Douglas Berman

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Douglas A. Berman is a professor of criminal law and sentencing at Ohio State University and author of Sentencing Law and Policy–the first blog cited by the U.S. Supreme Court–and the Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform blog. He is frequently consulted for his expertise on capital sentencing by national policymakers, lawyers, and major media publications.

Latest Articles

Over at The American Conservative, Nila Bala and Emily Mooney have this lengthy new commentary titled “Sending Our Prisoners to College: Just think of it as an up-front investment, one that will pay dividends down the road.” I highly recommend the piece in full, and here are excerpts: At the heart of conservative thinking are the tenets of individual dignity, public safety, family values, and fiscal prudence.  Yet far too often, society fails to apply…
The title of this post is the title of this notable new research from Aurelie Ouss and Megan Stevenson now available via SSRN.  Here is the abstract: Recent criminal justice reform efforts have focused on electing progressive prosecutors to implement change, such as the reduction of cash bail as a requirement for pretrial release.  However, critics worry that removing cash bail will decrease accountability and increase failure-to-appear in court. We test this by looking at…
Especially in the midst of a busy week, I sometimes come to realize that I will not get a chance to blog separately about a bunch of new pieces and commentary that have been brought to my attention.  I sometime deal with realization through a round-up post.  This is one of those posts: From Sam Bieler at Simple Justice, “We Are Going to Mass Incarcerate Forever“ From Nora Demleitner at The Hill, “…
The title of this post is the title of this “Policy Brief” from The James Madison Institute authored by Greg Newburn and Sal Nuzzo.  I recommend the brief in full, and here is an excerpt from the final section of the paper titled “Lessons for the Future”: In the 1970s, frustrated with an intolerable crime wave and unprecedented drug abuse, New York, Michigan, and Florida tried a new solution.  Their theory was clear: harsh mandatory…
The Supreme Court this morning made quick work of the contention by the state of Indiana in Timbs v. Indiana, No. 17-1091 (S. Ct. Feb 20, 2019) (available here), that it is not bound by the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment.  In a short unanimous ruling authored by Justice Ginsburg explains why “the historical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming.”  Here is a…
As reported in this local article, headlined “Gov. Mike DeWine freezes all Ohio executions while new method developed,” the Buckeye state is yet again in a capital holding pattern because it governor is troubled by the state’s current execution method. Here are the details: Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday that there will be no more executions in Ohio until a new method of carrying them out can be developed and deemed constitutional by the…
In the middle of this lengthy new SCOTUS order list, which has lots of cert denials and individual opinions about cert denials, is one notable Supreme Court opinion on the merits in Moore v. Texas, No. 18–443 (S. Ct. Feb. 19, 2019). The start and last substantive paragraph of the 10-page per curiam opinion for the Court provides the basics: In 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that petitioner, Bobby James Moore,…
Mark Holden has this new commentary at The Crime Report headlined “The First Step Act: It’s Only a ‘First Step’.”  I recommend the piece in full, and here are excerpts: Signed into law during the closing days of 2018, the bipartisan First Step Act expands rehabilitative programming, modifies some mandatory minimum laws to provide more proportional sentencing, and provides a second chance to people like [Matthew] Charles who’ve worked hard to transform their lives while…
The title of this post is the title of this new article now available via SSRN authored by Michael Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon and Sarah Chatt. Here is its abstract: Anyone who has been involved with death penalty litigation in the past four decades knows that one of the most scandalous aspects of that process — in many ways, the most scandalous — is the inadequacy of counsel so often provided to defendants facing execution. …
In this post on Friday, I mentioned that I consider the statutory changes to the so-called compassionate release provisions in federal law to the “sleeper provisions” of the FIRST STEP Act.  This four-page FAMM document, titled “Compassionate Release and the First Step Act: Then and Now,” reviews some basics of the changes made by the FIRST STEP Act, and on page 3 one finds this account of what I think is a very…