Crime and punishment roundup

  • “They Shared Drugs. Someone Died. Does That Make Them Killers?” [Rosa Goldensohn, New York Times in May, earlier on overdose prosecutions here, etc.]
  • Also from May, missed this good Jill Lepore piece on rise of victims’ rights revolution, powered by both feminist and conservative impulses [The New Yorker; my comment on victim impact statements]
  • UK: sexual assault cases collapse after prosecution shown to have held back material helpful to defense [Sky News]
  • “The ongoing problem of conveniently malfunctioning police cameras” [Radley Balko]
  • Bail reform activists shift focus toward problems with/tradeoffs of risk assessment algorithms, suggesting that previous “whole problem is private actors making a buck” theme might have been oversimplified [Scott Shackford, earlier here, here, here, etc.] Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown signs comprehensive bail reform bill [Jazmine Ulloa, L.A. Times]
  • Second Circuit: New York’s gravity-knife law isn’t unconstitutionally vague [opinion courtesy Institute for Justice, earlier]

One Comment

  • Jill LePore on victims’ rights–

    I have mixed reactions to this piece.

    I agree that victim impact statements can delay recovery, as well as reminding us of the Cultural Revolution in China. New believe-the-accuser protocols for sex accusations discourage the seeking of truth, hence violating the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

    Some other victims’ rights reforms, however, were a step in the right direction, eg keeping victims informed about the status of offenders who pose a continuing threat to them.

    I was hoping an increased emphasis on victims’ rights would siphon away resources from prosecution of victimless crimes, but that has not panned out.

    I am more sympathetic than Ms. LePore toward tough-on-(real)-crime policies. The rollback of the barbarous crime rates of the 1970s-1980s was one of the proudest achievements of the Buckley-Goldwater-Reagan conservatism that expired around year 2000. In protest, we are told that comes at the cost of an extravagant increase in the imprisonment rate, but actually the prison increase matches a precipitous decline in mental institutionalization. The criminally insane, discharged from institutions, found their way to prisons, and then the
    crime rate began to fall.