Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2017
Office of the Attorney General of Canada - Preparing Women Offenders for Release - Correctional Service Canada
"Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is responsible for the safe and secure custody of women offenders serving sentences of two years or more, and for preparing them for successful reintegration into the community upon release. It must also adopt programs and policies that are responsive to the unique needs of women offenders, including Indigenous women....

This audit focused on whether Correctional Service Canada assigned and delivered correctional programs, interventions, and mental health services to women offenders in federal custody—including Indigenous women offenders—that responded appropriately to their unique needs and helped them successfully reintegrate into the community."
Why are Women Prisoner Numbers Rising so Rapidly?
"   ICPR [has] released the most comprehensive global dataset ever produced on women prisoner numbers. The fourth edition of [the] World Female Imprisonment List – published on 9 November – shows that the world’s female prison population has increased by about 53% since 2000. In comparison, the male prison population has gone up by around 20%. Numbers of women prisoners are rising in every continent of the globe, with significant increases reported in both developed and less developed countries....

For virtually every country across the globe, the List gives information on the total number of women and girls in prison; the percentage of that country’s prison population comprised by women; and the number of imprisoned women and girls per 100,000 of the national population (the ‘prison population rate’). The List also includes information about trends in female imprisonment, at national, regional and continental levels. F…
10 Gun Violence Prevention Victories Since Sandy Hook
"Nearly five years after a mass shooter murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary school, Republican politicians are still blocking any attempt to pass tougher federal gun control laws.

The lack of congressional action has prompted outrage, despair and a sense that the gun debate is intractable.

But outside Washington, at the state and local level, the fight to prevent gun violence is anything but over. Here are 10 victories since 2013 in the fight to prevent gun deaths and save lives – including a major effort led by the gun industry itself."
Homicide in Canada, 2016
"In Canada and other countries, the homicide rate is often considered as a benchmark for levels of violent activity. Homicides remain a rare occurrence in Canada, accounting for less than 0.2% of violent crimes reported by police in 2016, yet their occurrence can negatively impact feelings of safety within communities. While Canada reported a small decrease in the homicide rate in 2016, some areas of Canada saw an increase in homicides involving gangs and firearms."
Young Offenders, Trauma-Informed Work & Social Media
"On the 26 October HMI Probation published a thematic report on the public protection work of Youth Offending Teams. The inspection focussed on young people convicted of violent or sexual offences or who were assessed by the YOT as presenting a high risk of serious harm to the public. Headline findings included the high levels of trauma in the lives of those young people and also the extent that social media was featuring in the build up to offences involving violence. Commentary on the report tended to focus on either trauma or social media but rarely both. During fieldwork, it was apparent to inspectors that trauma features extensively in young people’s history and social media extensively in their current lives. The report argues that work with young people will have most impact if it takes account of both these issues."
When Ex-Convicts Become Criminologists
"...Over the past few decades, some ex-convicts have turned to academia, aiming to put their experience 'inside' to good use. They use their knowledge of the criminal justice system to select research questions and design studies. They use their history to gain prisoners’ trust. And they work to counteract what they see as a strong bias in academic criminology toward the perspectives of authorities in the criminal justice system."
Going to Pot? The Impact of Dispensary Closures on Crime
"...The idea that marijuana dispensaries attract crime has proved influential with policymakers. For example, an Oregon state senator argued that a law allowing cities to ban dispensaries was important to 'empower them to protect our children and families.' In Los Angeles, the setting for this study, the city council cited crime in its 2010 decision to cap the number of dispensaries in the city. Yet, empirical evidence to support any link (positive or negative) between marijuana dispensaries and crime is quite limited."
What Were You Thinking? How Jurors Read Your Guilty Mind
"A central tenet of Anglo-American penal law is that in order for an actor to be found criminally liable, a proscribed act must be accompanied by a guilty mind. While it is easy to understand the importance of this principle in theory, in practice it requires jurors and judges to decide what a person was thinking months or years earlier at the time of the alleged offense, either about the results of his conduct or about some elemental fact (such as whether the briefcase he is carrying contains drugs). Despite the central importance of this task in the administration of criminal justice, there has been very little research investigating how people go about making these decisions, and how these decisions relate to their intuitions about culpability. Understanding the cognitive mechanisms that govern this task is important for the law, not only to explore the possibility of systemic biases and errors in attributio…
Portugal's Radical Drug Policy Is Working: Why Hasn't the World Copied It?
"...In 2001...Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them.

The opioid crisis soon stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates.... It’s misleading, however, to credit these positive results entirely to a change in law.

Portugal’s remarkable recovery, and the fact that it has held steady through several changes in government – including conservative leaders who would have preferred to return to the US-style war on drugs – could …
HM Chief Inspectorate of Prisons: Staffing Problems Impact Negatively on Children in Custody
Staffing problems meant far too many boys were locked up in cells nearly all day in young offender institutions, according to an annual report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons on the experiences of detained children aged 12 to 18.

Though the numbers who had felt unsafe in YOIs had fallen from a record high level in 2015–16, surveys in 2016–17 still found almost 40% had felt unsafe. Children in secure training centres (STCs), home to a larger number of under-16s, generally felt safer than those in YOIs but a fifth said they had no-one to turn to if they had a problem.

