Which states have the most federal immigration crimes per unauthorized immigrant?

The following map shows an estimated percentage of federal immigration cases per unauthorized immigrant for each state. It uses research from the Pew Research Center on estimated state unauthorized immigrant populations in 2012, and data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission for federal immigration offenses that same year. Untitled

I excluded five states—Maine, the Dakotas, Vermont, and Montana—because Pew could only determine that the unauthorized immigrant population in those states was less than 5,000, and the imprecision at those low value threw off the calculations.

Some interesting things to note: New Mexico had the highest level of federal prosecutions per unauthorized immigrant. The state’s 2012 unauthorized immigrant population was estimated at 70,000, and there were 2,097 federal immigration cases, for a rough estimate of nearly 3% of the unauthorized immigrants being prosecuted. In contrast, federal officials in New Jersey, which had a 2012 authorized immigrant population of around 525,000, prosecuted only 45 immigration cases that year (not even .01%). The average percentage was .24.

The “why” for these statistics is not cut and dry. It could be that immigration officials conduct more aggressive enforcement in some states. Or that federal prosecutors prosecute more of the offense brought to them. Or that there is some reason unauthorized immigrants are staying under the radar in certain places.

Here is a link to download an excel file with the statistics.

Data Behind NYT Editorial Criticizing Sex Offender Banishment

This week, the New York Times published an editorial criticizing blanket residency restrictions for sex offenders. The article relies mostly on court decisions, but also cites two statistical analyses  that are interesting to explore more in-depth.

First, the article relies on a 2000 Bureau of Justice Statistics Report entitled “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics.” The report is by Howard N. Snyder, of the National Center for Juvenile Justice. It drew conclusions from six years (1991 to 1996) of law enforcement master files from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)—”an incident-based reporting system used by law enforcement agencies in the United States for collecting and reporting data on crimes.” The report emphasizes that sexual abuse against children is usually not committed by strangers:

Sixty percent of all sexual assault offenders were classified by law enforcement as acquaintances of the victim. Just 14% of offenders were strangers to their victims. Strangers were a greater proportion of the offenders of adult victims (27%) than juvenile victims (7%). The youngest juveniles were least likely to have an offender who was a stranger. Just 3% of the offenders in the sexual assaults of children under age 6 were strangers, compared with 5% of the offenders of youth ages 6 through 12, and 10% of offenders of juveniles ages 12 through 17.

The Times also cites a 2013 article by a group of social workers (lead author Jill Levenson) for the Criminal Justice Policy Review entitled “Where for Art Thou? Transient Sex Offenders and Residence Restrictions.” That study found the following:

Significantly higher proportions of transient sex offenders were found in counties with a larger number of local-level restrictions, vast territory covered by these laws, wide-distance buffer zones, higher population density, and expensive housing costs. Sex offenders were more likely than the general population to become homeless. Transients were more likely than non-transients to have a history of registry violation. Few transients absconded, but when they did, they were more likely to abscond from registration than probation. When implementing sex offender management policies, lawmakers should consider transience as an unintended negative consequence.

Of course, there have been many other editorials on this issue, and in-depth investigative journalism. Particularly, this 2009 NPR piece, about sex offenders banished to living under a bridge, springs to mind.

Five Tips for Plea Negotiations

Training for Bargaining,” a new draft article by Jenny Roberts and Ronald Wright, of American University, persuasively argues that “[a]lthough public defenders may be dealt a weak hand in many cases, training focused on negotiation skills could help them get the best results from those cards.” I took away five tips from the article:

1. Stay positive. As Roberts and Wright note, research shows that “fostering a positive mood in a negotiation through tone can make the parties more creative and more likely to use negotiation strategies that seek to meet both parties’ interests.”

2. Prepare with peers and supervisors. Roberts and Wright hammer the point that many defense attorneys put much more effort into preparing for trial than for plea negotiations, even though pleas are the more common outcome. They suggest running negotiation strategy by peers or bosses, or even “mooting” negotiations.

3. Research the best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA.  On this point, Roberts and Wright emphasize the three-step approach described in the popular book, Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In“brainstorming a list of actions to be taken if there is no agreement; converting the most promising into tangible alternative; and selecting the best alternative.” In particular, Roberts and Wright argue that defenders should spend more time at step two by doing more factual research about the case before negotiating. They quote an earlier, empirical study of plea negotiations by Marty Lieberman as finding that “[d]efense attorneys who interviewed prosecution witnesses and conducted extensive fact investigations would, . . . in a great majority of cases, improve the bargaining position of their clients involved in plea negotiations.” This is, perhaps, the most resource intensive recommendation.

