Can Sex Sell Peace?

An adman thinks it can help. Tell young people they might die from gun violence, and the message gets lost in the hopelessness of impoverished neighborhoods, where fatalism runs deep. Tell young men that a bullet could lead to lifelong paralysis and what the pill-makers call “erectile dysfunction,” and you are more likely to have their attention. That is the working hypothesis James Evans reached after conducting focus groups, online surveys and one-on-one interviews in his murder-plagued … [Read more...]

Why Civil Asset Forfeiture Simply Won’t Die

That Attorney General Jeff Sessions would resurrect a controversial federal program for civil asset forfeiture isn’t surprising. He has long been one of the rare advocates for the policy, a vestige of the war on drugs restricted by the Obama administration that allowed local and state law enforcement officials to use federal law to seize (and keep) property suspected of crime. But his announcement last week that the Justice Department was expanding the practice nonetheless perfectly … [Read more...]

‘The Grim Sleeper”—South L.A. Serial Killer and the Women Who Were His Victims

The Grim Sleeper,” Christine Pelisek’s painfully relevant new book about the notorious South Central serial killer of perhaps 25 or more women, comes at a time when true crime has been made great again. The agents of that greatness have not been books but, rather, podcasts and television series, of the kind frequently appended with the “prestige” label, lest anyone mistake them for unserious entertainment on par with slasher flicks or the kinds of lurid quasi-documentaries that play on cable … [Read more...]

Number of Fatal Shootings by Police Nearly Identical to Last Year

Police nationwide shot and killed 492 people in the first six months of this year, a number nearly identical to the count for the same period in each of the prior two years. Fatal shootings by police in 2017 have so closely tracked last year’s numbers that on June 16, the tally was the same. Although the number of unarmed people killed by police dropped slightly, the overall pace for 2017 through Friday was on track to approach 1,000 killed for a third year in a row. The Washington Post … [Read more...]

A Presumption of Guilt

Late one night several years ago, I got out of my car on a dark midtown Atlanta street when a man standing fifteen feet away pointed a gun at me and threatened to “blow my head off.” I’d been parked outside my new apartment in a racially mixed but mostly white neighborhood that I didn’t consider a high-crime area. As the man repeated the threat, I suppressed my first instinct to run and fearfully raised my hands in helpless submission. I begged the man not to shoot me, repeating over and over … [Read more...]

Philandro Castile and the Terror of an Ordinary Day

Philando Castile was shot to death last July on his way home from buying groceries with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter. Last week, the Minnesota police officer who killed him was acquitted by a jury on all counts. I am haunted by how ordinary Mr. Castile’s final moments were. He was just running errands with his family. It’s this denial of the right to simply be — the perpetual state of otherness — that dangerously shadows black people. This is most obvious in our criminal … [Read more...]

In Police Shootings, Blue Is the Color That Matters Most

Monday morning’s news out of Seattle that police officers shot and killed Charleena Lyles, an expectant mother who’d called for help because she suspected a robbery was taking place, is disheartening but not shocking. For many, last week’s acquittal of the police officer who shot Philando Castille, a permit-carrying gun owner riding in the passenger seat of a car with his family, is another example of how police literally get away with murder. Many people have pointed out that both victims were … [Read more...]

After Creating Danger, Can Cops Use Force with Impunity?

Imagine police officers enter your home, without permission and without warning, while you’re sleeping. In a daze, you might think they were criminals breaking in. You might even seek to exercise your Second Amendment right to protect yourself and your family. But if the officers shoot you upon seeing that you’ve raised a weapon in self-defense, have they used excessive force? In other words, are police officers allowed to unreasonably provoke a response that will cause them to open fire? A … [Read more...]

The California Story: Reduced Crime, High Immigration

As California’s population moved from two-thirds white in 1980 to over 60 percent people of color today (Table 1), the state has seen dramatic reductions in crime in each category. Additionally, indicators of social health and safety—such as violence, violent death and school dropouts—have decreased significantly, and California has weathered the national opioid epidemic better than elsewhere in the country. Read the full report here: Refuting Fear As of 2015, the state’s total violent and … [Read more...]

What Do Many Mass Shooters Have in Common? A History of Domestic Violence.

Take violence against women seriously. It's a red flag. At first glance, mass shooters like James T. Hodgkinson, who authorities say opened fire Wednesday morning as Republicans practiced for a Congressional Baseball Game, seem like a diverse group. Hodgkinson, whose attack injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional aide, a lobbyist and two Capitol Police officers, frequently criticized President Trump and other GOP leaders on social media and in letters to his local … [Read more...]