Friday, January 11, 2019

Intra-City Differences in Federal Sentencing Practices
"This report examines variations in sentencing practices—and corresponding variations in sentencing outcomes—in the federal courts since the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in United States v. Booker. The United States Sentencing Commission analyzed the sentencing practices of federal district judges in 30 major cities located throughout the country to determine the extent of the judges’ variations in imposing sentences in relation to the city average.

This report is the second in a series of reports updating the analyses and findings of the Commission’s 2012 Report on the Continuing Impact of United States v. Booker on Federal Sentencing.


Although the trend of increasing differences among judges slowed after 2011, the increasing differences in sentencing practices first reported at the district level in the Commission’s 2012 Booker Report generally persist to this day, even within the same courthouse."

 Link to the Full Report
 

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Too Many Children Remanded in Custody
"A new (23 December 2018) report from Transform Justice shines an important light on the often neglected issue of remanding children custody. the report: Path of little resistance: is pre-trial detention of children really a last resort? written by Penelope Gibbs and Fionnuala Ratcliffe found that despite a large  fall in remands over the last decade, figures have been rising again in the last two years.

The law and funding for child remand were changed in 2012. The LASPO Act introduced more stringent criteria for the use of custodial remand (officially remand to youth detention accommodation), the elimination of an anomaly whereby sixteen and seventeen-year olds were treated differently to other children and the delegation of remand budgets to local authorities.

Link to the Full Report 
 

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Trans Women: The Unseen Victims of Human Trafficking
"...In this report, we document the vulnerabilities that surround the lives of trans adolescents and adults when they leave their homes, whether to simply express their sexual identity or whether they are driven out by violence from their families, and how this uprooting makes them easy targets for human trafficking or the child sex trade.

The main route for this kind of exploitation runs through the Peruvian jungle to Lima, then continues into countries such as Argentina and Italy. However, the full nature of this violence eludes most victims because they believe it is the price to pay for being who they are."

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Media Portrayals of Crime Create Problems
"Emotional public reactions to crime have always played an important role in shaping criminal justice.  This post draws from ten recent studies (listed and linked at the end of this post) to illustrate some of the ways in which media representations of crime lead to inaccurate public perceptions which in turn drive poorly thought-out laws and policies.  Three of the studies are by UK researcher Craig Harper, who has written quite a lot about the media and crime, especially sex crimes."

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The Dean of UCLA Law Explains the Uncertain Future of Forensic Science
"Shows like Law and Order and CSI have taught a generation of Americans that blood spatters and handwriting analysis are crucial for catching criminals. The reality, says UCLA School of Law dean Jennifer Mnookin, is that many of these so-called pattern evidence techniques used in forensic science are faulty and not supported by evidence. 

In fact, when it comes to wrongful conviction cases (where new DNA evidence proves that someone was innocent), bad forensic science is the second most frequent contributing factor, behind only eyewitness testimony. There are real, and harmful, consequences to forensic science in the courtroom."

Link to the Complete Article
 

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Broken Trust: The Rising Numbers of Women Recalled to Prison
"This small-scale study of recall gathered the perspectives of 24 women who had been recalled to prison. Our study found:
  • Almost a third (7/24) reported needing help with the combination of mental health needs, drug misuse and domestic violence
  • 19 women identified housing as the most important thing prisons must do to prepare people for release and 10 had been homeless at some point
  • 22 women disclosed being in risky situations while at liberty, including homelessness and domestic abuse; six were assaulted
  • 11 said they had been recalled for failing to keep in touch with their probation officer (‘responsible officer’).
The women said that their responsible (probation) officers were unable to support them indealing with the social challenges they faced on release, particularly regarding housing. Thethreat of recall accentuated the fault lines in supervision relationships that were already fragile,inhibiting women from confiding in their supervisors about their difficulties. The seriousbreakdown in communication and trust contributed to their recall."

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Restoring Something Lost - The Mental Health Impact of Therapy Dogs in Prisons
"...the Centre for Mental Health published a new report evaluating the impact of therapy dogs in a prison environment.  “Restoring something lost: The mental health impact of therapy dogs in prison”... describes the evaluation of a  therapy dog scheme introduced to three prisons in England’s North East by Rethink Mental Illness to pilot, develop and test initiatives which may reduce the risk of self-harm or self-inflicted death in prison. Rethink therapy dogs worked with women and men (including young men). The mental health benefits of therapy dogs have been demonstrated widely across health care settings. In the light of increasing rates of self-harm and suicide in prisons, the Centre for Mental Health explored whether these benefits could be replicated amongst people in prisons.

Evaluating the work of Rethink Mental Illness in three prison sites, Dr Durcan found that the therapy dogs had a calming influence on prisoners, helped increase coping skills and strategies, and provided a safe space for them to explore ways of expressing and processing emotions."

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Harm Reduction: Shifting from a War on Drugs to a War on Drug-Related Deaths
"The U.S. government’s current strategy of trying to restrict the supply of opioids for nonmedical uses is not working. While government efforts to reduce the supply of opioids for nonmedical use have reduced the volume of both legally manufactured prescription opioids and opioid prescriptions, deaths from opioid overdoses are nevertheless accelerating. Research shows the increase is due in part to substitution of illegal heroin for now harder-to-get prescription opioids. Attempting to reduce overdose deaths by doubling down on this approach will not produce better results.

