Monday, December 19, 2016

Study: Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking Among Internet Users Aged 15 to 29 in Canada
"Nearly one in five Internet users aged 15 to 29 reported having been cyberbullied or cyberstalked. Some population groups were more at risk than others to experience these forms of online victimization.

According to data from the 2014 General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), 17% of Internet users in this age group said they had been victims of cyberstalking or cyberbullying in the previous five years. Nearly 100% of youth aged 15 to 29 were Internet users during that period.

The results come from a new study entitled 'Cyberbullying and cyberstalking among Internet users aged 15 to 29 in Canada', the first Statistics Canada study of its type to examine the factors associated with cyberbullying and cyberstalking among youth, and their relationship with various indicators of trust, personal behaviour and mental health."

Friday, December 9, 2016

Restrictive Housing in the U.S.: Issues, Challenges, and Future Directions 
"Institutional corrections and, more specifically restrictive housing and other strategies that facilities use to manage and control incarcerated individuals, have become a national priority. Restrictive housing, commonly known as solitary confinement or administrative segregation, is a common practice in corrections. A recent national estimate by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals that on an average day in 2011-2012, as many as one in five individuals has spent time in restrictive housing while in jail or prison. Despite its use throughout corrections facilities nationwide, we lack scientific evidence about its effectiveness and long-term impact.

To further our understanding of these issues" the NIJ has released "Restrictive Housing in the U.S.: Issues, Challenges, and Future Directions. This volume includes 10 chapters, each with a distinct focus and written by leading experts from various disciplines including criminology, psychology, sociology, and law.

View the Report 
 

Friday, December 2, 2016

AG Report: Indigenous Offenders Not Getting Timely Access To Correctional Programs
"An inspection by Canada’s auditor general found that Correctional Service Canada (CSC) did not provide rehabilitation programs, including culturally specific programs, to indigenous offenders in a timely manner — one of many issues that he says make up a situation that is 'beyond unacceptable' for Canada’s aboriginal people.

The auditor general’s report, tabled Tuesday morning in the House of Commons, found that only 20 per cent of indigenous offenders were able to complete programs designed to prevent them from re-offending 'by the time they were eligible to be considered for conditional release by the Parole Board.'

'Very few' indigenous offenders were released on parole, in comparison to non-indigenous offenders, the report also concluded. Out of the 69 per cent released at their statutory release dates, more than three quarters of those indigenous offenders re-entered society directly from maximum- or medium-security prisons.

In his report, Auditor General Michael Ferguson referred back to his predecessor, Sheila Fraser — who, near the end of her mandate, described the response to her 10 years of audits and recommendations related to areas impacting indigenous peoples as 'unacceptable.'

'When you add the results of these audits to those we reported on in the past, I can only describe the situation as it exists now as beyond unacceptable,' Ferguson said. 'This is now more than a decade’s worth of audits showing that programs have failed to effectively serve Canada’s indigenous peoples.'”

View the Report
 
Embracing Technology and Changing the Culture at the NYPD
"In 2015, crime in New York City fell once again, reaching its lowest level in recent decades. New Yorkers are now safer in the city than they have been in years, and yet tensions between police officers and the communities in which they work have continued to mount. The challenge facing the New York Police Department (NYPD) today is to maintain safe streets while ushering in a new era of mutual respect between officers and local communities.

In the last two years, William Bratton has served for a second term as Commissioner of the New York Police Department. In this time, he led the NYPD away from aggressive tactics used to crack down on street-level crime, embracing instead a strategy that balances crime prevention and community engagement. In Bratton’s words, his second term was focused on moving the NYPD from a 'warrior' to a 'guardian' policing mindset.

This attempt at cultural change involved new policies regarding training and recruiting, neighborhood policing, and, perhaps most visibly, the adoption of social media platforms throughout the NYPD. A recently-published case study, co-authored by Harvard Law School Professor Susan Crawford and me, chronicles these organizational changes, drawing from dozens of interviews conducted by Professor Crawford starting in 2015. The full white paper, published by the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society, is available here."

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Callous, Cold and Deliberately Duplicitous": Racialization, Immigration and the Representation of HIV Criminalization in Canadian Mainstream Newspapers
"This report explores mainstream Canadian newspaper coverage of HIV non-disclosure criminal cases in Canada. It pays particular attention to how defendants’ race and immigration status figure into the newspaper representations of such cases. We empirically enquire into claims that African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) people living with HIV are negatively portrayed and overrepresented in Canadian newspaper stories about HIV non-disclosure cases. Our analysis is based on what, to our knowledge, is the largest data set of news coverage of the issue: a corpus of 1680 English-language Canadian newspaper articles about HIV non-disclosure criminal cases in Canada written between 1 January 1989 and 31 December 2015. Our quantitative and qualitative findings show that Canadian mainstream newspapers are a source of profoundly stigmatizing representations of ACB men living with HIV. For example, Black immigrant men living with HIV are dramatically overemphasized in Canadian mainstream newspaper stories about such cases. While these men account for only 15% of defendants charged they are the focus of 61% of newspaper coverage. Mainstream newspapers rely on forms of language that transfer a long history of exaggerated connections between criminality, race, sex, and otherness to the site of HIV. The result is that ACB men living with HIV are repeatedly represented as dangerous, hypersexual, foreigners who pose a threat to the health and safety of individuals (White women) and, more broadly, the imagined Canadian nation."
 
Pleading the Case: How the RCMP Fails to Justify  Calls for New Investigatory Powers
"A pair of articles by the Toronto Star and CBC have revealed a number of situations where the authors report on why authorities may be right to ask for new investigatory powers. A series of cases, combined with interviews with senior RCMP staff, are meant to provide some insight into the challenges that policing and security agencies sometimes have when pursuing investigations. The articles and their associated videos are meant to spur debate concerning the government’s proposal that new investigatory powers are needed. Such powers include a mandatory interception capability, mandatory data retention capability, mandatory powers to compel decryption of content, and easy access to  basic subscriber information. 

