Public Safety

CSG Midwest

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear his state’s challenge to neighboring Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is pledging to “determine the best next steps toward vindicating the rule of law.” Oklahoma joined Nebraska in the lawsuit. It was filed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court without going through a lower court — an action that is allowed when states have legal complaints with another, SCOTUSblog.com reports.

Representatives from correctional systems in 12 states came together in early March to set strategies for and share experiences related to reducing recidivism in their states and across the country. Convened by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, or BJA, and The Council of State Governments Justice Center’s National Reentry Resource Center, the 2016 Statewide Recidivism Reduction, or SRR, Forum brought together grantees of the SRR program—one of the Second Chance Act grants offered by BJA, which challenges state correctional systems and their partners to reduce recidivism and serve as models for the rest of the country. BJA officials—including Deputy Director Kristen Mahoney, Associate Deputy Director Ruby Qazilbash and Policy Advisor Andre Bethea—were on hand to discuss best practices.

Does your state criminal forfeiture statute allow the freezing of substitute assets? If so, it must now be rewritten to allow criminal defendants to use such assets to pay for an attorney of their choice.

In a 6-2 decision the Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel includes allowing a criminal defendant to use untainted substitute assets to hire an attorney, rather than freezing them for forfeiture to the government after conviction.

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing for the opposite result in Luis v. United States. State and local governments—police departments in particular—receive criminal asset forfeitures. Any many state forfeiture statutes allow freezing of substitute assets.

State implied consent statutes criminalizing a person’s refusal to take a warrantless chemical blood alcohol test upon suspicion of drunk driving are constitutional, argues the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) in a Supreme Court amicus brief.

All 50 states have adopted implied consent laws requiring motorists as a condition of driving in the state to consent to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test if they are suspected of drunk driving. If motorists refuse to consent typically their driver’s license is temporarily suspended. NCSL reports that 15 states also currently criminalize refusal to consent. Criminal penalties typically include fines and jail time. 

In a per curiam (unauthored) opinion, which concurring Justices Alito and Thomas call “grudging,” the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to decide again whether Massachusetts’s stun gun ban is constitutional. Currently eight states and a handful of cities and counties ban stun guns.

The highest state court in Massachusetts held that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect stun guns because they weren’t in common use at the time the Second Amendment was enacted, they are “unusual” as “a thoroughly modern invention,” and they aren’t readily adaptable for use in the military.

CSG Midwest

According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, every state has a set of “age boundaries” that help determine jurisdiction in these cases — in particular, whether they should go through juvenile court or criminal court. As of 2014, most U.S. states (41) set the “upper age” of juvenile court jurisdiction at 17. This age limit, though, is lower in two Midwestern states: Wisconsin and Michigan, where the upper age for juvenile court jurisdiction is only 16.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state prison populations have grown significantly over the last few decades and in 36 states, the prison population has more than tripled as a share of the state population since 1978.  Spending on corrections has also increased in states: state corrections spending more than doubled between 1986 and 2013 (after adjusting for inflation), from $20 billion to over $47 billion.   

The past few years – particularly following the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and subsequent investigations – have brought increased attention to a mounting problem: jailing the poor when they can’t pay fines and fees ordered by courts. This practice has been called the “criminalization of poverty”.

According to a new report from the Governing Institute, a majority of legislators understand that cyber threats are evolving and pose a risk to their state, but only 18 percent of respondents currently sit on a committee with cybersecurity as part of its mandate and 80 percent of respondents do not know if their state has a cyber-emergency incident plan in place.

In the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50 last month, law enforcement officials found 42 potential human trafficking victims through a series of stings. At least two were under the age of 18, according to CBS San Francisco news affiliate 5KPIX. Human trafficking is a fast-growing global issue with a reach that impacts every state in the country. In 2012, the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, or ILO, estimated that there are 21 million victims of human trafficking all across the world, forced into labor or commercial sex work. Experts suggest it is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world—just behind the international drug trade—netting an estimated $150 billion each year, according to the ILO.

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