Overview Per “Criminal Victimization” from the Bureau of Justice Statistics for 2015 and 2016 (The National Crime Survey), violent crimes went from 5 million violent victimizations to 5.7 million violent victimizations. When examing the 2015 and 2016 rates from “Criminal Victimization,” the rate for violent crime was 18.7 in 2015 and the rate for 2016 was […]
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer says the Chesapeake Apartments, plagued by violent crime for decades, are a serious threat to public safety. He is suing to prompt safety improvements, and he says owner of the complex should be ordered to live there until the problems are resolved.
The Chesapeake Apartments, a 425-unit complex spread over more than 17 acres in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Baldwin Village, has been plagued by violent crime for decades, says the Los Angeles Times. The Black P-Stone gang is so deeply entrenched there, officials said, that its members have tattoos that reference the property. Now, prosecutors are targeting the property’s owners and managers to curb the crime. In a lawsuit announced Monday, City Attorney Mike Feuer alleged that their mismanagement has resulted in a “serious threat” to public safety and created an environment in which anyone who comes near the property is at risk of being a crime victim. Feuer thinks that the head of the complex, Swaranjit Nijjar, should be ordered to live on the property until the problems are resolved. The lawsuit says Nijjar is the CEO of the company that’s the sole general partner of Pama V Properties LP, which owns the property.
“Negligent, callous management has allowed the Chesapeake Apartments to become a hotbed of terror in this neighborhood,” Feuer said in a statement. “We’ll continue to hold property owners responsible for these harrowing conditions as we take back our communities.” Feuer’s lawsuit seeks an injunction banning gang activity on the property, as well as a string of property improvements, including secure fencing, a video monitoring system accessible by the LAPD, improved lighting, better screening of tenants and the presence of full-time armed, licensed security guards. A spokesman for the owner said the complex seeks to provide “clean, safe, affordable housing.” He added, “Somebody’s got to provide it. The city can’t. The city’s the worst slumlord.”
School officials in Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore, have halted school-related trips to the city, citing escalating violence there. Baltimore’s mayor says she is disappointed.
School officials in Carroll County, Md., have halted school-related trips to Baltimore — including a marching band’s scheduled performance in the Mayor’s Christmas Parade on Sunday — citing “escalating violence” in the city, reports the Baltimore Sun. Schools spokeswoman Carey Gaddis said the order is based on a recommendation from the county Sheriff’s Office and will stay in place until late January, when it will be reconsidered. The suburban and rural county is located northwest of Baltimore.
Sheriff James T. DeWees recommended the measure during a meeting with school system officials “in response to parent concerns regarding the safety of students during field trips to venues in Baltimore City,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. The move is intended to “limit the risk to students and staff.” “In light of recent violence in the traditional tourist areas of the city, the sheriff agrees that the best course of action is to temporarily suspend travel to Baltimore City venues,” spokesman Cpl. Jonathan Light wrote in the statement. This month the city’s homicide count surpassed 300 for the third year in a row. Residents in some neighborhoods have complained of more assaults and robberies in recent months. Mayor Catherine E. Pugh recently called crime in the city “out of control” and ordered 30 agency heads to attend daily police meetings. Nevertheless, the mayor is disappointed by the Carroll County decision, a spokesman said.
Retailers are increasingly contracting out enforcement of shoplifting penalties to private companies. A University of Chicago Law School draft paper asks whether it’s a signal of a growing acceptance of privatization in other parts of the justice system.
As Americans head to stores and malls this holiday season, many retailers have a warning for shoplifters.
If you’re caught, expect to be “sentenced” to a course run by a private company aimed at correcting your behavior–and to pay as much as $500 for the privilege.
Since 2011, large chains such as Walmarts have been contracting out their security to a for-profit corporation, The Corrective Education Company (CEC), which does exactly as its name implies: punish wrongdoers with a mandatory educational program aimed at deterring offenders from repeating their behavior.
The system borrows from a concept now increasingly popular in the justice system—termed “restorative justice” —which is aimed at ameliorating punitive measures seen as often shortchanging both victims and offenders.
