Hate crimes at highest rate in more than a decade, per FBI – Midland Daily News

On Monday, the FBI released Hate Crime Statistics, 2020, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program's latest compilation of bias-motivated incidents throughout the nation. The 2020 data, submitted by 15,136 law enforcement agencies, provide information about the offenses, victims, offenders and locations of hate crimes.

Law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 7,759 criminal incidents and 10,532 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity. However, the UCR Program does not estimate offenses for the jurisdictions of agencies that did not submit reports.

The amount of hate crimes reported to the FBI increased by about 450 incidents over 2019, according to CNN. That increase coincided with a reduction in agencies reporting hate crimes than in previous years. The report shows 2020 had the highest tally of reported hate crimes since 2008, when 7,783 hate crimes were reported to the FBI.

Attacks targeting Black people rose to 2,755 from 1,930, and the number targeting Asians jumped to 274 from 161. Of the known offenders, more than half were White, according to the FBI.

"These statistics show a rise in hate crimes committed against Black and African-Americans, already the group most often victimized, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "Notably, they show a rise in hate crimes committed against members of the Asian-American Pacific Islander community. This also confirms what we have seen and heard through our work and from our partners."

There were 7,554 single-bias incidents involving 10,528 victims. The percent breakdown of victims (percents may not add up to 100% because of rounding) by bias type shows that 61.9% of victims were targeted because of the offenders race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 20.5% were victimized because of the offenders sexual-orientation bias, 13.4% were targeted because of the offenders religious bias, 2.5% were targeted because of the offenders gender identity bias, 1% were victimized because of the offenders disability bias, and 0.7% were victimized because of the offenders gender bias.

There were 205 multiple-bias hate crime incidents that involved 333 victims.

The Justice Department and FBI are required by a 1990 federal law called the Hate Crime Statistics Act to publish an annual report on hate crime statistics. The annual report serves as the most comprehensive look at hate crime across the country.

Law enforcement agencies are not required to submit their data to the FBI for its annual crime report. There are more than 18,000 agencies in the United States and more than 3,000 did not submit their crime statistics in 2020, which may result in an undercount.

Of the 7,426 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2020, 53.4% were for intimidation, 27.6% were for simple assault, and 18.1% were for aggravated assault. There were 22 murders and 19 rapes reported as hate crimes. The remaining 27 hate crime offenses were reported in the category of "other."

Of the 2,913 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property, most (76.4%) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 23.6% of crimes against property.

There were 193 additional offenses classified as crimes against society. This crime category represents societys prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity such as gambling, prostitution and drug violations. These are typically victimless crimes in which property is not the object.

In the UCR Program, the term "known offender" does not imply that the suspects identity is known; rather, the term indicates that some aspect of the suspect was identified, thus distinguishing the suspect from an unknown offender. Law enforcement agencies specify the number of offenders and, when possible, the race of the offender or offenders as a group. Beginning in 2013, law enforcement agencies began reporting whether suspects were juveniles or adults, as well as the suspects ethnicity when possible.

Of the 6,431 known offenders indicating some aspect of the suspect was identified, distinguishing the suspect from an unknown offender 55.2% were White and 20.2% were Black or African American. Other races accounted for the remaining known offenders although the race was unknown for 16.4% of offenders.

Of the 5,915 known offenders for whom ages were known, 89.1% were 18 years of age or older.

In Michigan, there were 161 reported cases of anti-Black or African American hate crimes and 30 cases of anti-gay male hate crimes. There were also 56 cases of anti-white hate crimes in the state last year. There was a total of 377 hate crimes in 2020 in the state.

Of the 453 offenses last year related to hate crimes, 189 involved intimidation, while 109 were simple assault and 52 were aggravated assault. Destruction/damage/vandalism of property accounted for another 45.

The offender's ethnicity was unknown in 289 of the 319 reports. Of the 319 reports, 206 offenders were reported as white while 66 were reported as black in Michigan in 2020. There were 136 incidents reported in a home and 56 occurred on a highway, alley, street or sidewalk.

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Hate crimes at highest rate in more than a decade, per FBI - Midland Daily News

Father and son who stole 1.7million worth of antiques from elderly widow jailed – ITV News

Watch a report by Matthew Hudson.

A father and son have been sentenced after they stole more than 1.5 million worth of oriental antique jade ornaments from an elderly widow in Bedfordshire.

Des Pickersgill and his son Gary Pikersgill took the collection of jade artefacts from the victim in Bedfordshire and then tricked an auction house into selling the items.

The pair were only caught when the woman's home was burgled sparking an insurance investigation.

Over a seven-year period, Des Pickersgill, who is 84, and his son Gary plundered a collection of valuable jade artifacts owned by a vulnerable Bedfordshire woman now in her mid-nineties.

They then brazenly sold them through the reputable London auction house Bonhams for a total of 1.7 million.

Gary Pickersgill's wife Sarah allowed her bank account to be used to launder money. Friends Kevin and Tracy Wigmore also profited from the thefts.

Items stolen included a green jade bowl which fetched a 1 million at auction and teapot which went for half a million pounds.

The five defendants were convicted of charges including theft and fraud following a six week trial at Luton Crown Court earlier this year.

The thefts came to light after the elderly woman was the victim of an unrelated burglary in which jade items were also stolen.

When the insurance company made enquiries with auction houses they discovered that some items which it had been assumed had been taken in the raid had already been sold over the previous years which suggest that they had already been stolen.

In fact Des and Gary Pickersgill had simply smuggled up to 50 artifacts out of the victim's house under their clothes between 2011 and 2018.

Fraud is often seen as a victimless crime but this case clearly shows that this is not the case and that there are victims involved.

The court heard that the victim was more concerned with the sentimental value of the items which had been collected by her late husband than their actual worth.

ITV News has decided to protect the identity of the victim of these crimes.

Today, Gary Pickersgill was handed an 8-year jail sentence, his father Des Pickersgill was sentenced for 6 years in prison and Kevin Wigmore was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

Sarah Pickergill and Tracey Wigmore were given non-custodial sentences.

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Father and son who stole 1.7million worth of antiques from elderly widow jailed - ITV News

Combating crime requires major reforms between police, a cooperative public and the correctional system – Stabroek News

Dear Editor,

Crime permeates our society. We are bombarded daily with a series of blue collar and white collar crimes. However, we seldom hear of those in the white collar bracket being confined to prison. Their crimes are often premeditated, thus more heinous than those committed by people jailed for crimes other than murder, rape, violent crime and battery. There are also victimless crimes such as prostitution, pornographic dissemination, illegal drug use, and mandatory seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws. These crimes should be regulated or taxed. Property crimes and violent crimes are the rule of the day. This development is depressing and makes one sad to see that we have been seeing a decline in crime prevention and reduction with the passing years. Creative and tested deterrents to crime should be utilized. Community policing, video surveillance established by the State, longer sentences, rapid responses to calls from citizens requiring police presence (probably all calls) and drug treatment are some of the primary methods which should be employed. The police need to have a cooperative relationship with the populace as this will help us all to combat crime. Citizens need to be provided with data which reveals the number of criminals apprehended. The donations of large quantities of vehicles to the police force by foreign governments has not improved the polices responses. Most of the time when citizens call the police stations they are told that there isnt a vehicle available.

The government, Mayor and local government need to play a pivotal role in their expenditure, public presentations and advocacy for legislation to address and reduce crime. Citizens need to make demands on their officials, legislators, judges and the police to conform to public opinion on crimes. Judges are important and should be given more autonomy and the assistance of legislation to set more severe sentences. Prosecutors obviously lack the skills or resources to convict offenders. It appears that the majority of people charged with serious crimes are released due to lack of evidence. A survey or statistic would confirm or reject that. It is appalling that such cases presented for prosecution are approved for trial. There are three main goals of the correctional system: punish, rehabilitate and separate criminals from the general population. Offenders see incarceration as punishment and their confinement removes these undesirable characters from society. Hence, two of the goals are fulfilled but rehabilitation poses a bigger challenge. The condition of our prisons and the treatment of the inmates imperil any chances of rehabilitation. Undoubtedly, within those walls, prisoners are developing more violent, incorrigible behaviour.

In the absence of capital punishment and early release programmes, more prisons will have to be built, which is a dire and overdue necessity. Many people feel that imprisonment provides a breeding ground for creating hardened criminals and an increase in crimes. It is surprising that the overcrowding of our prisons has not led to lawsuits. Maybe it is the result of prisoners having no representation and it is of little or no financial gain to lawyers to work on their behalf. Why is the Human Rights Committee not intervening? To cope with overcrowding at prisons there are methods which could be employed. These are job-related skills training, placement services and drug and alcohol counselling. Electronic monitors could also be used to maintain a form of house arrest. An example of a waste of police resources can be seen at Regent and Cummings Streets where a group of police using bicycles assemble, jovially conversing and mainly idling but occasionally swooping down harshly on motorists. There are many more accident and crime prone junctions and areas around the town and beyond where traffic police and other police could be deployed.

In Guyana we need to start with more selective recruitment of police based on both background and academic qualifications. These will merit at least a living wage for a family of four. These methods will help to eliminate the brusque and boorish behaviour of some police. Imme-diate and rigorous training courses should be a part of recruitment and subject to oversight by responsible and respected members of the public. Last but not the least, we need an active and rapid response from the police when citizens call for help. This would include a functional and effective 911 telephone number facility in order to obtain a rapid police response.


Conrad Barrow

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Combating crime requires major reforms between police, a cooperative public and the correctional system - Stabroek News

Veteran faces criminal charges after using urban exploration to treat his PTSD – The Independent

The photo, posted on an Instagram account called @driftershoots, shows a man standing precariously close to the ledge of a building in New York City, higher even than the famous spire of the Chrysler Building, gazing down in contemplation. But the message below it is a positive one.

