Friday, September 15, 2017

EU Money Laundering Analysis Offers Lessons for Latin America
"A new report by the European police agency Europol examines why so much suspect financial activity results in so few money laundering prosecutions, and offers recommendations to improve the success rate that contain important lessons for Latin America's anti-money laundering frameworks and investigative bodies.

The report, "From Suspicion to Action – Converting financial information into greater operational impact," details how between 2006 and 2014 the European Union (EU) saw a 70 percent increase in suspicious transaction reports (STRs), the filings of suspicious activity that financial institutions and certain commercial actors are obliged to make to their country's Financial Investigation Unit (FIU).

The STRs, of which there were nearly 1 million across the EU in 2014, form the building blocks of money laundering investigations. Europol acknowledges the impossibility of accurately assessing data that is compiled and used in different ways in different countries. Nevertheless, the police body estimates that an average of just 10 percent of STRs are put to use each year.

The rate of success for investigations that begin with an STR was even lower. From 2010 to 2014, Europol found that just 2.2 percent of the estimated proceeds of crime were provisionally seized or frozen, and only 1.1 percent of criminal profits were ultimately confiscated at the EU level.

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When Cops Commit Crimes: Inside the First Database that Tracks America's Criminal Cops
"Twelve years ago, a criminal justice master’s student named Philip Stinson got into an argument with his grad school classmates about how often police officers committed crimes. His peers, many of whom were cops themselves, thought police crime was rare, but Stinson, himself a former cop and attorney, thought the problem was bigger than anyone knew. He bet a pint of ale that he could prove it.
...Stinson made good on his bet with an extensive police crime database offering the most comprehensive look ever at how often American cops are arrested, as well as some early insights into the consequences they face for breaking the laws they’re supposed to enforce."
 

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Less is More: How Reducing Probation Populations Can Improve Outcomes
"In this new report, co-authored by Michael Jacobson, Vincent Schiraldi, Reagan Daly, and Emily Hotez, the authors discuss the consequences of the tremendous growth in probation supervision over the past several decades in the United States and argue that the number of people on probation supervision needs to be significantly downsized.

The authors find that probation has often not served as an alternative to incarceration, but rather as a key driver of mass incarceration in the United States. Despite the large numbers of individuals under supervision, probation is the most underfunded of agencies within the criminal justice system. This leaves those under supervision, often an impoverished population, with the responsibility of paying for probation supervision fees, court costs, urinalysis tests, and electronic monitoring fees among a plethora of other fines. These financial obligations have incredibly detrimental implications on the mental and economic state of those under supervision and is argued to be an unjust and ineffective public policy.

Using New York City as an example, the authors outline how the probation department there was able to see a two-thirds decline in the number of people under community supervision from 1996 to 2014. At the same time that this decline happened, the city’s rate of crime and incarceration both decreased precipitously, showing that jurisdictions can experience fewer people on probation, less crime and less incarceration."

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The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy
"This article, the first of a three-part series, examines how the rules governing sexual-assault adjudication have changed in recent years, and why some of those changes are problematic. Part II will look at how a new—and inaccurate—science regarding key characteristics of sexual assault has biased adjudications and fostered unhealthy ideas about assault on campus. Part III considers a facet of the sexual assault adjudications that demands considerably more attention than it has received."

Part II - The Bad Science Behind Campus Response to Sexual Assault

Part III - The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases

 

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Black and Mixed Ethnicity Women more than Twice as Likely to Face Arrest
"Black and mixed ethnicity women are more than twice as likely as white women in the general population to be arrested, according to a new report ...by the Prison Reform Trust.

Black women are also more likely than other women to be remanded or sentenced to custody, and are 25% more likely than white women to receive a custodial sentence following a conviction, the report reveals. Black, Asian and minority ethnic women make up 11.9% of the women’s population in England and Wales, but account for 18% of the women’s prison population."

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Friday, September 1, 2017

The Militarization of America's Police May Reduce Crime: New Study
"Since 1997, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency has transferred surplus military equipment worth over $6 billion to more than 8,000 police agencies across the United States, according to official figures. Known as the 1033 Program, it is not without controversy, especially after police used armored vehicles and other military equipment to quell protests following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

The equipment includes everything from rifles and helicopters to uniforms and computers. Police departments receive the gear for free, though they are responsible for paying shipping costs. In 2015, after the violence in Ferguson drew national attention, the White House introduced some restrictions on the transfers; the Defense Logistics Agency would no longer give police grenade launchers, tanks or armed aircraft, for example.

Proponents of the transfers say the equipment helps police forces tackle crime. Opponents argue that the militarization of police forces drives a wedge between communities and those vowing to protect them. A new scholarly paper may disappoint the program’s critics."

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Murders Surge in Florida in Decade after "Stand Your Ground" Law
"Murders climbed 22 percent in Florida in the decade after the state enacted its `Stand Your Ground’ self-defense law, even after accounting for the expected spike in justifiable homicides, a new study suggests.

Before the law took effect in October 2005, Florida residents had a right to use lethal force when they felt their life was endangered by a home intruder. The `Stand Your Ground’ law extended this right beyond the home, justifying deadly force for self-defense in other situations. 

On average, from 1999 to 2005, lawful homicides accounted for just 3.4 percent of all homicides in Florida. Between 2006 and 2015, the proportion of lawful homicides rose, accounting on average for 8.7 percent of homicides, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine."

