Adam Wisnieski is an investigative journalist from the Bronx, who has spent years digging into issues ranging from corrupt senior care facilities to dishonest government reporting and police malpractice.

Graham Kates is Deputy Managing Editor of The Crime Report, where our stories have shed light on "America's Guilt Mill," financially shady prisoner re-entry programs, failures to prosecute environmental crimes and many other criminal justice issues.

Our newest project is a series of stories that will allow readers to get a broad view of how the government has pushed up against the walls of legality in order to make arrests, and we literally (like a few minutes ago) launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund it: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/investigating-outrageous-government-conduct/x/9912385

Our Proof: https://twitter.com/TheCrimeReport/status/570963547401945088

2:00pm: Folks, it's been a fun 3 1/2 hours. The conversation has really been fascinating! We have to sign off for a bit, but please keep asking questions, we'll be checking in throughout the next couple of days to answer as many as we can.

6:00pm: Back and answering some more.

9:15pm: Signing off again. But we promise we'll keep checking in throughout the next couple of days to answer as many as we can.

Comments: 1184 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

oldsystemlodgment869 karma

Two words: Civil Forfeiture.

Honestly though, how has basically daylight robbery from citizens without any judicial supervision been allowed to continue for so long in our country that prides itself on individual liberty?

thecrimereport539 karma

Graham: Civil forfeiture became what it is today because it was a way to get buy-in on the drug war from small police departments. I think as we (maybe) see the drug war wind down, that particular aspect of it will get axed by legislatures.

thecrimereport296 karma

Graham: Follow-up (pointed out by a colleague in the office) there's a big IF tied to the winding down of the drug war. As in, "IF it happens."

grachuss225 karma

Its not only small police departments getting in the action. I'm a Border Patrol Agent and my station opened up a second checkpoint to try and seize more vehicles. This only takes agents out of the field, and unable to repond to actual human or drug smuggling traffic.

But hey, more money for the feds right!

thecrimereport158 karma

Graham: Grachuss, fascinating stuff. I'd like to know more. Shoot me an email: [email protected]

thecrimereport139 karma

LeoRidesHisBike16 karma

You should disseminate that via https to help prevent spoofing & man-in-the-middle attacks. Also, public keys are small enough to include in reddit comments, so you could do that, too.

EDIT: Inline...

-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

Version: Mailvelope v0.7.0

Comment: Email security by Mailvelope - http://www.mailvelope.com

xsBNBFMCgZQBCACHIHZ0pCCtVW7nL8zhiiO6Gja/CqqmyIjD5qBJt47YCq+J +4janbnX4YUKluIkd71XePah+dK1eaXndmlCB1aGR9HHKbZBo5CC/zaOKrXj uw0sKrHfZYuitXf1WqsokHMRcLWbFk38mU14N12HbICNuXqKS/53LarulkY4 e/PPG0P96yC+wn928PNpT5R+FtLEXoiKAfFLtRu27Npo5//MOaen7xK6l9F8 hto3S1BRVVXUkLWWjj6NOXaMjD+cwGbp8GzGuVbMzZVJnOYNU2EWHrl/MINN eLj+DJ9mSr74ontxfGHTyNnoLLMuRHrwTKkP6hyQpGHUjTjX4DS0wtH1ABEB AAHNKEdyYWhhbSBLYXRlcyA8Z3JhaGFtQHRoZWNyaW1lcmVwb3J0Lm9yZz7C wFwEEAEIABAFAlMCgZgJEHiDRLfq/73sAACR4wf/SsWw6sWpPy1B5Dwe8ZOt ilFYrYVnOENCZ6GN6LYAdJos8pcqZL7BbLp43AejQiNeITGGqUO353aVhUWa eeVCB4ONemEFtUnubWt/zSbdK7tgPlpJu6kdeDmaa4HlwcW7DqDGbds+Y1Sv Z/yr2+ccjgkTdoCXnKHHJR6FH68+QywRAvaRURKdK5C7Ol5N/GasqOTPhkA3 wuvc8aKGNr4C6LQbpr1K3MCynukO6LtB4s9Bcmk0wXwprYCyYCRN5WefVXYr oQCxdpgMI2WEBljpzrZkAhdp2Xw7xaVMi6SDd3a88uYbJHAdj2TPALBVFBXx zDE+Xhode/59veHD2fB2ww== =A2CL

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thecrimereport12 karma

Graham: Thanks! I really appreciate it.

jookyspooky350 karma

It seems like every few months the FBI comes out with a new terror case where they convinced some people to join a terrorist organization and even provided them with fake weapons, fake bombs, etc. Is this a good way to root out terrorists before they become real terrorists or is it just the system creating headlines to support its self?

