Today I've read in 'Journey into the Whirlwind' by Eugenia Ginzburg, that prisoners in the USSR could be re-sentenced. They had been accused and found guilty of a crime (usually counter-revolutionary behavior), and already received a certain prison sentence (let's say five years). Later, when the Soviet government deemed these crimes worthy of a stricter punishment, they re-tried the prisoners to give them a longer sentence (let's say ten years).

Sometimes I find modern day examples of people having been found guilty being exonerated, since the law has become less strict on a certain issue (possession of marijuana for example). They're still guilty of whatever they did, but the sentence is less harsh. However, this is the first time I've read of a law becoming more harsh, and people being punished harder for the same crime they were already (being) sentenced for. Are there more historical examples of this?

Short disclaimer: I am not looking for people being retried because of new evidence or witnesses, or receiving a different sentence after an appeal. It's the exact same crime, the same ruling (guilty), only the punishment is harsher.

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    Not entirely sure this is a history question - I wonder if it might be more appropriate on the law stack exchange? – Mark C. Wallace Dec 17 '19 at 13:29
  • @MarkC.Wallace: I'm not entirely sure either. I could make the case for both, but would be glad to hear which site is more appropriate. – YoupT Dec 17 '19 at 13:34
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    As far as I can tell, historical sources and methods aren't going to be particularly useful to answer the question. The definition of the rule of law, and common law precedents are going to be more important, and I think those are more in line with law.se. My intuition is that this would only happen in societies where the court is subordinate to ideology rather than precedent - I don't know enough about Asian, African or other traditions. – Mark C. Wallace Dec 17 '19 at 13:39
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    An idea: OP could go to LawSE to understand the principles on modifying/correcting criminal sentences.Then come back HistorySE for a tidier question. In general, under common law, no modifications/corrections or charging a person for the same crime twice, but there are exceptions -- see double jeopardy rule. – J Asia Dec 17 '19 at 14:05
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    Law in the Soviet Union envolved during it's existance. A brief look at the [Criminal Code of December 1960 - PDF] (cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/…), starting at Chapter 5, Artical 37 show nothing obvious about changing the punishment afterwords. – Mark Johnson Dec 17 '19 at 14:39

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