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Cleveland Jurors Offer Their Pay To Defendant They Call Wrongly Charged

Jurors are so convinced that a Cleveland teen should not have been charged with assaulting another teen that they've gone beyond acquitting him. A few are writing angry letters to police and intend to donate their jury pay to him, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At least three jurors plan to give the $100 they got to sit on the jury to defendant Demrick McCloud, 19, if McCloud earns a high school equivalency degree. They took only 30 minutes to find him not guilty in their deliberations Friday.

Three members jurors complained of a "sheer lack of evidence." They said the prosecution's case hinged on the victim identifying McCloud as an attacker. But the victim also had told police he was certain another boy -- later found to be in school at the time -- was one of the assailants. Last November, the Plain Dealer reported that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason pursued criminal charges against hundreds of people over the last 10 years with little or no evidence against them. Some judges have thrown out cases under a state rule allowing them to acquit a defendant if they believe the evidence is insufficient to convict.

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/02/jurors_so_upset_about_case_bro.html

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Why Some Spouses Marry Inmates With No Hope Of Parole

About 14 percent of the almost 53,000 inmates in Georgia prisons -- are married, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Married inmates are not allowed conjugal visits with their spouses in Georgia and most other states, or in federal prisons. Only six states -- California, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, and Washington -- allow them. While some women knew the men before they were sent to prison, it’s not uncommon for some to marry men they did not know before they went to prison, even those men convicted of murdering women.

Some say they don’t believe the evil details of their husbands' crimes. Some argue their spouses are innocent. Ronnie Glass had dated her husband, Bruce, for several years before he was convicted of rape in 1997 and sentenced to 30 years in prison with no hope for parole. They married in 2007. “I always believed in my heart he didn’t do this,” said Ronnie Glass,  an Internet technology project manager for a large company.

http://www.ajc.com/news/prison-marriages-true-love-831302.html

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"Polite Robber" Suspect In Seattle Used Same Story In String Of Bank Robberies

A so-called polite robber in Seattle got national attention this week when he profusely thanked and apologized to his victim. The gas-station owner who was robbed at gunpoint posted a surveillance video of the incident that went viral on the Web. Now the Seattle Times reports that suspect Gregory Paul Hess gave the same sob story about being out of work and needing cash for rent and food nearly eight years ago when he was arrested for a string of bank robberies.

Hess, 65, was identified by people who saw the surveillance video. Hess was identified by former co-workers in 2003 after the Seattle Times published a photograph of a bank robber the FBI had nicknamed the "Transaction Bandit." In that case he pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison. The robber said on the video he needed money to feed his kids, but the King County sheriff's office said Hess wasn't living with any children at the time of his arrest. "Let's not turn this guy into Robin Hood," said Sgt. John Urquhart.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014166486_politerobber09m.html

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Chicago's Weis Filing Many Fewer Police Discipline Cases

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis came into office in 2008 with a mandate to crack down on officer misconduct following a string of scandals, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Yet during his first three years, Weis filed 62 disciplinary cases with the police board compared with 106 cases in the three years before he was appointed — nearly a 42 percent difference.

The board is comprised of nine mayoral appointees who consider disciplinary action against officers. Most cases filed with the board seek to fire the employee in question. Some observers wonder if Weis put the brakes on police board cases to boost morale. Cops have been furious with him over several issues, including the imprisonment of an officer accused of beating a man shackled to a wheelchair. Others think cops have been working the streets less aggressively and making fewer arrests because they do not believe Weis has their backs.

http://www.suntimes.com/3722609-417/complaints-against-police-officers-down-on-weis-watch.html

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Should States Make it a Crime for Inmates to Use Cellphones?

California prison inmates are using smart phones to text, surf the Web and post videos to YouTube, NPR reports. One inmate even shot and narrated a video on his cell phone camera while guards tried to put down a riot. The prisons say it's dangerous because convicts can use the phones to stay in touch with other criminals. One correctional officer said a man recently tossed a football containing 27 cell phones and chargers into a prison.

One guard claimed he made $150,000 smuggling phones. Smuggling cell phones to convicts isn't a crime. State Sen. Alex Padilla is proposing to fine cellphone smugglers up to $5,000 and give guilty inmates extra prison time. Padilla says the problem is "growing exponentially and bottom line is, every cell phone at the hands of a dangerous inmate is a crime waiting to happen."

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/08/133591495/calif-law-calls-for-stricter-prison-cell-phone-rules

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Maryland Rents Baltimore Jail To Feds For Nearly $2 Million Per Month

Maryland turned over the keys to a Baltimore corrections facility to the federal government yesterday, marking a new era in housing U.S. detainees in Maryland that authorities called cheaper, more efficient, and more just, reports the Baltimore Sun. The deal means the promise of $20 million in federal funds toward new state prisons. The Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center —known as "Supermax" when it served as a maximum-security prison for state inmates — will now house only detainees awaiting trial in federal court in Baltimore, for which the state will receive $1.9 million per month.

