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Showing posts from 2019

State of the Criminal Justice System

"The Department of Justice Canada has created the first performance monitoring framework for Canada’s criminal justice system. It comprises broad expected outcomes, measured by selected national indicators. The Framework is based on extensive research and feedback from multi-phased consultations with criminal justice system partners, stakeholders, experts and other Canadians. The Department took on this work as part of its commitment to review the criminal justice system and as part of its broader efforts to identify and address data gaps that hinder evidence-based decision making. The Framework is presented through a State of the Criminal Justice System Report..."

Read on...

Access the Full Report

Reconsider "Violent Offender" Label, Panel Told

"Our criminal justice system’s treatment of those who have committed violent acts needs to change, said panelists Thursday at a presentation of two new papers by the Square One Project and the Emerging Adult Justice Learning Community.

The papers “Reconsidering the Violent Offender,” by the Square One Project and “Thinking About Emerging Adults and Violent Crime,” by the Emerging Adult Justice Learning Community provide research and recommendations about combatting violence and treating those with violent charges.

“The number one factor propping these systems up now is how we detain and sentence people we call violent offenders,” said Jim Austin, one of the authors of the Square One Project’s Paper. “We have to do something about the way we do this if we want to have any hope of lowering mass incarceration.”

Many individuals are labeled as violent offenders who are not actually violent, such as Sandra Bland, who was charged for with assault for kicking an officer, Au…

Sex Offender Recidivism Lower than for other Released Prisoners: BJS Study

"Released sex-offenders are less likely to be rearrested than other released prisoners, according to new data released by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

But sex offenders who do return to prison are more likely to be guilty of another rape or sex-related crime than others who recidivate, the data show.

The study, titled “Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from State Prison: A 9-Year Follow-Up (2005-14),” followed prisoners throughout the nine years after their release in 2005, comparing prisoners whose most serious offense was rape or sexual assault to other prisoners....

The BJS found that released sex offenders were over three times as likely to be re-arrested for rape and sexual assault than other released prisoners....

However, sex offenders were less likely to be arrested in general....

The study said the statistics are consistent with findings from a 2003 BJS analysis, which examined another sample of sex offenders following their release from …

Big Data and Criminal Justice - What Canadians Should Know

"On its surface, the term ‘big data’ refers both to very large data sets, as well as the tools used to manipulate and analyze them. This concept, however, does not just refer to the harvested information – it also refers to the motivations behind what harvesting that information is supposed to achieve. When data is collected en masse, and algorithms (a series of instructions that tell a computer what to do) cross reference data both within and between datasets, the computational software processing the data identifies patterns within them. It is this notion of “identifying patterns” that serves
as the backbone of predictive justice.

Predictive justice uses data on past occurrences or behaviours to make decisions about the future, such as who and where will be policed, how an individual should be sentenced given the risk they pose to others, and when someone should be released from prison....

Unfortunately, there has been a lack of both awareness and scholarship regarding how this…

Crime Up, Homicide Down: Five Things to Know about the 2018 Crime Statistics

"New national crime data for 2018 was released Monday, courtesy of Statistics Canada, with big changes to some key indicators. Here are five things that stood out:
Crime Up, but Still Near Decades-Long Law Less Homicide, but Provinces May VarySexual Assault is Up, and More Left UnreportedHate Crimes Down from 2017 PeakMore Fraud, More ExtortionRead on...

Link to Complete Juristat Report

What Doesn't Kill Us...

"In the face of a crisis or calamity people 'reconsolidate and rebuild' rather than descend into chaos.

An example of this is the Blitz and the Dresden Bombings of World War 11. In both cases the communities didn't crumble, instead they came together and helped each other survive.

However, as we've learned to better control man made and natural disasters our need to unite has diminished, and as [Centre alumnus] Vincent Harinam and Rob Henderson argue, 'one consequence of this is outrage culture'.

