Beginning with the new year, New York State will require that its judges admonish prosecutors of their duty to search their files and disclose all evidence that could exonerate defendants promptly before the start of a criminal trial. The goal of the rule, which supplements existing legal obligations, is to educate and remind inexperienced prosecutors of their ethical duties and prevent errors that contribute to wrongful convictions. The order, believed to be the first of its kind in the US, will give judges the power to issue contempt orders against prosecutors who fail to disclose this evidence.
In Stockholm, a mental health ambulance travels to assist citizens in distress. Launched in 2015 as a kind of “therapy on wheels,” the ambulance responds to about 135 emergency calls a month. Inside the ambulance are seats instead of stretchers where patients can sit and talk with caregivers, who then make a determination as to whether further emergency treatment is required. The ambulance has been so successful that other regions of Sweden have taken note and are looking into creating similar programs.
Cremona is one of two dozen Italian cities currently taking part in UrbanWINS, a program financed by the European Commission that helps cities improve their waste prevention and management strategies, promoting a “circular economy” that reduces waste and extends the useful life of resources. As part of the project, Cremona has increased the ease of its organic and inorganic residential recycling programs, provided restaurants with takeout containers to help patrons bring leftovers home, sought ways to encourage its residents to donate rather than discard usable items, introduced recycling and sustainability into school lesson plans, and tested the introduction of a tax on waste. The city is also hosting community discussions on public perceptions of waste management and how it can be improved.
To reduce injuries to pedestrians, New York City has quietly introduced “pedestrian head starts,” retimed walk signals that allow pedestrians to start across the street 7 to 11 seconds before traffic lights turn green for vehicular traffic. The move is part of Vision Zero, the city’s campaign to virtually eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, and unlike more costly safety improvements such as protected pedestrian and bike lanes, can be deployed easily and cheaply. Pedestrian head starts have proliferated ten-fold across New York City since 2014 and are spreading across the country.
San Diego has joined the growing number of municipalities seeking to create opportunities for middle-income earners to obtain housing. Although housing authorities like San Diego's traditionally deal exclusively with low-income housing, those residents just missing the low-income cutoff may still not earn enough to steadily afford non-subsidized, market-rate housing. The four-year pilot program, which will involve providing tax credits for development projects with set asides for those who earn up to 150 percent of the area's gross median income, will not divert funds from low-income housing or reduce the number of units set aside for low-income families.