This article is an example of what im asking. Would these three pose a true threat without the "help" of the FBI?

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/25/us/new-york-terror-plot/

thecrimereport297 karma

Adam: "Is this a good way to root out terrorists before they become real terrorists or is it just the system creating headlines to support its self?" That's at the root of what we are beginning to examine in this project. Are these law enforcement techniques (fake bombs, crimes coordinated by confidential informants) actually preventing terrorism or are they a way for the government to appear as if they are successfully thwarting acts of terror? I think there has been a heightened awareness of this in the last couple of years, though entrapment defenses and claims of "outrageous government conduct" are still mostly unsuccessful.

There's a great roundup from a couple years ago from Justin Elliott at ProPublica that looks at this issue - related to NYPD cases. Check it out:

http://www.propublica.org/article/fact-check-how-the-nypd-overstated-its-counterterrorism-record

always_an_explinatio106 karma

To me it really depends on how it starts. if the cops are monitoring message boards and see someone wanting to start something and the cops step in as the connection before they find a real one, i think that is good. but if they are just standing outside a mosque saying "wanna bomb something, no, how about you?" i think thats not OK

ispynlie397 karma

Read this and be amazed:

Consider the truly remarkable (yet not aberrational) 2011 prosecution of James Cromitie, an impoverished African-American Muslim convert who had expressed anti-Semitic views but, at the age of 45, had never evinced any inclination to participate in a violent attack. For eight months, the FBI used an informant – one who was on the hook for another crime and whom the FBI was paying – to try to persuade Cromitie to agree to join a terror plot which the FBI had concocted. And for eight months, he adamantly refused. Only when they dangled a payment of $250,000 in front of him right as he lost his job did he finally assent, causing the FBI to arrest him. The DOJ trumpeted the case as a major terrorism arrest, obtained a prosecution and sent him to prison for 25 years.

Link

How is this not illegal?

Tripwire388 karma

I don't get it. How could the judge say this:

As it turns out, the Government did absolutely everything that the defense predicted in its previous motion to dismiss the indictment. The Government indisputably “manufactured” the crimes of which defendants stand convicted. The Government invented all of the details of the scheme - many of them, such as the trip to Connecticut and the inclusion of Stewart AFB as a target, for specific legal purposes of which the defendants could not possibly have been aware (the former gave rise to federal jurisdiction and the latter mandated a twenty-five year minimum sentence). The Government selected the targets. The Government designed and built the phony ordnance that the defendants planted (or planned to plant) at Government-selected targets. The Government provided every item used in the plot: cameras, cell phones, cars, maps and even a gun. The Government did all the driving (as none of the defendants had a car or a driver’s license). The Government funded the entire project. And the Government, through its agent, offered the defendants large sums of money, contingent on their participation in the heinous scheme. Additionally, before deciding that the defendants (particularly Cromitie, who was in their sights for nine months) presented any real danger, the Government appears to have done minimal due diligence, relying instead on reports from its Confidential Informant, who passed on information about Cromitie information that could easily have been verified (or not verified, since much of it was untrue), but that no one thought it necessary to check before offering a jihadist opportunity to a man who had no contact with any extremist groups and no history of anything other than drug crimes.

And then turn around and sentence him to 25 years in prison. The government offered a guy $250,000 dollars to kill people. How can this possibly not be entrapment? Has the whole country gone mad?

thecrimereport23 karma

Adam: From what I remember covering that trial, the only way it fit requirement to be a conspiracy charge was if the guys crossed state lines. The FBI drove Cromitie, who had no car and I believe no license, just over the border to Connecticut to a storage facility to pick up fake weapon.

