Posts Tagged ‘criminal law’

One Strike and You’re Out!

April 7th, 2012 No comments

Written by:  Megan Hunsicker

One strike and you’re out… what happened to three?  While strict liability maximizes deterrence and eases enforcement difficulties, the policy is a bit extreme when applied to the public housing context.  Kaplan’s article, entitled Called “Out” at Home: The One Strike Eviction Policy & Juvenile Court discusses the federal government’s One Strike policy, in which public housing authorities are encouraged to evict an entire household for any individual household member’s criminal act, no matter how trivial.  Where the basis for eviction is juvenile delinquency, the family agrees to either dispossess one of its children or stay together and find itself out on the street.  How does homelessness reduce crime levels?  A correlation between the two has yet to be systematically measured.  Modification of the existing law is obviously needed to brunt the harsh effects of the One Strike policy at least until its effect has been proven.

Link to Article: Called “Out” at Home: The One Strike Eviction Policy & Juvenile Court, by Kaplan & Rossman in the Duke Forum for Law & Social Change.

Stand Your Ground against Skittles and Ice Tea!

March 29th, 2012 No comments

Written by: Sara Horatius

In wake of the Trayvon Martin Case, the “Stand Your Ground” statute in Florida has been subjected to a lot of scrutiny over the last couple of days. African American communities all across the United States are concerned that “Stand Your Ground” laws will have a drastic effect on African American males in the future if this law is not repealed in Florida and in many other states.

On Feb. 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida, 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who was visiting his father in a gated community, went out to the store to buy snacks. On his way back to his father’s house, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, called the police and told them that Trayvon looked suspicious and that he looked as if he was on drugs. Zimmerman proceeded to follow Trayvon, even after the 9-1-1 dispatcher told him not to. By the end of the night, the result was a dead 17-year-old teenager and a man who was able to walk away free from being arrested because he claimed the stand your ground defense.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute allows people to use deadly force inside or outside of their home if there is a reasonable belief that they had to defend themselves from death or serious bodily injury. People who have killed another person out and claim this type of self defense will be provided with immunity from being arrested or prosecuted. Let’s look at how this law was applied in the Trayvon Martin case and how it might have an effect on African American communities in the future.

First, African American males should not wear hoodies because any African American male that wears a hoodie is presumed to be suspicious, as claimed by Zimmerman and Geraldo Rivera. Second, you are allowed to follow an African American male in a community that has a low ration of them, even after you are told not too, because most likely that male does not belong there. Make sure to scream the stand your ground defense, especially when you realize that the African American male who you have just killed was not really a threat because all that he has on his person is a bag of Skittles and a bottle of ice tea; however, you might have had a reasonable fear that he would have thrown some Skittles in your eyes or splashed some ice tea in your face. Finally, do not worry; the police will most likely believe you because African American males, like Trayvon Martin, always gets away and are probably up to no good.

For more on this case and the “Stand Your Ground” Law,0,1383205.story shooting/story?id=15988474#.T291RHKwWUZ

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

Justice for Trayvon Martin?

March 28th, 2012 No comments

Written by:  Shauna Lee

It is probably too early to tell.  Maybe the world will never know what exactly happened on the evening of February 26, 2012 between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.  However the handling of this teenage boy’s death by the Sanford Police and their refusal to arrest George Zimmerman has reignited the racial divide in that small town.  Was it that Trayvon was wearing a hooded sweatshirt?  Was it that there was an African-American male walking around in a gated community?  There seems to be an unspoken rule that a young black male must rebut the presumption that he is up to no good.  The outrage comes not only from the fact that a young man lost his life, but from the inaction taken to arrest George Zimmerman and charge him with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  The “Stand Your Ground” statute passed by the Florida Legislature in 2005 allows individuals to meet force with force and act in self-defense.  The discrepancy comes as to whether Zimmerman lost that privilege when he decided to follow Trayvon after the 911 dispatcher advised him not to.  With the possibility of an indictment by the grand jury next week, the overarching social question regarding the assumption that young black males are up to no good still needs to be addressed.

For more information regarding the Trayvon Martin case, see:

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

Law Enforcement/Intelligence Gathering in Muslim and Immigrant Communities After 9/11

March 19th, 2012 No comments

Written by:  Elizabeth L. August

The aftermath of 9/11 certainly left its mark on law enforcement tactics in the United States.  Shortly after the attacks, various agencies reached out to Muslim communities, creating partnerships to sniff out homegrown terrorist cells.  These efforts have been largely successful.  However, another commonly used police tactic threatens to erode these terror-fighting partnerships.  As David A. Harris argues in the New York University Review of Law & Social Change, the use of informants to gather intelligence in mosques sends a conflicting message to Muslim communities.  It is a blatant threat to the sanctity of a place of worship.  This, combined with the “assumption of the risk” doctrine that has been applied to law enforcement’s use of informants, further threatens the positive relationships that have been built.  The author argues that a mutually beneficial arrangement is achievable by limiting the use of informants, and bringing that limited use under the Warrant Clause of the Fourth Amendment.  Reinforcing these community partnerships will benefit law enforcement, Muslim communities, and everyone else.

Click here to read the article this blog discusses.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

“But Your Honor, He’s an Illegal!”

March 11th, 2012 No comments

Written by:  Kevin Diduch

Separating law and politics is never easy.  In what has become one of the hot-button topics heading into the 2012 presidential election, the issue of illegal immigration is in the minds of many Americans.  An undocumented worker’s legal status, and the stereotypes that follow, has the potential to find its way into the jury box quite easily.  Has it finally been kicked out for good?  The Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy recently answered this question in an article entitled, “‘But Your Honor, He’s An Illegal!’—Ruled Inadmissible and Prejudicial,” focusing on the admissibility of an undocumented worker’s immigration status at trial.

I completely agree with the article’s conclusion that the stereotypes affiliated with illegal immigration have no place in the jury box.  Although evidence pertaining to an immigrant’s status appears relevant on its face, the prejudicial effect far outweighs any probative value.  Many states, including Delaware, have reached the same conclusion.  As a conservative voter who believes in tougher immigration standards, I also believe it’s time to put aside the politics and recognize our legal system’s right to a trial free from extremely unfair prejudice.

For a link to the article, and a means of forming your own opinion, click here.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.