CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Contraindicated Drug Courts

Josh Bowers of Chicago has posted the above titled paper on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Over the past two decades, drug treatment courts have gained traction as popular alternatives to the conventional war on drugs (and to its one-dimensional focus on incarceration). Specifically, the courts are meant to divert addicts from jails and prisons and into coerced treatment. Under the typical model, a drug offender enters a plea of guilty and is enrolled in a long-term outpatient treatment program that is closely supervised by the drug court. If the offender completes treatment, his plea is withdrawn and the underlying charges are dismissed. But, if he fails, he receives an alternative termination sentence. My premise is that drug courts provide particularly poor results for the very defendants that they are intended to help most. Specifically, the most likely participants to graduate are volitional drug users, who strategically game exit from undesired conventional punishment and game entry into treatment that they, in fact, do not need. By contrast, the most likely treatment failures are genuine addicts and members of historically disadvantaged groups, who thereafter receive harsh termination sentences that often outstrip conventional plea prices. In short, drug courts are contraindicated for target populations and may thereby lead to longer sentences for the very defendants who traditionally have filled prisons under the conventional war on drugs.

Paper here.

October 16, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man Gets Death Penalty for

leaving little girl to be eaten by alligators.

October 16, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sex Offender Restrictions Now Hit Universities

Universities are now jumping on the bandwagon to ban sex offenders from campus housing.  Listen to NPR story here.

October 16, 2007 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man Sentenced to 3 Months' Probation for 17th Degree Murder

Read it at The

October 16, 2007 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man Convicted of Bank Robbery After Jurors Find Hold Up Note

A  man was convicted of trying to rob a west Georgia bank after a jury discovered the impression of a holdup note that the prosecution was unaware of.  Darius K. Heard, 29, of Fayetteville, was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in prison for attempted robbery, fleeing officers and reckless driving. A co-defendant, Reamon D. Mapp, 25, of Austell, was sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to attempted robbery, fleeing officers and possession of cocaine. Heard was convicted of an April 11 robbery attempt at the RBC Centura bank in Hogansville after jurors at his trial found the outline of a holdup note pressed into the blank pages of a notebook that was seized from the car in which he and Mapp were arrested.  Story....

October 16, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Iowa CrimProf Baldus to be Honored for Death Penalty Research

Baldus University of Iowa law CrimProf David Baldus will be honored for his research into the application of the death penalty when he receives the Gov. Harold E. Hughes Award from the Iowans Against the Death Penalty organization on Oct. 27th.

Baldus, considered one of the nation's leading death penalty scholars, has conducted research on racial disparity in death penalty sentencing cases. His research has found that the odds of a black defendant receiving the death penalty following a conviction are significantly higher than the odds of a white defendant convicted of the same crime.  Press release here.  [Mark Godsey]

October 15, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Prosecutorial Passion, Cognitive Bias, and Plea Bargaining

Hofstra CrimProf Alafair S. Burkee has posted the above-titled article SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The standard account in support of plea bargaining is that it reflects both likely trial and sentencing outcomes, but a growing literature explores the ways in which plea negotiations are influenced by factors other than the likelihood of conviction and the probable post-trial sentence. For example, structural factors such as limited pre-trial discovery, attorney self-interest and incompetence, pretrial detention, and determinate sentencing can affect the parties' willingness and power to negotiate. Several scholars have also observed the ways that psychological and cognitive factors, such as overconfidence, denial, information barriers, framing, anchoring, and risk aversion, can influence plea bargaining. Previous examinations of the influence of cognitive bias on plea bargaining have focused primarily on the decision making of defendants. This Article, a contribution to Marquette Law Review's symposium on plea bargaining, seeks to contribute an additional dimension to the understanding of plea bargaining dynamics by exploring influences on the decision making of prosecutors.

A central tenet of plea bargaining is that prosecutors are willing to negotiate settlements to free up trial resources for other cases. Accordingly, the first step in this Article's exploration of prosecutorial decision making in plea bargaining is an examination of the factors that drive a prosecutor's prioritization of cases. Specifically, Part I argues that prosecutors prioritize cases in part by the amount of passion they feel in each case. Prosecutorial passion - how much a prosecutor “cares” about a case - is an undefined and unexplored factor in the current literature, and reflects subjective determinations beyond the strength of a case's evidence or its likely post-conviction sentence.

Part II explores the ways that prosecutorial passion might affect plea bargaining. First, passion might create a conscious aversion to plea bargaining in prosecutors. Second, even when a passionate prosecutor believes she desires settlement, passion might trigger or exaggerate cognitive biases that will make settlement less likely, such as selective information processing, loss aversion, framing, overoptimism, hindsight bias, anchoring, and the sunk cost fallacy. Part III concludes with some brief thoughts regarding the implications of prosecutorial passion for plea bargaining reform.

Article here

October 15, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Vermont Law Firm with Foreign Clients Says Feds Wiretapping Them