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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Are animals 'persons'? New York court hears the case of Happy the elephant

An elephant at the Bronx Zoo has become a cause célèbre for animal rights activists.

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  • A 47-year-old Asian elephant's final years are at issue in legal proceedings.
  • The larger question is whether or not animals are entitled to habeas corpus rights.
  • Several judges have gone on record stating that courts need to face the issue of legal rights for animals such as Happy.
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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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    Can VR help us understand layers of oppression?

    Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.

    • Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
    • Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
    • Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
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