And in 2016–17, across both types of custody, there were disproportionate numbers of black and minority ethnic children, and children from Gypsy, Romany or Traveller communities, compared to their representation in the general population.  Children with disabilities and mental and emotional health problems, and with backgr…
Why Police Body Cams Aren't What They Seem To Be
"Somewhere between one-fifth and one-half of U.S. police officers are wearing body-worn video cameras. It’s hard to tell the exact number, but we know the number is rising.

Body cams, which clip to the uniform or headgear of an officer, and are intended to capture the officer’s-eye-view of incidents, have been called the most important solution to police transparency in America. But as a recent podcast of our Quality Policing series shows, it’s worth looking beyond the rhetoric.

'Today I think I have found the solution that will help law enforcement officers and our citizens go home safe,' Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said in 2015. 'That solution [is] body-worn cameras to be worn by our law enforcement officers throughout this country.'

There was literally no evidence that this was true."

U.S. Crime Rate Stable, Victimization Survey Says
"As reported by crime victims, the national crime rate last year remained about the same as the 2015 total, the U.S. Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported on Thursday.

In 2016, the survey said, residents aged 12 or older experienced 5.7 million violent victimizations, a rate of 21.1 per 1,000 persons.

The previous year, the same survey reported five million violent victimizations, a rate of 18.6 per 1,000 people.

However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) which compiled the survey, said the new report did not establish a crime increase because the methodology changed during the year."

China: Police Big Data Systems Violate Privacy, Target Dissent
"The Chinese government should stop building big data policing platforms that aggregate and analyze massive amounts of citizens’ personal information, Human Rights Watch said today. This abusive 'Police Cloud' system is designed to track and predict the activities of activists, dissidents, and ethnic minorities, including those authorities say have 'extreme thoughts,' among other functions.

China has no enforceable protections for privacy rights against state surveillance.

'It is frightening that Chinese authorities are collecting and centralizing ever more information about hundreds of millions of ordinary people, identifying persons who deviate from what they determine to be ‘normal thought,’ and then surveilling them,' said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. 'Until China has meaningful privacy rights and an accountable police force, the government should im…
Ontario Strengthening Police Oversight, Redefining Core Police Duties
"Sweeping changes to Ontario's policing laws were introduced Thursday, including strengthening oversight, making it possible to suspend officers without pay and redefining police duties.

The new rules, contained in a massive piece of legislation years in the making, would include the first update to the province's Police Services Act in more than 25 years.

'The issues faced by police services and their members today are far more complex than when the act was developed,' said Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde. 'The last time the act was revised, there was no internet, the Blue Jays won the World Series and you needed a briefcase to carry your cellphone.'
Many of the policing updates stem from Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch's report on police oversight, released earlier this year, and include requiring the Special Investigations Un…
Correctional Services Canada Failing Younger Inmates, Advocates Argue in Report
"Canada's prison watchdog and Ontario's Child Advocate say Correctional Service Canada is squandering opportunities to turn young federal inmates' lives around.

'The majority of them are not enrolled in programs or school, not because they're not motivated but because they're wait listed and there are very few programs being offered,' said Canada's Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger in an interview with CBC News. 'They're also not connecting with the programs.'

Zinger said Correctional Services Canada has designed programs — such as anger management — with an older inmate in mind, when younger offenders require basic skills such as how to prepare meals, apply for a job and open a bank account.

The report ... titled 'Missed Opportunities,' was produced by Zinger and Ontario's child advocate, Irwin Elman.

'Young people who find them…
Why Don't Police Body Cameras Work Like We Expected?
"Police-worn body cameras do not reduce the instances of police use of force. Nor do they reduce citizen complaints about excessive force. These are the unexpected findings from the largest study to date on the subject, which casts doubt on the generally accepted wisdom regarding body camera effectiveness. “We found essentially that we could not detect any statistically significant effect of the body-worn cameras,” said Anita Ravishankar, one of the researchers behind the study."
Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
"Every state and the federal government allow prison sentences that are so long that death in prison is presumed. This report provides a comprehensive profile of those living in this deep end of the justice system. Our analysis provides current figures on people serving life with parole (LWP) and life without parole (LWOP) as well as a category of long-term prisoner that has not previously been quantified: those serving “virtual” or de facto life sentences. Even though virtual life sentences can extend beyond the typical lifespan, because the sentences are not legally considered life sentences, traditional counts of life-sentenced prisoners have excluded them until now."

Women Need Health and Dental Care to Stay Out of Prison
"In British Columbia, the population of women prisoners is on the rise. The number of women incarcerated each year has increased 20 per cent between 2012 and 2015. There have been few studies to date on the rates of return to prison among the female prison population. There is research that evaluates the effectiveness of substance abuse programming, investigates risk factors for return to prison and the effectiveness of community-based after care. None have examined the role of health-related factors.

Our research study, Doing Time, began with participatory health research forums held within the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women. In these forums, inmates gathered informally to talk about their life trajectories and what their hopes for the future were. They are described in more detail in our book, Arresting Hope.

Inmates also identified the health and social goals they believed would help them transition successfull…
"Cooking them to Death": the Lethal Toll of Hot Prisons
"...Although there are no national figures on how many prisoners die of heat illness, horror stories emerge every summer: inmates screaming 'Help us!' out of the windows of a St. Louis jail; New Hampshire men flooding their scorching cells to cool them down; Arizona prisoners whose shoes melt in the sun.

