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Survey: Police Forces Face Hiring and Retention Crisis

"Police agencies across America are having difficulty keeping and hiring police officers,  according to a new survey produced by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

'The policing profession is facing a workforce crisis,' according to the survey, titled The Workforce Crisis, and What Police Agencies Are Doing About It.  Fewer people are applying to become police officers, and more people are leaving the profession, often after only a few years on the job. These trends are occurring even as many police and sheriffs’ offices are already short-staffed and facing
ABC News reported, 'The surveys shows a ‘triple threat’ for police departments: there is a decrease in applications, early exits and higher rates of retirement.'

Agencies participating in the survey reported that there has been a 63 percent decrease in applying to become a police officer. Departments are also having trouble hiring non-white/minority applicants the most, followed by female offic…

Predictive Policing Poses Discrimination Risk Think Tank Warns, but AI shouldn't be Dismissed

"The use of data analytics and machine learning in policing has plenty of potential benefits, but it also presents a significant risk of unfair discrimination, security think tank Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) has warned.

A new report,Data Analytics and Algorithmic Bias in Policing, outlines the various ways that analytics and algorithms are used by police forces across the United Kingdom. 

This includes the use of facial recognition technology, mobile data extraction, social media analysis, predictive crime mapping, and individual risk assessment. The report focuses on the latter two and the risks they pose, given the predictive nature of these uses.

The study notes that if bias finds is way into these technologies, it could lead to discrimination against protected characteristics such as race, sexuality or age. This is a result of human bias in the data used to train these systems." 

Prosecutors, Democracy, and Justice: Holding Prosecutors Responsible

"As the nation grapples with fundamental questions about the nature of our democracy, advocates for criminal justice reform see hope in the nascent focus on one of the most powerful stakeholders in the legal system: the prosecutor.i1Across the country, prosecutor campaigns have shifted from debates over conviction rates and sentence lengths to candidates vying to show their commitment to ending mass incarceration and ameliorating other harms associated with the criminal justice system. While 85 percent of incumbent prosecutors ran unopposed between 1996 and 2006, and 95 percent of elected prosecutors were white in 2015, recent elections saw unprecedented electoral competition and diversity in prosecutor races across the country. As reform-minded prosecutors3 are elected in growing numbers, communities are holding them to account on their campaign promises to bring about deep criminal justice reforms. At the core of this new era of prosec…

Spike in California Handgun Sales Linked to Increase in Firearms Injuries

"In the weeks following President Barack Obama’s re-election and the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, Californians rushed to stock up on handguns.

Over the next year, firearm injuries in the state increased, according to a study released by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.

The study, the first to track the correlation between handgun purchases and firearm-related harm, showed that  gun injuries rose by 4 percent following a 55 percent increase in handgun sales.

The authors of the report, published in Injury Epidemiology, carefully hedged their findings to avoid drawing a direct cause-and-effect relationship. But they point out that, the number of guns purchased—36,142—above the normal pattern was associated with a greater risk of harm."

Read on...

Link to Full Text article

A Community-Based Report on Alberta's Supervised Consumption Service Effectiveness

"Alberta has six approved community-based SCS facilities operational in Calgary, Edmonton (three sites), Grande Prairie, and Lethbridge.1 The model used in each SCS organization is a supervised consumption and treatment-based approach....

Since 2016, 2,183 people have died in Alberta from opioids, with the vast majority (86%) now due to accidental fentanyl poisonings. The cost and burden of the opioid crisis on Alberta’s health care system is extensive, with huge impacts on Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responses and Emergency Department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. SCS provides a cost-effective way for people who use drugs to improve their quality of life and reduce the burden on EMS and ED. 

The recent 24% decline in fentanyl deaths in Alberta suggests that the harm reduction strategies are working, and their continued expansion into communities of need is a priority." 

Read on...

10 Most Censored Countries

"Repressive governments use sophisticated digital censorship and surveillance alongside more traditional methods to silence independent media.

Eritrea is the world's most censored country, according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The list is based on CPJ's research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to surveillance of journalists and restrictions on internet and social media access.

Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek and receive news and express opinions. These 10 countries flout the international standard by banning or severely restricting independent media and intimidating journalists into silence with imprisonment, digital and physical surveillance, and other forms of harassment. Self-censorship is pervasive."

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DOJ Survey: Violent Crime Now on the Rise

"The general trend of violent crimes committed in the U.S. has been steadily declining since the 1990s, but that crime rate appears to have reversed in recent years, based on findings released Tuesday from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)....

This Bureau of Justice Statistics’ report differs from the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR), considering the fact that the NCVS looks at non-fatal reported crimes and self-reported surveys, whereas the FBI’s UCR collects data solely from police databases....

NCVS argues that this stark increase in the rate of violent victimizations, 'was largely due to crimes that were not reported to police....'

