Crime Story Daily Highlights — Week 10

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: the Guardian reports that last Friday, California governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a statewide ban on private prisons. The ban, which also applies to companies that hold immigrant detainees for ICE, is likely to set off yet another legal battle between California and the Trump administration. And the New York Times writes that on Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard the case of Lee Malvo, one of two snipers who terrorized the Washington, DC region with a series of deadly attacks in the fall of 2002. Malvo, who was 17 years old at the time, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, before a series of Supreme Court decisions that limited harsh punishments for juvenile offenders. The Court’s decision could have significant implications for inmates around the country who committed murders before they turned 18, and who could obtain new sentences if the Court rules in Malvo’s favor.

On the muckraker/watchdog front: in September, a recruitment ad for the LAPD ran on the ultra-right-wing news website Breitbart, sparking widespread confusion and outrage. A piece from the Washington Post this week examines the controversy from a broader historical perspective, arguing that the ad’s placement should not come as a surprise given the LAPD’s long history of racist recruitment and hiring practices and aggressive targeting of communities of color. In related news, the Guardian reported that according to a new analysis from the UCLA Labor Center, Los Angeles courts force roughly 100,000 people to do weeks and even months of “community service” each year, exposing some of them to exploitative and hazardous working conditions without basic labor rights and protections. The study found that local government departments and not-for-profit organizations rely on laborers threatened with debts and jail time to do work that would otherwise be paid – and that those affected are overwhelmingly people of color.

In complex crime storytelling: last November, a double murder-suicide in Los Angeles escaped widespread notice, even locally, amid an avalanche of other news. A closer look at the case, from the Los Angeles Times, reveals a story of poverty, addiction, mental illness, and lives lived at the fringes of society, “on the porous border between haves and have-nots.” And a new piece from the New Republic takes readers inside the 53206, a heavily African American neighborhood north of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the “most incarcerated” zip code in the country.

And in culture/true crime: Variety reports that on Monday, the police interrogation firm John E. Reid and Associates filed a federal lawsuit against Netflix and “When They See Us” director Ava DuVernay, claiming that it was defamed in the miniseries on the Central Park Five case. The firm’s controversial Reid Technique is mentioned by name in the fourth episode of the series, when a character confronts NYPD detective Michael Sheehan with allegations that he used the method to coerce confessions out of the five original defendants in the case, who were later exonerated. And the New York Times covers a production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” put on by 30 medium-security inmates of Colorado’s Sterling Correctional Facility. Prison plays have been around for decades, but this one was different: over a week in September, the cast and crew took the show on tour, travelling over 130 miles by bus to perform at two other prisons around Colorado. For some, it was the first time in years they had been outside Sterling’s 20-foot walls and razor fences.

Monday October 14, 2019

What the LAPD recruitment ad on Breitbart says about the department’s history Max Felker-Kantor, Washington Post

Chicago’s Dismal Murder Solve Rate Even Worse When Victims Are Black Chip Mitchell, NPR

How the Secretive “Discipline” Process for Federal Prosecutors Buries Misconduct Cases Brooke Williams, Samata Joshi, and Shawn Musgrave, The Intercept

NYC Council Passes Surprise Measure to Close Rikers Jail Amanda Ottaway, Courthouse News

A Floating Jail Was Supposed to Be Temporary. That Was 27 Years Ago. Matthew Haag, New York Times

Women All Over the Country Are Suing Police for Failing to Test Their Rape Kits Madison Pauly, Mother Jones

They lived on the porous border between haves and have-nots. They died in a double murder-suicide (California) Benjamin Oreskes, Matthew Ormseth, and Maria La Ganga, Los Angeles Times

Memory Card Found With Brutal Videos and Photos Leads to Murder Arrest (Alaska) Aimee Ortiz, New York Times

‘Jailed for Poverty,’ Indigent PA Offenders Trapped in ‘Debtors’ Prison’ The Crime Report

Philadelphia Man Begins Rebuilding His Life After His Wrongful Conviction Joshua Vaughn, The Appeal

A Radical Approach to Helping Former Prisoners Start Over: Let Them Into Your Home Marisa Endicott, Mother Jones

How a Prison Play Goes on Tour Jack Healy, New York Times

Golden State Killer sleuth Paul Holes has a new TV show he wants you to see Chuck Barney, Mercury News

When True Crime Gets Personal Billy Jensen, Vulture

Sony shopping Jeffrey Epstein’s crime story as limited TV series London Free Press

Crime Story Daily Highlights — Week 9

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week:

On the criminal justice policy front: The Washington Post had a preview of a pair of highly consequential criminal justice cases that are before The Supreme Court as it opens its new term. One deals with the question of whether a jury’s verdict must be unanimous; the other with whether or not states must allow an insanity defense for criminal defendants. Slate writes that the Court appears poised to outlaw split jury verdicts in both state and federal court, “abolishing a legal aberration that subordinates the power of minority jurors.”  A piece from the New Yorker explores the contentious race for San Francisco district attorney.

Meanwhile San Francisco’s DA, George Gascón, a long-time reformer and critic of mass incarceration, resigned from that position to challenge Los Angeles DA Jackie Lacey, who has taken a “tough line” on crime, sending people to prison at a rate far higher than in San Francisco. A New York Times piece profiles both candidates, exploring how their formative experiences in 1980s Los Angeles shaped their opposing views on criminal justice, and examining the lasting implications of the fate of criminal justice reform in California and beyond.

On the muckraker/watchdog front: a new analysis by the Los Angeles Times found that LAPD officers search black and Latino drivers far more often than whites during traffic stops, even though white drivers are more likely to be found with illegal items. Also, there were some follow up stories on the trial of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, which concluded last week with a murder conviction and ten-year sentence for Guyger. The Washington Post spoke with two people who served on Guyger’s jury and offered insight into the group’s struggle to reach an equitable sentence for the murder of Botham Jean.

In complex crime storytelling: the New York Times reports that after years of painstaking investigation, the FBI confirmed on Sunday that Samuel Little, now 79 years old, is the most prolific known serial killer in American history. Mr. Little has confessed to 93 murders, 50 of which the FBI has verified thus far. The agency said in a statement that it believes “all of his confessions are credible.” Texas Ranger James Holland tells “60 Minutes” how he got Little to finally confess to his crimes. And in a new piece for The Atlantic, Jack Goldsmith, a legal scholar and the stepson of Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien, for many years a prime suspect in the sudden disappearance and presumed death of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, reflects on his family’s experiences of the investigation and the ways in which decades of government surveillance have impacted their lives.

And in culture/true crime: new work by the artist and photographer Nigel Poor –known for co-creating the popular podcast Ear Hustle – seeks to make visible the culture, history, and people of San Quentin State Prison, a minimum-maximum facility on northwest San Francisco Bay that houses more than 4,000 prisoners, including over 700 men on death row. And in a new essay for NBC News, regular CRIME STORY Contributors Amanda Knox and Christopher Robinson examine and critiques the culture’s current true crime moment, weighing the importance of telling true-crime stories like her own against the moral complications of packaging real people’s trauma into binge-able mass entertainment.

Thursday October 10, 2019