Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chicago's deadliest month in 20 years

According to the Chicago Tribune, August has been the most violent month in the city in almost 20 years. The city hasn't seen a deadlier month since October of 1997, when there were 79 homicides. For the whole year, the count was 761, according to department numbers.
Chicago has recorded 487 homicides and more than 2,800 people shot so far this year, compared to 491 homicides and 2,988 people shot all of last year, according to Tribune data.
Chicago has a lower homicide rate than many other U.S. cities that are smaller in population. But this year, the city has recorded more homicides and shooting victims than New York City and Los Angeles combined, even though the two cities are larger than Chicago's population of roughly 2.6 million.
New York, with more than three times the population of Chicago, has recorded 760 shooting victims and logged 222 homicides, according to NYPD crime statistics through Aug. 21. In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million, 176 people have been slain and 729 people shot, according to LAPD crime data through Aug. 20.
To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, August 29, 2016

Baltimore: Big Brother “is finally here.”

Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department had been using a plane to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings. The Cessna is equipped with the equivalent of 800 video cameras and surveils an area roughly 30 square miles. The public was never informed of the surveillance.
A company called Persistent Surveillance Systems, based in Dayton, Ohio, provided the service to the police, and the funding came from a private donor. No public disclosure of the program had ever been made.
Outside the courthouse, several of the protesters began marching around the building, chanting for justice. The plane continued to circle overhead, unseen.
A half block from the city’s central police station, in a spare office suite above a parking garage, Ross McNutt, the founder of Persistent Surveillance Systems, monitored the city’s reaction to the Goodson verdict by staring at a bank of computer monitors. “It’s pretty quiet out there,” he said. The riots that convulsed the city after Gray was killed wouldn’t be repeated. “A few protesters on the corner, and not much else. The police want us to keep flying, but the clouds are getting in the way.”
McNutt said something about not being able to control the weather, pretending to shrug it off, but he was frustrated. He wanted to please the cops. Since this discreet arrangement began in January, it had felt like a make-or-break opportunity for McNutt. His company had been trying for years to snag a long-term contract with an American metropolitan police department. Baltimore seemed like his best shot to date, one that could lead to more work. He’s told police departments that his system might help them reduce crime by as much as 20 percent in their cities, and he was hoping this Baltimore job would allow him to back up the claim. “I don’t have good statistical data yet, but that’s part of the reason we’re here,” he said. McNutt believes the technology would be most effective if used in a transparent, publicly acknowledged manner; part of the system’s effectiveness, he said, rests in its potential to deter criminal activity.
McNutt is an Air Force Academy graduate, physicist, and MIT-trained astronautical engineer who in 2004 founded the Air Force’s Center for Rapid Product Development. The Pentagon asked him if he could develop something to figure out who was planting the roadside bombs that were killing and maiming American soldiers in Iraq. In 2006 he gave the military Angel Fire, a wide-area, live-feed surveillance system that could cast an unblinking eye on an entire city.
The system was built around an assembly of four to six commercially available industrial imaging cameras, synchronized and positioned at different angles, then attached to the bottom of a plane. As the plane flew, computers stabilized the images from the cameras, stitched them together and transmitted them to the ground at a rate of one per second. This produced a searchable, constantly updating photographic map that was stored on hard drives. His elevator pitch was irresistible: “Imagine Google Earth with TiVo capability.”
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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Is the death penalty "too broken to fix"?

The imposition of the death penalty — from prosecution to sentencing — has become a rarity mostly confined to a very small number of counties in America, reported
This point about counties was highlighted by Justice Stephen Breyer — with maps — in a 2015 dissenting opinion he wrote in a death penalty challenge relating to execution drugs.
“Geography also plays an important role in determining who is sentenced to death. And that is not simply because some States permit the death penalty while others do not. Rather within a death penalty State, the imposition of the death penalty heavily de­pends on the county in which a defendant is tried,” he wrote at the time.
Now, a project out of Harvard Law School is attempting to explain why those counties exist — and how those counties exemplify larger problems that critics of the death penalty have described regarding the punishment.
The Fair Punishment Project has begun analyzing the 16 counties that imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015 and, on Tuesday, is releasing its first of two reports on its research. “Too Broken to Fix: Part I,” about half of those counties, details the common problems it has found throughout the eight counties. Those problems — as detailed and defined by the Fair Punishment Project include: overzealous prosecution, inadequate defense, racial bias and exclusion, excessive punishments, and innocence.
Notably, this county-level diminishment of the death penalty across much of the nation has happened on the front end of the death penalty process while the end of the process — the pace of executions in America — has slowed nearly to a standstill: Only one execution has taken place in the entire country since May 11.
At the other extreme, one county in Arizona — Maricopa County — had 28 death sentences imposed between 2010 and 2015.
The county, according to the Fair Punishment Project’s findings, stands out for its stark examples of the problems found across the counties that most often sentence people to death. The county, which includes Phoenix, is one of the largest in the nation and is perhaps best known for its chief law enforcement officer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio’s harsh tactics against undocumented immigrants and other groups and support for racial profiling — policies often challenged successfully in court — have kept the county’s law enforcement efforts in the national news in recent years.
To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 27, 2016

GateHouse:Another Pennsylvania prosecutor on the hot seat

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse News
August 26, 2016

Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement officer was convicted, resigned and faces a jail sentence. This week, we learn the top prosecutor in the state’s largest jurisdiction is the subject of an expanding FBI probe. Philadelphia’s district attorney, Seth Williams, is on the hot seat.

Williams defeated 14-year incumbent Lynn Abraham in 2009. Abraham had been much maligned for her fierce pursuit of the death penalty, but as a public servant she never ended up on the other side of the law.

Pennsylvania has a dubious history of political corruption. Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane just resigned in disgrace. Former Treasurer Rob McCord resigned under federal indictment in 2015. Another former Treasurer, Barbara Hafer, was recently indicted — not to mention two Supreme Court Justices who recently resigned after being embroiled in the Kane/Porngate scandal.

