The Eclectic One

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Archive for the ‘Prison and Justice’ Category

California Police Chiefs Back Off On Gun Control Measure

Posted by Bill Nance on January 13, 2010

Well, they did it. The California hoplophobes, a decades-long majority in the state legislature  has finally managed to come up with a gun control idea so stupid even the notoriously anti-gun California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) can’t support it: Microstamping.

In case you don’t know what microstamping is, here’s a good description along with California’s iteration of the process:

Firearms microstamping is the process by which firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that in theory the information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired. Legislation mandating microstamping in California was signed into law in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and was slated to take effect this New Year’s Day (2010); however, since the technology remains encumbered by patents it cannot be certified by the California Department of Justice and therefore has not been implemented.

Other people have written about this incredibly bizarre idea California is trying to mandate, but I thought I’d add my 2¢, with the excuse of the letter the California Police Chiefs Association (Which has rarely met a people gun control idea it didn’t like) sent to the California AG saying essentially, “woops.

{From the letter: } Publicly available, peer-reviewed studies conducted by independent research organizations conclude that the technology does not function reliably and that criminals can remove the markings easily in mere seconds. We believe that these findings require examination prior to implementation.”

In other words, the technical flaws of the idea without any other argument needing to be made makes this a stupid idea. But the letter itself is a perfect example of the ignorance and hypocrisy inherent in the idea of requiring the microstamp in the first place, much less registering individual gun owners.    In it’s own words the CPCA references the fact that criminals can easily find a way to evade detection via a firearm registration scheme as one of it’s reasons for opposition to the bill.

“Criminals can remove the markings easily in mere seconds.”

The antis can’t manage to come up with even a remotely plausible scenario in which this stuff would solve many crimes, even if they got everything they wanted. But they want it anyway.

To many who don’t know or care much about guns, gun registration doesn’t sound like a big deal. And if you don’t know anything about microstamping, and much more importantly the assumptions that its supposed efectiveness rests upon, it might not sound like a bad thing. I mean, it’s supposed to help the cops solve crimes right?

The only problem is that this simply isn’t the case.

Microstamping guns and registering individual gun owners depends on a large number of things for them to make more than the very slightest difference in catching bad guys. And trust me, I was a crime reporter for years in an area with high gang violence and lots of shootings. I know whereof I speak.

First, and most easily shown to be false, is the required assumption that guns used by criminals are legally owned and obtained by said criminals. Otherwise having the murder weapon (or shell casing in the case of microstamping is useless.- There’s no connection to the shooter. Microstamping, or even posession of the weapon used will only provide a connection to the gun shop that originally sold the gun or if there is registration of guns as well, a connection in some cases to a previous owner of the firearm.

That won’t help.

We have actual numbers on this stuff. They are released by the FBI and most states every single year, and wide-ranging reports, even those submitted by Clinton Administration appointees and staff in the justice department have concluded that the vast majority of crimes are committed by people with previously existing criminal records, which bars any legal purchase of a firearm, people under age to posesss a firearm legally, and in a staggeringly large percentage of cases, where the gun is stolen or obtained from an illegal black market, so far removed from the original source that tracing is virtually impossible.

Essentially, their excuse for logic is that the thing they want to use for crime solving is the one thing they are absolutely certain to not have, even with the most stringent of registration/microstamping provisions.

First, there are a grand total of about 500-600 unsolved homicides in California each year. About 2/3 of those (following national statistics) are committed with a firearm. Many of these are caught the following year, so the real number of cases where absent more information on the gun could possibly help solve otherwise unsolved cases is already very small. Knowing who used to have the gun legally is of very little help in most cases.

