Teens making online threats; Experts say they don’t realize the serious consequences

WACH FOX, 5 DEC. 2017, FEAT. MARGARET BODMAN:

Over the last few weeks, several local teens have been arrested after being accused of making threats online. The punishment can be serious, and experts say young people don’t seem to realize it. The wrong message in Facebook posts, Tweets and Snapchats could lead to jail time.

In just the past month, Richland County deputies have arrested a 14-year old accused of creating a fake internet profile to harass other students. A 16-year-old is charged with threatening to blow up Columbia High School in a Facebook post. Finally, a 17-year-old was arrested after deputies say he used Facebook to say he would shoot up Lower Richland High School.

Attorney Margaret Bodman with the Children’s Law Center in Columbia says simple words online can lead to an array of consequences.

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Research Shows Police Body-Worn Cameras Reduce Misconduct and Cost for Las Vegas

GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY, 8 DECEMBER 2017, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

A study on the effects of body-worn cameras shows a significant reduction in complaints of police misconduct and use of force, as well as some cost savings.

The study, conducted by Virginia-based CNA Corporation, in cooperation with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and the University of Las Vegas’ Center for Crime and Justice Policy, found a 37 percent reduction in the number of officers involved in use-of-force incidents and a 30 percent decrease in the number of officers with at least one complaint filed against them. Among the control group, officers not equipped with a camera, use-of-force increased 4 percent.

Researchers assigned 400 LVMPD officers body cams, while another 400 served as a control group.

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Can former police officer Michael Slager’s 20-year sentence deter other killings?

POST AND COURIER, 10 DECEMBER, 2017, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

While Michael Slager’s 20-year sentence has been viewed as a warning to other police officers faced with using their firearms in the line of duty, some observers doubt the lasting influence of a particularly stark example of excessive force like Walter Scott’s death.

Scott was shot as he ran from a confrontation with the North Charleston policeman in 2015, when South Carolina saw its highest annual level of officer-involved shootings on record. After a dip last year as authorities focused on accountability measures like body-worn cameras, that number has spiked again to at least 47 so far this year — one shy of the record.

While such a trend can be difficult to explain, experts said the concept of a single criminal case influencing it is troublesome.

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The constitutional right to education is long overdue

THE CONVERSATION, 4 DEC. 2017, FEAT: PROF DEREK BLACK:

Public school funding has shrunk over the past decade. School discipline rates reached historic highs. Large achievement gaps persist. And the overall performance of our nation’s students falls well below our international peers.

These bleak numbers beg the question: Don’t students have a constitutional right to something better? Many Americans assume that federal law protects the right to education. Why wouldn’t it? All 50 state constitutions provide for education. The same is true in 170 other countries. Yet, the word “education” does not appear in the United States Constitution, and federal courts have rejected the idea that education is important enough that it should be protected anyway.

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Why Police Body Cams Aren’t What They Seem to Be

THE CRIME REPORT, 29 NOV. 2017, FEAT: PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

“Everyone is coming to the body camera question with a totally different take on what these tools are going to be used for,” Prof. Seth Stoughton of the University of South Carolina Law School, who specializes in the regulation of policing, told us.

“The community thinks, ‘Hey, you got this for officer-accountability reasons, but all you’re using it for is to prosecute people.’ I think that has the potential to be taken as a failure, a betrayal.”

If that’s a failure, how do you even measure success?

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The Bundys are poster boys for America’s rural/urban divide

LOS ANGELES TIMES, 23 NOV. 2017, FEAT. PROF. ANN EISENBERG:

Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy went on trial in Las Vegas last week over their violent standoff with Bureau of Land Management officials in Nevada in 2014. Cliven had refused to stop grazing cattle on federal land, or to pay grazing fees. BLM agents trying to collect the cattle abandoned the effort when they were met by several hundred militant Bundy supporters. You may also remember Ammon and Ryan, Cliven’s sons, from another “rancher protest,” the occupation of the federal Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in early 2016.

