CSG Midwest

In an effort to curb the number of deaths occurring in their state due to gun violence, Illinois legislators are cracking down on people who illegally sell firearms. Signed into law this summer, HB 6303 makes it a felony for a person who has not been issued a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card to bring guns into Illinois with the intent of selling or delivering them.

By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
It may appear that efforts to adopt an evidence-based approach using data to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of law enforcement had its genesis back in 1995, when New York City kicked off work on its so-called CompStat system. In that very successful effort, geographic information systems, or GIS, were used to identify the places in the city where officers could be deployed to their best use. It worked so well that New York’s crime rates plummeted and a number of other places tried to emulate the work. But while CompStat may have been at the forefront of using technology in this way, “the history of quantitative crime analysis spans decades,” wrote Jennifer Bachner, a director in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies. As Bachner pointed out, in 1829 “an Italian geographer and French statistician designed the first maps that visualized crime data,” including three years of property crime rates as well as education information garnered from France’s census. The maps showed a correlation between the two—more education tended to equate to less crime. Jump forward about 190 years and you’ll find that a number of states, counties and cities have been using the seemingly magical capacity of computers to advance this work dramatically.

CSG Midwest

Starting this fall in Minnesota, college students will be required to complete training on preventing and reducing the prevalence of sexual assault. The mandate is part of a comprehensive law on sexual-assault prevention (SF 5) passed by legislators last year. In addition to requiring students to complete training within 10 business days of their first semester, the law expands the rights of victims, creates a new option to report cases online, and ensures that each school has a walk-in location staffed with trained advocates. <--break->

CSG Midwest
Law enforcement in Illinois has new guidelines to follow when it uses so-called “stingray devices,” which help track criminal suspects and enable the collection of information from their phone calls and text messages. These devices trick phones in a particular area into thinking they are connecting to a cell phone tower operated by a service provider. As a result, they can be a powerful tool in helping police nab suspects. But at the same time, these cell phone simulators are collecting information from the phones of innocent people who happen to be in the same area.

To paraphrase former first lady and the first U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt, human rights begin in small places, close to home. In that spirit, the U.S. State Department would like to share important information about the Universal Periodic Review, or UPR, a major international human rights mechanism in which every U.N. member state participates, and invite state government officials to join public consultations that are part of this process.

During The Council of State Governments’ eCademy webcast, “Human Trafficking—How States are Responding,” panelists discussed legislation, task forces and funding to combat human trafficking at the state level.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which people, often children, are forced into sex work or other labor. The Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that works to combat human trafficking, estimates that the number of adults and children being forced into labor in the United States numbers in the...

In the wake of several high-profile incidents involving the injury or death of citizens during altercations with law enforcement, questions surrounding police misconduct and use of force have grown in recent years. Increasingly, policymakers and the American public alike are looking to and calling for the use of body cameras by law enforcement officers in an effort to increase transparency in police-civilian interactions. Who, though, should have access to footage recorded on police body cameras?

Over the past 20 years, violent crime* has decreased considerably – down 35 percent from 1995. The violent crime rate (number of violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants) fell precipitously over this period, from 684.5 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants to 365.5 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2014, there were about 1.2 million violent crimes nationwide; in 1995 there were 1.8 million, despite the fact that the U.S. population grew by approximately 21 percent over this period.  

During a special session called by Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah lawmakers passed a bill to address the issue of unmanned aircrafts interfering with wildfire management efforts, along with several other measures. In June, drones were spotted three times during a fire in Southwestern Utah, which led to the evacuation of 500 homes. Governor Herbert tweeted in response that “Evacuations could have been avoided if drones hadn’t interrupted air attack on the fire.”

Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is a multibillion dollar, worldwide industry and one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises. The Polaris Project estimates that the number of adults and children being held and forced into labor in the United States numbers in the hundreds of thousands. States have taken action, however, setting up task forces to assess the extent of human trafficking and experimenting with policies to encourage reporting, train law enforcement personnel and increase the criminal penalties for perpetrators.