Santa Cruz Deputy Chief Steve Clark has been with the Police Department for 25 years. But there are some things that even experience doesn’t teach. Up until now, he’s been trained to respond to incidents.
“Back in the day, you would ask any police officer what does it take to make your city safe, and the pat answer was, ‘More cops,’” Clark says. “And really, I’ve described that as kind of primal policing because it’s a primal response. There’s not a lot of thought to it. There’s not a lot of analysis. You’re just going out there and hoping that you get lucky just by sheer numbers.”
In the early 1990s, New York was considered a dangerous place. The crack epidemic was still in full swing, and the city was at the peak of a national crime wave. Twenty years later, everything’s changed. New York’s crime rate has dropped dramatically and so has the state’s rate of locking people up in prison. How did this transformation occur? I sat down with Berkeley Law Professor, Franklin Zimring, to talk about his new book, The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and its Control. Audio of the interview is above.
Our sometimes blogger here at the Informant, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, Josh Page, was on Minnesota Public Radio earlier this week talking about in-prison education. “I can understand the idea that people think it’s unfair for people in prison to get an education,” he told MPR. “It plays into the ‘either/or’ thinking about punishment: anything that is good for prisoners can’t be good for the rest of us. But that’s not true.”
A discussion of the costs and benefits of educating prisoners above. The discussion was inspired by a Ted Talk:
California's Death Row at San Quentin State Prison
According to the Associated Press, 69-year-old Dennis Lawley was found dead of natural causes in his prison cell on San Quentin’s Death Row on Sunday afternoon. Assuming departmental statistics are up to date, Lawley’s death is the 56th time a condemned inmate has died of natural causes since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978. Meanwhile, 19 have committed suicide, 6 have died of unspecified causes, and a total of 14 have been executed.
From the Voice of San Diego, we have further indications that youth curfews may do little to deter juvenile crime. The online investigative outlet did a thorough analysis of San Diego’s lauded curfew sweeps, which city leaders claim have helped bring down crime citywide. They found neighborhoods “without the sweeps have reported greater drops in crime in the last five years than those with them.” Furthermore, while “police across the state have moved away from curfew enforcement, they’ve reported equal or greater drops in crime compared to San Diego.”
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi plead guilty today to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment in the domestic violence case that’s plagued the new sheriff since before he took office. In exchange, the district attorney dropped three additional charges against the sheriff, including domestic violence. Mirkarimi is expected to be sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community services, around $600 in fines, and a year of anger management counseling. Mirkarimi’s legal battle appears to be over, but the case is bound to follow him for years, as he defends his job, his ability to lead a law enforcement office, and his progressive political credentials. Minouche Kandel, a staff attorney for Legal Aid in San Francisco, who represents domestic violence victims in family court and immigration matters, led protests against the sheriff when Mirkarimi originally denied his guilt and called the New Years Eve incident “a private matter.” I spoke with Kandel earlier today about the verdict.
Reuters’ Dan Levine has an exclusive interview with Judge Thelton Henderson, who, at least in the criminal justice world, has had an incredible historical impact on California. Henderson oversaw the Pelican Bay Prison conditions case, the case that’s placed the Oakland Police Department under court monitoring, and the case that has the state completely overhauling its prison system in the wake of massive overcrowding.
The Corrections Standards Authority today approved $602,881,000 in funds for jail construction projects in 11 counties, the second phase in what’s now a $1.2 billion investment in county jails.
Los Angeles will receive $100 million, as will Riverside and Orange counties. Smaller grants will go to Santa Barbara, Tulare, Stanislaus, Kings, Shasta, Sutter, Madera, and Imperial counties.
Originally authorized in 2007 under AB 900, the allocations were recently kicked into gear to help counties deal with increased responsibility for low-level offenders under AB 109, the state’s prison realignment plan.