Picking up a camera was lifesaving for me, it showed me all the beautiful things in life after my life was falling apart, the caption reads. After losing a friend to deployment, two others to suicide and my partner of four years all in the span of six months. Im forever thankful for this new life and for the privilege of serving.

The arresting image is just one of many that Isaac Wright, a US Army veteran, captured as he explored buildings and bridges around the country as a way to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, his high-flying exploits have earned him criminal charges across the country and he could go to prison for 25 years.

Mr Wright was a paratrooper and chaplains assistant with the Army for six years, before retired in 2020 with an honorable discharge after an ankle injury.

His time in the armed services, while rewarding, often took a toll on him, as his job required supervising a hundreds of troops often suffering from serious mental health challengeseven as he had PTSD and depression himself. After leaving the Army last year, the pandemic made it hard for him to access psychotherapy treatments at a veterans hospital, and he soon turned to urban exploration as a way to calm his mind and find joy and fulfillment.

Using a small medical pension, he traveled around the country, using his wits and military training to scale buildings, bridges, and construction sites in New York, Texas, Michigan and Louisiana, racking up more than 20,000 Instagram followers for his striking aerial photos.

One day, however, after scaling the Great American Tower in Cincinnati, Ohio, and leaving a sticker with his Instagram handle, authorities began catching up with him, putting out a nationwide warrant for his arrest and warning that his military experience made him armed and volatile, when the reality was more like it made him depressed and seeking fulfillment.

In December, state troopers in Arizona shut down a highway to catch him, with more than 20 officers descending on his car with assault rifles, dogs, and a helicopter circling above. He came to find out he had also picked up criminal charges in Louisiana, Philadelphia, and Michigan, some including felonies for breaking into buildings to take photos, even though most urban explorers are fined or charged with low-level misdemeanors.

You could put me through years of therapy, give me all the meds in the world, and it would not help me the way that my art helps me, he told The New York Times, which first reported his story, adding, Not everything thats illegal is immoral. What if it is a victimless crime that is bringing something wonderful into the world and inspiring and helping people?

He has been offered a plea deal to avoid prison time if he pleads guilty to a felony, agrees to therapy, and ceases climbing, which he says he already has.

Police officials told the Times they took such a strong line against the veteran because of the extent of his activities and how dangerous they were.

The level of sophistication this guy is using and the magnitude of his crimes is pretty scary, captain Doug Wiesman of the Cincinnati police said. The pictures are beautiful, Im not going to deny that, but he leaves a wake of destruction.

In another post from this Friday, featuring in image atop the Queensborough Bridge in New York City amid a flurry of snow, Mr Wright vowed to fight the charges against him.

This fight is just beginning but we will get there, he said.

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Veteran faces criminal charges after using urban exploration to treat his PTSD - The Independent

Opinion | August Vollmer ‘Abolished’ the Police in 1905 – The New York Times

Its striking that some of todays advocates for abolishing or defunding the police echo Mr. Vollmers views. Mariame Kaba, an anti-criminalization activist and grass-roots organizer, recently argued that one way to abolish the police would be to redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. She proposed that trained community care workers could do mental-health checks if someone needs help.

Mr. Vollmers 1936 textbook makes a similar suggestion, though more as an approach to reducing crime than Ms. Kabas goal of creating a cooperative society in which police are obsolete. Mr. Vollmer asserted that school, welfare, health, and recreation were more likely to prevent crime than jails. In a movement which aims at the reduction of crime, he wrote, there simply is no place for slums, malnutrition, physical want or disease. He added that victimless crimes like drug use and sex work should be handled by nonpolice agencies, just as mental health crises should be.

And like todays advocates for criminal justice reform, Mr. Vollmer wanted police officers to be accountable, hence his emphasis on keeping careful records of all arrests and investigations. Almost single-handedly, he ushered in the age of data analysis in police work. There is a direct line between his strategies in the 1920s and the use of body cams today.

There is also a direct line between his work and racial profiling. Like many white men of his day, Mr. Vollmer was infatuated with scientific racism, or the constellation of ideas that suggest there is a biological basis for racial hierarchies. In a section of his proposed police training curriculum, he listed eugenics, the origin of races and race degeneration as part of a section on criminological anthropology and heredity. Despite hiring Berkeleys first Black police officer the renowned Walter Gordon, who later was the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands Mr. Vollmer suggested in some of his writings that Black people were predisposed to crime. Khalil Gibran Muhammads book The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America explores how the violent injustices of Jim Crow policing were bolstered by ideas like the ones Mr. Vollmer promoted.

A veteran of the Philippine-American War, Mr. Vollmer based the Berkeley Police Departments centralized command structure on what he had experienced in the military. And in 1906 he established mobile bicycle patrols (yes, he was an early champion of bicycle cops, too), based on tactics he learned while crushing resistance fighters outside Manila.

In the last century, Mr. Vollmers emphasis on mandating education and a professionalized police force has largely fallen by the wayside. While some police departments set minimum college education levels for their officers, many dont, despite research indicating that officers who have graduated from college are almost 40 percent less likely to use any form of force. His notion of a liberal college education for police was supplanted by models that are closer to technical training programs, according to the criminal justice professor Lawrence W. Sherman. Instead of serving as a resource for changing the role of the police, Mr. Sherman wrote in the late 1970s, college programs for police officers have been subverted to help maintain the status quo in policing.

While some of this shift had to do with the growing conservatism of police departments, it was also rooted in a theory of community policing. Critics pointed out that working-class people couldnt always afford to attend universities. If police departments wanted to hire officers who could patrol their own low-income neighborhoods, the argument went, it was elitist to demand four-year degrees.

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Opinion | August Vollmer 'Abolished' the Police in 1905 - The New York Times

VIDEO: Keene Parking Bureaucrat Admits She Prefers to Avoid Court With Activists – Free Keene

by Ian | Feb 12, 2021 | Cool, How to, New Hampshire, Noncooperation, Update, Victimless Crimes, Video |

The Shire Free Church recently received notice from a debt collector claiming we owed the City of Keene $60 for an unpaid parking ticket. I knew this could not be the case since I challenge every ticket on behalf of the Church and demand a trial and every time these days they drop the charge rather than go to court over a $10 ticket.

So, I headed down to city hall this week to find out why a collections notice had been sent. I was pleased to hear the bureaucrat report that she likes it that way when we arent in court with them.

Its a validation of the activist approach of challenging all tickets. Be such a burden to the system that they have to drop your charges. If only more people would do this, then more charges would be dropped! If youre in New Hampshire and you receive a ticket for anything at all, try demanding your trial and see what happens!

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VIDEO: Keene Parking Bureaucrat Admits She Prefers to Avoid Court With Activists - Free Keene

New Greene County judge: Kids the real victims in drug-related crimes – Springfield News Sun

Were going to treat everyone that comes before the court fairly and honestly, Tonichio said. I want people to say, even if the court decision doesnt go their way, that they felt heard throughout the process. Thats the true foundation of a court system, is when everybody on a case, on whatever side they are in a lawsuit or a criminal complaint, if they feel that the process was fair, that their voice was heard... to me, thats huge.

Tornichio said while he was juvenile judge, the court was in early discussions with Clark State about a job readiness program. He hopes when the pandemic is over that work continues.

While on the bench in juvenile court, Tornichio saw who he calls the true victims of the opioid epidemic kids.

If you would have asked me before I took juvenile bench, are drugs a victimless crime? I would have said yes, Tornichio said. But after seeing the rampages of the opioid epidemic in our children services, neglect, dependency cases, those are the real victims. So that stands out.

Tornichio said this past week when sentencing a teenager, the juvenile congratulated him on his new role. Tornichio told that teenager that the best thing he can do is to run into him out in the community and not see his name on the docket in adult court.

My goal is to encourage them that they can put the past behind them. They can start a new chapter in the book of life, Tornichio said. I say this to probably about every kid on the delinquency docket: when they succeed, our county succeeds.

Judge Buckwalter asked Tornichio to take over the Veterans Treatment Court started by Judge Wolaver.

Im excited. I look forward to working with the veterans support and treatment team and our veterans to help them get their lives back on track, Tornichio said.

Tornichio said he also plans to continue the work Wolaver did to bring more technology to the courthouse. Tornichio said after the pandemic is over, he images tools like Zoom could be continued to be used.

Tornichio, who lives in Beavercreek, previously served for 16 years as a Greene County assistant prosecutor and served the county for three years as a law clerk. Before his county-level service, Tornichio was a prosecuting attorney for the village of Waynesville, acting law director for the city of Xenia and a private practicing attorney.

He earned his law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law and his undergraduate degree from Wright State University.

Tornichio said his wife of nearly five years, Heather, helps keep him grounded when he gets a big head or black robe fever. The two have a daughter.

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New Greene County judge: Kids the real victims in drug-related crimes - Springfield News Sun

Jason Williams has vowed never to use the habitual offender statute. What does that mean for criminal justice in New Orleans? – The Lens

Harry Connick became Orleans Parish District Attorney in 1974 promising to reduce crime in the city, and while an article in the New Orleans States-Item assessing his first eight months in office said it was too early to tell if Connick was effective, his strategy was clear.

Whether he is right, whether his office can really bring about a reduction in the citys crime rate, it is still too early to say, the article read. But if you ask him whether he believes it can, he stares at you incredulously and replies, Youre darned right I do. And if you persist and ask how, Harry Connick turns, and with no small amount of glee, shouts, Multiple billing!

Multiple billing, the term sometimes used for when the states habitual offender statute is utilized, has allowed prosecutors in Orleans Parish and throughout the state to seek higher penalties than the standard sentencing guidelines allow for a specific crime if a person has been convicted of previous felonies.

The evidence that Connick was serious about the strategy is clear from glancing at old newspaper articles. In 1975, one man was sentenced to life in prison for stealing a TV. That same year, another got 30 years for receiving a stolen camera, and shoplifting meant a man faced 20 years to life in a 1976 case. During the decades that Connick held office, the capacity of the New Orleans jail increased tenfold from around 850 beds to 8,500. Both the state of Louisiana and the country as a whole saw a dramatic increase in their prison populations. And today, 30 percent of people in prison who were sentenced under the habitual offender statute were convicted in New Orleans.

