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Can Batterer Intervention Work? Former Abuser Says It's Good Starting Point

Joe Colucci of Dallas admits he was arrogant; egotistical; controlling; unwilling to deal with emotions; and abusive. The 52-year-old divorced father of two tells the Dallas Morning News he’s not that man any more. Colucci speaks out about domestic violence, not only during October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but all year, from the rare perspective of a former abuser. “The message I want to put out there?” he asks. “Men can certainly change. Is it common? I don’t think so. Is it possible? Absolutely. I’m sitting here as an example of that.”

Colucci says he changed after twice going through a Batterer Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP). Treatment for batterers began in the 1970s. An estimated 1,500 to 2,500 BIPP classes are held across the U.S., says a 2009 report by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Institute of Justice. Most clients are ordered to attend by a judge. Colucci enrolled at the request of his then-fiancée. Experts are divided on whether BIPP works because success is difficult to define and data hard to come by. Colucci says while BIPP alone can’t solve the problem of domestic violence, it provides a good starting point if someone wants to stop being abusive.

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Life Term For FL Man Who Killed Unarmed Black Teen Shows System Works: Judge

The sentence of life in prison without parole for Michael Dunn, an armed white man who killed unarmed black teenager Jordan Davis during an argument over loud hip-hop music in Jacksonville, Fl., “demonstrates that our justice system works,” said Judge Russell Healey, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The shooting fueled a debate over a new breed of self-defense laws, adopted in nearly half the states, which make it easier for armed individuals to kill in self-defense in public places. The judge said stand your ground has been misunderstood and suggested that Dunn’s actions “exemplifies that our society seems to have lost its way. … We should remember that there’s nothing wrong with retreating and deescalating the situation.”

Law Prof. Donald Jones of the University of Miami says the case fits into a broader cultural debate about the worth of young black men, an issue that has exploded into rowdy protests in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9. “I think, had Michael Dunn been acquitted, it would have sent a signal to other people that it’s hunting season, that society will not take seriously and will not value the lives of certain kinds of blacks,” says Jones

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"I Have Inherited A Mess" On Wrongful Convictions, Brooklyn DA Says

"With respect to wrongful conviction cases, I have inherited a mess," Brooklyn, N.Y., District Attorney Kenneth Thompson tells NPR. "I am currently investigating over 100 claims of wrongful convictions. Those numbers are staggering. And that's why I created the conviction review unit, and was able to convince a very prominent, well-respected law professor, Ron Sullivan, who's a law professor at Harvard Law School, to come down to Brooklyn and run my unit."

Last week, David McCallum walked free in Brooklyn nearly 30 years after he'd been wrongly convicted of a murder. He was 16 years old in 1986 when he was  imprisoned with William Stuckey. Thompson said there was no evidence linking David McCallum or Willie Stuckey to the murder of Nathan Blenner other than their confessions. The confessions were very short and they contained false-fed facts. The prosecutor said the hardest thing he had to to was "to sit down with the Blenner family and to let them know that the two defendants whom they believed for 29 years were responsible for the abduction, robbery and murder of their son and brother were wrongfully convicted was extremely difficult. And I pledged to them that I would do all I could to pursue the leads that we do have because we have leads to try to hold the people who killed him responsible."

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FL Prison Use-Of-Force Cases Double Since 2008; State Orders Audit

Over the past decade, Florida prison Lt. Walter Gielow has been named in more reports of use of force against inmates than any other officer working for the Florida Department of Corrections, says the Miami Herald. With a record of 179 reports since 2003, Gielow and officer Patrick Germain, with 172 reports, have helped make Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, in the state’s Panhandle, number three in the state in frequency of use of force against inmates.

In the recently completed fiscal year, state corrections officers logged 7,300 use-of-force cases, nearly 1,000 more than the previous year, according to the department's data. Use-of-force cases have roughly doubled since 2008. And these are only the cases that are reported by the officers and the prisons. Many others never get documented. These numbers prompted Michael Crews, secretary of the Department of Corrections, to announce this week that he is ordering an independent audit of the agency’s procedures and policies involving the use of force against inmates.

 

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Pistole Leaving TSA; Presided Over Airport Security Expansion

John Pistole, administrator of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, whose decision to put in place more aggressive pat-downs and full body scans at airports drew wide criticism, is stepping down. Pistole, a former deputy FBI director, was nominated by President Obama in 2010 after the president’s top two choices were forced to withdraw because of questions raised about their past, the New York Times reports.

