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Crime And Law Enforcement

The Takeaway

Give me money or give me death: States weigh banning death penalty to save costs

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

As the economic downturn hits the states, some governors are considering an unusual cost-cutting measure: abolishing the death penalty. Since capital cases cost three times as much as cases where the death penalty is not sought, cash-strapped states are increasingly looking at the option. Ian Urbina has been reporting on this for the New York Times and he joins us now.

For more, read Ian Urbina's article, Citing Cost, States Consider Halting Death Penalty, in today's New York Times.

"Even if you take the appeals out, sitting in a death row cell as opposed to a regular cell costs, on average, three times more because death row involves so many more guards per inmate."
— New York Times reporter Ian Urbina on the cost of capital punishment

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The Takeaway

Resisting foreclosure by any means necessary

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's the stuff of melodramas: "I can't pay the mortgage!" says the pretty young mother. "You must pay the mortgage!" replies the landlord, dressed in black with a dragoon's moustache. "I'll pay the mortgage!" says Dudley Doright. But what if you really can't pay the mortgage? And you really don't want to leave your home despite the eviction notice and there's no dashing Dudley Doright in sight? Answering that question is a group of activists in Baltimore who are using nonviolent resistance tactics as a way of keeping people in their homes. Joining us now is Melody Simmons, a reporter for WEAA in Baltimore, and Donna Hanks a homeowner facing foreclosure.

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The Takeaway

U.S. tax evasion still legal in Switzerland according to UBS

Friday, February 20, 2009

After it became clear that some UBS employees in the United States helped wealthy Americans evade taxes by setting up Swiss bank accounts, UBS agreed to reveal the details of a few hundred clients suspected of tax fraud and to pay a hefty sum to the U.S. for aiding tax evasion. But when the U.S. sought information on over 50,000 U.S. citizens holding Swiss bank accounts, the Swiss hit the fan. For the details on UBS' decision to rebuff this new U.S. government lawsuit, we turn to the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

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The Takeaway

Swiss bank UBS letting go of some secrets

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Swiss banks have been revered, loved, and hated for their tightly-held secrets, but Swiss bank UBS has agreed to a legal settlement with the United States government after it was revealed that the bank was operating as a willing shelter for tax evaders. The bank is set to give U.S. tax regulators access to hundreds of bank accounts and will also pay close to $780 million in fees. For more on the story we turn to BBC business correspondent Mark Gregory.

Further details can be found in A Swiss Bank Is Set to Open Its Secret Files in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Shoe chucker trial starts in Iraq

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush went to court today. He's charged with assaulting a foreign leader and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years, but he was greeted as a hero by supporters in the courtroom. The trial was almost immediately adjourned until March while the court sought the government's clarification on a point of order. For more on the man whose shoe was heard around the world, the BBC's Jim Muir joins us.

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The Takeaway

Thirty years later, the Khmer Rouge is on trial

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thirty years after more than a million people died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a United Nations-backed trial is finally underway. A former Khmer Rouge leader was in court for opening hearings yesterday. For what this means for Cambodia we are joined by Jonathan Head, the BBC's South Asia correspondent.

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The Takeaway

Kickbacks for kids: The view from the inside of the legal scandal

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hundreds of children and teenagers were sentenced to juvenile detention centers by Judge Mark Ciavarella since 2003. That was when he and another judge began participating in a multimillion dollar kickback scheme for sending teens to privately run youth detention centers. One of those children is 17-year old Hillary Transue. She and her mother Laurene join The Takeaway to talk about what it was like to get caught up in the scheme.

For some background on this story, listen to our segment with New York Times writer Ian Urbina. For additional details on this story, read Ian Urbina's and Sean Hamill's article, Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit, in the New York Times.

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The Takeaway

American justice goes awry as judges plead guilty to fraud charges

Friday, February 13, 2009

Two judges in Eastern Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. Ian Urbina is reporting this story for the New York Times and he joins us now for what this means for those convicted by these judges and for the justice system at large.

For additional details on this story, read Ian Urbina's and Sean Hamill's article, Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Chris Brown and Rihanna put spotlight on teen partner violence

Friday, February 13, 2009

It’s still not clear if 19-year-old singer Chris Brown will face charges for allegedly assaulting and threatening his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna. But the incident provides an occasion to talk about the distressing fact that physical violence between teenaged romantic partners is at an all time high. New York Times Op-ed columnist Charles Blow joins The Takeaway with a look at the data.

Read Charles Blow's article, Love Shouldn’t Hurt in the New York Times.

Chris Brown in happier, less violent times on Sesame Street.

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The Takeaway

Judges rule California must close prisons

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A panel of three federal judges has ruled that California is not providing its prison population with adequate health care and ordered the state to reduce its prison population by up to a third. The state says it will appeal. Anti-prison advocates Rose Braz, Campaign Director of Critical Resistance, and Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, join The Takeaway with a look at this case and how the economic crisis could impact criminal justice around the country.

