Law and Order

Law and Order
2:32 am
Fri September 12, 2014

20 Years Later, Parts Of Major Crime Bill Viewed As Terrible Mistake

Surrounded by lawmakers, President Bill Clinton hugs then-Sen. Joseph Biden after signing the $30 billion crime bill at the White House on Sept. 13, 1994.
Dennis Cook AP

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 12:41 pm

Twenty years ago this week, in 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed a crime bill. It was, in effect, a long-term experiment in various ways to fight crime.

The measure paid to put more cops on the beat, trained police and lawyers to investigate domestic violence, imposed tougher prison sentences and provided money for extra prisons.

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Law and Order
12:05 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Misplaced IV Line Responsible For Botched Oklahoma Execution, Report Finds

This photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Clayton Lockett.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 3:04 pm

A misplaced intravenous line was responsible for the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate last April, an official report released on Thursday found.

Clayton D. Lockett suffered a prolonged execution because the IV line inserted into his groin area delivered the fatal dosage of drugs to the surrounding tissue rather than directly into the bloodstream.

The New York Times reports:

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Law and Order
4:07 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Should Local Police Get The Military's Extra Armored Trucks?

Page County, Va., Sheriff John Thomas received an MRAP for his department in May. "Is it overkill? Yeah, it is. I mean, for our use, it's more armor than we need. But it's free," he says.
David Welna NPR

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 5:17 pm

Mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop carriers, known as MRAPs, were built to withstand bomb blasts. They can weigh nearly 20 tons, and many U.S. troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are alive today because of them. But many of the vehicles are now considered military surplus, so thanks to a congressionally mandated Pentagon program, they're finding their way to hundreds of police and sheriff's departments.

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Law and Order
10:48 am
Sat August 23, 2014

Even Police Body Cameras Can Lose Sight Of The Truth

Many residents of Ferguson, Mo., would like to see the police wear video cameras, like this one worn by a Los Angeles police officer.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 12:12 pm

Ferguson, Mo., found a degree of civic calm this week after days and nights of angry clashes between protestors and the police.

Now the city is working to restore trust with residents after a white police officer fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9. City leaders and residents say one way to do that might be to equip police with personal video cameras.

"All the cops have to have body cameras and dashboard cameras," says resident Alonzo Bond, "so everybody can be accountable."

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Law and Order
2:35 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio

Officers Ned Bandoske (left) and Ernest Stevens are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may play a role.
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 11:08 am

It's almost 4 p.m., and police officers Ernest Stevens and Ned Bandoske have been driving around town in their unmarked black SUV since early this morning. The officers are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may be an issue.

The officers spot a call for help on their laptop from a group home across town.

"A male individual put a blanket on fire this morning," Stevens reads from the blotter. "He's arguing ... and is a danger to himself and others. He's off his medications."

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Law and Order
4:10 pm
Sun August 17, 2014

New Orleans Makes Big Push To Get More Cops On The Streets

After a hiring freeze caused by a budget crisis, New Orleans is now struggling to replace the roughly 100 officers a year it loses to retirements and officers quitting.
Rusty Costanza Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 1:08 pm

New Orleans is still reeling from another spate of violence last weekend, when five people were killed by gunfire and 11 wounded, including two toddlers. The city has launched high-profile campaigns to address gun violence, but a big part of the problem is an acute shortage of police.

Karen Rogers lives in the lower 9th Ward, where a recent drive-by shooting left two people dead and several more wounded. Police say it was drug-related.

"This is not the first time [I've heard gunshots]," says Rogers. "This is the first time to actually see people murdered and shot."

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Law and Order
11:02 am
Wed August 6, 2014

A State Court Says Rap Lyrics Can't Be Used As Evidence In A Criminal Trial

Vonte Skinner had his attempted murder case considered by New Jersey's Supreme Court, which ruled that lyrics he wrote years before the crime he was charged with were not admissible in the trial.
Uncredited ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 9:10 am

Just a few days ago, Code Switch wrote about the use violent hip-hop lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, a practice that some critics say violates defendants' First Amendment rights and plays up jurors' misunderstandings of the use of hyperbole in hip-hop.

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Law and Order
2:49 am
Wed August 6, 2014

After Discrimination Finding, Jury's Out On Memphis Juvenile Courts

Juvenile wing of the Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana. In Memphis, the juvenile court system was criticized for inadequate defense of their clients and treating minority children more harshly.
Richard Ross Juvenile In Justice

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 9:55 am

For people connected to the Memphis juvenile courts, April 2012 is unforgettable. That's when federal investigators determined that the Shelby County juvenile court system discriminated against African-American defendants.

The Justice Department said the system punished black children more harshly than whites. In the most incendiary finding, investigators said the court detained black children and sent them to be tried in the adult system twice as often as whites.

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Law and Order
7:43 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

More Than 1,000 Undocumented Migrant Youth Harbored In Louisiana Homes Awaiting Trial

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 8:52 pm

A new investigation from the Lens looks at the case of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central American countries who are facing court proceedings in New Orleans. 

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Law and Order
9:56 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Do Heat-Sensitive Inmates Have A Right To Air Conditioning?

Inmate dormitories at Louisiana State Penitentiary, like this one photographed in July 2011, have heating in the winter and cooling by fans and open windows in the summer, but no air conditioning. A judge ruled earlier this year that that constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but installation is on hold pending a state appeal.
Scott Threlkeld The Times-Picayune/Landov

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:40 pm

The exact cause of prisoner Jerome Murdough's death at Rikers Island in February is still under investigation. But the temperature in the cell when he was found in New York City's biggest jail was at least 100 degrees.

The death of Murdough, who had severe mental illness, called renewed attention to a long-standing problem: maintaining reasonable temperatures in jails and prisons.

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