In Nashville’s youth courts, a true jury of peers

In a classroom at Whites Creek High School, wooden benches have replaced the desks. When the bell chimes, students file into 12 plastic chairs to face a judge.

On a recent morning, the volunteer in the black robe was attorney Yvette Cain.

“Do you solemnly swear or affirm to listen carefully to the evidence presented in arguments presented today, and fulfill your duty to determine a sentence that’s fair to the victim and to the respondent and the community? If so, say ‘I do,’ and you may be seated,” Cain said, sitting below a state seal flanked by the U.S. and Tennessee flags.

“I do,” 12 voices responded.

This is the youth court program at Whites Creek, one of five schools in Nashville that has an arm of the statewide reform and prevention program.

Students at the schools who commit minor crimes can be sent to youth court instead of juvenile court downtown, where they would face a judge and not a jury. In youth courts in Nashville, they face classmates filling the roles of attorneys and jurors.

The rulings of the student jury are real and go on the record.

Not only do the programs take cases off the docket at juvenile court, they also give teens a chance to explore career paths in criminal justice.

Denise Bentley, director of Tennessee’s Youth Court Program, said 17 counties have active youth courts or are starting them. The program is an arm of the Tennessee Bar Association. Davidson County’s courts have been ongoing since 2011.

More than 2,000 Tennessee students participate in the programs statewide each year, and they handle 350 to 400 cases annually, Bentley said.

“According to research, a child who goes to juvenile court for one of these first offenses has an 18 to 40 percent likelihood of coming back on another charge,” Bentley said. “The way I used to talk about it when I was in school security here in Metro Schools was, kids leave the (juvenile) court thinking they’re 10-foot-tall and bulletproof. When they leave here, because these young people have taken the time to really address the situation and the cause of the situation, fewer than 4 percent of kids reoffend after going through youth court.”

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Police: Portland man arrested after trying to meet 10-year-old for sex

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -A man faces a number of sex crime charges after he attempted to meet a 10-year-old girl for sex, police said Friday.

Officers responded to the girl’s home around 3 a.m. Thursday after receiving a report that an acquaintance of the family was sending the girl nude photos of himself.

Police said Michael Bowen, 22, planned to meet the girl at noon near the Springwater Corridor trail and Southeast 82nd Avenue.

When Bowen arrived at the arranged location, police took him into custody.

During their investigation, police said they identified two other underage female victims.

Bowen was booked in the Multnomah County Jail on charges of online corruption in the first degree, luring a minor, attempted sex abuse in the first degree, attempted rape in the first degree and attempted sodomy in the first degree.

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TSA joins the pages of Yelp

SAN DIEGO CA Aug 20 2015— Watch out TSA: You’ll be joining the ranks of beauty salons, taco stands, and other services reviewed on Yelp, and Uncle Sam says it will take the online ratings into account to improve what the government calls “customer satisfaction.”

Under a deal with Yelp, the government will officially recognize the public’s star ratings on its federal agencies, from the Transportation Security Administration to national parks.

Frustrated travelers have already been turning to the popular site for years to vent about long, slow-moving airport security lines and what some have said are intrusive body scans. Now the public will be able to do it in real time, and the government says it will respond to the comments and use the feedback to improve. People can, among other things, rate bathrooms at national parks, review their experiences with the Internal Revenue Service, or assess the efficiency of the local post office.

“In some ways, it augments our democracy,” said Luther Lowe, Yelp’s vice president of public policy. He said the platform could shine the light on both what works and what doesn’t in the federal government — just as it directs people to the yummiest Indian restaurant in town or the best nail salon.

The General Services Administration made the announcement on digitalgov.gov in a page that resembled a typical Yelp page with the title “Best Public Services and Government in Washington D.C.” It said: “Adding customer satisfaction ratings and reviews to public services just got easier now that Yelp offers a terms of service for official government use.”

It touted how the platform “hosts insights from real people giving their honest and personal opinions on everything from restaurants and spas to coffee shops,” and added that with the government joining in under the Yelp umbrella, federal agencies can find new ways to better serve taxpayers.

