As I pledged allegiance to the wall

  • “In 1989, someone raped a 72-year-old woman in Pensacola, Fla. Joe Sullivan was 13 at the time, and he admitted that he and two older friends had burglarized the woman’s home earlier that day. But he denied that he had returned to commit the rape.” Adam Liptak writes about Joe Sullivan, a thirty-three year old who was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole at the age of thirteen that rape, and the current status of the appellate work on the case by Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Institute.

    As a former student of Stevenson's, I wish him the best of luck. Micro-level decisions on punishment and sentencing are something I frequently have trouble coming to conclusions about, but the macro issue is clear, or at least clearer: U.S. sentences are generally both too harsh and poorly designed as cost-effective crime reduction measures. The Cert. Petition to the Supreme Court is available if you're interested in more details about Sullivan's case. There is no discussion of the case which I could find from a source in favor of Sullivan's sentence (like the court which sentenced him, the appellate courts upholding the sentence, or the prosecution) which is unfortunate, because I wanted to know what if anything relevant is being left out by the EJI.

  • “Erik and Shannon Gustafson heeded that call. The couple were living in Chicago, where Mr. Gustafson was a part-time commodities trader, when they heard about Braddock last winter. They settled on a two-bedroom house whose owner warned them that it had black mold and was probably a tear-down. Her price: $4,750. The Gustafsons paid the money and discovered that the mold problem was overstated.” Only related by the fact it's also from a good New York Times article which I read today.

  • Paul Krugman's blog is a treasure. These posts, on the cases for and against the Buy American provisions in the stimulus bill, were especially worthwhile. As was DeLong's post on the same topic, though note JRoth's criticism in comments. I'm not sure who has the better of the empirical issue between those last two.

  • Since I've been praising N.Y. Times articles (and an N.Y. Times affiliated blog) throughout this post, I thought I'd throw a little bit of criticism into the mix: For the love of all that's holy, stop publishing Ben Stein. It seems that as long as he is willing to put words to the page, they're willing to print it.

    Finally, as a side note, writing post titles before you have an idea for a post, and then finding a post idea which to works with the title is harder than I'd imagined. I think I failed this time, but the two previous posts worked out nicely.

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