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The Associated Press reported yesterday that there is more more evidence of discrimination against Latinos by the long-troubled Alamance County sheriff’s office:

“Two university professors hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to analyze traffic stops by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office say statistical data conclusively shows deputies there are racially profiling Latino drivers….

John Lamberth, retired chair of the Department of Psychology at Temple University, concluded that Johnson’s deputies cited Latinos for violations at a rate more than six times higher than for whites. He said the statistical odds were far less than one in a million that such a sizable racial disparity could occur by chance.

‘The observed disparities in … traffic enforcement are larger than any I have previously observed at a law enforcement agency in the United States,’ wrote Lamberth, who has testified as an expert in numerous court cases.”

Let’s hope that a settlement can be reached in the case in the near future and that Alamance can start enforcing laws fairly like the vast majority of law enforcement agencies.

You can read the entire story by clicking here.

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First published on PolicyMic.com

A recent Gallup poll showed that the U.S. is losing its taste for capital punishment. Make no mistake: A majority of Americans are still in favor of state-sponsored homicide, but the 60% of people who claimed that they approve of capital punishment is an all-time low. Year after year, the death penalty is falling out of favor in this country. One segment of the population that is growing in opposition of the death penalty are those who have conservative values.

The poll stated that 81% of Republicans support capital punishment, but even that number was lower than it has been in the past. An important part of the change in the conservative and libertarian response to the death penalty is young people. The Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), an organization started by the youth coordinator of the presidential campaign of Ron Paul, the Republican Congressman from Texas, is a partner of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty (CCATDP). In addition to the partnership with YAL, CCATDP attended the Young Republican National Federation’s Convention in Alabama.

Just last week, Kansas Republican Chase Blasi published an editorial explaining why capital punishment is counter to conservative positions. Read More

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Last week, NC Policy Watch distributed a Progressive Voices essay authored by Gretchen Engel, Executive Director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, in which Engel was highly critical of the North Carolina state crime lab and the failure of officials to adequately review the cases of hundreds of defendants who were convicted in whole or in part upon evidence from the long-troubled lab. You can read the piece by clicking here.

Earlier this week, current lab director, former state judge Joseph John, Sr. sent us a lengthy reply to Engel’s piece. Today, we offer John’s letter along with a response from Engel. Both appear below. Read More

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This was just released by the good folks at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children:

For Immediate Release                                                                                                 

Juvenile Justice consolidation could have negative consequences for youth

RALEIGH – On Tuesday, 9/10, the Department of Public Safety announced the consolidation of the Divisions of Juvenile Justice and Adult Corrections into a single division, raising questions about the Department’s ability to focus on the unique needs of youth. Read More

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The Fourth Amendment makes strange bedfellows.

Today’s 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Maryland v. King—that police can take DNA samples from individuals arrested for serious crimes—found the unlikely combination of Justice Antonin Scalia with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joining on the dissent.

States allow the collection of DNA for those convicted of a crime, but lower courts are split on whether states can collect DNA without a warrant from people who have only been arrested. The federal government and 28 states allow the collection of DNA from arrestees.

In 2009, after Alonzo Jay King Jr. was arrested on assault charges in Wicomico County, Md., police obtained his D.N.A. profile by swabbing his cheek. That profile matched evidence in a 2003 rape case, and King was later convicted of that crime. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that a state law authorizing D.N.A. collection from people arrested but not yet convicted violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches.

Writing for the majority and reversing that court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said:

When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s D.N.A. is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

But Justice Scalia and his colleagues typically on the other side of court rulings disagreed, with Scalia summarizing his opinion from the bench—a rare move signaling sharp disagreement among the members of the Court.

Scalia wrote:

“The court’s assertion that DNA is being taken, not to solve crimes, but to identify those in the state’s custody, taxes the credulity of the credulous.

Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes. Then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the ‘identity’ of the flying public), applies for a driver’s license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.”

The Court has yet to issue its decisions on another 25 pending cases, among them the controversial and potentially historical cases involving affirmative action, marriage equality and voting rights.

The next round of rulings are expected on Monday, June 10.