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Domestic Violence Costs NC $300 Million; Advocates Seek Prevention

Domestic violence costs North Carolina $300 million every year because of factors such as health care and criminal-justice expenses, says a study commissioned by two domestic violence advocacy organizations reported by the Charlotte Observer. Leaders of the Charlotte-based eNOugh Campaign and the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage hope that their estimate of the total costs of domestic violence will encourage policymakers and corporations to do more to prevent the crime.

Fifty-six people have been killed in domestic violence homicides in the state this year. Jill Dinwiddie, eNOugh co-chair and former executive director of the N.C. Council for Women, hopes the study prompts the legislature to put money toward a domestic violence prevention campaign, similar to campaigns about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. “What people haven’t stopped to think about is: What is the cost, what is the economic impact?” said Jay Everett of Wells Fargo, which funded the $45,000 study. “We just felt like it was another strategy to help educate, to help make people aware and to begin to change some attitudes and perceptions around the issue.”



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ACLU Challenges Florida Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders

For five years, Miami-Dade County’s sex offender law has made national headlines as homeless parolees have been forced to move from street corners to parking lots because of a law that prohibits them from squatting near public spaces where children gather. The Miami Herald says dozens of homeless sex offenders have a voice arguing on their behalf. Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court reasoning that Miami-Dade County and the state Department of Corrections have violated the offenders’ basic rights to personal safety, and to maintain a home.

“It undermines public safety. It’s harder to find a job and maintain treatment. Housing stability is just as critical to these folks as to anyone else,” said Brandon Buskey of the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project. The man behind the controversial county ordinance said no one has the right to demand where they live. Ron Book, the powerhouse state lobbyist and chair of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, said the courts have upheld the residency restrictions, and the ACLU is simply regurgitating an issue that’s been dealt with. “The U.S. Supreme Court has said they’re entitled to live places that don’t endanger the health, safety and welfare of law-abiding citizens of the U.S. ... “I don’t support those with sexual deviant behavior living in close proximity to where kids are.”

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AL Prison Reform Task Force Seeks Ways To Reduce Inmate Overcrowding

Alabama has some of the nation's most complicated criminal justice laws. Sentencing guidelines, in particular, are what officials say make the process so complex. Straight sentences, split sentences, voluntary sentencing guidelines, the habitual offender law and enhancements are some of what makes the system so difficult to understand. The state's sentencing structure has a huge impact on the prison population, which is at about 190 percent the capacity it was designed for.

A 24-member Prison Reform Task Force is working with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to analyze the system and find ways to reduce overcrowding, reduce recidivism and improve public safety, reports the Montgomery Advertiser. Andy Barbee of the justice center said Alabama's switch last year to presumptive guidelines, which judges are required to use unless there's a mitigating or aggravating factor to be considered, has accelerated a downward trend in the number of sentences to prison and the lengths of those sentences. Those guidelines, however, only apply to drug and theft cases. "At some point, the state will have to make a bigger investment in community services and supervision programming," said Bennet Wright of the Alabama Sentencing Commission. "Matching offenders with the right services lowers the likelihood that they'll commit more crimes."

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California Agrees To Stop Segregating Inmates By Race After Riots

California officials have agreed to end a policy of segregating prison inmates after riots based on their race as a way to prevent further violence, the Associated Press reports. Officers have frequently locked inmates in their cells based on which races were involved in the riot, even if individual inmates of that race were not directly implicated.

The agreement is spelled out in a 21-page settlement involving a lawsuit filed in 2008. The agreement says future lockdowns may not be imposed or lifted based on race or ethnicity. Instead, officers can lock down every inmate in an affected area, or individual inmates suspected of being involved in the incident or the gangs that were involved. The state also agreed to provide inmates with opportunities for outdoor exercise any time a lockdown lasts longer than 14 days. "We see this as a tremendous result," said Rebekah Evenson of the nonprofit Berkeley-based Prison Law Office.

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St. Louis Murders Up 27%; Could Ferguson Have Influenced Trend?

