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Your Assets Are Mine

Is the centuries-old practice of seizing property allegedly connected with a crime headed for a major shakeup in the U.S. this year? Reform advocates on the left and right were encouraged by the temporary suspension last month of payments to local law enforcement agencies that participate in the federal asset forfeiture program. But the reformers, who range from conservatives and libertarians to civil rights groups and human rights advocates, want the government to go a lot further in 2016 — […]

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Is Prison Effective in Punishing White-Collar Crime?

One of the main justifications for sentencing a convicted defendant to prison is the assumption that the punishment will discourage similar crimes in the future—but this rationale may not always apply in white-collar cases—argues the author of a study published in the Wayne Law Review. “It is certainly questionable whether a punishment imposed on one white-collar criminal has an impact on others because the violations are usually the product of a unique set of circumstances that allowed the crime to […]

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When Policing Goes Wrong

Since 1994, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has investigated and reached settlements with more than 20 state and local police agencies. Much controversy surrounds these so-called “consent decrees,” which have mandated reforms of police practices in agencies ranging from the municipal forces of Los Angeles, New Orleans and Albuquerque, to state agencies like the New Jersey State Police. Investigations of Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD are currently underway. Do these consent decrees actually reduce officer use-of-force and racial profiling? Have […]

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PREA at a Crossroads

In an apparent reversal of position, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said earlier this year that his state would comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)—but his assurance came with a catch, which advocates say could erode the federal government's “zero tolerance” policy on sexual assaults in correctional facilities. Abbott wrote in an annual PREA compliance report, filed May 15 to the Attorney General, that Texas would implement PREA standards “wherever feasible.” His predecessor, Gov. Rick Perry had famously rejected […]

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Hostages to the Storm

Sept. 4 marks the 10th anniversary of an unthinkable police assault on unarmed citizens at the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans, a week after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Responding to a false “officer down” report, a group of cops stormed the bridge in a commandeered truck and began firing before the vehicle had even come to a stand-still. Two people were killed, Ronald Madison, a developmentally disabled 40-year-old, and James Brissette, 17. Four others were wounded. The officers and […]

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Report: Federal White Collar Prosecutions at 20-Year Low

A steady decline in the prosecution of federal white collar crimes during the last 20 years has continued under the current presidential administration, according to a report by the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). Researchers analyzed thousands of case records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the overall decline began during former President Bill Clinton's tenure. White collar crime includes cases ranging from health care fraud to violations of tax, securities, federal procurement and other […]

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The Troubling Link Between Ferguson and Charleston

Since August 2014, when an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot dead by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, the use of force by police—particularly against minorities—has become the focus of national attention. Similar incidents in places ranging from Cleveland, Ohio to New York City—and last month's church shootings in Charleston SC—have reinforced a national movement, #blacklivesmatter, as well as a spurred a debate that has drawn in every sector of American life. But Ferguson continues to […]

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Can Abusers Break Their Patterns?

In a church basement about 20 miles northwest of Sacramento, a man who asked to be called “Sam” told a circle of a dozen men about his latest arrest. That was the one that landed him in Manalive (Men Allied Nationally Against Living in Violent Environments), a batterer intervention program that meets for three hours every week over the course of a year. The facilitator, David Morton, who is well over six feet tall, broad-shouldered and bald, with white whiskers, […]