Now it is Seth Williams’ turn. He has done nothing to endear himself to leaders in his own party.

When Governor Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty to complete a study on its operation, Williams filed a King’s Bench action before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court challenging the governor’s constitutional authority to grant reprieves.

The first case the governor chose to exercise his authority was that of Terry Williams, a case that gained national attention regarding his guilt. Seth Williams argued that Governor Wolf’s reprieve was inconsistent with the historical use of the constitutional power.

Then Seth Williams chose to hire former attorney general prosecutor Frank Fina. Fina was a prominent figure in the Kane prosecution. Fina was irked by Kane’s reinvestigation of the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal, a case he investigated while in the attorney general’s office. Fina is alleged to have leaked embarrassing information about Kane that ultimately led to her self-destruction.

Later when it was revealed that Fina was involved in the distribution of racist and pornographic emails while in the AG’s office, pressure began to mount on Williams to fire Fina, reported The Legal Intelligencer.

Although Williams decided to transfer Fina out of the special investigations unit, Williams was warned that the scandal was likely to continue and could affect some prosecutions being brought by his office.

Williams decided that Fina and two other staffers would get sensitivity training but keep their jobs. Williams said in a statement that Fina, and the others, had regret and remorse. Fina has since left the office. The problems for Williams have taken on more serious tone. This week, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Williams reported receiving $160,050 in gifts from 2010 to 2015. Gifts that were not previously included on his mandatory annual financial interests statements.

Williams failed to report receiving a free $45,000 roof repair on his home from a New Jersey builder, cash gifts of $1,500 and $10,000 from friends, and $20,800 in free airfare and lodging for vacations to Key West, Las Vegas, Virginia, and the Dominican Republic.

Williams also received $10,000 in travel expenses for an Eisenhower Fellowship program in Australia and South Africa, $5,000 from the Ministry of Justice of Thailand to travel there to teach leadership classes, and free trips to several state and national prosecutorial forums, reported the Inquirer.

Also it was revealed this week that a federal probe into the Williams’ political and personal finances has expanded to include a nonprofit he founded.

According to the Inquirer, a foundation, which Williams started in 2011, received a federal subpoena for financial documents. That’s a new phase of an ongoing probe, which for more than a year has been exploring whether Williams misspent political funds on personal expenses.

Williams was defiant in the face of reasonable action on the part of the governor and obstinate when it was revealed that some of his controversial new staff did not have “clean hands.” He now faces even greater challenges to his political survival. Late this week, Bill Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote, “Philadelphia desperately needs a new district attorney.”

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book, “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010,” was recently released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.

To visit the column CLICK HERE

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Death sentences on the decline nationwide

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment, reported the New York Times. Four more have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 remaining states, only 14 handed down any death sentences last year, for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actu­ally executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just 2 percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row.
An small fraction of counties still imposes death sentences regularly. In June 2015, in the Supreme Court case Glossip v. Gross, which involved lethal injection, Justice Stephen Breyer noted in a dissent that only 15 counties — out of more than 3,000 across the United States — had imposed five or more new death sentences since 2010.
Breyer wrote that there is “convincing evidence” that innocent people have been executed in three states, and he described near-misses, with more than 100 exonerations on death row. He also laid out the proof that race affects who is selected for execution. The seminal study in the field,conducted in Georgia in the 1970s, found after controlling for many other factors that the death penalty was far more likely if a victim was white, especially if a defendant was black. Research since then has confirmed the disparity in states across the country. “Racism is the historical force that has most deeply marked the American death pen­alty,” says Carol Steiker, a Harvard law professor and an author of the forthcoming book “Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment From Colonial Days to the Present.”
To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

GateHouse: In Rio: The crime of the century?

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
August 19, 2016

Last week, Ryan Lochte faced off against his teammate and friend Michael Phelps in the 200 meter medley. Phelps is the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. Lochte is no slouch, but he has toiled in the shadow of Phelps his entire career.

This race was going to be different. Lochte is the world record holder in the 200 medley. Phelps was vulnerable and Lochte was going to go out with a bang. Not only did Lochte fail to beat Phelps — he didn’t even win a medal coming in fourth behind Kosuke Hagino of Japan and Wang Shun of China.

So who could blame Lochte if he went out Saturday night to blow off some steam? What happened next rocked the Rio games and will cast a shadow over Lochte and the entire men’s swimming team.

The U.S. Olympic swim team had unprecedented moments of accomplishment. Phelps and Katie Ledecky were brilliant. The team won 19 gold medals and 33 medals overall. However, as the Rio games wind down the Lochte investigation has dominated the headlines, and according to the Washington Post, even the Rio 2016 organizers seem to wish it would simply go away.

Lochte, along with teammates James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz apparently fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. The story began to unravel when Brazilian authorities — sensitive to their country’s reputation for crime, violence and murder — began to investigate the alleged robbery.

Brazil should be sensitive when it comes to their reputation, a new report out this month has Brazilian cities dominating a list of the 50 murder capitals of the world, according to Forbes.

The report by Mexico City based Center for Public Security and Criminal Justice shows clearly that no country in the world has more cities plagued by violent crime than Brazil.

Yet Rio’s finest spent the better part of a week trying to refute an alleged robbery. The authorities went so far as to pull the passports of three of the athletes as they attempted to return to the United States.

Lochte and his teammates’ conduct should not be applauded or ignored. As the Washington Post put it, “Is there anything worse, in any country, than a bunch of entitled young drunks who break the furniture and pee on a wall?”

At a triumphant press conference yesterday, Civil Police chief Fernando Veloso rolled out his week long investigation. He suggested this was not a case of robbery it was a case of vandalism. The athletes were not robbed at gun point they were merely made to pay restitution for the vandalism at gun point.

“The surveillance tapes show that there was no violence against the athletes at the gas station,” Veloso said. “Their claim that they are a victim of an assault or robbery or any kind of violence is not true.”

