August 29, 2016
Basic information on the methods and madness of mini-paper assignment(s)
As the Course Description noted, part of your formal work in this class is to author (at least) two “mini-papers” which will comprise up to 20% of your final grade. (You can look through this blog's archives to see examples of the kinds of in-semester writings I have urged students to produce in previous years, though please know each year I tweak the topics and format of this class requirement.)
Absent further instructions/modifications, here is my planned approach to the mini-paper assignment this time around: Each submitted mini-papers must be no more than four pages long (and can be MUCH shorter), and should respond to my in-class prompts that I plan to provide every few weeks. The first prompt, for example, was (formally?) delivered today in class when I encouraged all to write up your personal "sentencing topic of interest" with a particular focus/reflection on the meta-topics we have discussed our first few weeks in class (namely theories of punishment and who sentences).
I expect to provide a new prompt for a new mini-paper every few weeks, usually right after these (Monday AM) tentative submission due dates for these mini-papers:
• September 19 (for "topic of interest" mini-paper)
• October 10 (for what will likely be a death penalty prompt)
• November 7 (for what will likely be a federal sentencing prompt)
• December 5 (for what will likely be a "SCOTUS-as-who" sentencing prompt)
As also hinted in class, one goal for this assignment is to engender additional inter-student substantive discourse; that is why, subject to any stated objections/concerns for certain submissions, I expect to distribute everyone's submitted mini-papers back to the class for all to read and consider.
Because the comments to this blog are now working, I encourage students to use the comments to ask any basic follow-up questions or to express any concerns about these assignments. And, to be perfectly clear, though I will be providing (at least) four formal prompts for mini-paper writing, students are requires only to complete two mini-papers throughout the semester. (But because you get this option, I will be expecting the papers to be really good, and you can earn extra credit by submitting more than the mandatory minimum number of papers.)
August 24, 2016
Some background reading on (various forms of) castration as a punishment for sex offenders
Since I keep managing to end class with lingering questions about castration as a punishment for sex offenses, I figured I would use this blog space to highlight some existing literature on this topic. Perhaps my main goal here is to be sure I do not leave the impression that I am the only one who thinks (too much?) about the potential pros and cons of castration as a punishment for sex offenders:
A 2005 peer-reviewed journal article, titled "The Impact of Surgical Castration on Sexual Recidivism Risk Among Sexually Violent Predatory Offenders"
A 2006 press article, headlined "Some Sex Offenders Opt for Castration"
A 2009 student note making the case for chemical castration, titled "Chemical Castration for Child Predators: Practical, Effective, and Constitutional"
A 2010 press article, titled "California law mandates chemical castration of certain offenders"
- A 2013 student note arguing against chemical castration, titled "'Off with His __': Analyzing the Sex Disparity in Chemical Castration Sentences"
A 2014 press article from the UK, titled "Should We Be Castrating Sex Offenders?", interviewing an expert involved in UK "voluntary" program "to chemically castrate rapists, paedophiles and other sex offenders."
I do not expect anyone to read all these materials (or even any of them if this topic creeps you out), but perhaps one or more of you might find this topic interesting for a future mini-paper or final paper. And, speaking of topics of interest for mini/final papers, I promise on Monday to start the class by going around the room and having folks describe a sentencing/punishment topic of personal interest. Once we have that discussion, we will then jump hard into the Williams case.
August 18, 2016
First week assignments, electronic copies of course documents, and links for completing questionnaire
I have posted on the Moritz official website our first assignments, but I figured it would be useful to repost the details here, while also providing electronic copies of the basic course documents. So....
In preparation for our first week of classes starting Monday, August 22, 2016 you should:
1. Get a copy of the THIRD edition of the casebook for the course.
2. Download the questionnaire and fill it out before our first class. (In addition to being posted here, the questionnaire and course description will be available in hard-copy in front of my office, Room 313.)
3. Find/research on your own a real sentencing issue, case or story that is of significant interest to you, and come to our first week of classes prepared to explain this issue, case or story and why it is of significant interest to you.
You will discover that a few of the questions in the questionnaire call for a bit of on-line research, and here are some links to help in this arena:
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (which is a component of the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice).
- United States Sentencing Commission
- Death Penalty Information Center
- The Sentencing Project
- Quick Facts from Families Against Mandatory Minimums
- Wikipedia entry on California v. Brock Turner
- Collection of court documents from California v. Brock Turner
August 10, 2016
Welcome yet again to another reboot of this blog for another semester of Sentencing Law at the Moritz College of Law
This is now the FIFTH re-launch of this blogging adventure!!
This blog started nearly 10 years ago (with the uninspired title of Death Penalty Course @ Moritz College of Law) to facilitate student engagement in the Spring 2007 course on the death penalty that I taught at OSU's Moritz College of Law. This first post in this space explained, way back then, that "I hope[d] that both the contents and very construct of this blog will inspire a new type of engagement with the death penalty and with on-line media for students." Sure enough, the blog proved successful during that semester (which was when this guy was still US Prez and when this TV show was still the most popular).
I closed this blog down not long after that first death penalty course ended, but thereafter discovered the students' hard work as reflected in the archives still was generating some web traffic and that many posts remained timely (though a whole bunch of old web links are now very dead). So, as I geared up for teaching Criminal Punishment & Sentencing in Spring 2009 at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and again when visiting in Spring 2010 at Fordham School of Law and again back at the Moritz College of Law in Fall 2011 and Spring 2014, I decided to reboot this blog to allow the new course to build in this space on some materials covered before. In all of these classes, I have been pleased with how this blog helped promote student engagement with on-line media and materials. (For the record, OSU students always engaged with the blog much more and better than Fordham students.)
Now, circa August 2016, I am gearing up to teach Sentencing Law again at the Moritz College of Law. And because a lot of new exciting sentencing developments seem likely in the weeks and months ahead, I am hopeful that this space will stay active as I flag current events for class discussion. In addition, I use this blog (rather than TWEN) as convenient place to post information about class activities and plans and assignments, and so you can/should be on the look out for class materials posting in this space soon.