Friday, November 30, 2012

Larry DePrimo, NYPD Cop, Buys Homeless Man Boots


As of late Wednesday, the photo had been shared 47,716 times, boosting subscribers to the department's 5-month-old page by 7,000, to 95,000, officials said.
"I had two pairs of wool winter socks and combat boots, and I was cold," DePrimo, 25, said Wednesday, recalling the night of Nov. 14, when he encountered an unidentified, shoeless man on the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue near 44th Street.
DePrimo offered to get him socks and shoes.
"I never had a pair of shoes," the man replied, according to DePrimo, who's assigned to the Sixth Precinct and has been on the force nearly three years.

Read on...

Here’s the ‘extremist’ Pussy Riot video a Russian court wants banned from the web

A Russian court ruled on Thursday that video footage of the Pussy Riot punk group protesting against President Vladimir Putin in a church was “extremist” and should be removed from websites.

The demonstration last February offended many Russian Orthodox Christians. But Putin has been criticized by U.S. and European leaders over what they saw as disproportionate jail sentences imposed on three Pussy Riot members. Their trial was also seen by Putin’s critics as part of a clampdown on dissent.

Read on...


Who, What, Why: What happened to crime in New York City?


Police men and a police dog stand next to a police van 
 
For more than 36 hours in New York City, no-one was shot, stabbed, or otherwise killed. The crime freeze began after 22:25 on Sunday, when a man was shot in the head, and continued until another man was shot at 11:20 on Tuesday.

Though the break in violent crime marked the first time in recent memory such an event had occurred, the figure doesn't surprise criminologists.

"I'm surprised it's just the first day this has happened," says Alfred Blumstein, a professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Considering, says Blumstein, that there were only 472 homicides in New York last year, with this year on track for even fewer, the odds of a violent-crime free day are favourable.

Read on...

This reminds me of the time crime took a holiday in Milan.  Tom
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"At least 8 shots"

By now you've all heard the story that a middle-aged white man, Michael Dunn, visiting Jacksonville, Florida, for his son's wedding, shot "at least 8 shots" at four African American teenagers in an SUV while waiting outside a convenience store. Dunn killed 17 year old Jordan Davis, allegedly, because he claimed he was in fear for his life after he initiated a dispute with the teens over the loud music they were playing. There were no weapons in the vehicle into which he fired "at least 8 shots" from his gun, bullets that ultimately claimed the life of Jordan. In other words the kids he fired "at least 8 shots" at from his handgun were unarmed. Mr. Dunn was the only one carrying.

Dunn's daughter has given an interview in which she claims her father is not like George Zimmerman in any respect. According to her, Dunn is not a racist, is a good man and loving father and is heartbroken at the death of of young Jordan. He's no "vigilante" claims Dunn's lawyer. This was all simply a horrible tragedy and when the truth comes out Mr. Dunn will have been shown to have acted reasonably when he fired "at least 8 shots" into the backseat of the SUV where Jordan was sitting.

Oh and Dunn's attorney has indicated that he plans to rely upon Florida's notorious "stand your ground" law to claim self defense. Now, it's not often that a person can fire "at least 8 shots" at an unarmed teenager and claim he was acting in self defense, but then that's the "beauty" of Florida's Statute Sections 776.012 for criminal defense attorneys. It expands the universe where defense can be used to avoid prosecution or conviction when you shoot someone with your firearm. Here's the text of the law:

Read  on....

It just goes on and on.....Tom

Crazy Making

The Supreme Court is wrong to let Idaho have no insanity defense.

Jared Loughner.
Months of treatment was required before Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people outside an Arizona grocery store, could understand the charges against him Courtesy Pima County Sheriff Forensic Unit.
Earlier this month, Jared Loughner was sentenced to life in prison at a sober proceeding in which survivors of his terrible shooting spree in Arizona, and their families, recognized the role his schizophrenia played in his crimes. They talked about their understandable hurt and anger, and they also recognized that Loughner didn’t get the mental health care he needed. (Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, whom Loughner shot in the head, usefully highlighted the expiration a decade ago of the federal law that banned the sale of the rapid-fire ammunition clips Loughner used.)

It took months of medication and treatment for Loughner to understand the charges against him. That comes as no surprise, given the disturbed-looking photos of him after the crime. And the country got a similar view of violence and untreated mental illness in James Holmes, the 24-year-old who shot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July. Both Loughner and Holmes spiraled out of control while enrolled at a university yet fell through the holes of the health care net that should have caught them. This is a story we’ve been hearing since at least the 2007 mass killing by a student at Virginia Tech.