Researchers found that 'From 2015 to 2018, the rate of violent victimizations that went unreported to police rose from 9.5 to 12.9 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, while the rate of violent victimizations that were reported to police showed no statistically significant cha…

The Future of Fentanyl and other Synthetic Opioids

"Deaths involving synthetic opioids in the United States increased from roughly 3,000 in 2013 to more than 30,000 in 2018. In fact, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are now involved in twice as many deaths as heroin. This book offers a systematic assessment of the past, present, and possible futures of synthetic opioids in the United States. It is rooted in secondary data analysis, literature reviews, international case studies, and key informant interviews. The goal is to provide decisionmakers, researchers, media outlets, and the public with insights intended to improve their understanding of the synthetic opioid problem and how to respond to it.

The authors conclude that (1) fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are becoming dominant in some parts of the United States and Canada, but remain less common in other parts of these countries; (2) a confluence of factors, including the dissemination of simplified and novel synthesis methods and increasing e-commerce, helps…

The First Alleged Crime Committed in Space Raises Questions about Jurisdiction in Orbit

"NASA is currently investigating what could be considered the first crime perpetrated in space, after one of the agency’s astronauts was accused of illegally accessing her wife’s bank account during her stay on the International Space Station. Investigators have yet to decide if the event actually constitutes a crime, but this case does raise questions about how we should handle criminal activity in space in the future."

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Arrest, Release, Repeat: How Police and Jails are Misused to Respond to Social Problems

"Police and jails are supposed to promote public safety. Increasingly, however, law enforcement is called upon to respond punitively to medical and economic problems unrelated to public safety issues. As a result, local jails are filled with people who need medical care and social services, many of whom cycle in and out of jail without ever receiving the help they need. Conversations about this problem are becoming more frequent, but until now, these conversations have been missing three fundamental data points: how many people go to jail each year, how many return, and which underlying problems fuel this cycle.

In this report, we fill this troubling data gap with a new analysis of a federal survey, finding that at least 4.9 million people are arrested and jailed each year, and at least one in 4 of those individuals are booked into jail more than once during the same year. Our analysis shows that repeated arrests are related to race and poverty, as well as high rates of…

Algorithmic Equity: A Framework for Social Applications

"Social institutions — such as markets, social media platforms, criminal justice systems, and employment processes — increasingly leverage algorithms for decisionmaking purposes. This report examines potential pathologies in institutional use of algorithmic decisionmaking tools. The primary focus of this report is to understand how to evaluate the equitable use of algorithms across a range of specific applications. The report outlines concepts of equity from philosophical, legal, and technical traditions to draw insights that apply across algorithmic decisionmaking contexts. The researchers develop a framework for examining algorithmic decisionmaking and work through three domain explorations (auto insurance, job recruitment, and criminal justice). In addition, the work contains a deep dive into an algorithm audit of a part of the North Carolina criminal justice system. The work ends with overall insights and recommendations of practical mechanisms for algorithmic go…

Metro Vancouver's Top Doctor Calls for Safe Drug Supply as Fentanyl Overdoses Rise

"Vancouver Coastal Health’s top doctor is joining the calls for a safe and regulated drug supply in the region to help combat the overdose crisis.

In a report released Friday, chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly says the safe supply would help fill the gap left by people who haven’t connected with the health care system, arguing expanding treatment for people battling addiction isn’t enough to eliminate further deaths.

'Replacing the unregulated, illegal supply of opioids with legal alternatives must rise to the top of our priority list, and requires our urgent attention,' Daly writes at the top of the report.


The report found fentanyl was detected in 87 per cent of overdose deaths across the Vancouver Coastal Health area in 2018 — a six per cent rise from the previous year.

In 2015, only 25 per cent of fatal overdoses involved fentanyl, an opioid 50 times stronger than heroin.

Daly makes 21 recommendations to improve services throughout the Vanco…

Gatekeepers: The Role of Police in Ending Mass Incarceration

"Police in America arrest millions of people each year, and the likelihood that arrest will lead to jail incarceration has increased steadily: for every 100 arrests police officers made in 2016, there were 99 jail admissions, up from 70 jail admissions for every 100 arrests in 1994. Ending mass incarceration and repairing its extensive collateral consequences thus must begin by focusing on the front end of the system: police work. Recognizing the roughly 18,000 police agencies around the country as gatekeepers of the system, this report explores the factors driving mass enforcement, particularly of low-level offenses; what police agencies could do instead with the right community investment, national and local leadership, and officer training, incentives, and support; and policies that could shift the policing paradigm away from the reflexive use of enforcement, which unnecessarily criminalizes people and leads directly to the jailhouse door."

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Link to F…

Mental Illness Plays Only "Limited" Role in Mass Violence: Paper

"Mental illness plays an 'important but limited role' in mass violence, according to a paper prepared for the National Council for Behavioral Health by the Medical Director Institute (MDI).

