Detroit Edison

Detroit Edison


What is Detroit Edison?


Detroit Edison generates, transmits, and distributes up to 11,084 megawatts of electricity to about 2.1 million customers throughout southeastern Michigan.  The company uses coal, nuclear fuel, natural gas, and hydroelectric pumps to generate electricity.  The company also uses renewable energy sources to generate electricity.  The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant generates about 1.1 million kilowatts of electricity. 


The electric company is a subsidiary of DTE Energy.  The biggest subsidiaries under DTE Energy are Detroit Edison and Michigan Consolidated Gas Co (MichCon).  DTE Energy has the following subsidiaries: 


·         DTE Biomass Energy

·         DTE Coal Services

·         DTE Energy Services

·         DTE Energy Supply

·         DTE Energy Trading

·         DTE Energy Ventures

·         DTE Gas Resources

·         DTE Gas Storage

·         DTE PetCoke

·         DTE Pipeline Co.

·         MichCon Laboratory Services

·         MichCon Pipeline

·         MichCon Storage & Transportation

·         Midwest Energy Resources Co.


EPA Lawsuit against Detroit Edison


The EPA filed a lawsuit against the electric company in 2011 over violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA).  The EPA filed the lawsuit because the electric company was performing work on the Monroe Power Plant and the CAA prohibits construction of new facilities that have large amounts of emissions. 

Amendments were made in 1977 to the CAA that allowed outdated facilities to continue operating until they underwent major modifications.  The EPA could then order the plant to add features to meet federal regulations. 


In 2002, the EPA modified its New Source Review and required grandfathered facilities to submit a pre-construction notice to the EPA and undergo post-project monitoring for emissions after the construction was completed.  If the emissions increased, the EPA could impose a fine of $37,500 per day.  


The EPA fined Detroit Edison for an emissions increase, but the company argued against the allegations.  On August 23, 2011, Judge Bernard Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan dismissed the lawsuit because the EPA used data the day after the construction was completed.  The emissions increased after the major modification, but they did not monitor the data for a whole year as required by law. 


Discrimination Cases against Detroit Edison


The company has faced a large amount of lawsuits over the years for discrimination.  Some of the cases are described below:

In 1971, a class action was brought against the company for race discrimination.  There were over 12,000 workers for the company at the time, and only 400 were African American.  Most had lower paying jobs, and the company settled in 1975 for $5 million.  The company started to hire more African Americans and women after the settlement. 


In 1993, a class action was filed by minorities, women, and older workers who were demoted or fired.  Three more class actions occurred in 1997 for race, national origin, and age and sex discrimination.  Three of the lawsuits are settled in 1998 for $17 million.  The company was fined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $500,000 in 1998 for sex discrimination as well.

Sharia Law

What is Sharia Law?

Sharia law, translated into “the path”, is the code of conduct for religious law in Islam.  It is composed of the teachings of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, and the teaching of the prophet Muhammad, in the Sunnah.  Secondary sources of Sharia law include the teachings of Muslim scholars.

Sharia law encompasses all aspects of society including crime, politics, economics, sexuality, family law, diet, hygiene and fasting.  Traditionally in Muslim countries Sharia law was considered the law of the land.  Some common attributes of Sharia law include:
The masking of women when in public
Adoption is prohibited 
Prohibition against intermarriage between Muslims and non-Muslims
Homosexuality is strictly forbidden; a 4 time offender gets the death penalty
Men can be the only witnesses to crimes
It is a crime to abandon the Islamic faith
The display of an image of the prophet Muhammad carries the death penalty
One of the hallmarks of Sharia law is the inferiority to which it classifies women.  A common example is if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant she is sentenced to death by stoning strictly for becoming pregnant out of wedlock.  The man who raped her, however, is usually free of any wrongdoing.
Sunni & Shi’a

There are two main sects of Islam, the Sunni and the Shi’a.  The Sunni believe that not only the Qur’an and Sunnah should be used in the practice of Sharia law, but also some of Muhammad’s other works such as the sahaba and the ulema.  The Sunni also employ analogies to the Qur’an and the Sunnah when deciding issues.  The Shi’a, in the alternative mostly frown upon the use of analogies and pride themselves on the use of logic.  Where the Sunni use Muhammad’s secondary books to “fill in the gaps” of Sharia law the Shi’a use the teachings of the 12 imam, disciples of Muhammad that spread his original message.
Sharia Law Countries

