Sentencing | St. Louis Public Radio

Sentencing

The Riverfront Times' Doyle Murphy joined Friday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A lot of money has gone missing at local colleges and universities lately. A former administrator at Washington University was indicted for allegedly embezzling $300,000. A former University of Missouri employee admitted to stealing $781,000, and just a few weeks ago an employee of St. Louis Community College was accused of embezzling $5.4 million.

Another recent case, involving a former academic administrator at Webster University, got the Riverfront Times’ Doyle Murphy asking a question that is at the heart of the justice system every day: What constitutes just punishment?

Murphy’s latest feature for RFT digs into this question and many more, juxtaposing Deborah Pierce’s sentence (to pay back the $375,000 she stole from Webster University and write a journal for 60 days) with the sentences handed down in other specific crime cases in the region.

Thomas Hawk | Flickr

In what some are calling a historic compromise, a broad spectrum of senators on Thursday announced support for sweeping changes in criminal sentencing laws.

The coaltion formed at a time when many Americans see Congress as dysfunctional, and lawmakers even within the same party at odds over national priorities.

Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio

With federal prisons already more than 30 percent beyond their designed capacity, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons, an unlikely group of U.S. senators has come together to try to give federal judges more discretion in sentencing nonviolent drug offenders.

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., are joining up with U.S. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. When the group held a joint news conference last week, they joked and laughed, “There isn’t a moderate here, on either side.” 

photo of Barack Obama
Pete Souza | White House | 2010 photo

You can be just or you can be merciful but it’s damned hard to be both simultaneously. Barack Obama may have pulled off that difficult trick when he recently commuted the sentences of eight people serving extended time for crack cocaine violations.

Perhaps moved by the holiday spirit, the president exercised his constitutional authority to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States” and released the federally imprisoned octet in time for its members to be home for Christmas.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Supreme Court has affirmed the murder conviction for Gregory Bowman, but reversed the sentence that put him on death row.

The court ruled today that St. Louis County jurors should not have heard about Bowman's two prior murder convictions during sentencing because those convictions were overturned.

Former Sunset Hills police officer Miller sentenced to 8 years in prison for DUI crash

Mar 10, 2011
(St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office)

Updated at 5:00 p.m. March 10, 2011 with additional comments.

Former Sunset Hills police officer Christine Miller received her sentence today for the 2009 drunk driving accident that killed four people.

Miller was sentenced today after pleading guilty to all five counts against her in December 2010. She faced 4 counts for involuntary manslaughter and 1 for second-degree assault.

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

In November 2010, James Allen Morgan, a former St. Louis city liquor control officer, plead guilty to bribery charges. Today, Morgan found out just how he'll be punished.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Morgan received the following sentence:

  • Five months in prison
  • Five months home confinement
  • Two years of supervised release

And what was Morgan's crime?

UPDATED 4:10 Dec. 15, 2010 with comments from Richard Callahan and sentencing:

In court on Wednesday, prosecutors revealed that Shade stopped cooperating last January. They found out about it as they were preparing to take Gregory P. Shepard, the manager at St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, to trial. It was Shade's testimony that helped indict and convict Shepard.

Commentary: The cost of justice

Sep 17, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 17, 2010 - Every year in my first-year criminal law class, I have my students consider a sample "Sentencing Assessment Report" provided by the Missouri Commission on Sentencing. The report describes the facts and the nature of the crime -- in this case, a loser who turns online predator -- some mitigating circumstances, and a recommended sentence. I ask my students in class to play judge and assign an appropriate sentence.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 4, 2009 - About a dozen Missouri legislators, Republicans and Democrats, have filed letters with a federal judge in St. Louis in hopes of helping former state Rep. Steve Brown avoid prison time.

Brown's lawyer, Art Margulis, said late Wednesday that he submitted about 80 letters from Brown's friends, allies and former colleagues to the court this week, along with Margulis' own memorandum asking Judge Carol Jackson to consider punishments that don't include incarceration.

Mike Wolff asks Obama for sentencing reform

Jan 4, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 4, 2009 - Missouri Supreme Court Judge Michael A. Wolff has joined the chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court in a letter to President-elect Barack Obama calling for "major change in state and federal sentencing practices" that have resulted in the United States imprisoning a larger percentage of its population than any other country.