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November 2011 Archives

The Epidemic of Prisons

Many people believe that America is addicted to prisons, but a better metaphor for how this came about may be found in epidemiology. A recent book, A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America by Ernest Drucker, suggests that the rapid increase in incarceration rates is more like the flu or other type of epidemic. He uses the methods used by public health officials to track epidemics as a way to understand the growth in the prison population.

Why Are We Losing the War on Drugs?

According to the Huffington Post, Richard Nixon's "War on Drugs" may be on the losing side of popular opinion, in part because of concerns about the law enforcement tactics used to conduct the war. A former Seattle police chief wrote that many police officers believe that the drug war has undermined the role of a non-military police force in a democratic society.

Crime Statistics in New Jersey

The overall crime rate in New Jersey has grown very slightly, with violent crimes growing more slowly than other types of criminal offenses. The 2010 Uniform Crime Report (UCR), prepared by the state police, contains information about seven types of offenses: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, bias crimes, carjacking and domestic violence.

Reporting Suspected Child Sex Abuse

In the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, people are wondering what they can do, or what they should have done. When priests are accused of molesting the children in their care, parishioners wonder why they didn't see the signs and do something. It's natural for people to second-guess themselves. Wondering what they should have done - or should not have done -- is one sign of a responsible and engaged society. But sometimes the answers are not as clear as they appear to be in the Penn State story.

Some convicted of crack cocaine crimes may be released early

In August 2010, Congress voted to pass the Fair Sentencing Act in order to make sentencing guidelines for drug crimes involving crack cocaine closer in scope to prison sentences handed down for crimes involving powder cocaine. Before the passage of the new law, the disparity between prison sentences for crack and powder cocaine was 100 to 1.

Conrad Murray convicted of manslaughter

Conrad Murray, the private physician of Michael Jackson at the time of his death, was convicted on Tuesday of involuntary manslaughter. Murray was charged with manslaughter in Jackson's 2009 death from an overdose of the powerful surgical anesthetic, propofol.

Grandmother's murder conviction reinstated by Supreme Court

As has been discussed in previous posts on this blog, there have been doubts by some in the medical community over how shaken baby syndrome or other crimes against children are diagnosed. This is particularly because many medical examiners or coroners do not necessarily have a medical degree or a medical degree in pediatrics or experience working with living people to better diagnose causes of death. 

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