Book Release Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, Jan. 17, I’ll be at Boswell Books in Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m. for an event to mark the release of my new book, Wisconsin Sentencing in the Tough-on-Crime Era: How Judges Retained Power and Why Mass Incarceration Happened Anyway. All are welcome. More information is here. Thanks to the American Constitution Society for cosponsoring the event.

Please Support Clemency Petition of Adam Clausen

With a wonderful group of Marquette law students, I have been working this year to help about a dozen federal prisoners apply for clemency (sentence reduction) from President Obama. All but one are applying through Clemency Project 2014 as nonviolent offenders. Adam Clausen is the odd man out. He was convicted of a string of robberies in 2000, but is nonetheless a very deserving clemency candidate. Indeed, I know of no more compelling case for a sentence reduction. Adam is doing extraordinary work in prison to help fellow inmates turn their lives around and prepare for reentry. He is a leader and innovator in his institution, helping to design and run programs that are receiving national attention. His request for clemency is being supported by his warden and many other prison officials, which is highly unusual. If released early, he is a sure bet not only to avoid future crime, but also to have a tremendous positive impact on the lives of many others.

In order to give his clemency request an extra boost, his supporters have put a petition on I have signed on, and I encourage others to do so, too.

New Posting Schedule

Starting next week, I’m shifting from a Tuesday, Friday schedule for new posts to Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  I’ve also added a plug-in to facilitate viewing of this blog on mobile devices.

Check Out My New Pages

I’ve added three new pages to this blog (see right-hand column).  First, “Articles I Like” collects links to scholarly articles that I have found especially insightful.  I have a handful of articles there now to get started; I’ll add more periodically.  Unfortunately, it seems that quite a few of the articles I would like to list are only available through subscription databases like Westlaw.  I am only listing articles from journals that make their content freely available.

Second, I’ve added a page of resources for my course “Crime and Punishment in American History.”  I’ll add more links from time to time over the next couple of months.  In addition to my students, legal history buffs may find some of the material of interest.

Finally, the “My Articles” page offers links to an almost-complete set of my papers on sentencing, criminal procedure, and related topics, dating back to 1997.  There are lists of most recent and most downloaded articles, as well as topical lists.

October Conference to Consider the History, Legacy of America’s First Crime Commission

Along with my colleagues Dan Blinka, Dean Strang, and Gordon Hylton, I’ve been organizing a conference at Marquette Law School on the Wickersham Commssion, America’s first national crime commission.  Appointed by President Hoover and including many legal luminaries of the day, the Wickersham Commission produced an extraordinary series of reports in 1931 that examined in great detail the causes of crime and the operation of the American criminal-justice system.  Perhaps best remembered for the critical light it cast on extreme police interrogation tactics, the Commission’s work might also be thought of as the coming-of-age of American criminology, as a progenitor of the contemporary “evidence-based decision making” movement, and as a centerpiece of the first presidential effort to craft a comprehensive federal crime-control policy.

The conference will kick off at 4:30 on October 4 with a keynote address by one of my favorite authors on crime policy, Professor Frank Zimring of Berkeley.  Registration information for the keynote is here.

The conference will continue with a series of panels beginning at 8:30 on October 5.  Speakers will include distinguished historians, law professors, and criminologists.  Additional details and registration information are available here.


A Plea for 924(c) Reform

In the past year, I’ve enjoyed an extended correspondence with a federal inmate named Adam Bentley Clausen (see website here).  He is working hard to promote public awareness of the problems with 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).  He sent me the following analysis, which I think nicely articulates the case for reform:

Save 4 Billion Taxpayer Dollars by Amending 18 U.S.C. 924(c)

I. Highlights

– I received 213 YEARS for multiple 924(c) “use of a firearm” convictions

– No one was killed nor seriously injured during any of my crimes

– The average male life expectancy is 77 years

– My “life” incarceration will cost taxpayers at least 2 million dollars

– The maximum sentence for my underlying crime(s), Hobbs Act Robbery, was 20 years

– Had I received the 20 year max my incarceration would have cost taxpayers $475,000

-There are approximately 3000 cases similar to mine nationwide each costing taxpayers 2 million dollars, or cumulatively costing 6 BILLION DOLLARS

– A retroactive amendment to statute 924(c) could reduce each “life” sentence down to a more reasonable 20 years (on avg. at resentencing) and thus allow taxpayers to SAVE OVER 4 BILLION DOLLARS

***(Estimated total savings can be compounded once future job earnings and tax contributions of each inmate released after 20 years is considered. Possibly 1 Billion ADDITIONAL Dollars of savings)

Continue reading “A Plea for 924(c) Reform”

Check Out These New Blogs

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Updates tracks new decisions by the Seventh Circuit in criminal cases.  The authors are four up-and-coming Wisconsin-based criminal defense lawyers and yours truly.  I’ll cross-post most or all of my contributions here.

Cybercrime Review, authored by two 3L law students with strong technology backgrounds, explores “new technology, recent legal developments, and interesting arguments at the intersection of computers and the law.”

Both blogs are off to a strong start.  (I think I can say that without being too self-serving, since I only have one post up so far at Seventh Circuit Updates.)

New (and Improved) Schedule

I’ve been a bit erratic in my blogging this fall as a result of the press of other commitments.  This week, I’ll start using a different approach, with posts appearing (I hope) on a regular, Tuesday-and-Friday-morning schedule.

See You on August 15

With the start of the semester fast approaching, I’ll be taking a two-week break from blogging to finish some other projects, prepare for class, and work on my tan.  Enjoy the dog days!