These armed standoffs are indefensible. But they are also symptomatic of bigger problems that weigh on our society. Longstanding tensions over Western federal land and deep conflicts between city “elites” and country “non-elites” help explain why some view Cliven Bundy as a folk hero and others see him as a domestic terrorist. These divisions could also account for a slew of not-guilty verdicts in four earlier trials related to the standoffs.

Kids will suffer because court refused to do its duty

THE STATE, 26 NOVEMBER 2017, FEAT. PROF. DEREK BLACK:

In 1999, the S.C. Supreme Court issued a monumental decision in Abbeville v. South Carolina. It held that “the South Carolina Constitution’s education clause requires the General Assembly to provide the opportunity for each child to receive a minimally adequate education.” The trial that followed made national headlines. After reviewing the trial record in 2014, the Supreme Court found that the state had “failed in (its) constitutional duty to ensure that students … receive the requisite educational opportunity” and ordered it to remedy its failures.

By a vote of 3-2 this month, the court terminated this landmark case without even bothering to offer a reasoned explanation.

The majority’s driving motivation appears to be the belief that the court should never have been involved in the first place because it lacks authority to require the state to improve our public schools. This very same argument was rejected by the court in 2014. The only difference now: The justices on the court have changed. The majority also pointed to numerous “good faith efforts” by the state to comply with the 2014 order.

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‘Can’t undo death’: Rock Hill man, convicted of killing parents in 1997, still appeals

THE HERALD, 24 NOVEMBER 2017, FEAT. PROF. KENNETH GAINES AND PROF. COLIN MILLER:

Twenty years ago, Terry and Earl Robertson were beaten and stabbed to death in their Rock Hill home. Their son, James Robertson was charged and convicted of the killings.

Robertson, known as “Jimmy,” has been on South Carolina’s death row for 18 years, since his 1999 conviction for double murder, armed robbery and credit card fraud.

Saturday, Nov. 25 is the 20th anniversary of the murders and subsequent arrest. The deaths, and the ensuing trial, captured the nation’s attention and continues to do so. This weekend, there will be a TV special focusing on the Rock Hill case.

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Videos Reveal A Close, Gory View Of Police Dog Bites

NPR, 20 NOVEMBER 2017, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

Donald W. Cook is a Los Angeles attorney with decades of experience bringing lawsuits over police dog bites — and mostly losing. He blames what he calls “The Rin Tin Tin Effect” — juries think of police dogs as noble, and have trouble visualizing how violent they can be during an arrest.

“[Police] use terms like ‘apprehend’ and ‘restrain,’ to try to portray it as a very antiseptic event,” Cook says. “But you look at the video and the dog is chewing away on his leg and mutilating him.”

Cook says the proliferation of smart phones and body cameras is capturing a reality that used to be lost on juries. “If it’s a good video,” he says, “it makes a case much easier to prevail on.”

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How to Make Cars Cooperate

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, 9 NOVEMBER 2017, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

IN HIS 31-YEAR career delivering frozen patties, ketchup packets, ice cream and such to McDonald’s, Baskin-Robbins and other restaurants across the country, Dave Mercer logged more than three million miles, many of them in rigs he termed “bad news”: boxy, twin-stick-shift trucks that belched smoke and had no heating, air conditioning or radio. But they were sleek compared with the 18-wheelers his father drove before he was born. His father used to say that going uphill he could walk faster than his load; sometimes he would stand out on the running board to cool off and steer one-handed through his open door. “You’re not going to stop technology,” Mercer told me, when I asked him why he had decided to finish his professional life by test-driving trucks full time for a four-year-old Silicon Valley start-up. We were standing on the side of I-280 in Mountain View, Calif.; Mercer, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and dark glasses, had just finished demonstrating a system that a company called Peloton Technology plans to introduce in commercial fleets next year. “I wanted to come over and be a part of this before I retired,” he said. “I can tell some of the younger drivers. … ” In lieu of finishing his thought, he punched his co-pilot, a quiet computer engineer, in the shoulder. Hundreds of hours riding shotgun with Mercer — panoramic views of the horizon, cars flowing streamlike down below — had inspired him and several of the company’s other engineers to get a commercial driver’s license. “I want to be part of that, too,” Mercer said.

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