Gun Violence Top Issue as 14 Vie for Chicago Mayor

“There’s no place we can call safe,” said former police superintendent Garry McCarthy, one of 14 people running to succeed two-term Mayor Rahm Emanuel in next week’s election. Many voters are demanding that the city’s next leader overhaul its troubled police force.

Twenty hours after a Chicago gang leader was assassinated this month on a street, a toddler was shot and critically injured while sitting in an SUV with his mother and grandmother. It was the latest spasm of bloodshed before a mayoral election that many people say could redefine Chicago’s identity, reports the Washington Post.

For much of the campaign, candidates have described a city wracked by gun violence. They point to a wave of carjackings and shootings downtown and in better-off neighborhoods as proof that violence has seeped out of the South and West sides to affect all of Chicago.

“There’s no place we can call safe,” said former police superintendent Garry McCarthy, one of 14 people running to succeed two-term Mayor Rahm Emanuel in next week’s election.

There’s no unanimity on solutions, though many are demanding that the city’s next leader overhaul its long-troubled police force. Candidates tread a fine line between supporting the department and responding to communities that harbor a deep distrust of law enforcement.

“You can’t solve it just on the policing side — that we all know,” said Bill Daley, the son and brother of two previous mayors, who calls police reform the “single biggest issue” facing the city.

The Crime Lab at the University of Chicago says violence is a reason for the exodus of more than 200,000 black residents since 2000. While homicides fell in 2018 compared with 2017 and 2016, when 762 people were killed and more than 4,000 shot, every new spate of violence only reinforces fears.

See Also: One- Third of Youth In Violent Chicago Areas Have Carried Guns

Across the spectrum, the 10 men and four women vying to be mayor have pledged to address root causes of violence: poverty and segregated neighborhoods, too few jobs in lower-income areas and the disproportionate incarceration of African-American men.

Additional Reading: Sessions Echoes Trump Criticism of Chicago Crime

from https://thecrimereport.org

Group Launches Ad Campaign Over Epstein Deal

Allied Progress is urging activists on social media to share a video and to sign a petition demanding that the U.S. Senate pass a bill giving the Department of Justice’s inspector general authority to investigate the case.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is the target of an ad campaign begun Wednesday by a Washington-based consumer watchdog group demanding that he answer questions about a secret plea deal he gave a wealthy New York financial advisor accused of sex trafficking underage girls, the Miami Herald reports. Allied Progress, which normally advocates for student loan clients and against Wall Street special interests, is urging activists on social media to share a video about Acosta produced by the group and to sign a petition demanding that the U.S. Senate pass a bill that would give the Department of Justice’s inspector general the authority to investigate the controversial case.

Multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein escaped a possible life sentence as a result of an unusual non-prosecution agreement Acosta approved in 2008, while he was the U.S. attorney in Miami. A Miami Herald series detailed how federal prosecutors, led by Acosta, worked with the investment counselor’s attorneys to come up with a special deal for Epstein, a multimillionaire who ran a sex pyramid scheme from his Palm Beach estate that targeted underage girls. Epstein, 66, was granted federal immunity, along with others who were allegedly part of the conspiracy but not named. Epstein’s victims were not told about the arrangement and, after a brief stint in the Palm Beach County Jail on prostitution charges, Epstein was released in 2009.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Harris’ Backpage Backstory: How She Took On Tech

As California attorney general, Kamala Harris used aggressive tactics to attack publishers of revenge porn. Now that she’s running for president, does that record help or hurt her politically?

As California attorney general, Kamala Harris, now a U.S. senator and presidential candidate, used her law-enforcement perch in the country’s biggest state and the geographical center of the global tech industry to pressure social-media platforms to crack down on revenge porn. But, Politico reports, Harris’ aggressive legal tactics has turned into a potentially toxic legacy with civil libertarians, tech titans and other key Democratic constituencies as she seeks higher office.

Harris’ stance as a prosecutor cheered advocates who had worked for years against online exploitation of women. But, as Harris’ push gained momentum, she began triggering criticism that she was running roughshod over some fundamental rights, including free speech — and engaging in attention-getting stunts by beating up on publishers, such as Backpage.com, widely seen as unsympathetic. In the Senate, she has remained largely on the sidelines of such issues, though that has not entirely appeased her critics.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Adviser Roger Stone Indicted in Mueller Probe

Roger Stone was arrested before dawn after being indicted as part of the special counsel investigation into the 2016 presidential election.

Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime informal adviser to President Trump, was arrested by the FBI before dawn on Friday after being indicted as part of the special counsel investigation into the 2016 presidential election, according to news reports. He was charged over his communications with WikiLeaks, the organization behind the release of thousands of stolen Democratic emails during the campaign. Stone faces seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering, according to the special counsel’s office, The New York Times reports.

from https://thecrimereport.org

African-American Voters Want Pretrial Change: Report

African-American voters want change at the front door—or pretrial stage—of the criminal justice system, according to a new study by the Pretrial Justice Institute. The study found that 78 percent of African-American voters want to reduce the number of arrests for low-level, nonviolent offenses by issuing citations rather than arresting people.

African-American voters want change at the front door—or the pretrial stage—of the criminal justice system, according to a new report by the Pretrial Justice Institute.

The report noted that African Americans are disproportionately penalized by detention decisions that are based on wealth instead of safety, and, they are more likely to be required to pay money to be released from jail before trial and to pay higher amounts.

For example, from Los Angeles to Baltimore, African-American communities are losing tens of millions of dollars to money bail payments—dollars that cannot be recovered, even if the charges are dropped or the person is found not guilty, authors said.

In sum, African-American voters are “ready for change.”

Data revealed that 72 percent of voters agree that the criminal justice system needs significant change and 86 percent of African-American voters believe that wealthy people enjoy better outcomes from the criminal justice system than poor and working-class Americans.

More, the study found that 78 percent of African-American voters want to reduce the number of arrests for low-level, nonviolent offenses by issuing citations rather than arresting people and 73 percent would limit the number of days a person not charged with a serious violent crime can stay in jail pretrial if he or she cannot afford money bail.

Significantly, African American voters also wanted community based support, the study revealed.

A total of 65 percent of African-American voters would stop the practice of jailing people who cannot afford money bail and 90 percent would support educational courses and counseling to help people released before trial show up for their court appearances and not be arrested on new charges.

Authors concluded that unnecessary pretrial detention due to an inability to pay money bail has serious and compounding consequences.

“People lose their jobs, their housing—even custody of their children. Innocent people are pressured to accept guilty pleas. Even three days in jail can leave some people more likely to get arrested on new charges or to fail to appear in court.”

A full copy of the report can be found here.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Rosenstein, Trump Plan Tandem FL Convention Trip

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and President Trump, engaged in an ongoing political drama, will travel together on Monday to a convention of police chiefs in Orlando, although it’s not clear that the trip will include their much-discussed sit-down.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, whose future at the Justice Department has been steeped in drama, is planning to fly with President Trump on Air Force One to an event in Orlando on Monday, reports the Washington Post. Trump is scheduled to speak Monday afternoon at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference. It is not unusual for senior Justice Department officials to join Trump at such events.

Trump and Rosenstein were scheduled to meet late last month following reports that Rosenstein wanted to wiretap the president early in his tenure. But Trump postponed the meeting amid an all-consuming confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. It was not immediately clear whether Trump and Rosenstein would hold that meeting on the trip to Florida on Monday. Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation of Russian election interference led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, offered to resign last month after reports that he contemplated secretly recording conversations with the president.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some See Political Nadir in ‘Scorched-Earth’ Senate Hearing

“This was men against women, right against left, a cascade of recriminations, explosions of anger, hours of tears and sobs,” writes Marc Fisher of the Washington Post. “A hearing that was supposed to bring clarity instead erupted in thunderclaps from the nation’s built-up tensions over how the sexes are supposed to behave with each other.”

The subject was supposed to be the selection of a new justice on the Supreme Court. Instead Thursday’s showdown on Capitol Hill was a raw, scorched-earth confrontation across the nation’s most emotionally wrenching divides, writes the Washington Post‘s Marc Fisher. This was men against women, right against left, a cascade of recriminations, explosions of anger, hours of tears and sobs. A hearing that was supposed to bring clarity instead erupted in thunderclaps from the nation’s built-up tensions over how the sexes are supposed to behave with each other. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and the woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her came ­before the Senate Judiciary Committee in “the wrong town at the wrong time,” as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) put it.

The result was affirmation that Washington is as broken as it has ever been. Based on what the senators in the room said, the result was, once again, people hearing mostly what they were inclined to believe. The result, far from clarity, was a complex rush of emotions adding up to two families left in wreckage and a political system without even a pathway to cooperation. The day ended with discord bordering on dark visions of a hopeless future. Graham heatedly declared that “this is not a job interview. This is hell. . . . To my Republican colleagues, if you vote ‘no,’ you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.” Yet many said the hearing was a replay of the 1991 confrontation between Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and his accuser, law professor Anita Hill, similarly appalled and fascinated the nation as senators and witnesses argued over pornographic films and pubic hair. Now, as then, the country is painfully divided. Now, as then, people lament the establishment of new lows.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Houston Chronicle: Cruz Goes Low in Attacks on CJ Reforms

In an editorial, the newspaper says Cruz is using “scaremongering and race-baiting” in his reelection campaign. It says, “He has targeted otherwise bipartisan rhetoric about criminal justice reform as the subject for convenient campaign season attacks.”

