North Carolina's corrections department will not let the public see security camera footage at the center of allegations that led to the arrest of a prison official last month, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. Richard Neely was removed as the administrator of Lanesboro Correctional Institution after he was arrested and charged with a felony count of obstructing justice. A former sergeant told investigators Neely instructed her to destroy disks containing the footage out of concern it might show a staff member using excessive force in a 2009 fight with inmates.
The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer filed a public records request asking the state to release security camera footage showing the November 2009 melee at the prison. Four inmates were arrested after the fight; no correctional officers were charged. Pamela Walker, the director of external affairs for the corrections department, said releasing the footage could imperil safety at the maximum security prison.
Several states are reassessing medical marijuana laws after stern warnings from the federal government that everyone from licensed growers to regulators...
Governments around the world, warning against complacency in fighting terrorism, prepared for retaliatory attacks after Osama bin Laden's death...
Garry McCarthy leaves Newark to become Chicago police superintendent with a reputation as a talented crime fighter who often struggled to connect with people he strived to protect, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Deputy Chief Samuel Demaio is expected to be interim chief.
City Councilman Ron Rice Jr., said McCarthy "put forth a great effort, a great four years with major faux pas and major missteps. The great things he was able to do with numbers are probably matched as far as the things he wasn’t able to do community-wise." City Council President Donald Payne said, "I don’t ever think he really got the support of the community that you need to be successful in this town. It was kind of a double-edged sword with him." Deborah Jacobs of the American Civil Liberties Union said, "The Newark Police Department remains in need of fundamental changes to ensure accountability."
Garry McCarthy says his experience at New York City's ground zero on 9/11 was "horrific" but it helped Chicago's new police superintendent develop leadership skills. "I really learned how to lead with a coolness and a confidence that will translate throughout the police agency," he said. "I have a good reputation as far as being a leader in crisis management situations."
McCarthy, 51, said he'll look for a top deputy from inside the department to help him navigate, acknowledged he's got a learning curve about the city's street gangs, and plans to emphasize reducing the "fear of crime." Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel said, "Garry's experience spearheading innovation will bring new ideas to the Chicago Police Department. Garry is ready to lead today. He knows how to lead a large police force. The main reason I wanted to move with speed and haste was the fact that our citizens, with the summer months coming, deserve a public safety team ready to go on day one."
In "Popular Crime," a book reviewed by Jeff Leen in the Washington Post, baseball analyst Bill James "turns his formidable but idiosyncratic critical apparatus on murder and mayhem." The book is not original research, but a review of tabloid crime over the ages, such as JonBenet Ramsey, O.J. Simpson and the Lindbergh kidnapping.
Conceding that he is not a crime expert, James urges taking the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the U.S. and dispersing them into facilities with populations of no more than 24, the better to reintegrate them into society and segregate the bad from the very, very bad. That’s nearly 100,000 miniprisons. James believes there would be a great savings because a single guard using electronic surveillance could watch several mini-prisons, which would be housed in strip malls and on the floors of office buildings.
In the past four years, nearly 8,600 assaults were reported in the Ohio prison system, 4,157 of them on corrections officers and other staff members, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Of those, 116 were considered serious: stab wounds, concussions and head trauma, fractures and sprains, eye injuries, a damaged spinal cord, nerve damage and bite wounds. The totals also include sexual assaults and "harassment," which typically means throwing or expelling bodily fluids or feces.
County prosecutors file charges in only about one of 10 staff assault cases. Prosecutors cite financial constraints and often argue that it's futile to file charges against inmates already behind bars, some of them for life. Gary Mohr, Ohio prisons director, is working with Attorney General Mike DeWine to support local prosecutors so they pursue charges in more of the serious cases of assault on staff members. "There's not one priority of mine any greater than reducing inmate violence," said Mohr. "This is not the same system I left 8 1/2 years ago," he said. "The biggest difference is the level of violence." Mohr said there has been a steady increase in violence for many years. He said violent incidents involving six or more inmates are erupting, on average, every week, compared with once a month five years ago.
National Rifle Association’s CEO Wayne LaPierre says Attorney General Eric Holder should step down for allowing an operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that involved the sale of guns to suspicious customers with ties to Mexican drug cartels, says Politico. ATF allegedly encouraged gun dealers to sell multiple firearms to known and suspected criminals as part of a sting operation to crack down on gunrunning. Speaking to the NRA convention that concluded in Pittsburgh over the weekend, LaPierre said two assault rifles that the ATF “let walk” were found at the crime scene where a border patrol agent was gunned down in December.
Holder has said he did not authorize the operation. Said LaPierre: “He’s the attorney general of the United States of America — the highest law-enforcement officer in our land. Who’s in charge? If he didn’t know, then who’s minding the store? If Holder didn’t know, Holder has got to go.” Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said Holder "takes seriously the concerns that have been raised, and that’s why he has asked the inspector general to get to the bottom of it. He has also made it clear to the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors working along the Southwest Border that no one in the Department should allow guns to illegally cross the border into Mexico.”
Bernard and Scott Peters, father and son, are serving time together in a cell in New York State's Elmira Correctional Facility, says the New York Times. Bernard, 69, and Scott, 42, have been cellmates for most of their 15 years in prison. It's rare for a father and son to share a cell, but of the estimated 600,000 parents of minor children in state prisons in 2004, half had a relative who was currently or used to be incarcerated, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
New York officials do not know how many parent-child pairs were sharing cells in the prison system, which includes 57,000 offenders at 67 facilities. Only 3,000 of more than 20,000 maximum-security cells statewide are double-bunk cells. The Peterses are each serving 25-to-50 year terms for attempted murder and robbery--part of what the Times calls a violent string of crimes in 1995 that netted them $2,900 in cash.
California's parole board doesn't find convicted murderers suitable for release very often. And when the board granted parole in recent years, the inmate usually found the governor waiting to bar the door. Not Gov. Jerry Brown, says the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm obviously going to interfere less with the parole board than my predecessors, because I'm bound to follow the law," Brown told the Chronicle. Statistics from his first four months in office bear him out.
Brown has reviewed 130 decisions by the Board of Parole Hearings granting release to murderers sentenced to life and has approved 106, or 81 percent. He has vetoed 22 paroles and sent two back to the board for new hearings. Fomer Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved about 30 percent of lifers' paroles. Former Gov. Gray Davis - who declared that "if you take someone else's life, forget it" - vetoed 98 percent of murderers' parole cases. Brown said that both Davis and Schwarzenegger failed to follow proper legal standards for reviewing paroles. The governor also said his approach reflects shifts in sentencing practices, judicial rulings. and public attitudes on crime. "Now, you talk to people and they're worried about jobs," he said. "There's still public safety (as a concern), but there's different dominating issues."