A Failing Criminal Justice System

 Posted on  July 1, 2012  by Branch Manager

Craig DeRoche, a former member of the Michigan Legislature, is the director of external affairs at Justice Fellowship, the advocacy arm of Prison Fellowship, a Christian ministry.

The criminal justice system in America was created to keep communities safe, to respect and restore victims, and to return offenders who leave prison to be self-sufficient and law-abiding. What the system has become is a monumental failure that our states and nation can no longer afford.

Beyond the dollars spent, our failing criminal justice system contributes to our cultural decline, the breakdown of the traditional family and dependency on public assistance programs. The statistics documenting the failure of our system are unrivaled in human history. The United States today imprisons 1 in 100 residents and has 1 in 31 citizens on parole or probation.

Our minority population is a reliably easier target for getting the numbers by which society measures law enforcement today.
The growth in criminalization has led to no measurable decrease in recidivism despite increasing our prison population tenfold. Government employment in criminal justice has grown by 1 million employees since 1980, as is noted by Michelle Alexander in “The New Jim Crow.” Amazingly, the call to continue to grow the government and perpetuate this failure is usually led by conservatives and supported by African-American leaders, from the president to our local mayors.

The fact that minorities are unfairly targeted goes beyond decriminalizing marijuana or a handful of petty crimes. Prosecutors and police budgets are rewarded for convictions, and they are not held to account for their contribution to spending in prisons or for increases in welfare and Medicaid dependence. Our minority population is a reliably easier target for getting the numbers by which society measures law enforcement today.

Statistically, trolling for low-level law breakers has distracted the public from demanding justice where it is most needed. For example, Chicago solved only 30 percent of the murders committed in 2011 (down from 80 percent in 1991). Comparing this to a Brookings employment study for 2011, getting away with murder was easier than finding a job for the unemployed in Chicago.

Join Room for Debate on Facebook and follow updates on twitter.com/roomfordebate

Suspect held in South L.A. sexual assaults

 Posted on  June 20, 2012  by Branch Manager


By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

June 18, 2012, 5:06 p.m.

Police arrested a man Monday who is suspected of rape and attempted rape in a string of South Los Angeles attacks, including the sexual assault of a woman left in grave condition, LAPD officials said.

Shortly before 1 a.m. Monday, a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department witnessed an attack on a woman in her 30s near a cluster of bus benches near Normandie and Manchester avenues, LAPD spokeswoman Norma Eisenman said. A perimeter was set up and the suspect was captured.

Eisenman said the department was not releasing details about the case. The suspect, whose name was not immediately released pending the investigation, is believed to be involved in a series of attacks that began Friday morning.

The first two attacks occurred near Western and Manchester avenues Friday at 2 a.m., according to sources familiar with the case. In the first attack, the suspect tried to rape a female transient but was foiled by a passerby.

A short time later, he wielded a fake handgun and tried to assault a second woman, the sources said. The woman, who lost several teeth in the struggle, wrested the weapon away from the suspect and tried to fire it at him. When she realized it wasn’t real, she hit him with it.

The suspect is also believed to have raped a 78-year-old woman about 9 that evening in an apartment nearby.

LAPD officials said that in the Monday attack the victim was severely beaten and was listed in critical condition at an area hospital. Police say there may be other victims in the case.

Junior Police Academy

 Posted on  June 16, 2012  by Branch Manager

My name is Kelly LeConte, Program Director of the Junior Police Academy.
First, thank you to the hundreds of police departments that have requested our new course in good character “American Police Officer”.

Here are a few quick things to bring you up-to-date:

Program Roll-Out

On June 8 we started shipping “American Police Officer” out to the over 500 police departments that requested the program. (The program comes printed in a 3-ring binder and ships with a poster and other materials including a student pin.)

Not yet requested “American Police Officer”? You may do so here.

Staggered Roll Out

Rather than have a print house publish 500 copies of the course and ship them all at the same time, we opted to print the course in house and send the materials out steadily over the next two months.

While slightly more expensive and certainly more time consuming, using this method allows us to tweak the course as we proceed, working feedback from educators and law enforcement leaders like yourself into what will ultimately become the final program.

Throughout this process, we appreciate your patience. If you have ordered the program, you should expect shipment within the next two months.

Digital Version Now Online

A digital version of the course is available online and we encourage you to review its contents while you await the printed program.

Feedback

Throughout the time we roll out the program, we will be looking for your feedback. We will create a way for you to evaluate the program online.

Become an Official “American Police Officer” Pilot program.

If you like what you see and have a start date in mind, consider registering as an official “American Police Officer” Pilot program. Pilot program status is available during the initial phase of the program’s launch and will assist us in the course’s development.

Pilot programs will be spotlighted nationally and serve as a model for other programs throughout the country. (Review how JPA has spotlighted individual programs here.)

