Opening Statement
September 23, 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 criminal justice reform measure that could actually reach the President’s desk. The House of Representatives Thursday overwhelmingly passed a measure that would withhold federal funding from states that hold juvenile suspects in adult jails. The legislation would also ban states from locking up minors for so-called “status” offenses. One looming obstacle in the Senate? Objections from Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a state that still locks away minors at a disproportionately high rate. TMP’s Eli Hager has been following the legislation. The Marshall Project

“I didn’t know how to help her.” Deanna Paul, a prosecutor in New York, had plenty of experience handling domestic violence cases. She knew all the signs to look for, all the explanations victims would give for why they were abused. But she was wholly unprepared when she realized her sister had been the victim of an attack. In collaboration with Vice, here is the latest in our “Life Inside” series. The Marshall Project

First-degree manslaughter charges for the Tulsa police officer who shot Terence Crutcher last week in a killing caught on video that went viral. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Betty Shelby Thursday afternoon, and arrangements were made for her surrender, as the local district attorney moved swiftly to quell protests. The officer, the complaint alleges, reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation with the unarmed victim. Tulsa World Related commentary: It’s not just Terence Crutcher. Tulsa has a big policing problem and has had it for many years. Daily Beast

There’s no definitive proof that the Charlotte police shooting victim pointed a gun at officers before he was shot and killed, concedes the city’s beleaguered police chief as he fends off requests to release video that may help explain the death of Keith Lamont Scott. Charlotte News & Observer Related: After watching the video Scott’s family says he showed no aggression and they want the public to see what happened. The New York Times More: North Carolina just passed a law that will make it harder for the police to release videos of shootings to the public. Charlotte News & Observer Finally: More body camera video, still plenty of police refusals to release it. The Washington Post

Blaming Arizona. There was a 400 percent increase in “simple drug possession” cases under federal law from 2008 and 2013, a “dramatic increase” caused almost exclusively by federal marijuana cases brought near the Mexican border in Arizona, the Sentencing Commission announced Thursday. Federal officials concluded that those charged with such offenses near the border got significantly harsher punishment than their non-border counterparts, probably because they were caught with substantially higher quantities of marijuana. U.S. Sentencing Commission


A new poll in California shows strong support for repeal of the death penalty — and significant voter confusion over a related measure that calls for expediting executions. The Sacramento Bee TMP Context: The campaign to save the death penalty. The Marshall Project

On the rise and fall of community policing in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Reader TMP Context: The “Chicago Model” of policing hasn’t saved Chicago. The Marshall Project

With a program titled “You have Options,” an Oregon detective is succeeding with a new way for victims of sexual assault to report their experience. NPR

As a former Louisiana prosecutor heads off to federal prison for obstruction of justice, the FBI reveals the breadth of its case against him. New Orleans Times-Picayune

How an online sleuth solved a mystery surrounding a dead woman, an identity thief, whose journey from Pennsylvania to Texas and beyond spanned decades. The Seattle Times


The problem with leaving your gun in your car. They get stolen, at a rate of 1,600 a day, and often end up involved in violent crimes. The Atlantic Related: When liberals need to defend Second Amendment rights. Slate

It’s a lot harder than you think to define a “crime of violence.” And most people have skewed perceptions of how the law treats such crimes. TakePart

The bill of rights is hanging by a thread, especially when it comes to the constitutional right to counsel. By Charles Pierce. Esquire

A new kind of search and seize. How should the federal courts deal with the new policing tactic of arresting people for “parking while black?” Slate

Meet the dissenters. Donald Trump may have received a big police union endorsement. But that doesn’t mean he’s a unanimous choice among those in blue. Mother Jones


Question of the Day: What does the NRA say about Donald Trump’s statement, Thursday, that he’d support police seizing guns during stop-and-frisk encounters? The Hill Related: Gun rights are for white Americans, not black ones. By Eugene Robinson. The Washington Post

Documentary of the Day: Chronicles the story of Tourrie Moses, a young man who went from class president in middle school to convicted murderer. WNYC Related: “As a teenager I didn’t think about 10 years from now,” writes Eddie Sorto, now 26, serving a life sentence for gang-related murders in California. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Rejection of the Day: Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Justice Department won’t adopt White House recommendations to improve the reliability of forensic science. The Wall Street Journal Related Commentary: Doubling-down on junk science. The Open File

Reality Check of the Day: There is only so much even the FBI can do to investigate a terror suspect before he strikes. The New York Times

Empathy of the Day: In which a state supreme court blocks a trial judge from imposing a $15/month fine on a disabled, homeless, and indigent woman receiving only $710/month from Social Security. Washington Supreme Court

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