A strategy of concentrating on interventions with the small number of high-risk individuals responsible for murderous violence has delivered promising results in many U.S. cities. Early evidence from Honduras suggests it can work in other countries as well.
Once the paramilitary Colombians — several dozen, all told — have completed their terms, they will have served on average seven and a half years. By comparison, federal inmates convicted of crack cocaine trafficking — mostly street-level dealers who sold less than an ounce — serve on average just over 12 years in prison.
Since new President Rodrigo Duterte launched the crackdown two months ago, about 2,000 suspected drug users and pushers have been killed — many by vigilantes. He promised a six-month campaign that would kill 100,000 drug users, with so many bodies dumped in Manila bay that the “fish will grow fat.”
Amarildo Souza, a bricklayer who lived in Rocinha, the biggest favela in Rio de Janeiro, disappeared after being taken to a police station in a drug raid in July, 2013. Amarildo’s body was never found, but later that same year several police officers were convicted of torturing and murdering him. Amarildo’s murder led to protests in Brazil and abroad, and a high-profile social media campaign —“Where is Amarildo?” (“Onde está Amarildo?”)—that captured mounting public concern about police brutality in Latin America’s largest and richest country. Additional officers may now be charged in that case, thanks to a street surveillance camera recently obtained by the Rio State Public Prosecutor’s Office. The video footage suggested that Rio State’s elite police squad, the Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE in its Portuguese acronym), was responsible for the removal of his body on the night of the disappearance.
On Valentine’s Day, South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times through a bathroom door, killing her. The police arrested Pistorius almost immediately and charged him with murder. Within a week, a tremendous amount of information about the events of that night was revealed in court. Evidence was presented, witnesses testified, theories were posited and statements were read. What makes these events unusual is that they occurred during a bail hearing.
To describe the recent U.S. and international media coverage of the Amanda Knox case in Italy as intense would be an understatement. One of the key criticisms of this coverage was that it primarily focused on the defendants—or at least one of them—with the victim, Meredith Kercher, almost forgotten. So that raises the question: when covering criminal cases, should the focus be on the defendant or the victim? To review: Knox, or “Foxy Knoxy” and “Angel Face” as she was dubbed in the press, and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of killing Kercher, Knox’s roommate, on Nov. 1, 2007, in a drug-fueled sex game gone bad.