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DOJ Rejects Texas Pledge To Comply With PREA "Wherever Feasible"

The Justice Department has rejected Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's assurance that the state would comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act “wherever feasible,” the New York Times reports. Texas, which has a high rate of reported sexual abuse against inmates, is expected to be financially penalized for a second straight year for failing to follow federal procedures to document progress in eliminating prison rape. Nine states certified full compliance with PREA standards on May 15, the deadline for governors to make their second progress reports. That brought to 11 the number of states that have fully adopted the standards. In his letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Abbott said he could not certify complete compliance. He adopted a more conciliatory approach than had predecessor Rick Perry, who last year declined to respond to Washington’s first deadline and denounced the national rape standards as a “counterproductive and unnecessarily cumbersome and costly regulatory mess.”

Abbott did not provide the required written assurance that Texas would spend at least 5 percent of certain federal grants to achieve full compliance with the anti-rape standards. The nine states that certified full compliance with the rape standards are Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. New Hampshire and New Jersey achieved the certification last year. Texas was one of six “renegade states,” as inmate advocates called them last year. Two of them, Florida and Indiana, opted into the national effort to eliminate prison rape this year. It is unclear what the three others, Arizona, Idaho and Utah, did. 

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New Trial Likely In 14-Year-Old Murder Case Of Intern Chandra Levy

Ingmar Guandique is likely to get a new trial in the 2001 killing of federal intern Chandra Levy after prosecutors dropped their opposition to defense efforts to have a new jury hear the case, the Washington Post reports. Attorneys for Guandique, 34, have argued that a key witness in the 2010 trial lied when he testified that Guandique, his onetime cellmate, confessed to him that he killed Levy. Defense attorneys contend they should have been told that the witness, a convicted drug dealer and gang member, had been cooperating with prosecutors in other cases. They said he made up the alleged confession from Guandique to gain favor with prosecutors.

Levy, 24, went missing May 1, 2001, and her remains were found a year later. Her disappearance and killing emerged as one of Washington’s most sensational murder cases when it was discovered that she had had an affair with U.S. Rep. Gary Condit, who was cleared in the case. There was no forensic evidence linking Guandique, a gang member, to the crime scene, no murder weapon, no eyewitness and no definitive ruling from the medical examiner on what killed Levy. At Guandique’s sentencing, Judge Gerald. Fisher imposed a 60-year prison term but noted that the government’s case “wasn’t a very strong” one.

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Eight Ways Police Can Spy On You--Should You Worry?

Does law enforcement’s quest for safety infringe on people’s civil liberties? The San Diego Union-Tribune says that is the question privacy advocates are asking as technology continues to make it easier for police agencies to monitor citizens. While high-tech gadgets help officers catch criminals, civil rights groups want to ensure privacy rights aren’t being sacrificed.

From radar devices that can see through walls to a network of microphones that reports shootings to officers, There are at least eight ways the police can keep an eye on you, and why some groups find them alarming. They include the Range-R radar system, Stingray, body cameras, facial recognition software, license plate readers, cellphone tower dumps and Shotspotter. In each case, the newspaper describes how the device or system works and why private citizens might be concerned. 

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Will Drug Abuse Emerge As Sleeper Issue In Presidential Campaign?

Drug abuse could be a sleeper issue in next year's presidential campaign, says the Boston Globe. There is a drumbeat growing in both parties that could move the highly personal, painful matter of heroin and opioid drug addiction, which has metastasized into an epidemic, higher on the national agenda than at any time since the rampant crack crisis more than two decades ago. This month in New Hampshire, Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, said he would prioritize drug addiction as one of the “five or six” chief issues of his potential presidential bid. On Monday in Iowa, Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed drug abuse. Calling it a “below the surface” issue, Clinton said she was “now convinced” that she needed to talk about it on the trail.

A Clinton campaign aide told the Globe that hearing about meth in Iowa and heroin in New Hampshire had prompted Clinton to ask her policy team to begin working on what she has previously called a “quiet epidemic.” In Durham, N.H., last week, the Democratic former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, said his state had seen more drug overdose fatalities than those from traffic deaths and homicides combined. “What would we do if these individuals were suffering from Ebola?” O’Malley asked reporters. In Massachusetts, both Republican Governor Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey placed it front and center early in their terms, Healey calling it her “first major initiative.” Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, whose longtime activism in the recovery community helped win his election, made a legislative career of pushing for increased spending on recovery services.

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Suspects Arrested In D.C. Quadruple Murder That Has Media Attention

In a Washington, D.C., quadruple homicide that has had wide national media attention, police apprehended the main suspect late last night, the Washington Post reports. Daron Dylon Wint, 34, was caught by federal marshals in Northeast Washington in a car that was following a truck containing $10,000 in cash. Two men and two women were taken into custody with Wint, a man with a long criminal record who had been tracked to Brooklyn, N.Y.

Wint, a welder, is a former employee of an iron supply company headed by one of the victims, and had a long history of alleged assaults and threatening behavior. He was charged with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper. They were killed and their house in a wealthy section of Washington was set on fire last week after $40,000 was delivered there. Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier held a news conference to assure the public that the crime was not a random one.

 

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Heroin In The Heartland: Small Police Departments Can't Cope With Influx

Heroin is killing more and more people in rural America, NPR reports. One Mexican cartel sells low-cost heroin around rural towns in the Southwest and Midwest. Take Madison, Ne., population 2,500, a two-hour drive from Omaha. "The world's gotten smaller," says Police Chief Rod Waterbury. "If drugs can make it to Chicago, they can make it here." In many parts of Nebraska, a dose of heroin sells for as little as $10. Over the past decade, 13 people in the state have died from the drug, Six of those deaths occurred last year.

"It used to be all meth, before that it was all coke," says Madison County Attorney Joe Smith. "Now we're seeing on a routine basis some heroin." He cites the death from heroin of a man, 32, who told his mother, 'Mom, this is such a small town. Everybody does drugs.'" Michael Sanders of the Drug Enforcement Administration says heroin has overwhelmed parts of neighboring Iowa. In Madison, Ne., Chief Waterbury says his four-man department doesn't have the resources or the experience for long-term drug investigations.

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Chief-Turned-Academic Says Police Should Avoid Bullies As Officers

Police leaders should improve the selection process for officers "so that we do not put people on the job who would be bullies," Prof. John DeCarlo, coordinator of the police studies program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, tells NPR. DeCarlo, a former police officer and chief in Connecticut, says police training now is "very militaristic." He adds, "We are looking, very often, for big people. Women are underrepresented wildly, and we know that women are much better at talking their way out of bad situations than big guys."

DeCarlo leads a seminar that draws on ideas from Plato's "Republic," in which the police are the guardians, the principles of Sir Robert Peel, the founder of London's police, and President Obama's 21st-Century Task Force on Policing. One student comments, "We need police officers to be friendly, get with the community, do their job. So be guardians, not warriors."

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TCR at a Glance

Ending ‘Incoherent’ Sentencing

special report May 26, 2015

A New York State Commission will propose a major overhaul of the state’s approach to sentencing tomorrow.

When Justice Wasn’t Blind

q & a May 25, 2015

A unique encyclopedia documents the painful and often tragic history of African Americans and the law since the colonial era.

Study: Rape on Campus an 'Epidemic'

new & notable May 22, 2015

A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds rampant instances of both incapacitated and forcible rape on campus