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NACDL News: NACDL Launches Public Resource for Resisting and Challenging Excessive Sentences
By Ivan J. Dominguez and Isaac Kramer
NACDL News columns.
On May 22, 2013, NACDL launched, as a resource for its members and as a service to the public, a collection of downloadable documents that summarize for each U.S. state the key doctrines and leading court rulings setting forth constitutional and statutory limits on lengthy imprisonment terms and other extreme (noncapital) sentences. The state profiles and related materials provide a detailed snapshot of existing proportionality doctrines and jurisprudence as of fall 2012. They are intended as a resource for practitioners in all phases of the criminal justice system, for sentencing and appellate courts, for policymakers and advocates concerned with the high economic and human costs of excessively long terms of imprisonment, and for defendants facing or serving extreme prison terms. The resource — Excessive Sentencing: NACDL’s Proportionality Litigation Project — is available at www.nacdl.org/excessivesentencing.
Describing the importance of this new resource, NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin said: “The United States now leads the world in incarceration, with more than 2.2 million people behind bars, as a result of overcriminalization and excessive sentencing. The tools provided in this expansive online resource will be deployed to improve America’s criminal justice system and will result in more humane, rational, and proportional sentencing of those convicted of a crime.”
The primary academic supervisor of this resource is Professor Douglas A. Berman of the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Professor Berman is the creator, author, and editor of the leading Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, an affiliate of the Law Professor Blogs Network. He is also the co-author of the case book Sentencing Law and Policy: Cases, Statutes and Guidelines. Professor Berman intends to update these materials regularly as developments in the law warrant and new information becomes available.