Timothy Williams

Timothy Williams is a reporter for the New York Times.

Trump Wants to Get Tough on Crime: Victims Don’t Agree

Sending more people to prison, deporting illegal immigrants, cracking down on marijuana use — those are some of the things the Trump administration has said will make America safer. But what do crime victims think about all this? It is a group whose views are rarely measured, but a poll commissioned by the Alliance for Safety and Justice sought to find out. A few notes of caution: The group supports criminal justice reform, including incarcerating fewer people, and seeks to promote the … [Read more...]

U.S. Correctional Population at Lowest Level in Over a Decade

The nation’s jail and prison population decreased in 2015, according to federal data released last Thursday, and the number of adults locked up or on parole or probation fell to a level not seen since 2002 while overall crime continued to drop. Reasons for the declining incarceration rates include the federal prison system releasing thousands of nonviolent drug offenders in 2015 and states seeking to save money by enacting legislation and policies to reduce prison populations. In … [Read more...]

Other Cities Often Hire Cast-Out Police Officers

As a police officer in a small Oregon town in 2004, Sean Sullivan was caught kissing a 10-year-old girl on the mouth. Sullivan’s sentence barred him from taking another job as a police officer. But three months later, in August 2005, Mr. Sullivan was hired, after a cursory check, not just as a police officer on another force but as the police chief. As the head of the department in Cedar Vale, Kansas, according to court records and law enforcement officials, he was again investigated for a … [Read more...]

Police Program Aims to Pinpoint Those Most Likely to Commit Crimes

At the request of his probation officer, Tyrone C. Brown came to a community auditorium here in June and sat alongside about 30 other mostly young black men with criminal records — men who were being watched closely by the police, just as he was. He expected to hear an admonition from law enforcement officials to help end violence in the community. But Mr. Brown, 29, got more than he had bargained for. A police captain presented a slide show featuring mug shots of people they were cracking … [Read more...]

Report Details Economic Hardships for Inmate Families

A survey of families that have a member in jail or prison has found that nearly two-thirds struggle to meet their basic needs, including 50 percent that are unable to afford sufficient food and adequate housing. The report found that costs associated with incarceration, like traveling for prison visits, had pushed more than one-third of the families into debt. The research was conducted by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, Calif.; Forward Together; and more than a dozen … [Read more...]

Long Taught to Use Force, Police Warily Learn to De-escalate

Officer Corey Papinsky was recently showing a group of Seattle police officers how to reduce the chance of using force against a citizen during a suddenly antagonistic encounter. Approaching a civilian with your hands on a weapon or making too much eye contact with someone could unnecessarily escalate a situation, Officer Papinsky said. “Keep your hands visible at all times,” he advised. But he faced a tough crowd. “It seems good advice for the suspect,” one officer said. “We want to see their … [Read more...]

Mentally Ill Inmates Routinely Physically Abused

entally ill inmates in prisons and jails across the United States are subjected to routine physical abuse by guards, including being doused with chemical sprays, shocked with electronic stun guns and strapped for hours to chairs or beds, according to a report by Human Rights Watch to be released on Tuesday. The mistreatment, the study says, has led to deaths, though the number of casualties is unclear in part because jails and prisons classify them in various ways. Also, jails and prisons are … [Read more...]

High Cost of Calling the Imprisoned

ince the police in Pennsylvania arrested Anthony Kofalt last March for walking out of a Walmart with 21 boxes of Crest Whitestrips he had not paid for, his wife, Heather, has spent $3,000 — about $60 a week — on phone calls to the prisons and jails where he has been held. The cost of a 15-minute call is $12.95 to the prison where Mr. Kofalt is now incarcerated, a few hours’ drive from his wife’s home in Franklin, Pa. The cost for a similar non-prison call within Pennsylvania would be about 60 … [Read more...]

Have Jails Become Warehouses for the Poor, Ill and Addicted?

Jails across the country have become vast warehouses made up primarily of people too poor to post bail or too ill with mental health or drug problems to adequately care for themselves, according to a report issued Wednesday. he study, “Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America,” found that the majority of those incarcerated in local and county jails are there for minor violations, including driving with suspended licenses, shoplifting or evading subway fares, and have been … [Read more...]