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Los Angeles County Settles Jail Brutality Case; Will Get Court Monitor

A court-appointed panel will be asked to monitor the use of force by sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles County jails, part of a far-reaching settlement to a lawsuit alleging brutal beatings of inmates, the Los Angeles Times reports. Approved yesterday by county supervisors, the settlement stipulates that jailers would be directed to strike an inmate in the head only when the inmate poses a serious danger.

 

 

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Federal Judge Voids Obama Deportation Delay; DOJ Calls Ruling "Unfounded"

A federal judge in Pittsburgh ruled that President Obama overstepped his authority and violated the Constitution when he issued an executive order last month to delay deportation for millions of people living in the U.S. illegally, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In a local case of a Honduran man who illegally re-entered the country, U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab said the president cannot use his executive powers to bypass Congress. The judge, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, said the president’s order amounts to “unilateral legislative action” and is unconstitutional.

“Congress’ lawmaking power is not subject to presidential supervision or control,” the judge wrote in a 38-page opinion that quickly made its way to national news websites. He said inaction by Congress on immigration does not endow the president with legislative powers to enact law, even temporarily. “Presidential action may not serve as a stop-gap or a bargaining chip to be used against the legislative branch,” he wrote. The Justice Department said the ruling "is unfounded and the court had no basis to issue such an order.” The case involves Elionardo Juarez-Escobar, 42, a Honduran native who was arrested in April on a charge of drunk driving. He was later indicted for illegally returning to the U.S. after he’d been deported from New Mexico in 2005 after being caught there by the Border Patrol.

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Friends Dismiss PTSD As Cause Of Family Massacre By Pennsylvania Man

Bradley William Stone butchered his ex-wife and her family, leaving a trail of blood and gore across Montgomery County, Pa., as he moved from house to house, town to town, ambushing them in the middle of the night like a demon from hell, says the Philadelphia Daily News. The question is why. Hope of making sense of the Monday morning massacre that claimed the lives of Nicole Stone and five relatives was snuffed out yesterday, when the body of Stone, 35, was found in the woods a half-mile from his house. Stone committed suicide, apparently hacking away at himself with a knife, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. The discovery of his body brought an end to a manhunt that had left the area on edge.

Friends of Stone and his ex-wife were left with the impossible task of trying to reconcile the guy they thought they knew - a father who adored his two daughters - with the cold-blooded killer whose fury made national headlines. Military veterans who served with Stone in the Marines recoiled at media reports that seemed to link the bloodshed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that Stone was supposedly saddled with from a tour in Iraq. "A lot of us come home with it, but you can't blame what happened there on PTSD," said a veteran who once worked alongside Stone. "It really is the person you are underneath that will decide if you do something like this."

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Should Parents Be Held Criminally Responsible For Kids' Cyberbullying?

After 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death from a tower in an abandoned Florida concrete plant last year, "cyberbullying" was on the nation's tongue, NPR reports. Two classmates were charged with tormenting the girl so viciously on social media and in person that she committed suicide. Cyberbullying (aggravated stalking) charges were dropped and much of the blame landed not on Sedwick's classmates, but on their parents. Criminal defense lawyer Mark O'Mara drafted legislation to hold parents criminally liable for their kids' cyberbullying. Parents who let their children "use social media as a weapon need to wake the hell up," he said.

Most states hold parents liable for their kids in civil court and criminalize "contributing to the delinquency of a minor." Criminal charges for bad parenting are less common. Davenport, Ia., experimented with holding parents responsible for crimes like breaking curfew and possessing marijuana, but the Iowa Supreme Court struck down parts of the law. No research has been done to determine the effectiveness of laws that hold parents criminally liable, says Eve Brank of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "It's often just a way for politicians to look hard on juvenile delinquency," she says.

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Senate Votes 55-39 To Confirm Saldana, First Hispanic Woman To Head ICE

Over Republican objections, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Sarah Saldaña, to be an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, The Hill reports. The vote was 55-39 to confirm her as head of Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE). She will be the first Hispanic woman to lead the agency. Republicans objected partly because she would be tasked with enforcing President Obama’s executive order to issue worker visas to illegal immigrants.