A growing segment of the incarcerated population is especially heat-sensitive. Jails and prisons house an increasing number of people with mental illness; as many as one in five Texas prisoners are prescribed psychotropic medications, which make the body more vulnerable to heat. A similar number receive blood pressure drugs, which can cause the same problem. And the rise of longer sentences in the 1980s and 90s has produced a surge of older prisoners, who are particularly susceptible to heat illnesses...."
Harvard Study Shows Actual Number of People Killed by U.S. Police
"In a revelatory new study published Tuesday, Harvard public health researchers report that in 2015, a total of 1,166 people were killed by police in the United States. What’s staggering about this research is not just the massive number of police killings it reports — and knowing that many of those police aren’t disciplined, — but the fact that scientists were able to conduct the study at all. Historically, the U.S. government has been unable to provide a full count of people killed by police that has the confidence of federal statisticians.

This new study, published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, is the first to quantify the undercounting of police-related deaths in both a nationwide death certificate data and in a news media-based database — which makes it the most accurate count the public has to date."
View the Study

Related Article:

Debate over Police Shootings Raises Questions Over Police Versus Tactic…
Women's Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie
"This report provides a first-of-its-kind detailed view of the 219,000 women incarcerated in the United States, and how they fit into the even larger picture of correctional control. Since 2014, the Prison Policy Initiative has quantified the number of people incarcerated in the United States, and calculated the breakdown of people held by each correctional system by offense in an annual Whole Pie: Mass Incarceration report. This report, done in collaboration with the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, finally provides similar data on women incarcerated in the Unites States. We break the data down to show the various correctional systems that control women, and to examine why women in the various systems of confinement are locked up."
Prison: Evidence of its Use and Overuse from Around the World
"Across much of the world, recent decades have seen rapid and unrelenting growth in the use of imprisonment as a response to crime and social disorder. Today, well over 10 million people are imprisoned worldwide. Jurisdictions that have seen the fastest growth in prisoner numbers include the United States, where the total prison population more than quadrupled from around half a million in 1980 to its peak of over 2.3 million in 2008. Brazil has seen prisoner numbers increase twenty-fold from around 30,000 in 1973 to over 600,000 today. England and Wales provides another – albeit less dramatic – example of prison population growth: in 1975 there were around 40,000 prisoners; by 2012 the number had more than doubled to almost 87,000."

"This report looks at patterns of imprisonment in ten contrasting jurisdictions across all five continents of the world."

Short but not Sweet: a Study of the Impact of Short Custodial Sentences on Mothers &Their Children
"This research report is based on a small scale study of 17 post prison mothers, and their fifty children The report serves to highlight the significant harm of short custodial sentences on mothers and their children. The report, heavy with the voices of post prison mothers, identifies mothers' own view of the impact of short custodial sentences on themselves and their children. Mothers described challenges to their physical and mental health, challenges in relation to contact, lack of maternal support and significant impact on children. The report echo's previous research findings in relation to the harm of custodial sentences for mothers, reiterating that previously identified harms occur even when sentences are a matter of weeks as opposed to months. The report makes recommendations for positive change. The report concludes with suggestions for future …
Knowing More, But Accomplishing What? Developing Approaches to Measure the Effects of Information-Sharing on Criminal Justice Outcomes
"Information-sharing became a central element of the policy debate about U.S. homeland and national security after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. However, sharing of information across jurisdictional lines is just as important for everyday criminal justice efforts to prevent and investigate crime, and systems to provide such capabilities have been in place for many years. Despite widespread belief that information-sharing is valuable, there have been relatively limited efforts to measure its effect on criminal justice outcomes. To help address this need, we examined the measurement of information-sharing effects from the strategic to the tactical levels, with a focus on developing reliable measurements that capture the range of ways sharing can affect outcomes and how the practicalities of law enforcement work practices can…
When Bad DNA Tests Lead to False Convictions
"If you’ve ever watched a prime-time crime drama like CSI, you know that DNA evidence is often the linchpin that makes a case. Match a suspect’s DNA to DNA found at the scene of a crime and it’s certain they’re the culprit. The thing is, it’s not always that simple. Most people think of DNA testing as a monolithic, infallible technique. But there are many different kinds of tests—and many different ways of interpreting them. Sometimes, somewhere between the process of collecting evidence at the scene and processing it in the lab, something goes awry."
Federal Prisons at a Crossroads
"The number of people incarcerated in federal prisons has declined substantially in recent years. In fact, while most states enacted reforms to reduce their prison populations over the past decade, the federal prison system has downsized at twice the nationwide rate. But recently enacted policy changes at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and certain Congressional proposals appear poised to reverse this progress.

Congress, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), and the DOJ reduced the federal prison population by reforming sentencing laws, revising sentencing guidelines, and modifying charging directives, respectively. But the DOJ's budget proposal for 2018 forecasts a 2% increase in the federal prison population."
EU Money Laundering Analysis Offers Lessons for Latin America
"A new report by the European police agency Europol examines why so much suspect financial activity results in so few money laundering prosecutions, and offers recommendations to improve the success rate that contain important lessons for Latin America's anti-money laundering frameworks and investigative bodies.

The report, "From Suspicion to Action – Converting financial information into greater operational impact," details how between 2006 and 2014 the European Union (EU) saw a 70 percent increase in suspicious transaction reports (STRs), the filings of suspicious activity that financial institutions and certain commercial actors are obliged to make to their country's Financial Investigation Unit (FIU).

