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Crime And Law Enforcement

The Takeaway

Mexico's Simmering Civil War

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The violence in Mexico has taken a serious uptick. In the last four days, six federal agents have been killed along with a mayor of a small town in Northern Mexico. A series of eight coordinated attacks in Western Mexico has left many more dead and wounded. The violence has increased in response to President Calderón's efforts to crackdown on drug-related crime. He sent 45,000 troops across the country to lessen the grip of organized crime, which reaches into police forces, government institutions, and mountain villas across the country. Some 11,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since 2006. For more of the story The Takeaway turns to Ioan Grillo, Time Magazine's reporter in Mexico City.

Here's a report on the impact of drug violence on the small town of Ascension, Mexico:

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The Takeaway

Desecration at a Traditionally Black Cemetery

Friday, July 10, 2009

In a gruesome story, police outside Chicago are investigating a scheme by cemetery operators to dig up graves, dump the bodies, and re-sell the burial plots. Over 200 plots in the traditionally black cemetery of Burr Oak in Alsip, Illinois, were opened and re-sold. For more details of the story, we go to Lolly Bowean, a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, who is covering the story.

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The Takeaway

Smooth Criminal: John Dillinger's Legend, 75 Years Later

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Many people know the legends of Jesse James or Bonnie and Clyde, but lesser known is one of the greatest bank robbers in history – John Dillinger. Nicknamed "The Jackrabbit" for his swift moves, he terrorized banks throughout the Midwest in 1933 before being shot by FBI agents at a movie theater in Chicago. Johnny Depp portrays him in the new movie “Public Enemies,” bringing his life (and legend) to the big screen.

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The Takeaway

Andy Borowitz: How Madoff Can Survive in Prison

Monday, June 29, 2009

When comedian Andy Borowitz read that Bernard Madoff’s relatives were looking for a guide to help Bernie survive life in prison, he jumped at the chance to help the disgraced billionaire. He wrote a book called “Who Moved My Soap: The CEO’s Guide to Surviving in Prison.” Borowitz joins The Takeaway with a few helpful hints for Madoff’s time on the inside.

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The Takeaway

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that post-conviction DNA testing is not a Constitutional right for convicted criminals. So far, post-conviction DNA testing has exonerated at least 232 people nationwide. The ruling came on an appeals case by William Osborne, who was convicted for the 1993 rape, kidnapping and assault of a prostitute in Alaska. The Innocence Project, a group of attorneys who help prisoners obtain DNA testing, has been defending him for seven years. Nina Morrison is a staff attorney at the Innocence Project has been working on his case and joins us today.

"No matter how guilty somebody looks, there's no substitute for doing a DNA test which can prove it either way. And we were hoping the Supreme Court would agree."
— Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project on the right to DNA testing

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The Takeaway

Has the LAPD Cleaned Up Its Act?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The motto of the Los Angeles Police Department is "To protect and serve," but the LAPD hasn't always delivered. The most famous example is the Rodney King beating in 1991, which provoked widespread rioting. Endemic problems with the department led to federal oversight. Now the LAPD says it has served its time, dealt with its problems, and that it's time to end the oversight.

The Takeaway is joined by Mark Rosenbaum, the Legal Director of the ACLU of Southern California and one of lawyers in Federal court seeking to extend the consent decree involving the LAPD. Also joining The Takeaway is Chris Stone, Criminal Justice Professor at Harvard University who wrote a nine-month study of the LAPD that came out last month.

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The Takeaway

I Will Not Repeat My Crime, I Will Not Repeat My Crime

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

White-collar criminals tend to receive different sentences from violent offenders, but a judge in New York gave a guilty executive a really different sentence. He required the former senior vice president to write a book about the nature of his crime. And this isn't a first for the judge: he also made a lobbyist write a tome on his offenses. Judge Ricardo Urbina of the U.S. District Court in Washington joins us this morning to explain his take on justice, restitution, and reform. Judge Urbina is also the judge who ordered the Bush administration to release the 17 Uighurs held at Guantanamo in October of last year. We talked with Judge Urbina about this morning's news that the small Pacific island nation of Palau will resettle these 17 Uigurs.