Bveronis285 karma

Please blow my mind with something you guys have investigated and make me interesting in researching more. Also what got you in this line of work?

thecrimereport475 karma

Graham: I don't know if these will blow your mind, but: One of our reporters spent months trying to get to the bottom of how many wrongful convictions we have each year, if you include the lower-level crimes that the Innocence Project never gets to. The estimate: 50,000 per year. That story is called "America's Guilt Mill": http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2015-02-americas-guilt-mill

For a story I did last year, we looked into environmental crime investigations. The gist of that investigation was that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of all potential environmental crimes are ever even investigated: http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2014-07-environmental-crime-the-prosecution-gap

Another long-term thing that we did, in partnership with NBC, is a look at a notorious New York City substance abuse provider that's quietly become a lynchpin of the state's re-entry system, costing tens of millions of dollars per year while racking up allegations of poor services, decrepit housing, etc.: http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2015-01-the-narco-freedom-case-whos-watching-the-caregivers

What got me into reporting: After college I was looking for a job that wouldn't be boring, and this (almost) never is.

Doggerlander151 karma

Perhaps an even larger problem (at least larger in magnitude) is that a huge percentage of federal defendants who plead guilty do so not because they are actually guilty, but because the deck is so stacked against them at trial, and the trial penalty so severe, that no reasonable person would go to trial in the vast majority of criminal cases. One small reform that could improve that injustice would be provide for some true discovery by federal criminal defendants. Do you think that would be a good reform?

thecrimereport27 karma

Graham: Absolutely. So many exonerations stem from errors or calculated information withholding during discovery.

rnbwgothbb186 karma

As a journalist, how do you protect yourself from govt persecution when you are essentially whistle blowing?

How do you get information from guarded sources like cops and courthouses when they naturally reject questions?

thecrimereport272 karma

Graham: Personally, I operate with the assumption that I won't be prosecuted for the information I receive from sources, even though it does happen, especially under this administration. But if you start worrying about that, you're thinking about the wrong things.

Whistleblowers in general take great risks to reveal injustices, and reporters should be willing to take risks for them, and protect them at all costs.

In New York City, under Commissioner Ray Kelly, police were for the most part forbidden from talking on the record with reporters, even on subjects that reflected positively upon the department. That meant earning, and keeping, a lot of confidence from sources.

This also connects in a way to the issue of police-community relations. The eroding trust between some communities and police departments is often reflected in the wary relationships between the departments and the media.

psychobeast29 karma

it does happen, especially under this administration.

I'd love to learn more about this, if anyone has articles to share.

MycTyson163 karma

What can average Joe do to combat these atrocious misuses of power? I often feel helpless as I cannot currently afford to buy out a politician, and in a world where cash is king I am but a peasant.

Aside from going Boondock Saints on that ass (which I am sure many of us want), what options are there to legally address these concerns? Protesting seems to get folks arrested anymore.

thecrimereport327 karma

Graham: In the last presidential election, in all the debates combined, the candidates were asked exactly one question related to criminal justice (it had to do with gun control). But if people ask them questions about this stuff at every campaign stop before the next round of elections, that can change. Making candidates answer these questions is important — otherwise it's all relegated to C-Span subcommittee coverage.

TheBlueTraveler18 karma

What can the average Joe do to influence the questions being asked at the debates? When you have debates run by the major parties, it hardly leaves room for real questions that should be answered.

mindaika13 karma

You can start by not trying to enact change at the highest levels, but rather the lowest and most local. Vote for people you want in office in local elections, go to caucus meetings, campaign for people you actually believe in.

thecrimereport3 karma

Graham: Some good points in this thread. Politicians and public officials at every level should face questions related to criminal justice, often. Unfortunately, right now these are often seen as niche topics that leaders can treat with surface-level acknowledgement.

BrutallyHonestDude130 karma

What's your opinion on the news about the secret interrogation facility in Chicago?

thecrimereport198 karma

Graham here: Disturbing story, right? I want to hear from more people who have been held there. That was the Chicago PD, but I wouldn't be surprised to find similar facilities in several major cities.

Adam: I thought it was interesting to look at how it was covered in the Chicago media. The Guardian's a Pulitzer prize-winning paper, yet the focus was on its British-ness. Here's the Tribune's headline: "Chicago police deny British paper's claims about beatings, illegal detentions"

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-police-guardian-story-met-20150224-story.html

thecrimereport110 karma

Graham: One of the standard hallmarks of pre-trial justice is the formalization of arrest through booking and arraignment, and of course, the guarantee of 6th Amendment rights. These low-key holding facilities often skirt the things we consider obvious formalities.

IncredibleEdibleGlue102 karma

How about lobbyists? They seem like they make a lot of the laws that you end up investigating.