This post does not provide an in-depth analysis of the aforementioned proposed powers. Instead, it examines the specific ‘high priority’ cases that the RCMP, through a pair of journalists, has presented to the public. It’s important to recognize that neither the summaries nor underlying documents have been made available to the public, nor have the RCMP’s assessments of their cases or the difficulties experienced in investigating them been evaluated by independent experts such as lawyers or technologists. The effect is to cast a spectre of needing new investigatory powers without providing the public with sufficient information to know and evaluate whether existing powers have been effectively exercised."
  
These Professors Make More Than a Thousand Bucks an Hour Peddling Mega-Mergers
"If the government ends up approving the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger, credit won’t necessarily belong to the executives, bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists pushing for the deal. More likely, it will be due to the professors....

Today, 'in front of the government, in many cases the most important advocate is the economist and lawyers come second,' said James Denvir, an antitrust lawyer at Boies, Schiller.

Economists who specialize in antitrust — affiliated with Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, the University of California, Berkeley, and other prestigious universities — reshaped their field through scholarly work showing that mergers create efficiencies of scale that benefit consumers. But they reap their most lucrative paydays by lending their academic authority to mergers their corporate clients propose. Corporate lawyers hire them from Compass Lexecon and half a dozen other firms to sway the government by documenting that a merger won’t be “anti-competitive”: in other words, that it won’t raise retail prices, stifle innovation, or restrict product offerings. Their optimistic forecasts, though, often turn out to be wrong, and the mergers they champion may be hurting the economy.

Experts Who Quit Panama's Transparency Commission Produce Their Own Report
"Ending the kinds of offshore abuses revealed by the Panama Papers scandal requires a global solution led by the United States and Europe, a report released today by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth says.

The 25-page report, 'Overcoming the Shadow Economy,' argues that, as 'economic leaders,' the U.S. and the European Union 'have an obligation to force financial centers to comply with global transparency standards.'

The U.S. and EU have shown they have the tools to stem the flow of dirty money in the fight against terrorism, but have failed to use these same anti-money-laundering tools as forcefully in the fight against financial corruption and tax dodging, the report says."

Is Gun Violence Stunting Business Growth?
"Gun violence imposes heavy social, psychological, and financial burdens on both individuals and society at large. Some of these burdens are known—we learn of the emotional cost from news stories and moving personal accounts, and we have previously calculated the health care costs of treating gunshot injuries. But we know comparatively little about the relationship between gun violence and local economic health.

In the communities and neighborhoods most affected by gun violence, is the presence of guns—absent other factors—impeding business growth?

A recent longitudinal study shows that neighborhood-level economic activity affects the conditions that make crime more likely and that violent crime can decline in the same year that economic activity increases. Earlier studies by Bowes and Greenbaum and Tita show that crime and fear of crime adversely affect the economic health of communities, cutting into business revenues and limiting business activity. New Urban research led by Yasemin Irvin-Erickson builds on these findings by exploring the association between gun violence and economic health of neighborhoods in six cities: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oakland, California; Rochester, New York; San Francisco, California; and Washington, DC.

This study integrates innovative data from several sources, including the National Establishment Time-Series (NETS) database, gunshot detection technology, and credit bureau data, to develop concrete numbers describing the association between gun violence and local economic health. An interim report presents findings from Oakland, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis and explores the association between gun violence and business trends by census tract, using fixed effects panel models and analysis of observational data with statistical matching."

View the Interim Report

Friday, November 4, 2016

Young Adult Offenders Inquiry
"Research from a range of disciplines strongly supports the view that young adults are a distinct group with needs that are different both from children under 18 and adults older than 25, underpinned by the developmental maturation process that takes place in this age group. In the context of the criminal justice system this is important as young people who commit crime typically stop doing so by their mid-20s.

Those who decide no longer to commit crime can have their efforts to achieve this frustrated both by their previous involvement in the criminal justice system due to the consequences of having criminal records, and limitations in achieving financial independence due to lack of access to affordable accommodation or well-paid employment as wages and benefits are typically lower for this age group."

View the UK Justice Committee's Report of its Inquiry on Young Adult Offenders
 
New INCLO Report Shows how Surveillance is Violating Rights in Democracies Around the World
"Edward Snowden’s revelations of the United States’ mass surveillance collection and storage program have radically altered our understanding of digital surveillance and the way intelligence agencies operate. However, outside the major 'Five Eyes' countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia — the range of digital surveillance regimes — and even still more traditional surveillance — and their impacts remain relatively unknown.

In its newest report, 'Surveillance and Democracy: Chilling Tales from Around the World', the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO), of which CCLA is a member, attempts to blow open the truth about this growing international scourge and demonstrate the chilling impact that unregulated and unrestrained surveillance can have – crushing dissent, intimidating activists and undermining the dignity of ordinary citizens."

UN Report Compares Solitary Confinement Practices in the U.S. and Around the World
"Last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, presented a report to the General Assembly detailing and comparing solitary confinement practices around the world....

The report, Seeing into Solitary: A Review of the Laws and Policies of Certain Nations Regarding Solitary Confinement of Detainees... includes within its scope 35 jurisdictions, including eight U.S. states (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas) and twenty-six countries, including the U.S. federal prison system and immigration detention system.