Read on...

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mississippi County Jails Kids For School Dress Code Violations, Tardiness, DOJ Alleges

In Meridian, Miss., it is school officials – not police – who determine who should be arrested. Schools seeking to discipline students call the police, and police policy is to arrest all children referred to the agency, according to a Department of Justice lawsuit. The result is a perverse system that funnels children as young as ten who merely misbehave in class into juvenile detention centers without basic constitutional procedures. The lawsuit, which follows unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with the county, challenges the constitutionality of punishing children “so arbitrarily and severely as to shock the conscience” and alleging that the city’s police department acts as a de facto “taxi service” in shuttling students from school to juvenile detention centers. Colorlines explains:
Once those children are in the juvenile justice system, they are denied basic constitutional rights. They are handcuffed and incarcerated for days without any hearing and subsequently warehoused without understanding their alleged probation violations.
To illustrate how this system works, Colorlines provides the example of Cedrico Green. When he was in eighth grade, he was put on probation for getting in a fight. After that one incident, every subsequent offense was deemed a probation violation — from wearing the wrong color socks, to talking back to a teacher – and the consequence was a return to juvenile detention. He couldn’t even remember how many times he had been back in detention, but guessed 30 times – time when he wasn’t in school, fell behind in his schoolwork and subsequently failed several classes, even though he said he liked school.

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Welcome to "Crime," Slate's New Crime Blog About Crime

Hi, I'm Justin Peters, intrepid freelancer and general liability. Earlier this month, I wrote about my efforts to infiltrate the ranks of Manhattan hipster circles by growing a beard and shaving my pubes. Now, I'll be your guide to another seamy, amoral underworld.

Welcome to Slate's new crime blog, which we’ve imaginatively titled “Crime.” Consider it your cheerful, insatiably curious guide to everything illegal. I'll be examining the wide world of crime, punishment, and recidivism on a daily basis, writing about the most murderous gatmen and the most devious yeggs.

Why a crime blog? Mercy, everyone loves crime. More to the point, though, there's a dearth of smart, non-sensationalistic crime coverage on the Internet these days. I plan to write about horrible things in a non-horrible manner.

What are my qualifications? Well, I was burglarized last year, which was unsettling. (As it turns out, I have nothing of value to steal, which was even more unsettling.) I was a background extra in the movie Curly Sue, so I've got unparalleled insight into crimes involving homeless grifters with hearts of gold and their adorably sassy adopted daughters. I've read everything ever written by Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, and Franklin W. Dixon. And, of course, every Christmas I go down to the homeless shelter and distribute cakes laced with arsenic.

Read on...

Marijuana Decriminalization Drops Youth Crime Rates by Stunning 20% in One Year

Arresting and putting low-level juvenile offenders into the criminal-justice system pulls many kids deeper into trouble rather than turning them around.

Marijuana — it’s one of the primary reasons why California experienced a stunning 20 percent drop in juvenile arrests in just one year, between 2010 and 2011, according to provocative new research. 

The San Francisco-based Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice (CJCJ) recently released a policy briefing with an analysis of arrest data collected by the California Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center. The briefing, “ California Youth Crime Plunges to All-Time Low ,” identifies a new state marijuana decriminalization law that applies to juveniles, not just adults, as the driving force behind the  plummeting arrest totals.

After the new pot law went into effect in January 2011, simple marijuana possession arrests of California juveniles fell from 14,991 in 2010 to 5,831 in 2011, a 61 percent difference, the report by CJCJ senior research fellow Mike Males found.  

Read on....

Does Ritalin Reduce Crime or Does it Help Criminals Avoid Getting Caught?

We all know that Ritalin is great for calming unruly children and helping college students cram for their midterms. But does it also help fight crime? The New York Times recently wrote up a study that purportedly showed that those who suffer from “serious attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” are less likely to commit crimes when they’re taking their medication. Pam Belluck reports:
Of 8,000 people whose medication use fluctuated over a three-year period, men were 32 percent less likely and women were 41 percent less likely to have criminal convictions while on medication. Patients were primarily young adults, many with a history of hospitalization. Crimes included assault, drug offenses and homicide as well as less serious crimes. Medication varied, but many took stimulants like Ritalin.
Though the study is preliminary, the results make some sense, if you assume that at least some criminal behavior stems from chemical imbalances in the brain. But the most interesting question raised by the Times story came from a Yale School of Public Health professor, who wondered if “[ADHD] medication is reducing crime or ‘making better criminals,’ who avoid arrest.”

