Thursday, March 31, 2005

Criminals Upset Over Being In Prison (Tearjerker)

From the "Call The Waahhhmbulance" file (and the Post-Gazette) comes this Supreme Court story.


WASHINGTON -- Ohio's Attorney General Jim Petro yesterday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse two lower federal courts and uphold his state's procedures for transferring prisoners to a "super-maximum-security" prison, where they endure long periods of solitary confinement and little opportunity for exercise.

Calling the decision to move prisoners to the 500-bed Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown a decision that reflects both their past misconduct and future dangerousness, Petro said: "The government needs to have the capacity and ability to make the best possible decision in light of all possible factors."

But University of Pittsburgh law professor Jules Lobel, representing a group of Ohio inmates, told the justices that the state's revised procedures for approving transfers to the "supermax" facility give prisoners only vague notice of why they are being subjected to as many as three years in solitary confinement -- such as a suspicion that the inmate is a gang leader.

Lobel summarized the explanation given to prisoners in the past as: "I'm putting you in there, and I'm not giving you a reason." Under the Constitution's guarantee of due process, he said, a prisoner is entitled to a summary of the reasons for his transfer that is "detailed enough for him to reply."

Lobel asked the court to affirm a ruling by 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati requiring the Ohio prison system to provide a prisoner with written notice of the reason for a transfer to "supermax"; to allow the prisoner to call witnesses at a transfer hearing; and to advise the prisoner of what he must do to be returned to the general population.

In a hearing in which both justices and lawyers struggled to distinguish between different versions of Ohio's rules -- both of which have been shelved by lower federal courts -- a majority of the court seemed inclined to give the state the benefit of the doubt.

When Lobel suggested that prisoners were given only a vague explanation of why they were reclassified as maximum-security inmates, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor protested: "I mean, this is a prison classification, for goodness' sake!"

Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the court had to choose between two views of a 6th Circuit decision finding fault with Ohio's transfer policy, which was revised during litigation. Either the lower-court decision was a "remedy" for abuses under the Ohio prison system's earlier transfer policy, or it was a forward-looking judgment regarding the language of the revised policy. Justice Stephen Breyer seemed inclined to take the latter view.

Noting that the revised policy did provide inmates with some explanation for their transfer, Breyer asked Lobel why the court shouldn't uphold the revised policy against the inmates' challenge and consider future claims of unfairness on a case-by-case basis.



Gee, so I guess being in prison kind of sucks now... Isn't that a shame? Doesn't your heart just totally go out to these crooks for having to endure a hard stint in a Supermax facility? How are they supposed to illegally traffic drugs, rape other inmates, and conduct gang business?! It's not fair. I wish somebody would stand up for the right of these criminals to have a positive and fulfilling prison experience and not be separated from their gangs and drugs. If only Johnny Cochran were alive, he'd do the right thing and help out these poor, defenseless, and personable criminals...

I need a tissue....

Funny Story

From the fellows over at CrimProf Blog:

A man in Australia who was trying out his new high speed internet connection randomly came across a webcam posted outdoors in England, and just happened to catch a robbery in progress at that moment. He called the police in England and tipped them off, and the police made the bust. Story . . . [Mark Godsey]

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Road Trip!!!!

From the folks at CrimProf Blog:

Brian Kalt of Michigan State has posted The Perfect Crime, forthcoming in the Georgetown Law Journal, on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

This article argues that there is a 50-square-mile swath of Idaho in which one can commit felonies with impunity. This is because of the intersection of a poorly drafted statute with a clear but neglected constitutional provision: the Sixth Amendment's Vicinage Clause. Although lesser criminal charges and civil liability still loom, the remaining possibility of criminals going free over a needless technical failure by Congress is difficult to stomach. No criminal defendant has ever broached the subject, let alone faced the numerous (though unconvincing) counterarguments. This shows that vicinage is not taken seriously by lawyers or judges. Still, Congress should close the Idaho loophole, not pretend it does not exist. To obtain the paper, click here. [Mark Godsey]


Ruh roh. Unless you want to commit felonies, I suggest you not hang out in that swath for too long. I picture a dusty "Old West" town where anything goes. Can you imagine what people would do if they knew you could commit all the felonies you wanted? I would probably walk around with a "shobi-zue" because that is a cool felony that doesn't hurt anyone.

A Story about Attitude

I want to tell you story. Last night I was at the Academy and one of our instructors told us this. He said that one day he was visiting a California Youth Authority facility (like State Prison for people under 25). He was talking to some of the kids there and got to talking with one in particular. He was 15 years old and he was on his 8th stint at the CYA. The kid then started talking about all the times he had the opportunity to kill a cop. Many times he was armed and ready in the back seat while the officer was talking to the driver. He had the ability to take that officer's life at any time. Other kids began to pipe in with similar stories.

Our instructor asked them why they never took the shot. The kid said that it was because that cop treated them with respect. He didn't hassle them, talk down to them, or insult them. He was professional and courteous and he'll never know it, but that allowed him to go home to his family that night. Stories like this really make you think about how you handle yourself out there (or if you're like me, how you plan to handle yourself).

Sometimes a situation will call for an intense and aggressive response right away. But many times, I think we can diffuse potentially deadly scenarios with an easy-going and respectful manner. Believe me, I doubt anyone hates teenagers more than I do, but you can bet that if I ever stop a car full of them, I'm going to be quite willing to be the nice cop now (at least until I get the driver out of the car and on to the curb away from his loser thug friends. Then if he wants to rumble, it's on like Donkey Kong).

So, this is just a little food for thought. Sometimes the way you behave will have consequences that you may never even know about until it's too late.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Be careful if you use Vonage...

From CrimProf Blog:

The State of Texas has sued the internet phone company Vonage after a customer was unable to reach 911 during an home invasion robbery. Vonage requires separate sign-up for 911 services; Texas alleges that this was not made clear when the services are sold. [Jack Chin]


So, if you use Vonage Internet phones, make sure you get signed up for emergency services.

Who came up with this idea?

You just have to laugh a little at this one:


NORWICH, N.Y. -- A man and a teenager have been charged with forcibly tattooing an obscenity on the forehead of a 17-year-old boy, police said Monday.

Norwich Police Officer Craig Berry declined to describe the tattoo, except to say it was a phrase.

"It's just ludicrous that someone would do something like this to another person," Berry said.

Kenneth D. Peer, 23, of South New Berlin and a 17-year-old boy from Earlville were charged with felony assault and unlawful imprisonment. Police were withholding the name of the 17-year-old, who was charged as a youthful offender, Berry said.

The pair were being held in the Chenango County jail on $25,000 bail. They were to
return to court Wednesday. The victim _ whose name also was withheld by police _ walked into the Norwich police station Friday to file a complaint against his attackers. The victim told officers he had been held down by a man and another teen at a Norwich residence while they forcibly tattooed the vulgarity.

Police have not established a motive for the attack, Berry said. Police, however, said the three were acquaintances and that the incident was not a hate crime.

Berry said the attackers used a homemade tattooing instrument. Berry said it was likely the victim would require plastic surgery or a laser process to remove the ink.


Here's my only question: Have the elements for mayhem been met since the kid was forcibly disfigured?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Who kept the pizza?

Great story out of Boston:

BOSTON (AP) -- A Boston police officer turned pizza deliveryman and nabbed two would-be robbers last night.

It all started when the owner of a Roxbury pizza shop told police he had just received an order from an apartment where his deliveryman had been robbed the week before. So, according to police, an undercover officer decided to pose as a deliveryman and see what happened when he arrived with the pizza. A number of other officers were sent to wait outside.

