Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 Top Ten Stories

Berman’s 2006 Top Ten (12/30/06) Click here.

10. The paucity of "tough-on-crime" politicking. Reports of rising crime rates and a Republican party with few good election themes had me expecting "tough-on-crime" political rhetoric throughout the election season. But this political dog did not bark, perhaps because Democrats have been consistently "tough" or perhaps because Republicans have found a new prison religion.

9. Continued rise in US incarceration. Though the politics of crime may no longer be out-of-whack, the impact of 20 years of tough-on-crime attitudes continued to be seen in record incarceration rates and overcrowded prisons in state after state. In California, the situation has gotten so bad, some sensible reform might even emerge (details here and here).
8. High-profile white-collar sentencings. Defendants Jack Abramoff, Bernie Ebbers, Andrew Fastow, Jamie Olis, George Ryan and Jeff Skilling all made sentencing headlines this year. Interestingly, Andrew Fastow and Jamie Olis got the same sentence, but the others' sentences were all over the map (and Ken Lay missed the sentencing fun by dying). White Collar Crime Prof Blog has other related year-end highlights here.

6. Continued dialogues about executive clemency. Though notably grants of clemency
remained rare in 2006, clemency issues continued to garner much attention. Ken Starr played a high-profile role in a California clemency request, Maryland's out-going governor keep using this historic power. Also, chief executives in Ohio, South Dakota, and Virginia put off scheduled executions for various reasons.

2. More sex offender mania and some pushback. The severity and creativeness of sentencing for sex offenders reached new heights in 2006. This category archive and the new blog Sex Crimes document that nearly every jurisdiction in the country was dealing with legislation or litigation involving sex offenders. And though getting tougher remained the chief talking point, concerns about the impact of broad residency restrictions or severe mandatory sentences started to garner more attention.

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