Seeing into Solitary builds on a prior groundbreaking report by Méndez, presented to the UN in 2011, that for the first time declared that solitary confinement may amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and in some cases torture, and may thus, under certain conditions, be prohibited under international law. In that 2011 report, Méndez further called for a categorical ban on subjecting juveniles and people with mental illness to solitary confinement, and to end the practice of prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement."

The New Era of Secret Law
"An unprecedented buildup of secret law has been created by the federal government since 9/11 through legal memos, court opinions, agreements with foreign nations, and more. All have been issued without public scrutiny or input — and many impact crucial decisions about the lives and liberties of U.S. citizens, from the use of torture to mass surveillance....

...Solving the problem of secret law raises its own set of questions. Are there cases in which disclosure of rules or legal interpretations, even with sensitive facts redacted, could harm national security? How great is that risk, and how does it compare with the harms of secret law? What procedural and substantive reforms could help ensure that the public’s interests in both the transparency of laws and the security of the nation are best served?
This report attempts to shed light on these questions, beginning with the foundational inquiry into what secret law is."
Better by Half: How New York City Cut Crime and Incarceration at the Same Time
The Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Justice Strategies, and the Katal Center for Health, Equity and Justice, present Better by Half: The New York City Story of Winning Large-Scale Decarceration while Increasing Public Safety.

In this new report, co-authors Greene and Schiraldi examine New York City’s successful 55 percent incarceration rate decline from 1996 to 2014, coinciding with a 54 percent decline in violent crime. At a time when America grapples with the challenges of and solutions to mass incarceration, New York City provides an effective example of replacing incarceration with more informal, less intrusive dispositions and community-based programs, without jeopardizing public safety.

The paper examines the grassroots advocacy and responsive public officials that made New York City one of the least incarcerated cities in the United States. Given the growing, bipartisan consensus to reduce mass incarceration, the authors encourage other states to recognize the success that can be achieved through bold reform agendas, organizational moxie and powerful public engagement, as demonstrated by New York City.

Righting Security: A Contextual and Critical Analysis and Response to Canada's 2016 National Security Green Paper
"This article responds to the Canadian government’s 2016 consultation on national security law and policy. It outlines a series of concerns, both with laws enacted in 2015 (and especially bill C-51) and some interpretations of C-51 and other laws in the consultation documents. It urges the need for a systematic and contextual understanding of the many issues raised in the consultation. For example, information sharing and increased investigative powers should not be discussed without attention to inadequate review and accountability structures. Similarly CSIS’s new disruption powers need to be understood in the context of the intelligence and evidence relationship. The article proposes concrete and significant changes to the current legal and policy regime motivated both by civil liberties and security-based concerns."

View the Government Green Paper

Access the Review by Craig Forcese and Kent Roach 
 
New Analysis: Outside Spending Surges in Important State Judicial Races as Election Day Nears
"Special interest groups, many of which do not disclose their donors, have invested heavily in state supreme court races this election cycle, including pumping more than $1.2 million in outside spending into six states over the past two weeks, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.

A corporate-funded group dedicated to electing Republicans in down-ballot races, along with PACs funded by energy companies, business interests, and trial lawyers, are among the major spenders. Many of these interests are frequent litigants in state courts, raising the specter of judges hearing cases involving major campaign supporters — and concerns that campaign cash could affect decisions in the courtroom. Other interests — and potential conflicts — remain obscured, as weak disclosure laws, coupled with the impact of Citizens United and related campaign finance rulings, make it easy for groups to spend in secret. Ads that have aired to date suggest that most of these outside groups will focus on criminal justice issues, including attacking judges’ decisions as 'soft on crime.'"

How Sexual Partner Abuse has Changed with Social Media
"Incidents involving threats to expose sexual images, or what media are calling “sextortion,” are not new, but have evolved with social media.

In a large study we recently did on the topic, we found that sextortion mostly involves the classic dynamics of abusive relationships, or malicious online seducers with a few digital-age twists....

In our study, we asked young people between the ages of 18 and 25 to complete an online survey telling us their stories about sextortion, in partnership with the nonprofit Thorn and through ads on Facebook. We defined sextortion as threats to expose sexual images in order to make a person do something or for other reasons, such as revenge or humiliation.

Among the 1,631 respondents to the online survey, many gave harrowing accounts about threats to send sexual images to parents, employers and classmates. About half of the victims were youth under age 18. In many cases, these images were originally entrusted willingly to intimate partners. In other cases, they were coerced or even fabricated. The perpetrators were mostly men targeting women and girls, but we also heard about sextortion within LGBTQ relationships."

View the Report
 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Too Broken to Fix: An In-Depth Look at America's Outlier Death Penalty Counties
"A new report from the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School offers an in-depth look at how the death penalty is operating in the small handful of counties across the country that are still using it. Of the 3,143 county or county equivalents in the United States, only 16—or one half of one percent—imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015. Part I of the report, titled Too Broken to Fix: An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Countiesexamined 10 years of court opinions and records from eight of these 16 “outlier counties,” including Caddo Parish (LA), Clark (NV), Duval (FL), Harris (TX), Maricopa (AZ), Mobile (AL), Kern (CA) and Riverside (CA). The report also analyzed all of the new death sentences handed down in these counties since 2010. Click here to read the report."

View Part II
 
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Sent Feeds that Helped Police Track Minorities in Ferguson and Baltimore, Report Says
"A powerful surveillance program that police used for tracking racially charged protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., relied on special feeds of user data provided by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, according to an ACLU report.

The companies provided the data — often including the locations, photos and other information posted publicly by users — to Geofeedia, a Chicago-based company that says it analyzes social media posts to deliver real-time surveillance information to help 500 law enforcement agencies track and respond to crime. The social media companies cut off Geofeedia’s access to the streams of user data in recent weeks after the ACLU discovered them and alerted the companies about looming public exposure.

