Drug courts successful for few who get in

By , November 30, 2009 10:01 am

In a five-year span, Candice Singer went from being a respected juvenile defense lawyer to a homeless meth addict who once broke into a house just to take a shower.

By the time she was arrested, Singer was charged with 24 separate burglaries and with cooking meth in her mother's house. She could have spent at least five years in prison, but her lawyer was able to steer her to a New Jersey drug court that kept her in treatment instead of behind bars.

“I credit drug court with saving my life,” Singer, 49, says. “If I had gone to prison, I would have continued to use drugs when I got out. I would probably be dead.”

It's been 20 years since the first drug court was established in Miami as an innovative way of getting nonviolent offenders out of the criminal justice system and into court-supervised drug rehabilitation programs. Since then more than 2,300 drug courts have blossomed around the country, credited with reducing crime and saving the cost of locking people up.

Despite that success, the specialized courts remain available to less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million drug-addicted offenders.

via Drug courts successful for few who get in – washingtonpost.com.

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

By , November 30, 2009 9:18 am

When we elected you we didn’t expect miracles. We didn’t even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn’t even function as a nation and never, ever has.

Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God’s sake, stop.

Tonight we still have hope.

Tomorrow, we shall see. The ball is in your court. You DONT have to do this. You can be a profile in courage. You can be your mother’s son.

We’re counting on you.

via An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore | MichaelMoore.com.

FBI Report Notes Rise In Hate Crimes : NPR

By , November 24, 2009 3:23 pm

The number of hate crimes against religious groups in the U.S. jumped more than 8 percent during 2008 — the most notable increase in a variety of hate crime statistics reported in data released Monday by the FBI.

In all, 7,783 hate crimes were included in the FBI's 2008 Hate Crime Statistics report. The report covers crimes involving a victim who was targeted because of race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin or disability.

The FBI’s report reflects only the information gathered by participating law enforcement agencies. Experts warned that the numbers may reflect different standards for what constitutes a hate crime, as well as the inability of some law enforcement agencies to coordinate the report because of budget constraints.

“The most frightening thing about these numbers is what goes unrecorded,” said Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, the Hispanic civil rights advocacy group.

via FBI Report Notes Rise In Hate Crimes : NPR.

FBI — Hate Crimes

By , November 23, 2009 2:38 pm
Hate Crime
Image by fortinbras via Flickr

Hate crime has been much in the news lately, with an expansive new law put on the books just last month. Today, we’re releasing our latest annual statistics on the extent of bias-fueled crime across the country, which we hope will contribute to the ongoing national dialogue and to public and private efforts to address its underlying causes.

Overall, the 2008 numbers are up slightly—7,783 incidents and 9,691 victims (including individuals, businesses, and institutions) were reported to us by our law enforcement partners across the country. But a note here: our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program doesn’t report trends in hate crime stats—yearly increases or decreases often occur because the number of agencies who report to us varies from year to year.

You can find much more information in the full report, broken down into categories such as locations, victims, offenders, incidents, and offenses.

via FBI — Hate Crimes – Press Room – Headline Archives 11-23-09.

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OpenJurist | Making the laws of the land accessible to the people of the land.

By , November 23, 2009 11:15 am

OpenJurist’s mission is to provide access to published court opinions without charge. Our collection includes approximately 647,000 opinions from the United States Supreme Court published in the United States Reports, and from the lower federal courts, particularly the United States Courts of Appeals, as published in the First, Second and Third series of Federal Reporter.

via OpenJurist | Making the laws of the land accessible to the people of the land..

Date-rape drink spiking ‘an urban legend’

By , November 20, 2009 12:25 pm

A study of more than 200 students revealed many wrongly blamed the effects of a “bad night out” on date-rape drugs, when they had just drunk excessively.

Many are in “active denial” that drinking large amounts of alcohol can leave them “incoherent and incapacitated”, the Kent University researchers concluded.

Young women's fears about date-rape drugs are so ingrained that students mistakenly think it is a more important factor in sexual assault than being drunk, taking drugs or walking alone at night.

The study, published in the British Journal of Criminology, found three-quarters of students identified drink spiking as an important risk – more than alcohol or drugs.

More than half said they knew someone whose drink had been spiked.

But despite popular beliefs, police have found no evidence that rape victims are commonly drugged with such substances, the researchers said.

