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All articles are chosen at the sole discretion of the Crime and Justice News editors. Any opinions expressed or positions taken here on Crime and Justice News are those of their respective authors.

Research Backs Police Response To Drug Overdoses

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Should the police be responding to opioid overdoses? If you ask some public health experts, drug users, and even the police themselves, the answer might be no. Public health experts who are concerned about police involvement point broadly to the idea that this approach is not harm-reduction based. More specifically, their concerns revolve around the police criminalizing drug users and others on scene, the impact of drug induced homicide laws, and exacerbating overdose likelihood in the future. People who use drugs often have similar concerns, and police involvement in overdose calls for service may cause citizens to be reluctant in calling 911 when an overdose situation arises due to the fear of arrest. Lastly, the police are concerned with the training and cost, fear of exposure to opioids, liability (civil or criminal), inappropriately administering naloxone, and aggression from the victim post-naloxone administration. Recently published researched in the American Journal of Public Health casts doubt on the prevalence of some of these concerns regarding police responding to overdoses, at least in Tempe, Az. Using an innovative method of assessing incident characteristics, the authors review body-worn camera footage of Tempe police officers responding to overdoses where a local fire department (FD) or a Tempe police officer administered naloxone. The data included 168 overdose incidents where an officer was on scene from February 3, 2020, to May 7, 2021. Police concerns were largely not supported in Tempe. No officer improperly administered naloxone; no officer was accidently exposed to an opioid; no officer was disciplined or sued; one officer did hesitate to administer naloxone (FD was on scene and the officer let them provide aid); and the overdose victim was aggressive in just 3.6 percent of the incidents. Similarly, public health concerns were infrequently observed. The overdose victim was arrested in six incidents (3.6 percent); ticketed or cited in five incidents (3 percent); and two incidents led to others at the scene being arrested (1.2 percent). All the arrests were for felony warrants. Also, officers exercised their discretion and chose not to arrest the overdose victim in eight incidents despite having a warrant. While these findings are promising, it’s important to consider some contextual factors. In Arizona, the opioid crisis has been recognized at all levels of government and within many police departments. In 2015, Arizona State Legislature passed HB 2489, which allowed police to be trained and outfitted with naloxone. The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board has also promoted naloxone in police departments through funding, training, and access to naloxone. Additionally, in 2018, Arizona legislature passed a Good Samaritan law that provides protection against arrest for the overdose victim and caller. However, this law does exclude felony or outstanding warrants. Lastly, the Tempe Police Department has de-emphasized the need to arrest through training and has emphasized the role of being a conduit to social services. State, local, and departmental buy-in is critical for a successful program of this nature. This is achieved through both formal and informal policies or training. In Arizona, and specifically in Tempe, the ingredients are there for a successful police-led naloxone program.

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Seth Watts

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Research Backs Police Response To Drug Overdoses