Police said the "deliveryman" rang the doorbell and announced "pizza" several times. When the door opened and he stepped into the foyer of the apartment, he saw two people dressed in black, wearing masks and holding knives. The officer revealed his true identity and arrested the suspects with the help of other officers who rushed in. The suspects, both juveniles, were expected to be arraigned today.

I have to say, the idea was creative and brave. Knowingly posing as someone likely to get robbed is a dangerous thing. But, they were thinking outside the box and it worked. Three cheers for creativity!

Friday, March 25, 2005

From the "What a moron!" Department

What is wrong with 23 year olds these days?

NEWARK, N.J. -- A Texas woman who admitted she started the six-hour standoff between police and purported hostage-takers in New Brunswick earlier this week by phoning in a fake emergency call was arrested Thursday and charged with conspiracy and other offenses.

Fatin A. Ward, 23, of Arlington, Texas, told The Associated Press Thursday morning she was playing a telephone game called "bombing" in which people make bogus emergency calls and then see how many law enforcement officers respond. Her mother said Ward has a history of mental illness and has been refusing to take medication.

"I didn't mean to cause any trouble," Ward said in a telephone interview Thursday morning. "It got out of control." The Middlesex County prosecutor's office signed criminal complaints Thursday afternoon against Ward and an alleged accomplice, Wadu Jackson, 20, of Irvington, charging them with conspiracy, initiating a false public alarm, and making a fictitious report to police. Ward was arrested at her home at about noon, said Christy Gilfour, spokeswoman for Arlington, Texas, police. A registered sex offender in Texas, she had been charged in Arlington on Feb. 18 with failing to notify police of her new address.

A month later, after the Union, N.J. police department said Ward was making prank calls to them, Texas authorities moved to revoke her bail because she was continuing to commit crimes, Gilfour said. It was that bond revocation order on which she was arrested Thursday. The Middlesex prosecutor's office asked police in Arlington, Texas, to extradite Ward to New Jersey. Jackson was still being sought in New Jersey on Thursday afternoon.

Ward declined to say exactly what she told police to spark Tuesday's standoff. She told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Thursday's newspapers that she told police she had been handcuffed to a bed, raped and was being held hostage in an apartment. That prompted police to cordon off a neighborhood more than 1,500 miles away.

The standoff ended when three teenagers who were in a third-floor apartment walked out of the house. The teens were taken into custody and then released. Middlesex County First Assistant Prosecutor William Lamb said Thursday that the three teens have been cleared of any criminal activity.


Can you believe that? That's an outrageous "game"! Someone could have gotten killed. It's not smart to amp up cops with tales of rape, cause them to draw their guns, and have them wait and get antsy. I hope this knucklehead gets seriously punished for this.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

HAZMAT Drivers To Be Scrutinized

I have found an interesting item from Newsday.com:


CRANBURY, N.J. -- The truck drivers who haul cargo labeled as flammable, combustible, radioactive or poisonous are now going to be scrutinized as closely as the hazardous materials that fill their tankers and trailers.

In the coming months, roughly 3 million drivers across the nation will begin to be fingerprinted and put through FBI criminal background checks. Their names also are cross-referenced with federal databases related to terrorist activity, a practice the U.S. Transportation Security Administration began over the summer.

Now, perhaps you shared my reaction to this story, which went a little something like this:

WE WEREN'T ALREADY DOING THAT?! IT'S 2005 FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

Ah, that feels better. Anyway, I'm glad that we are fingerprinting them now, but I cannot believe that it took 4 years after 9/11 to get on this.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Duty To Enforce?

Sorry for the delay, I posted this and Blogger ate it and erased it. Then I got bogged down at work. Anyways, on to the post.

This is a very interesting story out of Colorado:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court gave a skeptical hearing today to a woman's claim that police can be sued if they fail to enforce a protective order designed to shield her and her children from her estranged husband.Six years ago, Jessica Gonzales of Castle Rock, Colo. lost her three daughters when her estranged husband abducted them from her frontyard and later shot and killed them in his truck. He was killed when he shot at police.

Three times during the evening of the abduction, the mother had reported to the Castle Rock police that her girls were missing. She also had obtained a protective order during her divorce proceeding that required her husband to stay away from her house. The order also said police "shall" use all reasonable means to protect her and her children.The officer who took her calls did nothing, except tell her to call back in two hours if the girls did not reappear.The Supreme Court took up her case to decide whether victims of such non-action by the police can sue and win money damages.For most of the justices, the answer appeared to be no.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he feared that a ruling for Gonzales would open the door to multiple lawsuits against the police and other government agencies for failing to do their duty."The reason is they're too busy," he said. Plenty of laws impose a duty on the government, he noted, "but that doesn't mean the victim has a right to enforce it" by suing, he added.Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she too was worried about allowing persons to sue the police for not acting. Usually, the police are sued for taking actions, such as using excessive force."This is such a new requirement you are seeking. It would be a major step," O'Connor said.

Others pointed out that the police usually have wide discretion to decide which cases to pursue."This is very much at odds with the normal discretion" given the police, Justice David Souter commented.The case of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales has attracted broad attention. Women's rights groups and activists in the fight against domestic violence say protective orders are meaningless if police have no duty to act. And without the penalty of a lawsuit, they may choose to ignore these court orders, they said.Gonzales' lawyer said the Castle Rock Police Department often did nothing to enforce protective orders."They had a pattern of ignoring these complaints," attorney Brian Reichel of Broomfield, Colo. told the court. "She assumed she would be protected by the state. It means something only if the police were willing to enforce it."

Police and municipal groups joined the case on the side of Castle Rock, as did Bush administration lawyers. They said federal courts should not allow lawsuits based on complaints that a government agency did not respond."What happened here is undeniably tragic," said law professor John Eastman, representing the town of Castle Rock. But, he said, a protective order does not create a constitutional "entitlement" to a speedy response from the police.Eastman, who teaches at the Chapman University Law School in Orange, Calif., said the state of Colorado did not intend to create any such entitlement, and therefore, officials did not violate the Constitution when they failed to respond to Gonzales' calls.

Justice Antonin Scalia said he agreed, calling the claim "utterly zany." Only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens sounded as though they leaned in favor of Gonzales.


I find this a very fascinating ruling, and a little confusing. It seems to me that the Supreme Court has found that police do not have a compelling legal duty to enforce a court order or respond to one being violated. That's an interesting concept.

While I sympathize with Ms. Gonzales, I can also sympathize with the police. It's a very busy job and many custody disputes are seen as relatively unimportant compared to other crimes. You haven't seen petty immature bickering until you've seen two divorced parents with joint custody. I'm sure the cops thought this was just another silly bicker-fest and opted to handle more pressing issues. Unfortunately, the man was a murderer.

My heart goes out to Ms. Gonzales. She lost her kids to a horrible little man. But I can't abide the opening of a door to sue cops when they don't respond to certain calls in a timely manner. It would make police work almost impossible to open them up to that kind of litigation. Thankfully the Supremes saw it the same way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tribute to a Fallen Officer

I'm sure you've all heard the news about the school shooting in Minnesota. Yet another neo-nazi snot-nosed brat decided to seek revenge on his classmates, teachers, and anyone else who happened to be around. You can read the story here. Anyways, here is the relevant clip:

When the rampage was over, 10 people were dead, including the gunman's grandfather; a woman who may have been his grandfather's wife or girlfriend; a school security guard; a teacher; and five other students. At least 14 others were wounded, officials said.

...

All of the dead students were found in one room, including the teen believed to be the shooter. Red Lake Fire Director Roman Stately said the gunman had two handguns and a shotgun. The shooter may have obtained his weapons from his grandfather, who was a long-time police officer in the area.


