Law and Order

Laws intended to protect children from abuse and neglect are not being properly enforced, and the federal government is to blame. That's according to a study by the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, which says children are suffering as a result.

The numbers are grim. Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died.

New Orleans' most visited neighborhood rarely sees the type of violent crime that plagues other parts of the city. Recently, several high-profile robberies have rattled the region and led to criticism of the police department and the mayor, both of whom are rethinking safety measures.

Over the next few weeks, more and more visitors will roam the city's famous French Quarter, drinks in hand, for Mardi Gras. In less than 2 square miles, the French Quarter combines hotels, restaurants, street performers, and all-night bars with historic homes and tight-knit neighbors.

HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow speaking with reporters outside of the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to take up Robicheaux v. George -- the case challenging Louisiana’s ban on the marriage of same-sex couples. It may be the case that decides the issue once and for all for the entire nation.

It's a big concern during the holiday season — drunken drivers on the roads and highways. Every year, 10,000 people are killed in crashes in the United States involving a driver under the influence. Now researchers say there are steps communities can take to decrease the number of drivers who are drunk.

When she went to prison on drug charges, Stephanie George was 26 years old, a mother to three young kids.

Over 17 years behind bars, her grandparents died. Her father died. But the worst came just months before her release.

"I lost my baby son," George says, referring to Will, shot dead on a Pensacola, Fla., street.

"I feel bad because I'm not coming home to all of them, you know," sobs George, now 44. "He was 4 when I left, but I miss him."

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

Since the Ferguson, Mo., shooting, there have been renewed calls for police departments to hire more minority officers, but it turns out it's not that simple.

Police in the U.S. are more diverse than they were a generation ago. In the 1980s, 1 in 6 officers belonged to an ethnic or racial minority. Now it's about 1 in 4. The challenge these days is finding enough recruits to keep that trend going.

Ferguson, Mo., continues to watch and wait as a grand jury decides whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Brown's death was the spark for mass protests in Ferguson, but many of the city's black population say the problems go deeper, and that blacks are unfairly singled out by police.

Ferguson police statistics show the department does arrest blacks at a higher rate than other racial groups. But that disparity is true for police departments across the country.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a man who has spent about 40 years in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison should have his conviction overturned.

Albert Woodfox, the only member of the so-called Angola 3 still incarcerated, was convicted of the 1972 murder of a young prison guard named Brent Miller. Woodfox was found guilty along with fellow inmate Herman Wallace.

Technically, the Supreme Court Monday did not establish a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. It merely declined an opportunity to rule definitely one way or the other on the question.

But in the not-too-long run, the consequences may well be the same. Because the situation the court created — or acknowledged — will almost surely continue trending in favor of same-sex couples who want to marry.

Conversely, the legal ground is eroding for states that want to stop such marriages or deny them legal recognition.