I.E. Prison Industry, Drug Laws, etc...

thecrimereport128 karma

Graham: This is a bit of an old read, but the Justice Policy Institute's 2011 report, "How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies," is a good primer on the forces pushing to ensure mass incarceration sticks around. http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/gaming_the_system.pdf

RobertPlattBell95 karma

Here in Georgia, the local Police entrap men (and women) by posing on Craigslist, trying to make a sexual hookup.

When they make a connection, they suggest meeting in a public park ("I'm too nervous, can we meet in a public place first?") and then show up and arrest the person for "soliciting sex".

Yes, the Supreme Court has ruled that hooking up is not illegal. But they do it anyway. Most of the people arrested are married men on vacation (St. Simon's Island, Glynn County) and they threaten them with exposure in the local paper. They also threaten them with long jail sentences and having to register as a "sex offender" if they fight the case and lose.

Most then accept a plea and a hefty fine, to bring it down to misdemeanor "disturbing the peace".

It is weird. The Supreme Court has ruled (Lawrence v. Texas) that who you want to have sex with, is none of the government's business.

I have talked with some of the victims of this "sting" operation, but none of them want to fight it or take it to appeal.

Is there anyway to get local law enforcement to actually obey the law? Seems like they will keep doing what they want, so long as the population is cowed.

But here in a small town, in rural Georgia, well, the Supreme Court isn't Supreme.

Very sad, too, because we have a rampant meth/crack problem in our County and they divert resources to these "sting" operations every month, and arrest as many as 30-45 people, particularly around the holidays.

qp0n68 karma

"sex offender"

I feel like this is a good place to focus efforts. The 'sex offender registry' is an abhorrent, draconic concept born out of emotional disgust and primal fear... not actual safety or just punishment. I along with many others consider it in violation of the 4th amendment, and 'requirements' of the status (forcing 'sex offenders' to announce themselves as such) in violation of the 1st amendment. It has now become an obfuscated & broadened status corrupted to serve as little more than a tool for prosecutors to compel pleas.

thecrimereport4 karma

Journalist Steven Yoder, a frequent contributor to TCR, has done quite a lot of good work about issues related to sex offender registries. Here are a couple of his stories:

http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2014-07-do-residency-bans-drive-sex-offenders-underground

http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2014-09-the-promise-and-perils-of-predicting-future-sex-crim

MugaSofer83 karma

Non-US here:

Why does America, specifically, have such a strangely high rate of imprisonment?

I'm not sure if your investigation covers this, but how much of this Government abuse of power do you think happens in other ("First World") countries? I'm always appalled by these stories, but I don't doubt there are abuses here as well.

thecrimereport143 karma

Graham: Through the mid-1970s our incarceration rate was on par with most other Western democracies. Then came the Drug War, and a race between politicians to prove their "Tough on Crime" credentials ... that meant more felonies, longer sentences, and mandatory minimum sentences. It's a recipe for prisons stuffed full of inmates who committed non-violent crimes a very long time ago.

bangedmyexesmom43 karma

How far, honestly, from a total facade-dropped despot/authoritarian regime are we currently? What remaining boxes need to be checked and/or what should we look out for?

thecrimereport59 karma

Graham: Well, there are major questions that need to be asked about every level of the criminal justice system, from arrest (actually even before) all the way through prisoner re-entry and after. We over-police certain neighborhoods for low-level crimes, while devoting too few resources to the big ones (homicide). Then we stack the odds against defendants and those convicted throughout the process.

Adam: You seem like you have your own ideas on this. What are you most concerned about?

bangedmyexesmom30 karma

What still separates us from mass secret-arrests? Our gov seems to be getting wise to the fact that it is unchecked. How much longer until we are a worst-case scenario?

thecrimereport53 karma

Adam: Sometimes the worse things get, the better for change. Part of this project is to examine if law enforcement has gone too far in trying to gain convictions. There are judges that are starting to question cases where law enforcement uses fake drugs and confidential informants participate (and sometimes coordinate) in the actual crime. Did these techniques go unchecked for too long? Why are judges starting to question more of these cases? Are certain law enforcement agencies pushing more than they have in the past? This is what we will examine in this project.

arkham101034 karma

What do you think of whats going on in New York lately, with the showdowns between the Mayor and the Police Unions?

thecrimereport63 karma

Graham: In some ways its just that, a public battle between two executives (the mayor and the head of the police union). The untold story in all this is that cops and the communities they police have actually wanted the same things for a long time. There are very few police officers who say, "Yeah, I want to use heavy-handed tactics like 'stop-and-frisk.'" They've been itching to get rid of the burden of having to compile ever-growing arrest, summons and stop statistics for about as long as communities have been saying it needs to stop.

