News Roundup

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On Thursday, the United States Olympic Committee issued an apology to Brazil for a “distracting ordeal” involving U.S. Olympic swimmers, bathroom vandalism, and a false report of armed robbery.  Earlier in the week, swimmer Ryan Lochte claimed that he and a few other U.S. teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio.  The purported robbery was a high profile example of security concerns at the Brazil games.  As it turns out, the swimmers had drunkenly vandalized a gas station bathroom and concocted the robbery story to avoid getting in trouble.  As their story started to unravel, a Brazilian judge ordered the swimmers’ passports seized.  Lochte escaped Brazil before his passport was taken, but has not escaped merciless criticism from media outlets at home and abroad.

Opioids, Drug Dealers & Homicide Charges.  The Associated Press has a story that says that authorities are responding to “an alarming surge” in opioid-related overdose deaths by charging drug dealers with homicide crimes.  The story says that in New Hampshire, the annual number of deaths caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid sometimes mixed with heroin, has increased astronomically in recent years.

A report from North Carolina Health News says that numerous people in our state have died as a result of fentanyl use.  Apparently, multiple doses of naloxone often are needed to reverse an overdose involving fentanyl.  The Davidson County Dispatch says that Davidson County Clerk of Superior Court Brian Shipwash has announced a new commission in his county to deal with heroin and fentanyl abuse.

Due Process for Juvenile Offenders.  Over on the SOG blog On the Civil Side, LaToya Powell has posted the first entry in a series of posts about due process rights for children in juvenile delinquency proceedings.  The posts are the result of collaboration with the North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender.

Private Prisons.  The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department has announced its intention to end its use of private prisons.  In a memo, the Department indicated that in 2013 the Federal Bureau of Prisons was housing nearly 30,000 inmates in privately operated prisons.  That number represented approximately 15 percent of the Bureau’s population at the time.  Finding that private prisons do not provide the same level of correctional services, do not save substantially on costs, and do not provide the same level of safety and security when compared to facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons, the Department plans to reduce and ultimately end its use of private prisons.  Keep reading for more news.

Stingrays Interfere With Emergency Calls.  Ars Technica reports that Georgetown law professor Laura Moy has filed a legal complaint “arguing that stingray use by law enforcement agencies nationwide . . . violates Federal Communications Commission rules.”  The complaint says that stingrays (cell site simulators) disrupt cell phone service when deployed and interfere with 911 calls.  The complaint also notes the Justice Department’s recent report indicating that the Baltimore Police Department engages in racially discriminatory practices, and alleges that use of the devices in Baltimore disproportionately harms black neighborhoods.

Inmates Produce Defective Combat Helmets.  The Washington Post reports that “federal inmates made thousands of defective combat helmets for the U.S. military” through the government-owned company Federal Prison Industries.  Reportedly, helmets were manufactured using degraded armor and also had other defects.

Police at UNC Football Practice.  The News & Observer reports that a number of officers from the Chapel Hill Police Department and UNC’s campus police department recently attended a UNC football practice as part of an effort to increase familiarity and understanding between players and law enforcement.  Given the current national tension arising from recent officer-involved shootings involving black men, UNC coach Larry Fedora reportedly wanted to build a sense of community between his players and officers.

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