He said the athletes could face potential charges including false communication of a crime and damaging private assets, those charges were unlikely because the athletes had paid for the damages that night — at gun point — and the owner of the gas station was not pressing charges, reported CNN.

“This kind of crime will not lead to their arrest,” Veloso said. Last night, Lochte and Feigen were indicted.

While this absurd investigation rolls on, how about the athlete from Great Britain who was robbed or the Australian athletes robbed after a fire drill or the athlete robbed by an Olympic village worker. Could the resources used to investigate the false report have been better spent on investigating these violent crimes?

Should the murder capital of the world be so invested in setting the record straight on a false report punishable by, at most, six months in jail? This has become nothing more than PR by the Rio PD.

The only sanity emanating from Rio came from a Rio 2016 spokesperson who tried to make light of the case.
“These kids tried to have fun, they tried to represent their country to the best of their abilities,” Mario Andrada told the BBC. “They competed under gigantic pressure. Let’s give these kids a break. Sometime you take actions that you later regret.

“They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.”

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book, “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010,” was recently released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.

Visit the column CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Crime Report: Pennsylvania’s Shakespearean Tragedy

Matthew T. Mangino
The Crime Report
August 19, 2016
The curtain has closed on a Pennsylvania political tragedy of Shakespearian proportion—a drama that included sex, rivalries, secret meetings, corruption, impeachment, a public trial.  and a litany of disgraced leaders.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who resigned this week,was the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general in a state that only began electing its attorney general in 1980. She campaigned as an outsider —a non-politician who had never before run for public office---who could shake up establishment politics in her state.
But her rise and fall offers a  lesson about the importance of experience in running senior criminal justice agencies—not to mention holding high government office.
As we approach a presidential election pitting a self-proclaimed outsider against maybe the ultimate insider, there is something to be said for experience. Although President Obama said “There is nothing that truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office,” understanding compromise that comes with being a U.S. Senator, diplomacy that comes with being secretary of state, and humility that comes with being first lady can be helpful.
Kane’s lack of experience running a large office, dealing with the public scrutiny of high political office, and the failure to understand the nuances of politics proved disastrous for the citizens of Pennsylvania and has struck at the very core of the state’s criminal justice system
A jury of six men and six women took little more than four hours to convict Kane of perjury, conspiracy, official oppression, and false swearing. Her trial began last week and was highlighted by testimony from three insiders: ex-first deputy Bruce Beemer; a former aide and former beau, Adrian King; and political confidant and consultant Josh Morrow.
Her perjury conviction is a felony and can land her in prison.
Kane was a rising star in Pennsylvania politics.  The former assistant county prosecutor won by an unexpectedly large margin when she beat a county prosecutor who was the son-in-law of the state’s first elected attorney general, Leroy Zimmerman.
She gained points during the campaign by attacking the sitting governor, her predecessor, Tom Corbett, and his handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation.  Kane suggested that Corbett slow-walked the investigation so the matter would not come up during his campaign for governor.
She vowed to investigate the investigation.
The investigation of the Sandusky investigation led to nothing. But the special investigator hired by Kane to look into the matter, uncovered the pervasive distribution of pornographic emails within the AG’s office and among other state officials.
In the process, a feud began with the chief prosecutor of the Sandusky investigation, Frank Fina.  Fina left the AG’s office when Kane was sworn in and took a job in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
All fingers pointed to Fina when a story broke that Kane discontinued a Philadelphia political corruption prosecution. In fact, Fina’s new boss, Philadelphia DA Seth Williams, agreed to take over the prosecution.  Kane was incensed and said that Fina’s alleged  action in leaking the story meant “war.”
She retaliated by leaking grand jury documents to the Philadelphia Daily Newsrelating to a 2009 case involving J. Whyatt Mondesire which Fina declined to prosecute. Then Kane lied to a grand jury about ordering the leak.
Kane’s tenure has been tumultuous to say the least.  Her law license has been suspended, and she  survivied an targent  impeachment attempt by the state house.
Kane arrived in office in January 2013 with little or no political experience. A former assistant district attorney for Lackawanna County, her period in office was filled with odd and frankly unbelievable conduct, followed by bluster about being the victim of the “old boys club.”  In the process, she released a series of crude and pornographic emails that cost the jobs of two Supreme Court justices, a member of the former governor’s cabinet and a member of the state board of probation and parole.
At a time when law enforcement, prosecutors and the justice system are being challenged, Kane’s “public service” debacle has done nothing to help. Kane was preoccupied with her own political survival.  She lacked credibility to be a force in law enforcement reform, rooting out corruption or building stronger ties to the community for prosecutors and the court system.
That was a cautionary lesson in itself, but to underline the poiny, Kane’s first deputy (and her appointed replacement) Bruce L. Castor Jr., said at a press conference that some of the mess Kane left behind won't be so easily wiped away. He said his first objective as attorney general will be regaining the trust of the public, which he acknowledged was ­damaged by Kane's tumultuous tenure.
Kane leaves office with a whimper. Although her lawyer suggests she may appeal, her resignation is the beginning of the end of an ugly period in Pennsylvania politics.
We would do well to keep that ugly chapter in mind when we think about our national leadership in the months ahead.

Matthew T. Mangino,  the former district attorney of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania  is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino). Readers’ comments are welcome.
Visit The Crime Report CLICK HERE

Friday, August 19, 2016

Schools are safer than ever, suspensions are up

U.S. schools are safer than they have ever been, reports The Crime Report. Crime in schools has declined during the past two decades, says the recently published federal report “Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2015." In 2014, students 12 to 18 experienced 33 victimizations per 1,000 students at school, a decline of 82 percent from 181 per 1,000 in 1992. Between the 1999-2000 and 2013-14 school years, the percentage of public school students who reported bullying occurred at school at least once per week decreased from 29 to 16 percent.
The bad news  writes the U.S. Education Department's David Esquith for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, is that large numbers of students are losing precious instructional time because they are suspended or expelled, especially African-American and Hispanic students.
To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mangino talks Kane conviction and resignation on WKBN-TV

Watch my interview on WKBN-TV regarding the conviction and resignation of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. 

