Tag Archives: crime

June 27, 2016

My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard

The 1980s were a good time to get into the incarceration business. The prison population was skyrocketing, the drug war was heating up, the length of sentences was increasing, and states were starting to mandate that prisoners serve at least 85 percent of their terms. Between 1980 and 1990, state spending on prisons quadrupled, but it wasn’t enough. Prisons in many states were filled beyond capacity. When a federal court declared in 1985 that Tennessee’s overcrowded prisons violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, CCA made an audacious proposal to take over the state’s entire prison system. The bid was unsuccessful, but it planted an idea in the minds of politicians across the country: They could outsource prison management and save money in the process. Privatization also gave states a way to quickly expand their prison systems without taking on new debt. In the perfect marriage of fiscal and tough-on-crime conservatism, the companies would fund and construct new lockups while the courts would keep them full.

A long investigative piece that is well worth your time.

January 21, 2016

How "Making a Murderer" Went Wrong

For those people, and for others close to the original case, “Making a Murderer” seems less like investigative journalism than like highbrow vigilante justice. “My initial reaction was that I shouldn’t be upset with the documentarians, because they can’t help that the public reacted the way that it did,” Penny Beerntsen said. “But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, Well, yeah, they do bear responsibility, because of the way they put together the footage. To me, the fact that the response was almost universally ‘Oh, my God, these two men are innocent’ speaks to the bias of the piece. A jury doesn’t deliberate twenty-some hours over three or four days if the evidence wasn’t more complex.”

The Avery case can been discussed ad nauseam in the press recently, but this is one of the more critical pieces I’ve read. Good stuff.

October 16, 2015

London Police 'Super Recognizer' Walks Beat With a Facebook of the Mind

Soft-spoken and gentle-mannered, Constable Collins carries a baton and pepper spray, but no gun. His weapon is his memory: Facial recognition software managed to identify one suspect of the 4,000 captured by security cameras during the London riots. Constable Collins identified 180.

Evolutionary psychologists are intrigued by super recognizers. Their facial recall is rarely matched by photographic memory in other parts of their lives. Constable Collins, 48, who studied design before he became a police officer, has identified over 800 suspects but cannot remember a shopping list. “I have to write that down,” he said.

Scotland Yard employs more than 150 people for their facial recognition skills. Fascinating stuff.

July 9, 2015

Baltimore Mayor Fires Police Commissioner Anthony Batts

As of Wednesday, police said there had been 155 homicides this year, a 48% increase from the comparable period last year. May’s 42 homicides were the most in a month in 25 years. Nonfatal shootings were up 86%, with 303 so far this year.

I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was this bad.

July 7, 2015

How New Orleans Stopped Making Jailing a Business

The city ended up approving a new jail in 2011 that was just a quarter of the size the sheriff wanted: 1,485 beds, though the city was holding twice as many inmates as that at the time. This meant the city had to rethink and revamp its incarceration practices moving forward.