The STRs, of which there were nearly 1 million across the EU in 2014, form the building blocks of money laundering investigations. Europol acknowledges the impossibility of accurately assessi…
When Cops Commit Crimes: Inside the First Database that Tracks America's Criminal Cops
"Twelve years ago, a criminal justice master’s student named Philip Stinson got into an argument with his grad school classmates about how often police officers committed crimes. His peers, many of whom were cops themselves, thought police crime was rare, but Stinson, himself a former cop and attorney, thought the problem was bigger than anyone knew. He bet a pint of ale that he could prove it.
...Stinson made good on his bet with an extensive police crime database offering the most comprehensive look ever at how often American cops are arrested, as well as some early insights into the consequences they face for breaking the laws they’re supposed to enforce."
Less is More: How Reducing Probation Populations Can Improve Outcomes
"In this new report, co-authored by Michael Jacobson, Vincent Schiraldi, Reagan Daly, and Emily Hotez, the authors discuss the consequences of the tremendous growth in probation supervision over the past several decades in the United States and argue that the number of people on probation supervision needs to be significantly downsized.

The authors find that probation has often not served as an alternative to incarceration, but rather as a key driver of mass incarceration in the United States. Despite the large numbers of individuals under supervision, probation is the most underfunded of agencies within the criminal justice system. This leaves those under supervision, often an impoverished population, with the responsibility of paying for probation supervision fees, court costs, urinalysis tests, and electronic monitoring fees among a plethora of other fines. These financial obligations have incred…
The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy
"This article, the first of a three-part series, examines how the rules governing sexual-assault adjudication have changed in recent years, and why some of those changes are problematic. Part II will look at how a new—and inaccurate—science regarding key characteristics of sexual assault has biased adjudications and fostered unhealthy ideas about assault on campus. Part III considers a facet of the sexual assault adjudications that demands considerably more attention than it has received."

Part II - The Bad Science Behind Campus Response to Sexual Assault

Part III - The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases

Black and Mixed Ethnicity Women more than Twice as Likely to Face Arrest
"Black and mixed ethnicity women are more than twice as likely as white women in the general population to be arrested, according to a new report the Prison Reform Trust.

Black women are also more likely than other women to be remanded or sentenced to custody, and are 25% more likely than white women to receive a custodial sentence following a conviction, the report reveals. Black, Asian and minority ethnic women make up 11.9% of the women’s population in England and Wales, but account for 18% of the women’s prison population."

View the Report
The Militarization of America's Police May Reduce Crime: New Study
"Since 1997, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency has transferred surplus military equipment worth over $6 billion to more than 8,000 police agencies across the United States, according to official figures. Known as the 1033 Program, it is not without controversy, especially after police used armored vehicles and other military equipment to quell protests following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

The equipment includes everything from rifles and helicopters to uniforms and computers. Police departments receive the gear for free, though they are responsible for paying shipping costs. In 2015, after the violence in Ferguson drew national attention, the White House introduced some restrictions on the transfers; the Defense Logistics Agency would no longer give police grenade launchers, tanks or armed aircraft, for example.

Proponents of the transfers say…
Murders Surge in Florida in Decade after "Stand Your Ground" Law
"Murders climbed 22 percent in Florida in the decade after the state enacted its `Stand Your Ground’ self-defense law, even after accounting for the expected spike in justifiable homicides, a new study suggests.

Before the law took effect in October 2005, Florida residents had a right to use lethal force when they felt their life was endangered by a home intruder. The `Stand Your Ground’ law extended this right beyond the home, justifying deadly force for self-defense in other situations. 
On average, from 1999 to 2005, lawful homicides accounted for just 3.4 percent of all homicides in Florida. Between 2006 and 2015, the proportion of lawful homicides rose, accounting on average for 8.7 percent of homicides, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine."
View the Study
Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly
"Recent U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) policy banned transgender personnel from serving openly in the military. Potential changes to this policy raised questions regarding access to gender transition–related health care, the range of transition-related treatments that DoD will need to provide, the potential costs associated with these treatments, and the impact of these health care needs on force readiness and the deployability of transgender service members. A RAND study identified the health care needs of the transgender population and transgender service members in particular. It also examined the costs of covering transition-related treatments, assessed the potential readiness implications of a policy change, and reviewed the experiences of foreign militaries that permit transgender personnel to serve openly."

View the Report
Poor, Rural and Addicted: Drugs Drive Surge in White Women in Prison
"...The reasons for the influx of white women into prison aren't entirely clear. Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, has documented dramatic changes in the racial makeup of female prisoners across the country. He said tough sentencing for drug crimes accounts for much of the growth in the number of incarcerated women, driven by the decline of crack - which was more prevalent in inner cities - and the rise of meth and opioids in rural areas.

