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Police Say BYU's Probes Of Students Create "Save Haven" For Abusers

Brigham Young University student Julie remembers her 19-year-old self as a "strict rule-follower." Her neighbor, whom she had been casually dating, started urging her to bend the university's Honor Code, says the Salt Lake Tribune. In 2012, the man raped her, and then threatened to report her to Honor Code officials if she were to report him to police. As BYU has come under fire amid students' claims that they were investigated by the school as a result of reporting sexual assaults, critics have pointed to the chilling effect that scrutiny has on victims. More than two dozen current and former BYU students have told the Tribune they did not report sex crimes against them, many for fear of school discipline. To wield the threat of school discipline as a weapon, all an abuser has to do is entice a victim to break a rule, said Kortney Hughes, victim services coordinator at the Provo Police Department. "Predators aren't stupid," she said. "They will use any influence they have to pressure [a victim]."

That risk becomes a weapon when an abuser exploits it as a direct threat against a victim, said Provo Police Sgt. Brian Taylor. Disciplining students who report sexual assaults, Taylor said, "creates a safe haven" for abusers and a "strong disincentive" for victims to report. "Everybody is less safe," Taylor said. "What's the greater good? Protecting the moral integrity of the institution by punishing every identifiable act of consensual sex? Or are we going to deal with predators? It seems this question needs to be asked and answered." More than 110,000 people have signed an online petition to add an amnesty clause to BYU's Honor Code to safeguard sexual assault victims. BYU says it is considering "structural changes" to how it handles sex-crime allegations.

 

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After Three Kids Are Killed, Detroit Chief Starts "Robust" Anticrime Plan

Detroit Police Chief James Craig launched a three-pronged, grassroots-based approach to fight crime yesterday after a rash of child killings and praised a minister’s efforts to reach out to criminals as an “urban peace treaty,” the Detroit News reports. “We are committed to fighting crime in our neighborhoods,” Craig said in response to incidents that involved a 6-month-old, 3-year-old and 4-year-old. Craig was joined by ministers and anti-crime activists at a news conference. The pastors called on criminals to stop their attacks.

“You cannot shoot this city up,” said Pastor Maurice Hardwick of Body of Believers Outreach Ministry. “You cannot kill our babies and get away with it. We’re asking you to stand down. As a pastor who comes from these streets I’m asking the young men, you know who you are. Brothers, you’re better than this. You don’t have to do this. Settle your disputes calmly with no conflict.” Hardwick said people in the midst of a conflict can call him to help settle disputes. Craig called his new approach “robust,” saying it worked in Los Angeles and Cincinnati, where he worked before he came to Detroit. He said there will be additional enforcement, community empowerment and street advocacy. He said the Detroit 300 Community Action Team anti-violence group is part of the effort, as is the police department’s Crime Reduction Team, churches, police reserves and neighborhood watch programs.

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OJJDP To Hold Meeting For States On Eliminating Solitary For Youth

The Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will host a meeting for states to consider how to move away from putting youth in isolation. “Our goal is to eliminate the practice,” said Robert Listenbee, OJJDP administrator, speaking tot he Coalition for Juvenile Justice on Friday, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. President Obama has eliminated solitary confinement or juveniles in federal custody, a move supporters hoped would encourage action in the states, where most juveniles are held.

Researchers have found solitary confinement can cause depression, anxiety and psychosis and that youth are particularly vulnerable because they are still developing. More than half of all suicides in juvenile facilities occurred while young people were held in isolation. Listenbee also applauded reforms that are moving from a juvenile justice model that emphasizes punishment to one focused on improving outcomes for juveniles. “They should leave the system better than they were when they came,” he said.

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Murders Of Police Officers Up This Year, But Down In Recent Years

After an Austin, Tx., police officer shot and killed a man who charged him with knives on Friday, Police Chief Art Acevedo voiced his worries over what he described as a distressing increase in violence against officers in the U.S., says the Austin American-Statesman. "You look at the national level, there has been an alarmingly large increase in the felonious murders of police officers,” Acevedo said. “We’ve had more officers killed this year — significantly higher numbers killed this year — and so I’m worried.” While the number of officers killed in the first four months of the year has increased compared to last year, there has been a consistent decrease in the number of officers killed in criminal acts over the last four decades.

"The belief is that this is the most dangerous time to be a police officer, that it wasn’t like this 10 or 20 years ago. Most of that is not true,” said University of South Carolina law Prof. Seth Stoughton. He said Acevedo’s assertion that officer killings have increased may rely on too small of a sample size and could be an anomaly. Stoughton said the number of officers killed peaked in the ten-year period ending in 1980, when the average of officers killed was 115. The average dropped to 50 last year. Assaults against police officers have dropped as well, largely in line with a general decline in violent crime across the U.S., which Stoughton said is one of the main factors explaining why murders of police officers have declined.

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