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“Voice Memo” Smartphone App & the Wiretap Act

A unanimous three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court recently held in Commonwealth v. Smith that a man who used a “voice memo” app on his smartphone to record a conversation with his boss should be charged with the interception of oral communications, which is a violation of the Wiretap Act. Section 5703 of the […]

Racial and Gender Dynamics Regarding Rates of Incarceration

A blog recently posted via the Washington Post highlights notable data on racial and gender dynamics regarding recent changes in the rates of incarceration. Following decades of growth, the U.S. imprisonment rate has been declining for the past several years and hidden within this overall trend is the sizable and surprising racial disparity that African-Americans […]

Sex Offenders & Federal Passports Law

According to the recent Associated Press article entitled “Sex offenders challenge new federal passports law,” President Obama just signed a somewhat controversial federal sex offender law, the International Megan’s Law bill, and a civil rights group has filed suit challenging the requirement for sex offenders to be identified on their passports. The lawsuit will be […]

Transforming Prisons and Restoring Lives

The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections issued numerous recommendations last week to reform the federal criminal justice system in a large report entitled “Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives.” A primary goal highlighted in the recommendations is focused on Federal Corrections sending fewer low-level drug offenders to federal prison and also sentencing offenders to far […]

Federal Prison Population

Thanks to retroactive drug guidelines, federal prison population under 200,000 for first time in nearly a decade. Finally, we’re headed in the right direction!

Employment Consequences of Conviction

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has made available a paper entitled “Legislating Forgiveness: A Study of Post-Conviction Certificates as Policy to Address the Employment Consequences of a Conviction” and written by Heather Garretson, which addresses the fact that mass incarceration in America is creating an employment paradox that is the result of three facts […]

Federal Judge Reacts to Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Defendant that he Sentenced

“Former federal judge to President Obama: Free the man I sentenced to 55 years in prison” headlines an article in the Washington Post. Former U.S. District Court Judge Paul Cassell (previously appointed to the bench in 2002 by former President George W. Bush and now a professor at the University of Utah’s law school) has […]

Drug-War-Era Bans on Federal Benefits

According to the Marshall Project, “drug-war-era bans on benefits are [being] lifted” as the number of states still denying federal benefits to former drug felons is shrinking. 18 states have completely abandoned the federal prohibition on drug offenders receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or food stamps, while 26 other states have partly eased […]

Computers for Inmates?

“Free computers for inmates? It’s latest deal at Sacramento County jail” is the headline of a recent Sacramento Bee article regarding the fact that 40 of the tablets have been in use at the Main Jail downtown for two months, and officials say they have had virtually no problems. Inmates have used them to take […]

Federal Drug Sentencings

As reported in the Washington Post, former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. yesterday “urged Congress not to let slip away ‘a historic opportunity’ to overhaul federal drug sentencing laws and said lawmakers should consider further changes in House and Senate talks if pending legislation is approved.” Among a list of recommendations, Holder called […]