Incarceration is just one symptom of deeper problems affecting white women, especially those with little education who live in rural areas, Mauer said. Demographers last year noted a rare decline in life expectancy for this group, driven by a surge in deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide. Deaths among middle-aged women in small cities, towns and rural communities have risen the most, according to economists Ann Case and Angus Deaton.&qu…
Algorithms in the Criminal Justice System: Assessing the Use of Risk Assessments in Sentencing
"In the summer of 2016, some unusual headlines began appearing in news outlets across the United States. 'Secret Algorithms That Predict Future Criminals Get a Thumbs Up From the Wisconsin Supreme Court,' read one. Another declared: 'There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks.' These news stories (and others like them) drew attention to a previously obscure but fast-growing area in the field of criminal justice: the use of risk assessment software, powered by sophisticated and sometimes proprietary algorithms, to predict whether individual criminals are likely candidates for recidivism. In recent years, these programs have spread like wildfire throughout the American judicial system. They are now being used in a broad capacity, in areas ranging from pre-trial risk assessment to sentencing and probation…
The Ongoing March of the EU's Security-Industrial Complex
"The EU has hit troubled waters in recent years, but divisions and tensions within the bloc have not halted significant advances in the development and implementation of new security measures aiming to counter terrorism, fight crime, ensure 'border management' and protect critical infrastructure at the same time as constructing a European 'homeland security' economy able to compete with states such as the USA, Israel and China.

Propelled by a healthy dose of corporate influence and assistance, measures already in place or on the way include the EU-wide border surveillance system Eurosur; a new network of ‘Passenger Information Units’ for police profiling of air and, in the future, rail and ferry passengers; biometric databases and recognition and identification systems for public and private use alike; and new data-mining and predictive analysis tools that foresee police forces wielding powers akin to t…
Youth Homelessness Linked to Foster Care System in New Study
 "A first-of-its-kind study in Canada is drawing a link between youth homelessness levels and a foster care system that researchers say could be playing a more active role in keeping young people off the streets.

The study ... found nearly three out of every five homeless youth were part of the child welfare system at some point in their lives, a rate almost 200 times greater than that of the general population.

Of those with a history in the child welfare system, almost two of every five respondents eventually 'aged out' of provincial or territorial care, losing access to the sort of support that could have kept them from becoming homeless, the study found.

Canada is creating a group of young people who are at higher risk of becoming homeless because they lack resources when coming out of foster care, said Stephen Gaetz, the study's co-author and director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessne…
Video Chat Price-Gouging Costs Inmates More Than Money
"The more incarcerated people get to visit with their loved ones while they’re serving time, the less likely they are to reoffend later on. Research has repeatedlyshown it. Just where video visitation rights fall into that, though, has become a serious point of contention.

Criminal justice reform advocates have vehemently opposed the creep of video-only visitations into American jails and prisons. Video visits, which inmates pay for, often replace in-person visits entirely, while filling the coffers of for-profit vendors and local jails. In fact, one 2015 study by the Prison Policy Initiative found that 74 percent of jails that adopt video visitation have also banned in-person visits. Not only does that rob incarcerated people of the opportunity to see their children and families face to face, but every minute spent on these glitchy systems costs families money they often don’t have.
A new study by the prison refor…
Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Use of Restrictive Housing for Inmates with Mental Illness
"The Federal bureau of Prisons (BOP) is responsible for confining offenders in environments that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure.  To do so, the BOP utilizes various forms or Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) to confine certain inmates, including those with mental illness.  However, according to recent research and reports, as well as the BOP's own policy, confinement in RHUs, even for relatively short periods of time, can adversely affect inmates' mental health and be particularly harmful for inmates with mental illness....

 The Office of the Inspector General conducted this review to examine the BOP's use of RHUs for inmates with mental illness, including trends in the use of restrictive housing and the screening, treatment, and monitoring of inmates with mental illness who are housed in RHUs.  We found significant issues with the adequacy of…
More than Half of Black Residents in GTA have been stopped by Police in Public, new Report says
"A new report is shedding light on the types of interactions members of the black community in the GTA have with police officers.

One of the themes in 'The Black Experience Project' explores relations with police services, highlighting both negative and positive interactions with officers.

More than 50 per cent of those surveyed said they have been stopped by police in public places and that number jumps to nearly 80 per cent among males between the ages of 25 and 44....

After more than seven years of research, interviews, and community engagement, 'The Black Experience Project' study released its findings, aiming to answer the central question: 'what does it mean to be black in the GTA?'"

View the Report

Online Harassment 2017
"Roughly four-in-ten Americans have personally experienced online harassment, and 62% consider it a major problem. Many want technology firms to do more, but they are divided on how to balance free speech and safety issues online.

To borrow an expression from the technology industry, harassment is now a 'feature' of life online for many Americans. In its milder forms, it creates a layer of negativity that people must sift through as they navigate their daily routines online. At its most severe, it can compromise users’ privacy, force them to choose when and where to participate online, or even pose a threat to their physical safety.

A new, nationally representative Pew Research Center survey of 4,248 U.S. adults finds that 41% of Americans have been personally subjected to harassing behavior online, and an even larger share (66%) has witnessed these behaviors directed at others. In some cases, these experiences are limited to behaviors th…
Nine Lessons about Criminal Justice Reform
What Washington can learn from the states.

"Since November, a kind of fatalistic cloud has settled over the campaign to reform the federal criminal justice system. With a law-and-order president, a tough-on-crime attorney general, and a Congress that has become even more polarized than it was in former President Barack Obama’s time, most reform advocates say any serious fixes to the federal system are unlikely....

Here are a few lessons Washington can learn from the states...."

Whose Speech is Chilled by Surveillance?
"Women and young people are more likely to self-censor if they think they’re being monitored.