Read on...

The Reality of Life Inside Immigration Detention


 
 
In the last 15 years, we've witnessed a dramatic expansion in the jailing of immigrants, from about 70,000 people detained annually to about 400,000.  In the mid-1990’s, during the height of an anti-immigrant backlash, Congress passed a series of harsh measures that led to a vast increase in unnecessary detention. This trend has been exacerbated by the private prison industry and county jails looking to exploit immigrant detention for profit.

The cost of this system today is 1.7 billion dollars at taxpayer expense.

In detention, immigrants continue to be subject to punitive treatment, and are denied basic needs, such as contact with lawyers and loved ones, inadequate food and hygiene, and access to fresh air and sunlight. They continue to get injured, sick, and die without timely medical care. They continue to endure racial slurs and discriminatory treatment by prison staff, and are vulnerable to rape and assault.  Since 2003, a reported 131 people have died in immigration custody.

These conditions are unacceptable and not in the spirit of the Administration’s promised reforms.

 Read on...
 

Why Are Police Allowed to Break Into Your Phone?

A New York Times review of court cases and legislation around the country shows that there are no uniform rules when it comes to whether law enforcement can search cell phone records and use the data as evidence. 

The judicial system around the country is sharply divided on the legality of searching cell phone records and using that evidence for the prosecution of criminal suspects. A New York Times review of court cases and legislation shows that there are no uniform rules when it comes to whether law enforcement can search cell phone records and use the data as evidence. 

In Rhode Island, a judge threw out evidence used to convict Michael Patino, a 30-year-old resident of the state, because, according to the judge, the police obtained cell phone data improperly. But a Washington court said that cell phone text messages are similar to voice mail messages that can be heard by anyone in a room, and are therefore not subjected to privacy laws.

Read on...

Alito Rising: What to Expect From the Supreme Court’s New Alpha Conservative

“The Supreme Court follows the election returns,” or so opined satirist Finley Peter Dunne in 1901 in language purged of its original Irish brogue (see Chapter 3 of Dunne’s Mr. Dooley book). Back then, the court was headed by Melville Weston Fuller, its eighth chief justice, under whose enlightened stewardship it handed down Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous decision that upheld the constitutionality of state laws requiring people of different races to use “separate but equal” public facilities.

What Dunne meant, of course, was that the court was a partisan political institution, often less dedicated to following constitutional values than currying favor with the nation’s elites, and that it was also capable of responding to shifts in public opinion. So it was at the turn of the last century and so it is today. 

But exactly how the court reads and reacts to elections is by no means a given. Thus we must ask whether the court’s current ultraconservative Republican majority will interpret Barack Obama’s re-election as a call for reflection and moderation or as a signal to lurch even harder to the right. At least one member of the Republican majority—Justice Samuel Alito—has answered that he sees no reason to do anything but double down on past practices.  

Read on...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities: Promising Practices from the Field

Today, approximately 40 million foreign-born people live in the United States, seven million of whom arrived within the past eight years. Because very little is known about how most police agencies nationwide work with immigrant communities, in 2010, Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to identify and disseminate information on law enforcement practices that cultivate trust and collaboration with immigrant communities and merit replication. Staff from Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice solicited information from more than 1,000 agencies in jurisdictions with large immigrant populations and evaluated nearly 200 agencies’ practices. The resulting multimedia resource—report, toolkit, podcasts— features the efforts of 10 law enforcement agencies of different sizes, capacities, and circumstances. Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities is a practical, field-informed guide for community policing professionals seeking to begin or build upon their work with immigrant communities and immigrant community leaders looking to collaborate effectively with law enforcement.

Read on...

Following Obama’s Victory, Wisconsin Governor Proposes New Limits On Voter Registration

Two weeks after Barack Obama and Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) carried the state of Wisconsin with the support of minorities and young voters, Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced one of his major policy proposals for the upcoming session: ending the state’s 40-year old law that allows citizens to register to vote on Election Day.

And with Republicans now back in control of the Wisconsin state legislature, Walker may well get his way next year.

