Elections 2012: Government is Local

Yesterday’s election results elicited happiness from many quarters. President Obama begins his second term confronted with serious economic issues, but aided by a senate that includes more women than ever, including Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin, a testament to the growing power of women and minorities in shaping our collective future. Same-sex marriage has been approved by a popular vote for the first time, and an amendment to the contrary was defeated. More pertinent to the topic of this blog, recreational marijuana has been legalized in Washington and Colorado (though the meaning of this, in light of the continuing federal policy to outlaw the substance, remains to be fleshed out.)

And in California, mixed results on criminal justice matters. Prop 36 passed by a landslide and elicited gratitude from non-violent Third Strikers who are to be resentenced now. As we said before the election, this revision of Three Strikes is fairly modest; it does not change the possibility of simultaneous strikes or the punishment for Second Strikers. The original ambition to repeal this extreme punitive measure was significantly scaled back, though what we have is a good start and offers hope to thousands of people whose hopelessly disproportionate sentences will be shortened.

Much to my disappointment, Prop 34 fell 500,000 voters short from passing. The landmark achievement of a significant decrease in Californians’ traditional support for the death penalty notwithstanding, the death penalty remains, despite the serious arguments for its dysfunction.

And Prop 35, a traditional hodge-podge of punitive measures disguised as a victims’ rights measure, passed as well. As I expected, part of the proposition, which involved unenforceable and overbroad registration requirements for sex offenders, is already raising constitutional questions.

All of this has made me think about broader patterns in California compared to other states. Think of the passage of Prop 8 in 2008 and compare it to the passage of same-sex marriage amendments in various other states in 2012. Think of our failure to pass Prop 19 in 2010 and compare it to the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado in 2012. And think of our failure to pass Prop 34 and compare it to the abolition of the death penalty in numerous states over the course of the last few years. What is wrong in California? Why do the wheels of progress turn so slowly here?

Vanessa Barker’s The Politics of Imprisonment provides a good guideline. Barker argues that crime, and criminal justice, are ultimately experienced on the local level, and that the local political climate of a state has much to do with its administration of criminal justice and imprisonment. In the book, she compares California, Washington, and New York, demonstrating how punishment has taken different forms in the three states that correspond to their traditions and practices of government. Barker sees California as a neopopulist, deeply polarized state, yielding simplistic, black-and-white divisions on punishment because of the voter initiative system. The post Prop-13 political realities of California make it incredibly difficult to move through budgetary changes. Voter initiatives, which are the only way to get through the legislative deadlock, have to present complicated issues as yay/nay questions, impeding serious, impassioned discussions of fact, rather than values, stereotypes and beliefs. And in a climate such as this, even rational facts and figures about costs, which by all right should be nonpartisan matters, become secondary to fear, hate and alienation. It is one of the deepest contradictions of this beautiful state: Hailed as a blue bastion of progress, but cursed with an overburdened, cruel correctional system akin to that of Southern states.

Maybe, like with same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, we have to wait until more states abolish the death penalty, and the next state to do so by voter initiative may not be California. But with a Democrat supermajority in the legislature, we may be able to get over the traditional deadlock and get some things done. My hope that the cost argument would transverse the political divide is not entirely lost, but it is deeply shaken. I still think that the economic argument is incredibly powerful, and attribute the recent successes in marijuana legalization to scarce resources and cost-benefit analysis, among other things. But one cannot ignore the important variable of local government style and tradition in assessing the ability to change the correctional landscape in important ways.

On a more personal note: Many blog readers that have met me in the course of this campaign know how much of my time and persuasive energy I put into the Yes on 34 campaign. I still think that abolition is not impossible and that I will live to see the day in which the United States will join the civilized world in ridding itself of this barbaric punishment method. I still think that, in my lifetime, there will be a time in which we start questioning not only the death penalty, but also life without parole, solitary confinement, racialized segregation practices, and our approach toward juvenile justice. I plan to continue being here and fighting for this important reforms. Because I desperately want the dawn to come.

“But when the dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.”
           –Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country

Many thanks to Chad Goerzen, Francisco Hulse, Jamie Rowen, Aatish Salvi, and Bill Ward, for the conversations that inspired this post.

CCC Endorsements 2012: YES on 34. NO on 35. YES on 36.