Earlier this month, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats backtracked on a promise to disclose how many Americans’ communications have been swept up in warrantless mass surveillance of foreign targets. In fact, Coats admitted that even 'Herculean' efforts by the NSA would be unable to the determine the number, which Reuters reports 'could be in the millions.'

...Activists and rights experts havelongargued that such state activities and threats can have a significant chilling effect on our rights and freedoms. Though skepticism persists about the existence of such chilling effects—they are often subtle, difficult to measure, and people are unaware how they are impacted—several recentstudies have documented the phenomenon. My own research, which received mediacoveragelastyear, examined how Edward Snowden’s revelations abo…
The Biometric Frontier: "Show me your Papers" becomes "Open your Eyes" as Border Sheriffs Expand Iris Surveillance
"Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has found little funding for his 'big, beautiful wall.' In the meantime, however, another acquisition promised to deter unauthorized immigrants is coming to the border: iris recognition devices. Thirty-one sheriffs, representing every county along the U.S.-Mexico border, voted unanimously on April 3 to adopt tools that will capture, catalogue, and compare individuals’ iris data, for use both in jails and out on patrol. Biometric Intelligence and Identification Technologies, the company behind the push, has offered the sheriffs a free three-year trial, citing law enforcement’s difficulties in identifying unauthorized immigrants whose fingerprints can be disfigured through manual labor or self-inflicted wounds.

Iris recognition is just the latest surveillance technology helping fortify …
How Strategic is Chicago's "Strategic Subjects List"?
"For the past four years, the Chicago Police Department has been working with researchers to build a system for judging which city residents are most likely to be involved in a shooting — either pulling the trigger, or getting shot. The resulting 'heat list' — officially called the Strategic Subjects List (SSL) — has, for the most part, been shrouded in secrecy and speculation. What we’ve known is that everyone on the list gets a risk score, reflecting their predicted likelihood of being involved in a shooting.

The list is, to our knowledge, the highest-profile person-based predictive policing system in use across the United States. Perhaps that’s why it has attracted significant press attention — often including overstated comparisons to Minority Report — even though little is known about how it works. Most predictive policing systems fielded by major U.S police departments today are 'pl…
Creepy ways Companies are Spying: New Privacy International Database Reveals Disturbing Details
"Human rights advocacy group Privacy International (PI) has launched a new searchable database that aims to map and highlights all the creepy technology solutions being sold around the world to enable surveillance on citizens, the companies that sell these solutions and the agencies they are selling them to.

The Surveillance Industry Index database, co-developed with pro-transparency software group Transparency Toolkit, features information on over 520 surveillance companies in the world, together with more than 1,500 brochures on surveillance technology solutions.

There are also 600 reports detailing where specific surveillance technologies were exported to that have been compiled by activists, journalists and researchers from looking at open source records, as well as investigative and technical reports, and government licensing data."

"Wireless Prisons" Exploit Inmates with High Users Fees, Claims Study
"Prisons should be wary of private communications firms that 'exploit' incarcerated individuals by charging high fees for the use of their services, the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) warned in a report today.

In a study of a contract awarded by the Colorado Department of Corrections to GTL (formerly Global Tel*Link) to provide computer tablets to inmates of the state’s prisons, PPI charged prisoners would be forced to pay 'exploitive pay-to-play' and subscription-based fees far higher than they would pay outside.

For example, inmates would have to pay 49 cents per electronic message or $19.99 a month for a music subscription. The contract gives GTL the power to raise prices when it suits the company’s interests, or 'to back out of the contract if it doesn’t make as much money as it hopes to,' wrote Stephen Raher in the report, entitled, 'The Wireless Prison: How …
Does Military Equipment Lead Police Officers to be more Violent?
"When law enforcement agencies are increasingly militarized, do officers become more violent?

...The 1996 National Defense Authorization Act allows the defense secretary to give local law enforcement the Defense Department’s  excess military equipment at no cost under the 1033 Program created by the act  — and the department increasingly made such transfers over the subsequent two decades....

In 1998, about $9.4 million in equipment was transferred to 290 law enforcement agencies. That amount began to jump dramatically after the 9/11 terrorist attacks....

Even controlling for other possible factors in police violence (such as household income, overall and black population, violent-crime levels and drug use), more-militarized law enforcement agencies were associated with more civilians killed each year by police. When a county goes from receiving no military equipment to $2,539,767 worth (the largest figure…
California Supreme Court makes it harder for Three-Strikes Prisoners to get Sentence Reductions
"Judges have broad authority in refusing to lighten the sentences of 'three-strike' inmates, despite recent ballot measures aimed at reducing the state’s prison population, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In a 4-3 decision, the court said judges may freely decline to trim sentences for inmates who qualify for reductions under a 2012 ballot measure intended to reform the state’s tough three-strikes sentencing law.

Justice Leondra R. Kruger, an appointee of Gov. Jerry Brown, joined the more conservative justices to reach the result.

The decision aimed to resolve questions posed by two ballot measures in recent years to reduce the population of the state’s overburdened prison system."

Behind the Curtain: The Illicit Trade of Firearms, Explosives and Ammunition on the Dark Web
"The potential role of the dark web in facilitating trade in firearms, ammunition and explosives has gained increased public attention following recent terrorist attacks in Europe. However, the hidden and obscure parts of the web are used also by criminals and other types of individuals to procure or sell a wide range of weapons and associated products through cryptomarkets and vendor shops.
While the use of these platforms as facilitators for illicit drug trade has been increasingly researched by a number of academics, little has been done to investigate the role of the dark web in relation to the illegal arms trade.