But in this case, the victims are large corporations–for whom this so-called “retail justice” approach can save both money–and the time spent in referring and prosecuting shoplifting cases in courts.
But does this form of privatized–or for-profit–justice offer an alternative approach to fixing other parts of the U.S. justice system? How “restorative” is it?
According to the draft of a working paper from the University of Chicago Law School, described as the first “scholarly treatment of the ‘retail justice system,’” it’s an example of “how private industry has penetrated new parts of the criminal process, extracting admissions of guilt and administering deterrent sanctions.”
The study’s author, John Rappaport, an assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, says the CEC’s growing popularity among retailers underlines the inefficiencies of the current system at dealing with shoplifting, which cost U.S. stores as much as $18 billion last year.
Most retail outlets rarely detect shoplifters, and when they do, punishment is often uneven, he writes. Managers are left to make discretionary decisions about whether they should call law enforcement, or avoid the extra work involved on a crowded shopping day by simply kicking the offender out of the store.
Tracing the history of shoplifting, a crime that statistics suggest has been committed by one in nine Americans at some point during their lifetimes, Rappaport notes that it has seriously strained the resources of the justice system.
In four Florida counties, for example, Walmart stores (following what was then a “zero tolerance” policy against shoplifting), called the police 7,000 times in one year for suspected thefts.
More often than not, enforcement is unevenly—and inequitably—applied, Rappaport adds, noting that managers are known to turn a blind eye to well-dressed patrons while concentrating on juveniles.
In contrast, CEC claims its system helps retailers save time and money, provides a fairer application of the law, and “cuts recidivism” through its emphasis on educating errant shoplifters. According to the company, less than two percent of those who attend the six- to eight-hour course—usually given online—actually reoffend.
In exchange, law enforcement doesn’t get called and the offender gets to avoid the criminal justice system all together. (Repeat offenders are referred to the police.)
The CEC’s clients now include Walmart, Bloomingdales, Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, and Whole Foods.
Indeed, Rappaport argues, by providing retailers with a portion of the shoplifter’s fee, the CEC has become an appealing alternative to stores wishing to recoup some of their losses.
But is it restorative justice—or a form of extortion?
Rappaport cites critics who argue that the CEC “preys on vulnerable consumers” by “wielding the threat of criminal prosecution to extract confessions and hefty enrollment fees.”
A recent article exploring the system by The Marshall Project echoes the charge by arguing “the company acknowledges that the people who enter the program are often the least able to pay for it.”
And some cities evidently agree. In 2015, the city of San Francisco sued the company on the grounds that the “CEC is little more than an extortion racket preying on the City’s residents.”
But Rappaport thinks critics miss the point.
His paper argues that shoplifters entangled in the criminal justice system won’t fare much better. The fees and fines now associated with involvement in the justice system have become an increasing burden, and that involvement is also coupled with devastating effects on an individual whose life will be forever affected by a criminal record.
He also notes that by contracting out enforcement of shoplifting, some may consider that private industry is contributing to an “overcriminalization” of an offense that may outweigh any benefit to society.
“Regardless (of) which system better deters potential shoplifters, the choice to opt for retail justice does make one thing clear,” he wrote. “Retailers believe their return on investment in deterrence is higher in the private than the public system.”
Nevertheless, calling this a “novel species of decriminalization,” Rappaport maintained that, in most circumstances, “the availability of retail justice makes shoplifting suspects better off by allowing them to opt out of the criminal justice system, with all its dangers and lingering legal consequences.”
At the same time, he argues that it can contribute to encouraging respect for the law.
Retail justice, he writes, “substitutes weaker but certain sanctions for stronger, uncertain ones.”
So, does retail justice offer a model for other forms of contracting out law enforcement?
Rappaport maintains it represents a challenge that the existing justice system has only just begun to address.
“Legal scholars long have focused on the role of police and prosecutors as gatekeepers for the criminal justice system,” the paper says. “How these actors exercise their discretion determines who escapes the criminal justice system’s net and who is entangled within it.”