In two weeks, California voters will be offered the opportunity to vote on three criminal justice initiatives: Prop 34, which would replace the death penalty with life without parole; Prop 35, which would increase penalties for sex trafficking, make evidentiary changes, and further burden registration requirements for sex offenders; and Prop 36, which proposes a small but significant revision to the Three Strikes Law. There has been much talk about each of these individual propositions. In this short piece, I examine them together and show how they represent two different strands of thinking about criminal justice: New ideas of parsimony and effectiveness through Props 34 and 36, and old-school punitivism packaged as victims’ rights, via Prop 35.
Proposition 34 has received the most media attention of the three, and with good reason. What is interesting about it is not only the historical opportunity to do away with the death penalty, but also the new justifications and realpolitikbacking up the campaign. Voters are encouraged to look beyond their ideological and philosophical opinions about the death penalty, and instead consider the way the death penalty is actually applied in California. The data, and the Legislative Analyst’s Office fiscal report, paint a disturbing picture. Since renewing executions in the 1970s, the state has executed merely 13 inmates. During that same time, 84 death row inmates died of natural causes. The paucity of executions stems from extensive (and expensive) litigation on behalf of the inmates, which is financed by the state, and is increasingly focused on chemical availability and injection techniques. The result is that the death penalty, in reality, has become no more than life without parole, under special conditions (housing 725 inmates in single, rather than double, cells, with extensive security measures), accompanied by decades of incessant litigation and health care expenses, with or without an execution at the end, the elimination of which will save the state a hundred million dollars in the first year alone according to the Legislative Analyst’s office analysis. Under these circumstances, philosophical differences about the state’s right to kill, the meaning of retribution, and the importance of closure for victims, become irrelevant. Some might think that the right thing would be to fix the death penalty, rather than eliminate it, but no proposition along the former lines is realistically forthcoming, and therefore many former (and current) supporters of the death penalty, including victims’ rights advocates, law enforcement officials, and original proponents of the California death penalty statute, have joined the Yes on 34 campaign.
Prop 36, which would reform the Three Strikes Law, is similar to Prop 34 in that it transcends ideological differences in penal politics to offer a practical, parsimonious fix, albeit a modest one in this case. Currently, the Three Strikes Law inflicts a double sentence on habitual offenders who commit a second violent or serious felony, and a twenty-five-years-to-life sentence upon commission of a third felony, even if the third felony is not violent or serious. The law also allows strikes to be imposed simultaneously, implying that the rationale behind its punitive regime is not deterrence, but rather incapacitation. Currently, California prisons house approximately 32,000 second strikes and 9,000 third strikers; an estimated half of the latter population is serving a twenty-five-years-to-life sentence for a third strike that was neither serious non violent. Beyond the consistently unfavorable media coverage of the injustices propagated on this population (including harsh sentences for thefts of items that cost less than ten dollars), Prop 36 raises serious fiscal issues. While third strikers are a small population, they serve lengthy sentences, which make them by definition expensive inmates. The state spends approximately 50,000 dollars per inmate per annum, and much of this amount is due to health care costs, which apply mostly to old and infirm inmates. The proposed reform to the law is fairly minor: Second strikers’ sentences will remain the same, as will the ability to obtain simultaneous strikes. The only reform would be eliminating the harsh sentence for non-serious, non-violent third strikes, making those a double sentence rather than twenty-five years to life.  Current non-violent third strikers would become eligible for resentencing. The Legislative Analyst’s office estimates annual savings that might exceed 100 million dollars.
As opposed to Props 34 and 36, Prop 35 is a classic example of old-school punitive thinking masquerading as a victims’ rights proposition. Marketed as supportive of sex trafficking victims to give it moral weight, the actual text does little, if anything, to help victims. Moreover, the proposition is a mixed bag of the sort of punitive propositions Californians have experienced (and voted on) for years: An increase in the already-considerable sentences of human traffickers, changes to the mens rea requirement for trafficking minors, nebulous criminalization of sex work, and a host of bizarre and unenforceable additions to the already-pervasive sex offender registration scheme (sex offenders would presumably have to report their email addresses and usernames, which cannot possibly be monitored or enforced in any way.) Beyond lip service to the idea of training police to respond well to victims, the proposition would not really improve the situation of victims of trafficking in any predictable way, and its backers and endorsers are counting on the morality hype to confuse voters into doing what seems morally right and vote yes. It would be a costly mistake, along the lines of the 2009 Marsy’s Law and countless other propositions of the same ilk.
The contrast between Props 34 and 36 on one hand and Prop 35 on the other is more than a juxtaposition of nonpunitive and punitive measures. It is a juxtaposition of a new way of thinking about criminal justice in an era of scarcity. Our paucity of resources requires a careful assessment of what actually works in criminal justice reforms, rather than bombastic expenditures on symbolic punitivism that do little to prevent crime or empower victims. It is not crude or crass to discuss money in this context. Our willingness to spend resources on the criminal justice resources is the clearest statement of our priorities as a society. Voting yes on 34 and 36 is sending a loud and clear message that the money spent on executions and unnecessarily lengthy incarcerations is better spent on education, health care, road maintenance, and—yes—improving police investigation.
This election offers you the opportunity to do away with old partisan thinking and reject the tried-and-untrue method of extreme punishment and ratcheted sentencing. Reverse the punitive pendulum and opt for justice that works, not punitive proclamations that promise and do not deliver. Vote yes on 34, no on 35, and yes on 36. 