The popularity of Geofeedia and similar programs highlights how the rise of social media has given governments worldwide powerful new ways to monitor crime and civil unrest. Authorities often target such surveillance at minority groups or others seeking to publicly air political grievances, potentially chilling free speech, said the ACLU’s California affiliate, which unearthed Geofeedia’s relationship with social media companies through a public records request of dozens of law enforcement agencies."


CRS Report on "The Advocacy of Terrorism on the Internet: Freedom of Speech Issues and Material Support Statutes"
"This report discusses relevant precedent concerning the extent to which advocacy of terrorism may be restricted in a manner consistent with the First Amendment's Freedom of Speech Clause.  The report also discusses the potential application of the federal ban on the provision of material support to foreign terrorist organizations (PTOs) to the advocacy of terrorism, including as it relates to the dissemination of such advocacy via online services like Twitter or Facebook."

ATF Drug Stings Targeted Minorities, Report Finds
"A new report has found 'strong, consistent and statistically significant' evidence that federal gun agents singled out minorities for controversial drug stings in Chicago.

The stings had been a centerpiece of efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to target violent crime. Agents lured suspects with the promise of a huge payday for robbing a drug “stash house” that did not actually exist, then left them facing long prison sentences for plotting to resell the imaginary drugs."

View the Report
 
A Wake-up Call on the Junk Science Infesting our Courtrooms
"On the popular television show 'CSI,' forensic evidence was portrayed as glitzy, high-tech — and virtually infallible. Unfortunately, this depiction is often a far cry from reality. This week, a significant report issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) persuasively explains that expert evidence based on a number of forensic methods — such as bite mark analysis, firearms identification, footwear analysis and microscopic hair comparisons — lacks adequate scientific validation. Quite simply, these techniques have not yet been proved to be reliable forms of legal proof.

The report is a much-needed wake-up call to all who care about the integrity of the criminal-justice system. It builds upon mounting evidence that certain types of 'forensic feature-comparison methods' may not be as reliable as they have long appeared. A recent, unprecedented joint study by the Innocence Project and the FBI looked at decades of testimony by hair examiners in criminal cases — and found flaws in the testimony an astonishing 95 percent of the time. In a number of serious felonies, DNA testing has revealed that bite-mark evidence underpinning convictions was simply incorrect. More generally, faulty forensic evidence has been found in roughly half of all cases in which post-conviction DNA testing has led to exoneration.

What is noteworthy about the new report is that it is written solely by eminent scientists who carefully assess forensic methods according to appropriate scientific standards. The report finds that many forensic techniques do not yet pass scientific muster. This strongly implies these techniques are not ready for use in the courtroom either."

View the Report
"No Life for a Child": A Roadmap to End Immigration Detention of Children and Family Separation
"Canada should urgently implement alternatives to detaining children rather than housing them in immigration detention facilities or separating them from their detained parents, the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program (IHRP) said in a report released today. In failing to do so, Canada is violating its international legal obligations....

The 70-page report, “‘No Life for a Child’: A Roadmap to End Immigration Detention of Children and Family Separation,” uncovers the deficient legal underpinnings and detrimental practical implications of Canadian immigration detention for children. The report makes 11 recommendations to ensure that Canada complies with its international human rights obligations, and analyzes various international models of alternatives to detention and family separation. The report concludes that children and families with children should be released from detention outright or given access to community-based alternatives to detention, such as reporting obligations, financial deposits, guarantors, and electronic monitoring."

The Rise and Fall of Community Policing in Chicago
"Community policing has long been a matter of life and death in Chicago. When it's worked, researchers have found that communities of color report less fear of crime and better relations with the police, which can translate into improved crime prevention and fewer shootings. And in a year when shootings have skyrocketed and community trust of the police has been severely damaged by the release of a series of videos capturing police shootings, it's been touted by politicians as a powerful crime-fighting strategy.

'Chicago is where the whole idea of community policing began,' Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a speech on police accountability on December 9, 2015, just two weeks after the release of the Laquan McDonald video rocked the city and sparked a crisis in police-community relations. 'It remains the best and most comprehensive approach we have in changing the everyday conditions that breed crime and violence and then breed mistrust.'

But nine months after that speech, an analysis by City Bureau and the Reader finds CAPS in crisis. Chicago's once-trailblazing community policing program has been hollowed out by years of budget cuts and restructuring. Stretched thin, the police department no longer has the money necessary to reach out to the community and quickly follow up on citizen complaints... CAPS today is an uneven patchwork of programs around the city. The result has been the destruction of the trust and goodwill the police department had built in the early years of CAPS."

Rape, Murder, Famine - and $2.1 Million for K Street PR
"By almost any objective measure, the fledgling nation of South Sudan is an unmitigated disaster — reeling from a violent power struggle that’s left an estimated 50,000 people dead just in the past three years. Last week, as the country turned five, renewed factional violence reportedly killed as many as 270 more and displaced thousands before leaders agreed to a ceasefire on Monday.

While opposition forces are responsible for some of the historical bloodshed, South Sudanese government forces 'bore the greatest responsibility' for human rights violations in 2015, according to a United Nations report. Those government forces have raped and murdered civilians, recruited child soldiers and looted civilian property.

Meanwhile, more than 5 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the World Food Programme’s estimate, and many of them face “unprecedented levels of food insecurity,” say U.N. agencies. One in five South Sudanese have fled their homes, according to international development organization Mercy Corps.

But while the South Sudanese government largely claims it doesn’t have enough money to fix these problems, the struggling government was able to spend $2.1 million on Washington, D.C., lobbying and public relations firms from 2014 through the end of 2015 — $2.1 million to buff up its image, keep U.S. aid flowing and stave off harsher U.S.-backed sanctions in response to its atrocities."

