Author: Fair Punishment Project

Do the protections of Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama extend to Juveniles Who Have Committed Multiple Offenses?

In Graham and Miller, the U.S. Supreme Court severely limited the imposition of life-without-parole sentences on juveniles. No matter the severity of the crime (or crimes) a juvenile has committed, he cannot be denied any possibility of future release unless he is the rare juvenile homicide offender “who exhibits such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible.” The animating principle behind these decisions is that, relative to adults, juveniles possess a “lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility,” tend to be “more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure,” and are “more capable...

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Case Spotlight: Can St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana Shake its Reputation and “St. Slammany” Moniker?

In a decision handed down from a Louisiana appellate court this week, prosecutors from St. Tammany Parish, also known as “St. Slammany” Parish, Louisiana, have once again shown that their office’s win-at-all-costs attitude results in a pattern of misconduct. The case, State v. Murphy, involves a man named Donald Murphy who was convicted in 2012 of several counts of possessing child pornography and solicitation and was sentenced to multiple 99-year terms of imprisonment. He appealed on several counts, including the fact that the prosecutor made prejudicial comments about the defendant during the course of the trial. For example, in...

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Compromising the Public’s Trust in the Justice System

Introduction Elected prosecutors wield an enormous amount of discretion and power. They decide who to charge with a crime, and what charges to bring. The community relies on them to be fair, honest, and trustworthy in the pursuit of justice. The public’s confidence in the entire justice system is reliant on the integrity of the prosecutor. However, this pubic trust can quickly erode when prosectors post racist or sexist comments on social media, participate in events held by divisive organizations, or form allegiances with instigators of hate speech. Not only are these actions against best practices, but citizens deserve to have...

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What Happens When Prosecutors Refuse to Admit Mistakes?

Introduction According to University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations, there have been 1,909 exonerations in the U.S. since 1989, when the Registry began counting these cases. Of those exonerations, over half involved police or prosecutorial misconduct. The year 2015 had the most exonerations — 157 — in a single year, 26 of which involved DNA evidence. This number only includes cases where innocence has been proven; many other plausibly innocent men and women languish behind bars without legal representation or are otherwise unable to prove their innocence. The rise of DNA exonerations, as well as new...

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Meet Four Elected Prosecutors Still Fighting The War on Weed

Introduction Four states–Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Next week, California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will decide whether to join their ranks. The most recent national polls show that the majority of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. Despite this growing consensus against putting people in jail for possessing marijuana, there are still elected prosecutors who pursue convictions for marijuana possession. Here’s a snapshot of four prosecutors who are out of touch with voters on this issue.  Aaron Negangard Dearborn County, Indiana Aaron Negangard, the district attorney of Dearborn County, Indiana, recently...

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