Microstamping, even if it were trivial to do and worked every time rests upon the idea that there are lots of cases where:

  1. A registered gun is used in a crime by a legal gun owner or someone to whom he knowingly gave the gun
  2. Which isn’t a revolver
  3. The perpetrator doesn’t pick up his brass
  4. The perpetrator keeps the gun after committing a crime with it instead of reporting it lost/stolen
  5. The perpetrator is not otherwise tied to the crime
  6. The perpetrator hasn’t altered the gun to defeat registration/microstamping requirements

Is this true for more than a handful of cases? For this they want to spend millions, make ammunition AND firearms prohibitively expensive for all but the well-to-do and cost the state yet more jobs as anyone who is in the firearms business or cares about their human right of self defense, rapidly flees the Golden State.  Like the famous “assault weapon” ban, where the Justice department noted that fewer than .75% of gun crimes were committed by “assault weapons” and that hi-capacity magazines seemed to make no difference in terms of numbers of people injured or in rounds fired, this is another solution to a problem that doesn’t exist outside Sarah Brady’s fantasies.

I gave up on Democrat politicians showing any common sense on gun control a long time ago, but this is enough to make my jaded opinions sit back in awe.  This is beyond stupid. As a matter of fact:


Posted in Crime, firearms, gun control, Guns Dammit!, hoplophobia, Left-Wing Nut-Jobery, Politics, Prison and Justice, Stupid Idea Watch | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Permanent Second-Class Citizenship

Posted by Bill Nance on August 30, 2009

SayUncle has a tidbit that I enjoyed reading, especially the comments on the post because they pose some interesting questions that go to the heart of our criminal Justice system.

The Juice:

The North Carolina Supreme Court says a 2004 law that bars convicted felons from having a gun, even within their own home or business, is unconstitutional.

Good. Civil rights should be restored once your debt to society is paid.

I often disagree with posts on this blog but here I think he nails it.

Historically the concept of “criminal records” are a fairly new thing. Once upon a time if you committed a crime, went to prison and got out, you could move to a new town or state and start all over again. Now, once you commit any crime anywhere, that record stays with you forever.

The problem with this is that when we release someone who has served their sentence, they enter into a lifetime of second-class citizenship. They can’t vote, they can’t own a firearm for self defense and they are barred from many many jobs where “being a felon” instantly puts them out of the running, even if their crime had nothing to do with the job. With the advent of $20 internet-based criminal record searches that absolutely anyone can run you can’t even lie about your past and have any hope of it not coming up.

A felony record, or for that matter even a misdemeanor conviction can keep you from obtaining anything more than menial employment at minimum wage forever. Is that the price we want to impose for owning an eagle feather? Yes, that’s a felony. As are countless other victimless crimes.

Think about that for a minute. An 18-year-old fool does something incredibly stupid, like taking a joy-ride in a stolen car, gets caught, does a couple of years in prison (which is hardly a trivial price to pay for an hour’s stupidity that didn’t hurt anyone) and forever more is consigned to wear a scarlet letter of FELON, no matter where he goes or how he lives his life no matter how virtuous.

And people wonder why we have high recidivism rates?

What’s the purpose of a criminal justice system anyway? Would not most people agree that it’s primarily to keep people safe from people who would prey on them, serve as an example to other would-be criminals and give the public some sense that justice is being done? Beyond that I suppose you could add rehabilitation, but experience shows prison is a lousy place for that. To deter people from re-offending you ghave to offer some hope for a future. Our current system does not. Quite the opposite.

I’m not talking about being soft on perpetrators. If you commit a serious crime the penalties should be stiff. If you attempt murder I’m quite content with locking your ass up for a very, very long time, possibly forever. If you break into a house you should do years, not months. I could go on down the list, but hey, committing a serious crime and getting caught should hurt. A lot.

But keeping people who have served every day of their sentences as second class citizens forever is just plain counter-productive. If you’re still dangerous, you shouldn’t be getting out of prison. If you’re not, then it’s time to wipe the slate clean, at least as far as the general public will ever know, and letting you start out fresh with the ability to make a new life. After all, it’s not like starting out fresh at age 30 after a ten-year prison sentence is a walk in the park under any circumstances, record or no record.

I’m fine with the courts keeping records. And I’m fine with the concept of throwing away the key on repeat serious offenders. But what we’re doing with the current system is throwing away the key on people who have made one serious mistake. And think about it for a moment: If you’re to be consigned to a life of minimum wage jobs and sucking up to the boss in fear he’ll fire you and you won’t get another just as crappy job, why the Hell would you not go back into crime? We’re asking people to make entirely irrational choices and then we’re surprised when they give us the finger.