To address this gap, and with a view to supporting policy and decision makers, RAND Europe and the University of Manchester designed this research project to explore the worldwide illegal arms trade, with a focus on the role played by the dark web in fuelling and/…
Doctors Raked in Cash to Push Fentanyl as N.J. Death Rate Exploded
"The most powerful opioid ever mass-marketed was designed to ease cancer patients into death.

It's ideal for that: the drug is fast acting, powerful enough to tame pain that other opioids can't and comes in a variety of easy delivery methods -- from patches to lollipops.

But a dose the size of a grain of sand can kill you.

Meet fentanyl. It's heroin on steroids. It's killing people in droves. And, in New Jersey, you can get it after having your tonsils removed.

In fact, doctors who treat children's colds and adult's sore knees are prescribing it with alarming frequency, far more than oncologists easing end-of-life cancer pain.

The surge is stoked by companies that shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to doctors, wining and dining them in hopes of convincing them that their particular brand of fentanyl is the solution to all their patients' pain problems."

How Body Cameras Affect Community Members' Perceptions of Police
"Members of the public often do not accurately remember whether police officers with whom they interact are wearing body worn cameras (BWC). Yet despite this poor recall, this randomized controlled trial of BWC use in a single jurisdiction finds that community members are more satisfied with police encounters when the officer is wearing a body camera. While application of procedurally just practices is associated with greater levels of resident satisfaction with police than just wearing a camera, combining the two produces even higher ratings of police. These findings suggest that policies on camera use may enhance the technology’s ability to improve interactions between police and the public."

View the Report
America's Complex Relationship with Guns: An In-Depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of U.S. Adults
"As a nation, the U.S. has a deep and enduring connection to guns. Integrated into the fabric of American society since the country’s earliest days, guns remain a point of pride for many Americans. Whether for hunting, sport shooting or personal protection, most gun owners count the right to bear arms as central to their freedom. At the same time, the results of gun-related violence have shaken the nation, and debates over gun policy remain sharply polarized.

A new Pew Research Center survey attempts to better understand the complex relationship Americans have with guns and how that relationship intersects with their policy views."
View the Complete Report
The Impact of Organised Crime in Local Communities
"Organised crime is changing. Traditional forms of organised crime centred around drug dealing and serious acquisitive crime are being supplemented with 'new or emerging' crimes, such as modern slavery, child sexual exploitation and cyber fraud. It is now one of the government's main national priorities and new organisations at the national and regional level have been specifically set up to tackle it. However, the public view of organised crime is that while it is seen as a serious problem, it is not seen as a problem locally where they live. Since Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are required to reflect local concerns when deciding how to allocate their force's resources, organised crime therefore tends not to attract the resources it requires.

This study looks at the nature, scale and impact of organised crime on local communities. It focuses on the more hidden aspects of organised crime and how it impacts…
Step Back: Lessons for U.S. Foreign Policy from the Failed War on Terror
"In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States launched an international war on terrorism defined by military intervention, nation building, and efforts to reshape the politics of the Middle East. As of 2017, however, it has become clear that the American strategy has destabilized the Middle East while doing little to protect the United States from terrorism.

After 15 years of considerable strategic consistency during the presidencies of George Bush and Barack Obama, Donald Trump now takes the reins having promised to “bomb the sh—” out of ISIS and “defeat them fast.” At the same time, however, Trump broke sharply in his campaign rhetoric from Republican orthodoxy on Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever President Trump decides to do, an evaluation of the War on Terror should inform his policies.

We argue that the War on Terror failed. This failure has two fundamental—and related—sou…
There is now Proof the NSA Overindulges in Data Collection
"National security officials are continually reassuring Americans that their communications aren’t getting caught in massive dragnets, and that when it does happen, the communications are handled responsibly. But recently-released opinions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)—the seven-judge panel charged with oversight of National Security Agency (NSA) spying programs—show just the opposite is true. 

The heavily redacted documents, released on June 13 by the Department of Justice in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), show troubling abuses of surveillance powers granted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act." 

The Mental Health Crisis Facing Women in Prison
"More than two-thirds of incarcerated women in America reported having a history of mental health problems — a far higher percentage than their male counterparts, according to a study released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Although the prevalence of mental health disorders among people in prisons and jails is a well-known problem, the dramatic gender disparity exposed in the new report has been less discussed.

The survey, conducted from February 2011 to March 2012, asked more than 100,000 men and women in hundreds of U.S. jails and prisons whether they had ever been diagnosed by a mental health professional with a psychological disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety. The survey also posed questions about inmates’ mood and emotions in the previous 30 days.

Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said they had been diagnosed with a mental health…
Everyone is too Distracted to Stop Sharing Fake News, Study Shows
"Echo chambers, confirmation bias and ignorance. When explaining why fake news spreads on social media, we can be quick to blame the personal qualities of other people. But don’t be so hasty to point the finger at others for the popularity of false information on Facebook and Twitter. New research shows that everyone is prone to sharing less-than-truthful news when dealing with a never-ending stream of updates.