They continue, 'In the absence of legitimate calamities, we create artificial ones. Outrage culture is simply the calamitisation of the mundane. It is a process by which group solidarity can be lazily achieved by combatting non-existent crises. Whether it’s an actor fabricating a hate crime, journalists inflating the menace of a boy in a hat, or academics creating black lists, our outrage satisfies a deep desire to unite in overcoming a common t…

Memo to Prosecutors: Crime Victims Are Your Responsibility, Too

Legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, who died this weekend at 99, would often tell his assistant prosecutors: “Every case matters to the victim.” As far back as 1935, the Supreme Court enshrined the same point in a phrase that still resonates today.

The twofold aim of prosecution, the Court said in Berger v United States, was that 'guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer.'

The current criminal justice reform movement has, rightly, focused largely on the unmet needs of people charged with crimes, and on prosecutors’ role in addressing these challenges. However, this should not distract attention from the other fundamental work of prosecutors’ offices, as both Morgenthau and the Court made clear: to care for community members who have been victimized....

As a recent paper from the Institute of Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice argues, greater justice for crime victims requires reimagining the role of a p…

Want to Cut Back on the Prison Population? Start by Tackling Probation Reform

"President Trump recently noted the 3,000 individuals who will be released from prison next month thanks to the landmark First Step Act. Yet each day, we are sending 95,000 more people to prison in their place. We are sending them there not because they have committed new crimes, but because they have violated conditions of parole and probation. Adam Gelb, director of the Council on Criminal Justice, rightly calls this the “dirty little secret” of the criminal justice system in the United States.

Indeed, new research by the Council of State Governments shows that a quarter of all state prison admissions are due to minor technical violations of conditions of probation, an alternative to prison time, and parole, the release of an individual from prison before their sentence is complete. While on probation or parole, individuals are placed under community supervision and presented with a list of conditions to follow. Technical violations of these conditions can includ…

How Confirmation Bias Sends Innocent People to Prison

"A new study of wrongful convictions shows the problem goes beyond misconduct by police and prosecutors.

Last week an Oklahoma judge freed Corey Atchison, who had spent 28 years in prison for a murder he has always said he did not commit, after concluding that he had been convicted based on the false testimony of 'purported eyewitnesses' who had been 'coerced' by prosecutors. The next day, an Idaho judge exonerated Christopher Tapp, who had served more than two decades for rape and murder, after DNA evidence implicated another man, who confessed to the crimes.

While cases like these often feature wrongdoing by individual prosecutors and police officers, a new study suggests the problem is deeper. After analyzing 50 wrongful convictions and other investigative failures, Texas State criminologists Kim Rossmo and Joycelyn Pollock found that confirmation bias, reinforced by groupthink and strong incentives to quickly identify the perpetrators of highly pub…

Prosecution and Public Defense: The Prosecutor's Role in Securing a Meaningful Right to an Attorney

Prosecution and Public Defense: The Prosecutor's Role in Securing a Meaningful Right to an Attorney
"Public defenders have faced mounting caseloads and declining budgets for years. While well documented in court cases and research reports, this crisis has yet to be remedied through adequate funding or policy and practice change. The insufficient time and resources that public defenders have undermines representation for, and the life and liberty of, their clients.

All legal stakeholders should be concerned with the state of indigent defense and its implications for constitutional protections, equality under the law, and justice. In our adversarial system, prosecutors, in particular, have a role to play in securing a meaningful right to an attorney.

Today there is unprecedented focus on the power of the prosecutor. With discretion to charge, recommend bail, and condition pleas, prosecutors are amongst the most powerful stakeholders in the
criminal justice system. As communitie…

Report on Algorithmic Risk Assessment Tools in the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Report on Algorithmic Risk Assessment Tools in the U.S. Criminal Justice System
"This report documents the serious shortcomings of risk assessment tools in the U.S. criminal justice system, most particularly in the context of pretrial detentions, though many of our observations also apply to their uses for other purposes such as probation and sentencing. Several jurisdictions have already passed legislation mandating the use of these tools, despite numerous deeply concerning problems and limitations. Gathering the views of the artificial intelligence and machine learning research community, PAI has outlined ten largely unfulfilled requirements that jurisdictions should weigh heavily and address before further use of risk assessment tools in the criminal justice system."