Lowe said there’s no need for TSA agents or other federal officials to worry: Positive reviews already outweigh negative comments on Yelp for businesses, and he doesn’t expect that will change with people reviewing federal agencies. It’ll still take weeks before it is up and running.

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FBI Hosting Live Twitter Chat to Discuss Sextortion

Sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.

The FBI currently has open sextortion investigations across the country that involve both subjects and victims from around the world. To discuss the crime and highlight a recent case, the FBI is hosting a live Twitter chat Tuesday, July 21, at 2 p.m. EDT. Assistant Director Joseph Campbell of the Bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division will field questions on the FBI’s Twitter account at twitter.com/FBI.


You can follow the conversation and submit questions using the hashtag #AskFBI.

Chats are open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to participate.

- FBI on Twitter
- Submit questions and follow chat
- More information on sextortion

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Va. man allegedly robs bank, posts pictures and videos of heist to Instagram

He swindled them with charm.

A Virginia man who posted footage of himself allegedly holding up a bank on Instagram claims it wasn’t actually a robbery—because he was polite, didn’t wear a mask and filmed the entire incident.

Dominyk Antonio Alfonseca was arrested just 20 minutes after his alleged heist of a TowneBank branch in Virginia Beach on Monday afternoon, reports The Virginian-Pilot.

The 23-year-old allegedly walked into the financial institution, which he told reporters he chose because it was the “fanciest” one around, and handed over a note.

“I need 150,000 Bands Right NOW!! Please Police take 3 to 4 minites to get here, I would appriceate if you Ring the alarm a minute after I am gone … Make sure the money doesn’t BLOW UP ON MY WAY OUT;-) (sic)” it read.

He left with his loot, before bizarrely posting two clips and a photograph online of what he’d allegedly done.

The videos show the teller reading the note, and then pulling out stacks of cash and placing it into a bag. The picture features the demand letter.

Alfonseca filmed the bank teller forking over the cash.

Alfonseca was detained shortly after and charged with robbery.

But he claimed in an interview with WAVY-TV from city jail on Wednesday that what he did wasn’t actually a crime.

He said the fact that he was polite and used “please” in the note, did not wear a mask and recorded the incident meant he was not guilty.

“I’m basically asking permission for money. In my eyes, I did not commit a robbery, and I feel I’m being charged without reason,” he said.

“I posted the video on my Instagram. I videotaped it. If it was a robbery, I don’t think I would videotape it, post the picture of the letter and do that all to come to jail,” he added.

Alfonseca refused to reveal why he’d gone to the bank and demanded he speak directly with the President. He also gave shoutouts to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

“Michelle Obama — high five!” he said during a rambling jailhouse interview with WTKR-TV.

Police have not commented on the Instagram account, which also features amateur rap music videos and other bizarre missives typed up by Alfonseca.

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Snapchat Reveals How Often Law Enforcement Asked for Data

Snapchat is growing up, joining the ranks of its older tech giant predecessors when it comes to openness.

The 4-year-old ephemeral messaging app took a big leap this week by releasing its first ever transparency report and unveiling a sophisticated slate of new security features.

From Nov. 1, 2014, until Feb. 28, 2015, Snapchat said it received 375 requests from law enforcement for information in the United States. The company reported complying with 92 percent of those queries.

The release of the transparency report brings Snapchat in line with common practices used by Google, Facebook and other large technology companies and will be updated bi-annually.

Along with the report, Snapchat announced it would roll out a slate of new initiatives to ensure users’ silly photos and scantily clad selfies remain private and unable to be grabbed by third-party apps.

Among the new features are a bug bounty program that will offer incentives to coders around the world who flag any potential vulnerabilities in the app.

Snapchat also vowed a complete shutdown of third-party apps, many of which have been used unscrupulously by Snapchat users to grab and save photos that friends sent to them with the intention of only showing them for a few seconds.

Snapsaved, a third-party app, was hacked last year, resulting in thousands of private photos and videos being posted online.

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Apple patent envisions tracking people in real time

Apple’s current Find My Friends feature could one day expand into more of a Track My Friends feature.

