Crime and Police

Human Rights Watch Report: Drug War Drives Mass Deportation

By Drug Policy Alliance


Report Recommends Sweeping Reforms, Including Decriminalizing All Drugs; Momentum for Reform Accelerates as California Introduces Bills to Aid Non-Citizen Defendants Arrested for Drug Possession

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch released a first-of-its-kind report showing that tens of thousands of people are deported from the United States each year for minor drug law violations. The report, A Price Too High: U.S. Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses, documents how deportations of non-citizens for minor drug possession offenses have spiked in recent years, increasing by 43% from 2007 to 2012. In total, more than a quarter of a million people (roughly 266,000) have been deported for drug offenses since 2007, most commonly for minor drug possession offenses.

Guiding Families to a Fair Day in Court

by David Bornstein

If a member of your family was arrested, would you know how to help? Would you know what to look for in a police report? Or guide your relative about what to expect from the defense attorney?

For a wide swath of Americans, these are not hypothetical questions. More than 2.3 million people are in prisons and jails, and 5 million are on parole or probation. More astonishingly, nearly one-third of Americans have been arrested on criminal charges (other than a minor traffic violation) by age 23.

Do Police Need An MRAP? An Analysis of SWAT Raids in CU

Since Ferguson, and more recently Baltimore, the searing images of police wearing riot gear, carrying high-powered rifles, and riding in armored trucks, have made police militarization a national issue. Not only is this a trend in big cities, but also in small towns like Champaign-Urbana where police have recently acquired a Mine-Resistant Armor-Protected (MRAP) vehicle fresh from the wars in the Middle East.  

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Approved in Illinois

by Thomas H. Clarke |  The Daily Chronic

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois could soon become the latest state to remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana after both chambers of the legislature approved a measure to replace criminal charges with a civil law violation.

Chicago Prosecutor Seeks to Lessen Marijuana Penalties: How About It, Ms. Reitz?

Low-level Class 4 felony drug offences, including for cannabis, represent 25% of the Cook County felony caseload. Besides being a complete waste of time -- any other gov't program with so little to show in terms of results would have been shut down years ago -- the cost of these pointless prosecutions is basically padding to argue for bigger budgets. With Gov. Rauner putting everything in government spending on the chopping block -- supposedly there is no better place to start with than policies the public does NOT support, that have demonstrated decades of failure, and that basically amount to a jobs program for politically connected insiders. This is a good first step, but the legislature should impose this significant first step in cutting the pork at the courthouse on a statewide basis by simply revising state law to take these realities into account. For cannabis, it should ***at a minimum*** be decriminalized. In a state run by the Democratic Party for years, it is nonsensical that cannabis has yet to be decriminalized as in so many other states.


Could Ferguson, New York or South Carolina happen here? Answer: It already has

"Science tells us, we [police officers] have limited time. Action is always faster than reaction. So what we are telling officers is, they have to understand that if you're waiting for a person to do something, chances are, you're going to be behind the curve, and you're going to have to play catch-up. Our policy, as it's written, states that an officer does not have to wait for a person to act first. But what we want an officer to be able to do is to look at the situation based on what we know about how a person may attack, assault, resist or run; and understand, that maybe, just maybe, we [police officers] want to act first in that situation."

Need Bigger Jail? Think Again...Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America

The idea that Champaign County needs a bigger jail just won't go away. In fact, they should quit wasting taxpayer funds on what is basically a talking point for judges and prosecutors to get re-elected, but which makes for expensive, ineffective social policy as a debtor's prison. The present jail is more than large enough to hold those who need to be there versus those who simply can't afford to post bail, are mentally ill, etc and end up there despite being no threat to the public.

Jails Have Become Warehouses for the Poor, Ill and Addicted, a Report Says

by Timothy Williams

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.

Marijuana Decriminalization, Legalization Bills Filed in Illinois

Marijuana Decriminalization, Legalization Bills Filed in Illinois

By Thomas H. Clarke |  The Daily Chronic

Senate Bill 753 bill would legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults, while House Bill 218 would replace criminal penalties with a $100 fine.

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Two separate proposals pending in the Illinois General Assembly could lead to dramatic changes for adults possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana in the state.

Both proposals — one filed in each chamber — would eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple possession of marijuana.  While the House version would replace criminal penalties with a $100 fine, the Senate version would legalize the possession and limited cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 or older.

Busting 'Three Men in a Room’ Culture: Good Enough for New York, So What About Illinois?

It was interesting to read about the US Attorney in NY's Southern District Preet Bharara comments about the case he's filed against Sheldon Silver, the former strong man in the NY state legislature, for taking bribes and public corruption. Bharara aggressively pursued the case against Silver after Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down a commission looking into public corruption. Silver probably thought he was good at that point. Rather like Mike Madigan felt after getting his daughter elected Illinois attorney general. Madigan's own tenure far exceeds Silver's run at the top and rumors of how one retains such a lock on the state's business year in and year out abound, no matter who gets elected.

Things could be changing. The "three men and a room" political culture in Illinois is most likely not a clean version of what went on under Silver in New York. The real question remains when will the law apply at the top in Illinois in the cruel way it applies to the rest of us after decades of Madigan misrule?

Reclaiming MLK's Radical Roots

'History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.' -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.CUCPJ and UCIMC will host “Reclaiming MLK’s Radical Roots” as part of a national effort to bring the #BlackLivesMatter movement into the New Year.  The event will be:

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