In 2008, Wisconsin enjoyed the second highest turnout of any state in the nation (72.4 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot), due largely to the fact the Badger State law allows residents who aren’t registered or have recently moved to register at the polls. That year, approximately 460,000 people used Election Day Registration, 15 percent of all Wisconsinites who cast a ballot.

Walker pressed his case for ending same-day registration during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in California on Friday:

Read on...

Florida Lays Off State Workers After Outsourcing Prisoners’ Health Care To A Private Company

Now that Florida’s Department of Corrections has auctioned off the job of providing state inmates with health services to the highest-bidding companies, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is moving ahead with his controversial plan to privatize prisoners’ health care. Since Florida is now locked into a contract with Corizon Healthcare of Nashville, and plans to sign a second contract with Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, Gov. Scott’s administration has already begun to lay off nearly two thousand state workers whose jobs have now become obsolete.
As the Miami Herald reports, nearly 2,000 state workers are beginning to receive notices that their jobs are ending, as part of the nation’s biggest push to outsource prisoners’ health care to private companies:

“Due to the outsourcing of this function, your position will be deleted,” reads a dryly worded dismissal notice from the Department of Corrections, sent to 1,890 state employees in the past two weeks. [...]
In the dismissal letters, prison officials emphasize that dismissed workers will get first consideration for new jobs at one of the two for-profit vendors, though with fewer benefits. The workers also expect to pay more out of their pockets for their own health insurance.
Many make less than $35,000 a year, have not had a raise in six years and live in economically distressed areas home to many state prisons, including Bradford, Dixie, Levy, Suwannee and Union counties.
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Marco Rubio Is ‘Not a Scientist’

Marco Rubio in Altoona, Iowa. Marco Rubio is a Republican senator from Florida. He is sometimes called the “crown prince” of the Tea Party movement. He will likely run for president in 2016. He sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He is not a scientist.
As has been widely re-reported, the December issue of GQ features an interview with Mr. Rubio in which Michael Hainey asked, “How old do you think the Earth is?”

Read on...

This is from the NYTimes.  Tom

Portraits of Addiction

A Manhattan banker shoots portraits of drug abuse, sex work, and homelessness in the Bronx.


vanessa-arnade.jpgIn his portraits of sex workers and the homeless struggling with addiction, photographer Chris Arnade is neither demanding an increase in social services or gawking from the sidelines at others' degradation. At their core, his "Faces of Addiction" portraits are simply about watching and listening to other people. Arnade repeatedly declares his one simple objective at the end of each detailed photo caption: "I post people's stories as they tell them to me. I am not a journalist. I don't try to verify, just listen."
 

Aboriginal sentencing rules ignored due to lack of funding, interest

Thirteen years after the Supreme Court of Canada issued a demand for information that would enable trial judges to pass more culturally sensitive sentences for aboriginal defendants, its edict has been largely ignored in much of the country.

In most regions, a lack of funding or a lack of interest has meant that detailed reports delving into the background of offenders are simply not prepared.

Yet, these documents – named Gladue reports after the defendant in the 1999 Supreme Court’s decision from which they evolved – are a vital aid to judges considering the impact on a defendant of the historical mistreatment of aboriginal communities. At the core of the Gladue decision was a deep concern with the over-representation of aboriginal people in jail. When judges are deprived of rich, case-specific information, aboriginal offenders are much more likely to be thrown in jail at a disproportionate rate.

“The reports are indispensable,” said Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench. “If you don’t get the best information with respect to the individual background and sentencing options, the judge is not in a position to come to the fit and proper sentence that Gladue requires.”

Read on...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How California’s Three-Strikes Law Struck Out

It was slain by a couple of professors, their students, and a district attorney who wanted reform.

In last week’s election, California voters made a decision that was at once historic and obvious: They reformed the state’s infamously harsh three-strikes law. Proposition 36, the ballot measure that passed with an amazing 69 percent of the vote, changed the state’s three-strikes law so that offenders who have committed no serious and violent crime will no longer go to prison for life. The vote was historic because when voters see crime measures on the ballot, they almost always pull the lever in favor of retribution, not mercy. And yet this time the result was also a no-brainer: The state was locking up petty thieves and shoplifters for life, and given the chance to stop this, the voters resoundingly did.