4. Remember anchoring and make the first offer when possible. “Anchoring or focalism is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the ‘anchor’) when making decisions. ” See Anchoring, Wikipedia. Thus, the best negotiators try to set the tone in their favor by being the first to set a value, and making that valuation as favorable as possible. Roberts and Wright concede that defenders are often not in a good position to make the first move, since the prosecutor has charging discretion. Nonetheless, it’s worth keeping this concept in mind.

5. Keep data on past plea negotiations. Roberts and Wright point out that it is hard to evaluate the “going rate” for a situation if—as is common—there is little data maintained regarding plea bargaining. They suggest that offices “might collect data about offers on particular offenses from particular prosecutors to defendants with similar criminal histories.”

h/t Doug Berman @ Sentencing Law and Policy

Prison User Reviews

Wired has an interesting article out this morning entitled “How Inmates and Loved Ones Review Jails on Yelp.” The article explains:

User-review sites have become an unlikely destination for raw, informative accounts of Americans’ everyday interactions with the criminal justice system.

One of the Wayne County Jail’s divisions, the Andrew C. Baird Detention Facility (Division I), for example, has 2.5 stars on Yelp. That’s with three reviews. Some jail reviews, as noted by Wired, are actually pretty informative. Athena K. writes about Baird:

This is one of three adult jails in the area. Wayne County operates the largest jail system in the State of Michigan. In addition to Baird, there is the Old Wayne County Jail and the William Dickerson Detention Facility.

This jail is newer and in some ways, cleaner, than others. But it has many of the problems that are prevelent in other urban jails. As a social worker I occassionally visit detention facilities and, frankly, I’ve seen better. The process for visits is very chaotic and traumatizing to both the inmates and the family members. Staff are rude to visitors, professionals (like myself) who are entering the facility on business, and even to each other.

She even included a picture.

The facility also has 9 reviews, and 2.9 stars, on Google. Those reviews are much less informative.

Another Wayne County Jail division, the William Dickerson Detention Facility, doesn’t appear to be reviewed on Yelp, but has 7 reviews, and 2.9 stars, on Google. These reviews are also less informative and more in the variety of “this place sucks.”

Cook County Jail, which this blog has covered before, has an impressive 53 reviews on Google. But still only 2.9 stars. It has 11 reviews and around 2.5 stars on Yelp. As with the Detroit jails, Cook County Jail’s reviews on Yelp are actually fairly informative and well written.

UPDATE: The Marshall Project also has an article on this topic this morning.

DOJ Says: Search Warrants for Cell-Site Simulators

This week, the Department of Justice issued an important “enhanced policy for use of cell-site simulators” (also known as stingrays, triggerfish, or IMSI catchers). The document essentially admits what many have criticized about the devices—that they “force every cell phone in a region to connect to them; so if a government stingray drives past your office, it will collect the signal of your phone as well as the government’s target.” In the DOJ’s words: “When used to locate a known cellular device, a cell-site simulator initially receives the unique identifying number from multiple devices in the vicinity of the simulator. Once the cell-site simulator identifies the specific cellular device for which it is looking, it will obtain the signaling information relating only to that particular phone. When used to identify an unknown device, the cell-site simulator obtains signaling information from non-target devices in the target’s vicinity for the limited purpose of distinguishing the target device” (emphasis added).

Before the new policy, police routinely disguised use of stingrays by using them under the auspices of a “pen register” order. But scholars argue that these devices are capable of much more than pen registers, which are devices that merely record “numbers called from a particular telephone line.

Under the enhanced guidelines, agents are instructed to obtain a search warrant before using a stingray. On top of that, the search-warrant applications are to disclose certain information about the technology. This includes notifying the judge that the devices can sweep up “unique identifiers” from non-targeted phones and disrupt service to those phones.

The policy further instructs that “cell-site simulators used by the Department must be configured as pen registers, and may not be used to collect the contents of any communication, in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 3127(3).”

Time will tell if this enhanced policy will move the needle on the secretive nature of these devices. As EFF notes, “[u]ntil recently, law enforcement’s use of Stingrays has been shrouded in an inexplicable and indefensible level of secrecy.”

Interactive Tool for Criminal Justice Reform: The Prison Population Forecaster

Check out this interesting new feature produced by the Urban Institute to showcase the potential effect of different types of reforms for decreasing mass incarceration. The Urban Institute explains:

The tool currently uses data from 15 states, representing nearly 40 percent of the national prison population, to forecast population trends and project the impact of changes on rates of admission or lengths of stay in prison.

Using the tool, we can see that in some states, limiting prison admissions to only new crimes and diverting parole and probation revocations will substantially reduce the number of people behind bars. Other states can stem prison growth by tackling how they address drug and property offenses. Still others may discover that modest reductions in time served for violent offenses are necessary.

As promoting this feature in the New York Times, “When President Obama, the Koch Brothers, the American Civil Liberties Union and Newt Gingrich all agree on an issue, you know that something important may be happening.”

