Part 2: Double Jeopardy and Beyond

For our last official criminal justice class, we heard from five more teams of students about their research projects. (At the students’ request, we also scheduled an extra evening session to watch the third best movie ever made about the law and lawyers—answer at the end of this post.) Once again, the students worked on a wide range of topics and, once again, I learned from the students. Here are some quick takeaways along with a brief discussion of one of the topics—double jeopardy, or more accurately, the absence of double jeopardy protections in the UK.

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Part 1: Policing, DNA, Mental Health, and Rehabilitation

What do the topics in the title of this blog post have in common? They were the focus of the students’ criminal justice presentations this week. Nine teams of students, two on each team, have been researching and preparing their presentations throughout the semester. Here are some of my takeaways from the first set of presentations.

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New Criminal Offenses and New Credit Policies for Prisoners

Last year was a difficult one for North Carolina’s prison system. One correctional officer was killed by an inmate at Bertie Correctional Institution. Four staff members were killed during an attempted escape at Pasquotank. Today’s post summarizes some of the statutory and regulatory changes made in response to those incidents.

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Evaluating the Sincerity of an Inmate’s Religious Beliefs

Inmates do not forfeit the right to practice their religious faith while they are incarcerated. But of course that right is not unlimited. Officers can impose certain restrictions when an inmate’s religious practices would conflict with the institution’s legitimate interests in safety, security, and good order. There is a lot of case law about those restrictions, both as a constitutional matter under the First Amendment, and under a federal statute, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)(1)–(2)—which is even more protective of inmates’ rights than the Constitution.

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Early Medical Release

North Carolina has a law allowing certain prison inmates to be released early for medical reasons. It was passed in 2008, largely in response to concerns that a small number of aging inmates accounted for a sizeable percentage of the system’s medical budget. The law is similar in concept to compassionate release in the federal … Read more

Brown v. Plata and Prison Population Controls

On Monday the Supreme Court issued its decision in Brown v. Plata, holding that systemic failures to provide adequate medical and mental health care in the California prison system can only be remedied through judicially-imposed limits on the state’s prison population. In a 5–4 decision, the Court upheld a lower court order requiring California to … Read more

News Roundup

There has been an endless parade of relevant news over the past week or so. First, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in. This New York Times story about her confirmation gives you the basics if you’ve been living under a rock. Second, I’ve just come back from a week of … Read more

Proposed Changes to Sentencing Laws

With the growing prison population and the shrinking budget, there’s some talk of changes to North Carolina’s sentencing laws. An article in the paper last week made general reference to sentencing alternatives proposed by the Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. I thought people might be interested in knowing a little more about the specifics of … Read more