Request to become a pilot program by dropping us an email note.

Subscribe to Great Ideas. Fast (Plus, Expedite Your Program Shipping)

Register for our “Leadership Briefing” and receive updates and insights from programs across America. (We will also prioritize your program request.)

Join us on FACEBOOK

We encourage everyone, students, instructors and citizens alike, to join us on Facebook and share your adventure in good character. Here we profiles in “Extreme Good Character” and share how good character is alive and hard at work across America!.

We control the content; students and parents have the option of sharing it.
It’s social media designed to make someone’s day or even inspire someone’s life.

You may also share your thoughts with me personally at kleconte@policeusa.com

Juvenile Crimes On the Rise

 Posted on  June 16, 2012  by Branch Manager

Chief expects crime to rise
Eugene officials say reductions in jail space from a loss of federal funds will affect law enforcement efforts

BY EDWARD RUSSO
The Register-Guard
Appeared in print: Friday, Feb. 10, 2012, page A1

Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns doesn’t need a crystal ball to see the future.

Crime will probably increase in the city after Lane County closes up to half the beds in the county jail and eliminates parole and probation supervision for misdemeanor offenders, Kerns said Thursday.

“It’s pretty predictable that by not having people supervised by parole and probation, and by having fewer jail beds and less accountability, that we will see crime go up,” he said.

Kerns’ comments were among the reactions of local officials to the plans by Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner to soon sharply reduce jail staffing, forcing the closure of half the beds in the county jail, because of the expected loss of federal timber payments. The sheriff said he will also cut his patrol staff from 16 to five, and eliminate parole and probation supervision for hundreds of misdemeanor offenders.

Communities throughout Lane County rely on the county jail to house serious offenders and people awaiting trial. The further erosion of the county’s long-weakened public safety structure leaves municipal leaders, many of them with their own budget problems, wondering how to respond.

“We’ll continue to manage our resources carefully and work strategically with our partners in the community,” said Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy. “But I don’t know what we will do about the reality of having very few jail beds. I’m sure it will be part of our budget discussions.”

Springfield City Manager Gino Grimaldi said the city does not have extra money to help the county avoid layoffs of jail employees.

“We’re obviously in a difficult financial situation ourselves,” he said. “Looking at next year’s budget, we are likely going to be a smaller organization than we are today.”

Eugene City Councilor George Poling said county and city leaders should discuss asking voters to approve a tax for public safety, an often-tried but consistently defeated concept.

“Eventually the criminals are going to take over,” said Poling, a retired Lane County Sheriff’s Office patrol sergeant. “There is no accountability for them committing crimes. There is no law enforcement out there to arrest them. There is nobody to prosecute them. And there is no way to incarcerate them because of the lack of jail beds.”

The announced closures would leave about 130 jail beds to house Lane County offenders. Another 100 beds are used by federal law enforcement under a separate contract. The city also rents county jail beds for crimes prosecuted in Eugene’s Municipal Court. Springfield, meanwhile, has a large new jail, but it’s only certified to hold misdemeanor offenders, not the felons or alleged felons who make up much of the Lane County Jail population.

Kerns based his prediction for rising crime on the recent past. Twice during the past few years, burglaries and other property crimes rose after the county’s previous decisions to cut jail staff and eliminate jail beds.

In 2008-2009, property crime increased 24 percent after 84 beds were closed because of budget pressures caused by timber-payment uncertainty.

After the beds were reopened in 2009, property crime dropped 26 percent, Kerns said.

Since last July, after budget pressures again led Turner to cut jail staff and close 84 jail beds, Kerns said property and violent crimes have “steadily gone up, though not at the same precipitous rate as before.”

The Eugene City Council and the police department in recent years have tried to deal with the county’s reduced ability to hold criminals, he said.

To ensure that people convicted of misdemeanors or violations in Eugene’s Municipal Court serve time for their offenses — including theft, drunken driving and assault — the city leases beds in the Lane County and Springfield jails.

A few years ago, the city rented 15 beds in the Lane County Jail for that purpose, but with the county’s decreasing ability to hold offenders, the city increased the number of beds it rents so it now has a total of 35 — 20 in the county jail and 15 in the Springfield jail.

Eugene police also are using improved crime tracking that puts more officers in neighborhoods where a series of crimes have occurred, Kerns said.

Police also pitch crime prevention ideas to residents in neighborhoods hit hard by car break-ins and burglaries, he said.

Officers will continue urging residents to be vigilant about preventing crime, Kerns said. He said he and other authorities will “continue to look for ways to hold offenders accountable, and to identify the most prolific offenders and keep them off the streets.”

Poling, the councilor from northeast Eugene, said the leaders of every Lane County city should meet with county commissioners to develop a strategy to increase funding for the county’s entire public safety system.