Do Minimum Wage Increases Raise Crime Rates?

Do Minimum Wage Increases Raise Crime Rates?
"They do for younger workers and property crimes, finds a new paper by Zachary S. Fone, Joseph J. Sabia and Resul Cesur.

Back in 2016, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) claimed raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour could prevent up to half a million crimes annually. The basic idea was simple: there is good evidence criminal behavior is negatively related to wages. The CEA thought raising the minimum wage would raise the opportunity cost of low-paid workers engaging in crime.

Implicitly they were saying this crime-reduction effect would dominate any impact of job losses or hour reductions leading to more property crime, for economic reasons, or violent crime, for despair-related reasons. But this new paper suggests the CEA’s intuition on the balance of the effects was wrong, for younger workers especially."

Link to Full Text

Income-Based Fines Could Reduce Justice Debts for the Poor: Study

Income-Based Fines Could Reduce Justice Debts for the Poor: Study
"Some 300,000 Americans owed nearly $136 billion in criminal debt in 2017, the last year for which data is available, according to a study sponsored by the Brookings Institute.

An astonishing 90 percent of that debt is categorized as unrecoverable by the federal government, said the study authored by Prof. Beth A. Colgan of the UCLA School of Law.

But in the process, the escalating court fees and fines often end up locking low-income individuals behind bars in the modern equivalent of “debtors’ prisons” when they can’t pay, Colgan wrote.

In her study, sponsored by the Hamilton Project of Brookings, Colgan proposed a system of “graduated sanctions” that would be levied according to a person’s ability to pay."

Link to Full Report

New Report: Postsecondary Education In Prison Increases Employment Among Formerly Incarcerated, Cuts Costs & Benefits Businesses

New Report: Postsecondary Education In Prison Increases Employment Among Formerly Incarcerated, Cuts Costs & Benefits Businesses
"The Vera Institute of Justice and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality today released a new report, “Investing in Futures: Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Postsecondary Education in Prison.” The first of its kind report found that removing the federal ban on Pell Grants for people in prison would:

Increase employment rates among formerly incarcerated students by 10 percent, on average; combined earnings among all formerly incarcerated people would increase by $45.3 million during the first year of release alone; Provide employers with a larger pool of skilled workers to hire; and Reduce recidivism rates among participating students, saving states a combined $365.8 million in decreased prison costs per year.Link to Full Report
The Criminogenic and Psychological Effects of Police Stops on Black and Latino Boys
"Four waves of longitudinal survey data demonstrate that contact with law enforcement predicts increases in black and Latino adolescents’ self-reported criminal behaviors 6, 12, and 18 months later. These results are partially mediated by psychological distress. The younger boys are when stopped for the first time, the stronger these relationships. Boys’ race and prior engagement in delinquent behaviors did not moderate the effect. These findings fill a gap in the research literature on labeling, life course, general strain, and deterrence theories.... [and] raise policy questions about the influence of proactive policing on the trajectory of children."
The Case for Expunging Criminal Records
"The consequences of a run-in with the law can persist for decades after the formal sentence has been served. People with records face major barriers to employment, housing and education, effectively condemning them to second-class citizenship.
In recent years, criminal justice reform efforts have increasingly focused on finding policy tools that can lower these barriers. The most powerful potential lever is the expungement of criminal convictions, which seals them from public view, removes them from databases, and neutralizes most of their legal effects....
For many years, debates about expungement laws have been missing something critical: hard data about their effects. But this week, we released the results of the first major empirical study of expungement laws. Michigan, where our data came from, has an expungement law that exemplifies the traditional nonautomatic approach."
Link to Full Text
From Courtesy, to Discretion... to Heightened Police Power
"In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court legitimized pretextual policing. The case of Whren v. United States began when a vice squad officer noticed a Pathfinder SUV with temporary license plates waiting at a stop sign for more than 20 seconds—an unusually long time to pause at an empty intersection—in what the officer considered a 'high drug area' of Washington, D.C. Inside were two young black men. Suspicious, but without any specific reasons that the car’s occupants might be committing a crime, the officer stopped the car for making a right turn without signaling and driving at an 'unreasonable' speed. When the officer stepped up to the driver-side window, he saw two plastic bags of crack cocaine in Michael Whren’s hands.