Breivik Sentenced to 21 Years: Norwegian Justice

This piece of news will be astonishing to American readers: Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people in a gun and bomb massacre last year, many of them children, was sentenced to 21 years. Al Jazeera reports:


 Guilt has never been a question in the trial as Breivik described in chilling detail how he hunted down his victims, some as young as 14, with a shot to the body then one or more bullets to the head. 

 The killings shook this nation of five million people which had prided itself as a safe haven from much of the world’s troubles, raising questions about the prevalence of far right views as immigration rises. 

The trial and a commission of investigation into the country’s worst violence since World War II have kept Breivik on the front pages for the past 13 months and survivors said the verdict would finally bring some closure. 

 “It has been a tough year … but I don’t want to be Utoeya-Nicoline for the rest of my life,” said Nicoline Bjerge Schie, a survivor of the shooting. 

 Dressed in a black suit with a tie and still sporting the under-chin beard familiar from the 10 weeks of hearings that ended in June, Breivik smirked when he entered the courtroom and gave his now familiar, far-right salute when his handcuffs were removed. He smiled again as the judge read out the verdict.

Updated: Under Norwegian law, the maximum penalty for homicide is 21 years and for crimes against humanity, 30 years. At the end of that sentence, people who still present a risk can be held for additional time, in increments of five years, as preventive detention.

It’s worth remembering that Norwegian prisons are very different from North American ones; they are well-furnished, moderately populated and safe. How you feel about European justice sentencing a mass murderer the way some American courts sentence people for possession with intent to sell tells you a lot about where you stand on the correctional continuum.

Props to Chad Goerzen for the link.

Bill Allowing Resentencing of Lifer Juveniles Passes Assembly

Excellent news: SB9 – a Senate bill allowing lifer juveniles to have their life without parole sentence reevaluated by a judge – has passed the California Assembly.

This is a major achievement. Leland Yee has been pushing this issue for years. The full text of SB9 is here. And there is more information on the Fair Sentencing for Youth website.

In order to pass, the bill needs to be reaffirmed by the Senate (which has already approved it) and signed into law by the Governor, who is already being pressured by opposition groups.

Here’s what you can do to help: Click here to contact the Governor, and your Senator, and express your support for the bill.

And: Regarding our last post – the California Supreme Court has done the right thing. In CA v. Caballero, the Court has held a 110-year sentence to violate Graham v. Florida. This case joins CA v. Mendez, in which the Court struck down a 84-year sentence for a juvenile who did no harm.

Once you’ve emailed your Senator and the Governor, rejoice with all Californians who believe that everyone, especially at a very young age, should be offered a glimmer of hope and redemption.

New Paper on Realignment

Our friends at the Warren Institute have published a new paper by Rebecca Sullivan Silbert, titled Thinking Critically about Realignment in California, which you can read in full here. The nice thing about this publication is its clear and understandable language; Silbert breaks down technical complexities and makes this policy change much more accessible for all of us. Here are some highlights.

Silbert starts by delineating the difference between county jails and state prisons prior to realignment, including implications of jails’ smaller size, mandatory parole for state prisoners, and state costs stemming from the return to custody of parolees.