It is Connicks legacy along with that of recently retired DA Leon Cannizzaro that newly-sworn-in DA Jason Williams has said he wants to reverse. His pledge to end the aggressive tactics of his predecessors includes a blanket prohibition of using or threatening the multiple bill in cases his office is prosecuting.

The abolition of the multiple bill in New Orleans was something reform advocates such as the ACLU of Louisiana, the Peoples DA Coalition, and others pushed throughout the 2020 DA campaign.

The statute itself encapsulates many of the broader trends in criminal justice that many scholars say led to the rise of mass incarceration. It grants increased power to prosecutors restricting judicial discretion and mandates harsher sentences. It also allows prosecutors to decide when they will and will not use it, opening the door for abuse and discrimination, according to Danny Engelberg, chief of trials for the Orleans Public Defenders. He said that the habitual offender statute and other similar three strikes laws were among the leading factors of why we have such a high incarceration rate in this country.

We absolutely want to use the discretion differently than how its been applied in the past, Williams said in a recent interview with The Lens. And whether its with the habitual offender law, whether it is parole, we are in no way abicating in any way any of the power, authority, and discretion of the office. But were trying to be more selective in terms of how it is applied, and when its not applied. With public safety being the measure, not revenge or anger.

While there are few people in the criminal justice system in New Orleans today who are as openly gleeful about the utilization of the habitual offender bill as Connick was in 74, it still has its defenders. The law is sometimes described as a tool that prosecutors can use to ensure dangerous defendants do not get let back out onto the street by unscrupulous judges.

Former prosecutor and Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum, who ran against WIlliams for DA, often said during her campaign the law was meant to be utilized as a shield against the most dangerous criminals, but instead was often used by prosecutors as a sword. At the start of the campaign, Landrum vowed to limit using the law for its original purpose, and only use it in rare circumstances. But by the end, she had shifted her position, and committed to never using or threatening the multiple bill at all.

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission and a former prosecutor, said that Williams should look at each case individually, and that by taking the habitual offender statute off the table he may be limiting his ability to do his job.

I dont think we ever talk in absolutes, he said. The habitual offender statute is not inherently evil. If there are problems with it, its with the application.

He also said that now that Williams is in office, he may find the promise difficult to keep.

There will be circumstances where I believe that he will revisit that policy, Goyeneche said. Not because of a philosophical reason, but because the individual facts of that case.

But so far, according to defense attorneys with the Orleans Public Defenders office, Williams office has maintained its commitment. Given that jury trials are suspended at Criminal District Court due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the full impacts are still unclear.

Williams predecessor, Leon Cannizzaro, for many years shared Connicks affection for using the multiple billto a much greater extent than most of his counterparts throughout the state. Reporting by the podcast Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, found that between January of 2009 and 2017, Cannizzaro utilized the law over 2,600 times. The DAs office in East Baton Rouge Parish used it just 66 times during the same period.

Cannizzaros utilization of the multiple bill decreased significantly during his later years in office, however, and the state legislature adjusted the law in 2017, reducing mandatory minimum sentences for some offenses and shortening the cleansing period the amount of time after a conviction during which it can be applied to a persons priors under the statute for non-violent crimes.

But according to Engelberg, in New Orleans, the threat of Cannizzaros prosecutors using the habitual offender statute continued to loom over all criminal proceedings at Tulane and Broad, leaving open the possibility for harsh sentences and coercing defendants to plead guilty sometimes to crimes they didnt commit rather than risk going to trial and being multiple-billed.

In the prior administration, that was always there, he said. I dont remember a situation in which someone exercised their right to trial the district attorney ever said, We will not multiple-bill you.

Goyeneche said that some of the rhetoric around the habitual offender statute has been misleading because it fails to consider the facts of a persons criminal history, or the possibility that someone pleaded guilty to a lesser offense than what they were really charged with.

If youre in the penitentiary for anything other than a crime of violence, its because you have extensive criminal history, Goyeneche said. And usually, you cant just look at the offense that someone pled guilty to, you have to look at what they were charged with. That was part of the plea bargaining process.

But Emily Maw, the former director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, whom Williams has hired to head up a newly created Civil Rights Division, said in a recent interview that the law has compounded already existing racial disparities in the criminal legal system.

The thing that you need to understand about habitual offenders, and one of the reasons that we can identify that as an area that we must tackle if we are going to tackle the racial disparities in the criminal legal system, and mass incarceration, and unequal opportunities, is that so many of the enhancing crimes the crimes of a first offense, second offense are crimes that everyone is committing, but only Black people are policed for, Maw said.

Maw pointed to possession of drugs as an example of a crime that Black people are disproportionately charged with, despite the fact that drug use among white and Black people is roughly equal. (A 2013 report from the ACLU found that on average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates.)

So it is basically an extra punishment for being Black and committing a crime, she said.

Nearly 80 percent of people in Louisiana prisons serving habitual offender sentences are Black, compared to around 66 percent of the prison population as a whole.

Last week, the DAs office reached an agreement with defense attorneys to vacate one mans habitual offender sentence, who was given life without parole after prosecutors in Connicks office utilized the multiple-bill after a 1998 conviction. The agreement allowed him to be freed from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola after 24 years. Maw said that the Civil Rights Division will be doing a broader review of cases that were multiple-billed, and hopes that the case last week is just the first of many similar agreements to come.

So far, Engelberg said, having the habitual offender law off the table has allowed for some cases to be resolved more quickly because without the threat of the multiple-bill prosecutors are offering more inviting plea deals.

Youre seeing cases resolved much better because sentences are just, frankly, more addressed to a persons individual specific need, he said.

But he said he suspects that taking the habitual offender table may end up leading to more trials in the future which he sees as a good thing.

He also said he was hopeful that one of the collateral effects of taking the new policy would be to expose cases that are built on weak evidence, or even police misconduct. Even in cases where prosecutors were aware that their case was weak, he said, they could use the threat of harsh sentences to force a plea deal and make sure that questionable searches or other misconduct was not presented to the judge or jury.

One of the things you will see very differently well see more light of day on how police stop and search people, and more light of day on whether that evidence is strong enough in these, quote unquote, victimless crimes which are really about having something youre not new supposed to have.

Goyeneche said he was concerned that without the ability to seek harsher sentences or leverage plea deals, people who could continue to cycle through the system.

So you know, the responsibility of the district attorney is to the people of Louisiana and you dont give the same deals to someone when they are a fourth offender that you would offer to the first, he said, and reiterated that Williams was unnecessarily limiting his ability to prosecute cases by taking the multiple-bill off the table.

Williams said that while he agreed that in some instances the broad discretion of a prosecutor was useful such as declining to prosecute low-level marijuana charges, or focusing resources on violent offenses the benefits of that discretion do not extend to the use of the multiple bill.

If the goal is justice, and the goal is resolving the case in a way that makes the community safe, if a person is using vast discretion to deliver on those things, thats a wonderful thing, Williams said. When someone is using their discretion to harm a certain segment of the community, thats terrible.

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Jason Williams has vowed never to use the habitual offender statute. What does that mean for criminal justice in New Orleans? - The Lens

The trader who was made the fall guy for the wrongdoings of an entire era – Telegraph.co.uk

Tom Hayes is the sort of genius who was idiotic enough to be the ringleader of a huge fraud conspiracy with almost no other convicted members. Mr Hayes was the UBS trader convicted and sent to jail for 11 years for manipulating Libor, a widely used interest rate, and this week he was released after serving half his sentence. The three other people found guilty (out of 13 charged) were freed years ago.

Most people wont feel sorry for Mr Hayes but I do. Yes, he deserved some jail time, but a sentence longer than many given out for violent crimes was ridiculous. His was a victimless crime that was widely known in his industry, albeit massively expanded by his own inventiveness.

Essentially, he set up a trading portfolio to benefit from tiny swings in Libor, an estimated cost of borrowing, and then co-ordinated a gang to manipulate the rate by miniscule amounts within a band that was officially considered credible. No onecan definitively claim to have been cheated by it.

Anyway, this rather otherworldly finance whizz, who has mild Aspergers, inadvertently made it easy for prosecutors by at first co-operating and delivering incriminating monologues in police interviews, before suddenly switching strategy and deciding to fight his case. It was obviously a lost cause by that point.

Whats really interesting about Mr Hayes is the way in which he was made the fall guy for the whole 2008 era by a bunch of desperate prosecutors and banks. His crimes had nothing to do with excessive borrowing, bank bailouts or the stability of the financial system. Yet he became the poster boy for all of it because he was the only really rich trader who made it easy for prosecutors to lay a hand on him.

The best book on the scandal, The Spider Network by David Enrich, even lays out how Mr Hayess employer UBS was allowed to cherry-pick the evidence handed over to prosecutors from a vast cache of internal files, the rest of which it argued was protected by Swiss banking secrecy law.

Mr Hayes, naturally, was simply a bad apple, whose activities his bosss bosss boss knew nothing about. Never mind, though. Prosecutors had their scalp, so what did they care? The public, they judged, would be too stupid to notice thedifference.

Its hard to regret the fall of Aung San Suu Kyi, the erstwhile leader of Myanmar deposed by the army this week, whose political career highlights include denying her countrys genocide against the Rohingya ethnic group. Its also hard to welcome the restoration of rule by military junta in place of a quasi-democratic system, however flawed it was, especially given that it heralds a geopolitical shift in favour of the Chinese Communist Party.

The days when Britain wielded much influence over that part of the world are anyway long gone except perhaps in the legacy of leisure facilities. Visiting Myanmar about a decade ago, shortly before its opening up (which it hadnt announced at the time), I found myself observing the fattened officers of the junta up close and personal in the botanical gardens of a hill town called Pyin Oo Lwin. The town had a blissfully cool climate and was used under British rule as a summer retreat, after which the junta took it over, opened up a military school and used the town in much the same way.