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Is it time to reevaluate absolute immunity for prosecutors?

Bidish Sarma writing for the American Constitution Society examined Absolute Immunity for Prosecutors.
Four decades ago, the U.S. Supreme Court implemented a major, nationwide policy that consolidated prosecutorial authority: it granted prosecutors absolute immunity for acts committed in their prosecutorial role. This decision sheathed prosecutors in protective armor while they pursued criminal convictions through an era of crime-related hysteria, and it eroded one of the few mechanisms available to hold prosecutors accountable. Considering the growing call to acknowledge and address an epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct, now is a critical time to reflect on Imbler v. Pachtman and evaluate whether it holds up to modern-day scrutiny.

Sarma concluded that absolute immunity for prosecutors did not make much sense in 1976, and it makes no sense today. Revisiting the doctrine does not entail a constitutional change; instead, the Court simply needs to update its view on absolute immunity’s applicability (or correct its interpretation of the federal statute). Increasingly, we have recognized that prosecutorial discretion in charging and plea bargaining invisibly resides at the center our criminal justice system. If we are serious about reducing mass incarceration or, more modestly, improving the system’s fairness, we need accountability for the actors who have been authorized to charge, try, and convict. To this point, there has been little more than moral hazard and prosecutorial impunity.
To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Former DA Bruce Castor takes over Pennsylvania attorney general's office

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will leave office at the end of business today. Her successor, Bruce L. Castor Jr., said at a press conference, some of the mess Kane left behind won't be so easily wiped away, reported The Legal Intelligencer.
Castor said his first objective as attorney general will be regaining the trust of the public, which he acknowledged was ­damaged by Kane's tumultuous tenure. He said he's the right person for the job, which he'll turn over in January when the newly elected attorney general is sworn in.
Castor is the former district attorney and former county commissioner from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane Resigns

Embattled and now convicted Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will resign from office effective tomorrow, August 17, 2016.  Kane the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general in Pennsylvania was convicted on nine criminal counts yesterday in Montgomery County by leaking grand jury material to embarrass a rival..
First Deputy Attorney General Bruce L. Castor Jr. will hold a news conference today to discuss the operation of the attorney general's office in the wake of Kane's conviction on perjury and other charges.
Her conviction includes perjury charges that carry a combined maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. Under state law, Kane doesn't have to resign until she is sentenced. She has vowed to appeal the conviction.

Is homicide on the rise?

There’s been a lot of rhetorical heat of late regarding crime in America —but not a lot of light, reported the The Center for Public Integrity. Take Donald Trump. He stirred the Republican convention with an apocalyptic vision of inner-city America as a Mad Max movie. His first task, Trump said, “would be to liberate our citizens from the crime and terrorism and lawlessness that threatens their communities.” But wait. President Obama and others quickly countered that the imagery was nonsense —that violent crime today is dramatically lower than it was 30 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.
There are multiple explanations for this confusion, and politics is only one of them. Reliance on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports is another; criminologists believe that many of the offenses tracked by the so-called UCR’s are terribly under-reported, and so are of limited utility. And the reporting suffers from a serious time lag; the FBI’s full year report for 2015 won’t be released for another month or so.
Many criminologists believe that murder is the only truly reliable crime statistic because it is the only crime that’s virtually always reported. Thus more recent reports on murder numbers are potentially illuminating, but have included a grab bag of cities, some of which showed murder increases while others showed decreases.
The Center for Public Integrity has gathered murder statistics for the first half of 2016 and compared them with totals for the first half of 2015, for America’s 10 most populous cities. Here are the results:
The numbers do seem to contain some disturbing news. The 10-city total for January-June 2016 is up 20 percent over the previous year, and fully nine of the 10 municipalities showed increases, with big-percentage spikes in Phoenix, San Antonio, San Jose and especially Chicago. This seems to extend a jump in murders that showed killings up in early 2015 from 2014. The exception to the trend is the nation’s biggest city, New York, which so far in 2016 has sustained a drop in murders, continuing a trend there that stretches back to the early 1990s.

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, August 15, 2016

PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane guilty on all counts

.The jury of six men and six women only took a four and a half hours to deliberate before reaching a verdict, according to
The Attorney General Kane was found guilty on all nine counts, two counts of perjury as well as seven misdemeanors.
The prosecution and defense both rested their cases on Friday. Closing arguments were made this morning.

To read more CLICK HERE

Why the uptick in homicide in some big cities? More young people

Is there an explanation for the uptick in homicides in America’s biggest cities? 

According to the Center for Public Integrity one explanation may be more young people.   Criminologists have traditionally argued that ages 15-24 are the crime-prone years, and the number of people in that age cohort has fluctuated over recent history. There were 42 million of them in 1980, when violent crime was rising, but the total was down to 38 million by 1990; crime started to ebb just a few years later, aided by the end of the crack epidemic. However, the number of 15-24-year-olds jumped to 44 million by 2012, and has stayed relatively close to that number since. When it comes to crime, perhaps demography is destiny. And there’s not much any politician can do about that.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, August 14, 2016

NY Daily News: We got it wrong on 'stop and frisk'