Should the police be responding to opioid overdoses? If you ask some public health experts, drug users, and even the police themselves, the answer might be no. Public health experts who are concerned about police involvement point broadly to the idea that this approach is not harm-reduction based. More specifically, their concerns revolve around the police criminalizing drug users and others on scene, the impact of drug induced homicide laws, and exacerbating overdose likelihood in the future. People who use drugs often have similar concerns, and police involvement in overdose calls for service may cause citizens to be reluctant in calling 911 when an overdose situation arises due to the fear of arrest. Lastly, the police are concerned with the training and cost, fear of exposure to opioids, liability (civil or criminal), inappropriately administering naloxone, and aggression from the victim post-naloxone administration. Recently published researched in the American Journal of Public Health casts doubt on the prevalence of some of these concerns regarding police responding to overdoses, at least in Tempe, Az. Using an innovative method of assessing incident characteristics, the authors review body-worn camera footage of Tempe police officers responding to overdoses where a local fire department (FD) or a Tempe police officer administered naloxone. The data included 168 overdose incidents where an officer was on scene from February 3, 2020, to May 7, 2021. Police concerns were largely not supported in Tempe. No officer improperly administered naloxone; no officer was accidently exposed to an opioid; no officer was disciplined or sued; one officer did hesitate to administer naloxone (FD was on scene and the officer let them provide aid); and the overdose victim was aggressive in just 3.6 percent of the incidents. Similarly, public health concerns were infrequently observed. The overdose victim was arrested in six incidents (3.6 percent); ticketed or cited in five incidents (3 percent); and two incidents led to others at the scene being arrested (1.2 percent). All the arrests were for felony warrants. Also, officers exercised their discretion and chose not to arrest the overdose victim in eight incidents despite having a warrant. While these findings are promising, it’s important to consider some contextual factors. In Arizona, the opioid crisis has been recognized at all levels of government and within many police departments. In 2015, Arizona State Legislature passed HB 2489, which allowed police to be trained and outfitted with naloxone. The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board has also promoted naloxone in police departments through funding, training, and access to naloxone. Additionally, in 2018, Arizona legislature passed a Good Samaritan law that provides protection against arrest for the overdose victim and caller. However, this law does exclude felony or outstanding warrants. Lastly, the Tempe Police Department has de-emphasized the need to arrest through training and has emphasized the role of being a conduit to social services. State, local, and departmental buy-in is critical for a successful program of this nature. This is achieved through both formal and informal policies or training. In Arizona, and specifically in Tempe, the ingredients are there for a successful police-led naloxone program.

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Experts: Place-Based Strategies Are Effective, Central to Police Reform

By Cynthia Lum, Christopher Koper, David Weisburd, Robin Engel, John Eck, Anthony Braga, John MacDonald, Rod Brunson, and Michael Smith A recent Washington Post article asserts that place-based policing approaches led to Breonna Taylor’s death. This claim is unsubstantiated and wrong both legally and scientifically. And, it fuels policy that hurts communities of color where high-quality police services are most needed. Let there be no mistake; a botched no-knock warrant led to Breonna Taylor’s death, not place-based policing. Place-based approaches are grounded in research showing that crime is highly concentrated within communities. Half of reported crimes occur at about 5 percent of street blocks in a locality. Thus, most of any community is reasonably safe from serious crime. Crime concentrates at these locations due to intersecting routines of potential victims and possible offenders. And if crime concentrates, it makes sense to focus on the specific areas where it does, rather than spread police across neighborhoods. According to two National Academies of Sciences reviews conducted in 2004 and 2018 on a multitude of research studies, place-based policing is one of the most evidence-based and scientifically supported approaches police can take to prevent crime in their communities. But what police do at these locations matters greatly. Place-based approaches are complex and specific. An over-emphasis on aggressive enforcement or simply “flooding” a place with cops aren’t smart hot spots approaches. Instead, place-based approaches require good analysis and a deep understanding of the factors contributing to persistent crime problems and their solutions. Once identified, regular police presence emphasizing problem-solving prevention work and community engagement works best at preventing crime at these locations. This includes focusing on the small number of people driving crime problems in these places. Place-based policing doesn’t just involve law enforcement; it includes working with residents, businesses, and other agencies to make places safer. Feedback from communities most affected is also critical; indeed, hot spots are often identified based on citizen calls for service, reflecting areas of intense community concern. The place network investigations (PNI) of Prof. Tamara Herold of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas align with these principles. The PNI strategy is specifically designed to improve community health and resiliency in historically disenfranchised and vulnerable neighborhoods. In the absence of place-based strategies, there are few evidence-based alternatives. Police would have to fall back on general enforcement, chasing offenders, and responding to calls, tactics that contribute little to safety and remove police further from the community. These tactics have led to the current police-community crisis, so we should not go back. Place-focused approaches in policing bring communities a more thoughtful and high-quality approach to policing than traditional policing approaches which are often unfocused across communities. The science supports police adopting place-based approaches. Ignoring the needs of these places would be irresponsible and contribute to higher victimization. The authors are criminologists and policing scholars from George Mason University (Lum, Koper, and Weisburd), the University of Cincinnati (Engel and Eck), the University of Pennsylvania (Braga and MacDonald), the University of Maryland (Brunson), and the University of Texas at San Antonio (Smith).

