CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Anti-gang squad shows an impact; 300 arrests, 25 guns taken

Six months after a Gang Impact Squad was formed to combat violence in Cleveland, the unit has arrested scores of violent criminals.

The seven-officer squad has confiscated 25 guns and arrested more than 300 people for drugs, guns and violent crimes. More than 250 of them have been identified by police as gang members.

Police officials credit the squad for using information about gangs to solve two high-profile killings. Officers arrested a man in March after he was accused of gunning down a 19-year-old Bay Village man on the West Side. In July, officers arrested a gang member for torching and killing a 25-year-old man on the East Side.

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October 10, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Criminal Prosecutions Predicted to Surge Over Financial Crisis

With public anger reaching a boiling point over plunging stock prices and Wall Street "greed," white-collar defense attorneys are preparing for an inevitable surge in criminal prosecutions.

Stanley S. Arkin, for one, said he expects that the anger, hysteria and economic dislocation fueled by "imprudent credit policies" will "inspire" indictments that would not have been brought in a "calmer and more dispassionate time."

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October 10, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Task force recommends changes to state's involuntary commitment laws

A mental health system facing a critical shortage of hospital beds, riddled with breakdowns in communication and hamstrung by the state's commitment laws helped create the conditions that led to the killing of Sierra Club worker Shannon Harps outside her Capitol Hill apartment last New Year's Eve, a task force reviewing how the system operated in that case has found.

James Williams, a repeat violent offender with severe schizophrenia, has been charged with first-degree murder in Harps' death. Williams, who was under community supervision at the time of the murder, wasn't complying with court-ordered treatment and had been off the medications that helped control his violent hallucinations when he allegedly stabbed Harps to death.

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October 10, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Justice issues collide on ballot

Law and order activists, critics of California's drug laws and victims rights groups independently have loaded three separate crime measures onto the Nov. 4 ballot, and they're not making it easy for state voters to sort them out.

Together, Propositions 5, 6 and 9 cover 115 pages, would change scores of laws and would affect billions of dollars in state spending.

"My mom asked me if I have positions on all of them, and I told her I'm still working on it," said Assembly Public Safety Committee chairman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, who presided over nine hours of hearings on the measures. "There's a lot to digest."

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October 7, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets

When Larry Levine helped prepare divorce papers for a client a few years ago, he got paid in mackerel. Once the case ended, he says, "I had a stack of macks."

Mr. Levine and his client were prisoners in California's Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex. Like other federal inmates around the country, they found a can of mackerel -- the "mack" in prison lingo -- was the standard currency.

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October 3, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Murders send city crime rate upwards

The city's crime rate jumped last month, led by a spike in murders, NYPD statistics show.

The murder rate rose nearly 77% to 46 homicides through Sept. 28, compared with 26 through the same date in September 2007.

Shooting crimes rose last month too, with the number of victims up 11% and the number of incidents up 10%, according to NYPD figures released Tuesday.

So far this year, the city has tallied 390 homicides, 11% more than the 350 recorded by the end of September in 2007.

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge: No Internet for stalker

A local artist who pleaded guilty to cyberstalking has been given a sentence that includes writing “I will not interfere with the Plaza Central Art Krawl” 1,000 times.

Kevin Starr, whose real name is Herschel Crumbley, was accused of sending hundreds of damaging e-mails that purported to be from neighborhood leaders and business owners in an effort to sabotage the community's quarterly art crawl.

Starr was sentenced Sept. 25 to 18 months of probation and could face 45 days in jail if he violates any of the judge's orders.

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Temple professor ponders role in Phila. parole review

The Temple University professor who hastily accepted Gov. Rendell's request Monday to conduct a "top-to-bottom" review of Pennsylvania's parole system knows very little about the new assignment or how long it will take to complete.

John S. Goldkamp, head of Temple's criminal-justice department, said yesterday that he planned to focus on how other states release violent offenders into society and whether those practices can be used here.

Rendell asked Goldkamp to take on the task in the wake of the second slaying in four months of a city police officer by a paroled felon.

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No Charges Expected in Dismissal of Attorneys

A Justice Department investigation offers a blistering critique of the political motivations that led to the firings of a group of United States attorneys in late 2006 but stops short of recommending criminal charges against former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales or others in the affair, officials said.

The Justice Department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility have been investigating the firings since last year, trying to determine who in the Bush administration ordered the firings, whether the dismissals were intended to thwart investigations and whether anyone had broken the law in carrying out the firings or in testifying about them.

Officials with the department refused to discuss the report in advance of its scheduled release on Monday, though it has been the subject of Web reports since Friday. A lawyer for Mr. Gonzales declined to comment.

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September 30, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Colorado sex-crime database perplexes

When President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Act into law, it required states to contribute to a national database of sex offenders with more current and stringent registration requirements.

But states and American Indian tribes are having a tough time implementing some of the requirements of the 2006 law — such as making the names and addresses of juvenile sex offenders available on the Internet.

In Colorado, officials have met for more than a year to decide whether to comply with the Adam Walsh Act by July or lose $240,000 in federal funding.

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September 28, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More hurt in spring prison riot than originally reported

The April riot that left two inmates dead at the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence lasted nearly a half-hour and injured six times the number of people the Bureau of Prisons announced at the time, according to an incident report obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.

Thirty inmates and a staff member were assaulted in the racially motivated brawl, a report written by a Bureau of Prisons investigator states.