Under our current system, police and prosecutors are often “late to the game” the paper says, noting that “the stationhouse phone rings only when the private gatekeepers that precede them place the call.”
“In these settings,” the paper concludes, “the question is not whether an individual suspected of crime will enter the justice system, but rather which justice system— public or private—will assess his guilt and administer any necessary sanctions.”
A full copy of the draft paper can be downloaded here.
This summary was produced by Julia Pagnamenta, a TCR news intern. Readers’ comments are welcome.
- John Wayne Gacy from 1972 to 1978, would sexually assault, torture and murder 33 young men and boys. 26 of his young victims he would bury in his crawl space under his house.
- He would dress like a clown, named Pogo and perform at charitable services, fundraising events, parades, and children’s parties, thus earning himself the moniker of the ‘killer clown.’
- John Wayne Gacy from 1972 to 1978, would sexually assault, torture and murder 33 young men and boys. 26 of his young victims he would bury in his crawl space under his house.
- He would dress like a clown, named Pogo and perform at charitable services, fundraising events, parades, and children's parties, thus earning himself the moniker of the 'killer clown.'
This article will cover John Wayne Gacy Junior, the ‘killer clown.’ This writer notices that the novel, ‘It’ was published in 1986, that it also starts out with the murder of homosexual men, Gacy was perhaps the inspiration for Pennywise? Gacy was arrested on December 22, 1978, and for all intents and purposes was the evil central antagonist of King’s novel. Moreover, this article will be around 2000 words, so brace yourself, dear reader, because what is to come is definitely not pretty and sure as hell ain’t sweet. Only in America would you find a serial killer who dressed as a clown and called himself, ‘Pogo.’
Observations 2014 to 2015, the largest one-year percentage rise in the U.S. homicide rate since 1968. The number of homicides in the big cities increased by 10.8 percent between 2015 and 2016. Most large cities experienced homicide increases in 2015 and 2016. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state […]
A combination of hot-spot policing and a redevelopment project resulted in crime reduction by as much as 49 percent in one at-risk community. The study of Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood underlines the link between community participation, improved real estate and public safety.
A Pittsburgh-based nonprofit development organization reduced crime by up to 49 percent through a hybrid strategy of combining hot-spot policing and real estate intervention.
However, it came with a high cost, according to a University of Michigan Study.
The study, published by the Transportation Research Institute of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, looked at the neighborhood of East Liberty in Pittsburgh— a thriving community throughout the 19th and mid-20th centuries, and currently home to the third largest central business district (CBD) in Pennsylvania.
The study examined whether improving the quality of housing stock in partnership with local community organizations would affect crime “hotspots” already targeted by police for sustained law enforcement activity.
It focused on the impact of the East Liberty Development, Inc.(ELDI) , a nonprofit development organization established by the city in 1979 to collaborate with neighborhood stakeholders in planning, advocacy, facilitation, and investment to revitalize the community
Significant drops in the rate of crime incidents were documented between 2008, when sustained redevelopment began, and 2012.
“The reduction in crime incidents was appreciably higher when compared relative to neighborhoods in close proximity to East Liberty or the average reduction in crime citywide,” concluded the study, which was conducted by Numeritics, a Pittsburgh-based consulting practice.
According to ELDI, “disastrous urban planning” in the 1960s generated an increased rates of unemployment and crime. In 1999, the organization formulated a 10-year plan for development entitled, “A Vision for East Liberty.”
Through this plan, ELDI acquired problematic properties, hired property managers and hired off-duty police officers to refurbish, manage and monitor these properties.
Study author Tayo Fabusuyi, who was the lead strategist at Numeritics and is also an adjunct faculty member at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, conducted the four-year study.
According to data obtained from the Pittsburgh police, crime incidents had declined by 26 percent in East Liberty compared to 20 percent in the surrounding neighborhoods and 16 percent citywide between 2008 and 2012.
Crime within the area where the implementation was most focused decreased by 49 percent.
Beyond the 49 percent reduction in residential crime in East Liberty between 2008 and 2012, Numeritics also documented a sustained decrease in crime incidents in the neighborhood from 2008 to 2015, which represents the most recent data analyzed.