The scientists found that when the news cycle is packed to the brim, people will struggle to discriminate between fact-based stories and fake news on social media. This consequence is inherently built into how social media platforms work, according to the study published Monday in Nature Human Behavior, and may also explain popularity bias in modern journalism."

Study: Gunfire Kills or Injures more than 7,000 Children per Year
"About 19 U.S. children per day are killed by or receive emergency treatment for gunshot wounds, according to a new study from federal researchers. Among injury-related deaths, firearms are the second leading cause behind car accidents for children ages 1-17. 'These are preventable injuries that have a major public health impact on early death and disability among children,' lead author Katherine A. Fowler, Ph.D., said in an email interview. Dr. Fowler and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from national databases and published the findings in a new study, 'Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States,' (Fowler KA, et al. Pediatrics. June 19, 2017. Dr. Fowler called the work 'the most comprehensive examination of current firearm-related deaths an…
Screening of Police Charges could help Clear Crowded Courts, Study says
"Nearly half of all criminal charges in Ontario are withdrawn or tossed out before trial, a higher rate than anywhere else in Canada.

The finding comes in a new report that urges reform of the way charges are laid in the province, with the aim of relieving an overcrowded court system.

Using data from Statistics Canada, the study finds significantly heavier caseloads in the court systems of provinces such as Ontario — where police lay charges — versus British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick, where Crown attorneys screen charges before they are laid to decide whether there's a reasonable chance of conviction."

View the Report
Perspectives on Policing: Mixed Signals for Police Improvement: The Value of your Crime Severity Score May Go Up as well as Down
"The development of a Crime Severity Score for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics represents an important step towards a more sophisticated 'two-dimensional' understanding of police-recorded crime data. In this paper I start to unpick what it tells us about recent changes in the policing environment, point out its limitations as a tool for understanding crime change and flag-up some potential hazards in its usage, particularly as a tool for making judgements about 'performance'. I argue that its main value is to make central a set of 'severe' (high-tariff, high-harm, high-demand) abuse crime that are recorded in relatively low (but growing) numbers, and for which changes in the volume recorded by the police are a poor indicator of change in actual incidence. This rebalancing should force us to reconsider the …
Can we Predict a Riot? Disruptive Event Detection Using Twitter
"In recent years, there has been increased interest in real-world event detection using publicly accessible data made available through Internet technology such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. In these highly interactive systems, the general public are able to post real-time reactions to 'real world' events, thereby acting as social sensors of terrestrial activity. Automatically detecting and categorizing events, particularly small-scale incidents, using streamed data is a non-trivial task but would be of high value to public safety organisations such as local police, who need to respond accordingly. To address this challenge, we present an end-to-end integrated event detection framework that comprises five main components: data collection, pre-processing, classification, online clustering, and summarization. The integration between classification and clustering enables events to be detected, as well as re…
Report: America's Prisons are so Polluted they are Endangering Inmates
"According to a new investigation from Earth Island Journal  and Truthout, mass incarceration has led to some of the most egregious examples of environmental injustice. '[M]ass incarceration in the US impacts the health of prisoners, prison-adjacent communities, and local ecosystems from coast to coast,' the authors of the special report said.

Prisons are often located in areas with known environmental hazards. Nearly 600 federal and state prisons are within three miles of a Superfund site on the National Priorities List, and more than 100 of those are just one mile from a site."

View the Report
Police-Reported Hate Crime in Canada, 2015
"In 2015, police reported 1,362 criminal incidents in Canada that were motivated by hate, marking an increase of 5% or 67 more incidents than were reported the previous year. The increase in the total number of incidents was largely attributable to an increase in police-reported hate crimes motivated by hatred of a religion (+40 incidents) or of a race or ethnicity (+30 incidents)."
Experts Question whether British Police should Carry more Guns after Deadly Terror Attacks
"Police were at the scene of the deadly terror attack on London Bridge within two minutes of receiving the first call. In eight minutes, armed officers had shot dead all three attackers in the Borough Market area.

Seven people were killed in the weekend terror attack and 48 injured, including a police officer armed only with a baton who tried to fight off an attacker wielding a long hunting knife.

The incident, being described as eight minutes of terror, raises questions about the long-standing practice throughout Great Britain of having only specially armed police units. As lone-wolf terrorists use low-technology tactics to target civilians more frequently, should the U.K. consider providing all police officers with guns?"

Trump's "Travel Ban" is Based on an entirely False Legal Premise
"Donald Trump fired off several tweets this morning about his executive order barring for at least 90 days all immigration or travel to the United States for six Middle Eastern and African nationalities, stating that he thinks it should actually be much broader. I have previously explained why President Trump’s national security justification for the order is completely devoid of evidence. But another fact that we highlighted in our amicus brief deserves attention here: that the order’s supposed 'security' purpose is based on an entirely false legal premise."
What are Inmates Learning in Prison? Not Much
"...A report released Thursday by the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums provided an inside look at educational opportunities within the federal prison system that inmates say suffers from a glaring lack of trained instructors and a scarcity of classes.

The survey found that nearly all continuing education classes are led by fellow prisoners with little teaching experience. Job skills programs are only available to inmates who are nearing release, and college courses are too expensive for inmates whose incomes rely on the few dollars they earn from prison jobs. Very few respondents said they had access to a computer. In one case, a survey respondent said his prison geology class consisted of watching episodes of the BBC television show Planet Earth."

View the Report