Trump, Sessions to Meet With FOP on Chicago Violence

President Trump calls Chicago Fraternal Order of Police leader Dean Angelo and others from the union to discuss what to do about the ongoing gun violence in the city.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police chief Dean Angelo, who represents the Chicago Police Department’s embattled and embittered rank and file, has been summoned to meet tomorrow with President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss Chicago gun violence has on our city, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Trump will meet with leaders of the National Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed him last year.

“Angelo would want to be an active participant in the process if there is a consent decree forcing the city to make [police department] changes,” said a source. “Especially if there is a federal oversight person in charge to ensure the city follows the final Department of Justice report on Chicago police in January.” Angelo is embroiled in a re-election battle next month.


Christie to Head Trump Project to Fight Opioids

Passed over for other Trump administration jobs, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will head a project to combat opioid abuse. He has been discussing the details with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

President Trump is tapping New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to chair a commission devoted to combatting opioid abuse, reports The news was first disclosed by the Washington Post. It’s unclear if the chairmanship will be part-time, how often it would pull Christie away from New Jersey, or if it would require him to step down as governor. Fighting opioid abuse is one focus of a a new White House office Trump is expected to unveil today, to be led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner and Christie, a fellow Livingston, N.J., native, have been working together informally for several weeks about opioid abuse.

Christie has long made battling drug addiction a key portion of his platform in New Jersey. He has vowed to devote much of his last year as governor to the issue. It was reportedly one topic he and Trump discussed when they had a much-publicized meatloaf lunch together at the White House last month. The chairmanship would finally give Christie a position in Trump’s administration –albeit it likely a small one — after months of speculation. Christie has said he turned down other job offers from Trump, saying none of them was worth leaving the governorship to take.


One Killed, 15 Others Shot in Cincinnati Nightclub

It was the biggest mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year. City Manager Harry Black said the incident was the culmination of a squabble “between two specific groups or individuals earlier in the day, escalating and ultimately leading to this tragedy.”

As clubgoers danced away on Saturday night, armed men hoping to settle a daylong score opened fire inside Cincinnati’s Cameo nightclub in the bloodiest mass shooting in the nation so far this year. One man died of his injuries and 15 others were injured, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The violence at 1:30 a.m. triggered a sweeping panic inside the packed club while patrons raced to flee. Once on the scene to triage victims, police and firefighters had to step over wounded bodies to determine which patients needed the most immediate care, said Dan Hils of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police. Investigators scoured the city for the people responsible for the shootings. The Rev. Peterson Mingo of Evanston’s Christ Temple Church said he and other leaders of the African-American community have heard from citizens who “have been giving us names and we’re sending them to the police, and they say they’re cooperating.”

“People were just going to have a good time, and they got shot. That is totally unacceptable,” said Mayor John Cranley said. City Manager Harry Black said the shooting was the culmination of a squabble “between two specific groups or individuals earlier in the day, escalating and ultimately leading to this tragedy.” Cameo had paid for four off-duty police officers to patrol the parking lot, and they were the first to respond to the shooting, Hils, the FOP president, said. “They saw a lot of the patrons running out in an absolute panic,” Hils said. “They were literally stepping over victims to get to more critically injured victims. So you’re talking about a very horrific scene there. They tried everything they could to save the one gentleman’s life. They performed CPR, the police officer did, but to no avail.”


Most Chicago Police Stops Last Year Justified, Report Finds

Retired federal magistrate judge Arlander Keys finds that 90 percent of Chicago police stops in the first half of 2016 were
good stops.” Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be subjected to “bad stops,” in which officers failed to articulate a legal reason for stopping someone.

Most stops that Chicago police officers made during the first half of 2016 appeared to be by the book, said a long-awaited report released Friday by retired federal magistrate judge Arlander Keys, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Keys found what he termed a “good stop rate” of about 90 percent of the stops that he and his researchers reviewed. “This good stop rate, in isolation, certainly represents an excellent start by the [Chicago Police Department] to documenting investigatory stops,” Keys wrote. He noted that blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to be subjected to “bad stops,” in which officers failed to articulate a legal reason for stopping someone. Minorities also are more likely to be patted down by officers, he found.

