Friday, November 2, 2018

With No Laws To Guide It, Here's How Orlando Is Using Amazon's Facial Recognition Technology
"New documents obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal the most detailed picture yet of how the Orlando Police Department is using Amazon Rekognition, the tech giant’s facial recognition technology....

In the US, there are no laws governing the use of facial recognition, and there is no regulatory framework limiting its law enforcement applications. There is no case law or constitutional precedent upholding police use of the tech without a warrant; courts haven’t even decided whether facial recognition constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. The technology is still plagued by inaccuracies.

But that hasn't stopped law enforcement from piloting these systems. According to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, the city of Orlando — which initially allowed its original Rekognition pilot to expire amid growing public outcry — just embarked on a second pilot that allows for an unspecified but 'increased' number of additional cameras."

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Solitary Use Declines in Some States, but for Some Inmates, It Lasts Three Years: Study
"The number of people in solitary confinement has decreased in more than two dozen states since 2013, but increased in 11 states, according to a new nationwide survey.

In the fourth of a series of research projects co-authored by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and the Arthur Liman Center at Yale Law School, researchers found that the criteria for placing people in solitary—also called 'restrictive housing'—had narrowed since the previous study published in 2013.

About a quarter of the jurisdictions responding to survey questions, found that nearly 27 per cent of inmates were placed in in restrictive housing for three months to a year. Some 3,721 people (9.1 percent of 41,061 people) were held for more than three years, and of that number, 1,950 were reported to have been in restrictive housing for more than six years.

Among the 33 jurisdictions reporting on race and ethnicity among male prisoners in the total custodial population and in restrictive housing, Black men comprised 46.1% of the male restrictive housing population, as compared to 42.5% of the total male custodial population in those jurisdictions."

Link to the Full-Text Study


Jail as Injunction
"Half a million people sit in jail every day in America who have not been convicted of a crime but stand merely accused. Detention can cost defendants their jobs, housing, or even custody of their children; detention makes defendants more likely to commit a crime and can harm them mentally and physically; it takes a toll on their families and communities too. Courts simply ignore these serious harms when deciding whether a defendant should lose her liberty because of a mere accusation of wrongdoing. In striking contrast to criminal cases where the government so often succeeds in obtaining before trial the relief that it ultimately seeks—incarceration of the defendant—civil plaintiffs attempting to obtain before judgment the relief that they ultimately seek—by way of a preliminary injunction—face quite a challenge. Civil plaintiffs cannot obtain such pre-judgment relief unless they demonstrate irreparable injury and that denying interim relief would be more harmful to them than granting would be to the defendant. This disparity between criminal pretrial detention and civil preliminary injunctions is both troubling and enlightening. It is troubling that the law affords more protection to the property interests of civil defendants than to the liberty interests of criminal defendants who are purportedly presumed innocent. But in this historical moment where pretrial detention and bail systems are changing in many jurisdictions, the preliminary injunction comparison offers a valuable lens through which to reconceptualize pretrial detention."


New Research Connects Heat, Weekends with Aggressive Crimes and Shootings in Chicago
"...A new Arizona State University and Purdue University research study examines this phenomenon.  In it, the authors sifted through data on almost 6 million reported crimes in Chicago between 2001 and 2014 to try to tease out factors that might promote or suppress various types of crime....

The authors found a strong dependence of aggressive crimes on temperature, where higher temperatures than usual - especially in June and July - were associated with a sharp uptick in those crimes....

'The confluence of hot summer days and weekends is thus a perfect storm that results in spates of shootings,"  ...Conversely, the authors found rainy and windy days tended to suppress crime...

The authors also found that holiday effects are important to many types of crime.  Aggressive crime goes down significantly on Christmas and Thanksgiving."

Link to Complete Study


The Wildly Unregulated Practice of Undercover Cops Friending People on Facebook
"Police have come to recognize the fertile hunting ground of social media and are covertly surveilling people and groups there with little oversight. We don’t know how many people have been targeted for undercover surveillance on social media because police departments don’t keep track in a public manner and prefer, in general, not to discuss it. They’re willing to talk about posing as kids online to snare sexual predators—a relatively uncontroversial undercover practice—but they’re far more secretive about targeting suspected gang members, protestors and other 'people of interest.' We reached out to dozens of police departments around the country to ask what their policies are when it comes to undercover Facebook police work and discovered that very few have any kind of formal rules governing it."

