Crime

The shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida has sparked heated reactions across the country, but there was a lag before mainstream media picked up on the story. Not so online, where a more immediate outcry grew into a petition drive this week to encourage a federal investigation.

Now the Justice Department is looking into Trayvon Martin's death at the hands of a neighborhood watch volunteer, and black media and social media were key in demanding closer scrutiny.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in two murder cases testing whether it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a 14-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of parole. There are currently 79 people serving such life terms for crimes committed when they were 14 or younger.

We hear a lot about juvenile offenders when they commit a crime — and again, when they're sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison. But not much is known about what happens after the prison gates slam shut.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in two homicide cases testing whether it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a 14-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

There are currently 79 of these juvenile killers who will die in prison. What's more, in many states, the penalty is mandatory, meaning neither judge nor jury is allowed to consider the youngster's age or background in meting out the sentence.

Early on Thursday, lawmakers in New York approved a bill that will make the state the first to require DNA samples from almost all convicted criminals — and make its DNA database one of the largest in the nation.

Over the past few years, authorities have arrested more than 200 gang members in an unexpected place: the tree-lined suburbs along the Hudson River in New York.

Drug traffickers with ties to the Bloods, the Latin Kings and other gangs have put down roots there. Authorities say they brought shootings and stabbings with them.

Middletown, N.Y., is 90 minutes northwest of the city. On West Main Street, you can find tidy brick buildings from the 1800s, a brew pub, and a restaurant that sells fresh mussels and escargot.

If he's not at one of his 16 restaurants in New York, Las Vegas or Los Angeles, Mario Batali is easily found on TV these days.

One day he's making meatloaf with his co-host on the new daytime show The Chew. The next he's having a friendly cook-off with a rival celebrity chef on Good Morning America. Or traipsing through Europe for PBS, sporting his reddish ponytail, baggy shorts and not-so-fashionable clogs with celeb food enthusiast Gwyneth Paltrow.

The image of Afghan women wearing police and army uniforms is meant to inspire pride and hope for a future where the rights of women will be protected in Afghanistan.

So why would female police officers in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif be ashamed to admit they wear the badge?

"Except my very close family members, no one really knows that I am a police officer," said one woman at a NATO training session.

Federal prosecutors have charged five men with responsibility for some of the biggest computer hacks in the past few years. The FBI says the hackers penetrated the computer systems of businesses like Fox Broadcasting and Sony Pictures, stole confidential information and splashed it all over the Internet.

But what's most unusual about the case is how investigators cracked it — with the help of an insider who became a secret government informant.

Ernie Lopez calls it his "rebirth." After spending nearly nine years in prison for the sexual assault of a 6-month old girl, a top Texas court threw out the conviction. And on Friday, the 41-year-old Lopez walked out of the detention center in Amarillo, Texas, where family and friends were waiting.

More than 2,000 young people in Pennsylvania are trying to put one of the nation's worst juvenile justice scandals behind them. It's been a year since a former judge was convicted in the so-called "kids for cash" scandal.

New rules intended to protect the rights of children took effect this week, but questions about Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system remain.

Australia is a huge island, with stretches of lonely, rocky coastline that extend for thousands of miles. What's more, there are lots of harbors and airports.

In short, opportunities are plentiful for an enterprising Mexican drug trafficker to move his product 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to service the vibrant new market Down Under.

One such drug lord is Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. He's a cunning, small-statured, exceedingly dangerous outlaw recently dubbed "the world's most powerful drug trafficker" by the U.S. Treasury Department.

You've heard of identity theft — someone using a person's credit information or a Social Security number for ill-gotten gains. Well, experts say similar crimes are also affecting businesses.

Business identity theft involves posing as a legitimate business in order to get access to credit lines or steal customers. Experts believe that the practice has become more prevalent in the past two years.

At the federal court in Concord, lawyers made opening statements in a case involving Beatrice Munyenyezi, a Manchester woman accused of lying about her role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide to obtain US citizenship.

NHPR's Dan Gorenstein was in court; he tells All Things Considered host Brady Carlson about the first day of the trial.

Alternative Sentencing Program Faces Verdict

Feb 22, 2012

Recovering alcoholics can usually pinpoint their rock-bottom. For Michael Hagar, it was the night of July 28, 2009. That evening, he met up with some friends to drink behind the Hannaford’s supermarket in Keene. 

“And that is where the whole incident took off from,” said Hagar.

Behind the grocery story, Hagar believes he drank about 18 beers. Then someone jumped him, hitting him in the face with a log. His pants and wallet were stolen. Gushing blood and enraged, he staggered into the store's parking lot.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case about lies, big and small, and when those lies can be a crime under the Constitution's guarantee of free speech. At issue is the constitutionality of a law making it a crime to lie about being the recipient of military medals.