On a Sunday afternoon in the gardens, which had the same layout and style of a British park, it was a strange scene. Contented-looking officers floated around on golf buggies, while young cadets prowled the garden paths with awkward, skimpily clad girls in tow, ostensibly all enjoying the wails of an emo punk group installed in the very British-looking bandstand set over a lake full of fat, orange carp. Outside the gate, locals had lined up a queue of dilapidated, Cinderella-style carriages affixed to dull-eyed, emaciated ponies, hawking rides to the army lads and their belles.

More broadly, the gardens tourist attractions had clearly been vastly expanded in anticipation of crowds that were mysteriously absent (most likely, I now know, ready for big tour groups ahead of the planned opening-up). There was a butterfly museum boasting thousands upon thousands of splendid creatures pinned, unlabelled, to the walls; an orchid house bursting with exotic species; a newly built fairy-tale tower; picnic tables; woodland walks; bamboo groves; water buffalo enclosures; and on and on. But apart from the strutting officers, all of it was empty.

Perhaps, in retrospect, they liked it that way. Why let your country develop, when you can cream off and keep the best of its vast natural wealth for yourself?

Continued here:

The trader who was made the fall guy for the wrongdoings of an entire era - Telegraph.co.uk

Rotterdam 2021 Review: Political Cyber-Thriller LONE WOLF, A Visual Experiment With an Allure of Genre Film – ScreenAnarchy

Kiwi filmmaker Jonathan Ogilvie turns his Ph.D. thesis The Cinematic of Surveillance into a feature-length reimagination of Joseph Conrads The Secret Agent in his latest feature Lone Wolf. The reality aesthetics propelled into popculture by The Blair Witch Project envelopes Ogilvies political thriller of surveillance capitalism. After Xu Bing conjured a narrative from piecing together authentic found footage in Dragonfly Eyes, Ogilvie opts for the opposite approach - emulating found footage to materialize a plot of "a victimless atrocity" gone wrong.

In the center is a bookstore Pleasure Pen in a near-future Australia, the humble dwelling of its owner Conrad (Josh McConville), his environmentalist girlfriend Winnie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), and her nature-loving brother Stevie (Chris Bunton) with Down syndrome. Conrad is amidst an evangelization for the return of fax machines, a communication technology that does not leave an immense trail of data unlike other types of new-tech. He is also a member of a minarchist (a quasi-anarchist) cell, his rag-tag group of renegades consists of a squatter Hippy Karl (Tyler Coppin), a defrocked priest Father Michaelis (Lawrence Mooney), and Ossipon (Marlon Williams), a bit of an opportunist sleaze whom Conrad calls debasingly "a gigolo".

Since the exotic pornography Conrad is offering in the bookstore does not generate the steady income he needs to support them and fund activities of political activism with his fellow counter-surveillance fighters, he keeps hustling as a secret police informant. In the light of the upcoming G20 summit, Conrad receives an offer from a shady group he would not be rather associated with. However, the wad of cash and the common goal of disrupting the summit and not harming anybody, so basically a PR stunt, tilts him to accept the job.

The whole odyssey of Conrad to become "a good terrorist" until after a tragic denouement unfolds in a retrospect as a supercut of found footage stitched into a cinematic cyber-text of CCTV clips and social media videos. It is watched by a freshly elected minister of justice (Hugo Weaving) and two police officers, one disgraced and one promoted, in real-time. The seemingly disgraced officer, Conrads connection Kylie (Diana Glenn), brought the supercut which she edited with a gusto of a veteran editor with a sense for accelerated dramatic rhythms (Bernadette Murray is the actual editor of Lone Wolf). The "domestic drama", as the minister comments the first third of the footage, unraveling in Pleasure Pen erupts into a full-blown national security risk that could be subtitled as A Downfall in Two Acts.

The films brave new world of ceaseless surveillance is not a Big-Brother-driven dystopia but a mundane norm. Ogilvie renders the action in a surveillance stylization - odd angles of security cameras, feed from in-house CCTV and smartphone handcam footage - adopting tropes of surveillance for the purpose of the story, an aesthetics he dubs cineveillant. The Lone Wolf website lists the breed of mockumentary horrors The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, and even more surprisingly, Roy Anderssons oeuvres, as examples of cineveillant films. The text explaining the nature of cineveillant cinema states that the genre does not always make a direct reference to surveillance but employs "surveillance vocabulary" in the visual storytelling. In the case of Lone Wolf, the motif of surveillance is employed not solely in visual storytelling but in the spy narrative as well.

The cineveillant aspect of the film contributes to a streamlined narration as the unfolding of the "found footage" plotline is fairly accelerated and eventful. Stevies leisure observations of people around him la David Attenborough create a counter-balance to eventful central storyline enhancing the story with the additional semantic layer. Stevies naturalist angle frames humans as social animals by nature, an observation that stands opposite to the concept of a lone wolf, a term the minister proposes to use after a botched "victimless atrocity", which happens to be a purely political construct. Ultimately, the botched "propaganda by deed" Conrad is supposed to accomplish is a collective doing implicating even the state and police officials.

In the end, Lone Wolf is a drama of human tragedy exceeding the paranoid era of cyber-surveillance (the topic partially touches upon subjects of Petr Zelenkas Droneman and Dostoyevskys The Possessed where he attempted to depict in his own words "the variety of motives capable of manipulating the purest of hearts and the most innocent of people into committing heinous crimes" which has a striking resonance in Lone Wolf).

In the scheme of political power struggles, machinations, and good intentions gone wrong, it is not a lone wolf that orchestrates the destruction but a bevy of wolfs, complicit and enabling alike, affirming the timeless proverb homo homini lupus. Similarly to The Pink Cloud, a motif of disrupting gender stereotypes and narrative tropes stemming from those conventions underlines Ogilvies oeuvre up to the overturning finale of male downfall.

Ultimately, Lone Wolf convenientlymarries a visual experiment with a narrative allure of genre cinema.

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Rotterdam 2021 Review: Political Cyber-Thriller LONE WOLF, A Visual Experiment With an Allure of Genre Film - ScreenAnarchy

Ransomware reveals the hidden weakness of our big tech world – ZDNet

Ransomware continues to cause damage across the world. Rarely a week goes by without another company, or city, or hospital, falling prey to the gangs who will encrypt the data across PCs and networks and demand thousands or millions in exchange for setting it free.

These aren't victimless crimes; every successful attack means a company faces huge costs and risks being pushed out of business, or public services disrupted just when we need them, or medical services put in jeopardy in the middle of a crisis.

And yet it seems impossible to stop the attacks or catch the gangs. That's because the ongoing success of ransomware reflects many of the real-world failings of technology that we often forget or gloss over.

SEE: Network security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

There are obvious, fundamental weaknesses that ransomware exploits. In some cases these are problems that have existed for years, that the tech industry has failed to address; others are issues that are, right now, beyond the skills of the smartest entrepreneurs who want to tackle cybersecurity challenges.

A few examples spring to mind. Hackers would be unable to gain even their first foothold if companies took security seriously. That means applying patches to vulnerable software when they are issued, not months or years later (or never). Equally, companies wouldn't be on the tedious treadmill of applying constant security updates if the tech industry shipped software code that was secure in the first place.

And while we tend to think of the borderless world of the internet, the real world of geopolitics looms large when it comes to ransomware as many of these gangs operate from countries that have no interest in catching such crooks or handing them over to police in other jurisdictions. In some cases that's because the ransomware gangs are bringing in much needed funds for the country; in other cases so long as the gangs aren't going after local victims, the authorities are quietly happy for them to create havoc elsewhere.

It's not all doom and gloom; the fight back against ransomware is advancing on a few fronts.

Intel has showcased some new hardware-level technologies that it says will be able to detect a ransomware attack that antivirus alone might miss.

SEE: Cybersecurity: This 'costly and destructive' malware is the biggest threat to your network

A group of tech companies including Microsoft, Citrix and FireEye are working on a three-month project to come up with options that they promise will "significantly mitigate" the ransomware threat by identifying different ways of stopping such attacks. And more political pressure should be put on the nation states that are happy to let ransomware gangs flourish within their borders.

There is also a need to put more pressure on governments to look at whether, and in what circumstances, it should be acceptable to pay the ransom at all. Profit is the only reason that ransomware exists; if it is possible to stop the gangs from making their big payday, then the problem goes away almost immediately.

Everyone seems to agree that ransomware is a menace that can no longer be ignored. Now we need to see some tangible progress before these attacks create more chaos.

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Ransomware reveals the hidden weakness of our big tech world - ZDNet

The Blind Spot Endures: A Profile of Just One of Trump’s Last Minute Intercessions – InsiderNJ

Like any household where an abusive patriarch intoxicated by his own absolute power has exited after beating up his family, we are all breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The civil servants mostly of color have cleaned up all of the excrement and graffiti in the marbled hallways of the Capitol built by their slave ancestors that was left by Trumps army of neo-Confederates that killed a police officer in the name of their uncivil war.

Its tempting to only focus on the reassuring avuncular presence of President Joe Biden, who is working overtime to restore that sense of basic decency thats been lacking for so long.

Like the family thats returned from vacation to find a ransacked home, we still have yet to compose an accurate inventory of what was stolen. Are the crooks still in the basement? Are the pets still alive? Is great grandmas wedding ring where Mom left it?

We were so distracted by his frontal violent assault on our Capitol by his minions, we failed to properly account for hisout the doorcrime wave committed in the final hours of his presidency with his pardoning of 70 people and commuting the sentences of another 73.

As Trump and his posse gallop for the swamps of Florida, we need to put the blood hounds on the scent given off by the stench of so many of these pardons.

We need the names of the facilitating law firms and lawyers cross referenced with their corporate client so there can be a proper accounting.

No doubt, there will be some on the list that were meritorious, righting by executive action true miscarriages of justice.

