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Do Cops Really Need Mine Resistant Vehicles to Keep Us Safe?

By Kara Dansky

The militarized law enforcement response to peaceful protests over the killing of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo. last month, has prompted several federal officials to question the use of military weapons and tactics by local law enforcement, and the federal programs that fuel it.

They aren’t the only ones who are skeptical. 

In some cities and counties, officials and the public are resisting, and even reversing, the militarization of their police. Recently, for example, the City Council of Davis, California voted to return a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP) ordered by the police chief from army surplus.

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Ending Sexual Abuse of Youth Behind Bars

By Liz Ryan

When youth are placed behind bars, where  a detention or corrections official has with the  authority and power to control virtually every aspect of a youth's life, we set up the conditions for abuse, exploitation, and degradation. Ultimately sexual assault is about power and control.

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Ferguson Faces Multilayered Investigations

By Matthew T. Mangino

Ferguson, Mo. has stumbled into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons. After Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed last month by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, multilayered investigations are underway.  The ensuing controversy brought in the Department of Justice (DOJ). As the protests became more intense Attorney General Eric Holder announced the opening of a “concurrent federal inquiry” by the FBI, the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney.

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The Media and Ferguson: A Mixed Review

By David J. Krajicek

The evolution of breaking news coverage stood out like an appositional thumb during the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo.

Ferguson affirmed Twitter’s position as the piston that drives the engine of spot-news journalism. Hundreds of people, including reporters, citizens, law enforcers and representatives of “observer’ organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), were serial-tweeting from Ferguson during the most contentious mid-August nights in the St. Louis suburb.

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Child Refugees: A Humanitarian Crisis We Helped Create

By George Gascon

Recently, our country has been engaged in heated debate over the crisis involving thousands of mostly unaccompanied Central American children showing up at our southern border. Anti-immigration groups have seized the opportunity to reignite the cry for more border security, quicker deportations and stiffer sanctions for those crossing the border without authority. 

Alternatively, others argue that these young children are refugees, running away from violence, and should therefore be afforded humanitarian aid and protection.

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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 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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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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