What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Ten years after her son was shot, she helps other grieving parents. “Before that moment, if anybody told me that my son would become a victim of gun violence, I would have told them they were lying. I was doing everything right. Akeal was a great kid. He never got into trouble.” In the weeks that followed the death of her 14-year-old son, Natasha Christopher felt that New York City police failed to show the sense of emergency that should surround a child homicide. But while city officials didn’t show the concern that Christopher expected, a few strangers did — including Sandra Rougier, who had also lost her son in a shooting. The two women began hosting gatherings for mothers of murdered children in the basement of a church, eventually growing to a group of around 30 that has supported each other through their grief. “We just did anything to stay sane,” Rougier said. “Anything to say, ‘We are still here.’” Read more in Ann Givens’s profile of Christopher.

More internal dissent at the NRA over New York AG case. At least one NRA board director wants to join an attempt by two longtime members to intervene in Letitia James’s lawsuit against the gun group, according to a letter sent to the Manhattan judge hearing the case. The members are critical of NRA leadership and seek reform, but hope to circumvent James’ proposed solutions, including potential dissolution of the organization. Citing conflicts of interest, the members also want the NRA’s outside law firm dismissed from the case. The Trace has written about controversy surrounding firm founder William A. Brewer III. The letter does not identify the director or directors who wish to join with the members, but the judge may look more favorably on the effort if a board director is involved. During the NRA’s recent failed bankruptcy, three directors — Phillip Journey, Rocky Marshall, and Owen Mills — sought to have an outside examiner appointed to investigate the attorney general’s allegations of malfeasance by NRA executives. — Will Van Sant, staff writer

A look at the falling return-to-prison rate. A policy brief from the Council on Criminal Justice looks at recent data on recidivism rates in state prisons from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. The data — which comes at a lag — compared people who left prison in 34 states in 2012 to a similar cohort in 2005. Overall, people released in 2012 were far less likely to return to prison than those from the earlier group. Some other takeaways:

  • Police are rearresting people for weapons offenses at about the same rate: In 2012, weapons charges accounted for 9.4 percent of people who returned to prison, compared to 9.1 percent in 2005.
  • Most rearrests continue to be “public order” crimes: That includes DUIs, weapons violations, and disorderly conducts. Meanwhile, people arrested for violent crimes were rearrested at the lowest rate of any category of crime, at about 28 percent in both 2012 and 2005.
  • Crimes not path dependent: More severe crimes did not correlate with a higher recidivism risk. Meanwhile, there was no obvious connection between people who were imprisoned for violent or nonviolent crimes and the kind of crime they were rearrested for. “Labeling someone as ‘violent’ or ‘non-violent’ is overly simplistic,” the report notes.

Why are fewer people returning to prison? The brief doesn’t offer a definitive answer, but points to federal and state investments in reentry services as one possible reason. 

A violent Labor Day weekend takes a heavy toll — especially on children in Chicago. The long weekend and traditional end of summer — when violence typically spikes — claimed at least eight victims under 18, including a 4-year-old who died after a burst of gunfire hit his home. Holiday weekend gun violence in Chicago claimed at least five other lives and left more than 60 people injured. So far, at least 280 minors have been shot in the city this year, 35 of them fatally.

Data Point

17 — the number of mass shootings in the United States in the first six days of September, including an incident over the weekend in which a former Marine fatally shot four people in Florida. Through Monday, there have been 481 mass shootings this year, putting the country on pace for a year-end total of more than 700 such incidents. [Gun Violence Archive]