As could be expected, health care fraudsters with Jersey connections made Trumps rogues gallery roll call.

While our elected politicians all wonder aloud whats to account for our stark race-based health/wealth inequalities revealed by COVID-19, they should read their rap sheets to get a clue.

One of those who benefited from a Trump commutation was Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, who was a major campaign donor to Senator Bob Menendez, and got a 17-year federal sentence for his conviction in a $73 million Medicare fraud case.Now, thanks to support from Menendez and dozens of others he gets 13 years shaved off his sentence.

In 2015, Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges. The DOJalleged that between 2006 and 2013, he had taken close to $1 million worth of lavish gifts and campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to influence the outcome of ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions of dollars to Melgen and to support the visa applications of several of Melgens girlfriends.

In 2017, a hung jury resulted in a mistrial and prosecutors opted to not retry the case, but Menendez bootstrapped that into a kind of exoneration.

He cast himself as a victim.

I want to thank the jury, 12 New Jerseyans who saw through the governments false claims and used their Jersey common sense to reject it, Menendez told reporters, Politico reported.

The way this case started was wrong, the way it was investigated was wrong, the way it was prosecuted was wrong, and the way it was tried was wrong as well, he said. Certain elements of the FBI and of our state cannot understand or, even worse, accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County can grow up and be a U.S. senator and be honest.

Throughout his Melgen tribulation the leadership of New Jerseys Democratic establishment rallied around him with the same partisan blindness displayed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for Trump.

Yet, what the jury could not see his Senate colleagues did.

In April of 2018 Menendez was severely admonished by the bi-partisanU.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethicsfor over a six-year period taking and not disclosing gifts of significant value from Dr. Melgen while at the same time using his position as a member of the Senate to advance Dr. Melgens personal and business interests.

Lost in all of this was just how awful were Melgens offenses. These were not some kind of white-collar victimless violations. There was real flesh and blood to these crimes.

All too often when we see a headline like $73 million Medicare fraud our jaundiced eyes glaze over. Here in the Soprano state that could be just a couple of municipal bond offerings or the proceeds from a few big pharma insider stock tips.

But Dr. Melgen, one of the nations most prolific Medicare billers in his day, was so much more industrious and disciplined in his efforts that it merits closer examination and appreciation.

The enterprising Melgen specialized in treating macular degeneration, the major cause of vision loss for people 50 or over.

According to Judge Kenneth Marra, who presided over Melgens sentencing, his practice was conducted in a manner where he routinely, and as a matter of standard practice, diagnosed patients with medical conditions they did not have in order to allow him to bill for diagnostic procedures and medical services that were not medically necessary or justified.

Judge Marra continued. Specifically, the Court finds that Defendant routinely falsely diagnosed patients with either wet or dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration. This mis-diagnosis allowed Defendant routinely and as a matter of standard practice to subject his patients to medically unjustified procedures and treatment, and then fraudulently bill for those procedures.

All totaled, theMiami Heraldreported prosecutors proved that about 77 percent of Melgens wet macular degeneration and 61.8 percent of his dry macular degeneration diagnoses were unsupported by medical records.

But that wasnt all.

Melgen was also tagged by federal regulators for usingsingle vialsofLucentis, a drug that is injected in the eye to slow the loss of eyesight related to diabetes, to treatthreepatients despite the fact a vial is prescribedto be used on a single patient. Not only did this scam net Melgen a huge windfall but, according to the Centers for Disease Control drug guidelines, put his own patients at risk ofinfection.

The Palm Beach Postquoted Dr. Robert Bergen, a retired New Jersey retinal specialist who reviewed for prosecutors the charts of over 300 of Melgens patients. He said that Melgen was notorious in the world of specialty eye medicine. Everybody knew about this guy, Bergen told the paper after he testified Melgens treatment of his patients was totally disgraceful.

Its the most egregious example of totally taking advantage of patients, not caring about diagnosing them properly, it was the antitheses of what a decent physician should do, said Bergen.

As federal health regulators were zeroing in on Melgen, Menendez appealed for intervention with his Senate colleagues and the Secretary of Health and Human Services for a re-interpretation of the regulations under which the government was pursuing Melgen.

It wasPalm Beach Postcolumnist Frank Cerabino who seemed to see the scale of the miscarriage of justice with Trumps commutation clearest.

It wasnt just the tens of millions of dollars that Melgen had bilked from taxpayers, wrote Cerabino. That was bad enough. But not the heart of it.

Cerabino continues. There was an element of unnecessary physical pain for those unsuspecting patients who had to endure Melgens self-enriching, medically dubious eye treatments, which included eye injections and retinal laser blasts.

The Palm Beach Post columnist points out the treatments were described at trial by expert witnesses as elder abuse,unconscionable and horrifying.

Thats the guy who needs to be set free? asked Cerabino. The guy who found a way to get rich by mistreating old peoples eyes?

Evidently the suffering of Melgens army of unsuspecting elderly patients was of no consequence for Menendez, who according to his statement after the commutation was still willing to use his influence for the wayward eye doctor.

Months ago, I was asked if I could offer insight about an old friend, and I did, along with what I understand were more than 100 individuals and organizations, including his former patients and local Hispanic groups familiar with Sals leadership and philanthropy in the South Florida community, Menendez said in a statement.

The blind spot endures.

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The Blind Spot Endures: A Profile of Just One of Trump's Last Minute Intercessions - InsiderNJ

25 of the Best True Crime Documentaries To Watch Right Now – elle.com

True crime documentaries provide viewers with an inside look into some of the most extreme aspects of society. Why do we love them? Because they're fraught with palpable tension, nail-biting plot twists and the ability to turn a Sunday night window into an endless Google Search deep dive.

Over the past few years, the genre has exploded in popularity, becoming a a fully fledged phenomenon spanning podcasts, books and of viral documentaries (Tiger King, anyone?)

Aside from prompting catchy songs and memes based on their various mind-blowing revelations, the best true crime documentaries can also catalyse much-needed debates and calls for action. For example, Athlete A has become a powerful cornerstone of the #MeToo movement, allowing the survivors to reclaim their voice and space. Spike Lee's Four Little Girls is a chilling, yet timely reminder of the impact and legacy of the violent reality of both systemic and systematic racism.

For a genre that is constantly adding more options to its roster, we filtered through to bring you the very best true crime documentaries, from the bizarre to the heartbreaking, that will ensure you're glued to the sofa all weekend long.

1The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

The fallacy of humble grit and the American Dream takes centre stage in this crime documentary. The story of a woman who managed to procure millions for a blood testing machine that didnt exist, a classic tale of connections mattering more than cognition.

The saga that is Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos scandal, is one that will leave you questioning everything.

Watch on NOW TV

2Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness

A list of best true-crime documentaries wouldn't be complete without the bizarre Tiger King, which became a viral sensation throughout lockdown.

The story of Joe Exotic, born Joseph Schreibvogel, big cats, blonde mullets, guns and explosives, and his life at Oklahoma's Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park unfolds over seven episode each of which add to the mind bending plot line.

Watch on Netflix

3World's Most Wanted

Neflix's five-episode crime documentary series Worlds Most Wanted follows the lives of five notorious criminals from around the world, detailing the heinous crimes they committed, and why theyve been so hard to capture.

Episode three details the crimes and life of Samantha Lewthwaite also known as 'the White Widow' - the widow of the 7/7 London terrorist bomber Germaine Lindsay, who is now the worlds most wanted female terrorist.

Watch on Netflix

44 Little Girls

In 1963, four young girls attending Sunday School, died after a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. The crime remains a frightening reminder of racist horrors committed in the American 'deep South' at the time.

Spike Lee succeeds in commemorating the lives of the 4 Little Girls who died, through the memories of parents, siblings and friends. As we continue to reflect on our own understandings of unchecked racism and prejudices, the documentary serves as a careful reminder of the work that must be done in order for eliminate this form of violence forever.

Watch on NOW TV

5Amanda Knox

In this revisit to the media-driven and tangly sensationalist story, directors Brian McGinn and Rod Blackhurst use their access to players and new archival footage to revisit the murder of British international student Meredith Kercher in Italy.

By dissecting the documentary into 'innocent' and 'guilty' parts regarding Amanda Knox - Kercher's friend who was convicted and spent four years in prison before being acquitted and released - the complexities, failures, and misconceptions around the murder case were laid bare, making the story about more than some false convictions.

Watch here on Netflix

6The Trials of Oscar Pistorius

BBC's The Trials of Oscar Pistorius meticulously lays out the life of the sports star. From childhood, to the loss of his mother, and every single personal and professional achievement up until the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp and the subsequent high-profile trial involving Pistorius.

Critics of the series, have suggested that it does fail the courageous and intelligent woman, Steenkaamp, who ultimately lost her life.

Watch on BBC iPlayer

7American Murder: The Family Next Door

True friendship is at the heart of this crime documentary which presents the courageous perseverance of Shanann Watts's friend Nickole Atkinson who first sounded the alarm about her disappearance.

The murder of Watts, who was pregnant with her third child, along with her two daughters Bella and Celeste at the hands of her husband and children's father Chris Watts, is one that will spark endless Google searches into the story beyond the devastating series.

Watch on Netflix

8Canada's Lost Girls

Stacey Dooley delves into a hidden secret crime ring in this investigation into the disappearance and murder of indigenous women and girls. The documentary will grip you as well as fuel your fight towards true equality and protection for all women.

Watch on BBC iPlayer

9Conman: The Life And Crimes Of Mark Acklom

This crime documentary follows the story of the UK's most cunning fraudster who posed as an MI6 agent and went on to trick his ex-girlfriend out of almost 300,000.

Earlier this year, Acklom was sentenced to five years and eight months behind bars for his crimes, but the story of a cheeky Chappy turned international fraudster is enough to make you second guess that Hinge date.