The original three-strikes ballot measure passed in California in 1994, following the terrible murder-kidnapping of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, who was snatched from her own slumber party. The killer turned out to be a criminal with a violent past who was out on parole. That was all voters needed to hear to pass a measure that said it would keep “career criminals who rape women, molest children and commit murder behind bars where they belong.”

But as the Los Angeles Times pointed out in an editorial this week, it’s not clear that Californians intended to go beyond the rapists, murderers, and molesters to permanently lock up offenders like Norman Williams, whom I wrote about for the New York Times Magazine two years ago. Williams’ third strike was a conviction for petty theft in 1997: He stole the floor jack of a tow truck when he was homeless and addicted to drugs. His earlier crimes also weren’t the work of a hardened and dangerous career criminal: In 1982, he burglarized an empty apartment while it was being fumigated. After he was robbed at gunpoint on the way out, he helped the police find the stuff he’d stolen. In 1992, he tried to steal tools from an art studio. When the owner confronted him, he dropped everything and ran.

Read on...

 

Google: Government Surveillance Requests Are Way Up—and the U.S. Is the Leader

Skeptics often dismiss those concerned about growing levels of surveillance as paranoid conspiracy theorists. But Google’s latest transparency report, released Tuesday, shows the fears are grounded in reality: Government surveillance is on the rise.

Every six months Google publishes transparency reports to disclose how many requests it has received from government agencies to hand over user data or take down content. Yesterday's figures reveal Google received 20,938 inquiries from government entities around the world for user data in the first half of this year—a 55 percent increase in requests received during the same period in 2010. The United States by far made the most requests for user data, submitting more than one-third of the 20,938 received. India was second, followed by Brazil.

Read on...

Rethinking Prison through Art and Research



Sarah Armstrong is a visiting scholar at the Centre and is working on this project. She will be giving a talk on it at the Centre in January. Sarah is also a contributor to a great blog about this research.  Here is a link to her blog.  

And here is the press release describing an exhibition about this project.



Rethinking Prison through Art and Research

A unique collaboration between art and academia offers new insights into what punishment is and how it works. Glasgow-based artist Jenny Wicks spent nine months working alongside criminologists from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), University of Glasgow.

The results will be showcased at HMP Barlinnie and The Briggait Gallery in an installation/exhibition that incorporates film broadcast on surveillance monitors, audio and large format fine art photography.

Wicks gained unprecedented access to prisons across Scotland including HMP Low Moss, Scotland’s newest prison, prior to its opening for ‘business’. Through photographic imagery and audiowork Jenny’s collaborative project discovers and explores some of the hidden parts of punishment. 

Wicks commented, “Much of the work on prisons, what influences our understanding of what they are like, is a kind of gritty realism found in stereotypical pictures of cell doors or exercise yards.”

She continued, “I was interested to see that both myself as an artist and the criminologists who research this stuff wanted to challenge these stock images and show the experience of punishment in a different way.”

A unique aspect of this project was its inclusion not just of prisoners but also prison staff, governors and criminologists in a series of ‘mugshot’ portraits. These were made using traditional photography techniques that required subjects to sit without moving for an extended period. The result are a set of peaceful faces any of which might be of a criminal, a guard or a scientist. Set alongside images of the prison’s interior, the viewer is asked to think about whether this is the place of someone’s sentence, day at the office or research site.

Professor Fergus McNeill, a leading expert on rehabilitation, and one of the mugshot subjects, noted, “So much of how prisons are presented in society make prisoners out to be different from ‘normal’ people. But you can see in these photos a gentleness and even sadness or innocence in them. All of us do harm and all of us can help or heal. I really believe that the effectiveness of criminal justice depends on breaking down the barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Jenny’s art goes some way towards doing this.”

Senior Research Fellow Dr Sarah Armstrong, another criminologist involved in the project, said, “We are limited as researchers in how we communicate. We can write any number of reports and point to statistics about the effectiveness of prison sentences. Jenny’s project transcends paperwork to show vividly how prison can be so many things at once – terrifying, boring, punitive and rehabilitating. This project makes clear how much potential there is for research in looking at things more creatively.”

Wicks said: “As the residency progressed I was constantly struck by the co-existence of the shocking and the ordinary that marks the experience of punishment.

“Suicide watch cells, the back of a prisoner transport van, a storage room holding physical restraint chairs and Zimmer frames mark sites of extreme human experience, and yet at the same time are part of someone’s day at the office. Exploring this dynamic tension was a key aim of the project.”

