Tag: law and order

Why Would Somebody Fake a Hate Crime?

We still don’t know exactly what happened in the Jussie Smollett case that has dominated the news cycle for the past week. What we do know is that after the Empire star revealed he was allegedly the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime, conflicting reports started to emerge suggesting that Smollett may have been involved in orchestrating the incident. Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, the two brothers who were originally considered suspects, both knew Smollett in advance of the attack and told Chicago police that they were hired by Smollett. After the Chicago PD announced they were “shifting the trajectory” of their investigation, Smollett said in a statement that he is “angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with” and that anyone claiming he played a role in his own attack “is lying.”

While it’s too soon to render a verdict on what exactly went down, if the case does prove to be a hoax, the ramifications are hard to overstate. As we’ve seen in the extremely rare cases involving false rape allegations, they serve as ammo for people looking to undermine the credibility of genuine victims (like clockwork, Donald Trump Jr. is already tweeting about Smollett’s story, in which his attackers were originally described as two men shouting, “This is MAGA country”). But what would motivate someone to pretend to be the victim of a hate crime? We called up Dr. Marc Feldman, who is not involved in the case but is an expert on factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome by proxy, to learn more about “factitious victimization” — a disorder that causes people to feign victimhood for psychological reasons — and how it could come into play in the Smollett case.

What did you think when you first heard this case might be a hoax?

Munchausen syndrome refers to the most extreme examples of “factitious disorder,” which is the official psychiatric term for people who feign illness or injury for intangible reasons. Ever since I encountered my first case of a woman who faked cancer for emotional reasons back in 1989, I’ve obviously been more sensitive to that possibility than most people ever would be. I try not to falsely accuse people and that’s why I am approaching this subject with a little timidity. But when it does arise I think it’s important that we identify it and help educate the public about it. READ MORE: https://www.thecut.com/2019/02/why-would-somebody-fake-a-hate-crime.html

In hip-hop, violence is taking on a diminishing role

lightbulbNowadays gangsta rap doesn’t hold the same sway as in the days of Tupac and Biggie. For artists like Drake and Nas, the battles are of ideas and emotions.

Among the most important rap albums released over the last year or so, one contains a song about Nas‘ complicated relationship with his teenage daughter. Another has a track in which Killer Mike outlines President Reagan’s contribution to the prison-industrial complex. A third disc finds Drake pondering the impossibility of real-life romantic connection in the age of the nip-slip Twitpic. The title of Drake’s record, which last week won the Grammy Award for rap album? “Take Care.” To say that hip-hop has evolved over the last 25 years — since the days when rappers such as Ice-T and Ice Cube were terrorizing the likes of  Tipper Gore, who famously lobbied for the adoption of the Parental Advisory sticker — seems an almost-laughable understatement, equal to saying that the Internet has had some effect on the way we consume music. Once perceived as a site of uncut nihilism, hip-hop has made room, in a way that outsiders can’t ignore, for practicality and ambivalence and staunchly middle-aged concerns. Achievement too.

Is This the End of Stop and Frisk?

mary_110_article-small_21602New York City’s stop-and-frisk program has exploded by 600 percent under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — garnering outrage from critics who believe that the practice forces Black and Latino residents to live under a separate-and-unequal police state, subject to random violations of their Fourth Amendment constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure. Though originally intended to curb gun violence, the program has become carte blanche for New York Police Department officers to racially profile young males in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. With the help of the New York Civil Liberties Union, city residents sued the NYPD — seeking justice from those sworn to protect and defend them. In a case specifically focused on the Trespass Affidavit Program, or TAP, which allowed officers to stop and question residents both inside and outside private property (in residences dubbed “clean halls” buildings), plaintiffs argued that the NYPD “has a widespread practice of making unlawful stops on suspicion of trespass.” The lead plaintiff, Jaenean Ligon, filed suit after her 17-year-old son was stopped for no reason outside his apartment building during a trip to the store to purchase ketchup. Yes, ketchup. This week, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin issued an injunction prohibiting NYPD officers from engaging in stop and frisk outside buildings designated by TAP. The facts of the case reveal that patrolling officers never differentiated between potential criminals and citizens. Black and Latino residents were stopped on suspicion of being Black and Latino alone. In addition to Ligon, other plaintiffs included Charles Bradley, a 51-year-old African-American security guard, who was arrested while visiting his fiancee in the Bronx. Bradley was stopped, frisked, transported to a police station, strip-searched and fingerprinted — all while being asked questions about his potential involvement with guns and drugs.

Read it at The Root.

California Death penalty repeal dead: Prop. 34

(11-07) 05:09 PST SACRAMENTO — Proposition 34, an initiative to repeal California’s seldom-used but politically potent death penalty law, looked dead with nearly 95 percent of the votes counted Wednesday. The measure would reduce the maximum sentence for capital murder to life in prison without the possibility of parole and would apply retroactively to the more than 720 condemned inmates on the nation’s largest death row. It was the first statewide vote on the issue since 1978, when a 71 percent majority approved expansion of a death penalty law that legislators had passed the previous year over Gov. Jerry Brown‘s veto. That campaign focused on whether murderers deserved to be executed. The Prop. 34 campaign, by contrast, stressed the financial costs of the state’s death penalty – $184 million a year, according to one study – and the structural paralysis of its system. Since executions resumed in the state in 1992, only 13 inmates have been put to death. Executions have been on hold in California since 2006, when a federal judge ordered the state to improve staff training and procedures for lethal injections. The injunction has granted a reprieve to more than a dozen prisoners who have no further appeals. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Death-penalty-repeal-dead-4014666.php#ixzz2BY8ZH0V3

Prop. 36: ‘Three strikes’ changes approved

California voters overwhelmingly approved changes to the state’s tough “three strikes” law on Tuesday, ending a practice in which prosecutors could seek 25-years-to-life sentences for defendants even if their latest offense – their third strike – was neither serious nor violent. The law, approved by state voters in 2004, aimed to lock up career criminals like Richard Allen Davis, who a year earlier had kidnapped and murdered 12-year-old Polly Klaas of Petaluma after an earlier string of assaults, robberies and abductions. But the law came under criticism when lesser offenders – a man who stole a truck and two bikes at Stanford, for instance, and another who stole a pepperoni pizza in Southern California – got 25-years-to-life sentences. The change in the law will allow an estimated 2,800 third-strike inmates currently in prison to petition the courts for a reduced sentence, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, and prevent an untold number of people from being charged with a third strike in the future. Proponents said Prop. 36 restored voters’ original intent: to lock up the worst serial criminals. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, a co-chair of the Prop. 36 campaign, said the measure’s passage would not only save money and allow nonviolent offenders to avoid spending the rest of their lives in prison, but also change the conversation in California.

With its passage, voters sent “a strong message to policymakers about what is considered acceptable to maintain public safety,” he said.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Prop-36-Three-strikes-changes-approved-4014677.php#ixzz2BY56W3G2