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Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly
"Recent U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) policy banned transgender personnel from serving openly in the military. Potential changes to this policy raised questions regarding access to gender transition–related health care, the range of transition-related treatments that DoD will need to provide, the potential costs associated with these treatments, and the impact of these health care needs on force readiness and the deployability of transgender service members. A RAND study identified the health care needs of the transgender population and transgender service members in particular. It also examined the costs of covering transition-related treatments, assessed the potential readiness implications of a policy change, and reviewed the experiences of foreign militaries that permit transgender personnel to serve openly."

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Poor, Rural and Addicted: Drugs Drive Surge in White Women in Prison
"...The reasons for the influx of white women into prison aren't entirely clear. Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, has documented dramatic changes in the racial makeup of female prisoners across the country. He said tough sentencing for drug crimes accounts for much of the growth in the number of incarcerated women, driven by the decline of crack - which was more prevalent in inner cities - and the rise of meth and opioids in rural areas.

Incarceration is just one symptom of deeper problems affecting white women, especially those with little education who live in rural areas, Mauer said. Demographers last year noted a rare decline in life expectancy for this group, driven by a surge in deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide. Deaths among middle-aged women in small cities, towns and rural communities have risen the most, according to economists Ann Case and Angus Deaton."

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Algorithms in the Criminal Justice System: Assessing the Use of Risk Assessments in Sentencing
"In the summer of 2016, some unusual headlines began appearing in news outlets across the United States. 'Secret Algorithms That Predict Future Criminals Get a Thumbs Up From the Wisconsin Supreme Court,' read one. Another declared: 'There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks.' These news stories (and others like them) drew attention to a previously obscure but fast-growing area in the field of criminal justice: the use of risk assessment software, powered by sophisticated and sometimes proprietary algorithms, to predict whether individual criminals are likely candidates for recidivism. In recent years, these programs have spread like wildfire throughout the American judicial system. They are now being used in a broad capacity, in areas ranging from pre-trial risk assessment to sentencing and probation hearings.

This paper focuses on the latest—and perhaps most concerning—use of these risk assessment tools: their incorporation into the criminal sentencing process, a development which raises fundamental legal and ethical questions about fairness, accountability, and transparency. The goal is to provide an overview of these issues and offer a set of key considerations and questions for further research that can help local policymakers who are currently implementing or considering implementing similar systems. We start by putting this trend in context: the history of actuarial risk in the American legal system and the evolution of algorithmic risk assessments as the latest incarnation of a much broader trend. We go on to discuss how these tools are used in sentencing specifically and how that differs from other contexts like pre-trial risk assessment. We then delve into the legal and policy questions raised by the use of risk assessment software in sentencing decisions, including the potential for constitutional challenges under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, we summarize the challenges that these systems create for law and policymakers in the United States, and outline a series of possible best practices to ensure that these systems are deployed in a manner that promotes fairness, transparency, and accountability in the criminal justice system."

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The Ongoing March of the EU's Security-Industrial Complex
"The EU has hit troubled waters in recent years, but divisions and tensions within the bloc have not halted significant advances in the development and implementation of new security measures aiming to counter terrorism, fight crime, ensure 'border management' and protect critical infrastructure at the same time as constructing a European 'homeland security' economy able to compete with states such as the USA, Israel and China.

Propelled by a healthy dose of corporate influence and assistance, measures already in place or on the way include the EU-wide border surveillance system Eurosur; a new network of ‘Passenger Information Units’ for police profiling of air and, in the future, rail and ferry passengers; biometric databases and recognition and identification systems for public and private use alike; and new data-mining and predictive analysis tools that foresee police forces wielding powers akin to those traditionally reserved for intelligence agencies."

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Recent Council of Europe Publications:

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Youth Homelessness Linked to Foster Care System in New Study
 "A first-of-its-kind study in Canada is drawing a link between youth homelessness levels and a foster care system that researchers say could be playing a more active role in keeping young people off the streets.

The study ... found nearly three out of every five homeless youth were part of the child welfare system at some point in their lives, a rate almost 200 times greater than that of the general population.

Of those with a history in the child welfare system, almost two of every five respondents eventually 'aged out' of provincial or territorial care, losing access to the sort of support that could have kept them from becoming homeless, the study found.

Canada is creating a group of young people who are at higher risk of becoming homeless because they lack resources when coming out of foster care, said Stephen Gaetz, the study's co-author and director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

The report urges the federal government to focus on preventing youth homelessness — particularly among Indigenous youth — and provinces and territories to focus on "after care" by providing support as needed until age 25."

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Video Chat Price-Gouging Costs Inmates More Than Money
"The more incarcerated people get to visit with their loved ones while they’re serving time, the less likely they are to reoffend later on. Research has repeatedly shown it. Just where video visitation rights fall into that, though, has become a serious point of contention.

Criminal justice reform advocates have vehemently opposed the creep of video-only visitations into American jails and prisons. Video visits, which inmates pay for, often replace in-person visits entirely, while filling the coffers of for-profit vendors and local jails. In fact, one 2015 study by the Prison Policy Initiative found that 74 percent of jails that adopt video visitation have also banned in-person visits. Not only does that rob incarcerated people of the opportunity to see their children and families face to face, but every minute spent on these glitchy systems costs families money they often don’t have.

A new study by the prison reform advocacy group Vera Institute of Justice, though, found that when Washington State’s Department of Corrections introduced supplemental video visitations in 2013, inmates who made video calls actually received more in-person visits. It also found that few people actually used the video system, because of the poor quality of the calls and the exorbitant $12.95 price tag for a 30-minute connection. Taken together, the findings suggest that while video visitation could help recidivism rates among US prisoners, corporate and government greed have hamstrung its positive effects."

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