Let them do their time. Eliminate parole. But once they’re out, restore their rights. All of them. Anything else is just tyranny to no purpose an makes even rehabilitated folks want to go back to breaking the law. What the Hell, at least that has some dignity to it, risk or no risk.

Posted in Crime, firearms, Law & Order, Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I wanna kill him but…

Posted by Bill Nance on December 21, 2008

New Hampshire is getting set to execute someone for the first time in 49 years.


MANCHESTER, N.H. – A jury on Thursday issued New Hampshire’s first death sentence in a half century to Michael Addison, who fatally shot a Manchester police officer two years ago.

…Addison had been on a crime spree the week before the shooting and had said he would “pop a cop” if necessary. When Briggs, 35, and his bicycle partner came across Addison and friend Antoine Bell-Rogers in an alley early on Oct. 16, 2006, they recognized the men as a suspects in a recent shooting and two armed robberies and ordered them to stop. Addison turned and shot Briggs in the head at close range, testimony showed.

Prosecutors called the shooting cold-blooded and premeditated.

Well, assuming they got the right guy, and given the statements of the defense lawyer I don’t see any reason to doubt it, it looks like New Hampshire will have one less criminal to worry about -In about 15 years when all the appeals run out. I for one, won’t be sorry to see the guy go.

And yet, I’m still, in practice, against the death penalty. I won’t disagree that sounds completely contradictory to the statement above.

I’m not squeamish about imposing death for a horrible crime. There are some six billion people on planet earth and losing one of the least desirable among them is no tragedy in my book.  Philosophically I’m all for the death penalty. One less scumbag to worry about.

I’m also not particularly concerned about the implications for the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

As long as the execution is reasonably quick, I don’t care what the method is. A 12-gauge deer slug to the back of the head will pretty much explode the entire skull. It’s messy, but not overly painful. If you’re squeamish about blood, then don’t be an executioner. If anything, lethal injection seems a far more cruel method than simply shooting someone, using the guillotine, or even hanging. -Even a poorly done hanging should result in unconsciousness in about 30 seconds tops. After that who cares how long it takes for the heart to stop beating?

So what’s the problem? It’s simply that the death penalty isn’t imposed fairly, evenly or only in cases when there is absolutely no doubt about who is guilty.

In fact, as opposed to theory, the death penalty is imposed in vastly disproportionate numbers against people of color and the poor. And, as we’re finding out from research done by places like the Innocence Project, is often imposed in cases where the person in question isn’t even guilty.

I don’t see any way past this. We live in the real world, not an ideal one. Juries and judges and most importantly, prosecuting attorneys, often have axes to grind which have nothing to do with the specific crime in question. People get convicted based on “confessions” which it later turns out were beaten out of them by the police, racist views of juries, public hysteria, etc.

You can, at least in theory, get someone freed after appeals and further investigation show them to be innocent. You can’t un-execute people. Nor should we be executing people based on what’s good for the career of prosecuting attorneys. It’s rare in the extreme for well-represented white people with resources to spend on private investigators, expert witnesses, etc. to even get charged with capital murder. The cases are harder to try and the liklihood that the jury will decide on a lesser crime is also much much higher than with poor defendants represented by ill-prepared, inexperienced public defenders with almost no resources.

It’s an ugly fact, but it’s still a fact. Prosecutors don’t like to lose. And they won’t often bring charges they don’t think will stick, regardless of the facts.

Life in prison without possibility of parole is hardly a light sentence. Until we find a way to fix all the problems of our judicial system,  and I don’t think we ever will, it should be the maximum allowable. That it doesn’t satisfy some people’s desire for vengeance is no argument. My desire for public vengeance shouldn’t mean we execute someone. We don’t, and shouldn’t, have a judicial system to assuage my feelings. If we did, then every victim of every crime would be justified in calling for execution. Have your house robbed and everything of value you own taken from you (Something that’s happened to me) and see how you feel about the culprits. Only fear of the law kept me from exacting a very personal piece of justice that would have been vastly out of proportion to the crime -“I’ma to get medieval on yo ass” kind of retribution. And it’s a good thing the law was there. I would have regretted my actions later.

