Author: Rob Smith

Fair Punishment Project announces hiring of award winning journalist as new senior research fellow

The Fair Punishment Project is proud to announce the hiring of Larry Hannan as a Senior Research Fellow. Hannan has spent the last eight years as an award winning reporter at the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville covering criminal justice issues. “Larry has seen how the criminal justice system works at the local level,” said Ron Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor and co-founder of the Fair Punishment Project. “He will be a tremendous asset to us as we continue to fight for a more humane and accountable justice system.” “I have relied on Larry’s brilliant and relentless coverage of...

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Reaction From The Fair Punishment Project On The Florida Supreme Court’s Decision to Invalidate Approximately 150 Unconstitutional Death Sentences

Today, the Florida Supreme Court invalidated approximately 150 unconstitutional death sentences. In a decision earlier this year the same court held that Florida’s capital sentencing statute is unconstitutional because it does not require a unanimous jury decision on every question necessary to impose a death sentence. The basis of that decision dated back to a case called Ring v. Arizona, which was decided in 2002. In today’s opinion, the Court reasoned: “Defendants who were sentenced to death under Florida’s former unconstitutional capital sentencing scheme after Ring should not suffer due to the United States Supreme Court’s fourteen-year delay in applying Ring...

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Voter Backlash Against America’s Most Overzealous Prosecutors Continues

Today, voters sent a clear message: they want a justice system that works for everyone, and elected prosecutors need to get onboard or face losing their seats to more sensible counterparts. In Birmingham, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, 2017 will bring new faces to the helm of these city’s respective District Attorney’s Offices. Historically, prosecutor races flew under the public radar. Many elected prosecutors served for decades, winning election after election unopposed. When contested elections did occur, candidates’ rhetoric was an arms race as each tried to sound tougher. Things are changing. Since November 2015, at string of incumbent DAs have lost their elections to a candidate who explicitly promised to bring a more humane and enlightened approach to prosecutions in their office. In some places, like Duval County, Florida, the newly elected prosecutor is not necessarily “progressive,” but nonetheless expresses her views in rhetoric that is exponentially more reasonable than the incumbent. In other places, like Cook County, Illinois, the newly elected prosecutor won based on a new vision for the office: a promise to keep people safe while also treating defendants with more fairness and humanity based on an understanding that jailing more people does not always lead to safer or stronger communities. In other races tonight, e.g. in Maricopa County, Arizona, incumbents look like they will narrowly retain their seat against the reform-minded...

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