Policymakers can reduce overdose deaths and other harms stemming from nonmedical use of opioids and other dangerous drugs by switching to a policy of 'harm reduction' strategies. Harm reduction has a success record that prohibition cannot match. It involves a range of public health options. These strategies would include medication-assisted treatment, needle-exchange programs, safe injection sites, heroin-assisted treatment, deregulation of naloxone, and the decriminalization of marijuana. Though critics have dismissed these strategies as surrendering to addiction, jurisdictions that have attempted them have found they significantly reduce overdose deaths, the spread of infectious diseases, and even the nonmedical use of dangerous drugs."

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Police-Reported Violence Against Girls and Young Women in Canada, 2017
"While the overall rate of police-reported violence against girls and young women fell from 2009 to 2017, the rate for sexual offences rose by 31% over the same period.

Violence affects both males and females, but in different ways. For example, girls and young women are more likely to be victims of sexual offences, and violence is more commonly perpetrated by someone close to them. In contrast, violence against boys and young men is most often related to physical assault offences, and it is more commonly perpetrated by a stranger or a casual acquaintance.

Detailed information is provided in the Juristat article, 'Police-reported violence against girls and young women in Canada, 2017.'"

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Winter Thaws Can Bring Violent Crime Spikes: Study
"Criminologists have long known crime rates go up in the summer, but new research published in the journal GeoHealth also connects sharp climate changes in cold weather to higher crime rates.

Researchers looked at the specific impact weather has on violent crime during the winter months, when crime rates generally are thought to drop. They found that the relationship between temperature and violent crime was strong in the winter as well as the summer.

'As an example, it’s usually 20 degrees in Boulder, [but a rise on a] January day to 40 degrees will have more of a difference on peoples’ behaviors than going, say, 60 degrees to 80 degrees in the summer,' said lead researcher Ryan D. Harp, a PhD student at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The study, entitled 'The Influence of Interannual Climate Variability on Regional Violent Crime Rates in the United States,' gathered crime data from the Uniform Crime Reporting program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and collected climate data form the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, part of the National Oceanic Administration."

Link to Complete Study
 

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Correctional Control 2018: Incarceration and Supervision by State
"The U.S. has a staggering 2.3 million people behind bars, but even this number doesn’t capture the true scale of our correctional system. For a complete picture of our criminal justice system, it’s more accurate to look at the 6.7 million people under correctional control, which includes not only incarceration but also probation and parole.

The vast majority of people under correctional control are on probation and parole, collectively known as community supervision (or community corrections). An estimated 4.5 million adults are under community supervision, nearly twice the number of people who are incarcerated in jails and prisons combined. Yet despite the massive number of people under their control, parole and probation have not received nearly as much attention as incarceration. Only with recent high-profile cases (such as Meek Mill’s probation revocation) has the public begun to recognize the injustices plaguing probation and parole systems, which set people up to fail with long supervision terms, onerous restrictions, and constant scrutiny. Touted as alternatives to incarceration, these systems often impose conditions that make it difficult for people to succeed, and therefore end up channeling people into prisons and jails."

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Project Inclusion: Confronting Anti-Homeless & Anti-Substance User Stigma in British Columbia
"By centring and amplifying the voices and experiences of people most affected by BC’s homelessness crisis and drug policy crisis, Project Inclusion identifies the legal, policy-related, and other structural barriers that must be addressed in order to meaningfully prevent opioid-related deaths and other health and safety harms, particularly among people who are experiencing homelessness and people in deep poverty who use substances.

Project Inclusion is the culmination of over a year of research by Pivot Legal Society lawyers and researchers, who travelled to ten communities across BC’s five regional health authorities. Working from the perspective that people are experts in their own lives and hold powerful visions for change, the Pivot team interviewed people about their experiences of homelessness, with accessing harm reduction and health care services, with the criminal justice system, and with accessing services such as income assistance, shelters, and hospitals."


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A Collective Impact: Interim Report on the Inquiry into Racial Profiling and Racial Discrimination of Black Persons by the Toronto Police Service
"Between 2013 and 2017, a Black person in Toronto was nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto Police Service (TPS). Despite making up only 8.8% of Toronto’s population, data obtained by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) shows that Black people were over-represented in use of force cases (28.8%), shootings (36%), deadly encounters (61.5%) and fatal shootings (70%). Black men make up 4.1% of Toronto’s population, yet were complainants in a quarter of SIU cases alleging sexual assault by TPS officers.

SIU Director’s Reports reveal a lack of legal basis for police stopping or detaining Black civilians in the first place; inappropriate or unjustified searches during encounters; and unnecessary charges or arrests. The information analyzed by the OHRC also raises broader concerns about officer misconduct, transparency and accountability. Courts and arms-length oversight bodies have found that TPS officers have sometimes provided biased and untrustworthy testimony, have inappropriately tried to stop the recording of incidents and/or have failed to cooperate with the SIU."

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Reintegration in Ontario: Practices, Priorities, and Effective Models
"The reintegration of individuals exiting correctional facilities (hereafter 'releasees') in Ontario into the larger community has widespread implications for those being released, their families, and the broader society. While many releasees are in need of reintegrative supports, they often struggle to find stable housing, employment and/or educational opportunities, and access to necessary social, physical, and mental health services. Not only are these problems compounded by the social stigma of being labelled 'an ex-offender' or 'an ex-con', but also the lack of communication between stakeholders and a fragmented service provision model stretched across a large number of front-line service providers.

Addressing the complex needs of releasees through effective programs, services and practices is crucial for successful reintegration. Research literature is clear that successful reintegration is one of the primary factors in reducing recidivism. Reduction in further criminal justice involvement by releasees has significant implications on enhancing community safety."

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