   EMBED :: VIEW THE FULL FEATURE

 

Land Banks and Land Banking

My former professor, Frank Alexander, has published the second edition of his excellent guidebook on land banking. According to the Center for Community Progress, the publication “combines research on land banks with practical guidance. It is targeted at practitioners who work with or are exploring the creation of land banks, as well as researchers seeking to understand the role of land banks within the broader fields of land use law, community development, urban policy, and urban planning.”

Additionally, the publication “includes a first-of-its-kind, at-a-glance comparison of existing state land bank statutes that examines the powers, priorities, and structures of land banks across states. The publication also includes a template for state land bank legislation.   At the local level, it features in-depth guidance on creating, structuring, operating, and sustaining a land bank – including sample administrative policies and examples of land banks in Atlanta, Georgia, Genesee County, Michigan, and Cuyahoga County, Ohio.”

You can download the publication here.

Excellent Profile of Cook County Jail as Mental Health Facility

There is an excellent article about Cook County Jail in the Atlantic this week entitled “America’s Largest Mental Hospital Is a Jail.” The article hits on some of the same points I made in this post from 2012 on the propriety of incarceration versus electronic monitoring for pretrial detainees, especially when nonviolent.

A few fascinating facts from the article:

  • Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart recently appointed a clinical psychologist as the executive director of the jail.  She “is currently the only mental health professional in charge of a major jail in the United States.”
  • “A study in 1990 found that 1 in 15 prisoners at Cook County Jail had some form of mental illness. Today, a conservative estimate is 1 in 3.”
  • The article calls the jail’s processing system “unusual, and possibly unique”: “After the normal post-bail intake procedure is complete, inmates file through a series of concrete cubicles staffed by a battalion of employees from the Cook County Health and Hospitals System. About 600 of the county hospital system’s 6,000 employees work at Cook County Jail. If the inmate is eligible, county officials can sign up him or her for CountyCare, a health insurance program for low-income Cook County residents created through the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. The assembly-line layout allows the county to process about 200 applications a day. Over 10,000 inmates have signed up so far.”

New Article on “Eradicating Zombie Mortgages”

Andrea Clark has posted an interesting article on SSRN entitled “Amidst the Walking Dead: Judicial and Nonjudicial Approaches for Eradicating Zombie Mortgages.” A version of the article will be published in an upcoming edition of the Emory Law Journal. Here is the current abstract:

The collapse of the residential housing market in 2007 brought with it a wave of foreclosures. Subprime borrowers, who were once elated by loans they secured from lenders, suddenly found themselves strangled by the predatory terms of their newfound loans and ultimately became unable to pay their outstanding loan balance. Amidst a growing number of residential foreclosures, lenders discovered the financial downside of foreclosing on residential properties – though this realization often surfaced after the foreclosure proceeding had commenced – and began to delay, or halt, foreclosure sales altogether. These purposeful maneuvers by lenders resulted in borrowers’ continued legal liability for a residential property, one which borrowers believed they had lost as a result of the lender’s foreclosure; in other words, a “zombie mortgage.”

This Comment analyzes the different circumstances under which lenders can foster the creation of “zombie mortgages.” Particularly, this Comment focuses on stalled and incomplete residential foreclosure sales and failures to execute the deed of sale, all which serve to maintain legal liability of the mortgaged property on a borrower. Notwithstanding a lender’s right to foreclose on residential property to satisfy the obligations that it is owed under a promissory note, this Comment argues that strategic delays in completing a foreclosure sale entitles courts and legislatures to either (1) force a lender to complete a sale or (2) divest a lender from its right to foreclose and security interest. Though some other solutions for “zombie mortgages” have been proposed, this Comment urges courts and legislatures to look outside criminal sanctions and nuisance abatement actions to develop strategies that target lenders’ security interests. Through judicial intervention to force the completion of the sale, coupled with the creation of maximum statutory time frames for the completion and execution of the sale, lenders would be forced to finish the foreclosure proceeding, or risk losing their security interests in the mortgaged property.

Wired Profile of Cory Booker

Cory BookerLove him, or hate him,  Senator Cory Booker seems to be genuinely interested in promoting a more tech-savvy version of government.

In a new Wired interview,  he talks about his efforts to ask for reforms to Senate procedures, including “streamlining the requirements for email newsletters, letting Senate offices use analytics services to track social media, and adapting the Congressional Record to a more accessible XML format.”

Booker suggests that there should be “an app that alerts you every time legislation that’s important to you is being marked up in committee and when it makes it to the floor for a vote—and what poison pills might be slipped into it.” He also argues that the Senate should adopt cloud-based technology, that the FAA shouldn’t slow down  exploration of drones, and that the patent office needs a better process for cranking through its large backlog of patents.