Archive | Justice

Murder Costs Society — About $17 Million

AMES, Iowa, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Murder has a human cost, of course, but U.S. sociologists say there’s a financial cost as well — about $17 million per murder.

Researchers at Iowa State University calculated the costs of five crimes — murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault and burglary — in terms of the victim costs, criminal justice system costs, lost productivity estimates for both the victim and the criminal, and estimates on the public’s resulting willingness to pay to prevent future violence, a university release says.

They calculated the societal cost of rape ($448,532), armed robbery ($335,733), aggravated assault ($145,379) and burglary ($41,288).

While research attaching cost estimates to heinous crimes may appear a bit cold in nature, one researcher says it’s actually conducted with prevention in mind.

“This area of research has really been run with prevention researchers,” Matt DeLisi, an ISU associate professor of sociology and director of the criminal justice program, said. “That’s because what they find is that even if a prevention program is very expensive — and most of them are actually shockingly inexpensive — they’re still more cost effective than allowing these careers to unfold.”

The study was published in the August 2010 edition of The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology.

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Homeless Youth Most Vulnerable to Crime

TORONTO, Sept. 30 (UPI) — Homeless young people are the victims of crime at rates that would be considered unacceptable for any other groups, Canadian researchers say.

Researchers at York University in Toronto and University of Guelph suggest youth homelessness needs to be addressed with a balanced response rather than reliance on emergency services. They say transitional support is needed to help move young people out of homelessness.

“The very people we are taught to fear are the ones who are most at risk,” Stephen Gaetz of York University says in a statement. “More than 76 percent of the homeless youth we surveyed said they had been victims of violent crime in the past year and almost three-quarters of them reported multiple incidents.”

In contrast, Gaetz says, the Canadian General Social Survey reports about 40 percent of general population young people reported being crime victims in the previous year.

Gaetz and colleagues interviewed 244 homeless youths in Toronto. Their report was commissioned by Justice for Children and Youth, a non-profit clinic that provides legal advice and support to homeless youth in Toronto.

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Losing Your Religion May Be Unhealthy

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Sept. 28 (UPI) — Forty percent of members of strict religious groups say they are healthy, but that drops to 20 percent if they leave the religion, U.S. researchers suggest.

Christopher Scheitle, senior research assistant at Pennsylvania State University, says, in addition, 25 percent of members in strict religious groups who switched to another religion reported they were in excellent health.

The study also indicates people who were raised and remained in strict religious groups were more likely to report they were in better health than people affiliated with other religious groups. Scheitle, working with Amy Adamczyk, assistant professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and City University of New York, defined strict religions, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses — both with strict social, moral and physical guidelines for members that include abstaining from unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use.

These religions also create both formal and informal social support structures. These social bonds may be another factor for better health, the researchers say,

“The social solidarity and social support could have psychological benefits,” Scheitle said in a statement. “That could then lead to certain health benefits.”

Therefore, exiting the religious group may be stressful because people lose their social support network, the study says.

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EPA Marks 40 Years of Clean Air Act

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is marking its 40th year by highlighting progress made under the four decades of the Clean Air Act, officials said.

Those who have helped to shape the CAA over the years, including members of Congress, state and local government officials, and leaders in public health, business and technology, environmental justice and advocacy gathered for a conference in Washington to mark the occasion, an EPA release said Tuesday.

“For 40 years the Clean Air Act has protected our health and our environment, saving lives and sparking new innovations to make our economy cleaner and stronger,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said.

“The common sense application of the act has made it one of the most cost-effective things the American people have done for themselves in the last half century,” she told the conference.

The first 20 years of Clean Air Act programs, from 1970 to 1990, prevented 205,000 premature deaths, 672,000 cases of chronic bronchitis, 21,000 cases of heart disease and 843,000 asthma attacks, an EPA analysis said.

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U.S. Chemical Company Settles DOJ Suit

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) — The U.S. Justice Department has announced fines and penalties in a case concluded under the National Enforcement Initiative for Mining and Mineral Processing.

The department and the Environmental Protection Agency say CF Industries Inc. has agreed to spend about $12 million to reduce and properly manage hazardous wastes generated at its Plant City, Fla., phosphoric acid and ammoniated fertilizer manufacturing facility, an EPA release said Friday.

This is the first case concluded under EPA’s Mining and Mineral Processing enforcement initiative, the agency said.

“Mismanagement of hazardous waste from mining and mineral processing is a serious matter,” assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno said. “The companies targeted in the National Enforcement Initiative for Mining and Mineral Processing cannot proceed with business as usual.”

Between December 2004 and January 2005, inspectors from the EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection discovered CF Industries was treating, storing and disposing of hazardous wastes at the Florida facility without a permit and failing to meet land disposal restrictions.

The settlement resolves the company’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act violations and requires the company to pay a civil penalty of more than $700,000, the EPA said.

CF Industries also has agreed to guarantee $163.5 million to fund all closure and long-term care obligations after the facility’s useful life ends.

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Salad Maker Accused of Filth, Listeria

NEW YORK, Aug. 3 (UPI) — U.S. Department of Justice officials say they have filed for a permanent injunction against NY Gourmet Salads Inc., a processor of ready-to-eat deli salads.