Currently there are a number legal systems in the Middle East and Asia that deal with Sharia law.  Some nations such as Mali, Kazakhstan and Turkey have a strictly secular government where Sharia law is only limited to personal and family matters.  Others like Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Sudan and Morocco follow a more integrated approach.  In their law the secular government, although influenced by Sharia law, is the ultimate law and the constitution of the nations are upheld over conflicts with Sharia law.  Then there are the fundamentalist Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Persian Gulf nations where Sharia law is the same as secular law.  
Tenants of Sharia law

Sharia law is divided into 11 main tenants:
1. Purification
2. Prayer
3. The Funeral Prayer
4. Taxes
5. Fasting
6. The Pilgrimage
7. Trade
8. Inheritance
9. Marriage
10. Divorce
11. Justice

This tenant of Sharia law prescribes how an individual is supposed to maintain purity and spiritual dimension.  It entails the use of water, soil, or other “cleaners” for cleansing purposes.  It imposes rules about contact with “impure” animals and delegates cleaning rituals to be done before and after prayer as well as the proper way to clean dishes, clothing and homes.

Sharia law details every aspect of daily prayer.  One of the tenants most well known rituals is praying towards Mecca 5 times a day.  Sharia law also delegates who can pray and where to pray.
Funeral prayer

Sharia law also has a detailed way of dealing with the ill and the burial of the deceased.  There is a specific way that the dead are to be buried.  This includes certain cleaning and dressing rituals as well as the burial itself, where the deceased is put in a grave perpendicular to Mecca and the body is placed sideways, facing Mecca.

The Qur’an details how the wealthy should treat the poor.  In Sharia law it is required that those individuals who are deemed wealthy pay a tax, known as a zakat, in order to help the poor.  The percentage is not prescribed by the Qur’an and it may be adjusted as needed.

Sharia law designates the month of Ramadan to be a month of fasting where individuals may not partake in food, drink, or sexual activity during daylight hours.  Islamic law specifically prescribes the methods of fasting as well as the times, who must fast and any exceptions.

Specifically prescribed in the Qur’an, at least once in the life of a Muslim an individual must travel to Mecca to perform a ritual ceremony.  This ceremony is performed two months after Ramadan and is very strict on the practices that must be performed

Sharia law specifically prohibits certain business actions including the charging of interest or insurance.  For these, and many other reasons, the majority of businesses in the Islamic world are partnerships, instead of corporations.

Inheritance rights in Sharia law tend to favor men.  Typically a woman will receive one half the amount of inheritance her male counterpart would have received.  The property distribution allowed by Shariah law prescribes that 1/3 of the property may go to bequests and the rest, after debts, is distributed to family members under the intestacy rules of Sharia law.

There are two forms of marriage under Sharia law, the nikah and the nikah mut’ah.  Essentially the nikah is an “official” marriage where there is a dowry given to the bride and a contract of marriage signed.  A nikah marriage entitles the couple to inheritance rights.  Under Sharia law a man is permitted to have up to 4 nikah wives.  
The second common type of marriage is the nikah mut’ah.  This second type of marriage is often known as a “Haram.” It is a marriage that lasts for a specific period of time and at the end of a prescribed period the marriage is dissolved.  Women in nikah mut’ah marriages do not get inheritance rights and the husband is not responsible for the wife’s economic well-being.  A nikah mut’ah marriage does not count towards the 4 wives allowed by Sharia law.

Under Shi’a divorce law, a man may divorce upon telling her of his intentions.  Under Sunni law it must be witnessed by 4 individuals.  All aspects are controlled by Sharia law, including child support.
Sharia legal system

The procedural and substantive aspects of Sharia law are different in many respects from those known to people in this country.  First and foremost, there are no juries or attorneys.  The trial consists of strictly the judge, plaintiff and defendant.  There is no discovery, no cross-examination of witnesses, no stare decisis (the following of case precedents) and no codified statutes.  
There are 3 categories of cases, Qisas, hududd and tazir.  The Qisas is the equivalent of a personal injury action.  It encompasses all cases from murder to battery.  In these cases, upon conviction, the defendant or his family are the ones who decide upon the sentence, which can range from death or dismemberment to compensation.
The hududd is the second kind of case.  These are cases that are brought before the court based solely on violations of the Qur’an.  They include: adultery, blasphemy, defamation, sodomy, theft, intoxication, and armed violence.  There is no circumstantial evidence allowed and there must be 2 to 4 witnesses, who are male, to corroborate.  This is one reason why women who have been raped or abused are often treated as the criminals in Sharia society.
The third type of case is the tazir.  This encompasses all other crimes.
Sharia law and the United States legal system

