Williamsburg NY Seeing Rise in Heroin Use and Abuse

Heroin is making a comeback across the country and as it does, a subculture of addicts and self-proclaimed “gutter punks” is moving into the Williamsburg community.

This article from the New York Times points out residents in the “trendy Brooklyn community” are not too happy about their new neighbors. Empty lots and vacated developments have become home to groups of squatters that make their money panhandling in the city during the day and partying at night. Continue reading “Williamsburg NY Seeing Rise in Heroin Use and Abuse”

NY Larceny and Other Charges for Man Impersonating Dead Mother

Forty-nine year old Thomas Parkin faces a range of charges including larceny, after authorities found him impersonating his deceased mother to the tune of $117,000 in government benefits.

In 2003 Irene Prusik died at the age of 73. According to her son Thomas Parkin, because he was there at the time of death, he became his mother. This strange story has made headlines around the world and continues to baffle many. Continue reading “NY Larceny and Other Charges for Man Impersonating Dead Mother”

Pervasive Monitoring Watch: Licence Plate Scanning at the Mall?

Here’s another facinating article on possible (and likely) future uses for license plate scanners, this time by retail outlets. This kind of tracking, as people enter retail parking lots will almost surely happen as the technology becomes cheap enough and the information valuable enough.

One of the obvious questions this raises for anyone concerned with civil rights and privacy is: who owns, shares, and protects this data? Will the local mall be sharing this data directly with law enforcement agencies? Continue reading “Pervasive Monitoring Watch: Licence Plate Scanning at the Mall?”

Fraud Charges in $600K Brooklyn Museum Scam

The former payroll manager for the Brooklyn Museum is facing some criminal charges for money that was stolen while he was employed there. No longer working for the museum, Dwight Newton was arrested at his new place of work, Action Against Hunger.

Newton allegedly took over $600,000 in fraudulent paychecks from the museum during his employment there. As the payroll clerk he was in a good position to make paychecks out to fictitious names and direct deposit them into his own account. Continue reading “Fraud Charges in $600K Brooklyn Museum Scam”

NYPD Stop and Frisks Up for 2009

New York City diligently tracks the number of “stop and frisks” its officers do on a daily basis. So far this year, these stops are up more than 18% from this time last year according to the New York Times. Interestingly but not surprisingly these stops were done on a disproportionate number of minorities, causing some eyebrow raising from civil liberties groups.

A “stop and frisk” is when an officer stops, perhaps questions, and pats down, or searches someone on the street. These are done as a preventative measure under many different circumstances. Some people feel that these stops are overused and abused while others believe them to be completely effective in controlling and preventing criminal activity. Continue reading “NYPD Stop and Frisks Up for 2009”

New York Task Force to Examine Wrongful Criminal Convictions

People are often accused of crimes they didn’t commit. Less often they are convicted of these crimes. Although it isn’t a frequent occurrence, wrongful convictions should be guarded against at every turn. When our justice system works like it is supposed to, innocent people go free and guilty people are convicted.

New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman is looking to create a task force designed to specifically look at wrongful convictions, why they happen, and what can be done to prevent them. Unlike programs like the Innocence Project, this task force won’t look at cases that may be wrongful convictions but will only work with cases where the defendants have been exonerated.

As this article in the New York Times points out, the task force won’t only be looking at capital cases either. The group will look at all wrongful convictions in hopes to get a good, well-balanced idea about why they happen. This kind of information will be useful, not only to the New York criminal justice system, but to justice systems across the country. Continue reading “New York Task Force to Examine Wrongful Criminal Convictions”