Dr Adam Burgess from the university's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, said: “Young women appear to be displacing their anxieties about the consequences of consuming what is in the bottle on to rumours of what could be put there by someone else.

via Date-rape drink spiking ‘an urban legend’ – Telegraph.

Arrests Data: Not Always by the Book

By , November 19, 2009 5:43 pm
The Constitution in Peril
Image by Renegade98 via Flickr

More than 40 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s crime commission reported that half of American men would be arrested at some point in their lives. Today, crime data remain consistent with that figure — and are bedeviled by many similar flaws.

Researchers who announced the stunning arrest rates in 1967 were stumped by data deficiencies, such as their inability to tell whether the same person was being counted more than once — an often overlooked point the researchers made in their own report. Today, data problems in crime measurement persist. Reporting by local law-enforcement agencies is incomplete, and criminologists say local data aren’t calculated in a uniform way across the U.S.

To mitigate gaps and inconsistencies in the numbers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation extrapolates from the numbers it does have to get a nationwide total.

That 52% of American men will be arrested originated in a report from the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. Ronald Christensen, then a graduate student in physics who held degrees in electrical engineering and law, was asked to crunch the numbers on arrests and convictions. He set out to calculate how many men and women at each age had been arrested, counting juvenile arrests. Mr. Christensen assumed that current arrest rates would hold.

via Arrests Data: Not Always by the Book – WSJ.com.

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Learning to share

By , November 15, 2009 10:13 pm

Free, immediate and permanently available research results for all – that’s what the open-access campaigners want. Unsurprisingly, the subscription publishers disagree. Zoe Corbyn weighs up the ramifications for journals, while Matthew Reisz asks how books will fare

Stephen Hicks, a reader in health and social care at the University of Salford, has just uploaded nine of his journal articles to his university’s online open-access repository of institutional papers, and has another ten in the pipeline. Doing so had not crossed his mind before, and it won’t be compulsory until January 2010 (last month, Salford mandated so-called “self-archiving”, becoming the 100th organisation worldwide to do so). But he was turned on to the idea after hearing Martin Hall, Salford’s vice-chancellor and an open-access advocate, speak.

Hicks didn’t make his decision for altruistic reasons or because Hall said it could increase his citations and impact. Rather, he chose to make the papers available because he receives a barrage of requests from other academics for access. Directing them to the repository seemed a logical way to save time and make his life easier. Uploading is straightforward, Hicks says, estimating that it takes about ten minutes per paper. He simply fills in an online form with the details of the peer-reviewed article and sends it, along with the final accepted version, to the repository. Staff there pick up the ball, working out whether the copyright policy of the journal that originally published the paper will allow it to be uploaded. “You don’t have to worry about copyright because the repository staff do that,” Hicks notes, while expressing disappointment that some of his articles haven’t gone online because the journals do not grant permission.

via Times Higher Education – Learning to share.

Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

By , November 15, 2009 9:07 pm

Volume 7:1 – Symposium: What Criminal Law and Procedure Can Learn From Criminology

Guest Editor(s): David A. Harris and Joshua Dressler

Symposium: What Criminal Law and Procedure Can Learn From Criminology

David A. Harris, What Criminal Law and Procedure Can Learn from Criminology, 7 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 1 (2009).

Richard A. Leo and Jon B. Gould, Studying Wrongful Convictions: Learning From Social Science, 7 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 7 (2009).

Eric J. Miller, Putting the Practice Into Theory, 7 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 31 (2009).

Erik Luna, Criminal Justice and the Public Imagination, 7 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 71 (2009).

David A. Harris, How Accountability-Based Policing Can Reinforce—Or Replace—The Fourth Amendment Exclusionary Rule, 7 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 149 (2009).

via Moritz College of Law – Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law (Issues).

More Job Seekers Scramble To Erase Their Criminal Past

By , November 13, 2009 9:35 am

U.S. job seekers are crashing into the worst employment market in years and background checks that reach deeper than ever into their pasts.

The result: a surge of people seeking to legally clear their criminal records.

In Michigan, state police estimate they’ll set aside 46% more convictions this year than last. Oregon is on track to set aside 33% more. Florida sealed and expunged nearly 15,000 criminal records in the fiscal year ended June 30, up 43% from the previous year. The courts of Cook County, which includes Chicago and nearby suburbs, received about 7,600 expungement requests in the year’s first three quarters, nearly double the pace from the year before.

via More Job Seekers Scramble To Erase Their Criminal Past – WSJ.com.

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