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The Takeaway

NBC News is hunting the war criminal next door

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NBC is hunting for the war criminals among us. The network is working on a series about international war criminals living in the United States, due to air this month or next. One of their first investigations involves a Maryland college professor who the network claims participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A letter from the network to the university led to the school suspending the professor. Hot on the trail of the fallout of that investigation is Brian Stelter, media reporter for the New York Times, and he joins us now.

For more, read Brian Stelter's article, On Trail of War Criminals, NBC News Is Criticized in today's New York Times.

"The issue that concerns journalistic ethics professors, for example, is that having a journalistic organization work with a local law enforcement, or in this case a foreign government, it taints the entire process."
— Brian Stelter of the New York Times on a new NBC series aimed at catching war criminals

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The Takeaway

Et tu, A-Rod? Positive test for steroids tarnishes reputation

Monday, February 09, 2009

When it came to light that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, baseball fans were shocked. His teammates and fellow players were shocked too, but for different reasons. The Baseball Player's Association, the union for ballplayers, held on to the results of voluntary drug tests submitted by the players. If they hadn't, for better or worse, the world would not have known about A-Rod's steroid use. For more we turn to Anthony Reiber of Newsday who joins us from the New York Yankees training camp in Tampa, Florida.

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The Takeaway

Hollywood has a Napster moment over piracy issues

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hollywood production companies are waging a war against Internet pirates who rip, stream and swap millions of copies of movies like Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire, often when the movie has just debuted. But, as our next guest, Brian Stelter, a media reporter for the New York Times, will tell us, they’re losing.

For more, read Brian Stelter's article, Digital Pirates Winning Battle With Studios in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Calling Gil Grissom: Science in crime investigation found lacking

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Despite what you see on television shows like CSI, forensic evidence does not always create hard facts. Even things so seemingly commonplace as fingerprinting and blood splatter analysis may be way less reliable than believed. A draft report from the National Academy of Science contains sweeping criticism for the application of forensic science in crime labs across the nation. The report may radically change the American criminal justice system. Our partner, the New York Times, has an exclusive on this paper and we are joined by the reporter, Solomon Moore.

For more, read Solomon Moore's article, Science Found Wanting in Nation’s Crime Labs, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Ten years after the death of Amadou Diallo, questions still persist

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Ten years ago today, four New York City police officers shot at Amadou Diallo 41 times, hitting him with 19 bullets. Diallo, a 22-year old immigrant from West Africa was unarmed. The officers, all charged with second-degree murder, were eventually acquitted. One of the many unanswered questions surrounding the Diallo shooting is: If Amadou Diallo were an unarmed white man would he have been shot at? That’s a question that Joshua Correll has been trying to answer since 2002. Correll is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. His primary line of research uses videogame simulation of police encounters to examine racial bias in shoot/don't-shoot decisions. He joins us to discuss his results.

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The Takeaway

NOVA's "The Spy Factory"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The National Security Agency, which would prefer to keep a low profile, got a lot of publicity during the Bush Administration. In 2005 the nation learned that as a post-9/11 reflex, President Bush had authorized the NSA to wiretap the phone and email communications of U.S. citizens. A new NOVA documentary, “The Spy Factory,” details how the NSA could have prevented the 9/11 attacks and how it has subsequently violated the privacy of millions of Americans. Joining us to talk about the NSA is journalist James Bamford. He is the writer and co-producer of the NOVA documentary, which is based on his book, The Shadow Factory.

Don't forget to tune into Nova's documentary, The Spy Factory.

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The Takeaway

Illinois Senate impeaches Blagojevich

Friday, January 30, 2009

In a 59-0 vote, the Illinois State Senate ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich yesterday and barred him from holding public office in the state again. Though the former governor showed up at the trial to make a closing statement in his own defense, senators were unmoved. Illinois Public Radio’s statehouse reporter, Amanda Vinicky, joins The Takeaway with the details.

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The Takeaway

The front page: Elections in Mosul and a Russian spy

Friday, January 30, 2009

As we looked over the front page of today's New York Times, two stories caught our eye. The first, Iraqi Elections Face Crucial Test in Violent Mosul by Ian Fisher discusses how national politics in Iraq are actually local. The second, U.S. Says Jailed C.I.A. Mole Kept Spying for Russia by Eric Lichtblau is a fascinating account of a former CIA officer who never stopped being a Russian spy despite being in prison. Both authors join us today.

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The Takeaway

Blagojevich tapes played at impeachment trial

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yesterday was the second day of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment trial, and state legislators got a special treat. The FBI released some snippets of the Governor’s taped conversations. There were no f-bombs and no direct references to President Obama's Senate seat. None the less, some legislators said the recordings made the Governor's alleged misdeeds more real. Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio gives John and Adaora an update on the proceedings.

Instead of defending himself in the Illinois Statehouse, Governor Blagojevich hit the media circuit. On Monday he defended himself on The View:

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The Takeaway

International Criminal Court is open for business

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The world's first permanent war crimes court heard their first opening arguments yesterday. The accused is Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga who pleaded not guilty to war crimes for his recruitment of thousands of children into warfare. The Takeaway talks to Anthony Dworkin, Executive Director of the Crimes of War Project, about what we can expect from this trial and this new court.

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