Watch on YouTube

10Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer

Unlike the controversial depiction of serial killer Ted Bundy by Zac Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, this documentary enlists the help of survivors, victims' family members, his longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall and Kendall's daughter, Molly, to explore his grotesque crimes. The women's memories of the good times are spellbinding and downright chilling when considered in the context of Bundy's heinous acts.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video

11Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

Jeffrey Epstein, the predatory billionaire at the centre of an international sex-trafficking ring, is prime picking for the crime documentary genre.

In the four-part documentary series, his crimes are dutifully unpacked. While choosing not to focus on various conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein's death in a prison in a prison cell, the film allows for a refreshing take that puts the survivors front and centre with their stories shine a light on a case that's still yet to be fully cracked.

Watch on Netflix

12The Central Park Five

The sexual assault and attack of a female jogger in Central Parkin 1989, remains a flashpoint in American crime history.

The false accusation of five Black and Latino teenagers from Harlem, with limited evidence and coerced confessions, led to the young men being behind bars for years before the real culprit owned up. It's heart-wrenching.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video

13Athlete A

Athlete A is the powerful story of how, after at least two decades of abusing girls and young women under his care as the doctor for the womens programme of USA Gymnastics (the national governing body for the sport) Larry Nassar was eventually caught and convicted.

The title refers to Maggie Nichols, who reported her abuse in 2015. In 2016, she did not make it on to the Olympic squad.

The documentary became a powerful cornerstone of the #MeToo movement and allowed the victims to reclaim their voice and space on an internationally streamed stage.

Watch on Netflix

14Who Killed Malcolm X

More than 50 years later, there are still questions over the death of the US Civil Rights leader, Malcolm X.

From a botched investigation, to the betrayal of brothers in arms, the series follows activist-scholar Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, who revisits the assassination through interviews and archives.

History buffs and 'Who Dunnit?' lovers alike will love this crime documentary series.

Watch on Netflix

15Acid Attack: My Story

Naomi Oni's story of betrayal and rebuilding after she was attacked with sulphuric acid is one of bravery and determination.

This powerful documentary film reveals the story behind one of the most shocking and bizarre acid attacks of recent years. The film combines archive footage, and stylised reconstruction with interviews with the victim, police, the medics who continued to treat her, and her family and friends, long after the attack.

Watch on BBC iPlayer

16Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story

17Diana: The Night She Died

The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales was one of the most shocking events in recent history.

While some inevitable conspiracy theories are debunked as absurd, this compelling documentary seeks to answer some remaining questions people may have about the subsequent enquiry, how the world learned of the death of one of its most recognised women, as well as what really happened the night Diana died.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video

18Fyre: The The Greatest Party That Never Happened

Who can ever forget the infamous 'Evian Water' scene from this riveting documentary... Humorous memes aside, Fyre is a crime documentary filled with swindlers and the swindled side by side as they recount the how the scandal came to be.

Watch on Netflix

19The Murder of Jill Dando

The murder of TV presenter and newsreader Jill Dando - where she was shot dead outside her London home - remains of one of Britain's most high-profile unsolved killings.

In a balanced tribute documentary, with the help of interviews with Dandos friends and family, Hamish Campbells original police decision logs, and an in depth explanation into the overturned murder conviction of Barry George, the documentary examines everything we do know about the murder, despite us still not knowing the perpetrator, while sensitively paying tribute to a beloved TV personality.

Watch on BBC iPlayer

20The Confession Killer

The Confession Killer is a a five-part documentary series that recounts the story of Henry Lee Lucas.

Lucas became infamous for falsely claiming responsibility for hundreds of murders in the 1980s. The shocking twists and turns of this tale will leave you debating theories for week.

Watch on Netflix

21Life After My Brother's Murder

Thirteen years on from her brother Daniel's murder, sister Chanell sets about the task of writing a victim Personal Statement that will be considered in a parole process that could possibly set free the man who ripped her brother away from her.

This crime documentary film explores the rippling effects of knife crime in the UK.

Watch on BBC iPlayer

22I Love You, Now Die

HBO's I Love You, Now Die tells the story of Michelle Carter, a teenage girl who was charged with involuntary manslaughter over her boyfriend Conrad Roy's death by suicide.

Her encouragement of Roy to end his life over text after he'd been expressing suicidal thoughts to her is a haunting exploration of the way mental health and technology can be devastatingly intertwined.

Watch on NOW TV

23How To Fix A Drug Scandal

This crime documentary miniseries follows filmmaker Erin Lee Carr's exploration into the effects of crime drug lab chemist Sonja Farak and Annie Dookhan and their tampering with evidence and its after effects.

Their assumptions that their seemingly victimless crime would go unnoticed is paramount to the brutishly bold methods Dookhan and Farak both use.

Watch on Netflix


Snapped is a true-crime series examining the shocking details of high-profile or bizarre murders committed by women. Each episode features interviews with friends and family members of the accused and victims, law-enforcement officials, attorneys with first-hand knowledge of the cases.

Hardcore fans of the crime documentary genre will be delighted to learn that the show has 28 series, ready for your viewing.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video

25Trial 4

The story of Sean K. Ellis' fight to prove his innocence while exposing police corruption and systematic racism in Trial 4 is one that is all too familiar.

Charged as a teenager in the 1993 for the murder of a white Boston police officer, in this crime documentary, Ellis' work to tirelessly to exonerate him self while highlighting systematic failures like how unusual the multi-trial pursuit of a conviction was is put on show.

It's truly stirring viewing.

See the rest here:

25 of the Best True Crime Documentaries To Watch Right Now - elle.com

Abuse against shop workers has increased during the pandemic it is time to take action to protect them – British Politics and Policy at LSE

Emmeline Taylor reports how attacks against shop workers have increased during the COVID-19 crisis, exacerbating an already problematic situation. Such incidents are often dismissed as business crimes and therefore somehow victimless, rendering a change in the law necessary.

Respect for Shop Workers Week was established by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) as part of their Freedom from Fear campaign in 2002, to highlight the issue of growing abuse and assaults against shop workers. Last year, a report, Its Not part of the Job highlighted not only the alarming rates at which shop workers were suffering physical assaults, but also the devastating consequences. The reports of violence revealed instances where employees suffered broken bones, were stabbed with knives, lacerated with smashed bottles, lost sight due to eye injuries and been punched. Yet the impact of violence and verbal abuse stem far beyond physical symptoms; such encounters can leave long-lasting mental health issues including anxiety and, in the most severe cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Shop workers and the pandemic

In March 2020, the British Retail Consortium released its findings from its annual retail crime survey. It revealed incidents of violence and abuse against shop workers had risen to 424 per day in the period from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, up 9% from the previous year. In the same month, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) reported findings from their survey which estimated 50,000 incidents of violence against shop workers, a quarter of which resulted in injury. In addition, they estimated that 83% of people who worked in the convenience sector had been subjected to verbal abuse over the past year. Both reports found a concerning increase in the use of weapons in attacks on shop workers. The ACS survey found almost 10,000 of the reported attacks in convenience stores involved some sort of weapon; 43% involving a knife and 5% involving a firearm. Attacks with axes, hammers and syringes were also reported.

These already alarming figures were released just prior to the severity of the impact of COVID-19 becoming apparent, and before lockdown restrictions were put in place in March 2020. Sadly, the situation was about to get a lot worse. Despite being recognised as essential key workers during the COVID-19 crisis, shop workers have actually seen the levels of violence and verbal abuse directed at them soar during the pandemic. As customers have become agitated by restrictions, queues, and limits on stock, some have directed their frustrations at public-facing employees working hard to serve their communities.

Usdaw reported that abusive incidents toward shop workers had doubled since the outbreak of COVID-19. Respondents to their survey reported being spat at, coughed at, and sneezed at when asking customers to practise social distancing. Some stated that they had been pushed and verbally abused when trying to enforce buying limits on in-demand products. On average, retail staff were being verbally abused, threatened or assaulted every week during the crisis, compared with once a fortnight for 2019.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of the 4,928 workers surveyed said they had experienced verbal abuse since 14 March, while almost a third had been threatened by a customer and 4% had been assaulted. When averaged across all three million workers in the sector, it amounts to a staggering 3,500+ assaults every day. While not all shop workers suffer to this extent, some actually experience much worse with 1 in 6 reporting being abused on every shift.

Retail workers are one of the most vulnerable sectors in the city in terms of violence and yet they are being neglected and ignored. Its always just classed as a business crime but we need to recognise the human collateral.(Police Officer)

Tackling violence against shop workers

Industry campaigns such as Usdaws and the Co-ops Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign have resulted in some initial positive steps by government and it looked as though much needed action would be taken to protect those serving their community in shops across the country. In February 2020, the Prime Minister pledged in Parliament that We should not tolerate crimes of violence against shop workers, and in March 2020, Alex Norris MP introduced the Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill 2019-21 to make certain offences, including malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm and common assault, aggravated when perpetrated against a retail worker in the course of their employment. It is due to have its second reading in January 2021 having already been postponed twice.

It is time to take action to protect such vital key workers and ensure that they can do their job without being fearful of abuse or physical assault. Such incidents are all too often dismissed as business crimes and therefore somehow victimless; but lets not forget that behind each and every statistic is a person who has directly experienced violence or verbal abuse while simply doing their job.


About the Author

Emmeline Taylor is a Reader in Criminology at City, University of London.

Photo by http://www.naipo.de on Unsplash.

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Abuse against shop workers has increased during the pandemic it is time to take action to protect them - British Politics and Policy at LSE

New York Auto Insurance Fraud Ring Busted Following Two-Year Investigation – Insurance Journal

An enterprise insurance fraud scheme operating in lower Westchester and the Bronx has been taken down following a nearly two-year long investigation.

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino Jr. announced the takedown of Operation Sledgehammer, in which five registered businesses and nine defendants were charged with enterprise corruption for defrauding insurance companies by enhancing motor vehicle damage and falsifying insurance claims.

Additionally, three other individuals were charged on separate felony complaints with other crimes relating to this scheme.