When four more people die violently in St. Louis in the next few days or weeks, the city will top last year’s total of 120 homicides in what has become another deadly year, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. From Jan. 1 through Wednesday evening, 117 people had been fatally shot, stabbed, run over, beaten to death and strangled in St. Louis. Homicides here are up 27 percent this year over last.

Police Chief Sam Dotson says overall crime, which showed steady decreases all year, is now creeping upward again. One reason, he says, could be the wave of protests after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9. “I believe there is some segment of the community that feels empowered by what’s going on,” Dotson said. Dotson compared the trend to dramatic increases in violent crime in Cincinnati in 2001 when riots broke out there after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teen. “More people are committing crimes (in St. Louis),” Dotson said. “Something is different.”

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Indiana Serial Killer Cases Focuses Attention On The "Missing Missing"

The discovery last weekend of the bodies of seven women, mostly prostitutes, in Indiana did not result from a manhunt for a serial killer of the kind seen in television crime dramas. Rather, it was the arrest of Darren Deon Vann, 43, in connection with the disappearance of one woman, Afrika Hardy, 19, that had the registered sex offender spilling his guts about crimes of which authorities had little knowledge, writes criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University in USA Today. This is a familiar story to those who pay close attention to such crimes in real life. Serial murders of prostitutes — streetwalkers, escorts, and outcall sex workers — have occurred in virtually every state, with many of the cases unsolved and frustratingly cold.

Criminologist Kenna Quinet of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis says, as many as one-third of repeat killers have included prostitutes among their prey. Moreover, the body count may be severely understated from what Quinet has termed the "missing missing": missing persons never reported as missing. The high prevalence of prostitute slayings is partially a result of their easy accessibility. Most important is that the killer who stalks prostitutes can count on a slow response from law enforcement and minimal attention from the general public. Were he to abduct some middle-class co-ed, the response would be intense and immediate, as it was following the recent disappearance of University Virginia student Hannah Graham.

 

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Ottawa Gunman Was Alone, Converted To Islam; Foreign Ties Unknown

A day after a gunman killed an army reservist in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, many questions remain, says CNN. Why did he shoot? Why did he target Nathan Cirillo? Is he connected to the militant group ISIS? The attack at parliament yesterday that killed Cirillo was the second this week. On Monday, a man Canadian authorities said was "radicalized" hit two soldiers with a car in Quebec, killing one of them. Police later killed the man. The U.S. tightened security at its Embassy in Ottawa and another consulate in the country after jihadist chatter indicated an attack could be in the works.

The shooter was born Michael Joseph Hall in Canada in 1982. Authorities said he changed his name to Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. His attack came two days after a "radicalized" man killed a soldier with his car, and five days after Canada raised its threat level. Sources told CNN that he converted to Islam. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the gunman was acting alone. "It appears there was just one shooter, and that shooter is dead," he said. It's not known why the gunman shot Cirillo in the back "in cold blood"  while he stood guard at Canada's National War Memorial.

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Amid Secret Service Reviews, Man Caught Climbing White House Fence

The Secret Service captured a Maryland man as he climbed over a fence at the White House last night, forcing a lockdown at the mansion and injuring two of the agency's dogs, McClatchy Newspapers reports. The unarmed man was taken to a local hospital for injuries. The two dogs were taken to a veterinarian for injuries sustained during the incident. The agency is under investigation for a September incident in which a man jumped over the fence and made it into the White House before being tackled. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned after the lapse.

This time, Secret Service said the intruder, Dominic Adesanya, 23, was "immediately taken into custody on the North lawn of the White House" after climbing the North fenceline. Fox News tweeted video of him apparently kicking a police dog. The White House complex was under  lockdown for more than 90 minutes and tourists were cleared from the area. An internal Secret Service review is expected by Nov. 1 and a broader review of the agency by a panel appointed by the Department of Homeland Security is due in mid-December.

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TCR at a Glance

Can Homicide Be Predicted?

new & notable October 22, 2014

A new study in the journal Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice aims to isolate risk factors associated with youths who commit homicide