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U.S. Says Tribes Can Grow, Sell Marijuana; They Are Wary

Many in Indian Country are wary of the idea of growing and selling marijuana on tribal lands, even if it could prove an economic windfall and the U.S. Justice Department approves, the Associated Press reports. "I would really doubt tribes would be wanting to do something like that," said Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath Tribes in Oregon, where voters this year approved a measure to legalize recreational pot. "We have an alcohol- and drug-free policy at work."

The U.S. Justice Department said yesterday had adopted a new policy saying Indian tribes, which are considered sovereign nations, can grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands as long as they follow the same federal conditions laid out for states that have legalized the drug. The policy addresses questions raised by tribes about how legalization of pot in states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado would apply to Indian lands. The Yakama Nation in Washington state recently banned marijuana on the reservation and is trying to halt state regulated pot sales and grows on lands off the reservation where it holds hunting and fishing rights.

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Grassley, Whitehouse Leading Update Effort On U.S. Juvenile Crime Law

It has been a dozen years since Congress reauthorized the landmark federal law on juvenile justice standards. Now incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have introduced a new version of the legislation. The Hill newspaper says the move is an early signal of the committee’s potential criminal justice agenda. Grassley has been particularly supportive of new accountability measures in the bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

One advocate said Grassley’s sponsorship will be a boon for the bill, but the measure still has a long journey to becoming law. “I think as head of Judiciary, with his name on it, that is going to be a huge help,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. The juvenile system is estimated to detain 60,000 minors on any given night. One update would make it harder for states to lock up children who have committed “status offenses” that would not be an offense if they were an adult, like running away from home or skipping school. Another would require that states do more to make sure they are not confining minors near adults. It would also give states new direction on how to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.

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Mental Health Problems May Persist 15 Years After Newtown School Shooting

The scope of the psychological damage to children, parents, and others two years after the massacre at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School is clear, and the need for treatment is likely will persist, the Associated Press reports. Problems include anxiety, depression, guilt, sleeplessness, marital strife, drug and alcohol abuse. "Here it is two years later, and it's still hard to deal with. But God, you didn't want to know me two years ago," said Beth Hegarty, a Sandy Hook mother was the school that day with her three daughters, all of whom survived.

 

With the second anniversary of the shooting rampage Sunday, agencies have been setting up a support system for the next 12 to 15 years, as the youngest survivors approach adulthood. Mental health officials say the demand for treatment is high, with many people reporting substance abuse, relationship troubles, disorganization, depression, overthinking or inability to sleep related to the Dec. 14, 2012, attack in which Adam Lanza shot 20 children and six educators to death before killing himself. Some problems are just coming to the surface. "We've found the issues are more complex in the second year," said Joseph Erardi, Newtown's school superintendent. "A lot of people were running on adrenaline the first year."

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OH Adds $10 Million For Recovery Houses As Addict Bed Space Runs Short

Ohio, facing a shortage of treatment beds for recovering drug addicts has added $10 million for 657 new slots across the state, says the Columbus Dispatch. Recovery houses offer low rent payments, provide 12-step programs and therapy and sometimes teach life skills that recovering addicts might not have mastered. Although the funding is welcomed, a majority of Ohio’s 53 mental health and addiction services boards still cite a need for more recovery housing in their jurisdictions.

Without adequate and safe long-term housing, recovering addicts often overstay their time in treatment centers or returning to possibly dangerous environments, said Lori Criss of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers. In 2012, 1,914 people died in Ohio from an unintentional drug overdose. That’s a death every five hours, the highest rate the state had ever seen. But once treated for addiction, the early stages of recovery are the hard-est time to maintain sobriety, and few can sustain it without a support network, Criss said. “Isolation and loneliness are the two most dangerous things for a person with addiction, because that’s when the negative self-talk starts and the urge to use really takes over,” she said.

