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Little Outrage As 3/4 Of Victims, Suspects In Mass Shootings Are Black

There were at least 358 armed encounters in the U.S. last year, nearly one a day, in which four or more people were killed or wounded, including attackers, says the New York Times. The toll was 462 dead and 1,330 injured, sometimes for life, typically in bursts of gunfire lasting a few seconds. In some cities, law enforcement officials say a growing share of shootings involve more than one victim, possibly driven by increased violence between street gangs. The Times analyzed the 358 shootings, which took place mostly outdoors. About half involved or suggested crime or gang activity. Arguments that spun out of control accounted for most other shootings, followed by acts of domestic violence. The typical victim was a man between 18 and 30; more than 1 in 10 were 17 or younger. Nearly half of the cases remain unsolved. Most of the shootings occurred in economically downtrodden neighborhoods.

The 39 domestic violence shootings largely involved white attackers and victims. So did many of the high-profile massacres, including a wild shootout between Texas biker gangs that left nine people dead and 18 wounded. Nearly three-fourths of victims and suspected assailants whose race could be identified were black. That helps explain why the shootings have not inspired more outrage. “Clearly, if it’s black-on-black, we don’t get the same attention because most people don’t identify with that. Most Americans are white,” said criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. “People think, ‘That’s not my world. That’s not going to happen to me.’ ” Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who is black, said society would not be so complacent if whites were dying from gun violence at the same rate as blacks. “The general view is it’s one bad black guy who has shot another bad black guy,” he said. “And so, one less person to worry about.”

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DOJ Seeks To Hold Ex-Health Care Execs Criminally Liable

Two criminal trials of former health-care executives set to begin in Boston illustrate what the federal government says is a new push to hold more individuals accountable for alleged corporate wrongdoing, the Wall Street Journal reports. A former division president at drugmaker Allergan is charged with conspiring to pay kickbacks to doctors to prod them to prescribe the company’s medicines, including osteoporosis drug Atelvia. Two former senior officers of the Johnson & Johnson medical-device unit Acclarent are charged with marketing a sinus-opening device for a use not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Health-care companies have paid the U.S. billions of dollars and sometimes pleaded guilty to criminal charges to resolve civil and criminal probes of their marketing and pricing. Few executives have been on the hook. It is difficult for prosecutors to prove criminal intent in a corporate setting where decision-making is spread among many. Antifraud activists have pushed for more criminal prosecutions or civil lawsuits against executives, saying corporate fines haven’t sufficiently curbed misconduct. DOJ has been requiring companies under investigation to turn over all relevant information about employees responsible for alleged misconduct, Some goverrnment’s settlements of fraud allegations—including one in April by Pfizer Inc.’s Wyeth unit—have provisions that explicitly don’t release individual executives from future prosecution or civil proceedings. 

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Suspect In Killing Of MA Police Officer Shot Dead By Tactical Unit

Eighteen hours after he gunned down an Auburn, Ma., cop in cold blood, Jorge Zambrano was shot dead by a tactical 
police unit after he burst from a closet and opened fire in a duplex, authorities told the Boston Herald. The daylong drama began just after midnight when Auburn officer Ronald Tarentino Jr., 42, a father of three, pulled over an SUV with stolen plates. Police say Zambrano shot Tarentino, who was found lying in the street, radioing for help. In mid-afternoon, police found the vehicle they said Zambrano had been driving parked behind a duplex Oxford, Ma.

“He was lying in ambush for them,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said last night. State and local police surrounded the duplex, fired in tear gas and were used a bullhorn to tell Zambrano to surrender. State police Col. Richard McKeon said, “After clearing the basement and first floor ... troopers made entry onto the second floor. As they entered a bedroom, a closet door burst open. The suspect 
appeared from inside the closet and fired on the troopers, striking one of them.” The trooper, an 18-year police veteran who is a former Navy SEAL, was in stable condition with a shoulder wound last night. The town of Auburn was reeling from the violence and the loss of a beloved 
officer.

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OK Bill Criminalizing Abortions Vetoed As "Ambiguous," "Vague"

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed a bill that would have effectively banned abortion in the state, The Oklahoman reports. She said the measure was vague and would not withstand a constitutional legal challenge. The bill would have made it a felony for physicians to perform abortions. It also contained a provision to revoke their medical licenses unless the abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother. “The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother,'” Fallin said.

Sen. Nathan Dahm, author of the bill, had sought to make Oklahoma the first state in the nation to effectively ban abortion. He said he would consider trying to override the governor's veto, an effort that would require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate. Ryan Kiesel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma praised the governor's veto. "We are grateful that Gov. Mary Fallin has chosen to veto one of the most extreme pieces of anti-choice legislation ever produced in Oklahoma," he said. "The governor's action sends a strong message to the Oklahoma Legislature that measures such as these do nothing to push our state forward."

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Most Arrested In Chicago Raid On Gangs Appear On "Strategic Subject List"

In Chicago's urgent push to rein in gun and gang violence, the police department is keeping a list. Derived from a computer algorithm that assigns scores based on arrests, shootings, affiliations with gang members and other variables, the list aims to predict who is most likely soon to be shot or to shoot someone, says the New York Times. “We know we have a lot of violence in Chicago, but we also know there’s a small segment that’s driving this stuff,” said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. In a city of 2.7 million, about 1,400 are responsible for much of the violence, Johnson said, and all of them are on the department’s “Strategic Subject List.” This year, more than 70 percent of the people who have been shot in Chicago were on the list, as were more than 80 percent of those arrested for shootings.

