Friday, September 26, 2014

Police and Crime Rates in Canada
There is growing public concern over the rising cost and sustainability of police services given that crime rates continue to decline. Indeed, between 2001 and 2012, the number of police officers per 100,000 population in Canada rose 8.7% while the crime rate declined by 26.3%.

This study reviews the literature on the relationship between police resources and crime rates and then examines trends in crime rates and police resources in Canada. It also estimates the “efficiency” of police staffing across Canadian cities using a determinants approach that first estimates the relationship between the number of police officers per 100,000 in population and the crime rate, controlling for other factors. It then uses that relationship to estimate the predicted number of officers relative to the actual figure. The purpose is to assess whether the efficiency of municipal policing can be improved.

View the Report

Another Perspective:  Jack Knox: Documentation Rules Make Fighting Crime a Costly Business

Most Sex Workers in Canada "Don't See Themselves as Victims," National Study Finds
Most sex workers in Canada are comfortable in their work, according to a landmark national survey of prostitutes, their partners, clients and managers.

Researchers were in Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday to present preliminary findings from Understanding Sex Work, an ambitious ongoing study of the industry, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

During debate over the Conservative government’s new prostitution law, which seeks to criminalize the purchase of sex with the goal of abolishing the industry, the bill’s supporters have portrayed sex work as intrinsically exploitive.

But the study, which is based on hundreds of interviews in six Canadian communities, found that 70 per cent of sex workers are satisfied with their jobs. Eighty-two per cent feel they are appropriately paid and 68 per cent feel they have good job security.

Crime Prevention Ottawa Releases Gang Plan
One year later, Crime Prevention Ottawa has released what they believe is a positive update on the approach being taken to combat gangs in the city.

They've come up with a list of eight initiatives they're working on.

Those are; building a community leadership network for families, developing a post-incident neighbourhood support protocol, enhancing risk identification tools, supporting families with at-risk siblings, hosting training events, providing contact information for provincial services and resources, talking to police and other officials about "exit strategies" during incarceration and after release, and continued enforcement.

Federal Prosecutions for the 21st Century
This new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law proposes modernizing one key aspect of the criminal justice system: federal prosecutors. Prosecutors are in a uniquely powerful position to bring change, since they make decisions about when and whether to bring criminal charges, and make recommendations for sentencing. The report proposes reorienting the way prosecutors’ “success” is measured around three core goals: Reducing violent and serious crime, reducing prison populations, and reducing recidivism. The mechanism for change would be a shift in how attorneys' performance is assessed, to give prosecutors incentives to focus on how their practices reduce crime in and improve the communities they serve, instead of making their "success" simply a measure of how many individuals they convict and send to prison.

View the Full Report

Prison Policy Initiative: Criminal Justice Research Clearinghouse. Updates for Sept. 23, 2014

Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from "Secure Communities"California Prison Downsizing and Its Impact on Local Criminal Justice SystemsAging Behind Bars: Trends and Implications of Graying Prisoners in the Federal Prison SystemAdventures in Risk: Predicting Violent and Sexual Recidivism in Sentencing Law The Effect of Collateral Consequence Laws on State Rates of Returns to Prison  And more...  
Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work
The upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review and re-direct national drug control policies and the future of the global drug control regime....overwhelming evidence points to not just the failure of the regime to attain its stated goals but also the horrific unintended consequences of punitive and prohibitionist laws and policies.

A new and improved global drug control regime is needed that better protects the health and safety of individuals and communities around the world. Harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies must be replaced by more humane and effective policies shaped by scientific evidence, public health principles and human rights standards. This is the only way to simultaneously reduce drug-related death, disease and suffering and the violence, crime, corruption and illicit markets associated with ineffective prohibitionist policies. The fiscal implications of the policies we advocate, it must be stressed, pale in comparison to the direct costs and indirect consequences generated by the current regime.

View the Report

Institutional Care and Poverty: Evidence and Policy Review
The general aim of the study was to conduct an international evidence and policy review of "institutional care" and poverty in order to identify effective and costed strategies for reducing the risks in the four countries of the UK.

...Our primary definition of "institutional care" was that the state assumes a full legal responsibility for the residence and daily care of an individual and this care takes place in a designated physical setting....This definition includes: homes, residential schools, and units for children and vulnerable adults in the care of the state, prisons and other places of detention (immigration centres); psychiatric secure hospitals and centres....
 
