Kids who have grown up behind bars are coming out as adults, often as ill-prepared for life beyond the razor wire as they were when they went in, reports the Dallas Morning News. No programs in Texas prisons are specifically geared to those about to be released after coming of age on the inside. They come out more likely to commit new offenses and have mental health issues. “The real question?” said Michele Deitch, who studies juvenile offenders at the University of Texas at Austin. “Is putting them in that cage with virtually no treatment or services going to change them in a way that’s for the better?”
Even the person once charged with overseeing Texas’ prisons worries. “We have been raising minors, raising children, in our prison system, in our adult prison system,” said Christina Melton Crain. She oversaw the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s board as an appointee of former Gov. Rick Perry. “These people are coming back to be your neighbors, to be your grocery sackers, to be washing your cars. ... They’ve been incarcerated since they were 14, and now they’re 40, so what are you going to do with something like that?” The Morning News tells the stories of Texas juveniles who spent their formative years in prison.
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) has been both demonized and eulogized, often inaccurately and sometimes unfairly, for its conduct during Hurricane Katrina, which hit land 10 years ago this week, Peter Scharf and Stephen Phillippi of Louisiana State University write for The Conversation. While the media have focused on the legal actions against the police and speculated about officer conduct during and after Katrina, little attention has been paid to the complex and contradictory stories or narratives that have emerged to explain police conduct during the storm, they say.
The authors, a criminologist and a public health professor, say "these legacy narratives call out for closer examination to determine how the NOPD can improve in realistic and measurable ways." The police officers who mobilized for the landfall of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005 were largely unprepared and divided, say Scharf and Phillippi. The department had many good and competent officers but was still reeling from scandals and a pernicious organizational culture a decade earlier, in which police “patrols” at times commingled with illegal drug trade groups. Today the NOPD faces a crisis of manpower, morale questions, increased murder rates and resurgence of questions about police integrity – all legacies of Hurricane Katrina, say Scharf and Phillippi. A 30 percent increase in murders through July 2015 compared with 2014 may be linked to a pattern of "de-policing" that is, the advice to just “sit in your car and you won’t get fired, shot, sued or prosecuted,“ another post-Katrina effect, the authors write.
William Taylor, police superintendent of Lowell, Ma., is negotiating a 30-day trial of police body cameras, which would place a small camera on an officer’s jacket or near their head. Lowell would be the largest city in Massachusetts to approve the body camera pilot measure, Taylor tells the Boston Globe. The trial is sponsored by Arizona-based TASER International, which would provide the cameras at no cost to the city. Taylor said the company reached out to Lowell because it has a history of using progressive police strategies.
The trial could act as a case study for the whole state, he said. “We’re trying to experiment and develop information about the pros and cons of the camera and how they could be used for the Commonwealth,” Taylor said. “The most important consideration I have is that [cameras] strengthen trust in the community and act as betterment and not a barrier. We don’t want to diminish the trust the police has in the community.” National studies show evidence that body cameras have decreased both complaints against police and use-of-force incidents, Taylor said. “Black Lives Matter” activists, who have traveled across the country protesting alleged police brutality, released a list of policy solutions this week that called on every police department to purchase and implement body cameras.
Vester Lee Flanagan II’s anger had lurked within him for years. The staff at WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va., had become...
There are two videos of yesterday's murder of two Virginia journalists. The first was broadcast live at the time of the...
New Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney is working to repair a rift with officers angry over how the department handled Randall “Wes” Kerrick, the white officer accused of killing an unarmed black man, reports the Charlotte Observer. Putney has spoken with officers since a judge declared a mistrial. The jury deadlocked 8-4, favoring acquittal of the officer on a voluntary manslaughter charge. A Fraternal Order of Police leader, Kerrick’s attorney, a City Council member and others told the Observer that Putney is aiming to restore fractured relations between officers and commanders. Some officials believe a majority of officers disagree with top administrators about the shooting and believe Kerrick took reasonable action to protect himself. Those officers accuse then-Chief Rodney Monroe and his staff of a rush to judgment on Kerrick and misleading them about his quick arrest.
Investigations into officer-involved shootings and other use of force can take weeks or months. But Charlotte police arrested Kerrick less than a day after he shot Jonathan Ferrell in 2013. Complaints emerged when a dashcam video became public during the trial and produced divided opinions on whether the shooting was justified. Officers had been assured the footage would provide clear and convincing evidence Kerrick committed a crime, said Randy Hagler, president of the North Carolina chapter of the FOP. “Once you saw the evidence, you knew they (top police officials) were not truthful,” said Hagler, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer who now heads law enforcement for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
All around North America, some drug dealers are lacing heroin with an illicit version of the potent anesthesia drug...
When the courtroom door closed behind Aurora, Co., theater killer James Holmes, the last sound he heard was cheering -- "not for him but for his ruin," the Denver Post reports. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. yesterday sentenced Holmes to the maximum time in prison possible, 12 consecutive life sentences in prison, one for every person he killed on July 20, 2012, followed by another 3,318 years for trying to kill 70 other people and plotting to blow up his apartment. There is no chance for parole.
The millennia-spanning sentence is one of the longest ever handed down in the nation. Samour delivered it without once saying Holmes' name or even speaking directly to him. When he was finished, shortly before noon on the 175th day that Holmes spent in court, Samour looked toward the killer with a scowl uncharacteristic of the normally even-tempered judge. "Sheriff," he barked, "get the defendant out of my courtroom, please." The courtroom audience burst into applause when Samour delivered his final rebuke. There were whoops and cheers that only grew louder when the crowd realized Samour would do nothing to stop them. One woman shouted, "Loser! Loser! Loser!" Prosecutors have requested that Holmes pay restitution of more than $700,000, an amount that could rise in the coming days as more expenses are added up.
Crime in California has generally declined since the prison-jail "realignment" of 2011 that sharply reduced the state prison population by court order, says a report by Mike Males for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, an advocacy group in California. The report says that comparing 2014 to 2010, both violent and property crime dropped after realignment took effect on October 1, 2011, with a small increase in 2012 more than offset by declines in 2013 and 2014. These trends are similar to those that prevailed before realignment and are well within the range of normal year-to-year fluctuations, the report said.
Some law-enforcement officials had warned that releasing so many prisoners would lead to an increase in crime. The new report contends that, "Realignment and crime do not have a causal relationship. Vehicle theft, and theft in general, also do not appear to be worsening in counties with lower rates of non-violent imprisonments compared to those with the highest rates." California’s prison population peaked at about 170,000 in 2007 and stood at around 161,000 in 2010. After the realignment took effect, as well as other reforms, the prison population proceeded rapidly through mid-2012 to 133,000. It then stalled, but fell again to 128,416 as of August 19.
Baltimore officials are preparing for protests as court hearings ramp up in the Freddie Gray case by coordinating with law enforcement agencies around the state, upgrading riot gear and conducting crowd-control training, the Baltimore Sun reports. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said officials plan to hold educational sessions in schools to explain the justice system to students. Over the next two weeks, court hearings will be held to consider several key issues in the Gray case, including whether charges should be dismissed, whether Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby should be recused and whether the trials should be moved out of Baltimore. The first is scheduled for Wednesday.