Crime and Punishment

What If We Eliminated Plea Bargaining?

Scott Greenfield is complaining about people who propose simplistic solutions to the ills that infest the criminal justice system. This time it’s the Economist, and their solution is the ever-popular one of eliminating the problems of plea bargaining by eliminating plea bargaining. Scott’s not happy with that for the usual reason criminal defense lawyers aren’t […]

You Can’t Trust a Killer

We just had Elliot Rodger’s rampage in Isla Vista, and we’re now seeing another horror story from Waukesha, Wisconsin, in the form of two 12-year-old girls who stabbed another 12-year-old child, supposedly to benefit a supernatural entity known as “Slenderman.” Slenderman is an entirely fictional creation of recent vintage: He is Slenderman, a menacing, faceless […]

Elliot Rodger’s Motive Says Very Little About Anyone Except Elliot Rodger

A young man named Elliot Rodger apparently killed six people Saturday in Isla Vista California. I say “apparently” because the story is new enough that it keeps changing. When I first heard it, he had shot six people dead, but now it appears that three of them were stabbed, according to a recent version of […]

Crime and Incentives

In response to my post about some of economist Gary Becker’s views on crime, “russ” leaves a comment with a couple of interesting points: I would think the failure of the war on drugs is the evidence AGAINST Becker’s idea that increased punishment reduces crime. Just because criminalizing drugs hasn’t made them go away completely […]

Death Doesn’t Have to Knock: A Modest Proposal

In the past few years, the states have been facing increasing difficulties obtaining the drugs they need to carry out their death penalties. This is in part because manufacturers have been refusing to make the drugs available for use in executions. So instead of using the traditional three-drug sequence, states have been experimenting with new […]

SORNA Challenge Update

Last summer, I expressed my doubts about scientific aims of the SORNA Challenge. By asking for proposals for “innovative” ways to measure the costs and benefits of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act, I felt that the National Institute of Justice was implicitly admitting that the widely accepted methodologies of sociology, criminology, and economics […]

Lessons in Allocution and Acquitted Conduct

Apparently yesterday was sentencing hell day at Simple Justice. First up, Scott reminds us of the case of Antwuan Ball, Joseph Jones, and Desmond Thurston who were accused of engaging in a massive drug dealing conspiracy. The case went to a jury trial, and they beat all of the conspiracy charges. The jury only found […]

Law Enforcement

Now here’s a Facebook meme that makes sense. It’s from Filming Cops, but the true adversary here is not the police officer: This isn’t some paranoid, whack-job, cop hating-nonsense. It’s an accurate description of how all criminal laws are enforced. Even a minor violation such as loitering can have a penalty of several hundred dollars, […]


I was driving home from a trip to the grocery store this morning when I spotted my local Chicago Police beat car ahead of me, and I noticed he had a curious bumper sticker, on which I could make out the letters “YPOSHOT”. When I got a little closer, I could see a message about […]

Knowing Harm When We See It

One of the themes I keep visiting here at Windypundit is that when you harm someone, the magnitude of the harm you do that person is not dependent on your reason for doing it. Punch a guy in the face, and it doesn’t matter if he’s an innocent stranger on the bus or a push-in […]

Suspicions About the SORNA Challenge

Apparently something called the National Institute of Justice is offering prizes for whoever comes up with exciting and innovative ways to study cost and effectiveness of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The appellatesquawk quotes from the breathless email announcement: NIJ CHALLENGE: COST-BENEFIT OF SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION LAW Are you up for the […]

Nothing to Say About the Zimmerman Trial

I’ve written very little about George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin, and I have nothing to say about the trial. It’s a lethal-force incident, with a claim of self-defense, and in years of reading about such incidents, I’ve learned a few important lessons: (1) These cases are very fact-specific: Guilt or innocence can turn on […]

Fighting Crime the Easy Way

Apparently, iPhone theft is a big enough problem in San Francisco that police have come up with a special solution: …these cops are taking a different approach than just running after iPhone robbers and cuffing them. Instead, they are going after the buyers of the stolen products, in a scheme that they call “cutting the […]

Putting Angry Words in Perspective

One of the reasons I’m not a criminal defense lawyer despite my obvious interest in the subject, is that I’m pretty sure it would make me angry all the time. Even now, when I think about the things I hate about our criminal laws and the way those laws are applied, I get all worked […]

Who’s Responsible For a Wrongful Conviction?

I’m a fan of the TV show Castle, largely because of its character-based humor and the fact that it stars Nathan Fillion. Of course, being a show about a mystery writer who helps the New York police solve crimes, it does occasionally go over the top in its worship of the criminal justice system. I […]

Abusing US Attorney Carmen Ortiz

I’ve been following some of the discussions about the prosecutorial conduct that may have lead to Aaron Swartz’s suicide, but I haven’t posted anything about it because it didn’t seem all that unusual, except for the suicide, which is not really all that unusual either. I didn’t initially understand why so many people are heaping […]

U.S.Homicide Rate Trend 1960 - 2009

Huckabee’s Nonsense

I wasn’t planning to write anything about the shootings in Newton, Connecticut. It touches on a variety of issues that are of interest to me, but it just feels a little too soon for sober discussion. But then I came across this nonsense: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) weighed in on the massacre at […]

Zumba, Libertarian Style

I’m a regular reader of Jack Marshall’s Ethics Alarms blog, in which he discusses ethical issues that arise in the news of the day. He calls out a lot of public figures for their shady ethics, but he also gives them credit when they get something right. I agree with much of what he has to say, […]

New Yorkers Get Charitable Bail Funds

Over at Indefensible, criminal defense lawyer (and TV producer) David Feige writes: Finally, after almost three years of work, the New York State Legislature has passed our bill allowing charitable bail funds.  This is a big step toward alleviating one of the more tragic consequences of poverty in the criminal justice system–being forced to plead […]

Why Prosecutor Blogs Are Less Fun

Given my libertarian views, it’s not suprising that I don’t entirely enjoy reading blogs by prosecutors. Even those who aren’t rabid law-and-order true believers still rub me the wrong way on certain subjects. For example, I’ve been reading Mark Pryor’s D.A. Confidential blog for years. He’s a good writer — see his Holding Hands With […]