“She will continue the pattern of lawlessness perpetuated by the president and the political leadership at the Department of Homeland Security,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.). “Congress cannot and must not confirm anyone to lead an agency in DHS or other law enforcement agency who supports executive amnesty.” On the Democratic side, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-De.) said, "We’re talking about filling a big [leadership] gap,""It’s an agency that has been without a Senate-appointed leader for 16 months." Democrats said Republicans complained about a lack of border security yet held up the very nominee that would be charged with securing the border.

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Have One In Five College Women Been Sexually Assaulted? It's Not Certain

The Washington Post has again analyzed the oft-reported statistic that one in five women on college campuses are sexually assaulted. Such reports prompted the White House this year launch a task force on the issue, and President Obama used the one in five figure, which was also in the first sentence of the group's April report. The statistic is derived from a 2007 study conducted for the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice. Researchers led by Christopher Krebs of RTI International surveyed undergraduates at two large public universities, one in the Midwest and one in the South. A total of 5,446 undergraduate women took part in a random sample. The response rate was low.

The Post says "information that is localized to the seniors at two colleges has now been extrapolated by politicians to the universe of college experience." NIJ says that rapes and other forms of sexual assault are among the most underreported crimes, but that “researchers have been unable to determine the precise incidence of sexual assault on American campuses because the incidence found depends on how the questions are worded and the context of the survey.” This month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study on the subject that suggested much lower levels of sexual assault than indicated in the 2007 study. The Post's fact checker analyzes "issues" with various surveys on the subject. "Given the uncertainty of the research–and various surveys and anecdotal accounts indicating there likely is a serious problem of sexual assault on campuses across the country," the Post awards this statistic a single "Pinocchio."

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Amid Crime Increase, Los Angeles Police To Improve Accuracy Of Statistics

Los Angeles police officials have announced reforms to improve the accuracy of the city's crime statistics, saying reporting errors undermine the public's trust in the department, according to the Los Angeles Times. Crime reporting "is a critical aspect of what we do," said Assistant Chief Michel Moore, noting that the data is used to determine where to assign patrols units and develop other crime fighting strategies. "Garbage in equals garbage out."

 

Under the plan, supervisors, clerks and detectives are undergoing training to better understand how to classify crimes under federal reporting guidelines that police departments nationwide are supposed to follow. A new rule will place the onus on station supervisors to classify crimes correctly. The change come after a Times investigation found the department reported a significant number of serious violent crimes as minor offenses. The errors artificially lowered the city's official crime figures. Police Chief Charlie Beck said the Times report had been "the impetus for a lot of" the reforms. The reforms come as the city is poised to finish the year with an increase in violent crime for the first time in more than a decade.

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Murders Up In El Paso; Officials Say Mexico's Problems Aren't Responsible

After four years running as the safest city of its size in the nation, El Paso will close out 2014 with an 80 percent increase in murders, reports the Texas Tribune. The jump from 11 murders in 2013 to 20 so far this year doesn't mean the city is unsafe, analysts insist, and law enforcement officers say spillover crime from Mexico is not to blame. The increase is consistent with recent trends, said U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Tx.), one of a group of border Democrats that has for years fought back against claims that Texas border cities are unsafe because of violence in Mexico.

“We’re in between as low as five [in 2010], which is remarkable, and as high as 23 [in 2012] in the last four years,” he said. “This [increase] should and does catch our attention. It’s concerning but it’s not alarming.” O’Rourke often touts the "safest city" title in interviews and congressional hearings on border security and immigration. The increase in murders shouldn't stain El Paso’s image, he said, because major crimes that the FBI designates as “Part 1 crimes,” including rape, aggravated assault, robbery and major theft, are down in El Paso by 6 percent. Victor Manjarrez of the National Center for Border Security and Immigration at the University of Texas at El Paso, said crime statistics change everywhere, and El Paso isn't any different.

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TCR at a Glance

Study: Summer Jobs Can Reduce Teen Violence

new & notable December 10, 2014

Youth employment can have a long-lasting impact on violent crime rates, according to a new study from the University of Chicago Crime Lab...