Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Impact of Harper's "Tough on Crime" Strategy: Hearing from Frontline Workers
" Crime rates in Canada have been steadily dropping for over a decade, while prison populations have been increasing in recent years.  Commentators have attributed this disconnection between falling crime rates and increasing incarceration numbers to the Harper government's 'tough on crime' strategy.  Since coming to power in 2006, the Harper government has implemented a host of legislative and policy changes designed to 'tackle crime,' 'hold offenders accountable,' and 'make communities safer.'  At the same time, the government also enacted significant budget cuts that have affected the ability of the correctional system to uphold its mandate."

Friday, September 25, 2015

No Hope: Re-Examining Lifetime Sentences for Juvenile Offenders
"In a handful of U.S. counties, teenagers are still being sentenced to a lifetime in prison with no chance of release.  This harsh and increasingly isolated practice falls disproportionately on black and Hispanic youth and is a remnant of an earlier period of punitiveness based on an unfounded prediction of a new class of superpredators that never actually materialized."

View the Full Report  
In a handful of U.S. counties, teenagers are still being sentenced to a lifetime in prison with no chance of release. This harsh and increasingly isolated practice falls disproportionately on black and Hispanic youth and is a remnant of an earlier period of punitiveness based on an unfounded prediction of a new class of superpredators that never actually materialized. - See more at: http://www.phillipsblack.org/juvenile-justice/#sthash.jDo5alnX.dpuf

In a handful of U.S. counties, teenagers are still being sentenced to a lifetime in prison with no chance of release. This harsh and increasingly isolated practice falls disproportionately on black and Hispanic youth and is a remnant of an earlier period of punitiveness based on an unfounded prediction of a new class of superpredators that never actually materialized. - See more at: http://www.phillipsblack.org/juvenile-justice/#sthash.jDo5alnX.dpuf




Recidivism of Adult Sex Offenders
"This Research Brief reviews the scientific literature concerning the recidivism of adult sex offenders.  It presents findings about recidivism generally and sexual recidivism specifically because many sex offenders engage in both sexual and nonsexual crime.  It also addresses the recidivism rates of differnt types of sex offenders."

Community-Based Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults

"In this new report by Executive Session members Vincent Schiraldi, Bruce Western, and Kendra Bradner, the authors note that the human brain has been clinically shown to not fully mature prior to the mid-20s and suggest new institutional methods and processes for young adult justice that can meet the realities of life for today's disadvantaged youth involved in crime and the criminal justice system.

They envision a system that extends the reach of the juvenile court to reflect a modern understanding of the transition into adulthood, and their primary recommendation is that the age of juvenile court jurisdiction be raised to 21, with additional, gradually diminishing protections for young adults up to age 24 or 25."



The Economy and Crime: Briefing Note
"Criminal justice policy throughout the 1980s and 1990s was defined by two prominent trends: rising rates of offending and rising rates of imprisonment.  This briefing presents evidence to consider what gave rise to these dynamics, and to what extent they were interrelated."

Friday, September 4, 2015

How a Dubious Statistic Convinced U.S. Courts to Approve of Indefinite Detention
"In the 2002 case McKune v. Lile, the Supreme Court upheld a Kansas law that imposed harsher sentences on sex offenders who declined to participate in a prison rehab program. The substance of the Kansas law the court upheld isn’t as important as the language the court used to uphold it. In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy reasoned that they pose 'such a frightening and high risk of recidivism' which he wrote 'has been estimated to be as high as 80%.'

In a forthcoming article in Constitutional Commentary, Ira Mark Ellman and Tara Ellman note that Kennedy’s magic words about the recidivism rate of sex offenders — frightening and high — have been cited 91 times by courts around the country, most in the course of upholding state laws allowing for severe ex post facto punishments that can last from years, to decades, to a lifetime....

The scary thing is, as the Ellmans explain, there’s no empirical data to support Kennedy’s oft-cited phrase, and the statistic Kennedy himself cited is paper thin."





Private Conflict, Not Broken Windows
Why community policing should focus on helping to resolve personal and domestic disputes, not signs of physical decay.

"More than three decades ago, The Atlantic published a path-breaking essay that introduced the theory of 'broken windows' to a broad audience. Its authors, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, advocated for a fundamental shift in law enforcement: away from simply apprehending criminals and toward mitigating the visual symbols of urban disorder like loitering, public drunkenness, panhandlers, 'squeegee men,' run-down buildings, and litter- and graffiti-strewn neighborhoods. Their basic metaphor was captured in a simple phrase: 'One broken window becomes many.'

The latest study by criminologists Daniel Tumminelli O’Brien and Robert J. Sampson, published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, adds yet more nuance to the critical debate that continues to surround broken windows theory today. The study poses three key questions: To what degree does disorder contribute to the ongoing decline of a neighborhood? If so, what features of it matter? And what are the major pathways that connect disorder to neighborhood decline and, ultimately, to crime?"

First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to Lobbyist
North Dakota police will be free to fire ‘less than lethal’ weapons from the air thanks to the influence of Big Drone.

"It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.

With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with 'less than lethal' weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.

The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. 'Less than lethal' weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones."
 
Why the British Prison System Massively Fails Women Criminals
"A recent report from the Prison Reform Trust has revealed the sharp disparity between male and female offenders. Women prisoners are twice as likely as men to have no previous convictions. As such, the vast majority of female inmates are imprisoned for non-violent, low-level crimes, with theft and handling offences being the main driver to custody. In short, women ultimately receive harsher treatment from the Criminal Justice System than men for equivalent crimes.

This is all the more shocking when you consider the life circumstances of female prisoners. According to stats from the Prison Reform Trust, not only have half of women in prison experienced domestic violence, 53 percent suffered abuse while they were children. On top of this, they are nearly twice as likely to suffer from depression as men in prison. Almost a third of female inmates had a psychiatric admission prior to entering prison."

The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls' Story
"This report exposes the ways in which we criminalize girls - especially girls of color - who have been sexually and physically abused, and it offers policy recommendations to dismantle the abuse to prison pipeline.  It illustrates the pipeline with examples, including the detention of girls who are victims of sex trafficking, girls who run away or become truant because of abuse they experience, and girls who cross into juvenile justice from the child welfare system."