This week brought two tidbits of legislative news as the session winds down. First, the General Assembly slightly revised the rules for disposing of weapons seized during criminal investigations, generally making it somewhat easier to order such weapons into the possession of a local law enforcement agency. A helpful AOC memo explaining the changes is here. Second, WRAL ran this article about a provision in the technical corrections bill that allows county jails to sell e-cigarettes to inmates. (Traditional cigarettes are a no-no in jails.)
In other news:
Risk-based sentencing in the news. Attorney General Eric Holder submitted a letter to the Sentencing Commission condemning evidence-based, or risk-based, sentencing. That’s the practice of basing a defendant’s sentence in part on an assessment of the future danger posed by the defendant. The New York Times editorializes its agreement with Mr. Holder here, characterizing the practice as “punishment profiling” and arguing that it is unfair to minorities and the poor. Others argue that defendants should be punished based on what they have done, not what they might do. On the other hand, one possible purpose of sentencing is protecting the public by incapacitating dangerous defendants, and knowing more about how dangerous a particular defendant is likely to be may help to inform that decision. A federal judge argued in favor of the practice on his blog here, and a defense attorney offered a rejoinder here.
ABA review of Stand Your Ground Laws. An ABA task force that reviewed Stand Your Ground laws has concluded that they are unnecessary, increase homicides, and result in racial disparities. The ABA’s website reports on the matter here, while a long Think Progress piece about the committee’s work is here. Other perspectives are possible, of course.
Not to overly emphasize grammar, but . . . readers may be interested in this post at the Volokh Conspiracy, which rocked my world regarding the use of split infinitives. It argues persuasively that they are not only permissible, but fully standard and in fact, in many situations, better than alternative phrasings. I had no idea.
Things are different in Russia. Finally, the Moscow police have adopted new disciplinary policies designed to prevent female officers from altering their uniforms by shortening the skirts. The Moscow Times has the story here, together with a photograph illustrating the issue. Teenage boys across the city are likely distraught.