The paper then discusses overcrowding in state prisons, which it attributes to four factors: The gradual increase in sentencing, the labeling of more crime as violent and serious, the inability to cope with addictions and mental illness, and the mandatory parole mechanism with the potential return to prison for violations.

The main changes due to realignment are concisely discussed. They include serving one’s sentence in jail; split sentences between prison and jail, at judicial discretion;  having some state prisoners come under the auspices of community post-release programs in lieu of state parole; and sending parole violators to jail in lieu of prison.

The report then goes on to discuss the level of readiness of county institutions for the task of incarcerating more people and for longer terms, as well as the concerns about the medical and mental health needs of the new county inmates. Silbert then brings up concerns about “charging up” as well as about defense attorneys negotiating state prison because of the shorter post-sentence supervision implied.

The report does not discuss juvenile realignment, but there are plenty of other sources of information on that.

BREAKING NEWS: Bill to Amend Three Strikes Law Passes Assembly

Assembly Bill 327, introduced by Assembly Member Davis, passed in the assembly today. The new bill, whose text can be found here in full, would activate the “third strike” life imprisonment provision only if the third felony is for a serious or violent felony.

What counts as “serious or violent” felony is defined in section 667.5 of the existing penal code. The category includes serious offenses like murder, attempted murder, rape and kidnapping, but also first degree burglary, extortion and the like. It would seem to exclude some of the more scandalous examples of three strikes practices, in which the third offense would be petty theft of some sort.

The bill now moves to the senate floor. But getting too excited about this may be premature; the bill explicitly specifies that it only comes into effect if approved by voters in the 2014 election.

Happy New Year from the CCC Blog

And what a year it will be!

The Criminal Justice Realignment will figure prominently in our posts this year, with a special focus on the recent news regarding cuts that may endanger many juvenile programs. The most serious concern stemming from the cuts is that juveniles will be tried as adults. Some thoughts on the proper direction to take from Selena Teji and Emily Luhrs are posted here.

We’re also excited about the prospect of SAFE California’s initiative to end the death penalty in California in 2012, as well as a possible amendment of the Three Strikes Law to include only violent felonies.

Thank you, as always, for your readership, and stay with us by reading, commenting, and emailing.

Book Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman‘s new and fantastic book Thinking, Fast and Slow is a fascinating journey into an intellectual career spanning more than forty years. Kahneman, who won the Nobel prize for his work on rationality with Amos Tversky, presents a lifetime of research and findings into human rationality and its fallacies in a coherent, intriguing and convincing way. It is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone regardless of the context of criminal justice. Kahneman and Tversky’s ideas on rationality, however, have special bearing on issues of criminal justice policy, and the book might therefore be particularly interesting to this blog’s readership.

To fully understand the novelty Kahneman’s (and Tversky’s) Nobel-winning ideas, it is important to keep in mind that they were generated against the backdrop of very traditional ideas of human rationality in economics. Classic economic theory assumes a human subject who is fully rational, fully knowledgeable, and operates within a framework of cost-benefit analysis. Kahneman and Tversky, students of human behavior rather than of economics, devoted their careers to questioning and refining this model of human cognition to accommodate flaws and fallacies in rationality, revolutionizing the field of economics and enriching it with empirical insights about the actual and irrational workings of human behavior patterns. Which is how a psychologist ended up receiving a Nobel prize for economics.

Kahneman introduces his ideas to the public through a fresh perspective that serves as the leitmotif of the book. Our thinking, he argues, is characterized by two modes, or systems, if you will. System 1 is responsible for the quick-and-dirty judgments and conjectures that allow us to instantaneously make sense of the world. When more effort is needed, System 2 snaps into action, and engages in the complex thinking required to solve problems or think outside our cognitive box. The problem is that System 2 is lazy. It does not come into play unless it absolutely must, and it takes an effort to engage. So, our default mode is to slack and allow System 1 to do our work for us. The result is that we generate our opinions about the world in ways that rely on shortcuts, assumptions, stereotypes, overly causal interpretation, and anchors, that are flawed and lead us to making a myriad of mistakes.

Kahneman proceeds by mapping for us, chapter by chapter, a series of these fallacies. Among the heuristics and biases he mentions are the halo effect (forming an opinion of something based on one or two qualities and extrapolating), What-You-See-Is-All-There-Is (WYSIATI – relying on whatever information is available, no matter how flimsy and unreliable), anchoring (linking our assessments to whatever number is thrown out, no matter how improbable), substituting difficult questions for easy ones, ignoring base lines, ignoring regression to the mean, and creating overly causal narratives for things that could be accounted for through pure chance. He then walks us through the impact these fallacies have on professional decision making, and finally through his more recent work on happiness.

