Law and Order

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a man on Facebook who threatened to kill his wife.

In 2010, Pennsylvania resident Anthony Elonis got dumped, lost his job and expressed his frustrations via the Internet.

"He took to Facebook as a form of, what he says, a form of therapy," says criminologist Rob D'Ovidio of Drexel University, who is following the case.

Is It A 'True Threat'?

Delinquent children are much more likely than their nondelinquent peers to die violently later in life, a study finds. And girls who ended up in juvenile detention were especially vulnerable, dying at nearly five times the rate of the general population.

"This was astonishing," says Linda Teplin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University's medical school and the lead author of the study.

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a major victory to gun control advocates on Monday. The 5-4 ruling allows strict enforcement of the federal ban on gun "straw purchases," or one person buying a gun for another.

The federal law on background checks requires federally licensed gun dealers to verify the identity of buyers and submit their names to a federal database to weed out felons, those with a history of mental illness and others barred from gun ownership.

When she was a child, 22-year-old Ifetayo Harvey's father was sentenced to prison for cocaine trafficking.

"My dad went to prison when I was 4 years old, and he was released when I was 12," Harvey says.

Harvey is one of millions of young people who grew up with a parent in prison. A recent study from the National Academy of Sciences examined the growth of incarceration in the United States, and among the topics was the effect on kids and families when a parent goes to prison.

As part of the open carry movement, some gun rights activists in Texas have been carrying loaded rifles into restaurants to assert their second amendment rights. A growing list of national chains has pushed back, though, instituting no-guns policies in response. Even the National Rifle Association has publicly rebuked the Texas long-gun enthusiasts. NPR's John Burnett covers a street demonstration by a particularly aggressive chapter of the open carry movement in Fort Worth, Texas.

Body-worn video cameras are quickly becoming standard-issue for American police, especially at departments in the process of reform. And in New Orleans, the troubled police department is now requiring almost all officers to wear the cameras.

The city's police department has a dark history of corruption, racism and brutality. The low point may have been the Danziger Bridge episode, after Hurricane Katrina, when police shot unarmed people, then covered up the crime.

These days, the department is trying to rebuild the public's trust — which is where the body cameras come in.

In the next installment of an NPR investigation, Joseph Shapiro goes to New Orleans to look at the ways poor people are charged for their public defender in court.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

New Orleans is making progress toward losing the "murder capital" label. For a second straight year, homicides declined in the city, in keeping with a nationwide trend.

For African-Americans in the city, though, the numbers are less comforting. Of the nearly 350 killings in the past two years, 91 percent of the victims have been black. It's a cycle that's worrisome to the city's African-American community — and law enforcement.

In 1977, death row inmate Gary Mark Gilmore chose to be executed by a firing squad. Gilmore was strapped to a chair at the Utah State Prison, and five officers shot him.

The media circus that ensued prompted a group of lawmakers in nearby Oklahoma to wonder if there might be a better way to handle executions. They approached Dr. Jay Chapman, the state medical examiner at the time, who proposed using three drugs, based loosely on anesthesia procedures at the time: one drug to knock out the inmates, one to relax or paralyze them, and a final drug that would stop their hearts.

Oklahoma's botched execution of Clayton Lockett is prompting other states to question their use of the drug midazolam in lethal injections. The Lockett execution is fueling new calls to re-examine how states put inmates to death.

Pages