I don't know anything about the grandfather except that he took care of the kid after the death of his father and the incapacitation of his mother. I don't even know if he was retired or still working. All I know is that no officer, past or present, deserves to be gunned down by some little fascist. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and I hope they find comfort during this time.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The stupidest plan that ever worked

I realize this is "like, so last week", but I wanted to comment on the Brian Nichols/Ashley Smith saga. Here's the story from CNN.com. Now, everyone and their mother knows basically what happened, how the girl talked her way into safety by reading the Bible and The Purpose Driven Life to the rapist. But I wanted to focus on a particular aspect of this story:

Smith said Nichols eventually unbound her hands and feet and that he began to relax as they spoke for hours about religion and family -- including Smith's 5-year-old daughter and her late husband, who was stabbed four years earlier and died in her arms.

"I basically just talked to him and tried to gain his trust," she said.

Smith said she showed Nichols family photographs and read him passages from Rick Warren's best-selling book, "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?" (Interview with book's author)

After 6 a.m., Smith said she followed Nichols so he could hide Wilhelm's truck and then took him back to the apartment in her car. She said that Nichols did not bring any weapons on the trip, and that she had her cellular phone but did not call police.



Now, of course Ms. Smith was quite brave and level-headed with this murderer-rapist. If you read the crimes that Nichols committed, you can see he's a pretty sick puppy. She kept her cool and eventually escaped.

Here's the problem: She helped this guy dispose of his evidence. He got in one car without weapons, she got in another car with her cell phone, she followed him while he dumped the truck, picked him up, drove him back to the house! Then she made him pancakes!

Up until the truck dump, she was playing the game, winning trust, gaining an opening. After that though, she crossed the line into stupidity. This guy is a vicious rapist and a cold-blooded murderer! He killed 4 people!

She had a great opportunity to 1) escape and call the cops or 2) drive back to the house, pick up a gun wait for that cockroach to come back so she can rid the earth of him. Instead she chose option 3: Help him dump evidence and then chauffeur him back to her house for a charming pancake breakfast. That's sick! That's an insult to the families who won't have a loved one this Christmas. They are wailing in agony at a morgue somewhere while the murderer is watching TV and enjoying a home-cooked meal!

Here's the part that - suprisingly - chaps my ass: It worked. This plan should have failed. There is no reason why this lady should be alive. But she is. She did several stupid things and came out on top.

Now, you might be asking yourself why the capture of a killer and the survival of a hostage is irritating me. Well, I'm not mad that she lived and that Nichols is in custody. I'm ecstatic that there's not another body and a killer on the loose. What irritates me is that I'm afraid other people are going to think she's the rule, not the exception.

How many people are going to try to "go Ashley" on their captors instead of doing the smart thing? How many people are going to cart their unarmed captors around, helping them dispose of evidence, reading "Chicken Soup for the Murderer's Soul" to them, and packing their lunches? How many people are going to get themselves killed trying to convert their attacker instead of fighting back or escaping? As a Christian, I know how naive and impressionable some Christians can be, and I fear for the next purpose-driven christian who gets kidnapped or taken hostage. It's gonna be ugly.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Prison Population

A few days ago, I had a discussion with a reader about prisons and prison population. He was under the impression that prisons were full of low-level drug offenders and thus it wasn't fair for me to advocate a harsh penal system since most low-level drug offenders need counseling rather than punishment. I told him I would do some research into prison population, so I did.

The first interesting bit of data I found
was a chart on the DOJ website. In 2001, 49% of the prison population was in prison for violent crimes, 19% for property crimes, and 20% for drug crimes. Right off the bat, we can see that drug offenders do not make up most or even half or even one third of prisoners.

Furthermore, according to a handy chart available
here, between 1995 and 2001, violent crime accounted for 63% of the growth in prison population, while drugs accounted for only 15%.

Also, this chart has some interest recidivism stats, though they are from 1994:


• Within 3 years from their release in 1994 C 67.5% of the prisoners were rearrested for a new offense (almost exclusively a felony or a serious misdemeanor) 46.9% were reconvicted for a new crime 25.4% were resentenced to prison for a new crime 51.8% were back in prison, serving time for a new prison sentence or for a technical violation of their release, like failing a drug test, missing an appointment with their parole officer, or being arrested for a new crime.

• Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%), motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).

• The 272,111 offenders discharged in 1994 had accumulated 4.1 million arrest charges before their most recent imprisonment and another 744,000 charges within 3 years of release.

Do you see what I see? It ain't the drug offenders coming back in droves (though they do come back), it's the property offenders. Obviously prison doesn't suck enough to make them stop the madness.

That last bullet point illustrates something we've been saying for years: A small number of people commit the majority of crimes here in the US. 272,111 people generated 4,100,000 arrest charges before theye were captured and 744,000 within three years after they were released!

What this means is that the average prisoner commits 15 crimes before he's caught, and almost 3 crimes within three years of his release! We are not reaching these people. We are not... adequately conveying our disgust at their lifestyle. We are not making ourselves clear.

Maybe someday we'll actually convince them that we don't suffer criminals very well. Until then, keep an eye on your stuff.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Justified Shooting: Yay or Nay?

From www.policeone.com:


Until the Force Science Research Center entered the case, no one knew precisely how Randall Carr ended up killed by a police bullet that tore into his body near his rectum and blew a hole in his heart. His angry relatives, with Johnnie Cochran’s legal team behind them, insisted it had to be a deliberate police execution.

The officers involved vehemently denied that, of course. But they couldn’t reconstruct the fatal details of Carr’s final moments or explain the seemingly incriminating pattern of wounds documented at autopsy.

...

During an investigation of an assault on the landlord during a rent dispute, 2 officers were questioning the accused tenant, Randall Carr, 38. Carr was acting “very excited and aggressive,” and was later found to have evidence of cocaine use in his bloodstream. He declared, “I own this building, I own Oklahoma City and I don’t have to pay rent!” Then he punched one officer in the head, inflicting a cut over his right eye, and kneed the other in the groin, and fled on foot. Multiple units responded. During a pursuit by foot and car, Carr at one point was whacked at the knee with an expandable baton and sprayed directly in the eyes and nose with OC, but he did not submit. Finally the cop who’d been kneed during the initial call, Ofcr. Jerry Bowen, and a responding sergeant, Randy Castle, cornered Carr in a small, dark churchyard a couple of blocks from his apartment.

With a jagged piece of concrete about twice the size of a softball clutched in his left hand, Carr (who was left handed) tried to scale a spiked fence at one edge of the yard, but he couldn’t make it. The officers were yelling at him to get down and to drop the concrete. He dropped off the fence, turned and with his left arm raised started to run directly at Castle, who was about 20 feet away.

Bowen was forward from Castle and to his right. In Bowen’s perception, Carr was charging Castle intent on bashing in the sergeant’s skull with the concrete chunk. Both officers opened fire with their Glocks. Eleven rounds were discharged. Seven struck Carr. When the shooting stopped he was slumped against a wooden bench several feet to Castle’s left.

Castle had no clear recollection of the 5 shots he fired. He recalled Carr “throwing” the concrete at him at a point. A left-hander like the suspect, Castle instinctively turned away while raising his right hand to protect his head, and fired his rounds blindly back at his assailant with his left hand. Bowen said he started shooting when Carr crossed his line of fire in the dead run toward Castle. There was about 5 feet between Bowen and the attacker at that moment. He fired a total of 6 rounds. Between the moment he started shooting and an awareness that Carr was “suddenly” no longer upright as a target, he had no relevant memories.

Pretty hairy situation. You can see why the victim's family might be upset.