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. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Can Big Data Stop Bad Cops?
" This article is part of an ongoing examination by The Washington Post of fatal shootings by police. In 2015, The Post began tracking cases nationwide and compiled a database of all fatal shootings by officers in the line of duty. The project has expanded this year to include details about the officers involved. View the 2016 database here.

The Justice Department’s investigation of Baltimore police this month rebuked the agency for an entrenched culture of discriminatory policing. Deep within their findings, Justice investigators singled out a core failure: Baltimore’s system for identifying troubled officers was broken and existed in name only.

In Baltimore, Justice found that critical disciplinary records were excluded from its early intervention system, that police supervisors often intervened only after an officer’s behavior became egregious and that when they did, the steps they took were inadequate....

...The problems with Baltimore’s early intervention system are not isolated to police in that city. In numerous departments nationwide, police have failed to use early intervention systems effectively, Justice has found. Since 1994, 36 civil rights investigations by Justice discovered that local agencies had deeply flawed early intervention systems or no system in place at all, according to a review of those investigations by The Washington Post."

View the DOJ Report 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Monitoring of Contract Prisons
"Privately run federal prisons are more dangerous than those managed by the Bureau of Prisons and need more oversight, according to a new report from the Justice Department’s watchdog.

These so-called 'contract prisons' are largely low-security facilities, typically holding undocumented male immigrants convicted of federal crimes with less than 7.5 years left on their sentence. They hold more than 22,000 inmates, about 12 percent of the total federal prison population. They are run by three companies: Corrections Corporation of America; GEO Group, Inc.; and Management and Training Corporation.

Privately run facilities 'incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable BOP institutions,' according to the report, released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Inspector General. The DOJ’s internal watchdog said the Bureau of Prisons “'needs to improve how it monitors contract prisons in several areas.'”

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Another Perspective: Don't End Federal Private Prisons 
 
Crime in Context: Violent Crime is up in some Places, but is it really a Trend?
"Is crime in America rising or falling? The answer is not nearly as simple as politicians sometimes make it out to be, because of how the FBI collects and handles crime data from the country’s more than 18,000 police agencies. Those local reports are voluntary and sometimes inconsistent. And the bureau takes months or years to crunch the numbers, so the national data lags behind the current state of crime.

To present a fuller picture of crime in America, The Marshall Project collected and analyzed 40 years of FBI data — through 2014 — on the most serious violent crimes in 68 police jurisdictions. [It] also obtained data directly from 61 local agencies for 2015 — a period for which the FBI has not yet released its numbers. (Our analysis found that violent crime in these jurisdictions rose 4 percent last year. But crime experts caution against making too much of year-over-year statistics.)

In the process, [The Marshall Project was] struck by the wide variation from community to community. To paraphrase an aphorism about politics, all crime is local. Each city has its own trends that depend on the characteristics of the city itself, the time frame, and the type of crime. In fact, the trends vary from neighborhood to neighborhood within cities; a recent study posited that 5 percent of city blocks account for 50 percent of the crime. That is why most Americans believe crime is worse, while significantly fewer believe it is worse where they live."

Predictions put into Practice: a Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of Chicago's Predictive Policing Pilot
"In 2013, the Chicago Police Department conducted a pilot of a predictive policing program designed to reduce gun violence. The program included development of a Strategic Subjects List (SSL) of people estimated to be at highest risk of gun violence who were then referred to local police commanders for a preventive intervention. The purpose of this study is to identify the impact of the pilot on individual- and city-level gun violence, and to test possible drivers of results.

Individuals on the SSL are not more or less likely to become a victim of a homicide or shooting than the comparison group, and this is further supported by city-level analysis. The treated group is more likely to be arrested for a shooting.

It is not clear how the predictions should be used in the field. One potential reason why being placed on the list resulted in an increased chance of being arrested for a shooting is that some officers may have used the list as leads to closing shooting cases. The results provide for a discussion about the future of individual-based predictive policing programs."

Friday, August 5, 2016

Predictive Modeling Combining Short and Long-Term Crime Risk Potential, Final Report
"This project developed a technology capable of predicting future crime-risk potential based on a number of theoretical approaches for understanding localized spatial crime patterns. 

The project had three goals. First, it aimed to determine the way fundamental demographic correlates of crime are linked to next year’s crime levels, even after controlling for this year’s crime levels. Second, the study examined the role of near-repeat crime events that are indicative of a short-term change in relative risk of crime. Third, it developed a computer program that allows for crime predictions based on the theoretical approaches presented. The software is intended for use by cities and jurisdictions across the United States. The project used crime data and Census information for the City of Philadelphia, PA. For four crime types (robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft), a model that included demographic structure and earlier crime from the previous year provided by far the strongest combination of accuracy and parsimony. Lower volume crime types (homicide and rape) were also predicted as well as, or better than, the other four crime types in using the demographics-only model. A model that combines community structural characteristics, crime counts from the previous year, and an estimate of near-repeat activity produced the best results overall. This indicates that small-scale, short-term crime occurrences reflect a complex mix of near-term crime continuities, ecological crime continuities, and ecological structure. Work remains to be done in identifying the processes that maintain these ecological crime continuities, as well as the processes that generate the unfolding ecological discontinuities. The authors note that the processes described ignore offender characteristics, such as race, while focusing on locations of criminal victimization."

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The Civil War that could Doom the NRA
"As the tragic pattern of gun violence continues, federal gun laws remain unchanged, thanks to the hardball tactics of the National Rifle Association. But despite the organization’s $310 million in revenues, political clout, and five-million-plus membership, the N.R.A. does face a genuine threat to its future: a growing divide between its ferocious leadership and sportsman rank-and-file."