Sharia law has become an increasing concern in the United States.  Many European countries have adopted a policy of allowing Sharia law in some contexts.  The English government has made it possible so that a number of Sharia courts of law exist where Muslims may settle actions involving divorce, contracts, and estates in the Muslim way.
Sharia law has not taken that course in this country and many legal cases have weighed heavily on the institution of Sharia law in the American legal system.  In one case a wife wished to get a restraining order against her husband for because he would forcibly rape and abuse his wife.  The man contended that Sharia law allowed him to do this and he should the restraining order should not be granted.  The trial court granted the husbands motion but on appeal the appellate court ruled that Sharia law should not excuse him from the state’s criminal code.
In all the courts in this country are open to interpreting Sharia law in situations involving divorce, family, and estates but every jurisdiction is different and the case law is not one sided in the least.  Last year Oklahoma passed a voter referendum known as the “save our state amendment.” The referendum made it law to prohibit judges in Oklahoma courts to consider Sharia, as well as international law when deciding cases.  There are many arguments for its unconstitutionality, namely that it violates the separation of powers in that the legislature cannot interfere with the workings of the judicial system.  Immediately after the passage of the bill a Muslim American named Awad filed suit to have the bill repealed based on the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The case has just gone to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the results of the oral argument have not yet been determined.

Hammurabi Code

What was Hammurabi’s Code?
Hammurabi’s Code is known as the oldest collection of codified law ever to exist.  The Code, which was written down sometime around 1780 B.C. was created by Hammurabi, the sixth King of Babylon.  Hammurabi’s Code extends to all aspects of law and includes areas concerning wages; criminal law; and the rights of citizens, even slaves and women.
The laws set out the first real code for civilized society.  The laws helped to maintain order, create consistency in handing down punishments and, for the first time, allowed citizens to be aware of what actions were permissible in society.
Hammurabi’s Code was discovered in 1901 A.D. by French archaeologists working in Persia.  The object takes the form of a basalt pillar, known as a stele, about 6 feet high.  On the top of the stele is an engraving of Hammurabi receiving the laws from the Babylonian Sun-God Shamash.  Below the engraving are 42 columns describing 282 “laws” that the citizens of Babylon were required to follow, as well as guidelines for trade and penalties for violating the laws. 
The Laws
There is no organized method to the laws laid down in Hammurabi’s Code.  They seem to be strewn about in no particular order.  Hammurabi’s Code is where the term “eye for an eye” comes from.  Involving criminal matters the laws were very strict and the penalties severe.  In the area of trade, there were set guidelines involving how trade should occur and the appropriate prices that could be charged for certain goods and services.  The code can be broken up into 5 types of codes including: Legal Procedure, Household, Slavery, Miscellaneous and Trade.
From the text of Hammurabi’s Code it can be noted that there was a rigid form of adjudication involved in legal proceedings.  The code often mentions witnesses, judges and evidence.  It is definitely the first true form of legal procedure to present itself.  Some examples to show the extent of legal procedure in Hammurabi’s code include:  the putting to death of a false accuser; the idea that an individual must prove that a crime has been committed against him; the ability of a judge to enforce money judgments; penalties for certain crimes; time limits for producing evidence and witnesses; and probably the most progressive, the imposition of fines and the removal from office of judges who neglect their duties.
The laws numbered 128 – 149 deal solely with the issue of husband and wife.  Unlike legal doctrines that have come about long after Hammurabi’s Code, these laws show a surprising amount of effort towards women’s equality.  For example, law 130 states “If a man violate the wife of another man who has never known a man and still lives in her father’s house and sleep with her and be surprised, this man shall be put to death, but the wife blameless.” The law essentially means that if the wife of a man is raped then the offender shall be put to death but the wife shall not be held responsible.  This goes to show that Babylonian civilization treated women more as citizens than even present day Islamic countries.  Under Sharia law, which is practiced as the secular law of a number of Islamic countries, a woman who is raped is considered to be the criminal and put to death.
There are 10 laws in Hammurabi’s Code that deal exclusively with slavery.  They can be considered to be a stricter form of the Fugitive Slave laws that were enacted in the United States at various points before the Civil War.  The majority of the laws involving slavery in Hammurabi’s Code deal strictly with the return and harboring of escaped slaves.  The punishment for most crimes involving the harboring of slaves is death and there are designated rewards for the return of escaped slaves.  3 of the laws involving slavery also involve the non-payment of debts.  Law 117 strictly permits an individual who is owed a debt to take the debtors wife and/or children as slaves, as payment of the debt, for a period of 3 years at which time the debt will be forgiven.
The section on trade is the most extensive of all the laws in Hammurabi’s Code.  The laws go on to explain the conduct of all professions including builders, shipbuilders, physicians and barbers.  This section also helps to give insight into the value that the society gave to different classes of people.  Laws 221 – 223 explain this perfectly.  Those three laws outline the fees to be paid to a physician for the repair of broken bones of “diseased soft part” man.  If it is a citizen the fee is 5 shekels; a freeman, 3 shekels; and if it is a slave the fee is 2 shekels.  The trade portion of Hammurabi’s Code also gives weight to the “eye for an eye” mentality that the Code is so famously known for.  Law 229 states that “if a builder build a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built fall in and kill its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.” Coinciding with that is law 230 which states “if it kill the son of the owner the son of that builder shall be put to death.”  One more aspect of the trade laws in Hammurabi’s Code is that the idea of restitution is prevalent.  When a professional who is being paid for his services acts negligently and damages property then the laws note that that professional is responsible for reimbursement of the others loss.
The extent of the other laws deal primarily with the “eye for an eye” mentality of dealing with punishment.  There are also a few laws that deal with negligence in maintaining water rights.  These include the negligent operation of one’s dam that results in the flooding of a neighbor’s property.  In these situations the accused is forced to pay for the repairs and the losses to the other individual’s property.