At the heart of the plaintiffs’ case was an inflammatory premise: Such a fatal bullet pathway could have occurred only if Carr was already down on his hands and knees, butt in the air and no longer a threat, when the killing shot was fired. Bowen must have advanced on the suspect and pulled the trigger from behind him to create the resulting wound channel. In effect, the fatal round was an unjustified execution.

Ruh roh.


As one of the nation’s foremost authorities on reaction times and shooting dynamics, Lewinski felt that documenting the missing elements would be critical to understanding how the shooting actually unfolded and determining whether the plaintiffs’ allegations of wrongdoing might, in fact, be true.

He started by taking Ofcr. Bowen and Sgt. Castle to Oklahoma City PD’s firearms range. They’d told him that in an effort to stop the onrushing Carr they had fired as fast as they could pull the trigger that fateful night. He asked them to do that again--repeatedly--while they were videotaped by Lewinski and one of FSRC’s National Advisory Board members, Parris Ward. Ward, who heads the firm Biodynamics Engineering, is a prominent computer animator whose vivid reconstructions of police shootings and other controversial events are frequently introduced as pivotal evidence in high-profile court cases.

The videotapes offered gross time stamps of the officers shooting. But back in his lab in Pacific Palisades, CA, Ward’s ultra-sophisticated equipment was able to break down the sample firings into hundredths of a second. That revealed that the officers had been able to shoot in a range of .233 to .268 of a second per round.

Now Lewinski, working with Ward and his precision equipment, set about the laborious task of calculating the sequence and timing of every round that had struck Carr.

So, what was the outcome? Well, I should just make you read the rest of the story, but I suppose I'll save you the time:


On Nov. 22, after days of testimony and arguments, the jury returned its verdict. Four long years after the shooting occurred, the officers were finally exonerated. The plaintiffs were granted nothing, and there was no reimbursement for the substantial funds the plaintiffs’ attorneys had put forth to prepare for trial.

This case, incidentally, is the third in which Lewinski has helped to successfully defend officers against Johnnie Cochran’s legal armada.

Ha! We won! Make sure you check out the animations. They are pretty sweet. Especially compare the slow-mo version with the sped up version to get a feel for how lightning-fast everything happened. It's incredible.

I think this goes to show that as long as we are doing the right thing and acting within policy and training, not even Johnnie Cochran can get to us.

This Force Science Research Center sounds like a really cool outfit. I'll do a little research and find out more about them for y'all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Police Prayers

Instead of some news or politics, today I'd like to post some neat Police prayers I found online.

This first one is the Nation Policeman's Prayer:


Almighty God, Father of all Mercies, we ask Thy blessing and guidance on all law enforcement officers engaged in the protection of our citizens. Be with them in their lonely tours of duty while patrolling the busy streets of our cities and the remote areas of our country. Give them the blessing of your wisdom, to know and do what is right. Temper their actions with mercy and justice. When their tours are completed and the day is over, guide them safely home to their loved ones.

We ask Thy blessing and eternal rest to all our brothers who have sacrificed their very lives in the performance of their duties. Give to their loved ones the peace and strength to bear the anguish of their loss. Remove all resentment from their hearts, knowing that eternal peace and rest will abide their departed loved ones forever. This we beg Thy name forever and ever, Amen.


This next one I found is the Policeman's Prayer of Courage:


Lord I ask for courage

Courage to face and Conquer my own fears... Courage to take me where others will not go...

I ask for strength

Strength of body to protect others and strength of spirit to lead others...

I ask for dedication

Dedication to my job, to do it well, to my community to keep it safe...

Give me Lord, concern for others who trust me and compassion for those who need me... And please Lord through it all Be at my side...


This next one is a prayer to St. Michael, patron saint of policemen, military folks, and anyone who protects people from evil.

Here are some images of St. Michael:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This prayer was written by a policeman, specifically for policemen:


ST. Michael, Heaven's glorious Commissioner of Police, who once so neatly and successfully cleared GOD's premises of all it's undesireables, look with kindly and professional eye on your earthly force.

Give us cool heads, stout hearts, hard punches, an uncanny flair for investigation and wise judgement. Make us the terror of burglars, the friend of children and law-abiding citizens, kind to strangers, polite to bores, strict with law breakers and impervious to temptations.

You know, ST. Michael, from your own experiences with the devil that the policeman's lot on earth is not always a happy one; but your sense of duty that so pleased God, your hard knocks that so surprised the Devil, and your Angelic self-control give us inspiration. And when we lay down our nightsticks, enroll us in your Heavenly Force, where we will be as proud to guard the throne of GOD as we have been to guard the city of men. AMEN....

And lastly, the official prayer to St. Michael for any and all defenders of innocents:


St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in our day of battle; protect us against the deceit and wickedness of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.

And you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God banish into hell Satan and all of the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.


If you aren't religious, these might not mean anything to you. Even so, I think they are powerful and touching. Heck, I'm not even Catholic but I love St. Michael's prayer and I wear a St. Michael pendant around my neck. (St. Michael actually cast Satan out of Heaven. You don't have to be a Catholic to respect that particular act of law enforcement!)

Anyways, I hope you enjoy these prayers and if you know of any other good ones, please post them in the comments section.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Another look at video games

I found this very interesting article on PoliceOne.com:

My initial thoughts were that realistic video games could instill useful tactical concepts in dedicated players. Most first-person shooter games encourage ammunition conservation. The spray and pray technique quickly depletes your ammo supply. Players are shown that it is best to reload when you can, not when you have to. Use of tactical cover is encouraged. Players soon discover that moving from cover to cover is a better option than standing in the open and spraying bullets.

Many on-screen enemies will not go down with only one hit; often multiple rounds are required to take an attacker out. Head and chest shots do more damage to attackers than peripheral arm or leg hits. All of these are useful tactical concepts.

It also seemed obvious to me that good hand/eye coordination was needed to excel at a video game. Those with moderate to poor hand/eye coordination should logically benefit from time spent playing such games.


The article goes on to talk about how video games can provide a valuable training aspect. They teach you to recognize multiple targets and increase your visual perception abilities. He talks about a friend of his who is a video game-playing cop who, during a Simunition exercise, was able to identify a bad guy with a gun in a split second, where others might not have done so well.

Whether this article's premise is correct or not, it is a refreshing way to look at a topic that is often the target of hysteria and stupidity.

The whole rest of the site is pretty cool too.

Monday, March 14, 2005

That's one spicy meatball

For some reason, I found this story on Scotsman.com

Two retired New York police detectives have been charged with leading double lives, moonlighting as hit men and carrying out gangland executions.

Louis Eppolito, 56, and Stephen Caracappa, 63, were arrested and charged in connection with eight murders, kidnapping, conspiracy and money laundering.

Police said they used New York Police Department files as their own “personal Yellow Pages”, working with the Mafia and feeding them confidential information for over a decade. The suspects were arrested at an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and are due in court today. Eppolito once wrote a book entitled Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob which described false charges of Mafia involvement.

Prosecution lawyer Roslynn Mauskopf described the case as “stunning”. “These corrupt former detectives betrayed their shields, their colleagues, and the citizens they were sworn to protect,” he said. Caracappa’s lawyer David Chesnoff accused the
government of using “organised crime figures who are trying to save their lives” to build their case. “The government is relying on the words of rats,” he claimed.

The pair allegedly targeted several mobsters in retaliation for the attempted assassination of a crime family underboss Anthony ’Gaspipe’ Casso. They are charged with kidnapping a mob figure, stuffing him in a car and delivering him to Casso, who then tortured and killed him in 1987. Police claim they also stole £33,000 (65,000 dollars) from Casso in 1992 to kill a Gambino family captain suspected of involvement in the attempt on Casso’s life.

