News Roundup

The New York Times and Right on Crime are each reporting that South Carolina and Louisiana appear poised to raise the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction in those states from 16- to 17-years-old.  The change would mean that most 17-year-old offenders would participate in juvenile court rather than adult court, and is in line with a bipartisan national trend towards raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction.  The article from the Times notes that North Carolina is one of only two states where 16-year-old offenders are automatically treated as adults in the criminal justice system.  The Criminal Investigation & Adjudication Committee of the N.C. Commission on the Administration of Law & Justice is working on a raise the age proposal for North Carolina. Jessica Smith, Reporter to the Committee, presented a draft report on the issue to the Committee last Friday. Information about the Committee’s work is available here.  Keep reading for more news.  

Lethal Injection Drugs Harder to Acquire.  The New York Times reports that Pfizer recently announced that it has “imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections.”  According to the report, Pfizer’s announcement means that all F.D.A.-approved manufacturers have now blocked the sale of their drugs for use in executions.  The increasing scarcity of lethal injection drugs has become a significant hurdle to carrying out executions.

Police Chief Pushes Treatment Rather Than Arrest.  The News and Observer reports that the chief of police in Nashville, N.C. has instituted a program that allows drug addicts to come to the police department to seek treatment without the fear of being arrested.  Chief Thomas Bashore says that if a person comes to the department seeking treatment, he or she won’t be arrested for possessing drugs or paraphernalia.  Instead, a community volunteer will be assigned to take the person to a medical facility for treatment and recovery.  The program is intended to break the cycle of drug abuse leading to imprisonment followed by eventual release and a return to addiction.

Appeals Court Judge Moves to Private Practice.  The Fayetteville Observer reports that Former Court of Appeals Judge Martha Geer “left the bench this month to be a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and run a new office opening in Raleigh to handle North Carolina litigation.”  Geer resigns with two years remaining on her term; Governor McCrory will select someone to fill her seat until the November election when it will be up for a vote.

Officer Calms Distraught Student.  The Charlotte Observer reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Tim Purdy’s effort to calm a distraught high school student last week was not only successful, it went viral.  The police department’s Facebook post about the incident which shows Purdy sitting on the ground with the student has received 700,000 likes.  CNN has a story about it here.

Working on a Mystery.  An article from the Marshall Project says that it is an “open secret . . . that we know very little about much of how the criminal justice system operates in America” because there is simply no data about many parts of the system.  The article includes striking examples of things that are unknown about the justice system including how many people have criminal records, how many people have served time in prison or jail, and how many shootings there are in America.  The article notes that local autonomy within the system contributes to a lack of consistency in data collection    

Hiding in Plain Sight.  The Washington Post reports that the Philadelphia Police Department has fessed up to owning a mysterious SUV equipped with license plate reader cameras and poorly disguised as a Google Street View vehicle.  The department claims that outfitting the vehicle with a Google decal was never approved through any chain of command, and has launched an internal investigation into the issue.  Presumably whoever was responsible for disguising the surveillance vehicle as a surveillance vehicle will be relieved of his or her camouflaging duties.

Crushing It.  The New York Daily News reports that NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and other department officials recently presided over an event in Brooklyn where dozens of confiscated dirt bikes and ATV’s were crushed by bulldozers.  Bratton reportedly intended to “send out a very strong message to the nitwits and knuckleheads” as well as the “screwballs, idiots, and morons” who illegally ride the vehicles around the Big Apple.  The department livestreamed the event on Facebook so that it would be certain to reach the intended audience.

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