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  • August 23, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

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    N4N has been surprised by the frequency with which news releases flow from the US Attorney's office in Providence detailing the prosecutions of bank robbers. What is it that motivates these would-be thieves? I asked Te-Ping Chen to find out, and she reports on the subculture of bank robbing in this week's Phoenix:

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  • July 26, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    A new report by the DC-based Sentencing Project fleshes out a point made by the ACLU's Steve Brown in my Papitto story: that bursts of attention about the N-word and similar controversies obscure the broader and more significant impact of discrimination in this country. In particular, racial minorities are disproportionately prosecuted and imprisoned for a variety of crimes:

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  • July 05, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    The ProJo's Ed Fitzpatrick caught up yesterday with the initial fallout of Rhode Island's cost-saving move to try 17-year-olds as adults:

    If he’d been arrested on Saturday, he would have been treated as a juvenile and sent to Family Court and possibly to the state Training School.

    But because he was busted on Sunday — the day Rhode Island began trying 17-year-olds as adults — Johny Joseph went to District Court and was sent to the Adult Correctional Institutions.

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  • June 13, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    As previously reported in the Phoenix, joint patrols between Providence police and the state police are one part of what has helped to reduce violent crime in Rhode Island's capital city. Governor Carcieri, Mayor Cicilline, and Colonels Doherty and Esserman are slated to announce the latest effort this afternoon.

  • June 08, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    We riff, of course, on the famous line, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?," from the 1931 mob classic Little Caesar. For those with the inclination, check out the original Scarface, too.

    Last week, N4N pondered what awaits Big T. Esteemed Culture Vulture Scott Duhamel got into the mix this week, putting forth these possibilties:

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  • June 01, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    There's some poetry in how the return to freedom of Buddy Cianci -- who once refused to take part in a promotion for The Sopranos, because, he said, the show defames Italian-Americans -- is coinciding with the final episodes of the superlative HBO series. The second-to-last installment will air this Sunday, and, as those who have been watching can testify, the show remains top-notch.

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  • May 22, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    A little more than a week ago, Providence had recorded two homicides this year. Now, that number has doubled, to four.

    The way in which the body count can suddenly rise explains why some observers, as I wrote last week, remain guarded in discussing Providence's success in reducing violent crime. Then again, the two latest homicides -- one stemming from a dispute between two men with criminal records and another involving domestic violence -- don't necessarily mean that the city is any less safe.

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  • May 21, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    The Ocean State hasn't had a state-sponsored execution since 1845, when Irish immigrant John Gordon was handed after being convicted of killing industrialist Amasa Sprague.

    On Saturday, June 2, the Cranston Historical Society is slated to hold a six-hour forum about this case, which, as Brian C. Jones recently wrote in the Phoenix, has become shrouded in ambiguity over the years:

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  • May 18, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    Speaking of the Capital City, Providence has enjoyed some impressive success in reducing violent crime, a topic I take up in this week's Phoenix:

    Every year, as summer approaches in US cities, violent crime spikes as predictably as the arrival of Memorial Day cookouts. The bloodshed is well under way in some places, including Boston, which after enjoying remarkable success in reducing violence in the late 1990s, has recorded 20 murders so far this year, after 75 last year, mostly in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

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  • May 01, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    Returning to town from a recent trip, N4N picked up a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer during an airport layover in that city. It was a Saturday edition, not always a newspaper's best effort, and the Inquirer, a great paper not that long ago, seemed dull and uninspired.

    So it was reassuring upon our return to Rhode Island to find another strong run of outstanding in-depth reporting in the Sunday ProJo.

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  • April 06, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    Is there poetry in how the final season of The Sopranos -- a show once panned by Buddy Cianci, because it supposedly reinforces stereotypical depictions of Italian-Americans -- will just precede the former Providence mayor's release from the federal slammer? The last batch of installments begins this Sunday.

    Any way you slice it, The Sopranos, along with The Wire, another HBO production, is great art, far and away one of the best things on television.

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  • March 08, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    If it seems like the state is frittering around the edges of trying to reduce rapidly expanding prison costs, you're not imagining it. Tom Mooney had an insightful story in yesterday's ProJo, showing how the state has long resisted efforts to make greater use of alternative programs.

    Earlier this month a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts said Connecticut, a state which once had one of the fastest-growing prison populations, is now one of only three states projected to buck the national trend of growing inmate populations through this decade.

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  • March 02, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    Governor Carcieri looks less than politically nimble with his abrupt backtracking on the furlough issue. While hitting state workers with a one (or 1.75) percent pay cut may play well with part of the public, the General Assembly seems unlikely to go along, so it may come to nothing other than an empty symbolic stance.

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  • March 02, 2007
    By webteam

    Thomas Hodgson, the sheriff of Bristol County in neighboring Massachusetts, first came to the attention of many Rhode Islanders when he introduced a "chain gang" program in 1999. Hodgson, who likens his approach to "tough love" for criminals, has remained controversial; an ongoing class action suit has, for now, stopped him from imposing charges on inmates for various "bed and board" expenses.

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  • February 26, 2007
    By Ian Donnis

    The New England mob is a pale imitation of its former self, as we know from recent reports by the ProJo's Bill Malinowski and WPRI's Tim White. Public interest in organized crime seems to remain high, though, so curious observers might want to check out Bringing Down The Mob, which received a positive review in yesterday's New York Times Book Review.

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