Craig Giammona is a student at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism and covers government and politics for the Fort Greene Local, a NY Times blog. He has also worked as a reporter in Queens and Alaska.
When news about the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School hit last December, New Jersey police chief Vincent Caruso’s mind started turning. As the head of the police department and a member of the School Board in Lodi, a town of about 25,000 in Bergen County, Caruso knew he had to take an active role in updating the town’s school safety procedures. Armed school resource officers already patrolled Lodi’s middle and high schools, but Caruso, with images of Newtown fresh in his mind, was concerned about the town’s five elementary schools. “That was the first time where it actually hit home at an elementary school,” Caruso, who has three young children in Lodi’s elementary schools, said. “When you start killing kindergarteners and first graders, all bets are off.”
Caruso developed a plan to put retired police officers armed with guns in Lodi’s elementary schools.
NEW YORK — Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June in the Miller v. Alabama case, John Blume, a professor at Cornell Law School, started worrying about his home state of South Carolina. Blume knew the Miller decision — which ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment — would create a great need for legal work in South Carolina. The legal limbo created by the Miller decision is not unique to South Carolina, however. Advocates for juvenile sentencing reform estimate there are 2,500 prisoners in nearly 30 states across the country who are serving life sentences without parole, including some 2,100 who were given mandatory sentences. In fact, other states across the country contending with the same confusion have more inmates than the 36 Blume and his team found in need of new remedies to meet the standards of the Miller decision.
NEW YORK — It’s a frigid morning on Staten Island’s South Shore, with the temperature struggling to crack 20 degrees as a stiff wind buffets the Eltingville neighborhood. The elementary school students showing up at P.S. 55 are cocooned in puffy jackets, gloves and hats as they jump out of warm cars and onto the sidewalk towing large backpacks, some adorned with the face of Justin Bieber, others with the logo of the New York Giants. Amidst an ongoing school bus strike, it’s a fairly orderly scene on this Tuesday. Parents drive up to the curb, let their children out and move on to the rest of the day. Directing traffic, and gently scolding the occasional parent who pulls a U-turn on Koch Boulevard, is Mike Reilly, a former New York City police lieutenant who is a few days shy of his 40th birthday.
NEW YORK – Photographer Richard Ross can’t pin down the moment he found his calling. It could have been on the concrete floor of the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Biloxi, Miss., where he sat photographing a 12-year-old inmate in a yellow prison jumpsuit as he gazed at graffiti of spaceships and aliens scribbled on the wall of his tiny, decrepit cell. Maybe it was the young inmates trying to sleep on the floor of the intake room of a Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles. Or the facility for young female offenders in California where the administrator told him all 88 residents were victims of sexual abuse. It could have been his visit with Ronald Franklin, who ran away from home at 13 after his mother tried to kill him, got involved in an armed carjacking and ended up in a Miami juvenile detention center where he waited four years without a trial.