At the center of the case is Xavier Alvarez, a man nobody disputes is a liar. He lied about being an ex-professional hockey player. He lied about being an engineer. He lied about rescuing the American ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis. He even lied about being a retired Marine.

That old public service announcement is pretty well ingrained these days: "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." But who else should be responsible for stopping would-be drunken drivers? Bars and restaurants are already legally on the hook. Some in Boston say valet parking attendants should be, too.

City Councilor Rob Consalvo says he decided something needed to be done after a 23-year-old on a scooter was mowed down by a drunken driver in Boston. The driver later said he was "blackout drunk" and couldn't believe that a valet guy actually handed him his car keys.

Officials in Mexico are offering a reward of nearly $1 million for the capture of 30 inmates who broke out of a prison in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on Sunday.

The governor says the inmates staged a riot, during which 44 people died, to create a diversion for their escape.

It was a jail break that epitomized the Mexican drug war: Rival gang members brutally killed each other, corrupt public officials looked the other way, and dangerous criminals went free.

In California's Central Valley, authorities are excavating the gruesome remains of an unknown number of murder victims who were buried many years ago by a pair of convicted murderers and drug users.

The search began last week after one of the convicts agreed to lead authorities to the remains in exchange for cash.

But, the case raises some thorny ethical and legal issues: Should convicted criminals be able to benefit from their wrongdoing?

Sheryl Rich-Kern

New Hampshire is known for being one of the safest places to live in the United States. According to a recent study, its crime rate is the fifth lowest in the country.  

But that doesn’t mean detectives have an easy time recovering stolen merchandise. In fact, police officials say they could respond to crime faster by tightening regulations among pawnshops and second-hand dealers.

Schwinners on Pursuit of Losers

Jan 30, 2012

When thieves stole Patrick Symmes’ commuter bicycle in broad daylight, it’s not a stretch to say that he snapped. Late at night, he’d watch the surveillance tape again and again… plotting sweet revenge against the two men who’d methodically and nonchalantly pilfered his blue Novara Metro hybrid. Seven bikes and three cities later, Patrick has finally gotten his revenge…sort of.

Photo by Theein via Flickr Creative Commons

Thousands of foster kids are released from the system at age 18 only to realize that they are thousands of dollars in fraudulent debt. It can take years for any target of identity theft to restore their credit, and even longer to recover a sense of security. Former foster kids without family support or the benefit of experience or access to resources can be especially challenged.

Photo by Piet den Blanken, courtesy of Oxford University Press

Why would a gun-wielding, tattoo-bearing "homie" trade in la vida loca for a Bible and the buttoned-down lifestyle of an evangelical hermano (brother in Christ)? To answer this question, Robert Brenneman interviewed sixty-three former gang members from the "Northern Triangle" of Central America--Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras--most of whom left their gang for evangelicalism.

A state trooper chasing a speeder early Saturday morning in the North Country lost control of his cruiser and crashed, allowing the speeder to escape, according to a news release from Troop F.

The release said the chase began about 12:55 am in Franconia when the trooper attempted to stop a gray or silver BMW coupe for a traffic violation.

The vehicle fled on Route 116, a particularly twisty and challenging road, towards Easton.

The treatment of female prison inmates in New Hampshire is raising questions of civil rights violations. After a two year investigation, that’s the conclusion reached by the New Hampshire Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission reports that male inmates enjoy greater opportunities in everything from vocational training to mental health services.

JerriAnne Boggis didn’t have to see anything at the Women’s Prison to know about the problems in Goffstown.

O World of Photos / Flickr Creative Commons

Refugee families are targeted with paragraphs of graffiti in Concord, New Hampshire. Sarah Palermo is the reporter covering the story for the Concord Monitor.

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AG Asks For Help

Aug 19, 2011
Dan Gorenstein / NHPR

The 11 year old girl’s body was pulled from the Connecticut River near her home six days after she went missing.

The AG’s Office has established a reward fund at the Northway Bank in Gorham.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young says even the smallest observation could provide the necessary clue to solve this tragedy.

“We are building a puzzle here. So we need the pieces to be put together to get the big picture, to make the determination, what happened to her.”

<a href="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5285/5354783961_2d4253512a_m.jpg">Kbjesq</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Why should we punish?  To “balance the scales of justice”?  To exact revenge?  To deter crime?  To remove the offender from free society?  To reform the offender? Is punishment a moral act, or is it simply a form of social control? Is punishing children different from punishing criminal offenders? Is there a difference between torture and punishment? Is death ever justifiable punishment? Does punishment strip the punished of her dignity? Which rights should prisoners loose?  The right to vote?  The right to privacy?  The right to be a parent?

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