Category: Crime

A legal memorandum by John-Michael Seibler of the Heritage Foundation proposes, “Seven State Criminal Justice Reform Measures for Congress to Consider.” It points out: “A number of states—those laboratories of democracy—are leading the current push for genuine reform that does not involve issuing get-out-of-jail-free cards to those deserving of punishment. The federal government would be well-served by looking to the modest, measured pieces of legislation states have crafted to battle overcriminalization and enact effective criminal justice reform.”  Read the memorandum in its entirety on the Heritage Foundation website here. The measures are  Enact Mens Rea Reform to Decriminalize Morally Innocent Mistakes or Accidents Repeal Outdated, Unnecessary Criminal Laws Codify the Rule of Lenity (guides judicial interpretation of… View Article

Give Prisoners a Second Chance

By Gerard Robinson and Elizabeth English On October 12, 29 prisoners and 45 Baltimore-area experts in criminal justice congregated in the Jessup Correctional Institution library. Most were members of the University of Baltimore community or other academics. All were eager to see the inauguration of a Department of Education pilot program that could change the lives of participants for years to come. In June 2016, the university was chosen among 67 colleges and universities nationwide to participate in the Obama administration’s $30 million Second Chance Pell Grant Experimental Sites Initiative. Under the program, approximately 12,000 of America’s 2.2 million incarcerated will receive federal aid to pursue a higher education. Upon release, they will retain the Pell funding to finish… View Article

Resistance Grows to Civil Asset Forfeiture

By Ross Coker Ross Coker While the discussion and debate over reform for civil asset forfeiture remain ongoing, most Americans still probably do not even know what it means, much less how it is being wielded by law enforcement. Among the think tanks and policy organizations explaining the concept and grading individual states are The Heritage Foundation and The Institute for Justice. They call it “policing for profit.” In brief, the concept of civil asset forfeiture is that two different burdens are proof are used to determine if an individual is guilty of a crime and to determine if the individual’s property is “guilty” of being used for the crime. This presents the strange legal fiction where a car View Article

Reacting to the 2015 FBI Crime Report

By Ross Coker Ross Coker Atlanta – The FBI released its comprehensive report on 2015 crime and crime rates across the nation today (September 26). The report, “Crime in the United States,” highlights some potentially troubling statistics, among them, a 3.1 percent overall increase in the relative overall comparative violent crime rate While this statistic is troubling on its face, there are several crucial points to bear in mind when interpreting the data. First, the rise in crime was relative to the year before. Violent crime has fallen steadily for decades now (and was in fact at half-century record lows) and therefore is more pronounced as an uptick simply because of the low starting point. Furthermore,… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Once, Georgia’s most alarming criminal justice statistic was that one resident in 13 was under correctional supervision – imprisoned, jailed, on parole or on probation. Today, thanks to an ongoing series of criminal justice reforms, those numbers are shrinking. The most alarming statistic, however, remains the record number of Georgians on probation. In July 2016, a total of 167,714 offenders were on probation, the state Department of Corrections reports. Last year, nearly 45,000 were sentenced to probation. According to the National Institute of Corrections’ 2014 statistics, Georgia’s rate of 6,161 probationers per 100,000 residents is an astounding 321 percent higher than the national average, at 1,463 per 100,000. The next highest state is… View Article

Atlanta Police Force on Track to Get Body Cameras

Amid the nationally ongoing and sometimes emotionally charged discussion of police interactions and transparency, Atlanta is moving toward body cameras for law enforcement officers. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta City Council voted to spend nearly $6 million to purchase 1,200 of the cameras, which are designed to capture officers’ actions without the ability for interruption or editing footage. This amount of cameras will cover over half of all active officers, as APD consists of approximately 2000 sworn police officers as of 2014, according to an annual Atlanta Police Department Report. In areas where body cameras have already been deployed, the response has been positive from both the officers and the communities they police. “I don’t know… View Article

Guide to the Issues: Criminal Justice

Principles: Public safety is a core responsibility of government. A well-functioning criminal justice system enforces order and respect for every person’s right to property and life, and ensures that liberty does not lead to license. As with any government program, the criminal justice system must be transparent and include performance measures that hold it accountable for its results in protecting the public, lowering crime rates, reducing re-offending, collecting victim restitution and conserving taxpayers’ money. An ideal criminal justice system works to reform amenable offenders who will return to society through harnessing the power of families, charities, faith-based groups, and communities. Criminal prosecution should be reserved for conduct that is either blameworthy or threatens public safety, not wielded to grow government… View Article
California State Democratic Sen. Holly Mitchell and various law enforcement groups in California have reached an agreement regarding the fate of a bill introducing various reform measures to the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, according to The Los Angeles Times of August 5, 2016, The bill, S.B. 443, changes the requirement for seizing assets to a criminal conviction, but only for seizures of less than $40,000 in value.  This amount comes by way of a concession to the law enforcement community, who perceived the bill as too far-reaching without this addendum. “At its core, [the previous version of SB 443] sends basically a message to drug dealers that the cost of doing business has gone down,” said Ventura County… View Article
As reported in Creative Loafing, the city of Atlanta is considering new measures designed to keep people out of jail who might be better served with a targeted response to the reason for their offense.  This proposed measure is among many being considered within the state of Georgia and even nationally in the criminal justice reform movement, which seeks to curb high incarceration and recidivism rates with more intelligent and cost-saving strategies.… View Article

Rethinking Mandatory Minimum Sentences

By John G. Malcolm and John-Michael Seibler President Obama has publicly opined that mandatory minimum sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison for drug offenses do not “fit the crime.” He has acted on that belief by commuting dozens of drug offenders’ sentences as Congress debates reform to various aspects of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Sherman Chester is built like an NFL cornerback. His size belies a calm, respectful demeanor and a soft-spoken wit. On politics, he says he registered to vote as a Republican in 1984 because “Ronald Reagan was in office” and “America was doing it!” And when asked how he felt when he received a mandatory life sentence without parole for selling cocaine and heroin,… View Article

As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.

Dan Amos, CEO, AFLAC more quotes