3 Strikes Law

What is a 3 Strikes Law?


The 3 strikes laws, which are codified in 26 states throughout the country and the federal government, are sentencing laws that mandate a prison sentence of 25 years to life for violent offenders who have been convicted of 3 or more offenses.  
The State of Texas was the first State to enact such a law in 1974.   It is referred to as the Texas Habitual Offender Statute and states that “a defendant convicted of a felony is subject to a sentence of 2 to 20 years if (1) he has two prior felony convictions, and (2) the conviction for the first prior offense became final before commission of the second.”
The exact application of the 3 Strikes Law is different among the 26 States that recognize it.  Some States require that all three of the crimes be felonies where others, like California, require only that the first two crimes be violent, or serious, felonies in order to garner an enhanced sentence upon the defendant.

There are a number of theories that have gone into rationalizing the reasons for a 3 Strikes Law. The rationale that the State Legislature of California took in deciding to enact the 3 Strikes Law was that sentence enhancements restrict the ability of repeat offenders to commit additional crimes by removing them from the population, and the threat of long time incarceration discourages some offenders from committing new crimes.  There is also the mentality that those individuals who are repeat offenders are not capable of reform and should therefore be removed from society. 
Most 3 Strike Laws came about through concerns of increasing crime rates in many States.  Where Texas’ version is not considered a “true” 3 strikes law the first law categorized as such was passed in Washington State in 1993.  California adopted its 3 Strike Law in 1994 after the murder of a two minor children by men with criminal records.  A California ballot initiative approved the new law by 72% and became law in March of 1994.  Since the passage of the California law 24 States had followed suit within a two year period.
What are the penalties under the 3 strikes law?

What penalties are associated with the 3 strikes law?

The 3 Strikes Laws of every state vary a little differently from one another.  California, by far, is the strictest of them.  The law in California states that if an individual has committed two previous felonies then he/she will be subjected to a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life.  In California the nature of the third crime is irrelevant as individuals have been sentenced to life based on a third crime of petty larceny such as stealing videotapes.  The California law does not just pertain to third offenses.  The law also requires that a when an individual has been convicted of a previous felony and is subsequently convicted of a second, the sentencing for the second offense shall be doubled.  In short, this means that if an individual is convicted of a crime with a two year prison sentence, but it is his second felony, he may be sentenced to four years in prison.
What prior convictions are considered strikes?

Under the California Penal Code a strike is considered a “serious” or “violent” felony.  The “violent” crimes include, but are not limited to: murder, mayhem, battery, rape and felonies where an individual has used a firearm.  The “serious” crimes include: robbery, arson and kidnapping.  A list of all of the crimes that are applicable to California’s 3 Strikes Law can be found in California Penal Code Section 1192.7(c) and 1192.8(a).  In summary, if an individual is convicted of two of these crimes in the State of California that person can be imprisoned for life upon the happening of a third crime whether it be a felony or misdemeanor.
Other States differ in what they qualify as a felony worthy of the 3 strikes rule.  In the State of Pennsylvania an individual can only have the 3 strikes rule applied to them if the first two crimes are considered “violent.” The elimination of the term “serious” takes a number of possible felonies out of the equation and has resulted in less sentencing under Pennsylvania’s 3 Strikes Law.
What about juvenile convictions?

