Two decades after Amadou Diallo was killed by four New York City police officers in the wrongful belief he carried a gun, fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians continues to mire U.S.police agencies in controversy. Criminologists are planning a new set of studies to examine why–and offer solutions.
States with weak gun violence prevention laws and high rates of gun ownership experienced some of the highest per capita rates of gun deaths, says the Violence Policy Center based on newly released 2017 data. Hawaii has the nation’s lowest gun-death rate.
Long pretrial detentions are particularly prevalent in Mississippi because of impoverished inmates who can’t make bail, delays in appointing public defenders, slow processing of evidence and infrequent meetings of local courts.
As national attention focuses on prosecutors’ role in the justice system, and as more reform DAs win office, they could benefit from up-to-date research to help them make decisions, especially on many lower-level criminal cases that don’t necessarily warrant a prison term, a Washington DC panel was told this month.
Murders also dropped slightly from 2016. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has spoken frequently about reports of rising crime numbers and has warned that the crime decline had “ominously reversed,” said that the crime decline indicated in the FBI report “is something that we all should celebrate.”
Jeremy Travis and Bruce Western, leaders of the so-called Square One Project, say their project consists of two primary segments—an executive session on the future of justice policy that will help generate “a new narrative of justice in America,” and a series of roundtables across the nation, with the first one scheduled this month in North Carolina. According to Travis, the status quo in criminal justice is “profoundly unacceptable.”
Two major foundations, the Laura and John Arnold and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundations, along with Columbia University’s Justice Lab, are starting a new project to examine “if we start over from ‘square one,’ ” how would justice policy be different?”
The Trump administration names Matt Dummermuth, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, to head the Justice Department branch that includes six agencies, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and National Institute of Justice.
The Urban Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union have developed companion tools aimed at helping states understand the factors that drive their prison populations, and fashion policies that can reduce them without affecting public safety. The ACLU says its tool can help produce “transformational change” in the nation’s prison system.