Tag Archives | criminal justice

Prison Sentences Based On Crimes That The Perp Is Likely To Commit In The Future

This is some scary Big Brother shit right here: Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system may soon allow judges to sentence convicts based on crimes they haven’t committed but are likely to in the future. The Marshall Project investigates:

Criminal sentencing has long been based on the present crime and, sometimes, the defendant’s past criminal record. In Pennsylvania, judges could soon consider a new dimension: the future.Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign.

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Marduk (CC). Note the similarity to Bentham's Panopticon.

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Marduk (CC). Note the similarity to Bentham’s Panopticon.


Risk assessments have existed in various forms for a century, but over the past two decades, they have spread through the American justice system, driven by advances in social science.

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A Self-Styled Abolitionist’s Orwellian Assault on Sex Workers

r2hox (CC BY 2.0)

r2hox (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Self-styled abolitionist Ryan Dalton’s new tech startup, Rescue Forensics, wants to change the way the police fight human trafficking sex work by dredging up that old spectre The Satanic Panic under a new guise: Human Trafficking Hysteria.

The reality is that Rescue Forensics preys on sex workers — by selling their online activity to Law Enforcement Agencies.

A Vice’s Melissa Gira Grant reports:

Big data” and “sex trafficking.” That it took so long for someone to combine these buzz terms into one money-making venture is just one of several mysteries surrounding Rescue Forensics, a new startup.

The “big” in the Memphis-based company? Rescue Forensics claims it “archives massive quantities of data from classified advertisement sites specializing in commercial sex ads.” It gathers a lot of text, and even more nude and semi-nude photos. Then it turns all that over to the cops.

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One in 25 People Sentenced to Death in U.S. Innocent.

Clayton Lockett. Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Clayton Lockett. Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Actually it’s “at least” one in 25 people sentenced to death in the United States who are innocent. Especially considering today’s scandal of the man in Oklahoma whose execution was badly botched, that’s really way too many. Common Dreams discusses the study’s findings:

At least one in 25 people sentenced to death in the United States is innocent.

So finds a damning study published Monday in leading scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors, hailing from Pennsylvania and Michigan, employ a statistical technique called “survival analysis” to arrive at their conclusions.

According to what researchers call a “conservative estimate,” between 1973 and 2004, at least 4.1 percent of people in the United States handed death sentences were innocent.

Yet, during this same time period, only 1.6 percent of them had been exonerated. The remaining innocent were either executed or had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

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Texas Judge Elizabeth Coker Busted Texting Instructions to Assistant DA During Trial

BAA_x2x_jpg_1827636272…and that’s not all of it. Judge – now former Judge – Elizabeth Coker is also accused of improper meetings with jurors and defense attorneys about cases in her court. She has been forced to resign in lieu of disciplinary action, and will have to foot the costs of any litigation that arises because of her misconduct. No word as of yet whether all of the people convicted in her kangaroo court will get retrials.

Via Raw Story:

[J]udge Coker used Assistant District Attorney Jones to privately communicate information about the Reeves case to the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case; to suggest questions for the prosecutor to ask during the trial; to ensure that a witness was able to refresh his memory and rehabilitate his testimony by reviewing his videotaped interview with law enforcement before he took the stand for the second time the following day; and to discuss legal issues pertinent to the case.

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