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NYC Housing Advocates Want To Extend "Gideon" Lawyer Rights To Evictions

As protests of police killings continue, another civil rights movement is gaining momentum: The right to counsel in eviction proceedings, Newsweek reports. In New York City, some 90 percent of tenants in housing court don’t have attorneys, and 90 percent of landlords do. Last year, some 30,000 families were evicted—a 20 percent increase over the last 10 years.

Two New York City council members want to guarantee attorneys for low-income tenants facing eviction. It's part of a "Civil Gideon"movement to extend the 51-year-old Gideon v. Wainwright case providing attorneys in criminal cases. “By providing a right to counsel in housing cases, New York City would be the first place in the nation to do so and would be taking a groundbreaking and historic step forward,” said John Pollock of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

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TX To Appeal Ruling That It Disclose Source of Lethal Injection Drugs

The name of the compounding pharmacy supplying lethal injection drugs for Texas executions must be released because it is public information, says a court ruling reported by the Texas Tribune. State District Judge Darlene Byrne granted summary judgment in favor of three lawyers who work for death row inmates, Maurie Levin, Naomi Terr and Hilary Sheard. "It’s a big deal," plaintiffs attorney Philip Durst said. "It goes to the topic of how we provide [public] information." Because the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is expected to appeal, however, it may be a while before the name is revealed.

The names of the pharmaceutical companies providing lethal injection drugs were long made public, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has confirmed that drug supplier names are public information. That changed when the state was forced to turn to compounding pharmacies. Last May, Abbott, during his campaign for governor, sided with the state after the agency secured a "threat assessment" from the Texas Department of Public Safety stating that the pharmacies "by design are easily accessible to the public and present a soft target to violent attacks." If the agency names the pharmacy-supplier, the department reasoned, it would present a "substantial" threat of physical harm to the pharmacy. In Ohio, a bill shrouding parts of Ohio’s execution process in secrecy cleared the Senate yesterday, with an added provision requiring a review of how killers are put to death amid ongoing legal questions over lethal injection, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

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Police Officers Complain About Being Stereotyped As Racist, Brutal

Police around the U.S. are facing an angry backlash from the public after a series of police killings of unarmed African Americans, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Some in the law enforcement community say the incidents and the protests that followed are a wake-up call that should prompt soul-searching among officers and drive departments to revamp training. Many police think they’re being stereotyped as racist and brutal. “The idea that police wake up, strap on their guns and pin on their badges and sit around thinking about how they’re going to make lives miserable in the minority community – that’s just at variance with common sense,” said James Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Officers and their families are concerned that antagonism toward police might make them targets of violence or retaliation, Pasco said. They also worry about identity theft and so-called doxxing, in which an individual’s address and contact information are published online as a form of public shaming. Hackers threatened to release the names and Social Security numbers of police in Ferguson, Mo., where white officer Darren Wilson fatally

 

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U.S. Police Forces More Diverse But It's Hard To Recruit Minorities

Since the Ferguson, Mo., shooting there have been renewed calls for police departments to hire more minority officers. NPR reports that it's not that simple. U.S. police are more diverse than they were a generation ago. In the 1980s, 1 in 6 officers were in an ethnic or racial minority. Now it's 1 in 4. The challenge is finding enough recruits to keep the trend going. The most stubborn diversity problem seems to be in the inner-ring suburbs where the population has shifted to majority minority but are still served mainly by white police.

"We can't get more black officers. We recruit predominantly at black schools, the military, and for the life of me I don't know why. It's not the best-paying job; they'd probably do better in the private sector ... I know it's not for the lack of trying," said St. Louis County officer Erich Von Almen, who is white. You hear that a lot in America's inner-ring suburbs — departments say they just can't attract enough minority applicants. Cedric Alexander, public safety director in DeKalb County, Ga., admits that there's something to this complaint. "Many young people today, particularly of color, have far more opportunities" professionally now than 40 years ago, he says.

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TCR at a Glance

Study: Summer Jobs Can Reduce Teen Violence

new & notable December 10, 2014

Youth employment can have a long-lasting impact on violent crime rates, according to a new study from the University of Chicago Crime Lab...