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DOJ Announces U.S. Imprisonment Rate Lowest Since 1995

The Department of Justice recently put out a press release stating that the total incarceration rate of state and federal inmates in 2019, at 419 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents, was the lowest the incarceration rate has been since 1995. The press release discusses the gradual increase in the incarceration rate since the 1990s and breaks down the changing trends by race and by type of crime. Given the number of inmates released during the COVID-19 pandemic, this number may continue to decrease, at least in the short term.

Criminal Justice Reform on the 2020 Ballot

The Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University has compiled a list of criminal justice ballot measures in the 2020 election, by state and by type of reform, to inform voters of what drug reform initiatives or criminal justice reforms are on the ballot in their states. The article lists, for example, Arizona as the only state where possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony and where voters can vote to legalize recreational weed after the initiative barely failed in 2016. The article also lists measures in California to allow certain felons to vote and reform cash bail. Oregon, on the other hand, will have a ballot measure giving residents the power to decriminalize possession of any kind of drug.

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Violating Anti-Kickback Laws & Defrauding the U.S.

The DOJ has announced that Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical corporation best known for making the opioid pain killer Oxycotin, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges relating to its role in creating to the opioid crisis. Purdue Pharma will be pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and violate the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute based on payments to healthcare providers and a cloud-based electronic health records company that Purdue worked with in relation to its distribution of opioid pain medication. The plea agreement calls for over $8 billion in fines and fees and will require the company, which previously filed for bankruptcy, to dissolve.

NSA’s Mass Surveillance Program Under FISA Ruled Unlawful

On September 2, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that, while affirming the convictions of the defendants raising the appeals, held that the mass surveillance program operated by the National Security Agency (NSA) violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and was potentially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. In 2013, Edward …

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COVID-Fueled Growth in Telemedicine Could Lead to More Fraud Prosecutions

Recent growth in the telemedicine field as a result of COVID-19 has prompted the government to take an aggressive approach in targeting suspected healthcare fraud. As more healthcare providers adapt to the new environment under COVID-19 and try to provide telemedicine services to their patients, there is a real risk that the government ends up targeting providers who are new to telemedicine and are simply making mistakes due to a lack of familiarity with the regulations. Further increasing this risk is the fact that the federal government has created “dozens of new billing codes” and waived certain limitations and regulations given the COVID-19 pandemic, making it harder for healthcare providers to know what is and isn’t allowed in the rapidly changing new world of telemedicine.

DOJ Takes Aggressive Approach in Charging PPP Loan Frauds as “Conspiracy”

Recent developments in the DOJ’s approach to targeting PPP loan fraud offenses suggest that the DOJ is going to increase its use of criminal “conspiracy” laws to charge multiple defendants together for schemes involving PPP loans.

Advocates Criticize Trump “Tough on Crime” Nominees to U.S. Sentencing Commission

President Trump has nominated five individuals, including four judges, to sit on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.The president’s picks have elicited criticism from advocates of criminal justice reform on both ends of the political spectrum, especially the president’s choice of three judges who have well-established reputations of being “tough on crime” and imposing long sentences.

SCOGA suspends 90-Day indictment requirement, allowing indefinite detention

The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that the judicial emergency orders suspending and tolling deadlines in criminal cases also suspended the statutory rule under O.C.G.A. 17-7-50 that a defendant denied bond is entitled to release if the state does not indict him within 90 days. The ruling effectively allows indefinite pretrial detention, but the Court left the door open for constitutional challenges.

DOJ Announces Another String of CARES Act Fraud Charges

Throughout July, the Department of Justice has been announcing an increasing number of prosecutions against individuals accused of “COVID Relief Fraud,” also referred to as CARES Act Fraud. Most cases involved the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The past week saw cases brought across the country from California to Florida and included charges for wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements, money laundering, and healthcare fraud.

Getting released from federal prison early due to coronavirus concerns

The coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19, has changed virtually every aspect of the way we are living our lives, from practicing “social distancing” to shutting down our favorite bars and restaurants. We are also seeing millions of people quarantine themselves or “self-isolate” to prevent getting sick or spreading the coronavirus to others. Unfortunately, not …

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