Rural Poverty and Crime

Report: Violent crime rate is higher for rural poor, By Sophia Tareen (AP), March 15, 2017, State Journal-Register: “People living in poverty are more likely to become victims of violent crime than higher income earners whether they live in cities, suburbs or rural areas, but the rural poor experience crime at higher rates, according to a Wednesday report by a Chicago research group…”

Criminalization of Homelessness

Report: Cities passing more laws making homelessness a crime, By Cathy Bussewitz and Colleen Slevin (AP), November 15, 2016, Virginian-Pilot: “Cities across the country are enacting more bans on living in vehicles, camping in public and panhandling, despite federal efforts to discourage such laws amid a shortage of affordable housing, a new report said.  Denver, which ordered about 150 homeless people living on sidewalks to clear out their belongings Tuesday, was among four cities criticized for policies criminalizing homelessness in a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group aiming to prevent people from losing their homes. The other cities listed in its ‘hall of shame’ are in Hawaii, Texas and Washington state…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Alaska

Alaska prisoner re-entry center targets recidivism, By Michelle Theriault Boots, October 2, 2013, Anchorage Daily News: “Each year more than a thousand inmates who have served their sentences are released in Anchorage, often in the parking lot of the city jail. Many go straight to a homeless shelter. Almost half will be jailed for committing a new crime within three years, according to a 2011 Pew Center for the States report. That’s the highest rate in the nation. Now Anchorage, where more felons are released than any other place in Alaska, has its first walk-in ‘re-entry’ center, just a few blocks from the jail…”

Public Criminal Defense System – Michigan

Indigent defense: Michigan looks to overhaul system for low-income criminal defense, By Jonathan Oosting, June 14, 2013, “Michigan lawmakers on Thursday took a major step towards overhauling the state’s public criminal defense system, which critics say has been broken for years and failed to protect some residents who cannot afford their own attorney. The Senate and House on Thursday approved identical bills, setting the stage for them to be finalized and sent to the governor as early as next week, to create the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. The 16-member body would be tasked with researching, developing and enforcing minimum standards for constitutionally-guaranteed legal representation in jurisdictions around the state…”

Prison Sentencing and Poverty

Prison and the poverty trap, By John Tierney, February 18, 2013, New York Times: “Why are so many American families trapped in poverty? Of all the explanations offered by Washington’s politicians and economists, one seems particularly obvious in the low-income neighborhoods near the Capitol: because there are so many parents like Carl Harris and Charlene Hamilton. For most of their daughters’ childhood, Mr. Harris didn’t come close to making the minimum wage. His most lucrative job, as a crack dealer, ended at the age of 24, when he left Washington to serve two decades in prison, leaving his wife to raise their two young girls while trying to hold their long-distance marriage together…”

Denver Post Series on Child Welfare System

Failed to death, series home page, November 2012, Denver Post: “Day 1: More than 40 percent of children who died of abuse and neglect in the last six years in Colorado were known to child protection workers.   Day 2: Caseworkers are the backbone of the system but often fail to follow state policies.   Day 3: Some children never get a chance for help because their cases were ‘screened out.’   Day 4: Too often child welfare workers and law enforcement fail to work together.   Day 5: Funding inequities have plagued Colorado s child welfare system.   Day 6: People who kill children serve much less prison time than those who kill adults.    Day 7: Abused children often suffer from a long-term psychological impact.    Day 8: There are answers to the problems that face Colorado s child welfare system but they require political will and often money…”

Juvenile Justice System – New Jersey

Number of minors in N.J. youth detention centers declined significantly, report shows, By Matt Friedman, October 24, 2012, Star-Ledger: “A new report shows that the number of minors in the counties’ youth detention centers has declined by more than half since New Jersey implemented a program to divert them to alternatives in 2004, saving the state an estimated $16 million. The report, issued today by Advocates for Children in New Jersey, studied the effect of the eight-year-old Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. ‘New Jersey’s juvenile justice system is, by and large, smarter, safer and savings taxpayer dollars,’ according to the report, which noted that just 3 percent of youth re-offend while participating in the program. For children arrested but not deemed a threat to public safety, the program changes the focus from locking them up to alternative means of supervision, like electronic monitoring and home visits. It also provides them with job training, counseling services and other services…”

Relocated Public Housing Residents

Relocating public housing residents must be done responsibly, study says, By Katy Reckdahl, April 19, 2012, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “As the Housing Authority of New Orleans moves Iberville development residents in preparation for this fall’s demolitions, new Urban Institute research emphasizes the need for ‘responsible relocation strategies’ for public housing residents. Such plans are necessary to ensure both the residents’ well-being and to maintain the stability of the high-poverty neighborhoods where residents are likely to relocate, researchers contend. Urban Institute researchers, who have conducted a wide body of research on relocated public housing residents, have known for a while that public housing residents who moved out of dilapidated old ‘projects’ end up in better, safer housing, although still in very poor, very segregated neighborhoods. In general, residents who leave are less anxious about crime, which has for decades plagued the troubled public housing developments in New Orleans and elsewhere…”

Juvenile Justice System – Arkansas

Study praises juvenile justice reforms, says more work needed, By Rob Moritz, March 14, 2012, Arkansas News: “A new study presented to lawmakers today praises recent reforms in Arkansas’ juvenile justice system and recommends additional strategies to save money. ‘There really has been remarkable work done to reform juvenile justice in this state,’ said Pat Arthur, the study’s co-author, a California-based consultant and former attorney at the National Center for Youth Law in San Francisco. ‘It’s truly been an amazing collaboration of stakeholders to behold over the last four years who have come together and collaboratively worked to change what was four years ago safe to say a sinking ship, the Division of Youth Services,’ Arthur told a joint meeting of the Senate Committee on Children and Youth and the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs.
In 2008, following a series of problems within the juvenile justice system, including poor facilities, overcrowding and physical and emotion abuse of youths, a task force of judges, state officials, advocacy and community groups formed to find solutions…”

