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California AG appeals decision striking down sentencing laws

The California Attorney General's Office [official website] on Thursday appealed a federal judge's decision striking down two sentencing laws. Judge Lawrence Karlton held that the laws were unconstitutional [JURIST report] because they affected the punishment for crimes committed before the laws were enacted. Marsy's Law [text], otherwise known as the "Victims' Bill of Rights," was passed in 2008, mandating that inmates serve longer periods of time between parole hearings. Meanwhile, Proposition 89 [text], entitled the "Governor's Parole Review," was passed in 1988 to allow the governor to reverse approved paroles in murder cases. The attorney general's office filed a notice of appeal [AP report] with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website].

This is the most recent case in a changing environment of sentencing guidelines. Last month New York announced plans to reform sentencing [JURIST report] in a way that would reduce the use of solitary confinement [JURIST news archive] and ban solitary confinement for prisoners under 18 years old. In January the US Supreme Court relaxed sentencing guidelines [JURIST report] for drug dealers. In October three companies behind private juvenile detention and treatment facilities involved in a northeastern Pennsylvania juvenile justice scandal [JURIST news archive] settled [JURIST report] a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. In June the US Supreme Court limited the way sentencing courts can use prior convictions to enhance sentencing [JURIST report] for federal crimes.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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