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In "Grievous Act," Boy, 3, Caught In Chicago Gang Crossfire

Charges are pending for two suspects in custody after a gang-related shooting in Chicago Friday night that left a 3-year-old boy in critical condition, an incident that Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called a "grievous act," the Chicago Tribune reports. "That incident, just to be clear, was a confrontation between two gang members," McCarthy said. "And typically, shots were fired and an innocent ... was struck. The three-year-old is expected to survive at this point but obviously has some pretty significant injuries."

The boy was outside with his mother and another man when two men and two women walked past and exchanged words with the boy's mother and the man she was with, police said. Someone among the group opened fire from down the block after walking by, hitting only the boy.

 

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Homeowner Group Issue: What If Pot Is Legal, Neighbors Don't Like It?

Marijuana and hemp issues are increasingly facing homeowners' associations, reports the Associated Press. Some associations have changed their rules to accommodate for legal marijuana use or home-growing, but many more are banning home pot smoking. Homeowners' associations can't ban members from using marijuana in their homes when it's legal. If neighbors can see or smell weed, associations may regulate the drug as a nuisance, or a threat to children along the lines of a swimming pool with no fence.

"The fact that people may be legally entitled to smoke doesn't mean they can do it wherever they want, any more than they could walk into a restaurant and light up a cigarette," said Richard Thompson of a management consulting company that specializes in condominium and homeowner associations. There are growing conflicts among neighbors who want to smoke pot and others who don't want to see it or smell it. "What we're really seeing more now is regulating the associations' common areas," such as smoke wafting onto playgrounds or others' porches, said Erin McManis, an attorney in Phoenix whose firm represents hundreds of Arizona HOAs.

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New York Times Editorializes In Favor Of Marijuana Legalization

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana, editorializes the New York Times. The newspaper says there are "no perfect answers" to legitimate concerns about marijuana, but neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol It concludes that on every level , including health, the impact on society and law-and-order, "the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization."

The result would be putting decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use at the state level. Retaining the federal prohibition while letting states continue to experiment would leave "citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law," The Times says. The newspaper notes that marijuana arrests fall "disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals."

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"Going Dark"--FBI Increasingly Can't Intercept Online Messages

Federal law enforcement and intelligence authorities are increasingly struggling to conduct court-ordered wiretaps on suspects because of a surge in chat services, instant messaging and other online communications that lack the technical means to be intercepted, reports the Washington Post. A large percentage of wiretap orders to pick up the communications of suspected spies and foreign agents are not being fulfilled, FBI officials said. Agents often decline even to seek orders when they know firms lack the means to tap into a suspect’s communications in real time. “It’s a significant problem, and it’s continuing to get worse,” said Amy Hess, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch.

One former U.S. official said that each year hundreds of individualized wiretap orders for foreign intelligence are not being fully executed because of a growing gap between the government’s legal authority and its practical ability to capture communications. FBI officials call the problem  “going dark.” Today, at least 4,000 U.S. companies provide some form of communication service, and a “significant portion” are not required by law to make sure their platforms are wiretap-ready, Hess said. Among the types of services that were unthinkable not long ago are photo-sharing services, which say they allow users to send photos that are automatically deleted, and peer-to-peer Internet phone calls, for which there are no practical means for interception.

 

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Some Wait Months For NC Court-Ordered Private Mental Evaluations

In 2012, as Wake County, N.C., prepared to get out of the business of providing mental health services, county officials said private companies would do a better job of helping those with mental illness, disability or addiction. A year after privatization, there is a crevice where the county’s mental health treatment system meets the criminal justice system, says the Raleigh News & Observer. As a result of errors and miscommunication, some people with mental illnesses or disabilities arrested for nonviolent offenses have been jailed for months in Wake County, waiting for court-ordered psychological evaluations that might help set them free and lead to better treatment.

The evaluations are supposed to take seven days. Judges order the tests to determine whether the inmates are capable of proceeding to trial. Once an evaluation has been ordered, no matter how long it takes, the criminal case is essentially suspended. Those charged can’t be tried, and they can’t be released. In many cases, the results of the evaluations cause prosecutors to dismiss charges. “It’s turned into a nightmare” for some defendants, said Emily Mistr of the Wake County Public Defender’s Office. Because of the delays, she said, disabled and mentally ill clients may spend more time in jail waiting on evaluations than they would if they were convicted and sentenced for the crime with which they are charged.

