It seems to me that, on the whole, the American Public is becoming more aware of, sensitive to, and more thoughtful regarding how we as a society view criminal trials and the criminal justice system in general. I can’t help but believe this is a good thing, as more people become aware of the inherent problems and injustices faced by the accused, and especially the poor accused, on a daily basis.
In recent weeks, “Making a Murderer,” which chronicles the prosecution of felony cases and highlights weaknesses in the system, became a runaway sensation. The podcast “Serial,” which chronicles another problematic murder case which to that point had received little or no media attention has also been immensely popular.
The President of the United States, for the first time in history, visited a Federal Prison. The US Supreme Court has made several rulings in the areas of juvenile justice and the death penalty that add rationality to the way that those cases are handled throughout the system. The US Sentencing Commission has recommended a series of changes to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that lower penalties for certain drug and fraud crimes. Just this week, the President ordered that those convicted as juveniles should no longer be subject to solitary confinement.
These are major steps forward in adding reason to our national dialogue on crime and punishment.
It seems that the trend has swung away from the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and toward reasonableness in the way criminal cases are handled. Even here in Alabama, sentencing reform has taken hold and we now have “presumptive” guidelines that judges must follow or justify their deviation.
At Skier & Associates, we are happy to see rationality and reason creeping back into the criminal justice system. We keep up with the changes in laws and policies so that our clients get the maximum benefit from reform throughout the system.