What Do You Want to Be?

Warning: What you are about to hear I wish on no one. That is why I am writing you this letter.

Collectively We, As a Nation, Can Reduce Gun Violence

Last Friday 20 children aged six and seven were systematically executed by a young man, who has been politely defined as suffering from a personality disorder, but who in another time would simply have been referred to as a mad man. His baby-killing arsenal included a Glock 9-mm handgun, a Sig Sauer 9-mm handgun and a Bushmaster 223-cal semi-automatic rifle. Our president brushing tears from his eyes, said,  “The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful, little kids … They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”

“Our hearts are broken.”

The president wept. We, as a nation, mourned. But we as a nation have tolerated a country where gun-related homicide deaths are 20 times greater than any other Western nation.

Remembering Elementary School Shootings of the Past

The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre Nov. 14 constitutes the second deadliest mass school shooting incident in American history, second only to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which a single assailant murdered 32 individuals and injured 17 others. With an estimated 26 victims dead -- 20 of whom are children -- the recent massacre is far and away the deadliest shooting incident to ever occur in one of the nation’s elementary schools. Although mass shooting incidents in university and high school settings have occurred in the past, the Newtown, Conn. massacre serves as a rare instance of a perpetrator targeting elementary school students.

Officials Release New Details in Elementary School Massacre

On Saturday, Newtown, Conn. officials released the names of the 20 children and six adults slain in last Friday’s shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to initial reports, all of the children killed in the attack were between 6 or 7 years old. State police say 12 of the young victims were female and eight were boys. All six of the slain adults were female.

UK Advocates Turning to NYC as Model for ‘Saner’ Criminal Justice System

For decades, New York City was besieged by violent crime, peaking in 1990 when the city was ravaged by an estimated 2,245 murders. But then something remarkable happened, according to Greg Berman, author of the recent report “A Thousand Small Sanities: Crime Control Lessons from New York.” Over the last two decades, New York City experienced an unprecedented turnaround in violent crime. In 2009, there were 461 murders in the city, a 79 percent drop from 20 years earlier. Other crimes drastically declined as well, with the city seeing significant decreases in rapes, robberies and car thefts. Berman quotes Frank Zimring, author of the book “The City That Became Safe,” who called the crime rate reduction in New York City “the largest and longest sustained drop in street crime ever experienced by a big city in the developed world.”

The report, released by the Centre for Justice Innovation, explores the possibility of applying the policies and practices implemented in New York City to communities in the United Kingdom - where in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, London’s Metropolitan Police tallied more than 170,000 instances of violent crime, including 113 murders and more than 2,800 rapes.

Report Looks at Lives of Inmates Sentenced to Life Without Parole as Juveniles

With the Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments in a case that could determine the constitutionality of life sentences without parole for juveniles, a new report looks at the lives of the more than 2,300 people currently serving life sentences for crimes they committed before they turned 18. The new report, “The Lives of Juvenile Lifers,” analyzes the findings of a first-ever national survey of this unique prison population. “The goal was to find out more about who these people are, their community and background,” Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which produced the report, said during a conference call Wednesday. Ashley Nellis, the report’s author and a research analyst at the Sentencing Project, said the intention was to highlight the individual stories of those serving sentences of life without parole. “A lot of times we hear solely about the offense for which they are serving,” she said.

No Remorse? One Law Professor Studies the Impact of Emotion in the Juvenile Justice System

Sitting behind her strikingly barren desk, with the bright, mid-winter sunlight breaking through the trees and streaming through her office windows, Martha Grace Duncan, a professor at the Emory University School of Law, in Atlanta recounts the case of nine-year-old Cameron Kocher. As she speaks her small, compact frame remains nearly motionless, betraying no emotion. But her eyes tell the story, portraying the internal mix-up of sadness, passion and nerdy intensity that she feels about the topic. Duncan may not wear her heart on her sleeve, but if you pay attention it’s not hard to find. In March 1989, on a cold, snowy day in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, Kocher fatally shot a seven-year-old playmate with a high-powered hunting rifle.

Man who Plead Guilty to Murdering 7-Year-Old Georgia Girl Found Dead in Apparent Suicide

Two days after receiving a life sentence without parole for the murder of a 7-year-old Canton, Ga. girl, Ryan Brunn apparently killed himself in his prison cell Thursday, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Brunn, an apartment groundskeeper, testified at a hearing Tuesday that he lured Jorelys Rivera to an empty apartment before molesting and killing her. Her body was found in a trash compactor three days after she went missing on December 2, 2011. DoC spokesperson Kirsten Stancil said Brunn was found unresponsive at 4:15 p.m. in his cell at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.