Nine Die on Chicago’s Worst Crime Weekend in 2018

By Monday morning, at least 56 people had been hit by gunfire in Chicago over the weekend. At least nine of them died. It was the worst weekend for violence in the city this year. More troubling, it was close to comparable weekends in 2016 and 2017, when gun violence hit levels not seen in Chicago in more than a decade.

The weekend began with seven people shot in just an hour on Chicago’s South Side. It ended with 10 people shot in two attacks on the West Side. By Monday morning, at least 56 people had been hit by gunfire in Chicago over the weekend. At least nine of them died, the Chicago Tribune reports. It was the worst weekend for violence in the city this year. More troubling, it was close to comparable weekends in 2016 and 2017, when gun violence hit levels not seen in Chicago in more than a decade. First Deputy Police Superintendent Anthony Riccio said, “We saw an unacceptable and frustrating level of gun violence in several communities.” He added, “There’s too many illegal guns on the street. They’re too easy to get.”

As bad as shootings have been in some parts of the city this year, overall they have been down substantially from the previous two years. At least 59 people were shot in Chicago during the weekend of June 16 last year and again during the weekend of June 17 in 2016. Weather was a factor. Temperatures climbed into the middle 90s both days, drawing more people into the street later into the night. According to police, that usually increases the odds of rivals running into each other or arguments escalating into gunfire. About half the victims were in their 20s. Thirteen were in their teens. Seven were girls and young women.

from https://thecrimereport.org

House Bill Would End Most Separation of Kids at Border

House Republican leaders are reworking a compromise immigration bill to modify but not completely end the “zero tolerance” policy being enforced by the Trump administration. Under the new legislation, children would be held in the same place as their parents if they are detained.

House Republican leaders are reworking a compromise immigration bill to include a provision that modifies — but doesn’t completely end — the “zero tolerance” policy being enforced now by the Trump administration, NPR reports. Under the new legislation, children would be held in the same place as their parents if they are detained. About 2,000 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the Southwest border illegally in the past six weeks. Public pushback to young children being housed separately in detention centers has put pressure on Congress to end the practice. Even House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), an immigration hard-liner, backs the changes to the administration’s policy in the compromise bill. He stressed there would be exceptions, noting that adults with offenses other than illegal entry would not be able to stay with their children. “Parents who want to have their children with them and they’re awaiting a trial on the violation of the law for entering the country illegally, we’re going to work to make sure that that is possible,” he said.

The White House policy had been meant to be a deterrent by persuading those who were considering trying to cross the border not to do so, even if they were seeking asylum in the U.S. by fleeing violence in their home country. Goodlatte admitted that the compromise bill crafted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, with input from conservatives and centrists, has a better chance of passing than his own more stringent proposal. The compromise bill still isn’t assured passage. That version and Goodlatte’s bill are scheduled for House votes on Thursday.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Gets ‘Four Pinocchios’ for Migrant Statements

The president blames Democrats for the separation of families at the border, but “the Trump administration implemented this policy by choice and could end it by choice,” says the Washington Post fact checker.

The Washington Post gives its maximum four Pinocchios to the Trump administration for its statements on separation of family members at the Mexican border. Despite the president’s blaming Democrats for the situation, immigrant families are being separated primarily because the Trump administration in April began to prosecute as many border-crossing offenses as possible. The zero-tolerance policy applies to all adults, regardless of whether they cross alone or with their children. The Justice Department can’t prosecute children along with their parents, so the natural result of the zero-tolerance policy has been a sharp rise in family separations.

The Trump administration implemented this policy by choice and could end it by choice, the Post says. No law or court ruling mandates family separations. In fact, during its first 15 months, the Trump administration released nearly 100,000 immigrants who were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, a total that includes more than 37,500 unaccompanied minors and more than 61,000 family members. The Trump administration is operating a system in which immigrant families apprehended at the border get split up, because children go into a process in which they eventually get placed with sponsors in the U.S. while their parents are prosecuted and potentially deported. It’s strange to behold Trump distancing himself from the zero-tolerance policy (“the Democrats gave us that law”) while Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claims it doesn’t exist (“it’s not a policy”) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions defends it in speech after speech. “We do have a policy of prosecuting adults who flout our laws to come here illegally instead of waiting their turn or claiming asylum at any port of entry,” Sessions said on Monday in New Orleans. “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Immigration Policy Floods Border Courts

Courtrooms near the border in southern and western Texas have been packed with immigrant detainees. In the southern district of Texas, the Operation Streamline caseload is double what it was two months ago. In Tucson, the court this year has handled 6,519 such cases, compared with 10,869 in all of 2017.