In 2009 the Supreme Court of California ruled in favor of applying the 3 Strike Law to felonies that were committed by juveniles in the case of People v. Nguyen.  Prior to that decision it was unclear whether judges could consider the 3 strike law when one of the felonies occurred while the defendant was a juvenile.
The case stemmed from Nguyen’s possession of a gun as a convicted felon.  The California trial court sentenced him to 32 months in prison, twice the allotted penalty in the sentencing guidelines.  The court rationalized that because he had been convicted of assault in 1999, in a juvenile court proceeding, this was his second offense and as such California prescribes a mandatory sentence doubling.    
The case of the People v. Nguyen went from all the way to the United States Supreme Court where the decision was upheld.  The defenses argument was that it was a violation a 2000 Supreme Court decision that required a jury trial in situations where sentences beyond the maximum term could be instituted.  The Supreme Court ruled that because he plead no contest to the 2005 charge he waived his right to have the 1999 conviction considered by the jury.
Are 3 Strikes Laws constitutional?

Can 3 Strikes Laws be considered violative of the 8th Amendment?

The 8th  Amendment to the Constitution states “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines, imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Even though this is from the Bill of Rights and applies to the federal government, the 14th Amendment’s due process clause subjects the Constitution to the States as well.
The California law is very broad with the sentencing factors that may be considered by a judge.  The law allows for consecutive sentencing.  In the case of People v. Casper the Supreme Court of California ruled that concurrent sentencing could be applied to the 3 Strikes Law.  In its holding the court noted that in instituting sentencing there was no statutory requirement that a judge was forced to consider consecutive or concurrent sentencing.  In summary this means that if an individual was convicted of a 3rd and 4th crime it is in the judge’s discretion to allocate a doubling of the minimum sentence.  This means that instead of a 25 year to life sentence an individual convicted of a 3rd and 4th offense may be sentenced to 50 years to life.

In the Supreme Court decision in Lockyer v. Andrade the decision was upheld.  The case involved a man, Andrade, who had been convicted of numerous crimes in the past.  In 1995, on two separate instances, Andrade stole a total of 10 videotapes from two different K-Mart stores.  Upon his conviction for the crime his sentence was deemed to run concurrently, meaning that instead of 25 years to life, under 3 Strikes, he would serve 50 years to life because the two crimes would be compounded.  Andrade argued that the sentencing was a form of cruel and unusual punishment that violates the 8th Amendment.  The case went to the Supreme Court and the Justices held that in order to be cruel and unusual punishment the penalty must be “contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” In holding against Andrade the Court justified its conclusion that because Andrade had the opportunity for parole it would not be a violation of the 8th Amendment; even if he wasn’t eligible for 50 years.

A similar case brought to the Supreme Court, which was decided on the same day, is Ewing v. California.  This case stemmed from the theft of 3 golf clubs from a country club pro shop in California.  The man who was arrested, Ewing, had been convicted on numerous occasions of crimes ranging from petty theft, to assault, to burglary.  Upon his conviction for the grand theft of the golf clubs the trial judge sentenced Ewing to 25 years to life under California’s 3 Strikes Law.  Ewing appealed this through the California appellate system claiming, like Andrade, that is was a form of cruel and unusual punishment.  Upon reaching the Supreme Court Justice O’Connor wrote the opinion stating “These laws respond to widespread concerns about crime by targeting the class of offenders who pose the greatest risk to public safety: career criminals.”  She went on to note that such laws were a “deliberate policy choice” on the part of the State to remove those members of society who “repeatedly engaged in serious or violent criminal behavior.” The Court, in its holding, ultimately rationalized the sentencing as not violating the 8th Amendment by claiming that the purpose of such laws is to respond to individuals who partake in repeat criminal behavior and that as long as there is a rational basis for the 3 strikes sentencing then it will be upheld.
These two Supreme Court cases essentially eliminated the 8th Amendment argument involving the 3 Strikes Law.
Does the 3 Strikes Law violate Double Jeopardy or Ex Post Facto?

