Sunday, July 19, 2015

SAFE Justice Act: Things are Getting Weird

From Kirk -- 

Well, hello. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) is (really) a co-sponsor of a criminal justice reform bill. Here is what it says:

1. The Attorney General should consider measures to reduce pretrial detention.

2. Acquitted conduct should not be considered at sentencing.

3. Relevant conduct should be limited to conduct intended and in furtherance of conduct undertaken by the defendant.

4. DNA evidence should be preserved.

5. Video and audio recording of defendant statements should happen.

6. Informant testimony is “inherently suspect”.

7. Defense counsel must be permitted to inspect “and to copy or photograph the full contents of all investigative and case files” within 14 days of a request.

8. A presumption of probation (yes, probation) if “if the defendant is a first-time Federal  offender whose place of residence allows for Federal probation supervision and who did  not engage in violent conduct as a part of the offense, unless the court, having  considered the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant, finds on the record that a term of probation would not be appropriate.” I don’t know what this means, exactly.

9. Limiting mandatory minimums to situations where the “defendant was an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of a drug trafficking organization of five or more participants.”


1. Truncating the time limits for 851-eligible penalties. The predicate has to have occurred in the last ten years, excluding periods while incarcerated.

2. These changes are retroactive for crack offenses.

3. And the whole freaking thing may be retroactive upon certain proof, the content of which is unclear.

4. Compassionate release should be expanded.

5. Good time expands to 33% except for terrorism, homicide, and sex offenses (excluding prisoners who are serving a sentence. of less than one month, because that happens).

6. A system of graduated sanctions for supervised release violations should be implemented. 

Good grief. There is a lot more in this bill.  Which seems likely to pass. Read the whole bill. See what you think. Advise your clients accordingly.

Things are getting weird. Actually, things are getting a lot less weird. We will discuss the Dorsey implications in a future post.

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