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By Stephanie Geoghan

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How Parents Talk To Kids About Police Affects Legitimacy Crisis

How do parents talk to their children about the role of the police, and how to navigate an interaction with an officer? Researchers have determined that many factors influence “the talk” that parents have with their children, including what messages are deemed to be important for children to understand about the police, the race of the parent, as well as the parent’s own attitudes about the police with respect to their legitimacy as an authority. With the death of George Floyd in May 2020 causing an uproar of protests, civil unrest, and the demand for police reform, people have been ultimately concerned with the legitimacy of the police. Police legitimacy can be broadly defined as the belief that the decisions that officers make and the rules that they implement are appropriate and proper. When people view the police as a legitimate authority, they feel a voluntary obligation to obey them and the laws that they reinforce. Currently, the police are facing a legitimacy crisis due to the series of police shootings of unarmed Black individuals over the last few years. Understanding police legitimacy and how it affects the development of attitudes for youth is important, as it predicts law-abiding behavior, builds trust, and leads to cooperation with the police. However, due to Black individuals being disproportionately more likely that white individuals to be killed by the police and the fact that the trauma from these experiences is transferred to other Black individuals either directly or vicariously, Black people are significantly less likely to trust the police and cooperate with them. Thus, Black individuals, including youth, must navigate being a target of police brutality, as well as being seen as a threat by the police. Due to these racial differences in attitudes towards the police as well as police legitimacy, researchers conducted a study to examine the conversations that parents have with their children about the police. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know what messages about the police parents conveyed to their children, and if the parent’s own race and attitudes about the police had an influence on the content of these messages. The study took place in the United States and consisted of 1,370 participants who were 65 percent White, 24.8 percent Black/Biracial Black, 4.8 percent Latinx, 2.4 percent Asian, 2.4 percent multiracial, 0.4 percent Native American, 0.4 percent Middle Eastern, and 0. percent chose not to identify their race/ethnicity. The survey focused on four primary components: Police Role, Compliance, Police Behavior, and Safety Behaviors. Police Role measured for parents communicating messages that encouraged their children to call the police when they are needed since they are an authority that serves to protect the community. Compliance measured for the parent’s belief that compliance is necessary when interacting with police officers, even if it’s unequivocal (e.g. do not ever talk back, and always do what the officer asks without asking questions); Police Behavior measured the degree to which a parent communicates messages about the police engaging in harmful behaviors (e.g. the police may treat you unfairly because of your race, or police officers may use physical force against you). Safety Measures measured the degree to which a parent communicates messages to their children about behaviors that will protect them from police contact (e.g. avoid walking in large groups when around the police, be careful about the type of clothes you wear when around the police). Results of the study showed that Black parents placed less importance than white parents on the overall positive socialization messages about the police (Police Role). Rather, Black parents focused their messages on the importance of knowing that the police sometimes engage in behaviors that may harm them (Police Behavior), as well as the importance of compliance and proactive avoidance (Safety Behavior). This study overall shows the importance of understanding the messages that children receive from their parents that they may internalize as they continue to grow and develop their own attitudes toward the police. The socialization of children to the police directly affects their attitudes and behaviors toward this authority, as the perceptions that they have now will only crystalize as they enter adulthood. Therefore, change through policies and practices such as police trainings and community building events can aid in bettering the interactions that officers have with youth. If officers can understand how Black youth were raised to think of the police and how to behave around them, they can learn how to interact with Black youth (and other youth of color) in a more racially sensitive and trauma-informed way.

