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National Prison Population Declined in 2011: Statisticians E. Ann Carson and William J. Sabol of the Bureau of Justice Statistics report prison populations in 26 states declined in 2011. The largest decline of 15,493 inmates occurred in California due to Governor Jerry Brown's "Public Safety" Realignment (AB109). The policy accounted for 72 percent of the national prison population decline of 21,614. This decline, offset by 6,591 new prisons entering the system, resulted in 15,023 fewer prisoners incarcerated in the U.S. in 2011 overall. In Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, the prison populations declined by about 1,000 convicts last year.

Oakland Officials Hire Consultants After Violent Crimes Surge: Terry Collins of the Associated Press reports Oakland city officials announced Thursday they hired Bill Bratton to help with developing strategies to reduce murders and violent crime in the city. In 2012, Oakland homicides increased to 127 from 110 the previous year. Violent crime increased 23 percent in the same time period.  Bratton was the former Los Angeles police chief from 2002 to 2009, and New York City police commissioner from 1994 to 1996. He is an expert in fighting gang violence, reducing violent crime, and strengthening police-community relations. Joining Bratton is police strategist Bob Wasserman, who heads the Strategic Policy Partnership based out of Boston. Wasserman is already reviewing the entire Oakland Police Department. Bratton will join him early 2013.  

CT Geneticists to Study School Shooter DNA: Shushannah Walshe of ABC News reports University of Connecticut geneticists will be studying the DNA of school shooter Adam Lanza. The geneticists were approached by Connecticut Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver. They will be looking for mutations or abnormalities that could be linked to violent behavior and aggression. This is the first time a DNA study has been done on a mass killer.

NYC Homicides at Record Low in 2012: The Associated Press reports New York City anticipates a record-low number of homicides for 2012. Homicides in the city declined 19 percent from last year. There were 414 homicides in 2012, compared to the previous record low of 471 in 2009. Shootings have also declined by 8 percent. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly give credit to the stop and frisk tactic adopted by the city in the mid-1990s. According to Kelly, the stops take about 8,000 weapons, 800 of which were illegal, off the streets annually. While 237 of the homicides in 2012 were shooting deaths, the number declined 20 percent from 2011. The police commissioner said, "We're preventing crimes before someone is killed and before someone else has to go to prison for murder or other serious crimes."

Chicago Homicides Spike: Jeremy Gorner and Peter Nickeas of the Chicago Tribune report Thursday's shooting brought Chicago's annual death toll to 500, the highest since 2008. Homicides in Chicago are up 17 percent in 2012. Shootings are up 11 percent. Within the first three months of the year, homicides in the city were already up 60 percent compared to 2011.

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