arkham101015 karma

Then as a follow up, why in your opinion, do you think that the stop-and-frisk policy was allowed to go on for so long? If many cops thought it was a bad idea and communities hated it also, why did it continue as policy?

thecrimereport6 karma

Graham: This is more of a general observation about various public sector professions that I've covered, as opposed to just policing: ground-level actors (police, teachers, sanitation workers, transportation officials, etc.) have been getting less and less say in what the policies that impact their fields should be. When they note that policies are disruptive, unproductive or worse, the response from above can range from belittling ("teachers/officers/whoever complain") and commanding ("be a good soldier") to vaguely threatening ("you shouldn't make waves...").

Honestproject28 karma

It seems police raids are becoming more and more common.They are often done without warrants, for outrageous reasons, and are failing to produce results. How can you protect yourself from entrapment in the immediate aftermath of a situation like this?

Edit: Police raids and unlawful search and seizures.

ngrice34 karma

Adding to this question to hopefully get a salient answer... The concept of innocent until proven guilty seems like a complete farce now with forfeiture and seizure laws being so heavily swayed towards the police and their 'investigations'. I am reading more stories every day about suspected crime and investigations by police that end up without a single conviction yet hundreds of thousands of dollars of property are seized. This seems like nothing more than sanctioned money-grabs to me. Another effect seems to be that even if the people being investigated were found innocent of the original reason for a warrant, the police manage to insert vague obstruction of justice charges to validate the effort. Any opinion on when we can get back to a system where police need evidence to prove something other than their trumped up stories?

thecrimereport32 karma

Graham: I'm actually going to reply to this with a link to a story The Crime Report recently ran, called "America's Guilt Mill." It's about the thousands of wrongful convictions secured every year, often through plea deals. An important takeaway that I got from it is that suspects and defendants aren't really presumed innocent.

http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2015-02-americas-guilt-mill

Dirk-Killington27 karma

Hey guys, thanks so much for doing an AMA. It's people like you who push society forward into a hopefully better future.

As a kid I always thought it would be super cool to be some kind of awesome journalist who went to war zones or uncovered giant conspiracies like in the movies. Long story short, life happened, I still got to go to war zones but I didn't take a camera.

What are your professional backgrounds? Where did you attend college and what did you study? Any advice to a more than 20 something who might still have stars in his eyes about changing the world?

Thanks ahead!

thecrimereport27 karma

Graham: Thanks! We really appreciate it. I went to SUNY Binghamton and then worked a couple of days a week at a tiny bi-weekly in the Bronx called The Norwood News. I thought I was done when, on the morning of my first day on the job, I got kicked out of a local government meeting. A couple of years later I went to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. It was great, I highly recommend it, but the thing about journalism is you can start doing it without any background or training. It's just a matter of asking questions, requesting info and access, and then delivering the answers to as many people as you can.

thecrimereport19 karma

Adam: Oddly enough, I never thought about doing that when I was younger! I sort of fell into journalism. I always loved writing, but never had a clear career path. I studied English and Communications at Manhattan College in the Bronx, where I still live. After college I bounced around at all sorts of jobs (landscaping, librarian) and ended up taking an internship on my days off at the New York Press, a paper that no longer exists but once featured great Matt Taibbi articles. His work, as well as Tom Robbins stuff at the Village Voice, really got me into wanting to be a reporter. I started freelancing, got a job at a local paper (The Riverdale Press in the Bronx) and learned as I went along. Now I'm a freelancer and am constantly worried about money and health insurance and other things like that, but freelancing is the greatest. My advice is start pitching your local paper (if you have one) story ideas and work your way up from there.

manudattaraya24 karma

Do you think that your life could turn out to be like that of that guy from 'Kill the messenger' ? Do you feel threatened ?

thecrimereport31 karma

Graham: I think we all worry about how our stories will be perceived, but this is also a different time, in terms of how we look at formerly widely-accepted things like the drug war and the covert operations of intelligence agencies. That might not be the best answer, so I guess to be more direct: No and every once in a while.

