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.

All That is Wrong With Private Prisons

A friend of mine called me last week from prison. We hadn’t spoken in a few months, so we did a lot of catching up, mostly talking about how things were at the prison, friends, and the many turns my own life has taken. I told him that a mutual friend of ours was at the new private prison in Milledgeville, Ga., a place called Riverbend Correctional Facility. He groaned and told me he had heard only bad things about the place. Dozens of the most troublesome inmates at his prison had been sent to Milledgeville to populate the 1,500-bed facility run by the GEO group.

Day Two: John Jay Juvenile Justice Conference

NEW YORK – The John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice is holding a two-day conference for journalists on its campus in New York Monday and Tuesday. While the conference, Kids Behind Bars, Where’s the Justice in America’s Juvenile Justice System?, is primarily meant for journalists, many of the topics will be of interest not only to those in the field, but the general public as well. JJIE/Youth Today’s John Fleming and Clay Duda are attending the conference and continue their reporting today. For Day One coverage head over to our post here. DAY TWO

Panel One:

Mike Bocian, provided the keynote address Tuesday morning.

Westside Norteno 14 in Cobb County. Picture Confiscated during arrest, Sept. 20, 2003.

The Myth of Suburban Gangs: A Changing Demographic

When most people think of gangs and the criminal activity often associated with them problems of the inner-city may come to mind -– issues that are far from their manicured suburban lawns, something that could never touch their lives directly. But the demographic makeup and geographic location of gangs are changing, according to Rebecca Petersen, author of Understanding Contemporary Gangs in America and a Criminal Justice Professor at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta*. “We have seen this trend of gangs moving out of the city and into the suburbs for 20 years now,” Petersen said. “We don’t associate the suburbs with people being poor or homeless, but it’s one of the fastest growing populations [in the suburbs].”

While gangs are not exclusively comprised of low-income members, the correlation between harsh economic conditions and the proliferation of gang activity has been documented in communities around the country since at least the late 1980s. In the decade leading up to 2010, the suburban poor in major-metropolitan suburbs grew by 53 percent, compared to an increase of 23 percent within the cities, according to the Census Bureau.

Swimming Pools, Not Prisons

Until I was in the sixth grade my family lived on an Air Force base in South Georgia. The base was a great place for kids. From the time I was six or seven I could ride my bike to wherever I wanted to go. Trips to the movies or the library were a lot of fun, and my parents didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was safe. In the summer my favorite bike ride was to the swimming pool.

For One Former Inmate, A New Life

NEW YORK — Getting shot was probably a critical turning point in Ray Tebout’s life, he says. It was 1990. Tebout had just turned 16 and was living on the streets of the South Bronx, selling drugs and doing his best to survive. And then some guy had to go and shoot him in the foot. The day of the shooting Tebout was on the corner selling drugs when “a guy wanted something from me,” he said.

Disney, Take Beyond Scared Straight Aff the Air

An Open Letter to

Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company

Dear Mr. Iger:

I know Disney is a large company and you, like Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation, can’t oversee everything. So I want to let you know about one of your company’s investments — Disney’s one-third equity stake in the A&E Television Networks. Since it is not fully under Disney’s control, maybe that’s why you haven’t been watching A&E’s “Beyond Scared Straight.” Certainly if you had, you would have intervened and pulled it off the air, but alas last week marked the beginning of its second season.

John Roman On the Possibility of U.K.-Style Riots Happening in This Country

It has been a bad week in the United States in a bad year marked by remarkable international turmoil. The recession and high unemployment persist at a time when the powerless seemed poised to fight back, creating a recipe for insurrection—as happened first  in the Middle East and now in Great Britain. According to Wednesday’s (August 9) Washington Post editorial, “the common factors [sparking the riots] include high unemployment, resentment toward a prosperous and seemingly impenetrable upper class and hatred of the police.”
All that sounds only too familiar, so should the United States expect riots here next? Are recent instances of mob violence in Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Montgomery County Md.,  leading edges of a wave of violence here? I think the answer is probably not, at least not on the scale of what has happened in London.

Georgia D.A.: Bullying May Lead to Life of Crime

Bullies may not have committed any crimes while bullying, but officials in one south Georgia county say bullying may lead to a life of crime. Dougherty County, Ga., District Attorney Greg Edwards told The Albany (Ga.) Herald that, while there is no specific crime for bullying, “about 25 percent of cases we come across relate to bullying to some extent.” Edwards went on to say he believes bullies often, “start in juvenile court and graduate to more serious crimes.”

According to Dougherty County’s juvenile prosecutor, Andre Ewings, those crimes can vary greatly. “It can be almost anything,” she told The Herald. “It can be a simple battery to as serious as an aggravated assault. It may also be terroristic threats.” Today, much of that bullying is done online through social networking sites like Facebook. Ewings also said she believes bullies tend to get in more trouble than other children.