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By Dennis Sarpong

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How 'FAST' Policing Can Boost Public Confidence In Officers

Speedily and guaranteed service is what 911 callers expect from the police. Unless cases are resolved without deployment or otherwise, police dispatchers meet face-to-face with 911 callers to resolve various issues. Calls for service shot up significantly during the pandemic. The total remains similar to pre-pandemic levels this year. As such, police departments that already face staff shortages and resource constraints struggle to keep up, igniting citizen frustration and dissatisfaction with the police and, in rare cases, undesirable consequences. New evidence from the United Kingdom shows that the problem can be tackled through telecommunication. In a randomized control trial study, study authors found that 911 callers preferred to converse with an available police officer. Police officers spent on average, over an hour on the phone with 911 callers offering their service as they would in an in-person meeting. Focusing on medium cases such as threats, harassment, assaults, disputes, disturbances, and sexual offenses, the authors found that the police were able to (a) spend more time with 911 callers offering them timely advice and referrals to partner agencies than if they drove to meet them in person, (b) offer, from the perspective of 911 callers, satisfactory services, and (c) offer cost-efficient and less labor-intensive response. Notably, this intervention increased the confidence and trust of 911 callers in the police as compared to those who received a face-to-face police meeting, regardless of a person’s race. About 95 percent of citizens have access to and use smartphones in the United States today. As such, this policing strategy will more likely be feasible in the U.S. context. his strategy could solve some issues. First, researchers describe the current era in the U.S. as one of citizen mistrust of the police. This is partly due to citizen dissatisfaction with police service delivery. Mistrust in the police, in particular, undermines citizen cooperation with the police and compliance with the law, which threatens community safety. Police departments in the U.S. face challenges in personnel and resource allocations. The implications of such challenges are enormous. Crucial amongst them are the negative impacts such logistical challenges have on the fight against crime and public safety. Reports in the U.S. show that people’s demographics, such as race, impact police response and justice delivery. This problem keeps widening the troubling gap between the police and citizens. Particularly, it strengthens the already strained relationship between the police and minorities. Viewing these issues in light of the study’s findings, there are some takeaways that, if adopted in the U.S. will bring some benefits. Adopting FAST (finding alternative and speedier tactics) policing is likely to boost public trust and confidence in the police, ensure that people receive timely responses and support from police officers, put limited police resources to effective and efficient use, and redirect resources to more serious cases. But for friendly relations between community members and police, public safety will be threatened. FAST policing is a feasible, cost-effective and-efficient approach that will bring the public closer to the police. Although it is not one size fits all approach, it can improve policing in the U.S.

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'Stepping Up' Cites Gains In Cutting Jailings In Mental Illness, Drug Cases

Since its launch in 2015, an initiative called Stepping Up has worked to reduce the overincarceration of people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The partnership between The Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation says it has been able to engage more than 550 counties across the U.S. in reforming justice and behavioral systems and reducing racial disparities. Over the past seven years, Stepping Up communities have been assisted by a data driven framework to provide different approaches. The counties have worked to reduce citizen contact with law enforcements and lower the booking of individuals with mental illnesses into jail. In a webinar Seven Years of Stepping Up, experts from three counties praised Stepping Up for its ability to connect community responder programs, law enforcement and mental health providers in aiding vulnerable residents. Director Karhlton Moore of the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance, which funds the initiative, cited the role of data in Stepping Up's success, " Data provides communities with the ability to quantify the number of people with serious mental illnesses in the justice system and to identify the policy and program improvements to address these needs," he said. Counties that have established  baseline data  suggested reduction targets for four key measures: the number of people booked into jail who have serious mental illnesses, their average length of stay in jail, the percentage of people who are connected to treatment, and their recidivism rates. Moore said the availability of data allows counties to offer different alternatives to lower jail populations and help provide better behavioral health care responses. People with complex mental health needs enter jails at higher rates than others and tend to stay significantly longer. This puts them at a higher risk of returning to jail than those without mental health conditions. Sheriff Kelly Rowe of Lubbock County, Tx., said jails operate as the nation's "de facto mental institutions." He said that nearly half of inmates have received some level of mental health services at some time in their life. Rowe said his facility contracts with a local mental health provider that is available 24 hours a day to assess prisoners. This, along with other resources, allows for proper care and staff awareness. Lisa Potter, director of diversion initiatives in Fairfax County, Va., said data collected for the program allows her to see both successes and gaps that can lead to quality improvements. As part of the initiative, Fairfax signed on to a program called "Set, Measure, Achieve" to "advance the goal of reducing the prevalence of the behavioral health population in jails." From 2015 to 2021, there has been a 35 percent decrease in the jail behavioral health population charged with misdemeanor. The reductions started before the COVID-19 pandemic. Ruchelle Pride, Director of Justice Policy and Programs in Franklin County, Oh., said her office is focusing on advancing goals to achieve racial equity. She said racism is a root cause of poverty, bad health, and broken families. The county's program emphasizes the need for better data collection efforts to help act as a guide in decision making. Data reports include length of stay in case processing, race inequities in arrests, bond trends and population and demographic density.