Juvenile Justice System – New York

New York courts revisit juvenile justice, By Maggie Clark, March 12, 2012, “On a recent Thursday afternoon in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, in the South Bronx, five 16- and 17-year-old boys met outside the Bronx Criminal Court building to complete court-mandated community service. After appearing before a judge for nonviolent offenses such as shoplifting and graffiti, they’d been assigned to Bronx Community Solutions, an alternative sentencing organization attached to the criminal court, for an afternoon of cleaning up the sidewalks around a recreation center. Under New York law, most offenders at this age share community service duties with seasoned adult criminals, because at 16, they are automatically charged as adults. These boys were different because they were part of a judicial pilot program that separates 16-and-17-year-old offenders from the rest of the adult criminal population, and also from younger teens. They have been given the chance to do their community service in a custom-designed rehabilitative environment…”

Public Defender System – Michigan

ACLU: Michigan’s public defender system among worst, By Doug Guthrie, May 18, 2011, Detroit News: “Michigan’s system of appointing lawyers to represent criminal defendants who can’t afford to hire their own is among the worst in the nation, according to a report issued today by the American Civil Liberties Union. Using numerous prior studies by others that condemned the state’s dependence on a patchwork of dissimilar systems run separately by 83 counties, the report blasts a lack of oversight, funding, training and failure to meet national standards…”

Poverty and Crime

Poverty rate paradox: Poverty rises, but FBI crime rate falls, By Patrik Jonsson, September 13, 2010, Christian Science Monitor: “The much-studied links between poverty and crime rates – which helped give rise to many Great Society programs – have not materialized so far in the Great Recession. Even with 15 percent of Americans now officially poor, both violent crime and property crime continued to drop in the United States in 2009, the FBI reported Monday. The housing crash’s backwash of foreclosures and high unemployment has pushed some in the middle class and the working poor to the brink of despair and insolvency. Yet crimes reports ranging from murder to carjackings, from graft to purse-snatching, all declined during the same period, forcing social scientists to reexamine long-held assumptions about the causes of crime and how society can best battle back…”

Eligibility for a Public Defender – Wisconsin

Even the poor make too much to get a public defender, By Steven Elbow, January 25, 2010, Capital Times: “So you’re scraping by on minimum wage, and your hours were cut to 25 per week. You managed to put $300 in the bank, and you drive a beater you bought for $2,000. That puts you in the federal poverty bracket. But according to the state public defender, if you’re arrested, you won’t qualify for a public defender. If your boss cuts your hours to nine, you still wouldn’t qualify. State Public Defender Nicholas Chiarkas calls the standards used to assess whether the poor can qualify for assistance from his office ‘an embarrassment.’ They haven’t been updated or adjusted for inflation since 1987 and are the most stringent in the nation, he says. You have to be dirt poor to qualify. Further, the standards force cash-strapped counties to foot the bill for appointing lawyers for defendants who would undergo substantial hardship if they were forced to pay for their own legal representation. The state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau found that statewide, Wisconsin counties shelled out about $6 million in 2008 – the most recent figures available – to hire attorneys for the poor…”

Recession and Crime Rates

Despite recession, crime keeps falling, By Devlin Barrett (AP), December 21, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle: “High unemployment. More folks on food stamps. Fewer owning their homes. Yet for all the signs of recession, something is missing: More crime. Experts are scratching their heads over why crime has ebbed so far during this recession, making it different from other economic downturns of the past half-century. Early guesses include jobless folks at home keeping closer watch for thieves, or the American population just getting older_ and older people commit fewer crimes. Preliminary FBI crime figures for the first half of 2009 show crime falling across the country, even at a time of high unemployment, foreclosures and layoffs. Most surprisingly, murder and manslaughter fell 10 percent for the first half of the year…”

Blighted Neighborhoods and Redevelopment – Los Angeles, CA

L.A. plans revival for center of crime, poverty, By Jacob Adelman, (AP), September 2, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle: “Juanita Sims has lived in the notorious Jordan Downs project in Watts for almost four decades, raising eight children behind the barred windows of the cramped barracks-like apartments. She moved in shortly after the Watts riots in the 1960s left almost three dozen people dead and made the South Los Angeles community a national symbol of urban decay. Now Sims fears she’ll have to leave, just as Watts emerges from years of neglect with a proposed urban village of shops, homes and businesses that would force the demolition of Jordan Downs…”

Hate Crime Legislation and the Homeless – Florida

Advocates push to add attacks on homeless to Florida hate crimes law, By Anthony Man, July 7, 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “Horrified by video of teens who went on a rampage beating homeless men in downtown Fort Lauderdale, a state legislator was propelled to push for including attacks on the homeless to the state’s hate crimes law.  It is now state law — in Maryland — because state Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Md., saw what he termed “gruesome” video of the Fort Lauderdale incident. His state is the first to include homeless people as a protected group under its hate crimes statute…”

Poor Communities and Crime – South Africa

Constant fear and mob rule in South Africa slum, By Barry Bearak, June 29, 2009, New York Times: “The two robbery suspects had already been viciously beaten, their swollen faces stained with rivulets of red. One of them could no longer sit up, and only the need to moan seemed to revive him into consciousness. The other, Moses Tjiwa, occasionally stared into the taunting crowd and muttered, ‘I didn’t do anything’…”