“When someone is desperate for fame or attention, committing a high-profile mass killing is one of the only guaranteed ways to get it,” criminologist Adam Lankford told a recent gathering of journalists. Responsible media, he argued, should guard against providing killers with a platform.
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), chairman of the House committee that oversees Justice Department funding, has proposed increasing a program aimed at reducing state prison populations and recidivism that the Trump administration wanted to kill. The chairman also sought a small reduction in the FBI budget, plus increases for immigration judges and the Trump-supported Project Safe Neighborhoods program.
The number of adults in prisons and jails or on probation or parole dropped for the ninth consecutive year in 2016, although the decline that year was less than one percent, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported on Thursday. The total at year’s end 2016 was 6,613,500 people, about 62,700 fewer than a year earlier, a .9 percent drop.
Michigan Sen, Gary Peters, a key sponsor of a bill to create a national commission studying the criminal justice system similar to the landmark LBJ-era effort, says he is “cautiously optimistic.” He told a Washington briefing that the more incidents occur involving failures by criminal justice officials, “the more people lose trust in the system.”
Progressive prosecutors and scientific pretrial release systems are reducing jail populations, say Jeremy Travis of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. New policies by newly elected Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, including decriminalizing marijuana possession, were cited as examples.
Grants to help crime victims and to support programs that assist them will get a 78 percent increase in the current fiscal year, estimates one expert. The measure was signed last Friday by President Trump.
A 15-member panel assembled by the National Academy of Sciences said Wednesday that current statistics collection has left gaps in data about many offenses affecting American life today. It also recommended that the government consider centralizing the control of collecting crime statistics.
The 2014 measure, which reclassified as misdemeanors many nonviolent crimes that formerly were felonies, has been called the “biggest criminal justice experiment in America.” A study by criminologists from the University of California-Irvine refutes critics who say it has endangered public safety.