Newsroom Archive


Ferguson Leads The Crime Report’s Top News Stories of 2014

The killing of Michael Brown Jr., and a grand jury’s failure to indict the police officer who shot him, ignited a national debate about systemic racism in America’s justice system

New York, NY — The readers of The Crime Report, who include many of the country’s most influential criminal justice specialists, have chosen as the top story of the year the movement ignited by the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown Jr., an African American, at the hands of Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.—and the subsequent grand jury decision not to indict the officer.

"Ferguson represents both a tragedy and an opportunity," said TCR's Executive Editor Stephen Handelman, who announced the results of the fourth annual readers survey today.

Handelman, who is also director of John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice, noted it was no coincidence that, like the other top criminal justice stories of 2014 chosen by readers, it "underscores a growing national awareness of the need to confront the long-festering issues of fairness and equity that have overshadowed our principal institutions of justice."

Next week, The Crime Report will announce its selection of the top criminal justice newsmaker in 2014.

The “Top 10” stories highlighted by readers represented a cross-section of national criminal justice issues that came to the fore during 2014. They are listed below in the order of priority, based on readers’ votes.

  • California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 47, a proposal to reduce the classification of most non-serious and nonviolent property and drug crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed a series of groundbreaking efforts aimed at putting an end to some of the draconian treatment of drug offenders that has characterized our long-running (and largely unsuccessful) “War on Drugs.”
  • A panel convened by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences unveiled its long awaited report on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration.
  • Manhattan United States attorney Preet Bharara made headlines around the country with a report on the treatment of juvenile offenders at New York City’s Rikers Island facility, the nation’s largest jail. The report accused jail authorities of fostering a “deep-seated culture” of violence against the young people.
  • The bipartisan dynamic of criminal justice reform received a boost when Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY) and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) teamed up to introduce the REDEEM Act, which is aimed at removing the barriers in many states to the reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • The federal government’s announcement that 55 universities and colleges were under Title IX investigation for their failure to adequately handle allegations of campus sexual assault and harassment helped put this long-ignored issue on the national radar.
  • , President Obama announced a Task Force on 21st Century Policing aimed at improving community-police relations and addressing the growing “militarization” of U.S. law enforcement.
  • When a triple-drug “cocktail” given to convicted murderer and rapist Clayton Lockett left him writhing and groaning for 43 minutes before he finally died, it ignited a new debate about “cruel and unusual” punishment.

About The Crime Report: The Crime Report (TCR) is the nation’s most experienced news service covering the diverse challenges and issues of 21st century criminal justice in the U.S. and abroad. Staffed by working journalists in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, it is published daily through the year by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York TCR’s prizewinning coverage includes investigative reports by the some of the nation’s most accomplished reporters; analysis, blogs and commentary by leading criminologists, practitioners, law enforcement/corrections professionals, and legal experts; reports on new and cutting-edge research; and daily summaries of the most important criminal justice news, issues and developments covered by the national and international press.