarceration in government-owned jails (for the most part), and prosecution by government-funded prosecutors in courtrooms overseen by government-paid judges.

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