Drug Court Review: Findings from the National Cross-Site Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures
"This special issue, Findings from the National cross-Site Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures is devoted to reporting the results of of this comprehensive evaluation.  It contains five articles that (1) provide an overview of the JDC and RF models, (2) examine the process of integrating the two models, (3) describe the client characteristics of those served in the HDC/RF National Evaluation, (4) present an analysis that establishes the critical components of the JDC/RF model, and (5) discuss the importance of community engagement.  Additionally, two commentaries are included.  The first reflects on policy and program implications resulting from the research findings, and the second discusses how the research findings can guide the future of federal, state, and local efforts to respond to and treat youth substance use and addiction issues in the juvenile court system."

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Correctional Service Lacks Compassion Dealing with Families of Inmates Who Die
"Canada's prison watchdog has issued a scathing report on how the federal correctional service communicates with next of kin when an inmate dies. Correctional investigator Howard Sapers says the service has not been compassionate, open or transparent with families.

The report cites a case where a family member arrived to view the body of his loved one at the appointed time, but was informed the inmate had already been cremated.

"'o make matters worse, sometime later, the ashes were couriered to him without prior notice'" reads the report. It quotes the family member saying, 'They cremated him and they sent him by Purolator … sending someone in the mail … it's just not right.'

Sapers says his office decided to conduct a formal review because after years of raising his concerns, Corrections Canada has not changed its ways."

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force, but not in Shootings
"A new study confirms that black men and women are treated differently in the hands of law enforcement. They are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police.

But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.

'It is the most surprising result of my career,' said Roland G. Fryer Jr., the author of the study and a professor of economics at Harvard. The study examined more than 1,000 shootings in 10 major police departments, in Texas, Florida and California.

The result contradicts the image of police shootings that many Americans hold after the killings (some captured on video) of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.; Tamir Rice in Cleveland; Walter Scott in South Carolina; Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La.; and Philando Castile in Minnesota.

The study did not say whether the most egregious examples — those at the heart of the nation’s debate on police shootings — are free of racial bias. Instead, it examined a larger pool of shootings, including nonfatal ones.

The counterintuitive results provoked debate after the study was posted on Monday, mostly about the volume of police encounters and the scope of the data. Mr. Fryer emphasizes that the work is not the definitive analysis of police shootings, and that more data would be needed to understand the country as a whole. This work focused only on what happens once the police have stopped civilians, not on the risk of being stopped at all. Other research has shown that blacks are more likely to be stopped by the police."

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Study Supports Suspicion that Police are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks
"The vast majority of interactions between police officers and civilians end routinely, with no one injured, no one aggrieved and no one making the headlines. But when force is used, a new study has found, the race of the person being stopped by officers is significant.

The study of thousands of use-of-force episodes from police departments across the nation has concluded what many people have long thought, but which could not be proved because of a lack of data: African-Americans are far more likely than whites and other groups to be the victims of use of force by the police, even when racial disparities in crime are taken into account."

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Teaching Police that Black Lives Matter
by Centre Alumnus Akwasi Owusu--Bempah

"In 2011 and 2012, I interviewed fifty-one black male police officers from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as part of a wide-ranging academic project aimed at surveying black attitudes toward the police. They spoke to me candidly but confidentially....

At one stage of my interviews I asked these officers to put forth suggestions on how to improve relations between the police and the black community in the GTA.  Given the robust public discussion that is now taking place in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement - and this month's tragic killings of both innocent black men and police officers in the United States - it is worth exploring these suggestions in some detail.  These suggestions are unique as they are informed by the officers' experiences as black males and their immersion in police culture.  Both perspectives are evident in the text below."

From Captive to Captor: A Journalist's Journey from Prisoner to Prison Guard
"Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer has spent much of his career reporting on criminal justice. For years he’d been frustrated by the secretive nature of the American private prison industry. Tired of old-fashioned document-hunting, he tried an unconventional approach. He went undercover, spending four months as a prison guard at Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana."

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Busted
"Tens of thousands of people every year [in the U.S.] are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?"

Why Taser is Fighting to Appeal a Lawsuit it Won
"In January, judges on a federal circuit court instructed police departments to treat Tasers similarly to the way they treat firearms — as deadly weapons that can't be used when someone is merely resisting arrest. Those instructions were a big deal, setting policing precedent for departments in five states, and potentially leading the way for much more stringent rules about how Tasers are used by police nationwide.

Taser International, the company that exclusively produces and sells those electroshock weapons to police departments, filed a court document on June 13th asking the United States Supreme Court to give the circuit court’s instructions a second look. Taser’s move made sense: if the instructions go unchallenged, some police departments could change use-of-force policies to place Tasers more in line with firearms than with less-lethal devices. Taser International would thus risk competing directly with gun manufacturers to provide police departments with weapons, threatening the company’s business model."

More than 1 Million OxyContin Pills Ended up in the Hands of Criminals and Addicts. What the Drugmaker Knew
"In the waning days of summer in 2008, a convicted felon and his business partner leased office space on a seedy block near MacArthur Park. They set up a waiting room, hired an elderly physician and gave the place a name that sounded like an ordinary clinic: Lake Medical.

The doctor began prescribing the opioid painkiller OxyContin – in extraordinary quantities.... By December, she had prescribed more than 73,000, with a street value of nearly $6 million.

At its headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, tracked the surge in prescriptions. A sales manager went to check out the clinic and the company launched an investigation. It eventually concluded that Lake Medical was working with a corrupt pharmacy in Huntington Park to obtain large quantities of OxyContin....

Purdue did not shut off the supply of highly addictive OxyContin and did not tell authorities what it knew about Lake Medical until several years later when the clinic was out of business and its leaders indicted.