Granted to Apple on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent called “Sharing location information among devices” describes a procss that would let you view a visual representation of the path taken by another person using a mobile device as a way of following that person’s entire journey.

For example, someone is going for a hike or a trip and wants you to stay informed of his or her whereabouts. That person would enable a feature on a mobile device to allow you to see and track in real time the path being taken on your own mobile device or computer. On the flip side, you could also share your route so the two of you can stay abreast of each other’s ongoing location.

Apple already offers a feature called Find My Friends, which lets you find the specific location of another person via his or her iPhone or iPad. But Find My Friends is geared more toward pointing you to a specific spot, whereas Apple’s patented invention allows for path tracking, or following several points along a specific route.

As described in the patent, your respective devices could also share mapping directions so that you and your friend would be able to easily find each other via your mobile devices. Even further, your devices could tap into a “mirroring” mode that would replicate the view seen on each other’s respective devices.

The system would rely on GPS for navigation purposes but could enable communication between the devices via a cellular network, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Assuming both you and your friend had a sufficient signal, cellular would obviously be the most efficient technology as it would allow for the greatest distance between the two of you.

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Teen killed classmate and uploaded ‘selfie’ with the body to Snapchat

A Pennsylvania teenager has been accused of murdering a classmate and posing with the victim’s body for a “selfie,” according to news reports.

Authorities say 16-year-old Maxwell Marion Morton of Jeannette, Pa., fatally shot 16-year-old Ryan Mangan in the face before taking a photo with Mangan’s body and uploading it to Snapchat, a smartphone application that allows users to send images that are deleted a few seconds after they’re received, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Morton sent the image to a friend, who saved it on his phone before it was deleted, according to Fox News. The friend showed the photo to his mother, who turned the image over to police, according to Fox News.

“[Police] received a copy of the photo which depicted the victim sitting in the chair with a gunshot wound to the face,” a police affidavit states, according to the Tribune-Review. “It also depicts a black male taking the ‘selfie,’ with his face facing the camera and the victim behind the actor. The photo had the name ‘Maxwell’ across the top.”

Police also say the friend received more text messages from Morton, saying: “Told you I cleaned up the shells” and “Ryan was not the last one,” according to CBS Pittsburgh.

Mangan’s body was discovered by his mother, who contacted police, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Police found a photo of Mangan holding a semiautomatic handgun on his phone, the Post-Gazette reported.

Morton, a high school junior and a running back on the school’s football team, confessed to killing Mangan after police found a 9-millimeter handgun hidden in his home, according to the Tribune-Review. He has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder, homicide and illegal possession of a firearm, the Tribune-Review said.

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YouTube: The Tremendous Task of Policing Content

The seemingly impossible challenge YouTube faces to swiftly block all terrorist propaganda and hostage videos was highlighted this week during a meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Speaking to lawmakers, Verity Harding, the public policy manager for Google, which owns the video website, said approximately 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute by users around the world.

That’s 12 and a half days of content every minute.

“To pre-screen those videos before they are uploaded would be like screening a phone call before it’s made,” she said at the meeting, according to the Associated Press.

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Introducing AMBER Alerts on Facebook

Today, we are announcing a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to send AMBER Alerts to the Facebook community to help find missing children.

The new initiative will deliver AMBER Alerts to people’s News Feeds in targeted search areas after a child has been abducted and the National Center has issued an alert.

These alerts, which include photographs and other details about the missing child, are shown on mobile and desktop. People can share the alert with friends and link directly to the National Center’s missing child poster, which always has the most up-to-date information about the case.

For years, people have used Facebook to post news articles about missing children and AMBER Alerts. In several cases, someone saw a post or photo in their News Feed, took action, and a child was safely returned.

In 2014, an 11-year-old girl was safely recovered after a motel owner recognized her from an AMBER Alert that a friend had shared on Facebook. The woman called the police, and the child was found unharmed. It’s amazing word-of-mouth efforts like this that inspired us to develop a more systematic way to help find missing children on Facebook.

We know the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the critical first hours. Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly to the people who are in the best position to help.

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