In a 1996 case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit the appellate court answered both these questions.  United States of America v. Farmer is a case that came about after the defendant was convicted of 4 counts in a United States District Court.  The counts stemmed from attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, use of a firearm during a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  For the first two counts the jury sentenced the defendant to life in prison based on the federal 3 Strikes Law.  The jury also added additional sentencing for the latter two counts.
On appeal the defendant made a number of arguments.  The ones relevant to this topic are Double Jeopardy and Ex Post Facto.  Double Jeopardy is a violation of the Constitution as found in the 5th Amendment.  The pertinent part of the Amendment states that “no person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The defendant’s argument in this case was that by using the 3 Strike Law for sentencing he was being sentenced for crimes that he had already served time for.  Although it is a valid argument to claim that a defendant brought to court to stand charges on a 3rd crime is being punished for the 1st and 2nd crime as well it was not persuasive on the court.  In upholding the constitutionality of the 3 Strikes Law the Appellate Court went on to hold that he “is not being punished again for previous offenses. Rather, these offenses are being taken into account in fixing his punishment for the instant crime” and “a recidivism provision does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause.”
In the same case the Appellate Court was asked to rule again on the constitutionality of the 3 strikes law.  This time the question was whether this law violated the Ex Post Facto Clause.  The Ex Post Facto Clause is one of the few clauses in the Constitution that specifically applies to both the federal and state governments.  It can be found in Article 1, section 9 and 10 of the United States Constitution.  The clause specifically states that Congress’s powers are limited in that “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.”  An ex post facto law is a law that is passed after an individual has committed a crime and instead of being subjected to the law at the date of the offense he is instead held accountable to the new provision; despite the non-existence of it when the crime was committed.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase, in his landmark opinion in Calder v. Bull cited four instances where an Ex Post Facto law violated the constitution.  These were “criminalizing actions that were legal when committed; or may aggravate a crime by bringing it into a more severe category than it was in at the time it was committed; or it may change or increase the punishment prescribed for a crime, such as by adding new penalties or extending terms; or it may alter the rules of evidence in order to make conviction for a crime more likely than it would have been at the time of the action for which a defendant is prosecuted.” 
So one would logically come to the conclusion that the 3 strike law would, as Chase put it, “change or increase the punishment prescribed for a crime.” The defendant’s argument was on par with this statement, alleging that the 3 Strikes Law  increases the punishment of crimes committed before enactment.  This was not the holding of the Court in United States of America v. Farmer.  The Court, in upholding the 3 Strikes Law stated that “so long as the actual crime for which a defendant is being sentenced occurred after the effective date of the new statute, there is no ex post facto violation.
What can be gathered by these two decisions in this landmark case is that a court will find the constitutionality of a 3 Strike Law based on the idea that the sentence is imposed for the third offense and that the individual is not being punished for previous crimes.  The court merely looks at the previous crimes to aide in the evaluation of sentencing for the current crime.  
Is the sentencing under 3 Strikes Laws mandatory?

People v. Supreme Ct. (Romero)

The issue of how much discretion a judge has in imposing sentences came about in a 1998 case called People v. Supreme Ct. In this case the defendant, Romero, was convicted of possession of 0.13 grams of cocaine, a felony that would grant 3 years imprisonment.  However, because Romero was twice convicted of violent felonies, including two burglaries, he was subjected to the mandatory 3 Strikes Law.  The trial judge found that this was excessive punishment for the crime and in his discretion, struck the two felonies from consideration and imposed a sentence of 6 years for the 3rd offense.  The case was appealed by the Attorney General and went to the California Supreme Court where the Justices found that the judge’s discretion may be used “in the interests of justice” but they may not be abused and must have proper basis for the decision.  The factors that are applicable in determining whether a judge has discretion include: the rights of the defendant and the interests of society; and whether the defendant may be deemed outside the scheme’s spirit given the defendant’s present felonies and past convictions.  
People v. Goode

In People v. Goode the Court of Appeals for the State of California made clear that the 3 Strike Law is not a discretionary sentencing measure.  This case stems from an incident in a prison where a two time convicted felon, Goode, assaulted a prison guard during his incarceration for one of the previous two crimes.  Goode argued, on appeal, that the court committed abuse of discretion by declining to strike either of his priors before imposing the mandatory 25 years to life sentencing authorized by the 3 Strike Law.  The court in Goode looked at the legislation that went into enacting the law to determine if 3 Strikes was mandatory.  The Court held that “the intent of the 3 strikes law was to restrict the discretion of the trial courts in sentencing repeat offenders.  The three strikes law does not offer a discretionary sentencing choice, as do other sentencing laws, but instead establishes a sentencing norm, carefully circumscribes the power of the trial courts to depart from the norm, requires an explicit justification of any ruling that departs from the norm, and creates a strong presumption that any sentence conforming to the norm is rational and proper.” Although this seems to contradict the 1996 ruling in Romero the court was quick to point out that the discretion to vacate prior strike “in furtherance of justice” is acceptable but must explain the reasons for doing so and the decision is reviewable.  The court went on to state that this defendant, due to his criminal history and violent nature, was within the “spirit of the 3 Strikes Law.”

There are differing opinions on the success of the 3 Strikes Law.  Many argue that it is too harsh of a punishment and at the very least should be applied to those individuals who have committed “violent” crimes, as Pennsylvania law applies, as opposed to “violent” or “serious”, as the California law stipulates.  Studies have shown that it has led to overcrowding in the prison population and that roughly half or the 3rd strikers are individuals who received life sentences for non-violent or non-serious crimes.  
The opposite side of the argument is the deterrence and the societal issue.  Many advocates for the 3 Strike Law favor its mandatory position, getting behind the theory that an individual who has committed two or more violent crimes is a habitual offender and should be taken out of society.  They also point out that crime, in the States that have 3 Strike Laws, has dropped since the inception of the law.  Detractors from this point of view will not that crime in the State of California began to drop as early as 1990.  Either way, the 3 strikes law is codified and although there have been many attempts to repeal or alter its effects it seems like it’s going to be here permanently.