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Will Justice Jackson Help Shape More Progressive Criminal Justice?

With her confirmation by the Senate, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first United States Supreme Court justice who previously served as a public defender and, for the first time since the court's founding in 1790, the first Black woman to sit on the highest court. Jackson’s opinions and decisions will undoubtedly continue to be scrutinized just as the other “firsts” were: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, and Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black man appointed. The first in any category is always subject to special scrutiny, but Jackson has promised neutrality as a justice and acknowledged her limited role: She told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I decide cases from a neutral posture, evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath. I know that my role as a judge is a limited one.” In the committee, many senators were bent on questioning Jackson's sentencing record, pressing her about having sentenced people convicted of possession of child pornography to less time behind bars than is recommended by federal guidelines Critics brought up a case in which Jackson sentenced 19-year old Wesley Hawkins to three months in prison followed by six years of supervised release after pleading guilty to downloading images of child sexual abuse. However, Jackson’s sentencing of Hawkins case, and others, were in line with many prosecutor recommendations at the time. Just Thursday, Ruben Verastigui, 29, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced by federal Judge Amit Mehta to more than 12 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release on a charge of receipt of child pornography. He will be required to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years. Verastigui’s harsh sentence is a sharp reminder of the problems that plague the criminal justice system such as mandatory minimum penalties, over-sentencing, and over-prosecuting. Jackson's decisions on the bench will help shape the landscape of the criminal justice system for decades to come. Joining the most conservative Supreme Court in recent memory, Jackson’s experiences and perspective has the possibility to produce surprising results and will certainly trickle down to judges who are involved in direct sentencing. What does Jackson’s confirmation mean for the future? For starters, future presidents may be reluctant to nominate former trial judges, and federal judges aiming for the highest court may forgo moderate sentencing for penalties strictly in line with mandatory minimums and time suggested by federal guidelines. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure: Jackson’s confirmation has the ability to help shape a more progressive state of criminal justice. Jill Mceldowney is a student at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

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By Zeina Elqadah

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How Police Body Worn Camera Policies Can Be 'Victim Sensitive'

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) are a fairly new policing technology that agencies throughout the U.S. use to document police and community interactions. There is strong support for BWC use on both the law enforcement and public sides. However there is little guidance with how BWCs should be used in relations to victims of crime, especially victims who have experienced sexual or domestic violence. An article in Criminology & Public Policy provides five guiding principles on how law enforcement agencies should craft their BWC policies to be victim sensitive. These guidelines enhance survivor-police relations and work to resolve concerns survivors may have of being recorded after a traumatic experience. Using qualitative interviews with 33 survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence, the authors found that almost all survivors believed that officers should provide notification of BWC use as soon as possible during an interaction. This declaration assisted victims feeling empowered and lessened the power imbalance between officer and victim. There were mixed reactions on whether officers should get consent from the victim prior to the use of BWC, but but the majority favored consent being requested. The favoring of consent was highlighted by the survivors' need to gain some form of control in the interaction and not feel pressured. Participants who did not feel the need to provide consent to officers believed that it was important for the interaction to be recorded and that BWC was part of the officers uniform. Participants stressed that the best course of action for officers working with survivors of crime was to deactivate their BWCs completely. While there was no alternative option provided, many suggested that officers only use the audio recording portion of the BWC or divert the camera away from the survivor if the BWC must be used. Many participants highlighted the importance of privacy, considering there might be children or homes documented in the BWC recording. The authors recommend that law enforcement agencies establish consistent procedures regarding BWC use so that survivors and community members know what is expected. The recordings should be occasionally reviewed by supervisors to ensure that excellent service is provided and unacceptable performances are worked on. This also gives the agency an opportunity to provide real-life scenario training through the use of BWC recordings. The final guiding principle includes providing survivors with a summary of how the recordings are stored and who has access to them. The study suggests that survivor apprised of this knowledge can make informed decisions and may feel more comfortable reporting the incident. It is still unclear if using victim sensitive guidelines for BWCs will affect a survivor’s decision to report, but evidence suggests that it will affect a survivor's experience within the criminal justice system. Further research can work to ensure victims are treated with dignity and policies are put in place to protect their rights.