In a scathing editorial, the Houston Chronicle says Ted Cruz has sacrificed criminal justice reform in his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate. The newspaper said the Texas Republican has broken “an unspoken detente on scaremongering and race-baiting campaigns. Without the fear of cheap attacks, politicians and policymakers have been free to discuss the failings of our criminal justice system in stark, earnest terms. Historically low crime rates certainly contributed to that political truce. In his campaign for re-election, Cruz has shattered that truce. He has targeted otherwise bipartisan rhetoric about criminal justice reform as the subject for convenient campaign season attacks. It cheapens the debate and stifles the sort of progress that Texas Republicans once took pride in.”

Cruz has criticized his opponent, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, for referring to our system of mass incarceration as “the new Jim Crow,” the title of Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book. He also attacked O’Rourke for saying that Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who shot and killed a neighbor in his own apartment, should have been fired from her job. He has condemned O’Rourke for criticizing the war on drugs. The Chronicle said Cruz is exploiting justice reform “for political opportunism” under “the cynical cloak of partisanship.” The paper concluded, “When Texans get it right, as we have on some aspects of criminal justice reform, we deserve to see those ideas elevated and promoted at the highest levels of government, not sacrificed on the altar of election year strategy.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

GOP Backs Trump After Cohen Plea, Manafort Verdict

Democrats called for a congressional investigation into the case of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime fixer. Republican leaders largely brushed off the Cohen guilty plea on campaign finance violations and the jury’s conviction of Paul Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges.

As he pleaded guilty in New York City to violating federal campaign finance laws, Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime fixer, put his future in the hands of the legal system. The fate of Trump, the man who Cohen said directed him to break the law by making payments to a pornographic film actress and a former Playboy model, rests, in all likelihood, in the political arena and in the halls of Congress, the New York Times reports. At least for now, the Republican Party continues to stand by the president. With only weeks until the midterm elections, the question will be put before voters, who will decide whether to hand Congress — and the power of investigation, subpoenas and, possibly, impeachment — to the Democrats.

After Cohen’s pleas and a guilty verdict, minutes later, in the Virginia federal bank and tax fraud case against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Democrats demanded a congressional investigation into the Cohen affair and warned of an increasingly dangerous threat to the rule of law. “This is getting deeper and deeper, and it’s going to get more and more serious,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “Campaign finance violations — I don’t know what will come from that, but the thing that will hurt the president the most is if, in fact, his campaign did coordinate with a foreign government like Russia. Anything short of that is probably going to fall into partisan camps.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX),  the No. 2 Senate Republican, said, “I have no idea about what the facts are surrounding [Cohen’s] guilty plea other than the fact that none of it has anything to do with the Russia investigation,” Cornyn said. “I would make the same observation with regard to Mr. Manafort.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

St. Louis Prosecutor Ousted by Ferguson Reformer

Robert McCulloch’s 28-year run as county prosecutor came to a stunning end Tuesday when he lost in a landslide to a Ferguson, Mo., councilman, Wesley Bell. McCulloch had been criticized for his handling of a 2014 police shooting that drew national attention.

Robert McCulloch’s 28-year run as St. Louis County’s elected prosecutor came to a stunning end Tuesday when he was upset by a Ferguson, Mo., councilman who promised to reform the criminal justice system, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wesley Bell, 43, earned 57 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. With no candidate from any other political party in the race, Bell will run unopposed in November. This was the first time McCulloch, 67, had faced a challenger since protests that erupted over the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014. Protesters criticized his office for its handling of the grand jury inquiry into the killing of Brown. The grand jury brought no charges against Officer Darren Wilson.

McCulloch told reporters he probably will retire and that he has no regrets about how he handled the Wilson case. Political observers had given Bell little chance, saying that McCulloch’s long tenure and fundraising advantage made it nearly impossible for Bell to win. “We shocked the world,” Bell told supporters Tuesday night. “I’m in total disbelief,” St. Louis University political science professor Ken Warren said. “Obviously Ferguson defined this election.” Bell acknowledged the influence Ferguson had in his run for office, telling a reporter, “Out of tragedy, comes opportunity. … I’m a product of that evolution.”

from https://thecrimereport.org