Field of Penology

Field of Penology


Penology is a field of criminology. One of the primary concerns of penology is prison reform. Prison reform addresses many concerns, such as the proper practice of re-socialization, reducing recidivism, protecting prisoners’ rights, how to balance deterrence, retribution, and rehabilitation, and helping felons find jobs after their release.

Re-socialization refers to the process by which individuals are helped to adapt to life in a new environment. Re-socialization for to jail involves teaching individuals how to abide by the rules of the jail.

Jobs for convicted felons

Finding jobs for convicted felons is a challenge. Some jobs for felons cannot be held due to a previous arrest. Jobs for ex-offenders may be permitted if the individual is cleared by a licensing board to hold a job the convicted felon would otherwise be unable to hold.

Recidivism is the chance of a repeat offender committing another offense. Recidivism typically refers to when a repeat offender commits an offense that is similar to the act they were previously convicted of, although recidivism may also occur if a shoplifter commits murder.

Prisoners rights
Prisoners’ rights refers to the rights that are retained by prisoners even after they have been convicted of a crime. Much of the prisoners’ rights movement is concerned with helping prisoners make sure that their rights are not violated.

Deterrence is the aspect of penology that aims to prevent an individual from deciding to pursue a course of action that will result in them becoming a felon in the first place. Deterrence can be specific or general.

Retribution is the attempt to make sure that a convict receives a punishment that is appropriate to the crime the convict has committed. Modern practices of retribution means ensures that a convict will not receive a punishment that is identical to their crime, but is simply proportionate.


Rehabilitation of felons is the goal of much of the American penal system. Rehabilitation of felons has become the guiding principle in penology over the last century.

Dupage County Jail

Dupage County Jail

The Dupage county jail in Wheaton, Illinois is considered to be one of the best jail/correctional facilities throughout the United States. It has received high ratings from the Illinois Department of Corrections, along with praise from the American Correctional Association. 
The Dupage county jail is used as a detainment center for individuals who are awaiting their trial time, for those who have been sentenced to less than a year of imprisonment, individuals who are serving a periodic imprisonment.
Various types of programs are provided by the Dupage county jail, in order to provide detainees with the option for the betterment of their life. Programs, like G.E.D courses can be found in the Dupage county jail. 
During the year, there are anywhere between 30 and 50 individuals who graduate from a G.E.D program in this jail. These programs help the individual develop marketable skills, to help them acquire jobs and to give them a basis for furthering education. There are also spiritual groups which mean throughout the week; these groups are open to all individuals and are a way for the detainees to reconnect with themselves and their beliefs.
For individuals who have suffered from substance abuse, the Dupage county jail has a number of substance abuse courses and groups that can help the inmates vent their issues with substance abuse, and give them the proper tools to straighten out their addictions. The Dupage county jail boasts a great facility with impeccable programs for helping their detainees to a better life once they are out of the jail. 

Hopkins County Jail

Hopkins County Jail

The Hopkins county jail of Kentucky is a facility that is dedicated to enriching the lives of the inmates and giving the opportunities to restart their lives, and to create a better path for them and their families. 
The Hopkins county jail is a facility that has all the same goals of other jails; it is a facility for detaining inmates who have been given a sentence shorter than a year, for those awaiting their trials, and transfers who are only there until they can be sent to a detention center. It is a facility to house those who are being tried or have been convicted of criminal acts.
Many of programs offered in the Hopkins county jail are focused around the needs of the individuals. These courses help the inmate to critically think about the choices that they have made, and the consequences of their actions. Thus, giving them indications as to when their thoughts and behaviors are becoming inappropriate and helping them to intervene before they can act on these thoughts/emotions.
Courses like: Criminal Thinking Errors and Rational Behavior Training are programs that were created to help these inmates walk through the actions or emotions that landed them in jail, to think about them, and to find alternate methods of dealing with them, instead of committing criminal acts. 
Another program that is also used on an emotional and critical level is an anger management course; this is yet another program based on the individual and the emotional triggers that caused a serious reaction. This helps provide new methods for channeling anger into a more productive and expressive medium.
Other courses that are used are WorkKeys which is a critical assessment of the inmates’ skills and abilities. This is an assessment tool that is used for job placements and future endeavors. By identifying what an individual is strong in, the Hopkins county jail can help to redirect the individual into an area of work that they will find fulfilling, and hopefully keep them on the non-criminal path. 