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Why Have Police Clearance Rates Dropped to A Historic Low?

Police nationwide solved more murders in 2020 than in any year since 1997, according to data reported to the FBI. Because new homicides increased sharply, the reported rate at which killings were solved, the “clearance rate,” declined to a little below 50 percent, reports the Marshall Project. .The lower clearance rate in 2020 was an extension of a steady drop since the early 1980s, when police cleared about 70 percent of all homicides. In most cases, clearing a crime means at least one suspect was charged with the crime. However, individual agencies have different ways of calculating clearance, with some clearing a case once police identify a suspect, and others if an arrest is made. From 2019 to 2020, police solved 1,200 more murders, a 14 percent increase. Because the murder total increased by 30 percent, the homicide clearance rate dropped to a historic low. Clearances have long been the primary metric that law enforcement agencies use to assess their effectiveness at solving crime. At least 400 murders cleared in 2020 were solved by “exceptional means.": police believed they had enough evidence, but were unable to make an arrest. This occurs when the suspect has died, can’t be extradited or if prosecutors refuse to press charges. Critics say police use clearance by exceptional means to inflate clearance numbers. Across the U.S., murders and manslaughters are cleared at the highest rates, at 50 percent and 69 percent respectively. Why do police solve only one in two murders? Scholars and police officials say murders are becoming more difficult to investigate, while some victims’ families say police spend too much energy on things other than solving crimes. Philip Cook of the University of Chicago Urban Labs, has been studying clearance rates since the 1970s. He cautioned that the clearance rate decline may not necessarily be a bad thing. “It also could be that the standards for making an arrest have gone up and some of the tricks they were using in 1965 are no longer available,” he said.

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Does Ignoring Black Women's Killings Suggest They're 'Disposable'?

Three recent killings in the Los Angeles area have put the spotlight on the disparate impact of gun violence on Black women and the lack of attention their stories receive, The Guardian reports. Two killings took place on weekends, a mere two weeks apart. On January 8, officials found the body of Tioni Theus, a 16-year-old girl who was found shot at a busy freeway onramp. This week, sisters Breahna Stines and Marneysha Hamilton were among four people shot dead during a mass shooting at a birthday party in Inglewood. Neither incident received much coverage outside of local news, raising questions about which stories are elevated in the national spotlight. While discrepancies between the attention for white and Black victims of violence is nothing new, community organizers and researchers worry about the message this phenomenon continues to send to young Black girls about their worth and potential. “This image of a young Black girl on the side of a highway with cars driving by speaks to the invisibility of Black life,” said Nikki Jones, a professor of African American studies at University of California Berkeley. “Black girls are contending with the messages that their life is disposable, and that’s an extremely dangerous message.” Theus was born in L.A.'s Compton neighborhood. Family members described her as loving, caring and smart, and fond of playing golf. On Jan. 7, she told her father she was meeting someone at a party. Hours later, her body was found. Compare this case to the killing of Brianna Kupfer, a 24-year-old white woman stabbed to death in the furniture store where she worked on January 13. Days after that killing, which got nationwide media coverage, police announced a $250,000 reward for information. A suspect was arrested on Jan. 19. Homicides of Black women in California nearly doubled in 2020, with 99 killed compared with 55 in 2019, according to FBI data.