The project, entitled ‘Working Spaces, Punishing Spaces: The Meaning and Construction of Place through Criminological Research’ was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and Creative Scotland.

After launching at HMP Barlinnie on 7 November the exhibition will travel to a number of other prisons prior to its public show at The Briggait Gallery, Glasgow 27 February – 3 March 2013. An ongoing project blog seeks to involve anyone interested in these issues: http://punishingphotography.wordpress.com/

ENDS


For further information / Use of pictures / Interviews: nick.wade@glasgow.ac.uk – 0141 330 7126 – 07837 097 159



EXHIBITION VENUES AND DATES

Private Showings:       HMP Barlinnie*  7-21 November 2012
        HMP Greenock    early 2013
        HMP Shotts      early 2013
        HMP Low Moss    early 2013

        *Press access can be arranged.

Public Exhibition:      The Briggait (Glasgow)  27 Feb-23 Mar 2013
        Opening Night (all welcome)     1 Mar 2013, 6:30-8:30

The Briggait is located at 141 Bridgegate, Glasgow G1 5HZ. Opening hours are Mon-Fri from 10 am to 6 pm; Saturdays from 12 pm to 6 pm. Admission is free and open to all.



 

Evidence and Investigation: From the Crime Scene to the Courtroom

This is a new book by Kerry Watkins a Centre Alumnus.

Evidence and Investigation: From the Crime Scene to the Courtroom
With an author team consisting of a police investigator, an experienced criminal defence lawyer, and a forensic scientist (all teaching in their fields), Evidence and Investigation: From the Crime Scene to the Courtroom describes the factors that make evidence valuable in the courtroom and points to the common pitfalls that can weaken an otherwise promising investigation. This new text also explores the many uses of forensic science in an investigation, with current and high-profile examples such as the Russell Williams case and, even more recently, the Shafia family case.
The book is divided into three parts that introduces readers to the legal considerations and best practices in collecting evidence at the crime scene and throughout an investigation, and presenting it in a courtroom. Part I provides a working knowledge of the law of evidence, explaining the basics of a criminal trial, types of evidence, and the rules governing admissibility.
Part II includes a description of the current law governing search and seizure activities and the requirements for Charter-compliant searches. The importance of continuity and the collection of evidence free of taint is underscored, as is the importance of accurate record-keeping. The authors outline the most current information on digital evidence, DNA evidence, crime labs, death investigations, and the forensic sciences. The rules and techniques that apply to conducting interviews with both witness and suspects are clearly set out.
Part III returns to the courtroom, focusing on cross-examination and providing prospective officers with an understanding of this often-gruelling and little-understood stage of a trial. This part provides a wealth of advice on how to function professionally in the witness box and give evidence fully, fairly, and firmly.
For instructors, this text comes with a comprehensive Instructor's Guide, PowerPoint presentations, and a test bank.

Here is a link to the publishing info.

Drug War Poll Shows Americans Believe U.S. Is Losing

Americans believe overwhelmingly that the U.S. is losing the war on drugs and are unenthusiastic about spending more money to win it, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday.

The national telephone survey found only 7 percent of American adults think the United States is winning the war on drugs, while 82 percent say the country is losing and 12 percent aren't sure. That's a marked decrease in support since AngusReid Public Opinion last posed the question in June, when two-thirds of Americans considered it a failure.

The U.S. government's war on drugs, officially launched in 1971, costs an estimated $20 billion to $25 billion annually in anti-drug policy efforts alone, according to reporting from The New York Times. That doesn't include the tremendous costs associated with prosecuting and incarcerating drug offenders. Meanwhile, hard drug use in America remains steady.

Only 23 percent of survey responders felt the U.S. doesn't spend enough on the war on drugs, while 34 percent think it spends too much. Other poll findings:

Read on...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After Failed Death Penalty Repeal, California Could See Spate of Executions

In the California county that houses the nation's largest death row, voters overwhelmingly endorsed an end to executions on Tuesday. But Proposition 34, which would have repealed the death penalty and replaced it with life without parole (LWOP), was rejected statewide by a 53–47 percent margin. The measure drew fire from sentencing reform advocates concerned with embracing LWOP, sometimes called “the other death penalty.” But now that Prop. 34 has failed, the Golden State could see a wave of executions. 