'While there is a modest link between mental illness and violence, there is no basis for the public’s generalized fear of people with mental illness,' said the paper, which summed up a recent panel of experts on mass violence convened by the MDI.

'Having a psychiatric diagnosis is neither necessary nor sufficient as a risk factor for committing an act of mass violence.'

The paper noted that mass violence is 'rare,' and has accounted for less than two-tenths of one percent of homicides in the U.S. between 2000 and 2016, even though the U.S. stands out among other advanced countries because of the frequent use of guns by violence perpetrators.

Efforts to tie such incidents to mental illness are understandable but misleading, the paper said."

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Model Practices for Parents in Prisons and Jails

"This report offers a comprehensive guide to inform correctional administrators in their efforts to reduce barriers to incarcerated parents’ contact and communication with their children. Informed by leading experts in the field and individuals directly affected by parental incarceration, the guide describes many low-cost, high-impact practices and provides administrators with evidence on the effectiveness of recommended practices and helpful tips and resources for successful implementation. Examples of family-friendly practices include designing welcoming visitor lobbies, providing parenting and parent-child relationship programming, allowing for contact visiting, coaching parents on telephone calls with their kids, hosting family activity days, and conducting family-inclusive reentry planning."

Read on...

Link to Full Report

James Alan Fox: There is no Evidence of an Epidemic of Mass Shootings

"The horrific mass killings in El Paso and Dayton have understandably inspired terror in America and calls for expanded gun control, predictive policing, and mental health interventions designed to reduce violence.

But Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, the leading researcher on the topic for the past 35 years, tells Reason, 'There is no evidence that we are in the midst of an epidemic of mass shootings.' The number of incidents and casualties are simply too small to make such claims and, he stresses, the media coverage of shootings often ends up creating a false sense that gun violence—which is at or near historic lows—is ubiquitous and growing.

In a wide-ranging interview with Nick Gillespie, Fox explains the common characteristics of mass killers, why violent crime involving guns has declined over the past several decades, and how cable TV and social media contribute to a false sense of panic."

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"Red Flags" and Guns

"Issuing extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), commonly referred to as 'red flag' orders, could reduce mass shootings, according to recent case studies.

Almost 80 percent of perpetrators of mass shootings had made threats in advance or somehow indicated in advance their plans for violent actions, according to a study published in the latest issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

In three of the most notorious mass shooting incidents—Parkland, Fl., Aurora, Co., and Tucson, Az.—all of the shooters were recognized by friends, relatives, law enforcement or health care professionals members to be at a 'high risk' for committing violence, the study authors said.

The case studies were prepared by researchers from the Violence Protection Research Program at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine. They evaluated California’s 2016 statute establishing Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), the first of its kind in the United States."

Read on.…

How the Justice System Can Reward "Going Straight"

"After punishment, is there room for society to acknowledge an offender’s efforts to turn his or her life around?

Two researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Law School argue that the criminal justice system should publicly celebrate cases where those who have been convicted of a crime show remorse and atone for their behavior.

'The criminal justice system traditionally performed its public functions – condemning criminal conduct, shaming and stigmatizing violators, promoting societal norms – through the use of negative examples: convicting and punishing criminal offenders,' wrote Paul H. Robinson and Muhammad Sarahne in a research paper entitled The Opposite of Punishment: Imagining a Path to Public Redemption.

'One could imagine, however, that the same public functions could also be performed through the use of positive examples.'

Creating a path to redemption and offering uplifting examples of those who have taken this path would encourage others …

The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Human Momentum

"How do ‘people power’ movements succeed when modest proportions of the population participate? Here we propose that the effects of social movements increase as they gain momentum. We approximate a simple law drawn from physics: momentum equals mass times velocity (p = mv). We propose that the momentum of dissent is a product of participation (mass) and the number of protest events in a week (velocity). We test this simple physical proposition against panel data on the potential effects of movement momentum on irregular leader exit in African countries between 1990 and 2014, using a variety of estimation techniques. Our findings show that social movements potentially compensate for relatively modest popular support by concentrating their activities in time, thus increasing their disruptive capacity. Notably, these findings also provide a straightforward way for dissidents to easily quantify their coercive potential by assessing their participation rates and increase…

Does Stop and Search Reduce Crime?

"Despite recent declines in its use, stop and search continues to be one of the most controversial powers vested in police in England and Wales. Yet until recently there has been surprisingly little research assessing its effectiveness in reducing crime. In this briefing we attempt to redress this imbalance. Starting with an overview of recent trends in the use of stop and search, we then draw on our own research, as well as a number of other recently published studies, to suggest that its overall effect on crime is likely to be at best marginal. Existing research evidence seems to converge on this conclusion. This, we suggest, means that questions of the effectiveness of stop and search cannot be considered independently of the wider issues that surround the power: social and cultural understandings of what police are for; and a clear-eyed view of the impact policing has for those individuals and communities subject to it."

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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..."

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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…