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Author Topic: Many U.S. stores giving shoplifters choice of punishment — but is it coercion?  (Read 1001 times)
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February 28, 2015, 06:45:19 PM
 #1

http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/27/shoplifting-fines/

Quote
Imagine you’re browsing at Bloomingdale’s when a security guard taps you on the shoulder and accuses you of shoplifting. He takes you to a private room, sits you down, and runs your name through a database to see if you have any outstanding warrants. Then he tells you that you have two options. The first involves him calling the police, who might arrest you and take you to jail. The second allows you to walk out of the store immediately, no questions asked—right after you sign an admission of guilt and agree to pay $320 to take an online course designed to make you never want to steal again.

Which would you choose?
Quote
“There’s no judicial oversight, there are no constitutional protections, there’s no due process,” said Susannah Karlsson, an attorney with the Brooklyn Defender Services, which provides free legal help to people who can’t afford it. “It’s a private company acting as prosecutor, judge, jury, and collector. That’s remarkable.”
Quote
Another lawyer, Steven Wasserman of the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice Special Litigation Unit, said it sounded like CEC was “flirting with the crime of coercion in the second degree”—at least in New York State, where that crime is defined as compelling or inducing “a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from engaging in… by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with,” he or she will be accused of a crime or face criminal charges. In other words, pressuring people into giving up their rights in exchange for $320.

CEC executives emphasized that not one of the 20,000 people who have gone through their program were coerced into doing so. “It’s all voluntary,” Huntsman told me. “If someone started to take the course and paid for it—if they change their mind and they want to get their day in court, we’ll refund their money and put the case back in the retailer’s hands. They’ve got multiple opportunities to step back from this.”
Quote
The CEC course for adults—there’s a separate version for juveniles, who can only enroll in CEC with the consent of a parent or guardian—focuses on helping accused shoplifters develop life skills, so that they are less likely to reoffend in the future, Caffaro said. “There’s a chapter that helps them understand what could have happened if they’d gone through the traditional process. But after that, we give them skills and the ability to actually go out and get a job,” he said. “These people that are getting apprehended typically haven’t been taught the life principles of how to build a resume, how to be presentable in an interview. They haven’t been given the skills to understand what a budget is, never mind how to manage their money. So as they’re going through the course, they build their own resume, they build their own budget, a work-out plan, an eating plan.”
Quote
Helping people is what CEC executives talk about most when asked to describe their mission. “We operate on the premise that some good people make some dumb mistakes,” said Huntsman. “I have yet to talk to a prosecutor or a law enforcement official who would say that, for first-time offenders, the best thing to do is strap them in handcuffs, haul them off to jail, and prosecute them. That’s where they’re going to learn to be a criminal.”

A lot of defense attorneys and criminal-justice reformers would agree with that. But that doesn’t mean they see CEC as the solution. Alexis Karteron, a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union who focuses on civil rights, says the problem with CEC’s model is that retailers make mistakes when identifying shoplifters—and that, as demonstrated during New York’s recent “shop and frisk” scandal, there’s good reason to think people who are wrongly accused tend to be disproportionately minorities.
Quote
Asked whether CEC takes steps to ensure that innocent people aren’t simply agreeing to pay for their courses because they’re too scared to deal with police and prosecutors, Caffaro deflected, saying that CEC has nothing to do with the approach retailers take in identifying suspects.

“We plug into the current policies and procedures of the retailer, meaning the loss prevention agents … are trained by the establishment, when they’re hired, on how to make those stops, and how to go about making those stops in the right way,” he said.

That is not quite good enough when you’re offering suspects a chance to buy their way out of being arrested, said Susannah Karlsson of Brooklyn Defender Services. “What we know for sure is that [security guards] don’t have a 100 percent hit rate” when it comes to correctly identifying shoplifters. “That’s why we have a criminal justice system and that’s why we have defense attorneys,” she said.

Huntsman says he thought about this argument himself when he first started his company. But ultimately he decided that CEC would make the world a better place.

“It’s a win from every angle,” he said. “It’s a win for the offender. It’s a win for the retailer. It’s a win for the criminal justice system. It’s a win for the community. Who loses in this?”

The only problem I have with this, is that people with money can afford to pay a private company in order to avoid criminal prosecution.

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February 28, 2015, 08:25:59 PM
 #2

It is basically large-scale blackmail.
Though in a dysfunctional justice system, doing excessive punishment to non-violent criminals, and the USA in this are worse than the EU, it can be venefitial to a suspect. Though once it is showing profit, you will get more false accusations.

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February 28, 2015, 08:27:32 PM
 #3

if you aren't part of the USMIIC it is clearly unsafe to be on the us soil actually.

money is faster...
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March 01, 2015, 03:03:10 AM
 #4

The only problem I have with this, is that people with money can afford to pay a private company in order to avoid criminal prosecution.

Might save only the rich kleptomaniacs.
If the cost of the course is greater than the value of the goods being stolen, most thieves would stay away.
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March 01, 2015, 07:17:23 PM
 #5

The only problem I have with this, is that people with money can afford to pay a private company in order to avoid criminal prosecution.

Might save only the rich kleptomaniacs.
If the cost of the course is greater than the value of the goods being stolen, most thieves would stay away.

(320$ x number of participants ) - (cost per participant x number of participant) = P or L ? I bet P.