Three years ago this month the New York Daily News predicted dire consequences for public safety in New York City after Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled unconstitutional the NYPD’s program of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people suspected of criminality.
The NYPD under Commissioner Ray Kelly used the lawful tactic of questioning suspicious individuals to deter crime before it happened. Many cops believed, for example, that the fear of getting stopped for questioning prompted would-be gun-toters to stop carrying their weapons.
The editorial commenting on Scheindlin’s ruling stated:
“Make no mistake — Scheindlin has put New York directly in harm’s way with a ruling that threatens to push the city back toward the ravages of lawlessness and bloodshed.”
In other pieces, we predicted a rising body count from an increase in murders.
The Daily News wrote this week “We are delighted to say that we were wrong.”
The NYPD began scaling back stops under Kelly before Scheindlin’s decision and accelerated the trend under Commissioner Bill Bratton. As a result, the number of stops reported by cops fell 97% from a high of 685,700 in 2011 to 22,900 in 2015.
Not only did crime fail to rise, New York hit record lows.
The murder count stood at 536 in 2010 and at 352 last year — and seems sure to drop further this year. There were 1,471 shooting incidents in 2010 (1,773 victims). By 2015, shootings had dropped to 1,130 (1, 339 victims).
The downward march has continued this year — a marked contrast to crime spikes in many major American cities.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Vindicator: Ohio’s prison population rising

Matthew T. Mangino
The Youngstown Vindicator
July 2, 2016
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) is on the verge of a dubious milestone. Despite the DRC’s efforts and resources, Director Gary Mohr said at a statewide conference in May, “I think it’s a pretty safe bet that by July 1 of this year, we will set an all-time historic record of incarcerated Ohioans.”
In 2011, Ohio enacted comprehensive criminal justice reforms focused on sentencing and corrections. The reforms, under the umbrella of the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), were intended to reduce the state prison population and use the savings to support law enforcement and public safety initiatives.
Projected savings
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the reforms were projected to save taxpayers $46 million by 2015. When the reforms were announced, Gov. John Kasich, who spent over 200 days out of state running for president in 2015-2016, said, “I get emotional about this because I think the passage of this bill and the changing of this law is going to result in the saving of many, many lives, maybe even thousands, before all is said and done.”
Ohio’s prison population increased 16 percent between 2005 and 2008, rising from 44,270 inmates to a record 51,273, driving prison overcrowding and spending growth, according to the Pew Trusts. By 2011, state prisons were 33 percent overcapacity. Absent reform, a projected influx of 3,000 inmates by 2015 would have required approximately $500 million in additional state spending.
Justice Reinvestment was supposed to reverse the soaring prison population and provide relief from the enormous cost of incarceration.
JRIs have been enacted in 27 states. JRI’s data-driven approach to improve public safety includes examining corrections and related criminal- justice spending; managing and allocating criminal justice populations in a more cost- effective manner; and reinvest ing savings in strategies that can hold offenders accountable and decrease crime.
The Policy Review found “significant costs savings have yet to materialize for JRI programs as a whole. States with Justice Reinvestment “were slightly less likely to reduce annual costs as compared to non-justice reinvestment states.”
The Policy Review found that from 2006-2013 justice reinvestment states were only .125 times more likely to reduce prison expenditures than increase expenditures while non-justice reinvestment states were .136 times as likely to reduce expenditures.
JRI is failing in Ohio. In October 2012, contrary to the projections of JRI, Ohio’s prison population began to increase. The DRC and some stakeholders speculated that implementation challenges were greater than anticipated, especially with regard to educating judges on the JRI reforms, according to the Council of State Governments. In November 2012, the DRC revised JRI projections indicating a smaller impact on the prison population than originally projected.
As of today, JRI’s impact on Ohio’s prison population is nil. The Legislature and governor’s response – fire the prison watchdog. As things began to look more and more bleak, Joanna Saul, executive director of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, was forced to resign.
The inspection committee, established in 1977, to provide a legislative check and balance on the prison department mainly fielded complaints from inmates and their families. Saul expanded those responsibilities, and that roiled legislators.
Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Athens, voted against changes in the inspection committee, “We need that kind of independent watchdog who is going to be able to withstand political pressure,” Phillips told the Dispatch. “It keeps an eye on how a great deal of tax money is being spent. It is important for the safety of the staff, the inmates and the general public.”
Without an independent watchdog and JRI’s ineffectiveness, prison costs will continue to climb at the peril of education, infrastructure and taxpayer’s pocketbooks.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino

GateHouse: Prosecuting prosecutors for intentional misconduct

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
August 12, 2016

Prosecutors are the most powerful figures in the criminal justice system. The proliferation of criminal statutes along with sentence enhancements and mandatory minimum sentencing have constricted the discretion and authority of judges and expanded the power of prosecutors. The shift in power is no more evident than in the transition from a trial-dominated system to one dependent on the negotiated plea.

The National Center for State Courts found that the percentage of felonies taken to trial, in the nine states with available data, fell to 2.3 percent in 2009, down from 8 percent in 1976. That is fewer than one in 40 felony cases — 35 years ago the ratio was about 1-in-12. The shift is even clearer on the federal level. In 1977, the ratio of guilty pleas to criminal trial verdicts in federal district courts was a little more than 4-to-1; by 2012, it was almost 32-to-1.

For instance, how do prosecutors influence the plea-bargaining process? Take a defendant arrested near a school with a sizable amount of heroin and a gun. With mandatory sentencing for a large about of heroin, enhancements for having a gun and being near a school, the defendant could theoretically face up to 12 years in prison. The defendant is offered a plea of five years or the option of trial with12 years on the line. The judge has little leverage as she is bound by law to impose the mandatory penalties as well as the enhancements. “We now have an incredible concentration of power in the hands of prosecutors,” Richard E. Myers II, a former assistant U.S. attorney and a professor at the University of North Carolina told the New York Times. He reported that so much influence now resides with prosecutors that “in the wrong hands, the criminal justice system can be held hostage.”

As a check and balance on the growing authority of prosecutors some states are looking at criminalizing intentional conduct by prosecutors that leads to wrongful convictions. A proposal in California would result in a felony charge against prosecutors who intentionally withhold or falsify evidence.

A 2010 study by Santa Clara University School of Law looked at prosecutorial misconduct in California and concluded, according to the Orange County Register, “Courts fail to report prosecutorial misconduct (despite having a statutory obligation to do so), prosecutors deny that it occurred, and the California State Bar almost never disciplines it ...The problem is critical.”