“We need to include parole and probation, youth services and the district attorneys’ office because there is more to public safety than the jail and sheriff’s patrols,” he said.

Poling acknowledged that Lane County voters had rejected in a row 14 previous tax proposals for public safety.

However, Poling said, the problem has now become so severe in Lane and other counties that have relied on federal forest payments that voters may be receptive to a tax measure.

Clackamas County, which includes Oregon City, has a voter-approved serial levy for public safety, he said. And Lane County used to have a public safety serial levy as recently as the late 1990s, Poling said.

A property-tax based levy could be structured so that rural residents, who rely on sheriff’s patrols, would pay more than city residents who are served by police departments, Poling said.

However, city residents would contribute to support the jail, parole and probation and juvenile justice services, he said.

“It’s going to take the citizens of each individual county to come up with some kind of funding for their public safety network,” Poling said.

CDC On Youth Violence

 Posted on  June 16, 2012  by Branch Manager

Youth Violence


Fact Sheet 2010
www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention

Q. Why is youth violence a
public health problem?

Q. How does youth violence
affect health?

Q. Who is at risk for youth
violence?

Youth violence refers to harmful behaviors that can start early and continue into young adulthood. The young person can be a victim, an offender, or a witness to the violence.
Youth violence includes various behaviors. Some violent acts—such as bullying, slapping, or hitting—can cause more emotional harm than physical harm. Others, such as robbery and assault (with or without weapons) can lead to serious injury or even death.
Youth violence is widespread in the United States (U.S.). It is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24.1
• 5,764 young people age 10 to 24 were murdered—an average of 16 each day—in 2007.1
• Over 656,000 physical assault injuries in young people age 10 to 24 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2008.1
• In a 2009 nationwide survey, about 32% of high school students reported being in a physical fight in the 12 months before the survey.2
• Nearly 6% of high school students in 2009 reported taking a gun, knife, or club to school in the 30 days before the survey.2
• An estimated 20% of high school students reported being bullied on school property in 2009.2
Deaths resulting from youth violence are only part of the problem. Many young people seek medical care for violence-related injuries. These injuries can include cuts, bruises, broken bones, and gunshot wounds. Some injuries, like gunshot wounds, can lead to lasting disabilities.
Violence can also affect the health of communities. It can increase health care costs, decrease property values, and disrupt social services.3
A number of factors can increase the risk of a youth engaging in violence. However, the presence of these factors does not always mean that a young person will become an offender.
Risk factors for youth violence include:
• Prior history of violence
• Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use
• Association with delinquent peers
• Poor family functioning
• Poor grades in school
• Poverty in the community
Note: This is a partial list of risk factors. For more information, see www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention.
How can we prevent
youth violence?
How does CDC approach youth violence prevention?
Where can I learn more?
Understanding Youth Violence
For more information, please contact:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
1-800-CDC-INFO • www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention • cdcinfo@cdc.gov
The ultimate goal is to stop youth violence before it starts. Several prevention strategies have been identified.
• Parent- and family-based programs improve family relations. Parents receive training on child development. They also learn skills for talking with their kids and solving problems in nonviolent ways.
• Social-development strategies teach children how to handle tough social situations. They learn how to resolve problems without using violence.
• Mentoring programs pair an adult with a young person. The adult serves as a positive role model and helps guide the young person’s behavior.
• Changes can be made to the physical and social environment. These changes address the social and economic causes of violence.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention
STRYVE
www.safeyouth.gov
Stop Bullying Now Campaign
www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov
Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence
www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/youthviolence
CDC uses a 4-step approach to address public health problems like youth violence.
Step 1: Define and monitor the problem
Before we can prevent youth violence, we need to know how big the problem is, where it is, and whom it affects. CDC learns about a problem by gathering and studying data. These data are critical because they help decision makers send resources where they are needed most.
Step 2: Identify risk and protective factors
It is not enough to know that youth violence is affecting a certain group of people in a certain area. We also need to know why. CDC conducts and supports research to answer this question. We can then develop programs to reduce or get rid of risk factors.
Step 3: Develop and test prevention strategies
Using information gathered in research, CDC develops and tests strategies to prevent youth violence.
Step 4: Ensure widespread adoption
In this final step, CDC shares the best prevention strategies. CDC may also provide funding or technical help so communities can adopt these strategies.
For a list of CDC activities, see Preventing Youth Violence: Program Activities Guide (www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/preventingyv.html).
References
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010) [cited 2010 June 14]. Available from: URL: www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2009. MMWR, Surveillance Summaries 2009;59(no. SS-5).
3. Mercy J, Butchart A, Farrington D, Cerdá M. Youth violence. In: Krug E, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, Zwi AB, Lozano R, editors. The World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva (Switzerland): World Health Organization; 2002. p. 25–56.