It’s not being squeamish, it’s about being fair and just. We may not always be able to pull it off, but we should always try. And getting rid of the death penalty is one way we can effectively get about doing that. My emotions may scream “hang ’em high,” but my intellect knows better.

Posted in Law & Order, News & Analysis, Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

What would you do?

Posted by Bill Nance on December 19, 2008

From the Houston Press:

It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn’s home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.

As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.”

Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the “tight shorts” she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn’s attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.

After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.

Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond’s school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.

“I think we’ll be okay,” says Griffin. “I don’t think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who’s just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she’s a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She’s scared to death.”

Since the incident more than two years ago, Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.
Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.

Three words: Get a rope.

Once again, a black child is abused by white police officers in Texas, the most unrepentantly racist, redneck, ignorant state in the country. Once again, in the cause of pursuing a completely victimless crime in the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the iron fist of government comes down and uses Gestapo tactics against citizens.

When will people wake up and demand action?

The sad part here is that Daddy didn’t come out and just shoot all three of these thugs. Live and learn. I won’t make the same mistake.

-Nuf said

Hat Tip -TFS Magnum

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, Crime, Law & Order, Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Drug-war stupidity

Posted by Bill Nance on December 11, 2008

Mark Kleiman has some thoughts on the drug-war he posted a couple of days ago that really typify the mentality that government needs to be involved in protecting us from ourselves and that high taxes and restrictions are the way to do it. He appropriately blasts Anti-Drug-Boss John Walters, but in the same breath goes on to talk about how Mommy Government should be keeping us all safe and warm.

I like Kleiman. He’s a very bright guy and God knows we’re in agreement on the Prison Industrial Complex’s corroding effects on society. But he’s just so far out with this post I have to comment.

The Juice:

Walters (Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy) still doesn’t know the difference between drug use and drug abuse; he appears to be blissfully unworried about drug-related violence here or in Mexico (where it’s now bordering on civil war) or the contribution of our insistence on spraying poppy crops to the al-Qaeda resurgence in Afghanistan; he still doesn’t think HIV is worth a mention; and of course more than a million drug arrests per year and half a million drug offenders in prison are just peachy-keen, as long as fewer kids are smoking pot or trying MDMA or LSD. Walters thinks methamphetamine use has “collapsed.” With unerring accuracy, he praises futile and trivial anti-drug efforts while ignoring the genuine progress being made in breaking up street drug markets and forcing probationers to quit.

And of course Walters cites the alcohol problem as a reason not to change policies on any of the currently illicit drugs, without ever hinting that there are simple policy changes (higher taxes, restrictions on sales to drunk drivers and drunken assailants) that could actually do something about alcohol, the drug which accounts for more than 80% of the victims of substance abuse disorders: proof positive that Walters and his buddies are more interested in fighting the culture wars than in reducing the prevalence of substance abuse. (emphasis mine).

So let me get this straight Mark, you think we should have background checks at liquor stores? Seriously? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Honestly, I can’t believe you actually wrote that.

How about we do something really simple: Stop involving the government in totally private, non-destructive behaviors by trying to use the tax code or coercion by force to enforce compliance with someone else’s idea of “what’s best for us.”

How about we put people in jail who commit crimes and not let them out until they’ve served a long enough sentence to be considered no longer dangerous, and then leave them the Hell alone instead of tattooing a “criminal” label on their foreheads for the rest of their lives. If they’re dangerous, what the f*** are they doing out on the street? And if they aren’t, why do we continue to hassle them? They paid their debt to society, leave ’em alone already.

Drug use by itself is of at most, marginally problematic from a social perspective. Does it cause problems? Sure. Are they so horrendous we need government to interfere with the mere use? HELL NO.  There are such things which are massively socially destructive. Like say, 15 MPG cars that cause us to get in wars due to dependence on oil. Tax THAT. Some crack monkey smacking his wife because he’s wacked out is not remotely on that level of destructiveness. Put him in jail for using his wife as a punching bag, otherwise leave him alone to his vices. Higher taxes encourage crime to avoid taxes. This is exactly the problem with governments trying to play Mommy. They tax or ban something to solve a marginal social problem and the solution begets problems far worse than the one they intend to solve. Unless you think massive organized crime organizations whose major source of money are banned/taxed substances are no big deal I guess.