Brooklyn lawyer Charles Hynes, described it as “one of the most shocking examples of criminal activity” he had ever witnessed. Eppolito is related to known Mafia members and in his 1992 autobiography described his family background but denied the mob allegations. Caracappa helped found the NYPD’s Organised Crime Homicide Unit.



You know it goes on, but it's still rather shocking when you find a truly and thoroughly corrupt police officer at a department. And these aren't just cops on the take, these are full on mafioso within the department. They used their police resources to help out the Mafia! FOR OVER A DECADE! That's incredible!

It really makes you wonder who else is out there. I mean, for ten years, these two clowns kept up the image of good cops while at the same time living the life of a Goodfella. For all you know, your partner, your Sergeant, anyone could be doing the same thing. How do check for stuff like this? How do you audit your force for criminals?

I wonder if these guys thought that since they were killing criminals and helping screw over criminals that they were doing a good thing. You wonder how people get wound up in these type of capers. Maybe it started out as a kind of infiltration and snowballed from there.

However, the real question here is this: How did the underboss get the nickname "Gaspipe"? I bet there's a good story there...

Friday, March 11, 2005

Why does this happen?

From a CNN.com story -

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A Fulton County Superior Court judge and a court reporter were killed and two deputies were wounded Friday when a defendant grabbed a gun from a deputy sheriff and opened fire, officials said.
Now they think that one of the deputies is going to die as well. It's a terrible, terrible situation.
But I have to ask, why did this happen? How did one man in a courthouse grab a gun from a highly-trained individual and shoot 4 people, make it down 8 flights of stairs, and out into the wind?
My first question is this: where was the deputy's gun leg? If your gun leg is away from bad guys, they have a real hard time getting it. Was she standing with her gun towards the rapist? How did that guy get his hands on that gun? And when he did, what did the deputy do about it? Apparently not enough, but I know we're all trained to respond to an attempted gun take away, so I want to know what she did.
Here's my main problem (keeping in mind that I don't know the details of the situation): The deputy had to have acted outside her training in order for this to occur, unless Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training doesn't include officer safety. It makes me mad and sad because this didn't have to happen. This could have been avoid with minimally smart tactics.
Well, if she survives, I'm sure the deputy is going to be beating herself up for the rest of her life over this. I hope she's okay and I hope she's able to cope. And I also hope that this is a lesson to everyone else to pay attention to where you put your gun leg. We can't get complacent out there (easy for me to say, right?). It's never a "routine day". I'm sure this deputy thought it was just another routine court case. Now it might be her last.
EDIT: So I'm stupid and didn't realize the deputy was a woman. I've changed all the pronouns to make it accurate. Thanks to Robbie for showing me the light.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Maybe somebody in West VA is a 10-8 Fan!

How else do you explain this story:

Law makers in West Virginia are considering a bill that will remove the hate crime statute. The statute currently allows judges to give stricter punishment to people who commit crimes out of hate.

In West Virginia the hate crime law says people who target their victims based on race, religion, nationality, political affiliation or gender, can get added punishments above and beyond a crime without hate as a motive.

West Virginians have mixed feelings about this legislation. Some think it is a good idea. "Just because I hate a person and I did something and another person just does it they should be treated the same, said Loretta Brier. Others believe the statute is needed to stamp out prejudice. "It can no longer be. I am surprised they are trying to pass that. The legislature? I can't believe that," said Dan Kolopajlo.

Five republicans in West Virginia are sponsoring the bill, including Ohio County delegate Chris Wakim. Those supporting the bill say this will focus on the actual crime and not the motive behind the act. House majority leader Rick Staton is against this legislation. He says the added punishment for hate crimes is still needed.

I await the results with baited breath.

Creative Sentence

From my favorite daily stop, CrimProf Blog:


Texas Tech CrimProf Larry Cunningham and student attorneys from the Texas Tech Criminal Justice Clinic filed an appeal last week on behalf of Tracy Ward and Rhonda Smith, two women accused and convicted of delivering a controlled substance to a child. The twist to this case is this: The children were fetuses at the time of the alleged delivery. Potter County prosecutors utilized a new Penal Code definition of "person" (which now includes a fetus). They said that the women delivered drugs to persons---their fetuses--- because the women ingested drugs while pregnant. Cunningham argued in the clinic's March 3rd brief that the state legislature never intended for this new definition to apply to pregnant women. In fact,the bill made specific exceptions in other areas of the law. The bill in question -- S.B. 319 -- was intended to punish third-parties for criminal actions against pregnant women. The brief also argues that the prosecution violates due process, Roe v. Wade, and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The State's brief is expected April 3. Argument is expected sometime this Summer or in the Fall. More . . . [Mark Godsey]

You have to laugh. C'mon, it's clever. I like clever judges.

Of course I support this decision! Although, were it me in the judge's seat, I would've charged her with attempted murder for ingesting drugs with a child inside her.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Goal of Punishment

Sentencing Law And Policy Blog has an article that includes this quote from a decision in a case:

Rehabilitation is also a goal of punishment. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(D). That goal cannot be served if a defendant can look forward to nothing beyond imprisonment. Hope is the necessary condition of mankind, for we are all created in the image of God. A judge should be hesitant before sentencing so severely that he destroys all hope and takes away all possibility of useful life. Punishment should not be more severe than that necessary to satisfy the goals of punishment.


I totally disagreed with that first sentence. I posted this comment in the comments section:

I disagree that rehabilitation is the goal of punishment. The goal of punishment is to make people stop doing bad things. The majority of crimes are committed by the same minority of people, so obviously we are not rehabbing anyone. Prison should do two things: Keep bad guys safely behind bars, and serve as an unpleasant consequence to bad behavior. That way people in prison can't commit crimes and people outside of prison won't want to commit crime for fear of imprisonment.

It's prison, not bed-wetting camp! I don't care if criminals grow and mature or not. I don't see a kinder gentler approach to incarceration as an answer to recidivism. By being kinder and gentler to career criminals, we are totally missing the boat.

I don't want criminals to have hope. I want a life of crime to be a hopeless soul-crushing experience. I want every moment to be filled with fear and trepidation. These people have broken their contract with society and it should really suck for them!

But what do I know...

So that was my opinion on the matter. Maybe I'm out to lunch of this one, but I seriously don't think the goal of punishment is rehab. Punishment is meant as a deterrant! A bad thing! Something that sucks so bad, it makes you not want to go through it!

When I was a kid, if I did something wrong, my dad spanked me. Was I rehabilitated by the spanking? Did I grow and mature and see the error of my ways and thus stop doing bad things? No way, I stopped doing bad things because I didn't want to get spanked. It hurt! What does a 6 year old know of the philosophy of Right and Wrong? All I knew was this:

Lying or Swearing = Mouth Washed out with Soap
Not Obeying Parents = Spanking
Aggravated Not Obeying = Spanking With Belt

That was the Aldridge Penal Code, and it worked just fine. I knew there would be an immediate and unpleasant consequence and that spoke way more to me than discussions of integrity or honor, because I was immature.

Criminals are immature. You can't send a bank robber to his room without dessert and expect him to feel remorse. These people have decided that they will not honor society's laws and that they should victimize the weak and powerless in order to improve their own life. Why try to rehabilitate that attitude? Why not instead say, "If you choose this life, the State will make your existence a living Hell until the day you die." I'm not saying torture people or be cruel, but there's plenty of Hell that the State can mete out that is still humane.

Fire Trucks to Fight Crime

CrimProf Blog has a curious story:


San Francisco Mayor Proposes Firetrucks on Corners to Deter Crime On Monday, at a City Hall meeting with police and fire chiefs, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested that parking fire trucks, manned with firefighters who aren't responding to emergency calls, on street corners of crime-prone areas could be a viable crime deterrent for the city to explore.

