The word drone may conjure up images of remote-controlled planes firing missiles and killing terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But in the US, police departments are seeking the same technology to save lives.
Alameda County’s sheriff has expressed interest in adding the unmanned aerial system to his public safety arsenal, but civil liberty activists are blasting the idea as a further erosion of privacy and an abuse of power.
In California, last week’s vote was in many ways a referendum on our criminal justice system. Voters rejected Proposition 34, and so the state’s death penalty will remain in place. But Californians also amended the so-called three strikes law, so that nonviolent offenders are less likely to spend their whole lives in prison. That second vote suggests that voters may be starting to think more about rehabilitation than punishment.
Book lending and community gardening continues in front of an abandoned library in Oakland’s San Antonio district despite a police raid earlier this month. The historic building, a gift from Andrew Carnegie to the city back in 1918, was a branch library until 1976. Two other ventures have come and gone, but the building’s been vacant since 2001. The city says it’s not safe to use.
The blighted property has since attracted drug use, prostitution, and violence. So when activists moved in to reclaim it, local residents enthusiastically joined the effort.