Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

When Junk Science About Sex Offenders Infects the Supreme Court

September 14th, 2017

An important op-ed in the New York Times by David Fiegle.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

No retrial for man freed following NECIR investigation

September 14th, 2017

In 2014, Nicas wrote a blog post for NECIR describing how main findings in his story were included in the judge’s grounds for a new trial. “There was excitement, disbelief and a sense of vindication,’’ he wrote. “Later, the feeling became relief. Not just that we were right, but that Victor Rosario was free.”

Read the report by Jennifer McKim for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

A “Frightening” Myth About Sex Offenders

September 14th, 2017

Current sex offender laws have no scientific basis.

View this video by David Feige at the New York Times web site.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Betsy DeVos could change sexual assault policy for the better

September 9th, 2017

“And yet it is also true that the current regime under which campus sexual-assault allegations are investigated and adjudicated is seriously flawed. Before the Obama administration instructed colleges and universities that they had to take sexual-assault allegations seriously — or risk losing federal funds — the system was way too disposed to discourage complaints. But the Obama administration’s move also prompted an overcorrection at some institutions that failed to do enough to protect the rights of students accused of wrongdoing.”

Read the op-ed by Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Lowell man, after spending 32 years in prison for a fatal fire, to remain free

September 9th, 2017

“Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan agreed Friday to end the pursuit of murder charges against a Lowell man for a fatal 1982 fire he denied setting, ending a legal roller coaster that saw the man freed three years ago after spending 32 years in prison.”

The NCRJ played an important role in freeing Rosario.

Read the article by Milton J. Valencia at the Boston Globe.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

The Bad Science Behind Campus Response to Sexual Assault

September 9th, 2017

I talked with Richard McNally, a psychology professor at Harvard and one of the country’s leading experts on the effects of trauma on memory, about the assertions Campbell made in her presentation. He first said that because assaults do not occur within the laboratory, “there is no direct evidence” of any precise or particular cascade of physiological effects during one, “nor is there going to be.” But there is plenty of evidence about how highly stressful experiences affect memory, and much of it directly contradicts Campbell. In his 2003 book, Remembering Trauma, McNally writes, “Neuroscience research does not support [the] claim that high levels of stress hormones impair memory for traumatic experience.” In fact, it’s almost the opposite: “Extreme stress enhances memory for the central aspects of an overwhelming emotional experience.”

Read the article by Emily Yoffe in The Atlantic.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Colorado sex offender registration act is unconstitutional, federal judge declares

September 3rd, 2017

“The fear that pervades the public reaction to sex offenses — particularly as to children — generates reactions that are cruel and in disregard of any objective assessment of the individual’s actual proclivity to commit new sex offenses,” Matsch wrote. “The failure to make any individual assessment is a fundamental flaw in the system.”

Read the article by Kirk Mitchell in The Denver Post.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Dan, Fran Keller to get $3.4 million in ‘satanic day care’ case

August 23rd, 2017

“Dan and Fran Keller, who spent more than 21 years in prison after they were accused of sexually abusing children during supposed satanic rituals at their South Austin day care facility, will receive $3.4 million from a state fund for those wrongly convicted of crimes.”

The NCRJ has long sponsored the Keller case.

Read the full article by Chuck Lindell at The American Statesman.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Elko sex cases show folly of mandatory minimum sentences

August 14th, 2017

“A pair of sex abuse cases from Elko County demonstrates what a sham mandatory minimum sentences are, especially in light of the continuing national debate over U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to use these one-size-fits-all punishments more frequently.”

Two major dysfunctional features of our criminal-justice system — mandatory minimums and plea bargaining — are addressed in this article by Kevin Ring, President of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Two Great Pieces by Steven Yoder

August 14th, 2017

“Sexual predator” isn’t a clinical term that means anything to criminologists or sex-crime researchers. Instead, it’s a media construction created after horrific cases of rape and murder in Washington State in the early nineties, as criminologist Jacqueline Helfgott points out in her 2008 book Criminal Behavior: Theories, Typologies and Criminal Justice. Helfgott notes that the term doesn’t describe a “homogeneous group of offenders who are predictably dangerous with an identifiable (and treatable) mental illness.”

From Why Reporters Should Stop Using “Predator”

If I’m covering a policy proposal, have I asked for evidence that it will work? Too often, proposed solutions don’t have any research to back them up. For example, some states and towns have introduced laws to ban those on sex offender registries from living near schools, parks, playgrounds, and other places children congregate. It sounds like common sense. But it’s not—after mountains of study, the federal government declared in 2015 that those policies do nothing to affect sex crime or sexual re-offense rates. What about banning registrants from participating in Halloween? That’s a rule in search of a problem, researchers have concluded—sex crime rates don’t change on Halloween.

From An Open Letter to Local Reporters