Keys’ 400-plus-page report was the result of an agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and former police Superintendent Garry McCarthy reached in August 2015 after the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the Chicago Police Department for disproportionately stopping minorities and failing to list lawful reasons for stops on the “contact cards” they’re supposed to fill out. Under the agreement, the police agreed to broaden the information officers put on contact cards — such as whether someone was frisked, searched or arrested.


Will DOJ Pursue Recent Spate of Hate-Crime Allegations?

New Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that states, not the federal government, should take the lead in prosecuting hate crimes. the motivation of many acts can be hard to prove.

Killings, threats, and vandalism across the U.S. have been quickly decried as hate crimes. They include the fatal stabbing of a homeless black man in New York City by a white Maryland man who police said had a long hatred of black men, and the killing in Kansas of a man from India and the wounding of another. Condemning a repugnant act as a hate crime is far easier than making that charge stick in court, and prosecutions could be even less frequent if the Justice Department shifts its approach under a new attorney general who has indicated that states should take the lead, reports the Washington Post. Some states lack hate crime laws. The majority that have them don’t agree on what acts qualify.

Winning a conviction means proving that a person was motivated, for instance, by the victim’s religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Arrests in a spate of bomb threats called in to Jewish schools and centers show how hard it can be to pin down motivation. Police say an Israeli teen arrested Thursday was behind most of the threats, his motives unclear. Sometimes motivation is obvious, sometimes not, said Steven Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney in Ohio who has prosecuted hate crimes. “It’s an additional burden” he said, “but it can be done.” Federal prosecutors long have been the backstop for state officials when it comes to bringing hate crime cases. Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposed expanding federal hate crime protections as a senator and has signaled his preference for having states be the spearhead. That stance could have significant impact, given the patchwork of laws. Thomas Wheeler, who was general counsel to Vice President Pence when Pence was Indiana governor, has been designated by Sessions as the acting assistant attorney general overseeing civil rights cases.


One Dead, 14 Injured in Cincinnati Nightclub Shooting

Police identified no motive for the incident, which was reported as the worst mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year.

One person is dead and at least 14 more were injured in a shooting early Sunday morning at a Cincinnati-area nightclub called Cameo, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “It was a chaotic scene,” said police Sgt. Eric Franz. “The club was completely packed.” One man inside the club described seeing a “big brawl” break out before hearing at least 20 shots being fired. “It was a big gun because you heard it over the music,” said Mauricio Thompson. “Everybody’s running. Everybody scattered to get out of the club.”

“This conflict is believed to have begun between two specific groups or individuals earlier in the day, escalating and ultimately leading to this tragedy,” City Manager Harry Black said. “Cameo club has a history of gun violence including a shooting inside the club on New Years Day 2015 and a shooting in the parking lot” that year.” No arrests have been made. Assistant Chief Paul Neudigate tweeted that the “motive is still unclear, but there are no indication this incident is terrorism related.” It was the worst mass shooting in term of the number of victims so far in 2017, according to The U.S. has had 71 mass shootings this year, says



As Death Penalty Loses Favor, Life Without Parole Terms Grow

Life-without-parole sentences have soared to more than 1,000 inmates in Oklahoma, costing a minimum of $17 million a year the Tulsa World finds,

As the death penalty loses favor with juries, life-without-parole sentences have silently soared to more than 1,000 inmates in Oklahoma, costing a minimum of $17 million a year, the Tulsa World reportsOn average since 2000, about 35 inmates each year enter prison for life without parole, while four with the same sentence exit custody, usually by dying. Life without parole was allowed in 1987 as an alternative to the death penalty. While a provision allows for clemency, it does not guarantee the same level of state appeals or any federal appellate oversight as capital punishment. It has also been meted out for nonviolent crimes such as selling drugs.

Lynn Powell, of the nonprofit OK-Cure, a prison watchdog group, says these sentences are now getting a second look nationally. “It’s the death penalty but without an execution date,” she said. “There are groups in other states who are working to have appeals in place to review those cases the same as the death penalty cases. The problem right now is that they don’t all get reviewed, and those aren’t getting applied equally across the state.” The 885 inmates serving life-without-parole sentences represent just 3 percent of the total Oklahoma inmate population, but that figure is certain to grow. Since the number of inmates entering prison with that sentence spiked in the mid-’90s with a crackdown on drug crimes, the annual number receiving life-without-parole terms continues to increase generally.


