This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.
On the criminal justice policy front: The New York Times reports from New York City, where, after a violent 2020, gun violence experts are seeing reasons for hope. Last summer, as New Yorkers emerged from months of isolation during the pandemic’s peak, the city began to experience the worst gun violence it had seen in decades – a trend mirrored in major cities across the US. But preliminary data from this June and July, experts say, offers reason for optimism: though shootings remain significantly up from pre-pandemic levels, this summer has been considerably less violent than last – a sign that the worst of 2020’s crime wave might be behind us. A piece from the Atlantic also centers on New York City and its likely next mayor, Eric Adams. 20 years ago, Adams “battled police brutality” as a Black cop in Rudy Giuliani’s New York, testifying about racism within the NYPD before the US Civil Rights Commission. Last summer, amid a nationwide spike in homicides and rising fears of violent crime, Adams built his mayoral campaign around a “law-and-order” message, rejecting calls to “defund the police.” “Everybody is trying to figure me out,” Adams says, “because I refuse to fit into this neat little package.”
In muckraker/watchdog reporting: A new analysis by the Washington Post examines corporate America’s “$50 billion promise” and “the limits of corporate power to effect change.” After the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, and the nationwide protests that followed, corporate America “acknowledged that it could no longer stay silent,” promising to “take an active role in confronting systemic racism.” America’s 50 largest public companies and their foundations collectively committed nearly $50 billion to addressing racial inequality – an amount that “appears unequaled in sheer scale.” But looking deeper, more than 90% – some $45 billion – is allocated as loans or investments from which the companies themselves could stand to profit. Less than 10% is in the form of outright grants; and of that, just a tiny fraction – about $70 million – has gone to organizations focused specifically on criminal justice reform. A piece from Bloomberg also centers on racial justice and corporate America, exploring “how Target got cozy with the cops.” For decades, America’s “most upbeat retailer” fostered partnerships with law enforcement unlike those of any other US corporation. It became one of the most influential corporate donors to law enforcement agencies and police foundations, supplying money for cutting-edge technology and equipment. In the wake of last summer’s protests, the company has attempted to distance itself from those initiatives – once a matter of singular corporate pride – but it remains to be seen how much has actually changed.
In complex crime storytelling: A story from Rolling Stone centers on Oklahoma death-row inmate Richard Glossip. Convicted nearly 25 years ago for a murder he insists he didn’t commit, Glossip has been close to execution so often, he’s had three last meals. From his cell, he’s listened as two men have been put to death – both via botched lethal injections. After the second of these mishaps, in 2015, the state shut down its “death machine” for the next six years. But now, unless a cadre of inmates can convince it otherwise, Oklahoma is “primed to hit the gas, their execution procedure largely unchanged. And Glossip, he knows, would likely be the first back on Death Watch – unless he and his lawyer, Don Knight, can convince the state to give him another hearing.” And a piece from the New Yorker explores “life after white-collar crime.” Two decades ago, Jeffrey D. Grant had it all: a successful corporate law firm, a beautiful home in Westchester, and the lavish, grandiose lifestyle he enjoyed. Then it all came undone. In 2004, Grant was arrested on charges of wire fraud and money laundering; he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eighteen months in federal prison. After his release, Grant, stripped of his law degree and unsure how to proceed, established what he called the White Collar Support Group, a regular online meeting inspired by twelve-step programs like AA. Each week, Grant leads the group – all people accused or convicted of white-collar felonies – in what he describes as “ethics rehab” for “guys detoxing from power.”
In culture/true crime: The New York Times profiles formerly incarcerated rapper Bobby Shmurda. In 2014, Shmurda, then 19 and on the rise to viral stardom, was arrested on gang conspiracy charges and sentenced to seven years in prison. Since his release last February, Shmurda has been savoring his freedom, crafting his long-awaited debut album as he readjusts to life on the outside. A piece from Scalawag Magazine highlights stories of 12 exonerees who were freed from life-in-prison sentences by the Innocence Project New Orleans. Through portraits and handwritten letters, each shares their own story and “what freedom means to them.” And, in a piece for Inquest, four formerly incarcerated poets share selections of their work. The poems are excerpted from When You Hear Me (You Hear Us), a forthcoming anthology from the DC-based nonprofit Free Minds Book Club that collects poetry, personal stories, and reflections from young people charged and incarcerated in the adult criminal legal system. Through its collected works, the anthology “illustrates the ecosystem that surrounds youth who are incarcerated – and exposes how the harm of their incarceration affects us all.”