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The Takeaway

Targeting Abortion Doctors

Monday, June 01, 2009

Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who performed abortions for decades, was murdered on Sunday in Wichita, Kansas, while he attended mass at his local church. Tiller was accused by anti-abortion critics of infanticide and had been shot in both arms in 1993 by an anti-abortion zealot. The Takeaway is joined by New York Times Reporter Monica Davey who has been reporting on the murder, and Eleanor Bader, co-author of the book “Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism,” for a look at the history of violence at abortion clinics.
"Once Obama won the election, the anti-abortionists really ramped up their rhetoric. There's been an increased presence outside clinics across the country."
—Author Eleanor Bader on the recent killing of George Tiller

For more information on Tiller's death and to see local reactions, watch the video below.

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The Takeaway

Does Karadzic Have a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card?

Monday, May 25, 2009

The former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested in July 2008, after 11 years on the run. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accuses him of genocide for his involvement in the decimation of Bosnia's Croat and Muslim population. But his lawyers say they have evidence that he was told by Richard Holbrooke, now the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that he would not stand trial for war crimes. They are outlining their evidence today in The Hague. For more on this story, The Takeaway is joined by Charles Ingrao, professor of history at Purdue University.

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The Takeaway

Will Michael Vick Go to The Dogs?

Thursday, May 21, 2009



Michael Vick was released from prison in Leavenworth, Kansas yesterday morning after being locked up for 19 months on charges related to running a dog fighting ring. He will spend the next two months under house arrest in Virginia and will be working in construction for $10 an hour as part of his probation-- a far cry from the multi-million dollar contracts he enjoyed as an NFL player.

So what’s next for this fallen Atlanta Falcons superstar? Is his career over, or will he join the long list of professional athletes who've gotten a second (or third, or sixth) chance? The NFL has been hinting that Vick very well may get a chance to play again. Does he deserve it? We are joined by The Takeaway's sports contributor, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, and from Atlanta, GA, we are also joined by two Atlanta Falcons fans, Richard Palmer (who likes Michael Vick), and Larry Jamison (who emphatically does not).

More from Ibrahim Abdul-Matin on whether Vick should return to the NFL...

For more debate on letting Vick back into the NFL, watch the video below.

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The Takeaway

Demjanjuk in Germany: The Last Nazi War-Crimes Trial?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The suspected Nazi John Demjanjuk has arrived in Germany today where he faces a warrant accusing him of being a guard at a Nazi-run internment camp during World War II and being an accessory to the murder of 29,000 people. The retired Ohio autoworker was deported from the United States and arrived Tuesday morning at Munich's airport. Now the 89-year-old will be brought before a judge and formally arrested.

In the 1980s Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel where he was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death; his conviction was overturned by the Israeli supreme court which accepted his claim of mistaken identity. But Demjanjuk has remained at the top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of "most wanted" Nazi war crimes suspects.

For more on this story we turn to Tristana Moore, the BBC’s reporter in Berlin.

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The Takeaway

In Britain, a Fight Over DNA and Civil Rights

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Criminal justice systems in a number of countries are expanding advanced DNA databases to keep track not only of convicted criminals, but also of people only accused of crimes. But Britain announced today that it plans to scale back its national DNA database. This move follows a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last year criticizing Britain’s practice of keeping on file the DNA anyone who’d been arrested, even if they weren’t charged with a crime. For more we turn to Naomi Grimley, the BBC's political affairs correspondent.

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The Takeaway

Rethinking the war on drugs with former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke

Friday, March 27, 2009

On her recent trip to Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged our part in the violence that’s erupting in Mexico, saying that, “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians.” With the so-called War on Drugs, clearly failing, how should politicians and policy makers re-work the rules of engagement? Joining us to talk about what it would take to get to “mission accomplished” is Kurt Schmoke. He is the Dean of the Howard University School of Law. He also served as Mayor of Baltimore for 12 years, from 1987 to 1999. As mayor he fought for drug reform. For those of you who are fans of The Wire, Dean Schmoke’s drug reform endeavors are rumored to be the inspiration behind the drug enforcement-free zone Hamsterdam, and Dean Schmoke even had a cameo in the series.