Auto insurance theft affects every one of us, said Scarpino in a press release issued by his office. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. When false claims are made and money is stolen from insurance companies, it forces all of our insurance rates to increase and costs each of us hard-earned money.

Between around May 31, 2019, and March 3, 2020, the defendants intentionally conducted and participated in a pattern of criminal activity in the form of auto insurance fraud via auto repair shops. This happened in the city of New Rochelle, in other parts of Westchester County, in Bronx County and elsewhere in the state of New York.

The defendants and uncharged and unnamed others were members of the Jawahir Enterprise, which operated and furthered an enhanced motor vehicle damage and automobile insurance fraud scheme. The Jawahir Enterprise focused on the defrauding of insurance companies by the submission of claims that evidenced enhancing damage to a vehicle either with or without knowledge of the vehicle owner and/or intentionally inflicting damage to vehicles that were not previously damaged.

Several schemes were used to defraud insurers. In some cases, defendants strategically enhanced vehicle damage so the body shop could increase the billed repair cost while keeping the actual cost of repair to a minimum. The insurer would be charged the higher amount. Another scheme involved staging accidents between two or more vehicles, at least one of which was owned by a person who had insurance.

An additional scheme involved members of the enterprise strategically striking insured vehicles with heavy objects such as sledgehammers or rubbing light assemblies alongside a vehicle. The damage was created to simulate collisions with stationary vehicles. At times, members of the Jawahir Enterprise created no new damage to their vehicles, but instead submitted claims to multiple insurance companies under different policies in an attempt to receive money.

The insurance companies primarily issued claim payments in the form of physical checks. In some instances, the proceeds of the fraudulently obtained insurance claim checks were laundered through a series of orchestrated deposits, transfers and cash withdrawals throughout bank accounts controlled by members of the Jawahir Enterprise.

During the early part of 2019, the National Insurance Crime Bureau began noting a disproportional number of high-end claims being submitted by Lees Auto Body located in New Rochelle for repairs to customers vehicles, said New Rochelle Police Commissioner Joseph F. Schaller in the release.

Suspecting that the claims had a fraudulent aspect, they then forwarded their initial findings to the Westchester County District Attorneys Office. A year-long investigation was launched by the Westchester County D.A.s Investigators in conjunction with the City of New Rochelle, City of Yonkers, New York State Police Special Investigations-Auto Theft Unit, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Division of Field Investigations, New York State Department of Financial Services, New York State Environmental Conservation Police and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Through numerous investigative techniques, and unparalleled cooperation amongst members of all agencies, Operation Sledgehammer is being brought to a successful conclusion, Schaller said in the release. It is the largest Enterprise Corruption case ever prosecuted in Westchester County.

Four of the defendants Joseph S. Cermele, Rangee Jawahir, Georgette S. Sloley and Wayne M. Scott were arrested on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, and arraigned in New Rochelle City Court. The remaining individuals Ronnie Lee-Andros Jawahir, Allan Ramdeo Ramiah, Ronald Jawahir, Danesh Singh and Andrew Arjune were arrested Tuesday, December 8, 2020, and also arraigned in New Rochelle City Court. All individuals were released without bail and are to return to court on different dates throughout December and January.

All named individual defendants and companies have been charged with enterprise corruption, a class B felony, and other felony offenses listed in the felony complaint including grand larceny in the second degree, a class C felony, money laundering in the fourth degree, a class E felony, insurance fraud in the third degree, a class D felony, and grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony.

These arrests send two messages, Scarpino said in the release. To all fraudsters: know that this type of illegal conduct will not be tolerated in this County and will be fully investigated and prosecuted. And to the people of Westchester: know that we actively seek out and bring to justice those enterprises which seek to gain illegal monies to the detriment of all insurance policy holders.

The case is being prosecuted by Investigations Division Assistant District Attorneys Laura Forbes and Emily Rowe-Smith. The investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected, the release said.

Source: Westchester County, New York, Office of the District Attorney


New York Auto Insurance Fraud Ring Busted Following Two-Year Investigation - Insurance Journal

Innovation Needs Honesty to Thrive – KKOH

We will never know the true cost of the lost innovation and economic growth inflicted by nefarious actors who fluff their valuation figures or just outright lie. News travels fast, fake news travels faster.

But investors deserve reliable information.

Phoenix-based Nikola Corp. has been making headlines in recent months as the company undergoes investigation from the SEC regarding claims that the electric-vehicle designer may have deceived investors about its business prospects.

Promised to rival Elon Musks industry disrupter Tesla, Nikola founder and, now former executive chairman Trevor Milton promised hydrogen power and battery innovations created through proprietary technologies.

Predictably, investor enthusiasm was rampant and the company was even able to secure a $2 billion procurement and manufacturing partnership with General Motors in September that pushed share prices to $79.

Nikolas outlook was rosy.

But a report from Hindenburg Research called out Milton and his company alleged fraudulent activities over nearly 15 years to trick investors with false promises about its prototypes sending shockwaves across investors who were misled by Nikolas claims to manipulate the stock price.

The exaggerated or false claims that Nikola Corp. is accused of making if found to be factual are not victimless crimes. Investors on all levels have lost big. The companys stock (NASDAQ: NKLA) has lost more than 50 percent of its value since the September report was published.

The hordes of new, often younger investors without such deep pockets who are known to seek visionary green-tech companies, just like Nikola claimed to be, have fallen victim. For example, investing app Robinhood, with an average user age of 33, reported 3 million new users in just four months this year.

These harms are compounded when fraud on this (alleged) scale results in far more wearily disbursed venture capital, especially among the innovators responsible for real disruptive technologies.

These actions also dissuade collaboration between companies out of fear of being misled. Nikola Corp. relied heavily on partnerships; however, they could not hold up their end of the bargain.

As Navigant Research Sam Abuelsamid told The New York Times,It certainly seems like Nikola really inherently doesnt have any technology of note. They have a vision and have been going around setting up partnerships with companies that do have the technology and are trying to pull it all together.

Alas, this is not the first high-profile case in which a company did not live up to its promises.

In 2018, tech startup HouseCanary, which offers real estate valuation technology, won a staggering $740 million judgment in a Bexar County, Texas, countersuit filed over the misappropriation of alleged trade secrets.

Title Source, now known as Amrock, originally sued HouseCanary after it neglected to deliver the innovative appraisal-oriented mobile app that HouseCanary was being paid $5 million annually to build.

Soon after the trial, former HouseCanary employees came forward with additional revelations. Among them, Anthony Roveda, a former HouseCanary employee, offered sworn testimony that, It was evident to me that during the time I worked at HouseCanary there was never a working version of the app . . .There wasnt anything to steal.

He also testified,In my experience, HouseCanary leadership, and the CEO Jeremy Sicklick in particular, was focused more on enhancing the image of the company and on fundraising than on creating a working product.

The whistleblowers also testified that there was collusion between HouseCanary executives and someone at Title Source, which led some to suggest that the dispute had been a HouseCanary set up from the onset.

One cannot help but draw parallels between the allegations facing Nikola and those made of HouseCanary.

Fortunately, due to legal errors made in the original trial, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in San Antonio reversed HouseCanarys $740 million award, ruling that the various alleged breaches occurred after HouseCanary had voluntarily disclosed its claimed trade secrets.

This was a pivotal step in the right direction and sets practical precedent for future intellectual property disputeswhich seem to be getting more contentious as technology advances.

What happens now?

A three-justice panel updated its June opinion two months later amending its reversal and requiring HouseCanary to either request that the trial court enter a judgment on the contract claim jury verdict or retry all claims against Amrock.

The tech sector itself and the many more who invest in it will be watching these cases and others like it closely. American innovation and the broader economy relies on partnerships between companies for success and growth; this helps to create jobs, develop better products for consumers and the environment, and bolsters the U.S. competitive position in the global market.

Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. Read Jared Whitleys reports More Here.

2020 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Innovation Needs Honesty to Thrive - KKOH

What the REFORM Alliance’s victory means for criminal justice reform | TheHill – The Hill

As California faces thehighest number of coronavirus cases in the country, Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomWhat the REFORM Alliance's victory means for criminal justice reform Newsom's EV executive order will help make California breathable again OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden would face hurdles undoing Trump environmental rollbacks | Biden team weighs climate 'czar': report | Donald Trump Jr. urges hunters to vote for his father MORE (D) has responded by ushering in a number of criminal justice reforms, includingchanges to the systems of adult probation, juvenile justice and policing.

The reforms will effectively reduce incarceration, save taxpayer money and refine the attention of overburdened probation officers. Theyre a welcome transformation of state law.

Specifically,AB1950 would reduce probationary periods from three years to one for misdemeanors and five years to two for most felonies. According to theREFORM Alliance, violations of Californias probation and parole system cost the state about $2 billion per year. Furthermore,over $200 million of those dollars are spent incarcerating people for technical violations and victimless crimes. These are savings that could easily be directed instead towardsjustice reinvestment programs programs that are designed, in principle, to reduce long-run recidivism.

Reforms like this one are not without bipartisan support. The coalition of organizations supporting these types of reforms includes the Law Enforcement Action Partnership as well as the likes of #Cut50 and the ACLU, and the REFORM Alliance. Theres ample reason for progressives to support these reforms, as theyd effectively reduce incarceration the end goal for many on the left. But there are also a litany of reasons that these reforms might enjoy support on the right as well.

Marc A. Levin, the chief of policy and innovation for Right on Crime, noted some of these: AB1950 will right-size government consistent with research showing that the vast majority of reoffending occurs soon after someone is placed on probation, he told me, adding as an advantage that it would likely allow limited probation resources to focus more on those who remain on probation, resulting in more manageable caseloads and better access to treatment interventions.