By that time, 1.1 million pills had spilled into the hands of Armenian mobsters, the Crips gang and other criminals."

Monday, July 11, 2016

City Study Shows Broken Windows Policing Doesn`t Reduce Serious Crimes
"A new Department of Investigation report [PDF] cuts against the assumptions that hold up NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's Broken Windows policing strategy—that cracking down on quality of life issues like excessive noise and public drinking deters more serious crimes like assault and murder.
Reviewing arrest data from the last six years—including more than 1.8 million quality-of-life summonses and 650,000 misdemeanor arrests—investigators found no correlation between the rate of misdemeanor summonses and arrests, and that of felony crime. While quality of life arrests and summonses decreased significantly between 2010 and 2015, there was no corresponding increase in felony complaints."

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The Punitive Society: Lectures at the College de France, 1972-1973

New Book Review published by Prof. Mariana Valverde in British Journal of Criminology

Friday, June 17, 2016

Machine Bias: There's Software Used Across the Country to Predict Future Criminals. And It's Biased Against Blacks
"Criminologists have long tried to predict which criminals are more dangerous before deciding whether they should be released. Race, nationality and skin color were often used in making such predictions until about the 1970s, when it became politically unacceptable, according to a survey of risk assessment tools by Columbia University law professor Bernard Harcourt.

In the 1980s, as a crime wave engulfed the nation, lawmakers made it much harder for judges and parole boards to exercise discretion in making such decisions. States and the federal government began instituting mandatory sentences and, in some cases, abolished parole, making it less important to evaluate individual offenders.

But as states struggle to pay for swelling prison and jail populations, forecasting criminal risk has made a comeback.

There have been few independent studies of these criminal risk assessments. In 2013, researchers Sarah Desmarais and Jay Singh examined 19 different risk methodologies used in the United States and found that 'in most cases, validity had only been examined in one or two studies' and that 'frequently, those investigations were completed by the same people who developed the instrument.'"

Documenting and Explaining the 2015 Homicide Rise: Research Directions
"The debate over the size, scope and causes of the homicide increase in 2015 has been largely free of systematic evidence.  This paper documents the scale of the homicide increase for a sample of 56 large U.S. cities.  It then examines three plausible explanations of the homicide rise: an expansion of urban drug markets fueled by the heroin epidemic, reductions in incarceration resulting in a growing number of released prisoners in the nation's cities, and a 'Ferguson effect' resulting from widely publicized incidents of police use of deadly force against minority citizens.  The paper concludes with a call for the more frequent and timely release of crime information to address crime problems as they arise."

F.B.I. Steps of Use of Stings in ISIS cases
"The F.B.I. has significantly increased its use of stings in terrorism cases, employing agents and informants to pose as jihadists, bomb makers, gun dealers or online 'friends' in hundreds of investigations into Americans suspected of supporting the Islamic State, records and interviews show.

Undercover operations, once seen as a last resort, are now used in about two of every three prosecutions involving people suspected of supporting the Islamic State, a sharp rise in the span of just two years, according to a New York Times analysis. Charges have been brought against nearly 90 Americans believed to be linked to the group.

The increase in the number of these secret operations, which put operatives in the middle of purported plots, has come with little public or congressional scrutiny, and the stings rely on F.B.I. guidelines that predate the rise of the Islamic State.

While F.B.I. officials say they are careful to avoid illegally entrapping suspects, their undercover operatives are far from bystanders. In recent investigations from Florida to California, agents have helped people suspected of being extremists acquire weapons, scope out bombing targets and find the best routes to Syria to join the Islamic State, records show."


Special Pleading: On the Identity Politics of "Blue Lives Matter"
"Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is currently poised to approve House Bill 953, which the State Senate approved 33-3 last Tuesday, following a 91-0 approval in the State House. Known as the 'Blue Lives Matter' bill, HB953 will extend the list of 'protected classes' recognized by existing Louisiana hate crimes legislation to include law enforcement professionals and firefighters. In other words, present or past employment as a cop (or a prison guard, a traffic officer, etcetera) will now stand alongside 'race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry' as a category of identity awarded special protection against victimization under the law.

Although Louisiana, like most other states, already penalizes people for assaulting police or interfering with their activities, HB953 will mandate up to an additional five years of jail for felonies committed against police and their property, up to six months for misdemeanors, and escalated fines for both."

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pfizer's Death Penalty Ban Highlights the Black Market in Execution Drugs
"Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer made big news last week when it announced a ban on the use of its drugs to carry out the death penalty by lethal injection. 'Sweeping controls on the distribution of its products' have clamped shut 'he last remaining open-market source of drugs used in executions,' the New York Times reported, calling it a milestone in the fight against capital punishment.

Somewhat buried in the flurry of headlines that followed was the fact that Pfizer has never been known to supply states with execution drugs. It is only after the company acquired a different drug company last year — Hospira Inc., which produced several drugs states have used or intend to use in executions — that Pfizer put such restrictions in place. This doesn’t make its policy any less important: 'Pfizer has closed the circle,' said Arizona federal public defender Dale Baich, who litigates lethal injection challenges across the country. 'The states can no longer obtain drugs from legitimate and legal sources.' But as Baich and others know too well, many states stopped seeking drugs from legitimate sources a long time ago. Today, most active death penalty states rely on anonymous compounding pharmacies, whose loose regulations vary wildly from state to state, making them dangerously unreliable compared to FDA approved drug companies when it comes to the efficacy of their products. Other states have broken federal law by importing illicit drugs from overseas. In driving states to the underground market, Pfizer’s announcement merely makes official what has already been happening for years."

