A Call for Rethinking How We Sentence, from a Thoughtful Opinion

From The New York Times:

A federal judge in Brooklyn, in an extraordinary opinion that calls for courts to pay closer attention to the impact of felony convictions on people’s lives, sentenced a young woman in a drug case to probation rather than prison, saying on Wednesday that the collateral consequences she would face as a felon were punishment enough.

The judge, Frederic Block of Federal District Court, said that the broad range of such collateral consequences served no “useful function other than to further punish criminal defendants after they have completed their court-imposed sentences. “The issue of collateral consequences and sentencing has been considered by other courts, but Judge Block’s 42-page opinion appears to be one of the most detailed examinations yet, combined with his call for reform.He noted that the inability to obtain housing and employment stemming from a conviction often results in “further disastrous consequences, such as losing child custody or going homeless,” and leads to many ex-convicts “becoming recidivists and restarting the criminal cycle.”

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