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Tag: reform

Australian Study Shows Firearm Reform Law Greatly Reduced Gun-Related Fatalities

No guns sign

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported recently about a forty-year study in Australia about the effect on gun-related crime by the 1997 major gun law reform. The study compared the number of mass fatal shooting incidents, rates of fatal shooting incidents, firearm deaths, and firearm-caused suicides for the periods 1979 through 1996 (before the reform) with those of 1997 through 2013 (after the reform).

In 1997, after 13 fatal mass shootings (more than 5 victims) and a high rate of firearm-related fatalities, the federal and state governments in Australia enacted sweeping new gun laws. The triggering event was a massacre in 1996 in which a man used two semi-automatic long guns to kill 35 people and wound 19 others.  Rapid-fire long guns were banned as part of the reform, and the guns were subject to a mandatory buy-back program. Over one million firearms were purchased and destroyed.

The conclusions of the study were that the statute greatly reduced mass shootings, as well as the homicide rate from the use of firearms. In the 20 years since the statue Australia has not suffered a single mass firearm killing. Deaths due to firearms plummeted from 3.6 per 100,000 population to 1.3, by a factor of over 3% decline per year. The rate of firearm suicides declined by a factor of 4.8% annually. The study pointed out that part of the rate of decline on these last two categories may have been due to causes other than the gun reform law.

The study was conducted by two professors from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and a psychology professor at Macquarie University, both in Sydney, Australia.

New Border Patrol Chief Has Enormous Challenge to Reform Embattled Agency

New Border Patrol chief, Mark Morgan

New Border Patrol chief, Mark Morgan

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol’s new chief, Mark Morgan, has a big job ahead of him.

The first outsider appointed to run the Border Patrol, Morgan is a former FBI official.

The hiring of Morgan sends a clear message: “The Border Patrol has a culture problem that needs to be fixed,” The Texas Tribune reports.

But there is one problem: Morgan has only seven months before President Obama leaves office.

“I get that it’s a sad day for the Border Patrol,” said Ronald Colburn, who retired in 2009 as the agency’s No. 2. “But tomorrow, you put your boots back on and your uniform back on – and do your job.” 

Feds Sue Ferguson Over Police Reforms Aimed at Curbing Misconduct

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is suing Ferguson to force police reforms in a city accused of a pattern of unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement.

CNN reports the decision to file a lawsuit came after the Ferguson City Council voted Tuesday to alter a deal negotiated for months to crack down on misconduct.

“We intend to aggressively prosecute this case,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters Wednesday, “and we intend to prevail.”

Lynch added: “The residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights, the rights guaranteed to all Americans, for decades. They have waited decades for justice,” Lynch said. “They should not be forced to wait any longer.”

Ferguson officials declined to comment on the suit, which alleges a common practice violating residents’ civil rights.

Justice Department to Let Loose 6,000 Prisoners in Largest One-Time Release

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Marking the largest one-time release of inmates, the Justice Department is releasing 6,000 prisoners to reduce overcrowding and help correct harsh sentences imposes on drug offenders over the past three decades, the Washington Post reports. 

The department’s Bureau of Prisons is setting the inmates free between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, when about two-thirds will end up on supervised released after being placed in home confinement and halfway houses.

An additional 46,000 of the approximately 100,000 drug offenders also could be released early under a chance in sentencing guidelines.

“The number of people who will be affected is quite exceptional,” said Mary Price, general counsel for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group that supports sentencing reform.

NYT Columnist: President Obama’s Justice Department Shows Hypocrisy

president obama state of unionBy Alec Karakatsanis
New York Times

Last month, President Obama used his clemency power to reduce the sentences of 46 federal prisoners locked up on drug-related charges. But for the last six years, his administration has worked repeatedly behind the scenes to ensure that tens of thousands of poor people — disproportionately minorities — languish in federal prison on sentences declared by the courts, and even the president himself, to be illegal and unjustifiable.

The case of Ezell Gilbert is emblematic of this injustice. In March 1997, he was sentenced to 24 years and four months in federal prison for possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine. Because of mandatory sentencing laws, Mr. Gilbert was automatically sentenced to a quarter-century in prison, though even the judge who sentenced him admitted that this was too harsh.

At his sentencing, Mr. Gilbert noted a legal error that improperly increased his sentence by approximately a decade based on a misclassification of one of his prior offenses. In 1999, without a lawyer, he filed a petition seeking his release. A court ruled against him.

Nearly 10 years later, the Supreme Court issued aruling in another prisoner’s case, confirming that Mr. Gilbert had been right. A public defender helped him file a new petition for immediate release in light of this new decision.

Mr. Obama’s Justice Department, however, convinced a Florida federal judge that even if Mr. Gilbert’s sentence was illegal, he had to remain in prison because prisoners should not be able to petition more than once for release. The “finality” of criminal cases was too important, the department argued, to allow prisoners more than one petition, even if a previous one was wrongly denied.

Reform Efforts Continue in Secret Service with Selection of New COO

secret serviceBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service continued the process of reform by appointing its first chief operating officer.

Good Morning America reports that George Mulligan, a former director of the White Military office, took the job.

“George is a proven leader who will bring broad management experience, knowledge and initiative to the Secret Service as our first COO,” Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy said.

The COO position was announced in March following the recommendation of an independent review panel charged with improving the Secret Service.

The job places Millgan in charge of overseeing, planning and directing program activities.

Good Morning America wrote:

Mulligan comes from the Department of Defense, where he spent 29 years as both a senior civilian executive and a former naval officer. He most recently served as chief of staff to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and Deputy director for the Washington Headquarters Services and Director of Enterprise management.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Mulligan as the Director of the White House Military Office, where he worked closely with the Secret Service.

Other Stories of Interest

President Obama Calls for Reformed Drug Sentences That Overwhelmingly Face Young Black Men

president obama state of unionBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama on Thursday delivered a clear message Wednesday when he commuted the federal prison sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders: The time has come to overhaul a criminal justice system that locks away too many nonviolent offenders.

Obama also expressed concern that may of the nonviolent offenders who are incarcerated are young black men, CNN reports. 

During an impassioned speech at the annual NAACP convention in Philadelphia, Obama bemoaned the fact that inmates are confined to horrible prison conditions, including rape and solitary confinement, which he declared “have no place in any civilized country.”

“In too many places, black boys and black men, and Latino boys and Latino men, experience being treated different under the law,” Obama said, claiming his assertion wasn’t “anecdote” or “barber shop talk,” but instead backed by data.

Obama is trying to gain bipartisan support for reforming the current sentencing laws.

Congress Mulls Plan to Create Separate Unit to Investigate Terrorism

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fearing that Homeland Security is not equipped to combat violent extremism, key lawmakers in Washington passed legislation Wednesday that would create a single office dedicated to focusing solely on terrorism.

The Washington Times reports that members of the House Committee on Homeland Security butted heads over how best to handle the shortcomings.

The overhaul could be a hard sell because it hasn’t been endorsed or even introduced as an alternative by Homeland Security.

“There is no DHS strategic plan to provide clarity about how the $40 million in dedicated funding and expanded authorities would be utilized,” hRep, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the panel,e said. “There is no testimony from DHS, in an open setting, in response to concerns about transparency and the concerns that many Americans have about how current CVE (countering violent extremism) programs are being carried out.”