Whren and his friend in the passenger seat appealed their federal drug convictions to the Supreme Court. They argued that pretextual traffic stops violated the Fourth Amendment, whi…
The Next Frontier for Juvenile Justice: Reinvest in At-Risk Youth
"There is no scarcity of research concluding that locking kids up for juvenile delinquency does little to teach correct behavior or prepare youth for successful adulthood. It’s not just  counterproductive; national and state-level findings reveal that it is also broadly racially discriminatory and a leech on the public purse.

In a new report, the Urban Institute argues that by repurposing public funds previously used on different elements of youth incarceration, jurisdictions will see decreases in youth delinquency and recidivism while building stronger communities and saving taxpayer dollars."

Link to Full Text
Predictive Policing is Tainted by "Dirty Data," Study Finds
"A new study from New York University School of Law and NYU's AI Now Institute concludes that predictive policing systems run the risk of exacerbating discrimination in the criminal justice system if they rely on 'dirty data.'

Law enforcement has come under scrutiny in recent years for practices resulting in disproportionate aggression toward minority suspects, causing some to ask whether technology – specifically, predictive policing software – might diminish discriminatory actions.

However, a new study from New York University School of Law and NYU's AI Now Institute concludes that predictive policing systems, in fact, run the risk of exacerbating discrimination in the if they rely on 'dirty data' – data created from flawed, racially biased, and sometimes unlawful practices.

Justice Denied: The Harmful and Lasting Effects of Pretrial Detention
"The pretrial population—the number of people who are detained while awaiting trial—increased 433 percent between 1970 and 2015. This growth is in large part due to the increased use of monetary bail. But pretrial detention has far-reaching negative consequences. This evidence brief presents information on the way that pretrial detention is currently used and summarizes research on its impacts. These studies call into question whether pretrial detention improves court appearance rates, suggests that people who are detained are more likely to be convicted and to receive harsher sentences, and indicate that even short periods of detention may make people more likely to become involved with the criminal justice system again in the future. The brief concludes by highlighting strategies that some jurisdictions have employed to reduce the use of monetary bail and increase pretrial release."

Link to Fu…
Inspector General: Chicago PD Gang Database Disorganized, Inaccurate
"The Chicago Police Department’s database of suspected gang members is disorganized, inaccurate and raises questions about fairness, the city’s inspector general said in a highly critical report released Thursday.

The 159-page study offered a number of recommendations to the city on how best to correct the database’s inaccuracies, which the Office of the Inspector General said undermines 'public trust and confidence in the police.'

In addition to containing incomplete and at-times contradictory information, the 'patchwork' of databases involves more than 500 agencies without cohesive oversight and accountability mechanisms, the report said.

'The lack of oversight and transparency for the ‘gang database’ contributes to a variety of negative consequences for both individuals and communities,' Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson wrote.

Among the report’s 30 recommendations, F…
Police in Canada are Tracking People's "Negative" Behavior in a "Risk" Database
"Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behaviour of vulnerable people—including minors and people experiencing homelessness—with little oversight and often without consent.

Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces—Ontario and Saskatchewan—maintain a 'Risk-driven Tracking Database' that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a 'negative neighborhood.'

The Risk-driven Tracking Database (RTD) is part of a collaborative approach to policing called the Hub model that partners cops, school staff, social workers, health c…
2018 Called "High Point" in Restoring Rights to Individuals with Criminal Records
"Some 30 states and the District of Columbia passed laws or enacted statutes aimed at helping returning incarcerees adjust to life in civilian society, representing a “high point” in national efforts to restore rights and status to people with a criminal record, according to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center (CCRC)....

