Facing Three Months in Riker’s for “Climbs On Statue” While Protesting Police Murder
Jamel Mims

“People reporting on federal criminal justice — whether journalists or bloggers — routinely report on the statutory maximum sentence that a defendant could hypothetically get, an oft-ridiculous figure calculated by taking all the charged crimes and adding up the maximum punishment for each. This is usually followed by some sort of pronouncement that THIS PERSON CHARGED OF MINOR CRIMES FACES MORE JAIL TIME THAN YOU’D GET IF YOU BEAT A TODDLER TO DEATH WITH AN UNCONSCIOUS NUN WHILE RAPING A BLIND LIBRARIAN, or words to that effect.

The problem is this number — the sum of the maximum sentence for all the crimes charged in a federal case — usually bears almost no relation to the sentence the defendant actually faces.”

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