123choji19 karma

It's a bit unrelated, but what books do you recommend reading?

thecrimereport29 karma

Graham: Here are a few that really give a sense of how this system works

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy; The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; Blood in the Fields by Julia Reynolds; Unabomber by Jim Freeman, Terry Turchie and Donald Max Noel

We'll keep adding to this list as we think of more (also, we shouted to the office for suggestions. Those will come in).

thecrimereport22 karma

Adam: The last three books I read were all great, the first two were on the NSA, so if you’re into issues of how criminal justice butts heads with privacy, check out James Bramford’s The Shadow Factory and Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide.

The third is not at all related to criminal justice but is absolutely fantastic: George Clinton’s autobiography.

jinqsi19 karma

You down with OGC?

thecrimereport48 karma

Adam: Yeah, you know me.

C3Response17 karma

How do you define entrapment and how does it differ, if any, from what the internet commonly thinks is entrapment?

thecrimereport28 karma

Adam: I’m not so certain I know what the Internet community usually thinks of entrapment, but it's not as simple as an example I saw in this thread: "a cop walking up to you, asking you to hold a bag of weed for him and then arresting you for possession?"

While I have seen defendants accuse law enforcement of picking them out randomly and they had no predisposition to commit a crime, for the most part people who claim entrapment are chosen as targets because they have a record. The entrapment defense usually fails because of predisposition.

But judges have started to question these tactics. Does a prior conviction of selling a small amount of narcotics prove that that defendant is predisposed to deal hundreds of kilograms? That’s something we want to look at: are police getting more aggressive? Or are they using undercovers and confidential informants because it’s been successful in getting criminals off the street? Where’s the acceptable line?

z3r0f14m312 karma

What do you think lead to the situation as it is today? Can it be blamed solely on post 9/11 policy or did that just push it over the edge?

thecrimereport15 karma

Graham: The Patriot Act collided with the Drug War movement outlined in the answer above, to MugaSofer's question.

thecrimereport14 karma

Adam: That's a great question and my answer is I'm not sure. Based on reading some great investigative reporting over the last decade, it's been apparent that a lot gets carried out in the name of terrorism that has nothing to do with terrorism. Even what gets called terrorism seems to have broadened significantly post-9/11. We are going to look at pre-9/11 and post 9/11 cases of entrapment to see if there is a difference. Is is possible that these techniques were in use before 9/11 and after, it was just more apparent because everyone was way more interested in terrorism cases? Or did it actually increase? That's what we will look at.

Stiltzy11 karma

Do you think investigative reporting will ever make a comeback?

thecrimereport15 karma

Adam: We hope so. There is great investigative stuff out there, but many of the mainstream outlets seem to be doing less and less every year. This project is an experiment for us. This is the first time I've ever been part of crowd-funding and the first time The Crime Report has tried to raise funds this way. We hope it works! If it does, look for more long-form investigative projects from us in the future!

pineapplesofdoom10 karma

(inyour august opinions)Is it even possible to whittle away at overhauling the DOD, DOJ, HS, NSA etc. etc. and hopefully work our way into a "just" and equitable future (where all are afforded certain inalienable rights blah blah blah under the rule of law) or will something far more radical have to take place for any meaningful standard of justice on a macro scale to exist?

thecrimereport18 karma

Graham: I honestly think we're at a good moment for fixing the criminal justice system. There has never been so much attention paid to the real nitty gritty details of crime and punishment. The same goes for the intelligence field.

Scottie_Jay6 karma

What's the worst example of Outrageus Government Conduct that you can tell us about? Something that will make us all run out and buy tin foil hats. ;-)

thecrimereport17 karma

Graham: Rather than give just one example, I think the thing that surprises people in these cases is that even when a judge calls out the government for overstepping (as in the "Newburgh 4" case), the defendants still almost always end up in prison. In that case, the judge said: “The government comes up with the idea, picks the targets, provides all the means, removes the obstacles,” and later lamented that she had to apply minimum mandatory sentences.

Unveiling_Truth6 karma

Got my support!

-Question: Outside of getting into a racism discussion, how has police authority been allowed to grow to where it is today? I saw a video of a police officer slapping a homeless man for asking to use the restroom. This was a stout slap too, not a love tap. *Paid suspension.