During 2018, some 52 separate statutes (some addressing multiple restoration mechanisms),  three executive orders, and one ballot initiative aimed at enhancing the prospects for successful reentry and reintegration were enacted. In comparison, 23 states enacted 42 new restoration laws in 2017.

The CRCC said the 'most consequential single new law' was the ballot initiative approved by Florida voters last fall to restore the franchise to 1.5 million people with a felony conviction."

Vie the Full Report
The War-Torn Web: A Once-Unified Online World has Broken into New Warring States
The global internet continues to fragment. Governments, in particular, are using their influence to shape the ways that digital companies, markets, and rights connect us online. This new form of realpolitik, which we call “digitalpolitik,” is an emerging tactical playbook for how governments use their political, regulatory, military, and commercial powers to project influence in global, digital markets.

Last month, at the Internet Governance Forum, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, a multi-stakeholder effort to define internet principles around human rights law, with calls for protections against cybercrimes, intellectual property theft, hate speech, and hacking from nonstate actors.

The Untapped Promise of Cannabis Legalization
"Cannabis legalization is spreading across the globe. In this visionary talk, criminologist Akwasi Owusu-Bempah shares his insights on the people who have been most impacted by drug prohibition and explains how the economic benefits of legalization can be used to promote positive social change. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. His work focuses on the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice, with a particular interest in the area of policing. Akwasi is now studying various aspects of cannabis legalization in Canada. His current projects include a study of Black males’ perceptions of and experiences with the police in Greater Toronto Area."

Reimagining Prison Report
"Prison in America causes individual, community, and generational pain and deprivation. Built on a system of racist policies and practices that has disproportionately impacted people of color, mass incarceration has decimated communities and families. But the harsh conditions within prisons neither ensure safety behind the walls nor prevent crime and victimization in the community.

In this report, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) reimagines the how, what, and why of incarceration and asserts a new governing principle on which to ground prison policy and practice: human dignity. Basing American corrections practice on human dignity acknowledges and responds to the role formal state punishment systems have played in creating and perpetuating inequality. Vera proposes three practice principles to give life to this tenet: (1) respect the intrinsic worth of each human being; (2) elevate and support personal relationships; and (3) respect a pe…
Police Across the US are Training Crime-Predicting AIs on Falsified Data
"In May of 2010, prompted by a series of high-profile scandals, the mayor of New Orleans asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the city police department (NOPD). Ten months later, the DOJ offered its blistering analysis: during the period of its review from 2005 onwards, the NOPD had repeatedly violated constitutional and federal law.

It used excessive force, and disproportionately against black residents; targeted racial minorities, non-native English speakers, and LGBTQ individuals; and failed to address violence against women....

Despite the disturbing findings, the city entered a secret partnership only a year later with data-mining firm Palantir to deploy a predictive policing system. The system used historical data, including arrest records and electronic police reports, to forecast crime and help shape public safety strategies, according to company and city government materials. A…
The Rising Numbers of Women Recalled to Prison
"The number of women recalled to prison has more than doubled since the introduction of government measures designed to support people on release, according to a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust.

The report, Broken Trust, reveals that over 1,700 women were recalled to prison in England and Wales during the last year, and that reforms which were intended to help are making things worse. Women are trapped in the justice system rather than being enabled to rebuild their lives.

The study, based on in-depth interviews conducted with 24 women, explores why increasing numbers of women are being returned to custody, and what the impact is on them and their families. It found that the threat of recall for women serving prison sentences of under 12 months is contributing to a breakdown in trust between them and the probation officers responsible for their supervision in the community.

The extension of mandatory post-c…
Closed Quarters: Challenges and Opportunities in Stabilizing Housing and Mental Health Across the Justice Sector
"For decades, people with no fixed address have entered and left correctional facilities, yet there have been limited housing solutions available to them. The complex factors leading to criminal justice involvement, the multiple entry and exit points, the high prevalence of mental health and addictions problems, and the complexity of agencies and ministries involved, have resulted in a patchwork of responses. Without adequate housing and often lacking any support in the community, people end up relying on costly emergency services, such as shelters and hospitals (often taken there by police); on precarious housing, such as couch surfing; and on the few supports within the corrections sector to respond to their needs.