After all, the right has a vested interest in promoting public safety and maintaining fidelity to taxpayers interest. Limiting probationary periods will achieve both goals. It will reduce the burden of probation officers, allowing them to direct their attention to more substantive cases. And in terms of fiscal conservatism, since probation funding is directly tied to the number of people monitored, probation limits will lead to a reduced need for probation funding. Nearlyone-quarter of Californias incarcerated population are behind bars due to probation and parole violations. Simplymissing an appointment or testing positive for drugs can result in a return to prison. A justice system that professes to care for the interests of the at-risk and marginalized cannot afford to incarcerate its citizens over petty infractions.

Probation and parole systems in our country began with noble intentions. With roots in English criminal law, theyfound initial use in the United States as a matter of giving defendants a second chance. Yet today they have, in many ways, become the very correctional institutions they were designed to replace. Returning citizens walk on eggshells to avoid imprisonment, and any small mistake can result in more prison time. Thus the system has created a kind of second class citizenship.

Rather than functioning as a critical piece of our criminal justice system, our system of probation and parole has often resulted in surveillance, repression and government control. These systems are geared towardintensive supervision when, ideally, they should be aimed at rehabilitation. Individuals under probation are typically expected to seek and maintain gainful employment, participate in programming, and, in some circumstances, avoid alcohol/drug use. The penalty for failure to comply is imprisonment.

As rapperMeek Mill found out, the system is incredibly unforgiving. He was arrested in Philadelphia as a 19-year-old on gun and drug charges. Until last year, he spent basically his entire adult life under the system of probation and supervision. He had the misfortune of dealing with a judge who extended his parole time and who threatened him with imprisonment (over driving his dirtbike without a helmet andpopping a wheelie). Although the charges were eventually dropped, his case illustrated much of what was wrong with the system.

Luckily for Meek Mill, he has been met with some measure of vindication. By partnering alongside hip-hop artist Jay-Z and CNN personality and criminal justice reformer Van Jones, he has, in conjunction with the REFORM Alliance, been able to help successfully pass meaningful criminal justice reform.

These reforms are crucial today. In the pandemic era, prisoners are among themost vulnerable populations. Allowing for a system that cycles ex-prisoners back into prison does no good.

As California and the U.S. at large continue to suffer from the COVID-19 crisis, reforms like Newsoms alleviate some of the suffering. Lets hope more states follow suit.

Brian Bensimon is an author whose work appears in the Washington Examiner, Orange County Register, and the Austin American-Statesman. He has published works on topics including criminal justice, surveillance, civil liberties and the death penalty. Follow him on Twitter @BrianBensimon.

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What the REFORM Alliance's victory means for criminal justice reform | TheHill - The Hill

Q&A with Jan Kok, candidate for the 1st Congressional District – Englewood Herald

Party: Approval Voting Party

Residence: Fort Collins

Website: approvalvotingparty.com

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I'm the only candidate whose No. 1 issue is election reform. Government has an enormous influence on our lives. It controls our health care options, it decides who we go to war with, it takes a large fraction of our income from us in direct and indirect taxes. Thus, the type of leaders we elect also greatly affects our lives. Our vote-for-one voting method is defective. In elections with more than two candidates running, it can fail to elect the most-preferred candidate. My mission is to promote better voting methods that can make better choices of winners.

If you're elected, which one single issue will be at the top of your agenda?

Election reform. In Florida 2000, more voters preferred Gore over Bush (if you include the Nader voters who preferred Gore), yet Bush won. And it can just as easily go the other way. In 1992, more voters preferred Bush over Clinton, yet Clinton won. I will promote Approval Voting which allows voters to vote for as many candidates as they like, and whoever gets the most votes wins. Approval Voting can reduce or eliminate the wrong winner phenomenon, the spoiler and vote splitting effects, and other problems with our vote-for-one voting method.

If you're elected, what must you accomplish in order for you to consider your term a success?

Introduce a bill with the support of at least 20 co-sponsors that enables states to use Approval Voting in federal-level elections, and removes barriers to the use of proportional representation voting methods in elections for state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives.

What measure or measures will you push for in the new year to make strides toward economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Getting the pandemic itself under control is still high priority. Let the CDC continue its job of providing science-based information on how to prevent the spread of diseases. Businesses are doing a good job of adapting to the pandemic. Many people are now working from home. Grocery stores and restaurants are taking orders online and providing curbside and home delivery service. Doctors are seeing patients through online video calls. Students are attending classes online. I don't think the federal government can do anything to help the economy more than state governments, businesses and individuals are already doing.

What is one thing Congress can do to achieve social justice?

Repeal laws against victimless crimes. The U.S. (the land of the free) has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. That's absurd and outrageous and expensive in human and monetary costs. About half of those incarcerated are there for nonviolent drug crimes. Drug addiction should be addressed by schools, doctors and psychological counselors, not by heavy-handed government.

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Q&A with Jan Kok, candidate for the 1st Congressional District - Englewood Herald

From the Editor: Changing the status quo on crime reporting, introducing Right to Be Forgotten – Craig Daily Press

Years ago, when print media was just that print news rarely lived on past a day or two.

In todays age, thats simply not the case. The Internet never forgets. That maxim is too often reinforced in our newsroom each time someone emails or calls with an appeal to have a name removed or a mug shot pulled from an old story that continues to follow them around as they try to move on with their lives.

For the past couple of months, a group of editors within Swift Communications have been having high-level discussions about The Right to be Forgotten a movement that started in Europe and has begun to gain traction in newsrooms across the United States.

The focus of our discussions has centered on this question: How long should you be penalized for minor crimes you committed years ago?

Basically, should you have the right to be forgotten by Google when those old stories are blocking you from landing jobs? How long should you have to pay for an old mistake?

For some, those who commit crimes should be punished forever, but thats on a broad spectrum. Were not talking murderers, rapists, major drug dealers or sex offenders having their names removed.

As an editor, I dont take it lightly that were potentially altering or rewriting a record. In journalism, were in the business of being fair, balanced and accurate and standing by the reporting we do. Reporting on crime, especially violent crimes and sexual assaults and rapes, is also an unfortunate daily reporting reality in most media markets.

With all that said, along with our duty to report the news to our readers, we cant ignore this truth: While we live in the day-to-day world of reporting on our communities, one story deemed worthy for that days paper lives on in perpetuity for the charged and/or convicted long after that person has paid their debt to society.

So, its time to launch a new process across every newsroom in our company by which people can request to have their names removed from old stories. To do that, were leaning on a model that has been established at other news organizations for making those decisions.

That process starts with the recognition that, as journalists, were not in the position to judge who gets clemency and who doesnt. We will rely on the courts and the legal process used to expunge or clear records.

People who have committed non-violent crimes and successfully petition the courts to permanently delete records of their criminal cases can submit a request for the removal of their name or photo from a specific story. By completing the form and providing proof of expungement, we will consider removal of a name and/or photo(s) from stories that appear on our websites.

Who doesnt get clemency? Elected officials and other notable community leaders or public figures. They are held to a higher standard and should remain accountable for their actions.

The emphasis with this policy is on victimless crimes. We wont be removing names from stories about violent crimes or sex crimes or major felony cases that drew community interest. Like most policies, this one is not absolute. As editor, I may decide to preserve a story, despite an appeal from someone whos had their record expunged. We at the Craig Press still reserve the right to publish or not publish.

As the Craig Press launches this initiative locally, Im certain that questions will arise that I simply wont have answers to right away. There will be cases that will certainly test the spirit of this new policy and will spark heated conversations.

The Craig Press is committed to changing the status quo and taking a more humane, logical approach to how we cover crime and how we assess requests to rewrite the record.

To submit a request to have your name and/or photo removed from a story, please go to https://www.craigdailypress.com/news/crime-courts/


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From the Editor: Changing the status quo on crime reporting, introducing Right to Be Forgotten - Craig Daily Press

Opinion | St. Catharines needs to stop trying to stop graffiti – Niagarathisweek.com

Graffiti is art. The sooner we all get on the same page about that simple fact, the better.

Im sure the lawyers wont let me get any further into this column without first acknowledging that graffiti, as an act of vandalism, is a crime. Dont do crimes. All right, moving on.

For reasons that elude my understanding, St. Catharines has its granny-panties all in a bunch over some graffiti thats been popping up around the city lately. City hall got all grumpy about the graffiti, which sent the local police on an ill-advised witch hunt for the artists behind the graffiti.

In April, police arrested and charged three dudes with a litany of charges related to graffiti. Seems heavy handed to me, but I get it; some people dont have the same kind of refined artistic palate that I do, and thus, they are unable to appreciate graffiti for what it is.

If I were sitting down to make a list of things I wanted the police to focus on, top of the list would be to stop shooting unarmed Black men. Number two would probably be something about not wasting so much money on tanks and tear gas and assault rifles. As for arresting graffiti artists, that likely wouldnt crack the top 100 on my police priority list.

Not only does arresting graffiti artists feel like a waste of time and resources, its also targeting a victimless crime (like stealing music from the internet) and saddling poor kids with criminal records they dont need or deserve.

To my carefully trained artistic eye, graffiti is a form of artwork that highlights a citys true colours and adds character and style to otherwise dreary spaces. The underside of a train bridge could either be a drab, gray, forgettable concrete wasteland, or a place bursting with vibrant, colourful graffiti created by local artists. Given those two options, Ill take the latter.

Viewing graffiti as some kinda scourge to be wiped away is an outdated way of thinking. It also presupposes that the people who live in graffiti-filled neighbourhoods dont like the way it looks, which I think is probably inaccurate.

More often than not, the people complaining about graffiti are the rich old white folks who live in squeaky clean suburbia and only happened to see a graffiti tag when they were driving downtown to go to the bank or something. Why do we even care what those people think? Its not their neighbourhood.

We dont come to their affluent rich guy neighborhoods and complain about the ugly marble fountains they put in the middle of their driveway roundabouts that are basically shrines to income inequality. We dont come through their upscale gated communities and whine about the gaudy post-modern, sharp-angled glass architecture that makes all their houses look like ugly knockoff Apple retail stores.

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Opinion | St. Catharines needs to stop trying to stop graffiti - Niagarathisweek.com