Federal courts near the heavily traveled border in southern Arizona have always trafficked in immigration, smuggling and narcotics cases. President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy calling for criminal prosecution of all those caught illegally crossing the border has swiftly flooded courthouses from Texas to California, the New York Times reports. Federal criminal prosecutions of migrants arrested along the southwest border jumped 30 percent in April over March, according to Syracuse University’s TRAC.  Nearly 60 percent of federal criminal prosecutions in April were for immigration violations. Multiple-defendant immigration hearings have been held for years in Arizona and Texas. Assembly-line justice known as Operation Streamline started under President George W. Bush and persisted under President Obama as immigration cases were on the rise. The Trump administration’s policy of prosecuting cases that previously were not a priority is pushing thousands of new defendants into the federal court system.

Courtrooms near the border in southern and western Texas have been packed with immigrant detainees. In the southern district of Texas, the Operation Streamline caseload is double what it was two months ago. In Tucson, the court this year has handled 6,519 such cases, compared with 10,869 in all of 2017. When Operation Streamline was launched by federal immigration authorities in 2008, it resulted in the criminal prosecution of all migrants, including those caught entering illegally for the first time. In recent years, most first-time offenders had been spared. The majority of those taken to federal court for criminal prosecution either had been apprehended at least twice before, or had committed a serious crime. Now, that’s all changed. “Many are showing up at the border for the first time ever and being prosecuted,” said Raul Miranda, the longest-serving private lawyer paid by the government to represent Operation Streamline defendants in Tucson.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Report Moves NY Closer to Pot Legalization

“We looked at the pros, we looked at the cons, and when we were done, we realized that the pros outweighed the cons,” said state health commissioner Howard Zucker, describing a recommendation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York State moved a significant step closer to legalizing recreational marijuana, as a study commissioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will recommend that the state allow adults to consume marijuana legally, reports the New York Times. The announcement by state health commissioner Howard Zucker signals a broad turnaround for the administration of Cuomo, a second-term Democrat who said as recently as last year that marijuana was a “gateway drug.” Dr. Zucker said, “We looked at the pros, we looked at the cons, and when we were done, we realized that the pros outweighed the cons. We have new facts.” The findings of the report could pave the way for New York to join a roster of states that have already legalized the drug, including California, Colorado and Washington.

An official with knowledge of the governor’s thinking said legalization efforts by New Jersey and Massachusetts had helped shift his thinking this year. “It was no longer ‘if,’” the person said, “but ‘how.’”Even with the governor’s support, the path to legalization in New York still faces legislative hurdles, as well as logistical questions. It would require the approval of the legislature, which is unlikely to take up the issue in its last days of session, which ends Wednesday. The Republican-led Senate has signaled that it would be less receptive to legalizing marijuana than the Democratic-led Assembly. Still, Senate Democrats — who have expressed measured support of legal marijuana — stand only one seat short of capturing the majority, and the fall elections could leave them in charge.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NYC Will Issue Summonses to Public Pot Smokers

Police will continue to arrest anyone caught smoking who has a “recent documented history of violence,” anyone on probation and anyone whose “smoking poses an immediate public safety risk. Everyone else will get a summons carrying a $100 fine.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce Tuesday that the city’s police department will issue criminal summonses to most people caught smoking marijuana in public, with the exception of parolees, anyone caught driving while smoking and offenders with prior warrants, who will still be arrested, the Wall Street Journal reports. Recommendations from the working group formed by Police Commissioner James O’Neill will go into effect Sept. 1. Police will continue to arrest anyone caught smoking who has a “recent documented history of violence,” anyone on probation and anyone whose “smoking poses an immediate public safety risk,” a source said. Police can also arrest those who aren’t able to verify their identification.

The city is projecting that the changes will reduce marijuana arrests by more than 10,000 annually. The NYPD arrested more than 22,650 people for smoking marijuana last year. Summonses result in a $100 fine and require the person to attend summons court. Critics have focused on police marijuana enforcement. Marijuana-related arrests have fallen 32 percent over the past four years, but the department, City Council members and others have pressed the police after data showed 87 percent of those arrested for smoking in public last year were black or Hispanic. Police union officials, including Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said the change in enforcement could put cops in “positions of conflict” because smoking marijuana is still illegal. In May, O’Neill said that 36 percent of those arrested for marijuana offenses had no criminal history.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Sessions on Recidivism Data: ‘Reality is Grim Indeed’

Speaking to the National Sheriffs’ Association, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says a federal study showing that 83 percent of 60,000 state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested again within nine years is of “historic importance.”

The results of a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics study on recidivism “are of historic importance. The reality is grim indeed,” says Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Speaking to the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans, Sessions said the study found that 83 percent of 60,000 state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested again within nine years. The study shows that 68 percent were arrested within the first three years. Almost half were arrested within a year of being released. The study estimates that the 400,000 state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested nearly two million times during the nine-year period, an average of five arrests each, Sessions said.