The change puts about 500 of 700 detainees awaiting federal trial in Baltimore in close proximity to court. For years, some federal inmates were housed alongside state prisoners at the center. Most of the federal detainees being held without bail were scattered throughout county jails and other facilities in the mid-Atlantic region, requiring defense attorneys to travel hundreds of miles and across state lines — including to Ohio — to prepare for trial. "It's at the basics of our civil liberties," said Stacia A. Hylton, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, noting that lawyers and family members will now have easier access to inmates. Federal judges and public defenders in Maryland have urged for years that the state's growing number of federal detainees be held closer to where they will be tried, arguing that the court suffered unnecessary costs and delays under the previous arrangement.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-supermax-detainee-plans-20110208,0,317459.story

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FL Gov Seeks To Eliminate Prescription Drug Monitoring Database

New Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to eliminate a computer system aimed at curbing the illegal sale of prescription drugs at storefront pain clinics, a move the Miami Herald says alarms narcotics investigators, drug-treatment advocates, and some legislators. Just two years ago, the legislature created a prescription drug monitoring program that would allow doctors to review drug purchases of their patients, to prevent patients from seeking narcotics from multiple doctors -- a practice known as “doctor shopping.”

The legislature approved the measure in response to an explosion of storefront pain clinics across South Florida, making the region the main supplier of black-market pills across Appalachia and the East Coast. The governor wants to erase the database before it gets off the ground. The database costs nothing in the state budget. State officials must pay for the database with federal grants and private donations. The database is expected to cost about $1.2 million to assemble, and $500,000 a year to maintain. The governor also wants to eliminate the Office of Drug Control, the office charged with raising the private money for the database. Scott dismissed the head of that office, Bruce Grant, last month.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/08/2057033/gov-scott-seeks-to-kill-drug-database.html

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D.C. Gun Registrations Disproportionately In Well-To-Do Areas

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ended Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban in 2008, hundreds of residents in the safest, most well-to-do neighborhoods have armed themselves, registering far more guns than people in poorer, crime-plagued areas of the city, reports the Washington Post.

Of the more than 1,400 firearms have been registered with police, nearly 300 are in the high-income, low-crime Georgetown, Palisades and Chevy Chase areas. In all of the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River - a broad swath of the city with more than 52,000 households, many of them in areas beset by poverty and drug-related violence - about 240 guns have been registered.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/07/AR2011020706450.html?hpid=topnews

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Rampant Precious Metal Thefts Are Called National Security Issue

Near-record prices for copper, platinum, aluminum, and other metals are prompting a resurgence in the theft of common items that in better times might be overlooked, says the New York Times. Among them are catalytic converters from automobiles and copper wiring stripped out of overhead power lines, tornado warning sirens, coal mines, and foreclosed homes, where thieves sometimes tear down walls to get to copper pipes and wiring. Thieves make quick money by selling the items to scrap yards.

The thefts are difficult to stop by overmatched law enforcement agencies and have been a costly nuisance to public utilities, which must spend millions of dollars on repairs and security. Thieves have electrocuted themselves and caused electrical and telephone failures and street light blackouts. Municipalities hit by budget deficits cannot afford repairs. Some state highways have been dark for months. In California, Little League baseball fields have gone dark because wiring was stolen from lights. “We believe this is a national security issue,” said Bryan Jacobs of the Coalition Against Copper Theft, an advocacy group in Washington that includes telecommunications firms, power companies, and railroads. “The only thing keeping it from being an epidemic is that scrap yards are now scrutinizing the material. But theft is still rampant.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/us/08theft.html?_r=1&ref=us

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Congressional Backers Unveil Report On Research-Based Corrections Strategies

The Council of State Governments Justice Center got some key congressional support today for a new report documenting strategies to reduce repeat criminality and cut the $50 billion being spent by states each year on corrections in a time of government budget crunches. The report on a "summit" last year offers ways to avoid "haphazard policy decisions that negatively affect public safety." The study includes ways to focus resources on those most likely to offend, base programs on research, use effective community supervision policies, and use "place-based strategies." The effort includes the "justice reinvestment" concept of cutting prison spending and reinvesting savings in other crime-fighting programs.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department budget, said that "quick fixes can have dangerous consequences. To increase public safety in this austere budget environment, we must support cost-effective efforts by states that are grounded in the ‘best practices’ and draw on the latest innovations from public corrections and the faith-based community.” Wolf told the Wall Street Journal that "every state ought to want to move in this direction" and said he was sending the report to every governor. He was joined by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX). Others supporting the effort include the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Public Welfare Foundation.

http://www.justicereinvestment.org/summit/report.

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