Criminal Law Newsletter April 2016

The following is a compendium of news reports over the past month that may be of interest to our AG offices who are involved with criminal law issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Association of Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the positions expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.

Legislation

A “landmark” criminal justice bill has passed in Maryland. The bill is intended to save money by reducing the incarceration of nonviolent inmates and increasing drug treatment programs. It also addresses issues involving imprisonment, parole, treatment options, victim restitution and criminal record expungement.

A federal bill that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent offenders has “languished” since it passed the Judiciary Committee last fall; senators who support the bill are said to be reaching out to their colleagues in a last-ditch attempt to pass the bill.

Training

The Practicing Law Institute has opened enrollment for White Collar Crime 2016: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak, a seminar that will be held in New York on September 30, 2016.

The American Bar Association’s Seventh Annual Prescriptions for Criminal Justice Forensics Conference is scheduled for June 3, 2016, at the Fordham University School of Law in New York.

Nominations end on May 16, 2016 for NAGTRI’s Building Community Trust Symposium, to be held July 12, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Policy

The U.S. Department of Justice is planning to conduct a forensic science discipline review of testimony provided by FBI examiners. The DOJ is soliciting input on the methodology it will use in the Federal Register.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Information and Analysis is launching new, interactive “dashboards” that provide offense and arrest data sorted by crime type, time period, and geography, including statewide, by county, and by agency.

Compstat is credited with cutting crime in New York City by 75 percent since it was implemented in 1994.

In a new Gallup poll, Americans are more worried about crime than they have been since before September 11, 2001.

Utah has launched a “white collar crime registry”—similar to a sex offender registry—that provides a list of offenders’ names, crimes, photos, and a brief summary of their crimes. The offenders are people who have been convicted of certain fraud offenses in Utah state court.

The New York Times Magazine profiled the air-support division of the Los Angeles Police Department. The article argues that the use of helicopters has changed both policing and crime in LA.

The District of Columbia is considering developing a program to pay former convicts to not commit crimes. A similar program in Richmond, California, has enjoyed some success.

The Boston Globe discussed whether gang “sweeps”—arrests of large numbers of gang members in a coordinated effort to combat violence—work to increase public safety in the long term. The article concludes that the arrests often quell spikes in crime, but are sometimes followed by new gang members moving in to take the place of the people who were arrested.

In the Courts

In Houston, litigation is ongoing regarding a “gang injunction” that forbids certain individuals from entering into the “Southlawn Safety Zone.”

A defense contractor in Oregon has pled guilty to bribing an Army Corps of Engineers program manager, resulting in “rigged” bids on nine contracts. The bribes ensured the contractor secured $171 million in contracts over a decade.

Former New York State assembly speaker Sheldon Silver is up for sentencing in the Southern District of New York. Prosecutors are arguing for a record-breaking sentence to “reflect the unprecedented magnitude, duration and scope of his abuse of power.”

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards. Blankenship was charged with both felony and misdemeanor offenses in connection with the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in 2010, which killed 29 coal miners. Blankenship was acquitted of the felony offenses after a jury trial in December 2015.

Felony murder charges have been filed against two men who attempted to steal two pounds of marijuana from a California marijuana dealer. The dealer shot and killed a third robber. No charges have been filed against the dealer.

Other News of Interest

International crime rings are targeting California almonds and walnuts, and making off with truck-loads worth as much as half a million dollars each.

A Texas state representative is under investigation for using her legislative staff to run errands and do chores, and to raise money for a nonprofit event.

The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office is administering Crime Victims Reparations, which can pay for things like funeral expenses.

A Harris County, Texas, deputy constable was shot in southeast Houston on April 14 in what is being described as an ambush.

An apparent uptick in crime in urban colleges in the Atlanta area has parents concerned. But a closer look at the data reveals that campuses are still safer than the surrounding areas.

A spike in gun violence, and a reduction in arrests, in Chicago is being linked to the release of the video depicting the shooting of Laquan McDonald.


Amie Ely is the Editor of Criminal Law Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6041. The Criminal Law Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material presented in this publication. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail aely@naag.org.

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