Friday, April 22, 2016

Supreme Court Further Dismantles Harper Government's Tough-on-Crime Agenda
"The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down as unconstitutional two more planks of the defeated Harper government’s tough-on-crime platform.

It struck down the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions for drug offenders who have a prior criminal record for drug offences as well as ruling that a person denied bail because of prior convictions should get credit for time served before sentencing.

It is not as if mandatory minimums or the Truth in Sentencing Act are gone, but elements of them, laid out in two decisions released Friday, have been declared in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

View the Decisions:

R. v. Lloyd, 2016 SCC 13 

R. v. Safarzadeh-Markhali, 2016 SCC 14 
 

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The "Chicago Model" of Policing Hasn't Saved Chicago. Why is Everyone Else Copying It?
"Just a few months ago, the Chicago police department was regarded as America’s laboratory of police science.

As the country’s most violent big city struggled to contain an epidemic of deadly shootings, the police force opened itself up to top criminologists, law professors and sociologists. Theories drawn up at Harvard and other bastions of elite thought were being taught to, and in some instances practiced by, the nation’s second biggest police agency. Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s top cop at the time, preached a gospel of reducing crime by fostering healthy relationships between police and the communities they serve—especially black communities. The police would be transformed, as the reformers put it, from 'warriors' to 'guardians.'

At a time of heated debate over the conduct of America’s cops, this line of thinking proved especially appealing. Policymakers nationwide were intrigued by Chicago’s alliance of academics and law enforcement, and the 'Chicago model' of policing strategies influenced departments from Oakland, Calif., to New York City. The Justice Department is spending millions of dollars promoting ideas hatched in the Chicago workshop. A policing task force formed by President Obama after the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., recommended that cities adopt some of Chicago’s strategies. Think tanks at Yale, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and UCLA are touting its innovations.

But days after Thanksgiving, Chicago’s reform engine stalled. Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired McCarthy, calling him a “distraction,” after protests erupted over the delayed release of a police video that showed a white officer firing 16 bullets into a black teenager, Laquan McDonald. An array of academic theories and programs nurtured by McCarthy are now in limbo."

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Why Chicago's Black Youth Distrust Cops
"The Chicago Police Department’s 'lack of accountability' is the single greatest barrier to building trust with young African Americans, according to a working paper produced for the University of Chicago Legal Forum.

The paper’s authors, Craig B. Futterman (of the University of Chicago Law School), Chaclyn Hunt, and Jamie Kalven (both of the Invisible Institute) interviewed black teens, aged 14-18, from high schools on the South and West Sides of Chicago, particularly Hyde Park Academy, about their experiences with law enforcement—with a focus on the routine daily encounters that shape how kids see the police, and police see them.

The study, entitled 'They Have All the Power': Youth/Police Encounters on Chicago’s South Side, concluded that 'an unceasing police presence forces students to live with the ever-present possibility of being stopped, searched, and treated as a criminal, causing students to feel less than a person and [to] curtail their own actions and behavior to avoid being stopped by the police.'”

View the Complete Study


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Overseas Surveillance in an Interconnected World
"...there has been relatively little public or congressional debate within the United States about the NSA's overseas surveillance operations, which are governed primarily by Executive Order (EO) 12333 - a presidential directive issued by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and revised by subsequent administrations.  These activities, which involve the collection of communications  content and metadata alike, constitute the majority of the NSA's surveillance operations, yet they have largely escaped public scrutiny.

There are several reasons why EO 12333 and the programs that operate under its aegis have gone largely unnoticed.  One is the misconception that overseas surveillance presents little privacy risk to Americans.  Another is the scant information in the public domain about how EO 12333 actually operates.  Finally, the few regulations that are public create a confusing and sometimes internally inconsistent thicket of guidelines."

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"The Army To Set Our Nation Free"
"Sheriff Nick Finch let a pistol-packing local man out of the Liberty County, Florida, jail shortly after taking office, a decision that brought him admiration, donations, and speaking requests from anti-government activists across the country. It put him at odds with state authorities, who charged him with a crime, but also thrust him into the vanguard of a radical and growing movement among sheriffs in rural communities who assert they can ignore state and federal laws they decide are unconstitutional."

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The Caliphate's Global Workforce: An Inside Look at the Islamic State's Foreign Fighter Paper Trail
"This report contains an analysis of over 4,600 unique Islamic State personnel records that were produced by the group primarily between early 2013 and late 2014. The importance of this data for understanding the Islamic State and, in particular, the foreign fighter flow, cannot be overstated. To put it simply, it is the largest cache of primary source documents produced by the Islamic State available in the open-source as of this date. These particular documents were acquired by NBC News from an Islamic State defector and subsequently provided to the CTC (and other entities). This report provides a window into the organization’s global workforce, revealing information about foreign fighters’ countries of origin, citizenship, points of entry into Syria, marital status, skills and previous occupations, education levels, religious knowledge, fighting role preferences in the group, and previous jihadist experience. In addition to analyzing the data at the macro-level, the report also highlights numerous anecdotes of individual fighters. Taken together, the analysis in this report reveals an organization that is attempting to vet new members, manage talent effectively within the organization, and deal with an incredibly diverse pool of recruits."

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Facial Recognition Software might have a Racial Bias Problem
"In 16 'undisclosed locations' across northern Los Angeles, digital eyes watch the public. These aren’t ordinary police-surveillance cameras; these cameras are looking at your face. Using facial-recognition software, the cameras can recognize individuals from up to 600 feet away. The faces they collect are then compared, in real-time, against 'hot lists' of people suspected of gang activity or having an open arrest warrant.


Considering arrest and incarceration rates across L.A., chances are high that those hot lists disproportionately implicate African Americans. And recent research suggests that the algorithms behind facial-recognition technology may perform worse on precisely this demographic. Facial-recognition systems are more likely either to misidentify or fail to identify African Americans than other races, errors that could result in innocent citizens being marked as suspects in crimes. And though this technology is being rolled out by law enforcement across the country, little is being done to explore—or correct—for the bias."

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Policing with Algorithms
"In the 2002 tech-noir film 'The Minority Report,' Tom Cruise fights to prove his innocence in a dystopian future where crimes are prevented and punished, based on the predictions of three psychic humans called 'precogs.'

However, the Hollywood fantasy of stopping crimes before they are committed is no longer just science fiction.

Today it is known as predictive policing.

Instead of psychics, some law enforcement agencies are using mathematical algorithms to predict crime.  In 2013, the Chicago Police Department began using mathematical analytics to create what it calls 'heat lists' — catalogs of people who, through the weighing of multiple risk factors such as an individual’s arrest records, known associates, or warrant status, were considered statistically more likely to be involved in violent crimes. 

Today, commercial companies like PredPol and HunchLab offer police the potential, based on the results of these complex algorithms, to predict when and where crimes are likely to occur."

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Making Restorative Justice Work for Women who have Offended
"This study addresses a major gap in research and knowledge regarding female offenders' experiences of, and access to, restorative justice.... This study is of a qualitative nature and draws on interview data first collected with restorative justice practitioners who had experience of working with women in restorative justice contexts and second, with women who had personal experience of going through a restorative justice conference from an offender perspective.  The data collection remit was restricted to England and Wales.  The ultimate objective of the project was to develop an evidence-based set of recommendations for effective and ethical working with women in restorative justice frameworks, with a view to increasing the number of female offenders accessing restorative justice, as well as to ensure that those women who do take part have a positive experience of it."

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