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Eddie Ellis: Legacy of a Prison Reformer

By Curtis Stephen

The first thing you noticed about Edwin (“Eddie”) Benjamin Ellis Jr. was his husky, low-pitched voice. But for more than two decades, it was his very presence inside the public policy arena that marked the sonic equivalent of an ear-splitting roar.

As a New York-based activist, Ellis—who died of cancer last month at the age of 72—was the host and executive producer of “On The Count!,” the groundbreaking weekly series that airs on WBAI-FM in New York, and covers a broad range of criminal justice issues.

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The Real Story of Ferguson

By Joe Domanick

What we’re seeing in Ferguson, Mo. --with its stunningly provocative, potentially deadly, militarized response to citizen protest-marches and a minor civil disturbance -- is really the story of American policing circa 2014.

It’s been a time of police abuses that was foreshadowed in 2011. That year —after an almost decade-long record of misuse of its stop-question-and-frisk policy, the New York City Police Department engaged in so many stops of young black men aged 14-24 that the number exceeded the entire city population of young black men in the city. That is, a 106 percent of this group were stopped and frisked.

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The Lessons of Homicide Watch

By Laura Amico

I built Homicide Watch D.C.  at the intersection of community memorial, criminal justice, and journalism to meet these needs. The response was instantaneous. Five hundred page views in the first month. Then 5,000 another. Then 500,000 another.

It has been an honor for the past four years to do this work. As I prepare for my next challenge-- an editor position with the Boston Globe—I’ve gathered seven of my lessons learned from starting Homicide Watch to share.

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Fantasy v. Crime: Where’s the Line?

By Robin L. Barton

Have you ever have a really bad day at work and indulged yourself in a detailed daydream of how you’d torture and maybe even kill your awful boss á la the movie “Horrible Bosses”? Maybe you even shared this fantasy with a like-minded co-worker over drinks. Based on your daydream, should you be arrested for planning or conspiring to commit a crime? Or are such fantasies a harmless way to deal with job frustrations, sexual desires and other feelings?

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Can We Reduce The Prison Population By 25%?

By Marc Mauer and Nazgol Ghandnoosh

While some proponents of continued high rates of incarceration warn of the prospect of a “crime wave” if populations are reduced, we found no evidence for such an outcome in these states. During this time frame, a period in which crime rates were declining nationally, these three states generally achieved greater reductions in violent and property crimes than national averages.

Our findings suggest that it is possible to achieve substantial prison population reductions – much greater than the very modest 4% reduction that state prisons have achieved since their 2009 peak – without adverse effects on public safety.

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Hackers and Journalists Unite!

By Graham Kates

Hackers are often lumped into two groups: those who tamper with our security and privacy, and those who use their skills to spotlight holes in the Internet’s infrastructure. They’re routinely vilified and prosecuted, and also aggressively recruited by the government to help protect data from cybercriminals, foreign state intrusions and other nefarious forces. But at last weekend’s 10th biennial Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE X) conference, one of the premiere get-togethers of the digital world, it was clear that the nefarious forces the cyberworld is now most concerned with are lodged within our own government.

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TCR at a Glance

The Criminal Justice Debt Penalty

new & notable August 22, 2014

"Mere contact" with the criminal justice system can cause long-term financial instability, according to a new paper from the John Jay Col...

Gun Wars

August 19, 2014

A special reporting project finds gun control advocates are making headway as a fierce battle gets underway to influence November’s...

Why ‘Shock and Awe’ Policing Fails

q & a August 18, 2014

The militaristic approach to crowd control used in Ferguson PD threatens Constitutional guarantees of peaceful assembly, says former NIJ ...

How Incarceration Affects Family Health

new & notable August 15, 2014

A study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved finds the effects of having an incarcerated family member during child...