Three times this summer, armed robbers hit New Orleans restaurants or bars. For a city reliant on tourism, the idea that...
Sixteen people were injured last night after gunfire erupted during a block party at a park in New Orleans, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said he believed several people had fired into the crowd of more than 300. The gathering was part of an after party for an annual parade. Harrison described the party as an "unpermitted event."
A nurse who witnessed the event said two groups began shooting at each other around 6:15 p.m. "It was like New Year's Eve all over again," she said. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who joined Harrison at a press conference at the scene, said, "At the end of the day, it's really hard to police against a bunch of guys who decided to pull out guns and settle their disputes with 300 people in between them. It's not something you can tolerate in the city."
The harried schedule of a Kentucky public defender juggling more than 30 cases underscores a problem the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy has grappled with for decades: Too many clients and not enough money mean public defenders are being stretched too thin, putting the quality of representation at risk, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Tim Young, chairman of the National Association for Public Defense, said the constitutional issues for indigent defendants across the nation are serious: “It means people are going to prison for longer than they should. It means people are going to prison who shouldn’t. It means we’re spending vast sums of money incarcerating people who are not only innocent but never should have been in our system in the first place.”
Though no case has been filed in Kentucky, the American Civil Liberties Union and its affiliates have filed lawsuits against other states, counties and municipalities contending that they have deprived poor people of their right to an attorney. In Michigan and Montana, those efforts have already prompted legislative reforms. “Any state where we think there are significant, systemic problems – and it sounds like there are in Kentucky – is a state we are going to be looking at very, very closely,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU’s criminal law reform project. In fiscal year 2015, almost every staff public defender had a caseload that exceeded the maximum national standard. Kentucky has 333 public defenders in 33 offices to cover every court in all 120 counties. Some of those offices cover as many as eight counties, which forces some public defenders to drive thousands of miles each year just to reach courthouses, taking time away from arguing cases or talking to clients.
Over one six-day stretch over the past two weeks, South Florida police officers shot seven people, reports the Miami...
Criminal justice pushed its way to the forefront of the 2016 presidential conversation this summer when activists...
The expected release of a controversial video showing a white Chicago police officer fatally shooting an African-American teen will cast a spotlight on Chicago amid a raging national debate on police use of lethal force against minorities, says the Chicago Tribune. The police dashboard-cam video, expected to be out by Wednesday, allegedly captured the officer firing 16 rounds into Laquan McDonald, 17, many as he lay prone along a stretch of road. The city had opposed the release of the potentially inflammatory video, citing ongoing criminal investigations of officer Jason Van Dyke, but it dropped its opposition after a judge last week ordered that the video be made public by Wednesday.
Torreya Hamilton, a civil rights lawyer who has sued the Chicago Police Department, said the city's efforts to fight the release reflect a problem with transparency in contrast with some other places. In July, the Texas Department of Public Safety released dash-cam video weeks after an Illinois woman, Sandra Bland, was involved in a controversial traffic stop. Authorities ruled she committed suicide in jail. The same month, the Seattle Police Department released video of an officer shooting a knife-wielding suspect. The department policy since mid-2014 has been to release any "objective" evidence involving a major police-involved incident, said Brian Maxey, the department's chief operating officer. In Chicago, police said McDonald, who had PCP in his system when he died, was behaving erratically and refusing police commands to drop a 4-inch folding knife. The police union says the officer fired in fear of his life because the teen lunged at him and his partner with the knife.
The New York Police Department's new counterterrorism unit, the Critical Response Command, which will be composed of 527...
The new head of Washington’s Department of Corrections says Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway was moved from a Washington state prison to federal prison in Colorado because he had been deemed a security threat who might harm the staff, reports the Seattle Times. Ridgway, 66, had ample opportunity to study the cell, staff and prison routines and look for weaknesses, Secretary Dan Pacholke told the state Senate Law and Justice Committee. Pacholke’s remarks contradict comments made by then-Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner, who described Ridgway as “not necessarily a threat to others.”
Warner stepped down last month to work at a private corrections company. U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert said he remained unmoved by the corrections department's explanations. “The Department of Corrections … is not being honest with the people of the state of Washington,” Reichert, the former King County sheriff who spent years investigating the killings as a sheriff’s detective, said after the committee session. “That was bullshit, what you just heard,” he said.
The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to rescue its plans to shield from deportation millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, the Associated Press reports. Moving to put the issue before the justices in time for a decision while President Barack Obama is still in office, the administration on Friday sought the court's immediate review of its plan to give work permits to as many as 5 million immigrants. The immigrants affected are mainly the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The appeal, filed a year after Obama announced executive actions on immigration, injects the Supreme Court into a dispute between 26 mainly Republican-led states and the administration during a presidential race in which immigration has been a flashpoint. So far, the federal courts have sided with the GOP-led states and blocked the plan.
If the high court agrees to decide the case by late June, and if the justices side with the administration, that would leave seven months in Obama's presidency to implement his plans. Time is running short in the court's current term. Texas, the lead state in the lawsuit, has 30 days to respond but could ask for more time. If the justices don't agree by mid-January to hear the case, the issue probably will not be decided until after Obama leaves office in January 2017. At issue is the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, which Obama said would allow people who have been in the U.S. more than five years and who have children who are in the country legally to "come out of the shadows and get right with the law."
Vox says that media hype about a violent crime wave in the U.S. is "bunk." Alarming stories about rising murder rates in many American cities has been reported in the New York Times and repeated by CNN, USA Today, NPR and others. But a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice says that while murder is up moderately in some places, crime is down in 11 of 19 major U.S. cities.
In Baltimore, which has been cited repeatedly as a leading example of the crime wave, murder is on pace to increase about 50 percent this year over last. But Boston projects a 30 percent drop in murders. In New York, where the NYPD has disputed the notion of a crime wave, murders are up less than 10 percent but overall crime is down marginally. The Brennan Center data comes from 25 of the 30 most populous U.S. cities. The report calls into question the controversial idea of a "Ferguson effect": that criminals are emboldened and police are demoralized, leading to more crime.
TCR at a Glance
new & notable November 26, 2015
In some cases, defendants may claim that they were following rules and complying with technical regulations—or they did not realize...
commentary November 25, 2015
The Justice Department has played a major role since 1994 in forcing police to reform. How do we measure its achievements?
new & notable November 24, 2015
As states begin to implement criminal justice reforms, judges and prosecutors will likely start to use risk and needs assessment informat...
November 21, 2015
The authors of the Paris attacks now lead global groups whose criminal activities are the ‘life blood’ of terrorism, says a l...
November 20, 2015
Local political races and smarter policing are key to justice reform, a Washington conference is told.
November 19, 2015
Sen. Gary Peters tells criminologists meeting in Washington that the odds are improving for a "top to bottom" review of the justice system.
special report November 17, 2015
TCR concludes its investigation of the uphill efforts by lawyers and civil liberties advocates to curb ‘outrageous government condu...