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Rethinking Criminal Justice in Canada: Round Table Report
Reforming the criminal justice system has been the subject of intense political debate in Canada in the past decade. Competing ideals related to rehabilitation, punishment and fairness have led to markedly different policy approaches and sharp disagree­ments among political parties on the best way forward.

The Government of Canada has made reviewing the criminal justice system and sen­tencing reform a top priority in justice policy. The mandate letter presented to the Minister of Justice clearly states that a review should be conducted to 'ensure that we are increasing the safety of our communities, getting value for money, addressing gaps and ensuring that current provisions are aligned with the objectives of the crim­inal justice system....'

As part of the review of the criminal justice system, four round table discussions were held — in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton. They brought together academics, community leaders, social policy experts, jurists and other actors in the criminal justice system for a focused discussion on the interaction between the criminal justice system and other social systems."

Link to the Full Report


Children and Adolescents in the United States' Adult Criminal Justice System
"The United States has played an important role in promoting and establishing a specialized approach to youth within the criminal justice system, with the aim of rehabilitating, rather than simply punishing, youth who are convicted of a crime. The world’s first juvenile court division was
created in the U.S. state of Illinois in 1899, and within 25 years all but two of the states had followed suit and established similar juvenile court systems....By the year 1990, many states across the U.S. had passed highly regressive changes to their legislation and policy with regard to youth involved in the justice system. The changes varied in the details of their implementation, but the broad theme was the denial of access to rehabilitative juvenile justice systems, and consequent mandatory processing of juveniles in the more punitive adult systems....

Multiple studies in the United States have shown that adult jails and prisons are detrimental for children, as these facilities are designed for adults and are not equipped to keep children safe from the elevated risks of abuse and harm that they face inside them....

This report will examine the situations in which U.S. law fails to protect the rights of children in the criminal justice system."

Link to the Full Report


Judged for More Than Her Crime: A Global Overview of Women Facing the Death Penalty
"We estimate that at least 500 women are currently on death rows around the world. While exact figures are impossible to obtain, we further estimate that over 100 women have been executed in the last ten years—and potentially hundreds more. The number of women facing execution is not dramatically different from the number of juveniles currently on death row, but the latter have received a great deal more attention from international human rights bodies, national courts, scholars, and advocates.

This report aims to shed light on this much-neglected population. Few researchers have sought to obtain information about the crimes for which women have been sentenced to death, the circumstances of their lives before their convictions, and the conditions under which they are detained on death row. As a result, there is little empirical data about women on death row, which impedes advocates from understanding patterns in capital sentencing and the operation of gender bias in the criminal legal system. To the extent that scholars have focused on women on death row, they have concluded that they are beneficiaries of gender bias that operates in their favor. While it is undeniable that women are protected from execution under certain circumstances (particularly mothers of infants and young children) and that women sometimes benefit from more lenient sentencing, those that are sentenced to death are subjected to multiple forms of gender bias.

Most women have been sentenced to death for the crime of murder, often in relation to the killing of family members in a context of gender-based violence. Others have been sentenced to death for drug offenses, terrorism, adultery, witchcraft, and blasphemy, among other offenses. Although they represent a tiny minority of all prisoners sentenced to death, their cases are emblematic of systemic failings in the application of capital punishment."

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The Color of Youth Transferred to the Adult Criminal Justice System: Policy and Practice Recommendations
"Juvenile arrest rates have fallen sharply in recent years, but black youth are disproportionately sent to adult court by judges at some of the highest percentages seen in 30 years, according to a joint report from the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

The new report, The Color of Youth Transferred to the Adult Criminal Justice System: Policy and Practice Recommendations, discusses how the egregious practice of prosecuting and incarcerating black youth as adults, which is rooted in our nation’s past and ongoing racism, has had a devastating impact on black youth and the black community. Black children sent to adult jails and prisons are more likely to die by suicide, suffer from mental illness, and recidivate once they return to their communities than their peers in the juvenile justice system."

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Safety in America: New FBI Data Show Crime Declines in 2017
"The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), as it is officially known, is an important bellwether for crime and safety in the United States. In recent years, the release of the FBI data has been accompanied by warnings that violent crime is increasing and has been used to call for hard-line policies to combat spikes in offending. However, as Vera has reported in previous years, the overall trend has been (and continues to be) one of a steady decline in crime rates. If we take the long-view, the major crime categories tracked by the UCR that receive the most attention (property crime, violent crime, and homicide) are at much lower rates than their peak in the early 1990s."

Link to: FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Crime in the U.S., 2017

See also:  Brennan Center for Justice: Crime and Murder in 2018: A Preliminary Analysis