At what point did the government officials gain the loyalty of police forces around the country over the communities they serve, and how can they cling to legalities to justify such excessive force so often?

thecrimereport6 karma

Graham: Thanks! There's no such thing as a valid discussion of criminal justice without the intersection of race and justice coming into play. Policing policy has, for a long time, come down hard on low-level crime in African American communities, while not devoting enough resources to homicide and other major crimes in those same neighborhoods (and even fewer resources for those returning to communities after incarceration).

devzero06 karma

Sever problems seem to exist at the federal level as well as the state and local levels. For example, have you done any reporting on the type of events depicted in “The Newburgh Sting” a very interesting, but alarming documentary about entrapment at the federal level? Do we know, or is there any way to find out how many other cases like this there are? (Most are likely pled out and therefore the circumstances and details are not accessible to reporters or the public.)

thecrimereport10 karma

Adam: The Newburgh Four case was the inspiration for this project. I was a reporter for The Riverdale Press in the Bronx and I inherited covering that case from the previous police reporter there. I sat through that trial and it was the first time I ever heard the term "outrageous government conduct." (Graham made me shoot a video for our IndieGoGo page and I mention it briefly in there: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/investigating-outrageous-government-conduct)

What we hope to do in this project is find cases like this that are out there. That case has been very well reported, but there are other, similar cases out there that haven't had as much press. And it's not just terrorism cases, there are lots of drug and robbery cases that deal with similar entrapment issues. At this point, we don't know how many there are. But we will find out.

Scottrix6 karma

Can you provide any examples of departments or agencies that actually punish rather than protect this type of behavior?

thecrimereport9 karma

Graham: A lot of police departments have Internal Affairs bureaus, and many cities have civilian review boards, but one commonality that extends to most PDs is that this stuff is handled in-house, and the records very rarely easy to get.

There are, however, some good examples of district attorney offices that perform prosecutorial review of weak/problematic cases (Dallas, Brooklyn), and that is a growing movement that can potentially be vital to establishing better safeguards in the criminal justice system.

israfel0704 karma

Why are no journalists taking the government to task for domestic spying? Eric Holder lied to congress under oath about spying on millions of Americans. We only know about it at all because of the Snowden leak.

Why don't journalists actually serve their function without being afraid of the blatantly obvious, most important stories to everbody?

thecrimereport4 karma

Graham: One thing we're really digging into at The Crime Report, is the new tools available to local police departments for essentially casual surveillance. Here's a really short write-up on some of the products being hawked to police executives at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention last year: http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2014-11-iacp-draft

This of course barely scratched the surface, but a good takeaway is that surveillance tools are increasingly cheap and integrated into everyday gear.

thecrimereport4 karma

2:00pm: Folks, it's been a fun 3 1/2 hours. The conversation has really been fascinating! We have to sign off for a bit, but please keep asking questions, we'll be checking in throughout the next couple of days to answer as many as we can.

DankSinatra3 karma

Sadly, there's more cases you could cover in recent history than space permits.

Will your book spend any time on Eric McDavid's case?

thecrimereport5 karma

Adam: I have read about the Eric McDavid case a lot. But since it has been well covered (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/13/fbi-informant-anna-eric-mcdavid-eco-terrorism) we plan to focus on lesser-known cases. Those bigger cases will obviously be a part of it, but we haven't figured out to what extent yet.

papercupstacker3 karma

How accurate is the TV show Blacklist? It is a great show, and I am wondering if there really are people out there with resources and influence, as well as general intelligence, like that.

thecrimereport8 karma

Graham and Adam: To be honest, neither of us have watched it much. But there are certainly wealthy people and companies that influence every level of government, including the criminal justice system. As journalists, we think it's our job to try to sort our where that influence comes into play, and what the real-world impact of that is.

frankThePlank3 karma

Will there be any episodes in Edward Snowden being wanted for arrest, and episodes on the NSA Internet privacy debacle? If you had new information on those topics (or even just compiled the existing information in a fresh and meaningful way), I would watch and share those.

thecrimereport4 karma

Adam: Don't think we're going to get into that, but I think First Look https://firstlook.org/theintercept/ is doing a damn good job right now.

Euchre1 karma

I guess the ultimate question boils down to this: Do you believe law enforcement is inducing - creating intent - in people to commit crimes?

Do you expect your study to support this?

thecrimereport2 karma

Adam: That's what this project is all about. We hope to provide a wide view of how far the government goes to get convictions. We want to look at these types of cases over time and see if tactics and policies have changed. This is a debate that is going on in courtrooms across the country. We want to expand that conversation. It's not about what we believe. We want to talk to parties on all sides of this issue and hear their motivations and reasons for doing what they do and believing what they believe.