Who Killed the Berkeley School? Struggles Over Radical Criminology

Open access publication

"The Berkeley School of Criminology stands, to this day, as one of the most significant developments in criminological thought and action. Its diverse participants, students and faculty, were true innovators, producing radical social analyses (getting to the roots causes) of institutions of criminal justice as part of broader relations of inequality, injustice, exploitation, patriarchy, and white supremacy within capitalist societies. Even more they situated criminology as an active part of opposition to these social institutions and the relations of harm they uphold. Their criminology was directly engaged in, and connected with, the struggles of resistance that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Not surprisingly perhaps, they became a target of regressive and reactionary forces that sought to quiet those struggles..."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Report Offers Rare Peek into Canadian Gang Life and High-Risk Youth
He has walked alone through some of the most unsafe neighbourhoods in Calgary in hopes he’d be stopped by gang bangers wanting to know what he was doing on their turf.

That’s when the unassuming Hieu Ngo would go to work. He would tell them his story, how he went from being a Vietnamese refugee tempted by street life to a University of Calgary associate professor whose research on gangs and their behaviour has produced a pivotal study entitled The Unravelling of Identities and Belonging: Criminal Gang Involvement of Youth from Immigrant Families.

Resettlement Provision for Adult Offenders: Accommodation and Education, Training and Employment
A Joint Thematic Review by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted. 

The above report was published on 16 September 2014. The primary aim of this report is to inform the development of new services under Transforming Rehabilitation by examining the effectiveness of existing arrangements to help offenders obtain suitable and sustainable accommodation and education, training and employment (ETE) on release as part of wider resettlement provision.

The report follows a cohort of 80 offenders from prison through the gate into the community and identifies their accommodation and occupation status shortly before release and on release.

Read the Full Report

Law Enforcement Response to Child Abuse
Portable Guide to Investigating Child Abuse 
Produced by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Presumption of Guilt: The Global Overuse of Pretrial Detention
Around the world, millions are effectively punished before they are tried. Legally entitled to be considered innocent and released pending trial, many accused are instead held in pretrial detention, where they are subjected to torture, exposed to life threatening disease, victimized by violence, and pressured for bribes. It is literally worse than being convicted: pretrial detainees routinely experience worse conditions than sentenced prisoners. The suicide rate among pretrial detainees is three times higher than among convicted prisoners, and ten times that of the outside community. Pretrial detention harms individuals, families, and communities; wastes state resources and human potential; and undermines the rule of law.

Read the Full Report 
 
Crime and Populism
The Harper government has made a tough stance on crime one of its showcase positions.  Why?

Over the past eight years, the federal Conservatives have seldom missed an opportunity to show Canadians how seriously they take crime and how eager they are to make convicted offenders sorry for their transgressions. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made punishing crime a showcase priority of his government. He hammered this home in his annual summer speech to the local faithful in Calgary this past July. “If, God forbid, Canadians are attacked, or robbed, if they lose someone they love to a murderer, or if they see their children driven to suicide by bullying and harassment… the first thing they want their government to do is not to make excuses for criminals, but to stick up for victims,” reads the Prime Minister’s prepared speech. “And that is our role.”

This is not empty rhetoric. Since taking office in 2006, the government has introduced no fewer than 81 crime bills, though only 30 have been passed into law. According to University of Toronto criminologist Anthony Doob, the effect of these new laws has largely been to lengthen sentences (as with mandatory minimums) or to eliminate chances to have sentences shortened (as with the elimination of “accelerated parole review,” a mechanism that could temper punishments for first-time, nonviolent offenders).
 
 


Related Article:  

 Big Brother 3.0: FBI Launches Facial Recognition Program

Bureau calls system "fully operational" despite one-fifth false positive rate

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced on Monday that its facial recognition software, Next Generation Identification (NGI), is "fully operational," cementing the launch of a program that civil rights groups warn could risk turning innocent civilians into criminal suspects.

How Gangs Took Over Prisons
Originally formed for self-protection, prison gangs have become the unlikely custodians of order behind bars—and of crime on the streets.

On a clear morning this past February, the inmates in the B Yard of Pelican Bay State Prison filed out of their cellblock a few at a time and let a cool, salty breeze blow across their bodies. Their home, the California prison system’s permanent address for its most hardened gangsters, is in Crescent City, on the edge of a redwood forest—about four miles from the Pacific Ocean in one direction and 20 miles from the Oregon border in the other. This is their yard time.