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The Takeaway

A shooting in Oakland sparks new debate over parole

Monday, March 23, 2009

California’s parole system has long been criticized for returning parolees to overcrowded prisons for minor offenses. Reform has been in the works for years. This weekend, though, a parolee shot and killed three police officers in Oakland, and mortally wounded a fourth. Todd Clear, Professor of Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is concerned that people will take away the wrong message about parole reform from this horrible crime. He joins us now to discuss the issue.

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The Takeaway

Preventing another Madoff scheme

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In light of the anticipated guilty plea from Bernard L. Madoff, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a public speech this week about his take on how to prevent another Madoff scheme. On The Takeaway, Oliver Ellsworth, a law professor at the University of Connecticut and a white collar criminal specialist, provides a legal perspective on Bernanke's speech.

Watch part of Ben Bernanke's speech to the Council of Foreign Relations below.

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The Takeaway

Reimbursing Madoff's victims: How funds might be distributed

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Legendary trader, Bernie Madoff is expected to plead guilty to 11 felony charges for allegedly pulling off what could be the largest Ponzi scheme in history. The billions of dollars that he supposedly swindled is estimated to be within $50 to $65 billion. Whether or not his victims will ever see that money remains unknown. But supposing that they would be compensated, how would that money be distributed?

Joining The Takeaway to explain what it would take to financially compensate those caught up in Madoff’s investment web is Ken Feinberg, a Washington attorney who served as special master of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which awarded over $7 billion to some 5,300 victims and their families.

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The Takeaway

Harsh drug laws in New York State to be reformed

Thursday, March 05, 2009

For 35 years judges in New York State have had to follow strict sentencing laws for drug offenders. Critics say the Rockefeller Drug Laws, named for the former governor, mete out long prison sentences to small time offenders, and that drug treatment would often be more effective. Now, state lawmakers are poised to reform the laws. Journalist Jennifer Gonnerman wrote about the experience of one woman sentenced under the Rockefeller Drug Laws in her book Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett. She joins Farai and John with a look at the laws and the proposed reforms.

"They essentially establish a blueprint for fighting the so-called war on drugs, that was copied by every corner of the country, and have essentially been the engine that have driven the prison expansion in this country over the last 30 years."
— Journalist Jennifer Gonnerman on the strict Rockefeller Drug Laws

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The Takeaway

U.S. guns go south, Mexico's drug war comes north

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This this week, we’ve been taking a look at Mexico’s drug war and the ripple effect being felt throughout the Southwest United States. Perhaps nowhere has this been felt more keenly than in Arizona where drug-related kidnappings have soared over the past year. Adding to the turmoil is the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexican gangs. As jury selection continues in the trial of a Phoenix gun-dealer who allegedly sold hundreds of weapons to Mexican cartel members, the debate rages about how to keep American guns out of Mexico. We are joined by someone who is in the front-line of trying to make that happen, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

Here is Terry Goddard on CNN discussing gun smuggling:

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The Takeaway

The unlikely friendship of a death penalty advocate and a condemned killer

Monday, March 02, 2009

When most lawyers debate the death penalty, they do it in a court room. Robert Blecker may be the only lawyer who goes into prisons and debates the death penalty with the residents of death row. As one of the few academics who makes a passionate argument in favor of capitol punishment, he’s spent the last 20 years speaking to those who face the ultimate punishment — and recording his visits on videotape. His relationship with one of those inmates, Daryl Holton, who admitted to killing his four children in 1997, is the subject of a new documentary, Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead. It just opened here in New York.

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The Takeaway

Terrorist tried in federal court could have right to challenge evidence

Friday, February 27, 2009

An alleged follower of al Qaeda may soon face terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal court. The move would eliminate the possibility of a military tribunal for the man who is the only designated enemy combatant to be held in the continental United States. Moving the trial into federal court offers the defendant legal options available in civilian criminal court, like the right to challenge the evidence against him. For what this means for future terrorism trials, we are joined by John Schwartz, National Legal Correspondent for the New York Times, who is following this story.

Read The New York Times article U.S. Will Give Qaeda Suspect a Civilian Trial

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