This report spells out the issues faced by people whose needs intersect and overlap the housing, mental health, and justice sectors in Ontario. Importantl…
Case Study of NYC Program Proves "No Need to Lock Up Kids for Public Safety"
"Juvenile arrests in New York City were slashed in half since the city stopped sending young people to youth detention facilities far from their homes, according to a study released Wednesday.

The so-called 'Close to Home' law enacted in 2012 moved all New York City youth out of state prisons and placed them instead in local programs that helped them address the substance abuse and socialization problems that had gotten them in trouble with police in the first place.

The study, produced by the Columbia Justice Lab, also documented a steep decline in juvenile detention placements compared to other cities in New York State.

According to the study’s findings, the decline in New York City juvenile arrests doubled from 24 percent to 52 percent since the Close to Home law was enacted."

Link to Full Report
Can Prosecutors Help Break the Cycle of Recidivism?
"When an analysis found that Miami-Dade County spent nearly $14 million in combined jail and health care costs in a five-year period on just 97 individuals, county authorities realized something was deeply skewed within their justice system.

In response, local police developed a new approach to what criminologists call the “frequent utilizers”—the small group of people who move between jails, emergency rooms, state hospitals, and psychiatric facilities in a never-ending cycle of despair.

Training priorities were changed, so that law enforcement sent troubled individuals to community services for counseling instead of repeatedly arresting them. As a result, the county’s jail population was cut in half from 7,000 in 2008 to about 4,700 in 2014, enabling authorities to close one jail facility, and saving some $12 million.

Such innovative strategies have become increasingly used across the U.S., as police, sheriff’s depar…
For Fentanyl Importers, Canada Post is the Shipping Method of Choice
"Once or twice a week, a 24-year-old man in London, Ont., opens up his laptop for a little online shopping—fentanyl, heroin and other recreational drugs. The man, who works part-time in the hospitality industry, started buying drugs on the web after moving home to get a handle on an opioid addiction. It was seriously damaging his finances, but he wasn’t interested in quitting entirely. 'Drugs are one of the things in my universe now because I want them to be there, not because they have to be,' he says. He turned to the internet for products he couldn’t find through local connections in a new city. When he finds what he’s looking for, he places an order. It doesn’t take long for it to be delivered through the mail.

The man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of tarnishing his job prospects, orders the drugs from a corner of the internet known as the dark web. It can only be a…
Intra-City Differences in Federal Sentencing Practices
"This report examines variations in sentencing practices—and corresponding variations in sentencing outcomes—in the federal courts since the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in United States v. Booker. The United States Sentencing Commission analyzed the sentencing practices of federal district judges in 30 major cities located throughout the country to determine the extent of the judges’ variations in imposing sentences in relation to the city average.

This report is the second in a series of reports updating the analyses and findings of the Commission’s 2012 Report on the Continuing Impact of United States v. Booker on Federal Sentencing.

Although the trend of increasing differences among judges slowed after 2011, the increasing differences in sentencing practices first reported at the district level in the Commission’s 2012 BookerReport generally persist to this day, even within the same courthouse."

Link to the F…
Too Many Children Remanded in Custody
"A new (23 December 2018) report from Transform Justice shines an important light on the often neglected issue of remanding children custody. the report: Path of little resistance: is pre-trial detention of children really a last resort? written by Penelope Gibbs and Fionnuala Ratcliffe found that despite a large  fall in remands over the last decade, figures have been rising again in the last two years.

The law and funding for child remand were changed in 2012. The LASPO Act introduced more stringent criteria for the use of custodial remand (officially remand to youth detention accommodation), the elimination of an anomaly whereby sixteen and seventeen-year olds were treated differently to other children and the delegation of remand budgets to local authorities.

Link to the Full Report
Trans Women: The Unseen Victims of Human Trafficking
"...In this report, we document the vulnerabilities that surround the lives of trans adolescents and adults when they leave their homes, whether to simply express their sexual identity or whether they are driven out by violence from their families, and how this uprooting makes them easy targets for human trafficking or the child sex trade.