When the riot occurred, prison officials said five people - all inmates - were injured.

They would not say how long the riot lasted.

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September 28, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

N.Y. Law Treats Child Prostitutes as Crime Victims not Offenders

Ending years of debate and delay, Gov. David A. Paterson on Friday signed into law a bill shielding sexually exploited girls and boys from being charged with prostitution.

The law, known as the Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act, will divert children under the age of 18 who have been arrested for prostitution into counseling and treatment programs, provided they agree to aid in the prosecution of their pimps.

It has been the subject of intense debate in the State Legislature and beyond, and was opposed by some law enforcement officials and by the Bloomberg administration, which argued that the bill would make it harder to crack down on prostitution.

But the bill’s backers said it was wrong to treat under-age prostitutes — many forced into the sex trade and kept there with physical threats and abuse — as criminals rather than victims.

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September 27, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 26, 2008

FBI did not analyze anthrax from biodefense lab

The FBI never examined anthrax samples from the 2001 contamination of a biodefense lab that was covered up by their lead suspect in the anthrax mailings — a decision that one of the FBI's leading anthrax experts calls "weird."

Researcher Bruce Ivins in 2002 confessed to cleaning up the office contamination without telling anyone during an Army investigation at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. Ivins became a suspect in 2005 in the mailings that killed five and sickened 17.

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September 26, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mo. prison program fosters family ties behind bars

VANDALIA, Mo. — The crayons, construction paper and toddlers scattered on the floor suggest a typical daycare center or kindergarten classroom. The armed guards and surveillance cameras reveal a painful reality.

The handful of inmates gathered for the monthly program at the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center include some of the state's most notorious female convicted murderers.

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September 26, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FBI Opens Probe of Finance Giants

The FBI is investigating whether fraud played a role in the troubles at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and American International Group, bringing to 26 the number of bureau investigations of institutions tied to the mortgage debacle, according to two sources familiar with the developments.

At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened more than 50 investigations into disclosure and valuation of housing-related investments at banks, insurers and credit-rating agencies, Chairman Christopher Cox told the Senate Banking Committee yesterday.

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September 24, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bernard Kerik Claims Selective Prosecution

041213_kerik_vmedwidecDisgraced former NYPD boss Bernard Kerik doesn't think it's fair for him to face criminal charges for not paying nanny taxes when other top officials skated for similar offenses.

Kerik's lawyers cited one-time U.S. attorney general nominee Zoe Baird and former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman as high-profile tax deadbeats in a 94-page document that seeks to quash perjury, tax fraud and illegal payoff charges.

"It is a matter of public record that prospective appointees to high political office are rarely if ever charged criminally for such issues," Kerik lawyer Barry Berke wrote.

Kerik is set to go on trial next year in White Plains Federal Court. Aside from Baird and Whitman, Berke cited former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and deputy attorney general candidate Charles Ruff as others who've sidestepped criminal charges for domestic tax lapses.

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September 24, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Political News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scavenging - and theft of recyclables - on rise

Less than five minutes into Lisa Poston's shift, the San Diego code-enforcement officer spotted a scraggly man on a bicycle that had been modified to carry garbage cans.

Poston pulled her unmarked car next to him and politely explained that he was breaking the law by taking items from curbside recycling bins. The man, who refused to give his name, wheeled away as Poston warned that she would issue him a ticket the next time.Less than five minutes into Lisa Poston's shift, the San Diego code-enforcement officer spotted a scraggly man on a bicycle that had been modified to carry garbage cans.

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September 23, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Searches of old criminal records end school jobs

The impact has been especially evident among nonteaching employees who, until this year, did not have to undergo the kind of comprehensive background checks done for teachers.

Now, staffers such as custodians, secretaries and cafeteria workers may face dismissal for newly unearthed offenses committed years ago.

John Reccord, a night supervisor for the Orange school district, has worked there for nearly two decades. But he stands to lose his job for an offense to which he pleaded guilty 35 years ago and was sentenced to probation.

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September 23, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

'CLUELESS' CRIME LABS

A federal panel of experts looking into the reliability of CSI tests has heard damning evidence against some of the most common techniques used to convict killers, rapists and other criminals, The Post has learned.

The analysis of fingerprints, tire tracks and bite marks isn't nearly as reliable as researchers once believed, crime-scene specialists told the panel. Some even called it junk science.

Many said major changes would be necessary if crime labs want to continue using the evidence.

The National Academy of Sciences report isn't due out until December, but forensic expert Barry Scheck predicted the study could have blockbuster implications.

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September 23, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cell Phone Cameras and Crime Reporting

One morning last month, a 28-year-old woman was struggling up the stairs at the Dyckman Street elevated station on her way to work. Normally, she would hold her skirt around her legs, but that day she was juggling a cup of coffee, a gym bag and her purse.

She sensed the presence of someone too close to her on the stairs. She turned and saw a man peering into his cellphone. A passer-by confirmed her suspicion: The man had taken photographs under her skirt.

“I said I had to do something,” the woman said on Thursday. “Since he is taking pictures of me, I am going to take pictures of him.”

She said she followed the man onto the southbound No. 1 train, walked through several cars and found him on a seat. She prepared her cellphone camera. He looked at her and mumbled something. “And I told him ‘smile’ because I am going to the police,” she said.

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September 19, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)