Restrict it to adults. Put enough taxes on the stuff to pay for lots of rehabs and massive anti-drug advertising. Ban advertising and brand-names on the drugs.

And then prosecute people who commit crimes.

The use of the drugs isn’t the problem. It’s the very small percentage of people who, having cheap and easy access to drugs, will commit crimes. These are the people who belong in jail. Blaming the drugs for the crimes of people who are responsible for their own behavior is a cop-out,  just as blaming booze for drunk-driving doesn’t wash.

This is a simple freedom issue. When people get tired of living in a police-state they will do something about it. Until then, there will be gradual and incremental de-criminalization. But de-criminalization isn’t the goal. It’s just a step in the right direction.

De-criminalization of drug use won’t stop addicts from needing to break into your house because they have to pay 100 times the actual cost of a product merely because of the fact it’s illegal. De-criminalization of use won’t stop the DEA from it’s Gestapo tactics or the continual abridgment of our fourth amendment rights. And de-criminalization of use won’t  stop all that drug money from going to the most ruthless and evil criminals and terrorist organizations in the world.

The one and only way you effectively deal with the drug “problem,” is complete legalization, restricted to adults only, with appropriate draconian penalties for sale to minors. Fund the rehabs, advertise the problems with using drugs. It’s worked quite well with cigarettes. But do not compromise the essential issue of personal freedom.

If I want to snort cocaine until my nasal passages are jelly and my brain is mush, that’s my business and no one else’s. Until I do harm to you or your property, it’s none of your damned business. To pretend anything else is making a deal with the devil.

Posted in Law & Order, News & Analysis, Politics, Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

New criminal tactic: Kill an entire family, wait 15 years THEN say your confession was coerced.

Posted by Bill Nance on November 11, 2008

I was shocked tonight to see an article in a newspaper near where I used to work and live.  Forgive me if the news is a couple of weeks old, but I just had to write something about this particular incident.

The sun was out and it was unseasonably warm the morning of Wednesday, March 24, 1993. At the time I was working for a trio of weekly papers and a monthly business journal and had a “beat” covering crime. I got a call from a source at a local law enforcement agency that morning telling me to drop what I was doing and hustle myself out to an address in Outlook, Washington. He didn’t say why, he just said: “You’ve gotta see this.”

The address in Outlook, which sits just across the interstate from the sleepy farming town of Granger, famous locally for it’s annual cherry festival, was up a short gravel road and turned out to be a trailer/mobile-home. Some police were present, including my source, and while no one was looking I was able to quickly enter the crime scene and have a peek into the home.

The scene was chaotic and I was quickly chased out, but what I saw was enough to last me a lifetime. An entire family of four had been murdered.

A six-year old had been bludgeoned to death while hiding in his bed with what later turned out to be a piece of firewood, as well as receiving multiple stab-wounds. The father of the family, who was disabled,  had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death trying to defend his family. The 12-year-old was stabbed to death as he begged for his mother’s life and the mother, surprised in the shower was stabbed multiple times, killing her.

The entire county was shocked. It was the most horrific crime on record in Central Washington. People purchased firearms, those with concealed-carry permits made sure they were armed. Children were kept off streets.

No one could imagine that it would be two 14-year-old boys who would be the culprits.

It took police remarkably little time to find Joel Ramos and Miguel Gaitan, both gang members and residents of Granger and even less time for Ramos to confess to the murders, claiming they had committed the crime to impress other gang members. As I recall, one of the boys had been living in California and had been involved with a notoriously violent gang there. He had been shipped off to Granger to get him out of the gang. -He brought it with him.

To say the community was outraged does not begin to describe the unanimous outcry. “Get a rope,” was the least extreme reaction heard in every coffee shop in the county. (They still hang people in Washington).

Since the two were so young, the death-penalty was excluded. Ramos pled guilty, receiving an 80-year sentence and making him ineligible for release until he was 82-years-old, and Gaitan, after trial, received four consecutive life terms.