In a drug and gang raid last week amid a disturbing uptick in shootings and murders, police said that 117 of the 140 people arrested were on the list. In one recent report on homicides and shootings over a two-day stretch, nearly everyone involved was on the list. While hundreds of thousands of people qualify as having a score that makes the list, the police have limited their focus to a far smaller group with scores in the mid-200s and above. “We are targeting the correct individuals,” Johnson said. “We just need our judicial partners and our state legislators to hold these people accountable.” Many government agencies and private entities are using data to predict outcomes, and local law enforcement is testing such algorithms to fight crime The computer model in Chicago is uniquely framed around the city’s particular problems: a large number of splintered gangs, an ever younger set of gang members and a rash of gun violence that is connected to acts of retaliation between gangs.

 

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Britain Also Pursuing Prison Reform; Justice Secretary Visited Texas

Faced with an overcrowded and increasingly violent prison system, Britain has been turning to the U.S. for solutions, says the Christian Science Monitor. Starting with prison reforms outlined by Queen Elizabeth last week, the country is looking to implement a number of reforms that have proved successful in the U.S. The catalyst for these reforms has been Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who is pushing the country’s Conservative government to bring a "reforming zeal into the dark corners of our prison system," echoing the compassionate message of conservative reformers in America. Gove visited Texas last year to see the results for himself, learning more about prisoner education programs and specialty courts.

The overriding mission in Britain is similar to that in the U.S.: Reducing prison populations through alternative sentencing of low-level offenders, and making prisons themselves more rehabilitation-focused. Although the problems differ in scale between the two countries, the solutions could be similar. Britain's prison population has doubled since the 1990s. It now has more people behind bars than any country in Western Europe, and prison violence has reached a "crisis point." Five of the six "reform prisons" identified in the Queen's speech are overcrowded. "We don't have the mass incarceration problem Americans have," says Robert Allen, a London-based independent researcher who studies international penal systems. "Having said that, for various reasons we do look to America for various lessons."

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Security Compromises May Allow Dangerous Devices On Aircraft

Security agents at Paris' main airport in Paris are trained to detect all manner of increasingly sophisticated devices that could doom a flight, including explosives in the form of paper, or concealed in a medicine-sized bottle and looking like salt and tiny electric detonators. The chilling reality is that security is ultimately fallible, reports the Associated Press. "The infinitely perfect does not exist," said Sylvain Prevost, who trains airport personnel seeking the coveted red badge that allows them access to the airport's restricted areas. Some 85,000 people at Charles de Gaulle airport hold red badges, which are good for three years, and many of them work for private companies. Concern over religious extremism in an age of increasing radicalization that can transform people within months.

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Louisiana First State To Pass "Blue Lives Matter" Law To Protect Police

In many states, hate-crime laws provide extra punishment to those who commit crimes against others because of their race or religion. Louisiana is about to do something different. The Washington Post says the state is poised to become the first where public-safety personnel will be a protected class under hate-crime law, a move that comes amid a national discussion about police shootings and whether that debate has given rise to an anti-law-enforcement climate. The Louisiana legislation has been callled “Blue Lives Matter,” a phrase popularized in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which exploded following the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Black Lives Matter activists have protested what they deem as excessive force by police. Those who respond with “Blue Lives Matter” argue it’s officers who are under assault and that criticism of police fosters animosity toward law enforcement. The Louisiana measure faced little opposition, and is headed to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Some states have floated proposals similar to Louisiana's, and a bill proposed in Congress would amend federal hate-crime law to include officers as a protected class. “Talking heads on television and inflammatory rhetoric on social media are inciting acts of hatred and violence toward our nation’s peace officers,” said president Chuck Canterbury of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Our members are increasingly under fire by individuals motivated by nothing more than a desire to kill or injure a cop.”

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OK Governor Vetoes Bill To Make Performing Abortions A Felony

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed a bill that would have made the state the first to make performing abortions a felony. The measure was approved Thursday. It also called for revoking the medical license of any doctor who performs the procedure. Sen. Ervin Yen, a doctor, called the bill “insane,” The Oklahoman reports. Jennifer Miller of the Center for Reproductive Rights said Fallin had signed 18 bills restricting access to reproductive health care services, and that courts had blocked all of them.

Bill Donohue of The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said it makes sense to criminalize abortion in Oklahoma. “Currently, it is a felony in Oklahoma for non-doctors to perform an abortion, so this bill simply adds doctors to the list,” he said. “Quite frankly, it would be illogical not to do so: It is not the training of the abortionist that is the crux of the matter, it is the procedure, and its aftermath, that counts.” The governor called sections of the bill ambiguous and vague.

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TCR at a Glance

Life After Prison: Opting In or Opting Out

special report May 23, 2016

In Part 4 of our podcast series, Lorenzo Brooks faces the challenges of navigating a now-unfamiliar world he left behind when he went to ...