More than 700 prisoners await execution at San Quentin State Prison. But none have been carried out since 2006, when a federal judge ruled that the state's three-drug lethal injection procedure could put prisoners in agonizing pain if administered incorrectly. Though the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began overhauling its procedures in response, the new protocols have remained in limbo in state courts.

But next week, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe will attempt to bypass the de facto moratorium by asking a judge to allow the execution of Robert Fairbank, who has exhausted his state and federal appeals, with a single lethal drug. Six states currently use such a procecure, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. If the judge grants this request, executions could proceed at an unprecented pace—California has 13 other inmates who have run out their appeals process. 

Read on...

The Conservative War on Prisons

Right-wing operatives have decided that prisons are a lot like schools: hugely expensive, inefficient, and in need of root-and-branch reform. Is this how progress will happen in a hyper-polarized world?


American streets are much safer today than they were thirty years ago, and until recently most conservatives had a simple explanation: more prison beds equal less crime. This argument was a fulcrum of Republican politics for decades, boosting candidates from Richard Nixon to George H. W. Bush and scores more in the states. Once elected, these Republicans (and their Democratic imitators) built prisons on a scale that now exceeds such formidable police states as Russia and Iran, with 3 percent of the American population behind bars or on parole and probation.

Now that crime and the fear of victimization are down, we might expect Republicans to take a victory lap, casting safer streets as a vindication of their hard line. Instead, more and more conservatives are clambering down from the prison ramparts. Take Newt Gingrich, who made a promise of more incarceration an item of his 1994 Contract with America. Seventeen years later, he had changed his tune. “There is an urgent need to address the astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential,” Gingrich wrote in 2011. “The criminal-justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it.”

Read on...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mexico says marijuana legalization in U.S. could change anti-drug strategies

The decision by voters in Colorado and Washington state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has left Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his team scrambling to reformulate their anti-drug strategies in light of what one senior aide said was a referendum that “changes the rules of the game.”

It is too early to know what Mexico’s response to the successful ballot measures will be, but a top aide said Peña Nieto and members of his incoming administration will discuss the issue with President Obama and congressional leaders in Washington this month. The legalization votes, however, are expected to spark a broad debate in Mexico about the direction and costs of the U.S.-backed drug war here.

Mexico spends billions of dollars each year confronting violent trafficking organizations that threaten the security of the country but whose main market is the United States, the largest consumer of drugs in the world.

Read on...

‘The Fight Over Medical Marijuana’

Our federal marijuana policy is increasingly out of step with both the values of American citizens and with state law. The result is a system of justice that is schizophrenic and at times appalling.

Though the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I Controlled Substance and bans its use for medical purposes, a growing number of states feel differently. Today, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana for people suffering from debilitating medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy, severe nausea, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. And on Tuesday, Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize marijuana for adult use, regardless of medical condition. But these states cannot stop the federal government from enforcing its own laws. 

And federal drug laws are unjustifiably extreme. Consider the case of Chris Williams, the subject of this Op-Doc video, who opened a marijuana grow house in Montana after the state legalized medical cannabis. Mr. Williams was eventually arrested by federal agents despite Montana’s medical marijuana law, and he may spend the rest of his life behind bars. While Jerry Sandusky got a 30-year minimum sentence for raping young boys, Mr. Williams is looking at a mandatory minimum of more than 80 years for marijuana charges and for possessing firearms during a drug-trafficking offense. 


This is an op-ed from the NY Times. Tom

Police vs. public scrutiny

Withholding information from the public about the use of force by officers only serves to undermine confidence in police, especially in Los Angeles.

Kennedy Garcia, 23, was one of a group of suspected graffiti vandals in the process of being arrested and handcuffed by police on Oct. 12 when he reportedly took off running. The police called for backup, and two officers in the South L.A. neighborhood spotted him trying to crawl under an SUV. They dragged him out by the ankles and, although he was reportedly lying on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back, saw something metallic that they mistook for a gun. Both opened fire, and Kennedy was critically wounded after being shot in the back. He was not armed.

This is now public information, no thanks to the Los Angeles Police Department. At the time, the LAPD put out a news release making the incident sound like a routine officer-involved shooting — no mention was made of the handcuffs, nor that Kennedy was lying prone. After The Times questioned police brass, they acknowledged the additional details and said they were withheld to avoid tainting witness testimony. That's plausible, but we can think of a few other reasons they might have wanted to keep the affair out of the headlines.

Read on... 

This is an editorial from the LA Times.  Tom