Criminal Justice

  • August 30, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Thomas Nolan, Associate Professor of Criminology, Merrimack College; 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Departmentpolice lights

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the 63rd Biennial Conference of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) on Monday, August 28 in Nashville, Tennessee. In his remarks, he observed that the police are “fighting a multi-front battle” that is characterized by “an increase in violent crime, a rise in vicious gangs, an opioid epidemic, (and) threats from terrorism.” This set the stage for his depiction of law enforcement as the “thin blue line,” that is the only thing standing between “sanctity and lawlessness.” It was within this context that Sessions cited a rollback of former President Obama’s January 2015 Executive Order 13688, which established a Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group, a group charged with establishing guidelines and processes for law enforcement agencies’ acquisition of surplus military equipment from the federal government. In an executive order to be signed later in the day, the police would once again have unfettered access to surplus military equipment and be free to use federal funds to purchase military-grade weapons, ammunition, vehicles, aircraft, and other military equipment.

  • August 30, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Winston Paes, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; former Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New YorkMoney

    For better or worse, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is perceived, and has acted, as a global police force whose jurisdiction extends far beyond the shores of the United States. While the DOJ’s enforcement of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) garners much fanfare, the money laundering statutes, specifically, Sections 1956 and 1957 of Title 18 of the United States Code, have resulted in a greater number of prosecutions and expanded the reach of U.S. law enforcement for offenses that barely touch or affect the United States.

  • August 11, 2017
    Guest Post

    by SpearIt, Associate Professor of Law, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law

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    In recent decades, the United States has been under a “lock ’em up and throw away the key” mentality when it comes to imprisonment. The Supreme Court has left the question of prison sentencing to the near-complete discretion of legislatures, while placing little constitutional constraint on how long inmates can be held in solitary confinement.  This hands-off approach by the Court runs parallel to federal and state lawmaking that has ratcheted prison sentences upwards-only, making criminal sentencing in America something of a runaway train.

  • August 3, 2017

    by Christopher Wright Durocher 

    Since announcing his campaignDonald Trump has claimed that he alone could restore law and order to a lawless, chaotic and violent country. In return for his commitment to this 1980’s era law and order rhetoriche earned the endorsements of the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Border Patrol Council, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Counciland numerous local police organizationsAccording to Fraternal Order of Police President Check

  • June 2, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Stephen Rushin, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law

    While many have welcomed the increased national interest in police accountability, critics, including President Donald Trump and police unions, have warned of a so-called “war on cops.”  To their credit, there is evidence that ambush killings of police officers increased in 2016, as did the number of total police officers killed in fatal shootings. But it is difficult to know whether these numbers are part of a larger pattern, or merely a statistical aberration.

    Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) do not want to take any chances. In the “Back the Blue Act,” the two legislators (along with several co-sponsors) propose several alterations to federal law meant to protect police officers. Ultimately, though, there is serious reason to doubt whether this measure would make local law enforcement substantially safer. And it is a virtual certainty that, if passed, this law would severely hamper efforts to hold police officers accountable for wrongdoing.

    The measure would create new federal crimes for the assaulting or killing of federally funded law enforcement officers. It would limit habeas relief for some cases involving the killing of a police officer. And it would expand the federal death penalty to cases involving the killing of police officers. There is a lot to say about this bill—much of which has already been covered in depth by other media outlets or advocacy organizations.