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Deporting Immigrant Kids: Could U.S. Make Same Mistake Twice?

Violence, poverty, unemployment and U.S. immigration policy have all been blamed for the massive arrival of unaccompanied children from Central America at the U.S. southern border. The Washington Post says some experts and advocates suggest another factor: U.S. policies of the 1990s and 2000s that deported thousands of gang members back to Central America. Authorities were attempting to root out Latino gang violence in American cities. Instead of dispersing, the gangs took root in Central America, abetted by the push of drug-trafficking routes into Central America from Mexico.

The gangs grew more ruthless and expanded into international drug trade and other crimes, leading to escalating violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Critics of proposals to deport the new crop of youths warn that the U.S. risks making the same mistake twice, accelerating violence over the border by condemning those fleeing the gang explosion to become either gang members or victims. Not everyone agrees that the earlier deportations are a root of the crisis. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington said that while deporting gang members from the U.S. may have contributed to the growth of gangs in Central America, the real problem was the U.S. failure to enforce the law against illegal immigrants, especially criminals, in the first place.

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Federal Judge Overturns D.C. Ban On Public Handgun Carrying

A federal judge has ruled the Washington, D.C., ban on carrying handguns outside the home unconstitutional, Reuters reports. “There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,” said U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin.

The court ordered the city to allow residents to carry handguns outside their homes and to let nonresidents carry them as well. In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns on the basis that it violated the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Constitution’s Second Amendment. An appeals court in 2011 required handguns to be registered. The new ruling may be appealed by city officials.

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Appeals Panel Upholds FL Law Restricting What Doctors Can Say About Guns

A Florida law restricting what doctors can tell patients about gun ownership was ruled constitutional Friday by a federal appeals court, which said it legitimately regulates professional conduct and doesn't violate the doctors' First Amendment free speech rights, the Associated Press reports. The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a decision that declared the law unconstitutional. An injunction blocking enforcement of the law is still in effect. The 2011 law, popularly known as "Docs vs. Glocks," was challenged by organizations representing 11,000 state health providers.

Doctors who break the law could potentially be fined and lose their licenses. Ruling 2-1, an appeals panel upheld the law as a protection of patient privacy rights and said that the limits imposed by it were "incidental." "The act simply codifies that good medical care does not require inquiry or record-keeping regarding firearms when unnecessary to a patient's care," said Judge Gerald Tjoflat. Dissenting, Judge Charles Wilson said the law "prohibits or significantly chills doctors from expressing their views and providing information to patients about one topic, and one topic only, firearms." 

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Inspector General Faults DEA For Delay In Report Of Student Near-Death

The leadership of the Drug Enforcement Administration is under fire in a report from the Justice Department Inspector General on the near-death of a San Diego college student left in a holding cell for five days in 2012, the Huffington Post reports. The review found that DEA leadership "violated Department of Justice and DEA policy" and delayed a proper investigation into the incident by not reporting it to the inspector general's office immediately. The report indicates that DEA Deputy Administrator Thomas Harrigan was to discuss the case with Administrator Michele Leonhart in the days after the incident. DEA leadership decided to have a review conducted by a district attorney instead of immediately reporting the incident to the Justice Department inspector general's office as it should have.

"DEA management's decision to conduct a management review instead of ensuring that the matter was promptly referred to the OIG was troubling," the report said. "The decision was made based on an apparent assumption, without any independent factual gathering or assessment, that the conduct which resulted in [student Daniel] Chong's detention did not amount to misconduct and was not criminal. We believe it should have been readily apparent to the DEA management immediately following Chong's discovery that jailing an individual without justification for parts of 5 days with no food or water, and that resulted in the individual's hospitalization, may have been the result of misconduct, at a minimum."

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TCR at a Glance

Merging Family and Drug Courts

new & notable July 25, 2014

London's court for parents who abuse drugs and alcohol uses specially-trained judges and multi-disciplinary teams, according to a report ...

Five Things About Deterrence

new & notable July 24, 2014

A National Institute of Justice flyer argues that the certainty of punishment, rather than severity, deters crime

The ‘War’ Against Whistleblowers

July 19, 2014

Hackers and free speech activists gather in New York to denounce what they call unprecedented government efforts to prosecute leakers