The Failed Promise of Legal Pot
"The dream of legal marijuana as it is being sold to the American public is that it will not only give states a chance to reap a tax windfall off of a drug millions of Americans already use; it will end the back-and-forth tussle among cops, users, and dealers, and shift police resources to more serious crimes. Most compellingly, advocates hold out the promise of a major step toward dismantling one of the pillars of racially biased policing—the war on drugs—and finally reeling in a legal net that has long entangled black men at vastly disproportionate rates.

One-half of the dream is coming true. In the first two states to go legal, arrests for marijuana possession have dropped dramatically—by 98 percent in Washington and 95 percent in Colorado as of last year—and high taxes in both states are generating tens of millions of dollars a year for education and public health. At the same time, legal markets in Washington and Colorado along with loosening medical-marijuana laws around the country have together exerted enough downward pressure on street prices that Central American cartels have reportedly begun to shift production away from marijuana, toward more profitable drugs like heroin.

But the other half of the dream is faltering....

As legalization efforts proceed apace, the risk is that even as possession arrests taper off, black markets will continue entangling young black men..."

The False Promise of DNA Testing
"...Modern forensic science is in the midst of a great reckoning. Since a series of high-profile legal challenges in the 1990s increased scrutiny of forensic evidence, a range of long-standing crime-lab methods have been deflated or outright debunked....

DNA typing has long been held up as the exception to the rule—an infallible technique rooted in unassailable science. Unlike most other forensic techniques, developed or commissioned by police departments, this one arose from an academic discipline, and has been studied and validated by researchers around the world....

The problem, as a growing number of academics see it, is that science is only as reliable as the manner in which we use it—and in the case of DNA, the manner in which we use it is evolving rapidly."

Is America Finally Ready for Smart Guns?
"Gun safety advocates have pushed for commercially available smart, personalized guns that could only be fired by a specific person through radio frequency chips, fingerprint scans or other technology, for more than three decades. They argue that the technology could make guns safer by reducing accidental shootings and suicides, and by rendering stolen guns inoperable by crooks — if they were widely available and became more commonplace.

Now, there are signs that a commercial market for smart guns maybe has arrived. The federal government is quietly encouraging gunmakers to submit smart weapons for military-grade testing. New Jersey lawmakers are seeking to revise a law that has kept manufacturers and retailers from selling the guns for over a decade. And federal appeals court judges in the West are deciding whether states can require gunmakers to manufacture weapons with specific safety features."

The Report to the President Outlining a Strategy to Expedite Deployment of Gun Safety Technology


How the NRA Keeps Killer Guns on the Market
"The Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol, which retails for about $300, is one of the cheapest American-made guns available on the civilian market. In used condition, these are junk guns, Saturday night specials. But last week, George Zimmerman listed his in an online auction with a starting bid of $5,000. This was the gun he used in 2012 to shoot and kill Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager.

These macabre sales actually happen all the time in the United States. Most of the 116,000 Americans who are shot each year (32,000 fatally) receive barely a mention in local news—the perpetrators aren’t notorious, and their guns don’t become collector’s items. But neither are they removed from the market. In fact, thousands of Americans buy used guns every year—legally—with no idea those weapons were used to take someone’s life."

Friday, May 6, 2016

Alberta Releases Report into Suicide Deaths of 7 Indigenous Youth
"...The Alberta report — Toward a Better Tomorrow: Addressing the Challenge of Aboriginal Youth Suicide — found common factors among the suicides of Indigenous young people.

'Each young person's life was marked by a pattern of complex trauma due to exposure to parental addictions and family violence,' Graff wrote.

'Some of these children were exposed to suicidal behaviours. Most were identified as having emotional disturbances. Most experienced numerous placement moves.'

All of the youths in the study were either receiving child intervention services at the time of their death or had in the two years preceding it....

The report said suicides are a leading cause of death among Indigenous youths. More than a third of all deaths among Indigenous young people are attributed to suicide — and they are five to six times more likely to be affected by suicide than the general population."

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Ottawa Housing for Homeless Will Need Little Energy
"A low-income housing provider in Ottawa is showing that ambitious and even extreme climate targets aren't a luxury just for the rich.

Ottawa's Salus Corporation, a non-profit serving people with mental health and housing challenges, is set to unveil what could be North America's largest energy-neutral building, certified by the European Passivhaus organization to require almost no additional heating beyond the sun, the earth, and its occupants' own physical activity."

Gutting Habeas Corpus: The Inside Story of How Bill Clinton Sacrificed Prisoners' Rights for Political Gain
"On the eve of the New York state primary last month, as Hillary Clinton came closer to the Democratic nomination, Vice President Joe Biden went on TV and defended her husband’s 1994 crime bill. Asked in an interview if he felt shame for his role passing a law that has been the subject of so much recent criticism, Biden answered, 'Not at all,' and boasted of its successes — among them putting '100,000 cops on the street.' His remarks sparked a new round of debate over the legacy of the crime bill, which has haunted Clinton ever since she hit the campaign trail with a vow to 'end the era of mass incarceration.'

A few days later, on April 24, a lesser-known crime law quietly turned 20. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 — or AEDPA — was signed by Bill Clinton in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. While it has been mostly absent from the recent debates over the crime policies of the ’90s, its impact has been no less profound, particularly when it comes to a bedrock constitutional principle: habeas corpus, or the right of people in prison to challenge their detention. For 20 years, AEDPA has shut the courthouse door on prisoners trying to prove they were wrongfully convicted. Americans are mostly unaware of this legacy, even as we know more than ever about wrongful convictions. Barry Scheck, co-founder and head of the Innocence Project, calls AEDPA 'a disaster' and “a major roadblock since its passage.'Many would like to see it repealed.'"