The main route for this kind of exploitation runs through the Peruvian jungle to Lima, then continues into countries such as Argentina and Italy. However, the full nature of this violence eludes most victims because they believe it is the price to pay for being who they are."

Media Portrayals of Crime Create Problems
"Emotional public reactions to crime have always played an important role in shaping criminal justice.  This post draws from ten recent studies (listed and linked at the end of this post) to illustrate some of the ways in which media representations of crime lead to inaccurate public perceptions which in turn drive poorly thought-out laws and policies.  Three of the studies are by UK researcher Craig Harper, who has written quite a lot about the media and crime, especially sex crimes."

The Dean of UCLA Law Explains the Uncertain Future of Forensic Science
"Shows like Law and Order and CSI have taught a generation of Americans that blood spatters and handwriting analysis are crucial for catching criminals. The reality, says UCLA School of Law dean Jennifer Mnookin, is that many of these so-called pattern evidence techniques used in forensic science are faulty and not supported by evidence. 
In fact, when it comes to wrongful conviction cases (where new DNA evidence proves that someone was innocent), bad forensic science is the second most frequent contributing factor, behind only eyewitness testimony. There are real, and harmful, consequences to forensic science in the courtroom."
Link to the Complete Article
Broken Trust: The Rising Numbers of Women Recalled to Prison
"This small-scale study of recall gathered the perspectives of 24 women who had been recalled to prison. Our study found:
Almost a third (7/24) reported needing help with the combination of mental health needs, drug misuse and domestic violence19 women identified housing as the most important thing prisons must do to prepare people for release and 10 had been homeless at some point22 women disclosed being in risky situations while at liberty, including homelessness and domestic abuse; six were assaulted11 said they had been recalled for failing to keep in touch with their probation officer (‘responsible officer’). The women said that their responsible (probation) officers were unable to support them indealing with the social challenges they faced on release, particularly regarding housing. Thethreat of recall accentuated the fault lines in supervision relationships that were already fragile,inhibiting women from confidin…
Restoring Something Lost - The Mental Health Impact of Therapy Dogs in Prisons
"...the Centre for Mental Health published a new report evaluating the impact of therapy dogs in a prison environment. “Restoring something lost: The mental health impact of therapy dogs in prison”... describes the evaluation of a  therapy dog scheme introduced to three prisons in England’s North East by Rethink Mental Illness to pilot, develop and test initiatives which may reduce the risk of self-harm or self-inflicted death in prison. Rethink therapy dogs worked with women and men (including young men). The mental health benefits of therapy dogs have been demonstrated widely across health care settings. In the light of increasing rates of self-harm and suicide in prisons, the Centre for Mental Health explored whether these benefits could be replicated amongst people in prisons.

Evaluating the work of Rethink Mental Illness in three prison sites, Dr Durcan found that the therapy dogs had a …
Harm Reduction: Shifting from a War on Drugs to a War on Drug-Related Deaths
"The U.S. government’s current strategy of trying to restrict the supply of opioids for nonmedical uses is not working. While government efforts to reduce the supply of opioids for nonmedical use have reduced the volume of both legally manufactured prescription opioids and opioid prescriptions, deaths from opioid overdoses are nevertheless accelerating. Research shows the increase is due in part to substitution of illegal heroin for now harder-to-get prescription opioids. Attempting to reduce overdose deaths by doubling down on this approach will not produce better results.

Policymakers can reduce overdose deaths and other harms stemming from nonmedical use of opioids and other dangerous drugs by switching to a policy of 'harm reduction' strategies. Harm reduction has a success record that prohibition cannot match. It involves a range of public health options. These strategies would include medic…
Police-Reported Violence Against Girls and Young Women in Canada, 2017
"While the overall rate of police-reported violence against girls and young women fell from 2009 to 2017, the rate for sexual offences rose by 31% over the same period.