This crime is one of two things I saw as a reporter which to this day give me nightmares. But I thought at least in this case that justice had been served. No death penalty, but at least the two would either never get out of prison, or would be octogenarians when they were released.

But 15 years after the crimes, Ramos is claiming his confession was coerced, and what’s more, had the chutzpah to ask for bail while the appeal works its way though the courts. Thankfully, the request was denied.

Of course even if Ramos wins his appeal, he will be tried again (at no doubt ruinous cost) and he will try, and fail, to be tried as a juvenile. Since his age at the time of the crime will still rule out the death penalty, the communal veangance which I would like (and am rightfully barred from obtaining) will not be forthcoming. (I doubt he has a prayer of a succesful jury trial). However, I certainly hope he gets the same four consecutive life terms as Gaitan.

Have fun in Walla Walla, scumbag. When it’s over I can only say I wish there was an actual Hell for you to rot in.

Posted in Crime, Prison and Justice | 1 Comment »

And you thought bad teachers were hard to get rid of

Posted by Bill Nance on September 7, 2008

Corrupt or brutal police officers in Chicago don’t get fired, they just…get suspended.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Police Board has repeatedly refused to fire police officers convicted of wrongful shootings, abuse of authority, brutality and habitual drunkenness on the job.

Some examples:

  • Two officers who were later charged criminally in federal court, one for unrelated weapons violations and another for the on-duty beating of a man in a wheelchair.
  • An officer who allegedly printed 13 photos of a woman from the Police Department’s arrest database and gave them to a friend who was later convicted of attempted murder for shooting her and another man.

But before cop-haters get outraged… The police department is the one crying foul. They want to fire these bad apples. The bottleneck? A police board appointed by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Does that name sound familiar in the context of police misconduct? It should.

The board hears cases brought by the police department against allegedly errant officers, decides them in secret, and releases no justifications for their decisions. Police department management is outraged. Their only recourse is to file a lawsuit and prove that the board’s decision is against the “manifest weight of the evidence.” But they still can’t fire the cop in question. The case just goes back to the board.

The Juice:

Of 80 officers the superintendent sought to fire over that five-year period, just 21 were dismissed. Thirty-nine were suspended — some for as long as three years — even though the Police Board found them guilty of violating department rules. Twenty officers were restored to duty after being found not guilty by the board.

So this board thinks that when the Chicago Police Department seeks to get rid of one of it’s own for misconduct, they are only right in one out of four cases?

This mayor-appointed board makes teachers unions look like the very model of public accountability and responsibility.

Posted in Law & Order, Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sanity at work

Posted by Bill Nance on August 21, 2008

In Lake County Illinois, the Sheriff is trying to find out what’s going on in his jail in a unique way; he’s incarcerating himself.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“As he walked into his own jail to spend a week behind bars, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said he’s confident his self-imposed sentence will be worthwhile.

‘It’s a decision that in my gut I knew was the right decision to do,” Curran said Wednesday after switching from a gray business suit into blue jail fatigues. “The reasons are very personal to me and I believe in them. There’s no looking back.’

Curran plans to live in a cell, eat jail food, mingle and talk with other inmates in common areas, even do kitchen duty and join a jail work crew. He’ll also attend numerous programs offered in the facility.

That immersion, he said, should give him more insight into everything from safety issues to what programs may be needed to help inmates straighten out their lives.”

Are thinking Brubaker too?

I have been a volunteer at various times in county jails and state prisons in two different states, including maximum security institutions. I can tell you form personal knowledge that the conditions in these places are often deplorable, and, more to the point, produce worse problems than the ones they try to solve.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no bleeding heart. I’ve met plenty of inmates who were down-right scary; people I pray never EVER get out. And in philosophical terms, I’ve no objection to capital punishment for the worst offenders.

But our prison and justice system is deeply flawed, often corrupt, and frankly is a security risk to all of us, because it routinely turns out people who are are more likely to commit crimes than they were upon incarceration.

It’s gratifying to see someone in charge taking an interest in actually addressing problems instead of trying to look like a tough-guy and get re-elected.

Posted in Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »