Murder Hearing for Couple Whose Dogs Killed Runner

Murder Hearing for Couple Whose Dogs Killed RunnerABC NewsProsecutors say a couple whose two dogs fatally mauled a 46-year-old jogger on a rural Michigan road are facing a court hearing on murder charges. The Flint Journal ( ) rep…

12-year-old arrested on murder charges

12-year-old arrested on murder charges
First Coast News
A 12-year-old has been arrested and charged with murder for the June 28 shooting death of 54-year-old Thomas Trent. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says Sharron Sherman Townsend was one of two suspects seen in surveillance video from the night of …
12-Year-Old Boy Accused Of Homeless Man’s Murder In Florida Huffington Post
Murder victim’s sister reacts to arrest of 12-year-old suspect

  August 1, 2014  

Philadelphia Police Shoot, Kill Home Invasion Suspect in Northeast Philly

Philadelphia Police Shoot, Kill Home Invasion Suspect in Northeast Philly
CBS Local
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia Police officer shot and killed a home invasion suspect early Friday morning in the Northwood section of the city. A second suspect remains on the loose. This happened around 12:45 a.m. on the 900 block of Wakeling …
Full Story WPVI-TV
Police: 1 man killed after Philly home invasion New Jersey Herald

  August 1, 2014  

Can We Reduce The Prison Population By 25%?

August 1, 2014 05:26:54 am

By Marc Mauer and Nazgol Ghandnoosh

A report we recently co-authored for The Sentencing Project documented that three states – New York, New Jersey, and California – have led the nation in recent years by reducing their prison populations by about 25%.

New York and New Jersey achieved a 26% reduction from 1999 to 2012, and California experienced a 23% decline from 2006 to 2012.

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.

We also note that even a reduction of 25% in the level of incarceration would still leave the United States with a rate that is more than five times that of most industrialized nations.

To achieve reductions of this scale or greater will require both building on current initiatives in more expansive ways and taking on areas of the corrections system that have received little attention to date.

Below is a selection of changes in policy and practice that hold the potential for substantial reductions in imprisonment.

Expand diversion programs and their admissions criteria

The two-decades old drug court movement has been highly successful by some measures, with more than 2,700 such courts in operation. Research to date suggests that persons completing court-supervised treatment have reduced rates of returning to drug use and criminal involvement.

But two features of drug courts have constrained their impact on the size of the prison population. First, many drug courts are relatively modest in size, handling only a fraction of the potential pool of defendants who could benefit from such an intervention.

Second, the restrictive admissions criteria of many drug courts – and other alternatives to incarceration programs – reduce eligibility to defendants who were often unlikely to have been sentenced to prison in traditional courts. Many programs, for example, exclude individuals with a prior conviction for a violent offense, no matter when it occurred. By expanding these courts and reconsidering their admissions criteria, policymakers could achieve more substantial reductions in prison populations.

Reduce sentence lengths for drug offenders

The U.S. has such a large prison population not only because it sends so many to prison, but also because it keeps them there for so long. The recent vote by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to retroactively apply reduced drug sentencing guidelines to federal prisoners will shave about two years from the sentences of as many as 46,000 prisoners.

The vote represents the most substantial shift in federal drug sentencing since the inception of the “war on drugs” in the 1980s, and is estimated to save as much as $2 billion in corrections costs. Policymakers at the state level are beginning to reassess the wisdom of such policies as well. Given the lengthy prison terms required by many mandatory sentencing polices at both the state and federal levels there is substantial room to reduce the scale of incarceration through similar reforms.

Establish an upper limit on all prison terms

The severity of imprisonment for persons convicted of serious crimes in the U.S. is substantially higher than in comparable nations. Recognizing this feature, legal scholar Jonathan Simon suggests imposing an upper limit on prison terms of no more than 20 years except in the most unusual circumstances. 

Such a policy would place the U.S. in line with Canada and most nations in Western Europe. This proposal builds on the understanding that recidivism risk declines with age and addresses moral concerns about the excessive use of imprisonment.

Establishing such upper limits would likely reduce prison terms for lesser offenses as well, since sentencing systems are generally proportional in nature.

Reduce parole and probation supervision of low-risk individuals

Community supervision of low-risk clients can sometimes serve as a “trip wire to unnecessarily revoke and incarcerate,” write Vincent Schiraldi and Michael Jacobson, former New York City probation commissioners. The three states in our report employed various strategies to scale back community supervision and/or reduce revocations to prison.

In New York City probation officials reduced prison admissions through probation revocations by shortening probation terms. New Jersey reduced the rate at which people who violated the technical terms of their parole were readmitted to prison, and California shortened the period of community supervision for lower-risk individuals and placed limits on revocations.

States can therefore reduce returns to prison by shortening lengths of community supervision for lower-risk individuals.

Reclassify certain felony offenses as misdemeanors

Proponents of a ballot proposal in California this fall are asking voters to reduce the severity of a number of low-level property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Crimes such as petty theft, writing a bad check, receiving stolen property, and drug possession are currently considered “wobblers,” and can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

The proposal seeks to reclassify these offenses as misdemeanors in most circumstances, and to retroactively apply this reform. The substantial cost savings achieved by the policy shift would be targeted to crime prevention programs, victim services and a range of treatment initiatives within the court system.

Most states have similar charging issues that could be addressed by such reforms.

The old criminal justice playbook continues to guide the work of many policymakers and practitioners. Our report spotlights the policy tools as well as the consequences of decarceration in three states that have made the most significant and sustained reductions in their prison populations.

The experiences of New York, New Jersey and California can help leaders around the country to develop both the will and the way to achieve successful prison downsizing.

Marc Mauer is the Executive Director and Nazgol Ghandnoosh is a Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project. They welcome comments from readers.

Man charged with 1973 murder of teenager Bronwynne Richardson

Man charged with 1973 murder of teenager Bronwynne RichardsonThe GuardianBronwynne Richardson Detectives have charged a 61-year-old man with the kidnap, rape and murder of Richardson. Photograph: NSW government. A 61-year-old man has arrived in Sydney …

  August 1, 2014  

Colorado woman guilty of kidnapping newborn nephew

Colorado woman guilty of kidnapping newborn – A jury has convicted a Colorado woman of kidnapping her newborn nephew in Wisconsin and abandoning him outside an Iowa gas station in freezing temperatures. Kristen Smith was convicted T…

  August 1, 2014  

Gun rights advocates are winning in the debate over gun control

Gun rights advocates are winning in the debate over gun control
The Denver Channel
WASHINGTON, D.C. – If you have the urge to stroll in an American city where it isn’t legal to carry a gun around, you’d better come to Washington, D.C., pronto. The District has long had some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, but courts

  August 1, 2014  

Arrest Made After Officer Involved Shooting

Arrest Made After Officer Involved Shooting
CBS Local
(HARTFORD,Conn./CBS Connecticut) – Hartford Police have arrested a man in connection with an Officer involved shooting early Thursday. Police were called to a report of shots fired and an attempted robbery.An officer spotted a 28 year old Derrick Gray …
Officer involved shooting under investigation WTNH
Suspect Arrested In Officer Involved Shooting FOX CT
Carjacking turns into officer-involved shooting in Hartford WFSB

  August 1, 2014  

City man and his mother sue Reading, 3 police officers

City man and his mother sue Reading, 3 police officersReading EagleA mentally ill city man and his mother/caregiver have sued the city and three police officers in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, claiming he was injured when police used a stun gun…

  August 1, 2014