The complaint against NY Gourmet Salads and Leonard F. Spada, the company president, alleges the defendants violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by introducing food that was prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary conditions that may have become contaminated with filth.

The company promised to address and correct deficiencies following inspections in 2006, 2007 and 2009. The most recent FDA inspection in March confirmed the company continued to operate without adequate controls, U.S. attorneys say.

Last April, NY Gourmet Salads recalled 60 pounds of its 5-pound tubs of Chick Pea Salad because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes — a food borne pathogen that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.

The complaint notes that recent FDA testing found Listeria monocytogenes throughout the defendants’ facility and in a sample of finished product, and that the strain of Listeria found in a sample of the defendants’ chickpea salad in 2010 was indistinguishable from the strain of Listeria found in the defendants’ facility during a 2009 inspection — indicating the Listeria had likely formed a lasting presence in the defendants’ facility, court papers say.

The products, which include ready-to-eat deli salads, seafood salads and cream cheeses, are sold in New York and New Jersey, and an airline caterer in Jamaica, N.Y.

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Brazilian Group Sues over Shark Killings

BRASILIA, Brazil, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Asia’s insatiable demand for shark fin soup has led to the illegal killing of nearly 300,000 sharks off Brazil, an environmental group alleges.

The Environmental Justice Institute in Brazil has accused a seafood exporter, Siglo do Brasil Comercio, of illegally killing sharks and is suing for what it calls massive damage to the marine ecosystem, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The group is suing the company for $790 million in damages for its alleged sale of 290,000 sharks since 2009.

Many of the sharks were thrown back into the sea after their fins were taken for clandestine export, the group charges.

“As we can’t put a value on life, we have calculated the impact on the ecosystem,” group director Cristiano Pacheco said.

“We think the shark fins were exported clandestinely, in containers, likely from the ports of Rio Grande do Sul to the Asian market,” he said.

It is illegal to separate shark fins from carcasses in Brazil, but the high value placed by Asian diners on the fins has encouraged the illicit practice, the BBC said.

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Jails Are Top Mental Health Institutions

LOS ANGELES, July 12 (UPI) — New York’s Riker’s Island, Chicago’s Cook County Jail and the Los Angeles County Jail are the largest mental health institutions in the nation, a study found.

Members of the International Association for Forensic and Correctional Psychology say 15 percent of the inmates of those three jails are mentally ill, making penal institutions — not hospitals — the three largest U.S. mental health institutions.

The association charged a committee to revise their psychological standards for jails, prisons, correctional facilities and agencies, which were first published in 1980.

Committee members say the revised standards, published in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior, will benefit institutional security and help integrate former inmates back into the community, and may reduce litigation due to inadequate correctional mental health services.

“Offenders, mentally ill or not, entrusted to the custody of correctional facilities and agencies, benefit in a number of ways from the highest quality of rehabilitative and mental health services,” committee chair Richard Althouse says in a statement.

Althouse and colleagues hope the revised standards, which include organizational policies and ethical principles to govern areas such as intake, staffing, suicide prevention and intervention, keeping records and research will guide administrators and clinicians in providing optimal mental health services.

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White House Orders Pathogen Policy Changes

WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) — The White House says President Obama has ordered fundamental changes in the way hazardous pathogens and toxins in the United States are secured against misuse.

Research on Biological Select Agents and Toxins is critical for the development of tools to detect, diagnose, recognize and respond to outbreaks of infectious disease of both natural and deliberate origin, the White House said Friday.

The expansion in the last 10 years of the infrastructure and resources dedicated to BSAT work, coupled with the discovery that the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks may have been a U.S. government employee, underlines the need to ensure BSAT are properly secured against possible misuse or attempts to harm people, animals, plants, or the environment, administration officials said.

Under Obama’s executive order, federal activities for securing BSAT will be consolidated under revised regulations jointly overseen by the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture with support from the Department of Justice and the FBI.

The order, issued after an administration-led review of federal policies and procedures associated with the security of BSAT, calls for “significant improvements in the structure, coordination, and oversight of these activities across the Federal government.”

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NIH Unveils New Opioid Drug Abuse Therapy

ALBUQUERQUE, April 22 (UPI) — The National Institute on Drug Abuse says it has created a treatment program designed to help young adults who are addicted to opioid drugs.

The program was announced Thursday in Albuquerque during a two-day NIH conference designed to bring together the latest drug addiction research findings so they can be immediately applied to the needs of patients and their families.

The new treatment product, Buprenorphine Treatment for Young Adults, is based on research that suggests young adults given longer term treatment with the medication buprenorphine were less likely to use drugs and more likely to stay in treatment, compared to those who received short-term detoxification without follow-up medication.

“Buprenorphine (which helps relieve drug cravings) had been proven effective with adults but, until recently, evidence was lacking that its anti-addiction properties would work in this important group of younger patients,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the NIDA director, said. “The new product includes a three-hour training package that examines opioid use among young adults and looks at research results showing the effectiveness of buprenorphine for this age group.”

The NIH said its Albuquerque conference is being attended by more than 1,300 addiction treatment specialists, healthcare providers, criminal justice professionals, researchers and policymakers.

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