The study noted that just six out of 600 prosecutors accused of misconduct in California between 1997 and 2009 were punished by the state Bar.

The law would boost penalties to between 16 months and three years for prosecutors who violate the law. Current statutes make it a misdemeanor for anyone to withhold or falsify evidence, while law enforcement officers can be charged with a felony, reported the Register.

The bill is supported by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who suggests the law should apply to all attorneys.

Such efforts do not necessarily suggest that the growing prosecutorial authority is in the wrong hands. No other individual is better positioned to wield appropriate discretion than a prosecutor. A prosecutor is keenly aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s case. The prosecutor has interviewed witnesses and thoroughly examined evidence. No figure in the justice system is in a better position to evaluate a case and decide what is fair.

However, the political aspect of the office — getting elected and re-elected — and the “win at all cost” mentality that comes with it, may at times distort the line between what is right and what is wrong. A statutory scheme of accountability may be the right remedy for the occasional prosecutor who crosses the line.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book, “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010,” was recently released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Majority of black neighborhoods in Wisconsin are jails or prison

More than half of the African-American neighborhoods in Wisconsin are actually jails reported 17-year-old Lew Blank. He found the data while using Weldon Cooper Center’s Racial Dot Map, according to CityLab. Not only that, but the rest of the black neighborhoods across the state are either apartment complexes, Section 8 housing, or homeless shelters—the lone exception being a working-middle class section of Milwaukee.
Sharing this info on the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition’s blog, Blank explains that he used the Racial Dot Map to identify where predominantly black neighborhoods—defined as “a certain area where the majority of residents are African Americans”—are located throughout the state. There are 56 of them, 31 of which are either jails or prisons. There are 15 cities where theonly black neighborhood is a jail. The city of Winnebago claims it has an African-American population of more than 19 percent, but most, if not all, of that black population is located among one of four correctional facilities there. It’s perhaps no wonder that Wisconsin perennially comes up as the worst place for African Americans to live in the country.
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Student arrests soar in schools with police officers

Since the 1990s, at least 11 states have enacted legislation that funnels state funds into school policing programs, reported the Huffington Post. Four states — Mississippi, Indiana, Florida and Pennsylvania — passed such legislation in 2013, in the months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
The combined result has been a dramatic increase in the number of schools with security officers. In 1997, the Department of Education reported that law enforcement officers were present in 10 percent of public schools at least once per week. By 2014, 30 percent of public schools had school resource officers, or SROs, the most common type of law enforcement on campuses.
Most of the money for police in schools comes from state and local funding streams. But federal funds doled out through the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services hiring program have also contributed. Established in 1994 by the Clinton administration, the program has so far given state and local law enforcement agencies $14 billion in grants — including over $867 million devoted exclusively to school resource officers, according to numbers The Huffington Post obtained from the Department of Justice.
Studies examining whether schools become safer by having police officers on campus have produced conflicting results, according to a June 2013 Congressional Research Service report produced in response to Sandy Hook. Schools with sworn law enforcement officers were more likely to be patrolled, investigate student crime leads and possess emergency plans. But the research “does not address whether SRO programs deter school shootings, one of the key reasons for renewed congressional interest in these programs,” the report said.
And many parents, community members and civil rights activists say the presence of police officers inside classrooms does more harm than good. They complain that officers routinely punish children for small infractions and, in some cases, treat acts that parents categorize as “typical teenage behavior” like criminal activity.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Minneapolis police train under new 'sanctity of life' protocol

Minneapolis police officers will be trained to exhaust all reasonable means in defusing potentially violent encounters before resorting to force under new "sanctity of life" department rules reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The guideline changes, which have been in the works since the release of a wide-ranging report by a presidential task force on policing last spring, are designed to mend broken public trust in the wake of high-profile police shootings of unarmed black men,reports the city's Star Tribune.
As part of the training, officers have been taught to consider what factors may contribute to a lack of compliance, such as language barriers, drug and alcohol use, or a mental crisis, reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The policy also urges officers to announce their intent to use force before actually doing so. The current class of 32 police recruits will be the first to receive the new de-escalation training. Other changes include the requirement for officers to intervene if they witness improper use of force by their colleagues, and to report it to their supervisor and internal affairs. The policy changes were praised by ACLU of Minnesota, which has been critical of the department’s tactics. Minneapolis police officers will be trained to exhaust all reasonable means in defusing potentially violent encounters before resorting to force under new "sanctity of life" department rules unveiled Monday. The guideline changes, which have been in the works since the release of a wide-ranging report by a presidential task force on policing last spring, are designed to mend broken public trust in the wake of high-profile police shootings of unarmed black men,reports the city's Star Tribune.
As part of the training, officers have been taught to consider what factors may contribute to a lack of compliance, such as language barriers, drug and alcohol use, or a mental crisis. The policy also urges officers to announce their intent to use force before actually doing so. The current class of 32 police recruits will be the first to receive the new de-escalation training. Other changes include the requirement for officers to intervene if they witness improper use of force by their colleagues, and to report it to their supervisor and internal affairs. The policy changes were praised by ACLU of Minnesota, which has been critical of the department’s tactics. 

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The big lie: Crime rates are falling not rising

Sixty-one percent of Americans believe incorrectly that crime is up over the past decade, according to a poll by the Huffington Post and Just 15 percent of Americans said they believed ― correctly ― that crime rates in the U.S. have decreased over the past decade. That’s great news for Donald Trump, who has positioned himself as a law-and-order candidate who presents an apocalyptic view of lawlessness.
The poll results indicate that false beliefs about crime rates are shaped not by lived experience or by an analysis of government crime statistics, but by people’s perceptions typically influenced by news coverage and social media in an era in which people may be more aware of individual crimes than they may have been in the past. While just 13 percent of Americans believe crime is a very serious problem in their own community, 53 percent believe crime is a very serious problem in the nation overall.
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Monday, August 8, 2016

Nebraska prison overcrowding breeds inmate unrest

The State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Nebraska recently had to put down inmate unrest due to prison overcrowding in the state's prisons, reported WOWT-TV.
Officials said a group of inmates gathered and converged on staff and that's when a warning shot was fired from the tower.
Also during this time, groups of inmates throughout the facility became defiant to staff directives and verbally aggressive. Nobody was injured, but disturbances like this seem to be trending at Nebraska State Correctional facilities.
Ever since the riot broke out at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, back in May of last year it seems a domino effect has taken place throughout the state. While most state prisons are running at -- or over capacity, Nebraska seems to be running extremely over capacity at 150 percent.
According to Doctor Benjamin Steiner, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at The University Of Nebraska, Omaha overcrowding isn't just decreasing the amount of space that prisons have to work with it's also decreasing opportunities for inmates -- which increases the risk of violence.
"So let's say that you devoted a day room for a substance abuse class, well, you have to have a place for people to sleep, so as soon as the prison starts to go over capacity, they might fill that day room with bunks for seemingly low risk inmates, but now, you've taken away an activity that an inmate can be involved in and potentially helped by,” said Steiner. "And it's not surprising to me, that you would have problems when you're running that high."
Building more jails with more beds, would be a short-term solution, he says, but prison population is determined by three specific concepts.
"Who's coming in the door, you know, how many people are coming to prison, how long they're staying there, and then, who's coming back,” he said.
Doctor Steiner says you would need to curb one or all of these things to see a decrease in the population. It’s something that’s absolutely necessary, he says, for safety both inside and outside prison walls.
Doctor Steiner also says Nebraska prisons have had a problem with over-crowding since the 1980's. In the 90's, several states received money from the federal government to build more prisons and Nebraska didn’t. So essentially, Nebraska’s capacity was not increased at the same rate as other states.
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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Lock'em Up: Lowering crime rates could impact global warming

As campaign 2016 rolls out here’s an idea for the “tough-on-crime” cabal--letting people out of prison will have a negative impact on global warning.  Oh, but there is a problem--many of those who are “tough-on-crime” don’t believe in global warning.  
According to the New York Times, a recent study published in The Journal of Industrial Ecology, researchers at the Center for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey in England estimated the annual carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales, and found that reducing crime could actually cause society’s overall carbon footprint of society to increase.
The findings illustrated the rebound effect, which describes how reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases in one area can lead to more emissions in the aggregate, because of direct or indirect effects. It’s something that policy makers have often been encouraged to consider when they set out to reduce emissions.
Crime is one example where a rebound in carbon emissions could be an issue, according to this study. While there is an energy cost to operating prisons, the study notes, inmates generally consume less than an average citizen in the country, so fewer prisoners might mean higher overall energy consumption.
Additionally, the money saved from reducing crime would go into the government’s budget and people’s pockets. All that money could be spent in other ways — infrastructure, buildings or goods — that may require more energy to produce or operate, possibly adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Although there is a lot of uncertainty in calculating the rebound effect, the researchers tried to quantify the consequences of reducing domestic burglary by about 5 percent, and determined a rebound effect of 2 percent. That may sound small, but it would mean a growth in society’s overall carbon footprint equivalent to about 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is similar to the annual emissions of about 2,250 households in the Britain.
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Friday, August 5, 2016

GateHouse: Feeling afraid trumps something to fear

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
August 5, 2016
The Trump campaign is exploiting crime and fear. Trump’s campaign is not the first presidential campaign to do so, but to understand what’s different about the Trump campaign requires first understanding the history of crime and politics.
In 1964, Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee for president, introduced campaign operatives to the concept of crime as a divisive, hot-button issue. At the time, violent crime rates were beginning to rise. When Richard Nixon was making his second bid for president in 1968 the Civil Rights Act had passed, riots had erupted in cities across the country after the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., and murder rates had increased 50 percent since 1950. Race relations were tenuous, at best, and Nixon knew it. Crime control became a surrogate for race control.
The conservative mantra of “tough on crime” worked for Ronald Reagan and helped push another Republican to victory. In 1988, when crime rates were soaring, George H.W. Bush clobbered Michael Dukakis with Willie Horton.
During Bill Clinton’s tenure violent crime was at its peak and easily exploited. During Clinton’s presidency, Loic Wacquant, as quoted by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, pointed out that “(Clinton) slashed funding for public housing 61 percent and boosted corrections 171 percent, ‘effectively making the construction of prisons the nation’s main housing program for the urban poor.’”
Today, according to The National Review, the national violent crime rate is about half of what it was at its height in 1991. Violent crime has fallen by 51 percent since 1991, and property crime by 43 percent. In 2013, the violent crime rate was the lowest since 1970. Even though violent crime rates are at near record lows Donald Trump and his surrogates are still exploiting crime and fear.
Nobody has done it better than former Speaker and short-lister for vice-president, Newt Gingrich. During a July 22 interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota — highlighted in a recent segment of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight — Gingrich had this amazing exchange:
GINGRICH: The average American, I will bet you this morning, does not think crime is down, does not think they are safer.
CAMEROTA: But we are safer, and it is down.
GINGRICH: No, that’s your view.
CAMEROTA: It’s a fact … but hold on, Mr. Speaker, because you’re saying liberals use these numbers, they use this sort of magic math. This is the FBI statistics. They’re not a liberal organization.
GINGRICH: No, but what I said is equally true. People feel it.
CAMEROTA: They feel it, yes, but the facts don’t support it.
GINGRICH: As a political candidate, I’ll go with how people feel ...
Apparently, for the Trump Campaign facts don’t matter and that is the concern. Regardless of what one might think about Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Clinton their rhetoric was grounded in truth to some extent, crime rates were rising and some action was justified.
Now some will quarrel, justifiably, that Nixon’s efforts were more fixated on race than crime and that crime was code for African-American. However, crime was genuinely on the rise in 1968.
Today it is not about the facts. The Trump campaign is not only exploiting fear, they are creating it. The campaign is pledging to protect all Americans from what are essentially the safest streets in more than 45 years.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” In today’s political environment, feeling afraid is more important than actually having something to fear.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book, “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010,” was recently released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.
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Using bias free risk-assessment tools to determine bail

We often hear about the 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States. Much of the conversation revolves around those in state and federal prisons. But less frequently discussed is a smaller subset of the incarcerated population: the 744,600 Americans held in local jails, more than half of whom have not yet been convicted of a crime, reported The Christian Science Monitor. While some of these pretrial arrestees are considered a threat, many others are detained simply because they can't afford to bail themselves out. 
It's a system that favors the rich and punishes the poor, civil rights groups say. Furthermore, studies show that minorities are disproportionately affected by the current bail system: courts are more likely to view African Americans and Latinos as flight risks or public threats, often resulting in higher bail or mandatory pretrial detention.
Now, due to pushback from civil rights advocates and a desire to save government money, an increasing number of courts have begun using computer algorithms to assess risk. Such tools, proponents say, remove any implicit bias from the equation, producing a more objective assessment. 
As the pool of research grows and the science of risk assessment becomes more refined, "We actually have increasingly good models of who poses a risk and who doesn't pose a risk," John Pfaff, a professor of law at Fordham University, tells The Washington Post. 
The latest pretrial risk assessment tool is the Public Safety Assessment, developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Drawing from a database of over 1.5 million cases from more than 300 jurisdictions across the US, the algorithm calculates the probability that a defendant will commit a new crime, commit a new violent crime, or fail to return to court. 
The assessment takes into consideration a number of factors, including pending charges, prior convictions, whether the current offense is violent, and whether the person has failed to appear at other pretrial hearings. But unlike a human assessor, it's blind to race, gender, level of eduction, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood, all of which can affect a judge's decision, whether subconsciously or consciously.
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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Alabama refuses parole to KKK member convicted of 1963 Birmingham church bombing

Alabama's parole board has decided against freeing a one-time Ku Klux Klansman convicted in a church bombing that killed four black girls more than 50 years ago, reported the Associated Press.
The decision to keep 78-year-old Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. imprisoned was met with applause at the hearing.
At the hearing, relatives of the girls spoke against Blanton's release.
Blanton is the last surviving KKK member convicted of murder in the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for being part of a group of Klansmen who planted a bomb outside the church during the civil rights movement.
Two other former KKK members were convicted of murder and died behind bars.
Blanton can be considered for parole again in five years.
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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Delaware Supreme Court rules death penalty unconstitutional

Delaware’s death penalty law is unconstitutional in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from earlier this year addressing the role of the jury in handing down death sentences, the state’s Supreme Court ruled in a split decision reported Buzzfeed.
The decision expresses “the majority‘s collective view that Delaware‘s current death penalty statute violates the Sixth Amendment role of the jury as set forth in Hurst [v. Florida]” — the January U.S. Supreme Court decision addressing the jury’s essential role in the sentencing phase of a death penalty trial.
Specifically, the Delaware court found the statute to be unconstitutional because a judge, independent of the jury, can find “the existence of ‘any aggravating circumstance’” that would be required to impose a death sentence.
Additionally, the state high court ruled the statute to be unconstitutional because it does not require juror unanimity in finding such aggravating circumstances and does not require the jury to find that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances presented. The court found that such a determination about the weighing of aggravating and mitigating circumstances, similarly, must be made unanimously.
Finally, the court ruled that the portions of the statute that it found to be unconstitutional are so intertwined with the remainder of the death penalty statute that it could find “no way to sever” the unconstitutional provisions, leaving “the decision whether to reinstate the death penalty—if our ruling ultimately becomes final—and under what procedures” to the state’s legislature.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Indigent defense under scrutiny in Tennessee

Tennessee has not changed the rate of pay for court appointed lawyers — $40 for each hour of preparation and $50 per hour in court — in more than 20 years. State law caps those fees in most cases, yet the top of the pay range is $5,000, reported the Tennessean.
Defense lawyers from around Tennessee on Friday painted a dismal picture of the state's system of providing attorneys for the poor, saying it fails to provide sufficient legal representation to everyone in need.
They spoke to judges, lawyers and lawmakers who sit on the Tennessee Supreme Court-appointed Indigent Representation Task Force. The task force is on a listening tour around the state to hear ideas how to change the $36 million system designated to help poor people involved in the criminal and civil legal systems.
Recently at Nashville School of Law, the task force heard lawyers say they can barely make ends meet trying to help the poor and public defenders raise an alarm their offices are overworked.
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Monday, August 1, 2016

Texas marks 50th anniversary of mass university killing with campus concealed carry law

On Aug. 1, 1966, Charles Whitman ascended the University of Texas clock tower here with a trunk full of weapons and unleashed 96 minutes of terror that effectively became a template for mass shootings and aroused in the public a new sensitivity to the threat of violence in public spaces, according to the New York Times.
Mr. Whitman, a 25-year-old student, Eagle Scout and Marine veteran, killed a receptionist and two members of a visiting family inside the tower. He then went onto the observation deck and began spraying sniper fire, turning a tranquil summertime campus into a scene of chaos and death.
In the half-century since, Mr. Whitman’s savagery has been echoed in mass shootings on other university campuses and at workplaces, elementary schools, post offices, movie theaters and nightclubs. And what seemed unthinkable in 1966 was re-enacted with alarming repetition in places like Columbine High School in Colorado; Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.; and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
As the University of Texas marks one of the bloodiest campus shootings in United States history, it will do so on the day that it is newly complying with a state law permitting concealed firearms inside university buildings, a measure enacted in 2015 by the Legislature in a victory for gun rights proponents.
Legislative supporters of the law said it was needed to protect students from the kind of violence that has taken place at the University of Texas and other schools.
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