Most of the inmates belong to one of California’s six main prison gangs: Nuestra Familia, the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Black Guerrilla Family, the Northern Structure, or the Nazi Lowriders (the last two are offshoots of Nuestra Familia and the Aryan Brotherhood, respectively). The inmates interact like volatile chemicals: if you open their cells in such a way as to put, say, a lone member of Nuestra Familia in a crowd of Mexican Mafia, the mix can explode violently. So the guards release them in a careful order.
Environmental Extremism a Rising Threat to Energy Sector, RCMP Warns
RCMP analysts have warned government and industry that environmental extremists pose a “clear and present criminal threat” to Canada’s energy sector, and are more likely to strike at critical infrastructure than religiously inspired terrorists, according to a report released under Access to Information.
5 Ways California Can Imprison Fewer People
In 2009, overcrowding in California’s prisons had gotten so bad—140,000 inmates crammed into prisons built to house just 80,000—that federal judges ruled it violated prisoners’ civil rights. Under order to reduce the state’s prison population, Governor Brown introduced realignment in 2011, a plan to send nonviolent inmates to county jails and probation departments rather than prison.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies

"This report examines how racial perceptions of crime are a key cause of the severity of punishment in the United States. Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies, authored by Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., research analyst at The Sentencing Project, synthesizes two decades of research revealing that white Americans’ strong associations of crime with blacks and Latinos are related to their support for punitive policies that disproportionately impact people of color.

Coming on the heels of the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, the report demonstrates that the consequences of white Americans’ strong associations of crime with blacks and Latinos extend far beyond policing."

Read the full report

Deportations Have "No Observable Effect" On Crime Rate, Study Concludes
"Six years after the federal government opened an immigration enforcement program intended to improve public safety, deporting hundreds of thousands of people, many of them convicted criminals, a new study has concluded that the program has had 'no observable effect on the overall crime rate.'

The finding 'calls into question the longstanding assumption that deporting noncitizens who commit crimes is an effective crime-control strategy,' said the study, conducted by two law professors at the University of Chicago and New York University."

Read the current draft 

1,400 Cases of "Appalling" Sexual Exploitation Revealed in UK Report
"Hundreds of children have been systematically raped, beaten and sex trafficked in a northern English town for more than 12 years. And it is still going on, a government commissioned report says.

The 'appalling' revelations also expose cultural tensions and lack of communication between authorities and the town's ethnic minorities that may have helped stop it.

Social counselors saw evidence of sexual exploitation early on, but turned a blind eye, according to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham."

Read the Jay Report


New Report Slams Wormwood Scrubs
"A culture of staff brutality could 're-emerge' at Wormwood Scrubs jail, four years after a police investigation which led to the jailing of six prison officers for assault, the Chief Inspector of Prisons warned today.

Although the 1,000-inmate jail is now rid of rogue officers who violently assaulted inmates, the institution is still 'stigmatised' and struggling to move on, Anne Owers said.

The west London prison had 'stalled, or was sliding backwards' in areas that had begun to improve at the last inspection two years ago."

Read the full report
Social Media and the "Spiral of Silence"
A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in public—or among their family, friends, and work colleagues—when they believe their own point of view is not widely shared. This tendency is called the 'spiral of silence.'1
 
Some social media creators and supporters have hoped that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter might produce different enough discussion venues that those with minority views might feel freer to express their opinions, thus broadening public discourse and adding new perspectives to everyday discussion of political issues."

Read the full report

Oregon Prison Tackles Solitary Confinement With Blue Room Experiment
"Oregon's most incorrigible prisoners spend 23 hours, 20 minutes a day alone in cells deep inside a sprawling prison complex near Ontario....

Prison officials across the United States have spent the last few years debating how to help tens of thousands of prisoners cope in solitary confinement, the housing of last resort for violent, combative, or escape-prone inmates. Many human rights groups condemn the highly restrictive cells as an incubator for mental illness.

About 19 months ago, Snake River officials turned for help from an offbeat source, a globetrotting forest ecologist more familiar with the canopies of Costa Rica's rainforests than the internal struggles of prisoners kept month after month in isolated quarters.

What emerged was a one-of-a-kind sanctuary known as the Blue Room."

View the TED Talk

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