Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health/medical, to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways our privacy and security is diminished, often without our situational awareness.
Ken Strutin’s latest guide on criminal law is an expansive, extensively documented, expert work that provides researchers, scholars, lawyers, judges, advocates for criminal justice, librarians, students, and Americans, a timely and essential guide to seminal issues that are currently the subject of widespread debate – in Congress, in states and local communities across the country – and litigation – in America’s courts, the court of public opinion, and on social media. Strutin takes up the immense challenge of these volatile subjects with his first statement: “There is no such thing as an “illegal” person. For the virtues of citizenship are not exclusive to law books, but found in the dignity of individuals. Ancient peoples who made the first journeys to new lands quickly discovered that humanity is a flower that can bloom anywhere. Since then, lines on maps have served to separate people from personhood. He continues – “Immigration laws and policies have the power to conflate race, ethnicity and national origin with lawbreaking, economic rivalry, and terrorism. A targeted noncitizen occupies an indissoluble bubble of isolation and obloquy that separates them from the moral force of state laws, the integrity of its officials, and the decency of its citizens. For them America is an inside out prison comprised of sensitive locations, sanctuary cities, and degrading confinement. If the immigration system bears a resemblance to criminal justice, it is because they share a forge upon which people are hammered out.” Through the outstanding scholarship Strutin offers here, it is my hope that readers will engage with these issues that are intrinsically connected to Democracy and respect for human rights.
“Unseen, confinement is where society’s unspent rage takes its toll on human lives. It reduces existence to a room that grows smaller with each degradation. A house of pain and trauma, its concrete walls and steel doors enclose people in jails and prisons, juvenile facilities, solitary, immigration detention and civil commitment. Incarceration intersects punishment, dignity, and end of life. And fear of its horrors are the bludgeon of interrogations, plea bargaining, and retributive justice.” This comprehensive, deeply researched and significant article by Ken Strutin compiles recent and notable reports, scholarship and news concerning the devastating spectrum of prison life and mortality. Through the perspective, insights and voluminous documentation of this leading expert on criminal justice we are given a deeper, more encompassing and meaningful understanding of a complex institutional structure that impacts the lives of millions of Americans. Strutin’s article is not only a critical legal resource but it is also a body of knowledge that calls out for understanding as well as action to ensure that civil liberties, social justice, and our belief in a just society includes the incarcerated, their families, and all of our communities.
Ken Strutin’s exemplary research once again advances our understanding of critical issues pertaining to our justice system in the United States. According to Strutin: ‘the number of innocent people in post-conviction confinement is counted in the thousands, the pre-trial population of the unconvicted is in the millions. Every accused has constitutional rights to liberty, dignity and innocence, and yet, confinement often arrives before conviction. Money bail has the unfortunate effect of monetizing personal liberty and alchemizing human beings into negotiable instruments. This is the slippery slope of criminal justice, the erosion of liberty and due process. So it is that excessive bail bars the way to fully realize constitutional rights and increases the risk of wrongful conviction. Present efforts to improve pretrial release and detention practices have inspired some legislative and policy changes as well as bail funds and advocacy programs. This guide and annotated bibliography covers noteworthy legislation, court decisions, reports and guides, news articles and other sources concerning bail reforms and practices.”
Assistant Professor of Law and Reference Librarian Brandon Adler’s pathfinder succinctly and instructively communicates how your law library can encourage seniors from local high schools to attend a programming activity in the law library to learn about the opportunities of pursuing a J.D. program.
Notable developments in courtrooms, academia and government institutions, both state and federal, are laying the groundwork for challenges to fingerprint matching. This extensively researched, comprehensive annotated bibliography by Ken Strutin includes new and noteworthy materials such as key opinions, significant articles and online resources concerning accuracy, reliability, validity as well as authenticity of fingerprint evidence. It also includes information on scientific and technological developments that are pushing the frontiers of biometric analysis.
Journalist and librarian Marcus Banks discusses the role, relevancy and impact of librarians in all sectors as we are increasingly overwhelmed with information and yet access to actionable resources is often blocked by fees and paywalls, and the goal of knowledge sharing is subsumed and often ill served by conflicting agendas. Librarians remain critical advocates for open access, teachers of digital literacy skills, proponents of services to all Americans, and touchstones for identifying truth in an increasingly growing sphere of fake news and information that fails to serve democracy, education, and commerce.
Report – President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Casts Doubt on Criminal Forensics
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) stated in their report – “Among the more than 2.2 million inmates in U.S. prisons and jails, countless may have been convicted using unreliable or fabricated forensic science. The U.S. has an abiding and unfulfilled moral obligation to free citizens who were imprisoned by such questionable means.” Ken Strutin’s article features information about the PCAST Report, its reception by advocates and critics, and related articles, publications and developments concerning the science of innocence.
Ken Strutin’s expansive scholarship, acumen, commitment to and comprehensive knowledge of criminal law and justice is fully articulated and shared in his new guide. He robustly argues and supports his reasoning that retribution is at odds with medical reality for conviction alone and does not make someone fit for incarceration. He believes and defends the position that disease, infirmity, trauma and the damage that life terms inflict are judgments without appeal and rarely considered at sentencing. Strutin articulates the significant yet insufficiently acknowledged fact that despite all the money spent on prisons, little attention is devoted to humanizing the admission decision. Meanwhile, penal institutions are becoming society’s punitive safety net, arrogating the roles of psychiatric wards and old age homes. This comprehensive, extensively and accurately researched and documented guide encompasses selected reports, scholarly research and news stories about the unseen punishments created by sentencing laws and prison administration that ignore fitness for incarceration.
Nicole Black a Rochester, New York attorney and Legal Technology Evangelist delivers a clarion call for colleagues to expand their engagement with groups that work for civil liberties in the United States.