Virtually none of the released prisoners were arrested merely for probation or parole violations. Some ninety-nine percent of those arrested during the nine-year follow-up period were arrested for something other than a probation or parole violation. In many cases, former inmates were arrested for an offense at least as serious – if not more so – as the crime that got them in jail in the first place, Sessions said. The Attorney General discussed efforts to step up federal prosecutions going back to the Reagan administration. “Look, our goal is not to fill up the prisons,”  he told the sheriffs. “Our goal is to reduce crime and to keep every American safe. We should not as a policy keep persons in prison longer than necessary.  But clear and certain punishment does in fact make America safer.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Sex Assaults on Airplanes Up By 2/3rds, FBI Says

Sixty-three cases of in-flight sexual assault were reported to federal authorities in the last fiscal year, up from the 38 cases reported in the 2014 fiscal year. The FBI will hold a news conference in Baltimore on the issue Wednesday.

The number of reported sexual assaults aboard airplanes has grown by nearly two-thirds in recent years, the FBI says. Sixty-three cases of in-flight sexual assault were reported to federal authorities in the last fiscal year, up from the 38 cases reported in the 2014 fiscal year, reports the Baltimore Sun. Most in-air sexual assault cases go unreported and involve unwanted touching — a felony that can result in prison time, the FBI said.

Incidents generally happen on long-haul flights when the cabin is dark. Victims typically report that they had been sleeping in the middle or window seats, often covered with a blanket or jacket, when they awoke to find their seatmate’s hands inside their clothing or underwear, the FBI said. The bureau will host a news conference at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Wednesday to raise awareness of the issue.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Should Statutes of Limitations for Rape Be Abolished?

Since 2002, at least 29 states have amended their prosecution deadlines so victims of child sexual abuse have more time to pursue criminal cases as adults. Ten states now have no time limit for filing charges for all or nearly all felony sexual assaults, no matter the victim’s age.

Until the last few decades, state legislatures set statutes of limitation for most felonies at five years or less, though murder usually had no deadline. The FBI lists felony sexual assault as the second-most-serious offense, but for decades, little changed in statutes of limitations for those crimes. That shifted significantly as child-sexual-abuse accusations against church leaders spilled into public view. Most victims didn’t reveal the abuse until decades later. Advocates argued that short statutes of limitations placed an overwhelming burden on victims and allowed sexual predators to evade punishment. Since 2002, at least 29 states have amended their prosecution deadlines so victims of child sexual abuse have more time to pursue criminal cases as adults — including 15 states that now have no cutoff for prosecuting any felony sexual assault of a minor, says Marci Hamilton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who founded Child U.S.A., the New York Times reports.

In the last year, the avalanche of #MeToo accounts has made clear how pervasive sexual assault is and how few offenders are held accountable. In 88 percent of rape cases, the accused and accuser know each other, says the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and legal battles often come down to a dispute over whether sex between them was consensual. Only six out of every 1,000 who are accused end up in prison. Advocates have pressed to abolish statutes of limitations for felony sexual assaults. They argue that the statutes are archaic, built on outdated notions about sex crimes. Ten states — California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming — now have no time limit for filing charges for all or nearly all felony sexual assaults, no matter the victim’s age.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Fourth Escape This Year from LA Juvenile Prison

Four teenage inmates escaped from a Louisiana juvenile prison over the weekend in a jailbreak so violent one guard was airlifted for medical treatment. The escape marked the second in a week — and at least the fourth in 2018 — from the Swanson Center for Youth, an understaffed facility that has become a cauldron of violence and dysfunction.

Four teenage inmates escaped from Louisiana’s juvenile prison in Monroe over the weekend in a jailbreak so violent one guard was airlifted for medical treatment, The Advocate reports. The escape late Friday marked the second in a week — and at least the fourth in 2018 — from the Swanson Center for Youth, an understaffed facility that has become a cauldron of violence and dysfunction. The state Office of Juvenile Justice scrambled to bolster security at the prison’s porous perimeter, which youths have repeatedly breached by overpowering guards and using dormitory mattresses to scale the exterior razor-wire fences.

The agency said those “enhancements” will be complete within the next two weeks, adding officials also are boosting mental and behavioral health programs to deter “criminogenic and violent behavior” among incarcerated teens. All four of the escaped youths had been captured by Saturday morning, said the agency”s Beth Touchet-Morgan. The latest escape raised new questions about the state’s ability to secure its juvenile prisons — troubled facilities that have seen alarming rates of turnover and staffing levels that at times have run afoul of federal laws intended to protect inmates from jailhouse assault. Swanson was the site of an inmate riot less than a year ago in which inmates reportedly escaped from their dormitory, flipped a security desk and began punching guards in their faces. Currently, “Additional physical security changes have been implemented to assure that the campus is secure,” Touchet-Morgan said. “Staff are essential to security within the facility, so as always we are continually hiring and training staff, particularly on the proper levels of supervision needed on campus and basic operating procedures concerning safety.”

from https://thecrimereport.org