But as crime rates decreased, demand for properties in the neighborhood increased, translating into housing prices appreciating by more than 120 percent between 2008 and 2012.
Identification of problematic properties—ones which were typically vacant, abandoned or owned by slumlords—was based on input from residents and ELDI staff members who live in the neighborhood. ELDI then acquired more than 200 of these units over the four year period, representing approximately three percent of the rental apartment units in the neighborhood.
Many high-rise housing projects were replaced with low-rise, townhouse-style mixed-income housing. Other initiatives focused on bringing businesses, shops, and restaurants back to the area.
Property managers were then hired to enforce tenant lease obligations prohibiting drug dealing, illegal activity, and disorderly behavior that previous property management had condoned.
Additionally, ELDI hired off-duty police officers to monitor properties, relocated squatters in abandoned homes, and boarded up and maintained vacant houses they did not own in order to generate a sense of order.
All of these initiatives led to increased guardianship in both ELDI-owned and non-ELDI-owned properties, which has been documented in existing literature as being strongly correlated with reduced criminal activity, according to Fabusuyi.
However, the price of redevelopment was high. In 2008, the cost of sheathing or roofing a property—about $20,000—exceeded the average market value of an apartment unit in East Liberty.
Over a three-year period (2008-2011), ELDI also spent approximately $45,000 hiring off-duty police officers at a rate of $110/man-hour.
Furthermore, ELDI’s rigorous screening procedure for potential tenants and its zero tolerance for disorderly conduct translated into a higher vacancy rates.
ELDI has been able to strengthen its anchor within East Liberty through more than two decades of community development.
However, the challenge for ELDI is raising the consciousness of East Liberty to a point where the neighborhood can police itself, without the need for frequent outside intervention, the study said.
The study argued that the results could be instructive for work in similar at-risk neighborhoods elsewhere.
“We conclude that a community-oriented approach to local redevelopment that reduces crime in a sustainable way should emphasize, in addition to community or third-party policing, strategies to improve and leverage the neighborhood’s social cohesion and informal social control,” the study said.
The full report can be read here.
This summary was produced by TCR news intern Brian Edsall. He welcomes comments from readers.
Observation If you are looking for a national summation of data, violent crime is up per the FBI, property crime is down in all three indexes, and Gallup states that personal crime dropped slightly. For a comprehensive overview of crime in America, see National Crime Rates. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for […]
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist whose anti-corruption investigations exposed powerful people. She was murdered in October by a car bomb. Galizia used WhatsApp to communicate securely with her sources. Now that she is dead, the Maltese police want to break into her phone or the app, and find out who those sources were. One journalist reports: Part of…
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist whose anti-corruption investigations exposed powerful people. She was murdered in October by a car bomb.
Galizia used WhatsApp to communicate securely with her sources. Now that she is dead, the Maltese police want to break into her phone or the app, and find out who those sources were.
One journalist reports:
Part of Daphne's destroyed smart phone was elevated from the scene.
Investigators say that Caruana Galizia had not taken her laptop with her on that particular trip. If she had done so, the forensic experts would have found evidence on the ground.
Her mobile phone is also being examined, as can be seen from her WhatsApp profile, which has registered activity since the murder. But it is understood that the data is safe.
Sources close to the newsroom said that as part of the investigation her sim card has been cloned. This is done with the help of mobile service providers in similar cases. Asked if her WhatsApp messages or any other messages that were stored in her phone will be retrieved, the source said that since the messaging application is encrypted, the messages cannot be seen. Therefore it is unlikely that any data can be retrieved.
I am less optimistic than that reporter. The FBI is providing "specific assistance." The article doesn't explain that, but I would not be surprised if they were helping crack the phone.
It will be interesting to see if WhatsApp's security survives this. My guess is that it depends on how much of the phone was recovered from the bombed car.
EDITED TO ADD (11/7): The court-appointed IT expert on the case has a criminal record in the UK for theft and forgery.
Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Article Three […]