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Thursday, July 09, 2015


by Claire Day

On June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled the federal Three-Strikes Law unconstitutional. In Johnson vs. United States, the Supreme Court held that the government violated Johnson’s due process by imposing an increased sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s residual clause that was unconstitutionally vague, standard-less, and only enforceable arbitrarily. The ruling elaborated that two elements constitute the vagueness of the law: 1) by assessing risk of a case using fictitious crime rather than using real-world statistics, and 2) ambiguity regarding the amount of risk necessary to qualify a crime as a violent felony. In other words, assessment of risk of future violent crime by an individual is unpredictable and uncertain, and has not historically been applied consistently. Supreme Court Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, while Kennedy and Thomas concurred in the judgment. Justice Alito filed the sole dissenting opinion. —National Center for Due Process, July 6, 2015

There used to be a row of firs
lined up against the fence
limbs outstretched to intertwine
and guard the narrow yard like jailers,
block access to the light

There are prisoners
who never move beyond the confines of their bars
and see the sun
they live in tiny spaces
meant to squash the soul

The trees are down now
their rule long gone

Grass sings
flowers surge in summer hues
grapes dally on the vine

And breathe the smell of freedom

Claire Day lives in western Massachusetts, in an area where writing is virtually a way of life. After writing prose for several decades and both participating in and facilitating writing workshops,she has discovered the joys of poetry. She enjoys its economy of words, its lack of distracting verbage, and most of all, its ability to enter the mind and heart.