Posts by Brandon Sample

Plain Error Rule: U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Fifth Circuit

Plain Error Rule, U.S. Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit, Rosales-Mireles v. U.S. Image

Normally, if a trial court made an obvious mistake in calculating a person’s sentence the mistake should be corrected, right?  Well, if the Fifth Circuit had its way, the answer would be “no.” Luckily, the U.S. Supreme Court in a June 2018 decision set the record straight on the proper application of the plain error…

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McConnell Pressured to Allow Passage of First Step Act

First Step Act Passage Image

It could be the most significant step in criminal sentencing and prison reform in a generation. But, the FIRST STEP Act faces one major obstacle standing in the way of passage – Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And this could be the one and only chance for this historic bill to pass.…

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First Step Act Prison Reform Bill Update

First Step Act Prison Reform Bill

A Tentative Deal in the Senate May Finally Pave the Way for the Most Substantial Rewrite of the Nation’s Criminal Justice Laws in a Generation. Having just worked our way through a blistering midterm election season, there is little question that our country is divided. Indeed, come January 2019, Congress will officially be divided with…

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Sentencing Chart in New York: A Closer Look

Sentencing Chart New York. Federal Sentencing Guidelines Chart

Just like the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, many states have their own version of sentencing guidelines, and sentencing charts. The State of New York is no exception. The Sentence Chart in New York for state crimes is particularly complicated. In fact, there is not just one sentencing chart in New York, but four. Moreover, those four…

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Sentencing For Money Laundering. Does Crime Pay?

Money laundering, what is money laundering, money laundering definition

The old adage “crime doesn’t pay” may be true as an overall principle; yet, as a practical matter, crime often does pay – sometimes it pays quite a lot. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has reported that crimes involving money represent the majority of criminal activity in the United States. Because money laundering…

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Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act – Is It Time?

sentencing reform and corrections act, federal sentencing reform

Is federal sentencing reform in the United States finally a viable possibility? With the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, maybe . . . just maybe. Faced with the stark reality that the United States’ prison population is the largest in the world, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee…

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Federal Sentencing Legislation: Is Jeff Sessions Wrong?

federal sentencing legislation image

A piece of federal sentencing legislation that was shot down several years ago is now back in play. Then federal sentencing legislation, titled the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, is meant to reverse the negative results of mass incarceration by pulling back on mandatory minimums and also providing much needed assistance to prisoners returning to…

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6 Changes in the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act Image

Although Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has tried to kill the bill in the past, the drumbeat for a sentencing reform act is getting stronger and stronger. Indeed, even many of McConnell’s Republican colleagues see that sentencing reform is the fair and decent thing to do. That is because the sentencing picture in the United States…

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Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act vs. First Step Act

sentencing reform and corrections act, first step act

The House of Representatives recently passed the so-called “First Step Act,” which is very different from the “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” that is still bouncing around the Senate. I discussed in a previous article, the many details of the House’s “First Step Act” (First Step). Let’s take a closer look at the debate. Some…

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What Can You Expect At A Sentencing Hearing?

sentencing hearing, federal sentence hearing

We all have watched courtroom dramas on TV, in the movies, and even on stage. Invariably, the crucial moment we all wait for is when the jury foreperson gives the verdict. Indeed, the story usually concludes at that point. In reality, however, there is another whole proceeding that follows a jury verdict of “guilty.” That…

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U.S. Sentencing Commission’s March 2018 Report: Early Release of Drug Offenders Has No Impact On Recidivism Rates

U.S. Sentencing Commission

In a remarkable new report just released from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, we now have more evidence showing that recidivism rates do not increase for those who receive lighter drug sentences. After decades of an experiment in mass incarceration for drug offenses in the United States, this report provides further support for the notion that…

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Sentencing Guidelines for Drugs: New Bill on Fentanyl, and the Fallacy of the “Tough-On-Crime” Approach

There is a bipartisan effort to get sensible about sentencing guidelines for drugs in Congress. The incredibly punitive mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines for drugs currently in place have led to a major mass incarceration problem. It is a problem that does nothing but cost taxpayers far too much to jail so many citizens, and cost many…

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First Step Act – August 2018 Update

first step act

In May 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the First Step Act on a bipartisan vote of 360-59. Since then, the First Step Act has been assailed by some on the political right as being “soft on crime,” and on the political left for not going far enough to address unfair sentencing practices. I…

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Brett Kavanaugh On Crime

Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh Justice Anthony Kennedy recently announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. Except for death penalty cases, Kennedy rarely voted in favor of criminal defendants. He opposed Apprendi, Booker, Alleyne and many other “seminal” criminal procedure cases handed down by the Court. Thus, while some oppose President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the…

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Sentencing Philosophies – Can We Build The Perfect Prison?

sentencing philosophies

Why do we sentence people? Depending on who you ask, you may get vastly different answers. And those answers depend upon our society’s sentencing philosophies. The Five Sentencing Philosophies There are five basic sentencing philosophies that justify why we punish those who break our criminal laws: retribution, incapacitation, rehabilitation, deterrence, and restoration. These philosophies arenot…

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