Justice Kennedy Comments On Our Prison Nation

As reported by the LA Times, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, in a speech to the Los Angeles legal community at Pepperdine University, derided the state of our nation’s prison mentality. In what was described as an “otherwise courtly and humorous address,” Justice Kennedy remarked that “California now has 185,000 people in prison at $32,500 a year.” Justice Kennedy noted that U.S. prison sentences are eight times longer than those issued by the European court system.

We have previously commented about the criminalization of virtually everything in our nation. We even have a federal criminal law on the books for the unlawful use of the character of “Smokey Bear” (seriously – look it up – 18 U.S.C. 711) and interstate transportation of dentures (18 U.S.C. 1821 – you can’t make this stuff up)! More importantly, has been the use of honest services mail fraud (18 U.S.C. 1346) by federal prosecutors to fashion together a federal criminal common law, which the Supreme Court, we hope, will soon reign in.

Nevertheless, it is nice to note that the oppressive length of our prison sentences are not lost on our Supreme Court. Injustice is being done in our justice system.

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