New CA Rules Aim to Cut State Prison Population

Inmates will be able to reduce terms up to six months for earning a college degree and by up to a month each year for participating in self-help programs.

California corrections officials adopted new rules that aim to trim the state’s prison population by 9,500 inmates in four years, the Associated Press reports. They include steps like reducing inmates’ sentences up to six months for earning a college degree and by up to a month each year for participating in self-help programs such as alcohol and substance abuse support groups and counseling, anger management, life skills, victim awareness, restorative justice, and parenting classes. Virtually any inmate except those on death row or those serving life-without-parole sentences is eligible.

It’s the latest step in a long drive to lower the prison population dramatically in response to federal court orders in lawsuits by prison advocates. The changes follow voters’ approval of Proposition 57 in November. The initiative lets certain felons seek parole more quickly and gave corrections officials broad discretion to grant early release credits. “I think that it’s a monumental change for the organization and I think across the state, across the nation, I don’t think that anybody has altered how they are incarcerating offenders as much as what Prop 57 does,” said Corrections Secretary Scott Kernan. The goal, he said, is to encourage inmates to start “doing something with their incarceration and not just sitting on their bunks.” Police and prosecutors fought the ballot initiative, arguing that it will release dangerous offenders sometimes years earlier than called for in their sentences. It will put convicts more quickly into county probation systems that already are stretched.


More Brutality Charges Prompt Calls to Close Rikers Jail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says, “The situation is intolerable.” Inmatse argue that shutting down the 10-jail complex is the only solution for violence by guards and gang members, mistreatment of the mentally ill and juveniles, and unjustly long detention for minor offenders.

The latest in a string of brutality cases against Rikers Island guards has added to a debate on whether New York City’s notoriously violent jail complex has become so dysfunctional it should be closed, the Associated Press reports.At least 35 Rikers staff members have faced criminal charges in three years, including 13 for assault or attempted assault. Federal prosecutors have charged more than a half dozen Rikers guards with violating inmates’ civil rights through excessive force, smuggling drugs and other charges since 2014.”Rikers Island is one of these long-term injustices and abuses that every New Yorker should be outraged about,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The situation is intolerable.”

Inmate activists argue that shutting down the sprawling, 10-jail complex on the East River is the only solution for a cycle of abuses that include violence by guards and gang members, mistreatment of the mentally ill and juveniles and unjustly long detention for minor offenders. “If you are a New Yorker who cares about the soul of the criminal justice system, you know that Rikers is the belly of the beast,” said Glenn Martin of the nonprofit group JustLeadershipUSA. Among the other arguments for closing Rikers is that the island facility near La Guardia Airport — accessible only by a narrow bridge — is too isolated, cutting off inmates from the outside world in a way that hinders oversight and rehabilitation. Daily populations at Rikers have been falling below the 10,000 capacity, a trend officials attribute to reducing detention for minor drug possession.


CO Mulls Strategy For Possible Federal Pot Crackdown

The State could allow pot growers and retailers to reclassify their recreational pot as medical pot if a change in federal law or enforcement occurs, which would cost the state $100 million annually in tax receipts.

Colorado is considering an unusual strategy to protect its nascent marijuana industry from a potential federal crackdown, at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax collections, reports the Associated Press. A bill pending in the legislature would allow pot growers and retailers to reclassify their recreational pot as medical pot if a change in federal law or enforcement occurs. It’s the boldest attempt yet by a U.S. marijuana state to avoid federal intervention. The bill would allow Colorado’s 500 licensed recreational pot growers to reclassify their weed immediately.

A switch would cost the state more than $100 million a year because Colorado taxes medical pot much more lightly than recreational weed — 2.9 percent versus 17.9 percent. The measure says licensed growers could immediately become medical licensees “based on a business need due to a change in local, state or federal law or enforcement policy.” The change wouldn’t take recreational marijuana off the books, but it wouldn’t entirely safeguard it either. What it could do is help growers protect their inventory in case federal authorities start seizing recreational pot. The provision is getting a lot of attention in the marijuana industry after comments from members of the Trump administration. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there’s a “big difference” between medical and recreational pot.