Criminal Justice News and Events


Obama cracks down on abuses by big-city police departments

In a marked shift from the Bush administration, President Obama's Justice Department is aggressively investigating several big urban police departments for systematic civil rights abuses such as harassment of racial minorities, false arrests, and excessive use of force.  In just the past few months, the Civil Rights Division has announced "pattern and practice" investigations in Newark, New Jersey and Seattle. It's also conducting a preliminary investigation of the Denver Police Department, and all this is on top of a high-profile push to reform the notorious New Orleans Police Department -- as well as criminal prosecutions of several New Orleans officers.

Hundreds Appear at NAACP Hosted Town Hall Over Video of Police Brutality

Several hundred Houstonians came face to face with the mayor and other city leaders for the first time since the release of a video showing several Houston Police officers kicking and punching a burglary suspect after the teen had surrendered. On Tuesday night the NAACP hosted a town hall meeting at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in the Third Ward. "The problem of police brutality and excessive force won't be tolerated," said D.Z. Cofield, president of the Houston chapter of the NAACP.

NAACP Focuses on Officer-Involved Shootings

NAACP leaders came to Oakland on Thursday to demand that police agencies everywhere do more to stop what are often referred to as waistband shootings, when an officer opens fire on a suspect in the mistaken belief the person is reaching for a weapon.  The NAACP presented statistics from Oakland authorities on 45 officer-involved shootings from 2004 to 2008, one-third of which were fatal. Of the people shot, 37 were black and none was white. Although weapons were not found in 40 percent of cases, no officers were charged.

Religious Summit Focuses on Incarcerated Women

The NAACP National Religious Leaders Summit began with an emphasis on incarcerated women and a brief detailing the social justice, education, economic, and health issues that plague these women before and after incarceration.  The brief examined factors contributing to the enormous growth of African-American women within the criminal justice system. NAACP officials say the growing numbers of incarcerated women will have a devastating impact on American families.

Father: Slain Pace Student Was Just Following Police Orders

 A college football player parked in a fire lane sped away from police rapping on his car window, hit an officer who clung to the hood as the sedan barreled toward a colleague, and was killed by a burst of police gunfire that pierced his windshield, authorities said.  The father of a passenger in the car said the driver headed away because he thought police wanted him to move — and he denied that an officer was struck by the car.  The New York State Police joined Monday in an investigation of the events involving three local police officers early Sunday.

Building a Bridge From Vienna to Orlando: The International AIDS Conference Theme "Rights Here, Right Now," Continues on to the U.S. Conference on AIDS

At the 2010 U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) in Orlando, Criminal Justice Director Robert Rookss spoke on the general interdependence of laws, policies, and structural factors like poverty on the success of HIV prevention, care and treatment; specifically how laws that criminalize people's behaviors and modes of survival push those most vulnerable to HIV further away from the services that could prevent HIV transmission, help them stay in care, or simply survive.