Opening Statement
October 19, 2016
Edited by Andrew Cohen
Opening Statement is our pick of the day’s criminal justice news. Not a subscriber? Sign up. For original reporting from The Marshall Project, visit our website.

Pick of the News

A new front in the campaign for justice reform? District attorneys accustomed to being re-elected with little effort are beginning to see voters pay closer attention. There is a race to watch in Houston, and one in a Denver suburb, but the contest in Tampa may be the most notable. It pits an incumbent Republican against a Democratic challenger debating the value of prosecuting low-level drug crimes. There is the inevitable focus on a single high-profile case; in this instance a sex assault involving a 15-year-old victim. TMP’s Maurice Chammah has the latest in our series of election features. The Marshall Project

2015 was one of the safest years on record for police officers, according to new federal statistics released Tuesday. Forty-one officers were intentionally killed last year, down from 51 in 2014. Most of the victims were shot. Three were killed when they were struck by a vehicle. An average of 64 cops have been “feloniously” killed each year since 1980. The 2016 numbers, so far, suggest a rise from the 2015 figure but still around the average. Huffington Post

Who do body cameras serve? As police departments across the country begin to roll out their new video programs, and as lawmakers wrestle with the privacy implications of recording and publishing police interactions, there are still many more questions than answers about whether the new technology will reduce police misconduct. Just ask the earnest officials in Seattle, who thought they were at the vanguard of a movement but now realize the issue is complicated. The New York Times TMP Context: What you need to know about body cameras. The Marshall Project Finally: Camera policies, by city. Brennan Center for Justice

Turns out more people are talking about bail reform in Chicago than actually doing anything about it. The Cook County bail system is still an expensive mess despite repeated judicial warnings about practices there. Bail amounts are set in arbitrary ways, inmates are held at length without being convicted, dangerous conditions cause death or injury and then costly lawsuits, and defendants (and taxpayers) are saddled with debt. Injustice Watch TMP Context: Some bail reformers aren’t waiting for bail reform. The Marshall Project Related commentary: Time to end money bail. The Crime Report

When mom is in prison. Georgia has aggressively implemented justice reforms in the past few years but it still has 189,000 children who have had a parent in prison. Now the question is whether state officials are doing enough to help those kids — in school and beyond — so they can avoid the cycle of incarceration that may have landed their moms or dads behind bars to begin with. There is optimism, advocates say, but still plenty more work to be done. Here are individual stories that help illustrate the scope of the problem. Atlanta Journal-Constitution


A 15-year-old inmate held since July in a notorious Louisiana jail apparently committed suicide on Monday night. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Following a controversial bidding process, ICE has renewed its contract with a private prison contractor operating a detention facility in Texas. The Tennessean TMP Context: What you need to know about the feds’ private prison phaseout. The Marshall Project

The latest setback for Florida’s death penalty could mean new sentencing hearings for 386 convicted murderers in the state. Miami Herald

A handful of law enforcement agencies in Montana are violating a state law that requires them to report their requests for military surplus equipment. Great Falls Tribune

The famous “Beale Street Sweep” in Memphis, Tennessee, in which the police clear the rowdy street at 3 a.m. on weekend nights, is an unconstitutional policy that violates the right to intrastate travel. 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals


When policing becomes unmoored from crime. We get the crisis of trust and confidence we see between cops and communities of color. Boston Review

There is no “advocacy exception” to the First Amendment. Why North Dakota prosecutor Ladd Erickson is unfit for office. The Washington Post

Welcome to the age of sextortion. The new face of sexual partner abuse, fueled by social media. The Conversation

The Fourth Amendment in the Lone Star State. You’d be surprised at what passes for “suspicious behavior” for motorists in Texas. Grits for Breakfast

Mr. and Mrs. Trump. You don’t need to convince Harry Hurt III, who wrote a book about Donald Trump in 1993, about the legitimacy of the sexual harassment allegations surrounding the candidate’s campaign. The New Yorker


Execution of the Day: Georgia plans to put to death Gregory Lawler tonight. Lawler was convicted of shooting and killing an Atlanta police officer in 1997. It would be Georgia's seventh execution since January. The Marshall Project

Question of the Day: Is there a constitutional “no-man’s-land” at our borders where civilians may be killed with impunity? The Supreme Court is about to decide in a case involving the killing of a 15-year-old Mexican boy. The New York Times

Video of the Day: Here’s what it’s like to be a black pedestrian stopped by the police in Edina, Minnesota. The video has gone viral. The Washington Post

Duo of the Day: Ed Meese and Robert Morgenthau, peas from very different legal-political pods, are teaming up to help a death row inmate in Alabama. The Wall Street Journal TMP Context: We wrote about this case two years ago. The Marshall Project

Interview of the Day: In which Jamie Kalven, an award-winning investigative journalist, explains how journalism ethics are tested when reporters cover the police. ProPublica

Donations of the Day: With Hillary Clinton sharpening her attacks on private prisons, the industry is steering its campaign contributions to Donald Trump. Mother Jones

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