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Should the AG Look Outside BOP For Its New Director?

By Margaret Colgate Love

The bottom line is this: Appointing an outsider by itself is not going to solve any of the institutional problems that in recent years have limited Bureau of Prisons' capacity and will to innovate. As long as BOP is housed in an agency whose criminal justice agenda is influenced if not determined by prosecutors, these problems will persist no matter how stellar the individual selected as its leader.

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Obama Focuses on Drug Felons: What About the Rest of Us?

By Jeremy Busby

President Barack Obama should be commended for his recent attempts to highlight the inequities of the criminal justice system.

On July 16, he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit a prison, a federal facility in El Reno, Oklahoma.  And he has called for the release of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug crimes.

But what about the rest of us, including those serving time for violent crimes—and especially those who might be innocent?

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The Media After Ferguson: Still Ignoring the Failures

By William H. Freivogel

The Justice Department's twin reports on Ferguson this March raised two disturbing questions about the media.

• How did so many news organizations fail for so long to realize that “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was a myth?

• How did so many news organizations fail for so many years to uncover deeply unconstitutional police and court practices?

One hopes those questions would prompt soul-searching. For the most part, they haven’t. 

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California and the Death Penalty

By Michele Hanisee

The world contains extremely dangerous and evil people who cannot be deterred by threat of incarceration.  I'm not talking about the average gang murder or robbery gone bad.  I am talking about the people who rape infants to death; who kidnap, torture, rape and murder children; who target police officers in the line of duty; who kill not just one, but a half dozen or dozen or more innocent victims in serial and mass murders.

Such people are the reasons why California still needs a death penalty.

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Punishing Criminals Won’t Solve our Real Crime Problem

By William Kelly

Milwaukee, New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and Houston have all seen murders spike this year.  Nor is Baltimore alone in framing the official response to increased violence  as a “fight against crime,”—which naturally places the responsibility for addressing it on the criminal justice system and, in particular on local law enforcement.  Since police represent the front line in the “fight against crime,” they have been the primary agents tasked with fixing the problem.

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The “Three R’s” of Good Policing

By James R. “Chip” Coldren, Jr.

The ongoing debate and controversy around police-community relations, and particularly around police use of force and police shootings of unarmed community members, stirs strong emotions in all of us. Ronald Davis, the director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), recently declared that the public reaction to incidents over the past 12 months, such as those in Ferguson, MO (Michael Brown); Baltimore, MD (Freddie Gray); and Staten Island, NY (Eric Garner) represents a new civil rights movement in America.

We seem caught in the tension between what we need from police (safety) and what we want from police (respect and fairness).

The tension is exacerbated by news coverage. Aggressive law enforcement in our most dangerous and violent communities can elicit strong, negative community reactions—especially when the perception develops that police tactics focus on the less-empowered members of our communities: the mentally ill, the LGBTQ community, youth, and people of color.

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Juvenile Justice Reform: No Longer a Partisan Issue

By Marie N. Williams

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 1169, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 2015. First signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974, and most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies a partnership between the federal government and U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, to effectively address high-risk and delinquent behavior and to improve community safety. 

Moreover, at the time it first passed, the JJDPA represented a national consensus—that juvenile justice was a non-partisan issue, of equal concern to young people, families and communities all across the country. In fact, all but one United States Senator voted for the original Act.

Now, more than seven years overdue for reauthorization and  suffering from not-so-benign neglect, the JJDPA remains the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system, and that provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements.

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TCR at a Glance

Cops and the Mentally Ill

October 2, 2015

Crisis intervention training is now offered to police trainees in one New York State county. It’s already made a difference on the ...

Show Me Your Warrant

October 1, 2015

Brooklyn’s “Begin Again” initiative is aimed at healing rifts between neighborhoods and authorities.