FOSTA-SESTA: Have controversial sex trafficking acts done more harm than good?

The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.

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  • SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) started as two separate bills that were both created with a singular goal: curb online sex trafficking. They were signed into law by former President Trump in 2018.
  • The implementation of this law in America has left an international impact, as websites attempt to protect themselves from liability by closing down the sections of their sites that sex workers use to arrange safe meetings with clientele.
  • While supporters of this bill have framed FOSTA-SESTA as a vital tool that could prevent sex trafficking and allow sex trafficking survivors to sue those websites for facilitating their victimization, many other people are strictly against the bill and hope it will be reversed.
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Study: Militarization of police does not reduce crime

A new look at existing data by LSU researchers refutes the Trump administration's claims.

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  • The United States Department of Defense gifts surplus military equipment and clothing to local police departments.
  • The militarization of police coincides with a significant loss of trust in law enforcement from the American public.
  • Militarized police departments are more likely to interact violently with their communities.
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Catching serial killers with an algorithm

This week, Big Think is partnering with Freethink to bring you amazing stories of the people and technologies that are shaping our future.

  • There are over 250,000 unsolved murder cases in the United States. Thomas Hargrove, cofounder of Murder Accountability Project, wants that number to be as close to zero as possible, and he has just the tool to help.
  • Hargrove developed an algorithm that, through cluster analysis, is capable of finding connections in murder data that human investigators tend to miss.
  • The technology exists, but a considerable roadblock that the project faces is getting support and cooperation from law enforcement offices.
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Three philosophies of punishment and whether or not they work

What do we want to do with convicted criminals? Penology has several philosophies waiting to answer that question.

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  • What is the purpose of punishing a convicted criminal supposed to be? It depends on which philosophy you prescribe to.
  • None of these ideas are without their detractors, or qualifying evidence.
  • As the United States grapples with criminal justice reform, the arguments each philosophy has behind it will have to be considered.
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Study: Private prisons result in more inmates, longer sentences

The Labour Economics study suggests two potential reasons for the increase: corruption and increased capacity.

  • After adopting strict sentencing laws in the '80s and '90s, many states have turned to for-profit prisons to handle growing prison populations.
  • A new study in Labour Economics found that privately-run prisons correlate with a rise in incarceration rates and sentence lengths.
  • While evidence is mixed, private prisons do not appear to improve recidivism or cost less than state-run facilities.
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