The book is fascinating for anyone who is interested in understanding human behavior, but I found its implications for criminal justice policy particularly startling. The insights on flawed rationality can explain not only public punitivism and voter initiatives, but also the flawed behavior of professionals: judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. Here are some of the many examples of possible applications.

A recent Supreme Court decision grappled with the question how to prevent injustices stemming from the prosecution’s failure to comply with the Brady requirement to disclose to the defense “any exculpatory evidence”. The assumption made by the Court is that monetary compensations to exonerees who were wrongfully accused without an opportunity to receive evidence in their favor are only effective when prosecutors acted out of malice. In a paper I presented at a Constitutional Law conference in Chicago, following Kahneman, Tversky, and a solid body of behavioral research, I suggest that many Brady violations may not be attributable to anyone’s fault, but rather to confirmation bias: Prosecutors and defense attorneys simply read evidence differently, and prosecutors, given their professional environment and their pro-government bias and socialization, are less likely to view evidence with an eye toward its exonerative potential. I’m in the process of devising a study to examine the existence and extent of confirmation bias in prosecutorial and defense perception of evidence, as well as its causes.

Another big area where heuristics and biases are important is sentencing. Kahneman’s book is full of examples of flawed decision making due to chance issues. Notably, he cites a series of studies comparing judicial decision making to those of computer algorithms, finding that the computer makes less mistakes. But he also shows how judges making parole decisions tended to be more generous in terms of release immediately after eating, when their ability to access System 2, and their cognitive ease, were at their prime. This is, of course, greatly disturbing, and a factor to keep in mind when thinking of the strong judicial opposition to sentencing guidelines and any form of diminished discretion. Contrary to the bon ton in today’s analysis of the correctional crisis, it may well be that sentencing guidelines and the diminishing discretion of judges were not a fatal decision reached by overzealous punitive right-wingers and misguided left-wingers, but rather a good decision, whose adverse effects are not due to the decrease in judicial discretion, but due to the increase in prosecutorial discretion.

Another important implication of al this risk prediction and algorithms. Kahneman’s experiments strongly support favoring the quantitative tools used by various correctional systems, including CDCR, over the sort of clinical risk assessments popular in the early 20th century. The concern we have with giving machines the power to assess individuals’ risk based on stereotypes may be exaggerated, Kahneman’s work suggests. Humans may make more serious mistakes, and reliance on past predictors of recidivism or parole violations are more reliable than intuitive impressions of trust and sympathy.

An area I find particularly compelling is the study of public punitivism, and prospect theory could have a field day with what we know of this. A decent argument can be made that much of what passes for public decision making in the field of voter initiatives is System 1 work. First, the public’s reliance on “redball crimes” – shocking instances of horrifying, sensationalized crimes, that receive a lot of media attention – is a prime example of WYSIATI. Rather than engaging with statistics that expose the entire picture of crime reality, we rely on what is salient and reported, rather than with what we know to be truer. Moreover, much of the punitive legislation against sex offenders might be an example of substituting difficult questions with easy ones. Rather than thinking what sort of punishment sex offenders deserve, or how many resources to invest in punishing them, or which measures would reduce recidivism, voters may be thinking on how much they dislike sex offenders. A System 1 mechanism of “translating scales” converts the extent of dislike and revulsion to a measure of punishment, and punitive voter initiatives are born and passed as law.

There could be many more examples of possible applications, and I’m happy to entertain some of these in the comments. i just want to add a  final note on the delights of Kahneman’s book: What distinguishes this book from other popular behavioral science books, such as Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, or Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, is not only its quality–Kahneman respects his readers, does not oversimplify, and happily shares the depth of his intellectual process, which places this book in a class of its own–but the moving, nostalgic tribute it makes to the working partnership and decades-long friendship between him and Tversky. As many friends who have collaborated on research projects know, the relationship between collaborators is unique and special; the curiosity and give-and-take of the work creates a strong bond. The book is a love letter to Tversky and to the two researchers’ community of students and colleagues. One can almost walk side by side with Tversky and Kahneman, listening in on their conversations and debates, witnessing the generation of ideas sparked by their easy, friendly conversations, and feeling the parental warmth of their respect and enthusiasm for the success of their intellectual children and grandchildren: professors, postdocs, and graduate students. It is a pleasure to enjoy this additional dimension on the book, made more poignant by the heartbreak over Tversky’s untimely death at 59 in 1996, six years before the Nobel prize win. And it is a reminder of how important it is to appreciate one’s scientific community, or scientific family, and its contributions to one’s intellectual and emotional life.

