Saturday, February 15, 2014

Maya Rhodan: States Lead The Way on Sentencing Reform (not Virginia)

A very interesting article below. 

But in Virginia for 2014 HB504 and SB433 are halting a Virginia Sentencing Commission recommendation to slightly lower the sentencing for possession of child pornography even after the U.S. Sentencing Commission has recommended doing just this and HB523 mandates juvenile must register as Sex Offenders taking the discretion out of Virginia’s judges hands. 

The VCSC report from the 2013 General Assembly for Fiscal Impact Statements had Mandatory Minimums as 10.2% of the requests.


States Lead The Way on Sentencing Reform
A new report shows that 32 bills addressing mandatory minimum sentences have passed within the past 5 years alone

While the Obama administration has spent the past several months rolling out piecemeal sentencing reforms for non-violent drug offenders, states have already taken a hatchet to mandatory minimum sentencing, according to a new report. 

“Backed by decades of research demonstrating that longer sentences have only a marginal effect in reducing recidivism and that many offenders can be safely and more effectively supervised in the community, more and more states are revisiting tough-on-crime sentencing policies in pursuit of a fairer, more cost efficient justice system,” said Peggy McGarry, director of the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice. 

A new Vera Institute of Justice report shows that since 2000, 29 states have enacted laws increasing judicial discretion and revising when and how sentences are handed down. Thirty-two bills have been passed within the past five years alone, according to the report. States, the report shows, are becoming champions of reform, acting ahead of both Congress and the Obama administration. 

Edgar Coker Jr.: Life Better for Young Man Exonerated in Rape Case

Life better for young man exonerated in rape case
By Pamela Gould              February 14, 2014

It wasn’t until Edgar Coker knew his name was off Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry that he exhibited any joy over this week’s court ruling exonerating him of raping a neighbor.

Before that, the 22-year-old had, at best, a muted reaction to Monday’s ruling by Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush ordering his rape and breaking-and-entering convictions vacated and his name removed from the online registry.

After nearly seven years of living with the label of rapist and violent sex offender, and more than five years of efforts from a team of attorneys seeking to right what his initial accusers considered an injustice, Coker was skeptical of the impact of the ruling.

But on Wednesday, when University of Virginia Law School Innocence Project Legal Director Matthew Engle spoke to Coker, he noticed a change.

“There was a sense of optimism that I’ve not heard in the four years I’ve been working with him,” Engle said.

“He really sees the sex offender registry as something that has been holding him back,” Engle said. “That was really the first time I’ve heard excitement in his voice and hope for the future now that this is finally done.”

Roush is assigned to Fairfax County’s circuit but presided in the case after Stafford County judges recused themselves.

On Monday, she filed an order in Stafford Circuit Court instructing the Virginia State Police to remove Coker’s name from the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

On Wednesday, it was gone.