Mayor Newsom's idea comes in response to an increased crime rate in San Francisco. The city has 19 reported homicides so far in 2005, whereas at this time last year, there were only 13, and Mayor Newsom wants to take more action to reduce these violent crimes. SFGate.com reports: "(Mayor Newsom said), 'I think the homicide rate is outrageous. This is my biggest burden.' He said the city needs to look beyond traditional policing and consider creative tactics, such as putting fire trucks on the streets. There already are plans in the works to park city ambulances in outlying neighborhoods later this year so they can respond to calls faster."

Firefighters union chief John Hanley agreed that the visible presence of fire trucks on corners may prevent some crime, but raised safety concerns. "We're firefighters. We're not armed. My guys don't have bulletproof vests,'' Hanley said. More from the San Francisco Chronicle... [Mark Godsey]


Mayor Newsome and myself have not always seen eye to eye when it comes to enforcing law (*ahem* gay weddings), but I have to at least give him credit here: He's trying something. It sounds a little crazy, a little bizarre, but he is thinking outside the box, and I like it.

That having been said, I have to wonder why fire trucks are going to deter crime. I could see if it was something like extra police cars would be put in high crime areas, but fire trucks? What are they going to do, spray muggers with the hose? Attack them with the axe? Send the dalmation after the bad guys? I mean, I just don't understand why the firemen are the ones having to maintain a security presence. I sympathize with the union chief. Not only are they unarmed and unprotected, I don't think they are even trained in fighting and tactics. I am very curious to see how this goes.

I suppose the main thing they have is contact with emergency services. They can immediately radio dispatch if they see a crime or something. Also, I guess criminals will be wary around anyone in uniform. Not to mention, firefighters are always very buff and dashing, so they have that going for them too.

Mayor Newsome, I hope your plan works!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Blog shout-out

By the way, check out California Mafia for a cool law/political/sports/etc blog.

In pursuit of the best policy...

Gritsforbreakfast had a comment on the pursuit story below:


I guess those 18 innocents in CA were acceptable collateral damage, under your theory?

When it comes to topics where innocent people die, it's always hard to call real people with real families "acceptable collateral damage". No one wants to dehumanize a person like that, especially when they have families grieving for them. But life is hard and it doesn't have easy answers. We have to accept a world where bad things happen to good people. The death of an innocent person is not good enough to justify sweeping changes, especially because the changes are heavy of emotion and light on substance.

PursuitWatch.org, an anti-pursuit site, has some statistics on it. Two stats that I found interesting were that only 1% of pursuits end in fatality and that their figure for bystander deaths in pursuits was 236 a year.

236 is not that many people, I'm sorry to say. It just isn't. When you figure that there are 300,000,000 people in the U.S. currently, that comes out to .00000007% of the population. I don't want to minimize loss of life, but statistically speaking, it's really very minor. For comparison, I found some other death stats. These ones I got from http://danger.mongabay.com/injury_death.htm:


Drowning and submersion while in or falling into swimming-pool 567
Water transport accidents 630
Inhalation and ingestion of food causing obstruction of respiratory tract 744
Inhalation and ingestion of other objects causing obstruction of respiratory tract 3,187


And from www.defendu.com:


As many as 98,000 Americans die unnecessarily every year from medical mistakes
made by physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals

Those are just a few obviously, but you get the point. Relatively speaking, pursuits are not butchering innocents at any substantial rate.

Also, the 1% stat for fatalities is a tad misleading because the majority of the time, it's the suspect being killed in the pursuit. If you go with PursuitWatch's numbers, then .33% of pursuits kill an innocent bystander. So we want to obstruct police business and give a thumbs-up to criminals because of .33% of pursuits. That's ludicrous.

Here's what I'm in favor of: increased mandatory training for cops. Maybe cops need to go to EVOC every three years instead of just in the Academy. I'm okay with that. I'm also in favor of doing what Jeb Bush did in Florida, which is make fleeing from the police an automatic felony punishable by 5 years in prison, 15 if it's aggravated, and even worse if there is injury. Tell me this: if fleeing from the police resulted in an automatic minimum 25 year sentence, do you think people would try it just to get out of a speeding ticket? But no, we'd rather remove police immunity and tell the criminals, "Go ahead and run, we won't chase you anymore because .00000007% of Americans die each year. Please, run for any reason."

Do I wish innocent people didn't have to die? Of course. Am I willing to tie the police's hands unnecessarily to assauge the emotions of families? Of course not. Call me a cold, cruel man, but I am just not willing to go there. Somebody has to make the tough calls. Somebody has to be the asshole for the good of society.

Monday, March 07, 2005

W00t! Another legal victory!

From your favorite and mine, CrimProf Blog:


Here's a case from the South Carolina Court of Appeals holding that while a search warrant was unconstitutionally overbroad for lack of a particualr description, the invalid portions could be severed from the valid portions, and the critical elements of the search upheld. The court cited the LaFave treatise as well as state and lower federal court cases. Thanks to Flynn Carey for the tip. [Jack Chin]

Yay, silly legal technicalities won't set another jerk free!

I know we'll never get rid of the exclusionary rule, but a man can dream can't he?

Pursuits...

From The Mercury News (you need to sign up for free to view, I think):

On any given day in California, a television station helicopter hovers over a speeding car that pinballs through traffic on the freeway below with police cars in hot pursuit. More and more often, however, this staple of television news and police procedure has brought death and serious injuries. According to the California Highway Patrol, the number of chases has grown by the hundreds each of the last three years for which statistics are available: 5,895 in 2001; 6,337 in 2002; 7,171 in 2003.

Fifty-one people died in 2003 as a result, or nearly one each week. Of the dead, 18 were not involved in the pursuit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last month, University of California, Berkeley, graduate student Jie Wang joined the list of the seriously injured after a motorist fleeing an Albany, Calif., police officer ran a red light and crashed into Wang's car. The 24-year-old Wang remains in a coma.

California's numbers consistently far exceed any other state. Compared to the 51 California deaths in 2003, Texas had 33 including nine innocents; North Carolina had 23 deaths, eight of them uninvolved motorists; Florida had 21 deaths, just one of an innocent motorist.

While some cities including Los Angeles have limited chases, Florida and Mississippi last year enacted laws boosting penalties for fleeing drivers, similar to what California law enforcement is now proposing this year as the California Legislature is set to start again attempts to change the way law enforcement pursue potential criminals. Law enforcement groups want to increase penalties for fleeing drivers, while a bipartisan group of legislators is pushing a proposal that would include penalties for police who recklessly pursue drivers.


You have almost admire the sheer idiocy of people that, in order to stop destruction from police chasing criminals, want to hamstring the police. "Officer, we'd like you to stop doing your job because sometimes accidents happen". Now, don't you suppose that maybe bad guys read the news? And don't you suppose they will hear about new laws meant to stop officers from chasing? And don't you suppose that they might then decide that running from the cops is the way to go? Don't you suppose that everyone from people with felony warrants to people who speed are going to see running from the cops as no big deal?

I found this line particularly telling as to the intelligence of the anti-police legislators out there:

"Probably the worst way to catch someone is by chasing them," [state Sen. Sam] Aanestad said.
I see. I would tend to think that not chasing someone is the worst way to catch them, but then I'm no California State Senator. (By the way, I implicitly don't trust anyone with a double letter at the beginning of their last name. Call me old-fashioned, it's just how I was raised)

Aanestad is naming his bill after Kristie Priano, a 15-year-old Chico honor student who was killed in January 2002 when her family's minivan was struck by an unlicensed 15-year-old who took her mother's car without permission. Candy Priano argues police knew where the fleeing driver lived, so there was no need for the pursuit that killed her daughter. "I blame the people who flee. (But) people who flee do not care about anyone's safety, so the burden of protecting innocent bystanders by necessity falls on the police," Priano said in remarks prepared for a news conference Monday before a Public Safety Committee information hearing Wednesday.