Violence affects both males and females, but in different ways. For example, girls and young women are more likely to be victims of sexual offences, and violence is more commonly perpetrated by someone close to them. In contrast, violence against boys and young men is most often related to physical assault offences, and it is more commonly perpetrated by a stranger or a casual acquaintance.

Detailed information is provided in the Juristat article, 'Police-reported violence against girls and young women in Canada, 2017.'"

Winter Thaws Can Bring Violent Crime Spikes: Study
"Criminologists have long known crime rates go up in the summer, but new research published in the journal GeoHealth also connects sharp climate changes in cold weather to higher crime rates.

Researchers looked at the specific impact weather has on violent crime during the winter months, when crime rates generally are thought to drop. They found that the relationship between temperature and violent crime was strong in the winter as well as the summer.

'As an example, it’s usually 20 degrees in Boulder, [but a rise on a] January day to 40 degrees will have more of a difference on peoples’ behaviors than going, say, 60 degrees to 80 degrees in the summer,' said lead researcher Ryan D. Harp, a PhD student at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The study, entitled 'The Influence of Interannual Climate Variability on Regional Violent Crime Rates in the United States,' gathered crime data from the Uniform Crime…
Correctional Control 2018: Incarceration and Supervision by State
"The U.S. has a staggering 2.3 million people behind bars, but even this number doesn’t capture the true scale of our correctional system. For a complete picture of our criminal justice system, it’s more accurate to look at the 6.7 million people under correctional control, which includes not only incarceration but also probation and parole.

The vast majority of people under correctional control are on probation and parole, collectively known as community supervision (or community corrections). An estimated 4.5 million adults are under community supervision, nearly twice the number of people who are incarcerated in jails and prisons combined. Yet despite the massive number of people under their control, parole and probation have not received nearly as much attention as incarceration. Only with recent high-profile cases (such as Meek Mill’s probation revocation) has the public begun to recognize the injus…
Project Inclusion: Confronting Anti-Homeless & Anti-Substance User Stigma in British Columbia
"By centring and amplifying the voices and experiences of people most affected by BC’s homelessness crisis and drug policy crisis, Project Inclusion identifies the legal, policy-related, and other structural barriers that must be addressed in order to meaningfully prevent opioid-related deaths and other health and safety harms, particularly among people who are experiencing homelessness and people in deep poverty who use substances.

Project Inclusion is the culmination of over a year of research by Pivot Legal Society lawyers and researchers, who travelled to ten communities across BC’s five regional health authorities. Working from the perspective that people are experts in their own lives and hold powerful visions for change, the Pivot team interviewed people about their experiences of homelessness, with accessing harm reduction and health care services, with the criminal justice sys…
A Collective Impact: Interim Report on the Inquiry into Racial Profiling and Racial Discrimination of Black Persons by the Toronto Police Service
"Between 2013 and 2017, a Black person in Toronto was nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto Police Service (TPS). Despite making up only 8.8% of Toronto’s population, data obtained by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) shows that Black people were over-represented in use of force cases (28.8%), shootings (36%), deadly encounters (61.5%) and fatal shootings (70%). Black men make up 4.1% of Toronto’s population, yet were complainants in a quarter of SIU cases alleging sexual assault by TPS officers.

SIU Director’s Reports reveal a lack of legal basis for police stopping or detaining Black civilians in the first place; inappropriate or unjustified searches during encounters; and unnecessary charges or arrests. The infor…
Reintegration in Ontario: Practices, Priorities, and Effective Models
"The reintegration of individuals exiting correctional facilities (hereafter 'releasees') in Ontario into the larger community has widespread implications for those being released, their families, and the broader society. While many releasees are in need of reintegrative supports, they often struggle to find stable housing, employment and/or educational opportunities, and access to necessary social, physical, and mental health services. Not only are these problems compounded by the social stigma of being labelled 'an ex-offender' or 'an ex-con', but also the lack of communication between stakeholders and a fragmented service provision model stretched across a large number of front-line service providers.

Addressing the complex needs of releasees through effective programs, services and practices is crucial for successful reintegration. Research literature is clear that successful reinteg…