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National Crime Data May Be Missing For Years As Police Fail to Report

Nearly 40 percent of law enforcement agencies around the U.S. did not submit any data in 2021 to a newly revised FBI crime statistics collection program, leaving a massive gap in information that is sure to be exploited by politicians in midterm election campaigns already dominated by public fear over a rise in violent crime, report the Marshall Project and Axios Local. . The gap includes the two largest cities by population, New York City and Los Angeles, as well as most agencies in five of the six most populous states: California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Last year, the FBI retired its nearly century-old crime data collection program, the Summary Reporting System used by the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. The agency switched to a new system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which compiles much more specific information on each incident. Even though the FBI announced the transition years ago and the federal government spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help local police make the switch, about 7,000 of the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies did not successfully send crime data to the voluntary program last year. Local agencies had until March 7 to submit data for the FBI's 2021 national crime report, so the final total In 2020, around 2,700 agencies did not report crime data to the FBI. The data gap will make it harder to analyze crime trends and fact-check claims politicians make about crime, and the uncertainty may continue for several years. Criminologist Jacob Kaplan of Princeton University, said because many big cities and populous states stopped reporting, it’s especially difficult to draw conclusions from the 2021 data. “I don't think you could get national numbers, at least not useful national numbers, from this data,” Kaplan said. “It's going to be really hard for policymakers to look at what crime looks like in their own community and compare it to similar communities.” Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, called the 2021 data uncertainty “a mess," adding, “It's not going to do the national debate over crime levels or crime solutions any good at all." When the FBI announced years ago that it would retire the old data collection system in 2021, no one could have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and nationwide calls for police reform, or the recent rise in homicides and shootings. Switching their data-reporting system wasn’t the priority of most police departments. The FBI might have prevented the crisis on national crime data by keeping its previous systems running until enough agencies transitioned to the new one, Rosenfeld said. “The FBI refused to do that, clearly on the assumption that if they gave agencies the option of continuing to report under the old system, they wouldn't transition rapidly,” Rosenfeld said. The FBI said it will develop a methodology to account for the gaps and create national crime estimates with the Bureau of Justice Statistics. An FBI spokesperson said it has “identified a way forward to account for missing large agencies,” and will focus on producing reliable estimates for states with decent participation rates. Many criminologists, wonder if national crime estimates are possible with so much missing data. People are used to working with “5% or 10% of missing data,” said James Lynch, criminology professor at the University of Maryland and former BJS director. "But making an estimate when 35 percent of the data is missing ...that's not malpractice necessarily, but you don't want to do that.”

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Durbin, Trone Seek to Reduce Total 10K Total Of U.S. Inmates In Solitary

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. David Trone (D-MD) have urged Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters to reduce the frequency and length of solitary confinement. The plea comes four months after President Biden issued an order that inmates must be “free from prolonged segregation” and that isolation must be “used rarely, applied fairly, and subject to reasonable constraints.” The lawmakers say that more than 10,000 people are in some form of solitary confinement in BOP facilities on any given day, making up nearly eight percent of the federal prison population. Durbin and Trone argue that this is unacceptable, citing research indicating that solitary confinement has little-to-no effect on maintaining safety and has proven harmful to prisoners' health. "The forced idleness and isolation of solitary confinement cause lasting mental health and physical deterioration and make people more likely to engage in difficult or disruptive behavior," Durbin and Trone said. "Research shows that just one or two days in solitary leads to significantly heightened risk of death by suicide, accident, violence, overdose, or other causes."

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About Crime And Justice News
Crime and Justice News is a daily digest of criminal justice stories from across the nation. Each day, veteran journalists led by Ted Gest provide summaries of newsworthy reporting on all aspects of crime and punishment. Our news coverage is complemented by expert commentary and research to provide insights into important criminal justice issues and a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system.
Sponsored By
The National Criminal Justice Association
The Academy for Justice at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University
The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University
Criminal Justice Journalists
All articles are chosen at the sole discretion of the Crime and Justice News editors. Any opinions expressed or positions taken here on Crime and Justice News are those of their respective authors.