I kind of like that little "but" she had. "I blame the bad guys, but since they don't care, it's the police's fault now." When someone loses a loved one, you don't want to tell them to shut up, but really...

I feel like this is so simple, I shouldn't have to say it again, but here goes: If you make it hard for police to chase bad guys, bad guys will flee more often. And when bad guys get away, they do other bad things! This woman complains that the police should protect innocent bystanders. Well what happenes when they call off the chase of someone and that person gets away and later carjacks someone or murders them? Weren't they an innocent person in need of protection? What happens when we stop chasing a guy with warrants and then when officers go to serve it at his home, he gets in a shoot-out with them as he barracades himself inside? Who knows what these jerks are capable of? Isn't it better to get them off the street as quickly as possible?

Now, if the State Legistature really wanted to do something useful for once, instead of trying to punish cops,
why don't they support this?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

More shooting

I was at the range today, sorry for the lack of an update. Weekends are tough for me to get on a computer. I suppose I need WiFi. If it makes you feel any better, I shot very well today.

Not only that, one of our instructors brought a .50 caliber Browning machine gun. It was breath-taking.

Here's a fun story from the NY Times to tide you over:

The Bush administration's secret program to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation has been carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency under broad authority that has allowed it to act without case-by-case approval from the White House or the State or Justice Departments, according to current and former government officials.


Not every country is as nice to scumbags as the USA. It's nice that people who hate this country get to see other countries. I'm happy for them.

Friday, March 04, 2005

High Schoolers: You have no privacy. HA!

From CrimProf Blog:

Just a few years ago, using breathalyzers at extracurricular activities like proms, pep rallies, and sporting events was hotly debated and resisted as an invasion of students' privacy. Eventually, these sobriety tests were accepted as necessary to ensure that students weren't smuggling drugs and alcohol into school-sponsored events or attending these events while intoxicated. Now, some school districts, ranging from Indiana to Connecticut and New York, are beginning to employ breathalyzers as part of the ordinary school day. School officials say that they have a duty to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and to ensure that students aren't showing up to class intoxicated.

The New York Times reports that manufacturers of breathalyzers have sold thousands of devices to schools, so it's impossible to calculate how many school districts are beginning to use breathalyzers as a typical school practice, but the East Hampton School District on the East End of Long Island is one of these districts. "Any student suspected of being drunk in class would be tested by a trained staff member, and not a police officer," board officials said. Results showing alcohol consumption would mean suspension. Refusing to take a test would be seen as an admission of guilt."

Civil rights lawyers are concerned that the tests will unfairly stigmatize students who just act goofy or don't abide by the norms. Following the same tune, East Hampton citizens have overflowed the local newspapers with op-eds calling the policy "heavy-handed." More from the New York Times... [Mark Godsey]



I support almost any measure that controls teenagers. Hell, we can't execute them anymore, the least we can do is breathalyze them. I know for a fact that many high schoolers drink alcohol in the morning or at lunch or sometimes in class. I know this because I've done it. I know all about hanging out with that crowd.

Why am I so anti-teen? Because I remember my teen years and I used very poor judgement. I did things then that affect me now. I made decisions that reverbrated throughout my life. At the time, you don't care. We're all passing around jack and coke in the parking lot, let's party! But one thing teens don't need is to be full of a liquid that makes you use worse judgement. They barely have any to begin with! Controlling teens and keeping them coralled until they grow up a little is a helpful thing. Do you realize that there is a very real push to raise the driving age to 18? Do you realize how many lives it will save? Do you realize why? Because most teenagers are dumb. I was, you probably were too, unless you were some geek. Of course if you were, now you're running a company and telling all the cool kids what to do. Feels good, no?

Also, if the ACLU thinks this will stigmatize kids, I have news for them: It will be a badge of honor to be breathalyzed. Kids will brag about it. There will be contests to see who can get the most. There will be races to see who can get breathalyzed first. Believe me, this is going to be a popular device.

A Great Man Has Died

From the L.A. Slimes... oops, I mean LA Times.

Peter Malkin, the Israeli Mossad agent who captured Adolf Eichmann, the chief architect of the Holocaust, has died, media in Israel reported Wednesday. He was 77.
...
In the late 1950s, Israeli security agents received a tip that Eichmann was living in Argentina under an assumed name. Believing that the Argentine government would never arrest him, the Israeli government sent a team of Mossad agents to the South American country to capture him. Malkin was part of that seven-person team.

After a week of surveillance, on the night of May 11, 1960, Malkin stopped Eichmann on a street in the Buenos Aires suburb of San Fernando. He spoke a few words to him in Spanish before grabbing his arm and wrestling him to the ground. Other agents grabbed Eichmann's legs and stuffed him into a car.

Eichmann was interrogated for 10 days in a safe house. During that time, Malkin said, he had long late-night conversations with the Nazi, assuring him that the Israelis would not harm his family. Eichmann was eventually taken to Israel for trial on charges of crimes against humanity. He was executed in 1962.
...
In the Haganah [An Israeli Independence group] , Malkin learned a number of skills that would be useful in his later life as a Mossad agent. He became proficient in building and disassembling bombs. He also became an expert in disguises and martial arts.

What a stud! The way the story goes, Malkin walked right up to Eichmann and said something like "You killed my nephew. He was the same age as your son. You basically killed your son. How could you do it?" Eichmann looked confused at the question and finally said "Your nephew... he was a Jew".

Don't let anyone tell you that evil does not exist in a profound way. The only thing that keeps it at bay is the courage and honor of men like Peter Malkin. Police, Military, Intelligence, they all serve a large overarching purpose: to hold back the tide of evil in the world. Sure, cops write tickets and break up parties and hassle kids making out in parks, but every once in awhile, we will be called to stop an evil man from doing something evil.

One of our instructors at our academy is a very tough, very legendary cop. He's taught tactics and officer survival around the world and he told us last night that training to be a cop is like training to be in the Olympics. You keep yourself in shape physically and mentally in preparation for a single day where you need to take home first place. Only for us, we don't know when our day will be, and second place is death. Someday, we may face our Olympics when we try to fight against evil. My prayer is that I and my comrades will be ready to take home the gold.

Man, law enforcement is so much different than the banking industry!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Thanks SCOTUS!

Great, I guess we can't execute this little scumbag either.

Stupid Stupid Stupid

From CrimProf Blog:

A Chicago radio station has a feature where listeners are invited to call and confess something they did wrong; I assume usually the calls involve kissing an attractive stranger even though you are going steady or taking that can of Coke from the office refigerator knowing full well it belongs to someone else. However, this genius who had robbed a bank and gotten away clean decided to call the show, and describe the crime and how it was carried out (identifying of course the inside help). Now, he will have to wait in line to use the phone. [Jack Chin]


Remeber, if they were smart, they wouldn't have to rob banks.

Tactics Abroad

I would love to train at the Jerusalem police academy. That would be a huge honor and I would imagine an eye-opening experience. Check out this story from the Jerusalem Post:

Jerusalem police called off a state of red alert that had been in place for six hours in the city Wednesday afternoon, police said. Police went on heightened alert shortly after noon on Wednesday after receiving intelligence warnings of a planned terror attack in the city.

