This week, the local prosecutor in Baltimore announced that her office would no longer prosecute cases of marijuana possession, regardless of the quantity involved or the defendant's criminal record. Moreover, her office will attempt to vacate nearly 5,000 previous marijuana convictions.
We live in a world where the criminal justice system has focused on putting away as many criminals as possible for as long as possible. While being "tough on crime" may be popular, it has resulted in real problems. For one, many people have been subjected to harsh, mandatory minimum sentences that are often far out of proportion with the underlying crime. And, long sentences have contributed to our current mass incarceration crisis.
For over 30 years, intentionally grabbing someone's butt has been excluded from Minnesota's criminal sexual conduct statute. The law specifically states that the definition of "sexual contact" "does not include the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks." Otherwise, nonconsensual sexual contact is considered fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, along with masturbation or the lewd exhibition of genitals before a minor under 16.
Changes quietly started at the Department of Justice’s Office for Violence against Women as officials slowly modified the definition of domestic violence since April 2018. The new definition is significantly limited regarding what criminal charges are available to victims.
Recent years have seen a lot of flux throughout the country when it comes to marijuana laws. Where does Minnesota currently stand in this regard? Well, it is among the states that have legalized medical marijuana. It is also among the states that have, to some extent, decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
When military vets come home from deployment, they often find their service has taken a mental toll. That can mean diagnosable PTSD or simply unregulated emotions that can prompt the vet to strike out or engage in anti-social behavior.
The federal Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) acts pretty much like a three-strikes law, although it counts any violent felony or serious drug conviction as a strike, whether it resulted in a federal or state conviction. Federal law generally prohibits felons from possessing firearms, but the ACCA goes further. For people who have been convicted of three qualifying felonies, a gun conviction results a mandatory 15-year sentence in federal prison.
In the tragic situation at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix, it's understandable that the police would want to do everything in their power to solve the case. On Dec. 29, a patient in a persistent vegetative state gave birth after becoming pregnant at the nursing facility. The president of the facility resigned in response to the incident, and state health officials have required the facility to increase patient safety.
A recent story by NPR highlighted some issues with the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN), a huge ballistics database operated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It contains high-resolution images of the marks left on bullets and shell casings fired by specific firearms. The idea is to allow users to match those bullets and casings to each other and, sometimes, to match them to a specific gun.