This was sent by our friend, Kelly Sherell. God Bless these men and women; they see the injustice in sentencing which many others are starting to see. I work every day to set the guilty free [Applications for Clemency/Commutation]!
Don’t hold your breath to see inmates released with this new program. It will be extraordinarily difficult to do until legislators pass new laws enabling it, with a standard like “when it is in the interest of justice”. Sad to say, many Bozos in legislatures across the country will oppose this, although judges have said to many a defendant “I wish I could give you a lesser sentence, but I am bound by the law with the mandatory minimum” [it happens often!], because they are stuck on sounding “tough on crime”, a policy which we have seen FAIL over the past 40 years.
This brings me back to educating the public, which is one of my main goals in what I do: if the public knew that “tough on crime” does not reduce crime, they would support measures like this and those legislators would need not fear them! Read: Practical Tip: How YOU can become a “prison reform advocate” – or any ADVOCATE! Here is how! EASY as 1, 2 ,3 ! DO IT! – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-become-a-prison-reform-advocate-here-is-how-do-it/
Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform of our Criminal Justice System – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
Excerpts from the Article:
Over the last decade, more than 30 district attorneys nationwide, many who consider themselves part of a new wave of prosecutors more interested in fair play than a stack of guilty verdicts, have established conviction integrity units. The standalone teams of lawyers and investigators delve into an office’s past cases, hunting for people wrongfully convicted of a crime.This article was published in collaboration with The Nation.But the practice—which affects the handful of cases in which someone truly innocent went to prison—offers limited redress, functioning more as an emblem of a cultural shift than a broad righting of wrongs. The conviction review unit in Brooklyn, N.Y., considered one of the most effective in the U.S., has identified just 23 wrongful convictions over the past several decades.
None of these conviction review units have undertaken the far more ambitious task of examining cases where the conviction might be sound but the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. That would mean poking into the sentences sought by a previous generation of prosecutors whose reflexive stance, for decades, was often to seek maximum charges carrying hefty terms behind bars. “It might open the floodgates to reviewing thousands of sentences,” said Steven A. Drizin, a law professor at Northwestern University and an expert on wrongful convictions who said he supports sentence reviews. Despite the daunting undertaking, the idea is gaining traction. In Philadelphia, where former civil-rights attorney and public defender Larry Krasner was recently sworn in as district attorney, staffers are making plans for a sentence review program, likely the first of its kind in the country. Nationally, nearly two dozen newly elected prosecutors are working with an advocacy organization called Fair and Just Prosecution to implement their own sentencing-review procedures in the coming year, said Miriam Krinsky, the group’s executive director and a former longtime federal prosecutor. Such a massive undertaking is, like many of the ambitions of this new breed of prosecutors, far easier said than done.
Normally, courts allow a prosecutor to seek re-sentencing only in limited circumstances, such as when new evidence arises or when legislators pass a new sentencing law that needs to be applied retroactively. For example, Maryland in 2016 revised its mandatory minimum sentences, with a clause allowing judges to use those changes to reduce the time that then-current prisoners were serving.Sometimes, a prisoner can be rewarded with a reduced sentence for cooperating in a police investigation. The compassionate release process also lets corrections agencies and courts reduce sentences retroactively, usually when the prisoner is gravely ill. But there is no mechanism in many states for requesting a new sentence for a current inmate simply because a newly elected prosecutor says it’s in the best interest of justice.
Kevin S. Burke, a Minnesota state judge who was the president of the American Judges Association, said many of his colleagues on the bench would love to revisit old cases in which their discretion was fettered by mandatory minimum sentence requirements. But they would still need to have a clear reason, grounded in law, for reopening a closed prosecution.“You have to actually find an error,” he said. In Philadelphia, Patricia Cummings, head of the conviction integrity unit, already has a workaround in mind. She said a group within the DA’s office focused on sentencing—which she would likely direct but that still needs staff and funding—could start by looking into first- or second-degree murder cases the office prosecuted in the past.In Pennsylvania, a conviction on those charges automatically ends in a sentence of life in prison without parole. More than 5,000 of the state’s prisoners are currently serving these sentences, the second-highest number in the nation, and about half are from Philadelphia.