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.
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.
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.
By Robin L. Barton
Scott Peterson’s appeals claim of media taint is hardly unique. But it’s getting more and more unlikely to be successful. And in many ways the claim begs the question:if Scott couldn’t get a fair trial in San Mateo County, where could he get one?
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.
By Julie Stewart
Concerns about the Office of the Pardon Attorney’s misconduct are bipartisan and cut across administrations.
By Mai Fernandez
The Sandusky trial underscores the courage required to testify about such crimes. “The victims… have shown great strength and courage,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, by “candidly and sometimes chillingly telling their stories, not only to the jury in a packed courtroom… but also to the entire world.”
By Shareka Newton
California is a three strikes state. That’s all I could think of when my father’s mother cavalierly told me that day in May, “Your dad’s in jail.”
By Vanita Gupta and Alex Stamm
The best hope for restoring our elderly prisoner population to sensible, manageable levels is to scale back our sentencing laws.
By William D. Burrell
Decades ago, criminal homicide patterns pointed to subcultures of violence in urban areas beset with socioeconomic problems. Now, recent homicide patterns point to a disturbing realization, a national culture of violence revolving around guns.