Anoka County Jail

Anoka County Jail

County jails are an important resource when it comes to county and state safety issues; the purpose of a county jail is to hold the criminals after they have been apprehended for numerous crimes. 
Because county jails tend to be on the smaller side, these are facilities often used for the holding of individuals until a hearing or as inmates of the facility serving a year or less duration of a sentence. These facilities, like the Anoka county jail, are facilities ran by a smaller group of correctional officers and can be both minimum and maximum security facilities
The Anoka county jail of Minnesota is an example of the average type of county jail facility. It is a place of detainment for criminals who are serving a shorter duration of time. In instances where and individual is sentenced to several years in prison, they might be held at the Anoka county jail until the ability to transfer to another facility comes along.
A county jail like the Anoka county jail has to be run under the strict adherence to the guidelines set forth by the American Correctional Association. These guidelines were set forth to provide and maintain a standard of rights and regulations that have to be looked after. 
Within these guidelines, the Anoka county jail must provide certain amenities for the inmates. This includes 3 meals a day, showering facilities, laundry service, and the ability to contact family while in the jail.
There are certain restrictions on the items that can be given to an inmate in the Anoka county jail. These restrictions can be limitations on the type of photographs; inmates are allowed to have photographs, as long as they do not display gang affiliation or nudity. 
If a family member wants to give the individual a book or other publication to read, it has to be purchased through a distributor and mailed directly to the jail; this is to ensure that no weapons, drugs, or various other contraband were slipped in. Overall, the Anoka county jail is the average, accommodating, law enforcement facility. 

Nobles County Jail

Nobles County Jail

Nobles county jail in Nobles County, Minnesota is an efficient and organized jailing system provide for the safety of the citizen of Minnesota. This facility is used for holding individuals until they are processed; it is a facility for individuals who have been sentenced to imprisonment for less than a year. 
The Nobles county jail allows for basic conveniences for those who are detained within their walls. This means that individuals are allowed to have items like photos and various other comforts, as long as they are provided for and adhere to the guidelines set for.
For example, individuals who are the Nobles county jail are allowed to have photographs as long as they are not Polaroid pictures, do not have nudity, and there are no signs of gang affiliation. 
Individuals who are detained in the Nobles county jail are also set up with an account, in which loved ones are allowed to deposit money through online deposits, or during visitation hours. The mediums used for money deposit are cash, money orders, and cashier’s checks. This money can be used by the individual for various purposes.
When it comes to being able to call home; individuals are given the option of having their family set up a collect call account, which then can be used to make calls back home. Or the individual can purchase calling cards and call the family using the specific calling cards offered by the Nobles county jail. 
Though an individual can be in jail for a couple of months or the entirety of the year, they are not deprived of amenities that they would have at home. Furthermore, the inmates of Nobles county jail are also provided with leisure time, various program options, and are supplied with 3 meals a day. 

What training is required to be a mediator?

What training is required to be a mediator?

What training is involved in mediation?

In the context of legal history mediation is a relatively new and ever evolving field in the legal environment.  This being said there is currently no state in the Union that requires an individual to be certified or even have any kind of training in order to be a mediator.  Many states, however, do require that an individual have at least some form of training or education in the field of mediation.  The state of Massachusetts, for example requires a minimum of 30 hours of training for mediators.  Training can also be satisfied by appropriate classes taken in undergraduate school, law school, business school or any other form of higher learning.  The courses that qualify are usually those that deal with alternate dispute resolution, negotiation, and arbitration.

Why would someone get training if it is not required?

Even though mediation training is not required it is highly beneficial for those seeking to enter the field.  First and foremost, mediation is a voluntary action taken by parties to a dispute.  That being said, parties are free to choose their own mediators and are not court appointed.  On that point it is in the mediator's best interest to be as knowledgeable about the procedures, strategies, and methods involved in mediation in order to retain clients and receive satisfactory results. 

Must a mediator be certified?

As mentioned above, there is no state in the Union that requires a mediator to be certified.  However, some courts require qualification standards in order to be considered in court referrels or providing services in court-connected dispute resolution programs.  The court of your jurisdiction will often provide a list of these mediators for parties to choose from.  As mentioned, one is not required to pick from this list and they are free to choose an outside mediator to resolve the situation.

What standards do mediators have to follow?

Mediators are not subject to exclusionary rules of evidence, or rules of evidence and there is virtually no court interaction.  However, a mediator should be impartial and act as a neutral member of the negotiations.  He/she has an obligation to be competent about the subject matter and be capable of devoting the time and effort necessary to resolve the matter.