Monday, September 19, 2016

Toronto Police want to Deploy Body-Worn Cameras Service-Wide
"The Toronto Police Service is seeking permission to start the process for acquiring body-worn cameras for all officers, following a high-profile pilot project amid rising tensions between police and members of the public across North America.

The body-camera pilot project wrapped up in March, and the subsequent report was presented to the Police Services Board Thursday.

Among the report's findings is the fact that, although the technology didn't meet officers' complete needs, body-worn cameras 'do provide the unbiased, independent account of police/community interactions, as expected,' a statement from Toronto police said....

...The pilot project and subsequent review found that as many as 95 per cent of the public and 85 per cent of officers support the use of body-worn cameras, according to the statement. The report noted that support rose in both camps as the pilot project went on."

 View the Report
DNA Dragnet: In some Cities, Police go from Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit
"...Over the last decade, collecting DNA from people who are not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime has become an increasingly routine practice for police in smaller cities not only in Florida, but in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and North Carolina as well.

While the largest cities typically operate public labs and feed DNA samples into the FBI’s national database, cities like Melbourne have assembled databases of their own, often in partnership with private labs that offer such fast, cheap testing that police can afford to amass DNA even to investigate minor crimes, from burglary to vandalism.

And to compile samples for comparison, some jurisdictions also have quietly begun asking people to turn over DNA voluntarily during traffic stops, or even during what amount to chance encounters with police. In Melbourne, riding a bike at night without two functioning lights can lead to DNA swab — even if the rider is a minor."

Related Article: Watched: Police forces across the U.S. are stockpiling massive databases with personal information...

Government Use of Surveillance Devices must be Restricted: Privacy Experts
"Canada must acknowledge, and then constrain, the government’s use of portable surveillance devices that can indiscriminately dredge data from people’s smartphones without them knowing, privacy experts say.

Everything that is known or suspected about the government’s use of these machines – called 'IMSI catchers,' 'cell-site simulators' or 'Stingrays' – is chronicled in a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind, 130-page report written by privacy experts and released to The Globe and Mail.

Federal police have used these devices for more than a decade, but the practice was confirmed only this year in a series of stories in The Globe. Now, researchers Christopher Parsons and Tamir Israel say it’s time for civil society to debate the pros and cons of IMSI catchers, even if many government agencies still won’t discuss them."

View the Report
 
Incarceration in the U.S. Costs more than $1 Trillion a Year, Washington University Study Claims
"'The economic toll of incarceration in the U.S. tops $1 trillion, and more than half of that falls on the families and communities of the people incarcerated, according to a recent study by Washington University researchers.

 'For every dollar in corrections spending, there’s another 10 dollars of other types of costs to families, children and communities that nobody sees because it doesn’t end up on a state budget,' said Michael McLaughlin, the doctoral student and certified public accountant who led the study. 'Incarceration doesn’t happen in a vacuum.'

The study’s authors claim to be the first to assign an actual dollar amount to the societal costs of incarceration, not just the governmental costs of running corrections systems, which many experts estimate to be $80 billion.

That $80 billion number 'considerably underestimates the true cost of incarceration by ignoring important social costs'” the researchers wrote."

View the Working Paper
 
Want to End Mass Incarceration? This Poll should Worry You
"Do Americans really want to end mass incarceration? Or do they simply want to cut prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders?

These are two different questions: Although much of the focus on prison reform over the past few years has gone to nonviolent drug offenders, the rapid growth of the US prison population since the 1960s — which put America above even Russia and China in incarceration — was actually driven by longer sentences for violent crime.

A new poll by Morning Consult and Vox gives some insight: Americans agree there are too many people in prison — but they’re only willing to cut sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, not violent criminals."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Judge's Football Team Loses, Juvenile Sentences Go Up
"Kids who are sentenced by college-football-loving judges who are disappointed after unexpected team losses are finding themselves behind bars for longer than kids who are sentenced after wins or predicted losses.

That’s the gist of a new working paper by a pair of economists at Louisiana State University. It sounds almost comical, like an Onion headline, at first glance: 'Judge Sentences Teen to Two Years After Louisiana Tigers Fall to Wisconsin Badgers.' But, insists Naci Mocan, an economics professor at LSU and a co-author (with a fellow professor, Ozkan Eren) of 'Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles,' it’s not far off.

In looking at decisions handed down by judges in Louisiana’s juvenile courts between 1996 and 2012, the pair found that when LSU lost football games it was expected to win, judges—specifically those who had earned their bachelor’s degrees from the school—issued harsher sentences in the week following the loss. When the team was ranked in the top 10 before the losing game, kids wound up behind bars for about two months longer, on average. When the team was not as highly ranked, it was a little more than a month. The pair found that the harsher sentences disproportionately affected black defendants."

Unjust: How the Broken Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems Fail LGBTQ Youth
"This report offers a snapshot of ow the U.S. criminal justice system fails lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth.  As shown in the graphic on page 1, LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in juvenile detention centers: the percentage of LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth in juvenile detention is double that of LGBTQ youth in the general population.  LGBTQ youth, particularly LGBTQ youth of color, face discrimination and stigma that lead to criminalization and increased interactions with law enforcement and the criminal justice system.  Once within juvenile and criminal justice systems, LGBTQ youth face bias in adjudication and mistreatment and abuse in confinement facilities.  Finally, LGBTQ youth lack supportive services when leaving the criminal justice system, often forcing them back into negative interactions with law enforcement.

This report is a companion to a larger report released in February 2016 entitled Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People.  That report focuses on the larger LGBT population and provides more detailed analyses and statistics, innovative programs and personal stories, and detailed recommendations.  This companion report is designed to highlight the key issues that arise for LGBTQ youth within the criminal justice system.