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Debra Erdley reports in the Sunday, August 23, 2009 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that while “tough on crime” laws have served to increase prison populations, there has been no corresponding decrease in the crime rate. According to State Senator Stewart Greenleaf, the harsh penalties he and fellow legislators enacted served to punish non-violent offenders more severely, but statistics indicate that crime in Pennsylvania has not decreased. As a result of mandatory sentences for drug offenders and other harsh sentencing schemes, roughly half of Pennsylvania’s prison population consists of “non-violent offenders and mentally ill inmates.”

The article also points out that the general public holds an overly simplistic view of crime and punishment and are too easily swayed by the belief that incarceration is the ideal solution to crime problems.

For more information, go to:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/s_639625.html#

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a 911 operator incorrectly noted that there were no weapons in the home where three City of Pittsburgh police officers were killed on Saturday, April 4th. According to the report, Margaret Poplawski told the 911 operator that her son had guns in the home. However, the operator noted that there were no weapons in the home.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09097/961068-53.stm?cmpid=news.xml

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On Thursday, April 2nd, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas issued an order limiting the number of postponements granted in the Criminal Division. According to the order, the district attorney and defense counsel will only permitted to request one postponement the day of trial.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09094/960570-85.stm

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In 2006, Pittsburgh Police Officer Brian Elledge cited David Hackbart with disorderly conduct for displaying his middle finger to Elledge and an unnamed motorist. After Hackbart filed suit in federal court, U.S. District Court Judge David Cercone ruled that displaying one’s middle finger is protected speech under the First Amendment and is therefore not a proper basis for a disorderly conduct citation.

For more information, go to:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_617562.html

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In a move that will save Butler County, Pennsylvania over $20,000 per year, inmates in the Butler County Jail will receive access to LexisNexis. The computerized legal research system will allow the county meet its legal obligation to provide access to legal research to prisoners.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09063/953113-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

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**UPDATED 3/09/2009**

For years, opponents of the death penalty have challenged the practice by arguing that it is immoral, racist, and barbaric. In the current economic climate, an economic argument may be the winning one.

Currently, Kansas, New Mexico, and Colorado have legislation pending that would abolish the death penalty. Proponents argue that the money saved by abolishing the death penalty could be allocated to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to help fight crime.

For more information, go to:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/03/02/economy.death.penalty/index.html?eref=rss_crime

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29552692/

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The Pittsburgh Police have issued a warning that anyone found residing in a foreclosed home will be charged with an offense ranging from trespassing to burglary (Burglary is a felony-level offense in Pennsylvania).

For more information, go to:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,498669,00.html

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The Pittsburgh Police released a report showing the number of citations and arrests resulting from the post-Super Bowl festivities in the City of Pittsburgh. The report shows that 50 citations were issued in Oakland while 8 were issued on the South Side; and 6 people were arrested in Oakland while 4 were arrested on the South Side. Those given citations or arrested were charged with Failure to Disperse, Arson, Domestic Violence, DUI, Drug Charges, Propulsion of Missiles, Escape, Assault, Aggravated Assault, Risking a Catastrophe, and Disorderly Conduct. Those given citations and arrested will face charges in the Pittsburgh Municipal Court in the upcoming weeks.

For more information, go to:

http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/18623608/detail.html

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The Pittsburgh Police plan to have 500 officers on duty on Sunday night. A police spokesperson stated that the show of force is in the interest of public safety.

For more information, go to:

http://www.wpxi.com/sports/18606760/detail.html

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The Blair County Commission will be voting on a proposal to give Westlaw access to its inmates. Westlaw is an online legal research tool that the prison warden hopes will reduce the cost of providing legal materials to inmates.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08333/931377-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

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