• Number of Americans kidnapped, killed in Mexico increases

    The number of U.S. citizens kidnapped in Mexico each year is uncertain due to false reporting and underreporting, but in 2014 the FBI investigated at least 199 kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Mexico, a substantial increase from twenty-six kidnappings in 2006. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 100 in 2014 and 103 in 2015.For the family of Norma Magallanes Benitez, a U.S. citizen who was kidnapped on 21 October 2016 while visiting her family ranch in the municipality of Luvianos, Mexico State, these figures are not dry statistics.

  • Extreme-right terrorism threat growing: U.K. police

    Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner to the U.K. national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, has said police fear the threat of far-right violence is growing and poses a similar danger to communities as other forms of extremism. “Over the past twelve months, there have been indications that the threat from [the] extreme right wing could be increasing and we are alive to this,” he said. Figures release by the police show that concerns over potential extreme rightwing radicalization led to a 73.5 percent increase in referrals to the counter-radicalization program Prevent last year, compared with the previous twelve months.

  • Stronger gun laws linked to decreased firearm homicides

    Stronger firearm laws are associated with reductions in firearm homicide rates, concludes a study which reviewed all available articles published in peer-reviewed journals from January 1970 to August 2016 that focused specifically on the connection between firearm homicide and firearm laws. Specifically, the laws that seemed to have the most effect were those that strengthened background checks and those that required a permit to purchase a firearm. Laws that banned assault weapons, improved child safety, or aimed to limit firearm trafficking had no clear effect on firearm homicide rates. Laws that aimed to restrict guns in public places had mixed results.

  • Most border arrests by Texas troopers are not for drug smuggling

    Officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) have recorded 31,786 law violations along the Texas-Mexico border from late June 2014 through September 2016. Just 6 percent of the offenses were felony drug possession by “high-threat criminals,” or HTC — the criminals troopers were largely sent to stop. The other HTC priority is supposed to be human smugglers, but they made up just 1 percent of offenses. DPS has added more troopers to the border under the assumed objective that they are going after drug and human smugglers — but a close examination shows that most of their arrests are for drunk driving and misdemeanor drug possession.

  • Florida's Stand Your Ground law linked to rise in homicide rates in the state

    Before 2005, Florida’s so-called “Castle doctrine” allowed the use of lethal force in situations where individuals believed there was an imminent threat of death or serious physical harm from an intruder within their own home. In 2005 Florida enacted the Stand Your Ground law, extending the “no duty to retreat” clause of the Castle doctrine, giving individuals immunity for using lethal force to defend themselves in public places, as well as on private property. Anew analysis shows that thechange in Florida’s self-defense laws has been linked with the state’s homicide rates going up by nearly a quarter.

  • FBI releases hate crime statistics report

    The FBI says that hate crimes can have a devastating impact upon the communities where they occur, which is one of the reasons why the investigation of hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction is the number one priority under the FBI’s civil rights program. The Bureau’s just-publishedreport, covering 2015, reveals 5,850 criminal incidents and 6,885 related offenses that were motivated by bias against race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.

  • Forensic technique to measure mechanical properties of evidence

    You may have seen it on CSI: The star examines hair from a crime scene and concludes its color or texture looks like the defendant’s hair, or maybe his dog’s. Case closed. But looks can be deceiving, as well as vague and subjective. In real life, the FBI is now reviewing thousands of cases involving hair comparisons going back to the 1980s because traditional identifications—often based on looks alone — have been called into question. Instead, what if investigators could precisely measure a hair’s mechanical properties — its stiffness and stickiness? Researchers say that in fact, they can.

  • Less crime, and fewer incarcerations: As New York became a safer city, prisons closed too

    Overflowing prison populations and high rates of violent crime once made New York City a metaphor for the urban decay confronting America’s cities. But over the last two decades crime in the nation’s largest city has declined steeply, with murders plummeting from 2,200 in 1990 to 350 in 2015. New York City’s crime decline was coupled with a sustained and dramatic reduction in incarceration, allowing the state to close more than a dozen prisons and save tens of millions of dollars. New York is now not only the safest big city in the United States, but also one with the fewest incarcerations for its size.

  • Trump's win spurs surge in private prison stocks

    Shares of private prison companies Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group jumped 48.1 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively, on Wednesday following Tuesday’s victory by Donald Trump in the presidential election. If Trump follows through on his campaign pledge to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, this will be a boon for the private prison industry.

  • Loophole in Rhode Island law allows domestic abusers to keep firearms, despite risks

    Courts in Rhode Island rarely require abusers to turn in their firearms, even when orders prohibit them from possessing firearms under federal law and there is evidence they pose a lethal risk to victims, according to new research. examined 1,609 case files of protective orders filed in Rhode Island Family and District courts from 2012 to 2014. “In Rhode Island, domestic abusers are rarely required to turn in their firearms — even when they are federally prohibited from possessing them,” said one researcher. “Addressing this gap in the state’s law could help prevent risk of gun violence to potential abuse victims.”

  • Venezuela president’s relatives engaged in drug smuggling to help his campaign

    Jury selection began in New York yesterday (Wednesday) in the drug trial of two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady. The two appeared in Manhattan federal court, charged with trying to put together a multimillion-dollar drug deal for the purpose of shoring up President Nicolas Maduro’s weakening hold on power. In secret taping of conversations with the two nephews, made by DEA informants, the two were not shy saying that the millions they would make in drug dealings would be used to help members of their family, including Maduro, in the coming December elections for Venezuela’s National Assembly.

  • More powers, tighter monitoring: Germany reforms its intelligence service

    The Bundestag has passed a comprehensive reform of the BND, Germany’s main intelligence service. The legislation strengthens government monitoring of intelligence powers, and allows the BND to carry out certain types of surveillance activities. The reform is a response to two recent developments: the 2013 Snowden revelations that the BND had spied on German citizens on behalf of the NSA, and the growing concerns about terrorism in Europe. The new legislation thus gives the BND more powers – but subjects it to tighter judiciary monitoring.

  • 170,000 hate crimes go unreported in the U.K. each year

    Hate crimes are massively under reported, making it all the more difficult for police and other authorities to make an impact on the issue. Now, researchers have devised techniques that could result in much more accurate estimates.

  • Half of American adults are in a little regulated police face recognition database

    Half of American adults — more than 117 million people — are in a law enforcement face recognition network, according to a report. Of the fifty-two government agencies that acknowledged using face recognition, only one obtained legislative approval for its use and only one agency provided evidence that it audited officers’ face recognition searches for misuse. Not one agency required warrants, and many agencies did not even require an officer to suspect someone of committing a crime before using face recognition to identify her.

  • 3 Kansas men arrested for plotting massive attack on a complex housing Somali refugees

    The Garden City, Kansas police on Friday arrested three members of a far-right militia group for plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, in which about 120 Somali refugees live. The complex also houses a mosque. Supporters of far-right nationalist ideology – sometime referred to as “alt-right” – have been using an apocalyptic language, which has been adopted by Donald Trump, describing the refugee program as an “invasion” of the country which amounts to “national suicide” for the United States.