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March 01, 2015, 07:42:22 PM
 #6

This sounds like shoplifters can avoid police by paying $320. I think this method works not because of the course they attend, but because of the cost of the course. Shoplifters are better off buying the stuff they want from the shop, than being pressured to pay $320.
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March 01, 2015, 08:30:07 PM
 #7

http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/27/shoplifting-fines/

Quote
Imagine you’re browsing at Bloomingdale’s when a security guard taps you on the shoulder and accuses you of shoplifting. He takes you to a private room, sits you down, and runs your name through a database to see if you have any outstanding warrants. Then he tells you that you have two options. The first involves him calling the police, who might arrest you and take you to jail. The second allows you to walk out of the store immediately, no questions asked—right after you sign an admission of guilt and agree to pay $320 to take an online course designed to make you never want to steal again.

Which would you choose?
Quote
“There’s no judicial oversight, there are no constitutional protections, there’s no due process,” said Susannah Karlsson, an attorney with the Brooklyn Defender Services, which provides free legal help to people who can’t afford it. “It’s a private company acting as prosecutor, judge, jury, and collector. That’s remarkable.”
Quote
Another lawyer, Steven Wasserman of the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice Special Litigation Unit, said it sounded like CEC was “flirting with the crime of coercion in the second degree”—at least in New York State, where that crime is defined as compelling or inducing “a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from engaging in… by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with,” he or she will be accused of a crime or face criminal charges. In other words, pressuring people into giving up their rights in exchange for $320.

CEC executives emphasized that not one of the 20,000 people who have gone through their program were coerced into doing so. “It’s all voluntary,” Huntsman told me. “If someone started to take the course and paid for it—if they change their mind and they want to get their day in court, we’ll refund their money and put the case back in the retailer’s hands. They’ve got multiple opportunities to step back from this.”
Quote
The CEC course for adults—there’s a separate version for juveniles, who can only enroll in CEC with the consent of a parent or guardian—focuses on helping accused shoplifters develop life skills, so that they are less likely to reoffend in the future, Caffaro said. “There’s a chapter that helps them understand what could have happened if they’d gone through the traditional process. But after that, we give them skills and the ability to actually go out and get a job,” he said. “These people that are getting apprehended typically haven’t been taught the life principles of how to build a resume, how to be presentable in an interview. They haven’t been given the skills to understand what a budget is, never mind how to manage their money. So as they’re going through the course, they build their own resume, they build their own budget, a work-out plan, an eating plan.”
Quote
Helping people is what CEC executives talk about most when asked to describe their mission. “We operate on the premise that some good people make some dumb mistakes,” said Huntsman. “I have yet to talk to a prosecutor or a law enforcement official who would say that, for first-time offenders, the best thing to do is strap them in handcuffs, haul them off to jail, and prosecute them. That’s where they’re going to learn to be a criminal.”

A lot of defense attorneys and criminal-justice reformers would agree with that. But that doesn’t mean they see CEC as the solution. Alexis Karteron, a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union who focuses on civil rights, says the problem with CEC’s model is that retailers make mistakes when identifying shoplifters—and that, as demonstrated during New York’s recent “shop and frisk” scandal, there’s good reason to think people who are wrongly accused tend to be disproportionately minorities.
Quote
Asked whether CEC takes steps to ensure that innocent people aren’t simply agreeing to pay for their courses because they’re too scared to deal with police and prosecutors, Caffaro deflected, saying that CEC has nothing to do with the approach retailers take in identifying suspects.

“We plug into the current policies and procedures of the retailer, meaning the loss prevention agents … are trained by the establishment, when they’re hired, on how to make those stops, and how to go about making those stops in the right way,” he said.

That is not quite good enough when you’re offering suspects a chance to buy their way out of being arrested, said Susannah Karlsson of Brooklyn Defender Services. “What we know for sure is that [security guards] don’t have a 100 percent hit rate” when it comes to correctly identifying shoplifters. “That’s why we have a criminal justice system and that’s why we have defense attorneys,” she said.

Huntsman says he thought about this argument himself when he first started his company. But ultimately he decided that CEC would make the world a better place.

“It’s a win from every angle,” he said. “It’s a win for the offender. It’s a win for the retailer. It’s a win for the criminal justice system. It’s a win for the community. Who loses in this?”

The only problem I have with this, is that people with money can afford to pay a private company in order to avoid criminal prosecution.


If you are not a shoplifter what's wrong with telling them to call the cops and review the video feeds with them? If you are a shoplifter, it might be cheaper to go to jail for a couple of nights anyway. Free food.

 Smiley




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March 01, 2015, 08:30:15 PM
 #8

I know that I was tempted to shoplift as an adolescent and I really had no good reason to shoplift.  Education and caring adults are the key to stopping shoplifters, for the most part.  When people understand the overall outcome and the multiple negative affects of shoplifting then it would be greatly reduced.  People have to understand that thievery is one of the lowest forms of existence and has no place in a sane and safe world.

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March 01, 2015, 11:56:35 PM
 #9


If you are not a shoplifter what's wrong with telling them to call the cops and review the video feeds with them? If you are a shoplifter, it might be cheaper to go to jail for a couple of nights anyway. Free food.

 Smiley

Only the stigma of going to jail, if you are a shoplifter who hasn't been caught yet. Smiley
Might be simpler to just pay up.
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