American Crime in the post-information age: Brown v. Plata, photographs, Facebook, blogs, twitter..

After the recent 5-4 SCOTUS ruling in Brown v. Plata et al, which allowed for partial release of prisoners in the overcrowded California prisons as the overcrowding was itself a violation of the prisoners’ constitutional rights. The dissenting Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts (Chief Justice) called this ruling radical and hoped this would not affect the crime rates in the country.

The reactions to this judgment have been largely scathing and critical. Some suggesting Californians should start considering extra protection for their houses.

In stark contrast to this new findings depict that crime rates in America have gone down due to higher rates of incarceration. Over the past couple of decades experts have generally been baffled about the exact causes of reduction in crime rates.

Does that mean the U.S. should consider more prisons to keep the streets safe, in the light of the Brown v. Plata ruling?

One should also note the increased use of technology, photographs, social networking accounts to substantiate or begin investigations in criminal activities of Americans.

The SCOTUS did not hesitate to append photographs in its ruling to show the horrific conditions in which prisoners are kept at the state prisons. This lent fuel to some of longstanding arguments about televization of court proceedings.

While, elsewhere Facebook status messages led to the arrest of bank robbery suspects in Texas, in addition to various previous arrests and convictions due to tweets and blogs.

A post-information crime-free country indeed?!

M.B.Z. v. Clinton, foreign policy matter before the SCOTUS

At the SCOTUS, an interesting foreign policy matter was admitted as a petition of Certiorari.

The matter relates to the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, something that has been a cause for much debate at the US Senate. For many years now, Senators have tried to push for a law which officially recognizes Jerusalem as a capital of Israel, something that the President of the US has the authority to decide on. And till date, there is no official recognition that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel, according to its choosing. This status of Israel has also been very controversial throughout history. In fact, the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011, which would officially recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is still pending at the US Senate.

Coming back to the issue before the Supreme Court of the US, the dispute is relating to the separation of powers between Executive (President) and the Legislative (Congress) branches of the US with regard to matters of foreign policy. The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is allowed in birth certificates of US citizens when they foreign born individuals. However, a presidential direction permitted only Israel to be recognized as a place of birth if they were born in Jerusalem. Therefore, the bone of contention is with regard to the “political question doctrine” which is against a direction of a federal legislation and whether this can be enforced by a court of law adversely to a political decision.

See SCOTUS Blog for the documents and this matter will be heard by the Court in the next term and the Washington Post article on the same.

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