Author: Fair Punishment Project

Charging Drug Overdoses as Homicide

Introduction In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the beginning of the “war on drugs,” which set in motion the proliferation of draconian sentencing laws for drug-related offenses and contributed to a new era of mass incarceration. More than forty years later, many experts now agree that the war on drugs, which cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, completely failed to stem drug use or promote public safety. Fortunately, there are signs that the nation has begun to shift away from the misguided drug war. More Americans now see drug offenses as a public health crisis, and not simply a problem...

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A New U.S. Department of Justice Study Shows Violent Crime Victimization Held Stable in 2015; Remains Near Record Lows

  Today, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released its annual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which found no statistically significant change in the nation’s violent crime rate. Here are the highlights: Across the country, violent crime remains near record lows. Since 1993, violent crime rates have dropped by nearly 76 percent. In 2015, fewer than 1% of Americans over the age of 12 reported enduring a crime of violence. From 2014 to 2015, rates of property crime decreased by 6 percent. Property crime rates remain at historic lows. Since 1993, property crime rates have fallen over 68 percent. These results are consistent with the 2015 FBI Uniform Crime Report, released last month, which found that violent crime increased slightly from the previous year, but nonetheless remained near fifty year lows. Indeed, 2015 had the 3rd lowest violent crime rate and 1st lowest property crime rate since 1971. Additionally, the 2015 FBI Report found: 1st lowest burglary rate since 1966 2nd lowest robbery rate since 1966. 6th lowest homicide rate since 1966. John Pfaff, a law professor at Fordham University School of Law, offered the following to explain the relationship between the National Crime Victimization Survey (violent crime holds steady near record lows) and the FBI Uniform Crime Report (violent crime increased slightly from 2014, but remains near record lows): “When, like today, the NCVS and the UCR yield contradictory results—the...

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California at Forefront on Prosecutorial Accountability

California has just passed, and Governor Brown has signed, a law that will increase penalties to up to three years in prison for prosecutors who either hide or intentionally tamper with evidence that could be potentially beneficial to defendants.  In explaining the rationale for the bill, the chief sponsor, California Assemblywoman Patty Lopez stated, “I hear so many stories about innocent people across California, and across the country, who have been wrongfully convicted….I just hope that when people think the rules don’t apply to them, they will think twice before they abuse their power.” Prosecutors, some who brazenly and...

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The Legacy of a Reformer: Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson

The announcement earlier this month of the death of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson from cancer came as a shock to many.  He was just 50 years old and at the height of his career.  He leaves behind a wife and young children.  This is first and foremost a personal tragedy for Thompson’s family and friends.   Thompson’s death also cuts short a fascinating experiment in the possibilities and limitations of prosecutorial reform pushed from within.  He was one of a handful of truly “progressive” prosecutors overseeing large urban districts.  Although he only held the position of District Attorney...

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Part II of Our Report on America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties Released

Today, we released Part II of  a new report offering an in-depth look at how the death penalty is operating in the handful of counties across the country that are still using it. Of the 3,143 county or county equivalents in the United States, only 16—or one half of one percent—imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015. The two-part report titled Too Broken to Fix: An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties, examined 10 years of court opinions and records from these 16 “outlier counties.”  Part II focuses on Dallas (TX), Jefferson (AL), Pinellas (FL),...

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