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Prison Reformer Bronstein Called Ahead Of His Time

Alvin Bronstein, the late director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, anticipated the movement to reduce “mass incarceration” that is widely discussed in today’s criminal justice circles, former colleagues and friends were told at a memorial service yesterday in Washington, D.C. Bronstein, who filed many lawsuits contesting prison conditions in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, had a “perpetual sense of outrage” about the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” culture that dominated public policy at […]

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Crime Victims, FBI Among Winners In DOJ Budget Battle

Crime victims and the FBI were two of the big winners in the annual battle over spending U. S. Justice Department funds. A Congressional budget deal for the current fiscal year that was finalized by negotiators early yesterday morning provided an estimated $2.26 billion for state and local organizations that help crime victims. Under a law dating from the 1980s, those groups are supposed to receive fines paid in federal cases, but Congress has long put a cap on the […]

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Fox Adds Skeptical Voice to Alleged Crime Surge

Even though murder totals are up in some U.S. cities, “there is no crime wave,” criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University said Thursday at the American Society of Criminology convention in Washington, D.C. Speaking on a panel on trends in crime rates and policing, Fox said some cities in the past decade have reported homicide increases early in the year but declines later, leading to no change by year’s end. He said, “It is alarming that so many journalists […]

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Police Reform In U.S.: Some Progress, A Long Way To Go

Policing in the U.S. is showing some signs of improvement, thanks to the attention paid to it by the public and by government officials—and despite the well-publicized misdeeds of a few law enforcement officers in the past year. That’s the conclusion of members of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, who addressed a conference at George Mason University in northern Virginia yesterday. “Much of this is about culture change,” said task force co-chair Laurie Robinson. “That doesn’t […]

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One Year on, Ferguson Protesters Don't Plan to Go Away

Photo by Loavesofbread, via Wikipedia When St. Louis resident Tory Russell saw Michael Brown's body last August 9, it set in motion a series of events that altered his life. An African-American day laborer who was working in a suburb five miles from Ferguson, the 31-year-old Russell had seen a photo a few minutes after Brown was shot, tweeted by one of Brown's neighbors. It showed Brown dead in the street. Two hours later came another: Brown's body was still […]

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NOLA Violence Effort Among Winners of Justice Awards

Efforts to reduce murders in New Orleans and keep offenders out of Illinois prisons and suspects out of New York City jails were among winners of awards given Tuesday by the National Criminal Justice Association. NOLA FOR LIFE, which was set up in 2012 as a public health approach to fight violence in New Orleans, got an outstanding criminal justice program award at the National Forum on Criminal Justice in Atlanta. The program was credited with helping reduce New Orleans’ […]

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Ex-Assistant AG Urges Police to Adopt Task Force Ideas

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Laurie Robinson on Monday urged state and local criminal justice leaders to put into practice recommendations of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Robinson, co-chair of the task force, spoke at the National Forum on Criminal Justice in Atlanta. Alluding to last year’s police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., she said, “There have clearly been seismic shifts in the terrain of criminal justice and, more broadly, in civil society […]

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GA Gov. Takes ‘Responsible’ Route to Justice Reform

It seems like most 2016 presidential candidates are talking about criminal justice reform but have little to show for it. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican who is not running for the White House, can talk about five years of accomplishments. On Monday, he got several rounds of applause at the National Forum on Criminal Justice in his home base of Atlanta by telling how he had tackled prison overpopulation, a juvenile justice overhaul, and now inmate re-entry into society. […]

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Lynching: An American Tragedy That Won’t Go Away

Last February, the Equal Justice Initiative produced a report detailing almost 4,000 lynchings of blacks in 12 southern states between 1877 and 1950, and spurring the Initiative’s current effort to place memorial markers at those lynching sites.

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McConnell, Paul Seek Senate Confirmation For Federal Prisons Director

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul have introduced The Federal Prisons Accountability Act of 2015, which would require Senate confirmation for the director of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Unlike most top Department of Justice officials, the BOP director is appointed by the Attorney General. Currrent BOP director Charles Samuels plans to retire this year. McConnell, noting that there are five federal prisons in Kentucky, said corrections officers have repeatedly called for BOP […]