Throughout the afternoon, police carried out spotchecks on vehicles and increased their presencethroughout the city in a last ditch attempt to ward off or catch any potential bomber. The police had also increased their presence andactivities at security checkpoints surrounding Jerusalem. The high state of alert in the city came just fivedays after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a Tel Aviv nightclub killing five Israelis.

The story itself isn't that fascinating, but it really makes you think about an entirely different police culture. Over here, we are cognizant of officer safety issues such as how to approach a stopped car so as to minimize our likelihood of being shot. Over there, there is a radically different set of issues. The guy you approach might have a huge bomb strapped to his chest. He may blow it just because you turned on your lights. There's almost no way to know when another terrorist might explode on you. The tactics that they teach over there must be intense.

I went to the Israeli Police website to see what they had. It turns out that their full-time training program is about as long as a full time academy is over here, actually a little less. However, every citizen of Israel has to join the military for a period of time, so I suppose they are not working from scratch like over here. Even so, I'm curious what we do that is the same and what we do that is different.

Searching around on this topic led me to this little story. It was published shortly after 9/11 and it's about how the US could benefit from Israel's law enforcement practices. I enjoyed this excerpt:

For instance, evidence obtained without a search warrant is easier to introduce in courts in Israel than in America. It is simpler for Israeli law enforcement agencies to obtain wiretaps. Arab terrorism suspects are held in "administrative detention" for years without charges or trials. And Israel's "profile" method of interviewing airline passengers, screening pedestrians and detaining drivers, in which Arabs and others deemed to be high-risk are targeted for special attention, might go down poorly in a country as diverse as the United States.

Not too shabby, Israel. I guess when you are under constant attack from bloodthirsty terrorists, you're not to worried about profiling. They take security seriously over there. And I bet you they don't have a Cultural Diversity class during their training... lucky...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Robbie did some research!

Robbie from UrbanGrounds has a great analysis of some of the people that would benefit from yesterday's SCOTUS decision to declare the execution of anyone younger than 18 unconstitutional. Here are some of the charming, delightful people that we as a society are going to let live:



The following men all committed horrendous and deliberate murders when they were 17 years old. They are currently sitting on Texas’ death row. Because of this new Court decision, they will probably be spared the fate they deserve:

Raul Villarreal — Convicted for kidnapping and killing Jennifer Ertman (14) and Elizabeth Pena (16). The girls had taken a shortcut home. Each girl was repeatedly raped by Villarreal and his fellow gang members, and then strangled to death. Villarreal later bragged that he stepped on the neck of Jennifer Ertman in an effort to strangle her because the “bitch wouldn’t die” after being strangled with a belt.

Robert Acuna — Convicted of killing two elderly neighbors, James and Joyce Carroll, shooting them “execution style” and then stealing their car.

Geno Wilson — On 12/02/98 on the streets of Houston, Texas, Wilson shot an adult male during a robbery attempt. The victim was reportedly selling bottles of cleaning solution on the street and was approached by Wilson and 3 black male companions. Wilson indicated he would buy a bottle of the cleaning solution then produced a handgun and pointed it at the head of the victim, demanding cash. When the victim denied having any cash, Wilson shot him once in the back of the head.

Bruce Williams — On 02/03/99, during the nighttime, Williams abducted two Asian females. The victims were forced by Williams at gunpoint to go to a wooded area where he then shot both of the victims. One victim survived the shooting and called police.

Tran Son — Tran and three others lured a man to a club in Houston and murdered him because of his relationship with a woman who worked at the club. Tran and the others involved learned that another woman who worked at the club was aware of their identities. Tran and two of the others drove that woman to a secluded beach and shot her in the head, resulting in her death. Tran and two others then became concerned that the fourth person involved in the first murder might not keep their secret. The fourth person was lured to a meeting under false pretenses. He brought a friend along. Tran and one of the others shot and killed the fourth person and his friend. Prosecution for the death of theses last two murders resulted in the capital murder conviction for Tran.

Whitney Reeves — On 8/20/1999, Reeves and one co-defendant shot and killed a 14 year old white female and her father, a 40 year old white male, with a 12 gauge shotgun. The double homicide occurred at the victims’ apartment in Beaumont. The apparent motive for the shooting was that the 14-year-old girl had testified at a grand jury hearing that resulted in charges of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child against the co-defendant.

Michael Lopez — On 09/29/98, during the early morning hours in Houston, shot and killed a 26 year old Deputy constable on a routine traffic stop.

Jorge Salinas — On 07/28/2001 in Mission, Texas, Salinas and 2 co-defendants fatally shot a 29 year old Hispanic male 1 time with a 12 gauge shotgun and caused the death of a 21 month old Hispanic female by abandoning her in an area where she was not likely to be found. Salinas and 2 co-defendants carjacked the victim for his 2001 Chevy Malibu vehicle. Salinas and 2 co-defendants then dumped the 29 year old Hispanic male victim in an orchard and took the 21 month old Hispanic female child, while strapped in her car seat, and placed her in a tall grassy area. Salinas and co-defendants fled in the victim’s vehicle.

Aww... doesn't that just warm your heart? These are just some crazy mixed-up kids who need a good stern talking to, right? I mean, really, we all got into some mischief when we were kids, right? Who among us hasn't stepped on the neck of someone we raped because they wouldn't die? We've all been there; it's a part of growing up!

In all seriousness, it's simply disgusting that these little beasts are allowed to live in my country and breath the same air as I do. Thank you, 5/9 of SCOTUS! Thank you for your service to this country! If you guys ever come down to Yorba Linda, look me up so that I can high five you for protecting neck-stomping rapists.


(Props to Robbie for all that research! Great blog!)

(Thanks to reader Alex who pointed out that I kept writing "SOCUS" and not "SCOTUS". Of course SCOTUS refers to the Supreme Court of the United States, as opposed to SOCUS which refers to the Southern Ohio Canes and Umbrellas Society. So far, SOCUS has not appointed itself sole arbiter of law in America while SCOTUS has. My apologies.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Teens can still be evil

Well, we can't win 'em all, I guess.


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states. The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes. The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel.
I'm sorry, this really doesn't make any sense to me. I will have to do some research today, but I really can't fathom how executing a 16 year old is just de facto cruelty. One of the boneheads who is going to benefit from this ruling is Lee Boyd Malvo, who you may remember as one of the Washington Sniper Duo. Can anyone dispute that this kid is a little monster who targetted several innocent people, taking and ruining lives and putting an entire state in terror. What HE did was cruel. Executing him isn't just justice, it's a repudiation of what he did. It says "Society will not permit a monster like you to draw breath". It is repayment in part for what he took from people, it is penance for his crimes against society, and it is an act of cleansing, of removing someone from life who doesn't deserve to be there. Malvo is as deserving of death as any other murderer. But no, he's young so it's cruel. I think it's an act of cruelty against the noble and decent people of Washington to let him live.

Am I missing something? Is there some inherent immunity from being evil just because you haven't lived for exactly 18 years? If he was 17 years and 364 days old, it would be an act of cruelty to execute him, but it wouldn't be 24 hours later? Give me a break.

I like this post from Mark Levin on The Corner at National Review Online:

All those gang members under the age of 18, some of the most vicious murderers known to law enforcement, will be pleased with this ruling. After they murder, they will now have time to "attain a mature understanding of [their] own humanity."

Go Mark!

Joshua Claybourn at In The Agora has this take:

Aside from ignoring the voice of the people through representative democracy, and instead relying on their own beliefs as well as international opinion (something the Court won't do with abortion), the Court's opinion also fails to chastise the Supreme Court of Missouri for its failure to follow binding U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Only Justice Scalia addresses it in the final two pages of his dissent.