Many thanks to Haim Aviram for our discussions about this post and to Robert Rubin for the recommendation.

Plea Bargains: Not Such a Bargain

A new study by David Abrams, recently published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, casts doubt upon one of the classic assumptions of the criminal process: That plea bargains pay off for defendants.

More than 90% of all criminal cases, in CA and elsewhere, end in plea bargains rather than in a jury trial. Rather than this being an aberration, it is, as some commentators believe, a necessary mechanism to account for the cost and hassles of an impractical and unsustainable jury system.

The common understanding of the plea bargain system is that each party to the agreement gains and loses something by the bargain. The prosecution is prepared to offer a sentence that is less than what the defendant might receive from the judge in return for an expedited and less expensive resolution of the matter, leaving prosecutors with more time to devote to cases on trial. The defendant, however, gives up his/her right to trial for the certainty that s/he will not incur a “trial penalty”, that is, be sentenced more harshly by the judge if he or she is convicted.

But it turns out this may not be true.

In Is Pleading Really a Bargain?, Abrams runs regressions on a dataset from Cook County in an effort to predict which trial strategy (trial or plea bargain) yields a more lenient sentence. The results, as described in the abstract below, are surprising.

A criminal defendant’s decision of whether to accept a plea bargain is one with serious consequences both for his or her immediate and long‐term future. Conventional wisdom suggests that defendants are better served by entering into a plea bargain, to avoid what is known as the “trial penalty.” In this article I present evidence that this notion is likely mistaken. In OLS regressions using data from Cook County state courts, I find that a risk‐neutral defendant seeking to minimize his or her expected sentence would do substantially better by rejecting a plea bargain. I also employ an IV approach to the question and, while the instrument is weak, the results are consistent with the OLS: defendants are better off going to trial.

Admittedly, there are some methodological problems with Abrams’ piece. Since he’s using court data, he cannot appropriately control for self selection of cases; it may well be that defendants who chose to go to trial did so because they, or their defense attorneys, thought they had a better chance with the judge. Nonetheless, his analysis is impressive.

Abrams offers two possible explanations for his data. The first is the availability heuristic. Defendants perceive trials as being more lengthy and more harsh, because they are exposed to sensationalized trials via the media. The second is the difference in interest between defendant and defense attorney, which I expect grows when public defense offices are weighed down with caseload and slashed budgets.

I have a third possible explanation, which I believe is at least as plausible. In a world of mass incarceration and normalized, mechanical sentences with little discretion, bargaining is more like buying groceries at a supermarket than at a Middle Eastern bazaar (this analogy is Malcolm Feeley’s). In this sort of situation, the bargain price comes to manifest exactly what the prosecution expects from the court given the vast amount of evidence predicting it. The cases that go to trial are cases in which the defense believes there are enough unique features to take them out of the “normal crimes” category and make them seem special enough to the judge to warrant a downward departure from the acceptable range. And so, since so few cases go to trial, the ones that do appear special and benefit from the special attention. Some research by the late Yael Hassin, which compared actual parole committees to computers in terms of predictions of dangerousness in early releases, suggests that providing agencies with more discretion (in parole, sentencing, and the like) yields more merciful and lenient results. If so, it is not surprising that judicial attention, in a universe of otherwise mechanized sentencing, yields more lenient sentences.

Today at Hastings: Realignment Panel

Today, UC Hastings will host a panel about the realignment. The panel is free and open to the public. Details:

When: 10/27/2011, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Where: 200 McAllister, Alumni Reception Center (2nd floor)

  • Chief Presiding Judge Lisa Novak—San Mateo County
  • Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rubin—Alameda County
  • Assistant Public Defender Don Landis—Monterey County
  • Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus Jeanne Woodford

Moderated by UC Hastings Professor Kate Bloch.

Panel and Q&A to be followed by a wine reception. Please RSVP to HCLS@uchastings.edu.