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Viewpoints

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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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Cell Phone Ruling Is No Threat to Effective Policing

By Caleb Mason

Fourth Amendment cases give us great past-vs.-present riddles, little Zen koans testing our constitutional intuitions about technology. How is an email message like a paper-and-envelope letter? How is a computer hard drive like a file cabinet? How is a thermal-imaging scope like a pair of binoculars? How is a cell-phone tower like a human phone-company operator? And now: how is a cell phone like a pack of cigarettes?

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The End of Penal ‘One-Upmanship’

By Derek Cohen & Marc Levin

The National Academies exhaustive report, “The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences,released last month, covers nearly the entire body of scholarship on the causes of the incarceration boom. The causes, as identified by the authors, derive from a charged political arena favoring longer sentences, the trend towards harsher methods of punishment, and the rapid development of increasingly punitive drug laws. Certainly, the last four decades of criminal justice policy reflect this. 

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The Paradigm Shift in Criminal Justice

By James M. Doyle

We may look back on 2014 as the year in which the criminal justice system finally agreed to see itself as a system.

Of course we have always used the phrase “criminal justice system,” but we usually have only a vague ecosystem in mind:  something like a pond or a swamp, where choices made on the near coast produce mysterious unanticipated consequences on the far shore. This mindset warps the way we diagnose our problems.

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Cybercrime and Probation: Out of the Loop

By Art Bowker

Over the years, society has become much more technologically dependent. Computers and Internet access have become not only widespread but generally essential to everyday life. Courts, recognizing technology’s role in today’s society, have also become increasing reluctant to impose wholesale computer or Internet prohibitions on offenders. As an alternative, courts have gravitated towards conditions that authorize computer searches and/or monitoring.

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Reforming the NYPD—Beyond Stop and Frisk

By Judy Greene

With Bill Bratton back at the helm of the New York Police Department (NYPD), many New Yorkers who remember his term of service in that post during the Giuliani administration are experiencing a bit of déjà vu. We recall his launch of CompStat, the NYPD system for ensuring command accountability at the precinct level, now replicated by police executives across the globe.  And the return of George Kelling as an NYPD management guru appears to signal a reaffirmation of Bratton’s famous “broken windows” approach to crime control in New York City.

Many New Yorkers welcome these developments, believing that Bratton’s strict enforcement of “quality of life” crimes was the driving force that won our city’s victory against the 1980’s epidemic of violent crime. However, New York University sociologist David Greenberg disagrees.  He says that while crime rates have plummeted, it’s not because of the NYPD.

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Sentenced to the Max Without Benefit of a Trial

By Erik Roskes

From the time of the philosopher-physician Maimonides, individuals with mental impairments were known to be unable to participate meaningfully in judicial proceedings.  Thus, for at least a millennium, it has been the expectation in civilized societies that individuals accused of crimes must be competent in order to plead, go to trial, and be sentenced. 

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TCR at a Glance

Merging Family and Drug Courts

new & notable July 25, 2014

London's court for parents who abuse drugs and alcohol uses specially-trained judges and multi-disciplinary teams, according to a report ...

Five Things About Deterrence

new & notable July 24, 2014

A National Institute of Justice flyer argues that the certainty of punishment, rather than severity, deters crime

The ‘War’ Against Whistleblowers

July 19, 2014

Hackers and free speech activists gather in New York to denounce what they call unprecedented government efforts to prosecute leakers