Pistole took over the agency after the near escape of Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in a bombing attempt in Times Square, who managed to buy a plane ticket to Dubai even after his name had been flagged by the FBI. He moved quickly to expand security measures at airports to include full body scans and pat-downs, becoming the face of many travelers’ frustrations with airport security, even draing a nationwide protest. After more than 30 years in the federal government, Pistole, 58, plans to take a job in academia.

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Report: NYC Spending More Money On Fewer Jail Inmates, Violence Up

Even though the inmate population at New York City's Rikers Island jail complex has fallen to its lowest level in decades, the amount of money spent to run city jails soared to a record $1.1 billion this year, says a city comptroller's report quoted by the New York Times. Yet there appears to have been little improvement, with assaults by guards and inmate violence drastically worsening. The report found that the amount spent by the Correction Department per inmate in New York was nearly $100,000 in the city’s 2014 fiscal year, which ended in June. That is 42 percent higher than seven years ago and more than twice the amount spent per inmate in other large cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.

During the same period, there was a 124 percent rise in assaults on staff by inmates at jails, and triple the number of allegations of use of physical force by guards. The number of jail guards dropped to 8,922 in 2014, from 9,203 in 2007. “These numbers show very clearly that what the Correction Department is doing isn’t working,” said comptroller Scott Stringer. “We’re spending more money on inmates and we’re getting worse results. We’re talking about an agency that is out of control as it relates to its management and budget priorities. It’s a drain on the city and a travesty to taxpayers.”

 

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Domestic Violence Can Escalate After Victim Leaves Turbulent Household

A murder-suicide this week in Portland, Tn., serves as a reminder that domestic violence can escalate even after the victim leaves a turbulent household, reports the Tennessean. Police said Richard Hinsley called his estranged wife, Tammy Hodges, and asked her to stop by his house to talk. The pair began a tumultuous marriage in July, and Hodges had decided to move out. Investigators believe Hinsley, 47, shot her in the head and turned the gun on himself.

Advocate Tracy DeTomasi of the YWCA wasn’t surprised. “The most dangerous time for many women is when they leave,” she said. “That is when a lot of the aggression really ramps up.” More women are murdered by men in Tennessee than in most of the nation. Last month, the latest Violence Policy Center report put Tennessee at No. 10 in a ranking of the states. Domestic violence crimes have declined in Tennessee for four years, but this week, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said the number of cases assigned to his domestic violence unit this year is 10,600, up 9 percent over 2013.

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FL High Court Says Police Need Warrants For Cellphone Tracking Of Suspects

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that police must get warrants to track criminal suspects by monitoring their cellphone location signals, Reuters reports. “Because cell phones are indispensable to so many people and are normally carried on one’s person, cell phone tracking can easily invade the right to privacy in one’s home or other private areas,” Chief Justice Jorge Labarga wrote in a 5-2 ruling. The case comes as federal courts around the U.S. wrestle with cellphone privacy and potential violations of the Fourth Amendment protecting citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.

The Florida court said Broward County sheriff’s deputies lacked probable cause to stop Shawn Tracey, who was accused of possessing more than 400 grams of cocaine. The court said investigators obtained a court order to capture telephone numbers of his calls, but “for some unexplained reason” the data included site locations. When an informant tipped police Tracey was going to Cape Coral for a drug deal, they tracked his location and arrested him. The state argued his car could be watched on public roads, but Tracey’s attorney said the cellphone surveillance went too far. “Regardless of Tracey’s location on public roads, the use of his cell site location information emanating from his cell phone in order to track him in real time was a search within the purview of the Fourth Amendment for which probable cause was required,” Labarga wrote. Because probable cause did not support the search and no warrant had been issued, the evidence obtained could not be used in court, he added.

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TCR at a Glance

Anatomy of a Terror Investigation

q & a October 13, 2014

The FBI’s ‘Silicon Valley’ approach to the hunt for the Unabomber set the template for catching lone wolf terrorists, a...

BJS Reports Uptick in Jail Deaths

new & notable October 9, 2014

Mortality rates in jails increased by 8 percent in 2012, according to an annual report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics