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Will Privatizing Child Protection Protect Georgia’s Children? Yes and No.

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As Georgia prepares to follow in Florida’s footsteps in privatizing child protection services, there has been a lot of politicking but little talk about the real issues that lead to failures to protect children “in the system.”  Privatization in Florida has been a very mixed bag, with some counties improving their performance and other counties mired in scandals involving the private non-profit agencies hired to protect children.  It’s reasonable to expect that Georgia will fare a little better, but don’t expect the failure rate to drop — or rise — significantly.

The failures lie in policies enforced by the courts, and nobody is talking about reforming those policies.

Like Florida, Georgia plans to eventually privatize the services that come after an investigation has determined a child is in danger, namely: foster care, family “reunification” interventions, and adoption.  State workers will continue to be responsible for investigating abuse, and courts will still be responsible for deciding if a child should be removed from a home, returned to a home, or adopted.

Private agencies do a great job with adoption, and some of them do a better job than the state in supervising foster care.  Much of this care is already done through public-private partnerships in Georgia.  But in all the politicized talk about private versus public, little has been said about the real  problem with our child protection services.

The problem is the mandate to keep families together or achieve “reunification” as soon as possible.

Approximately a decade ago, many states began to move towards a model of keeping families together, no matter the cost.  Florida went further than Georgia, though it wasn’t an issue tied to privatization because that part of child protection is still performed by state agencies.

And now Florida is counting the bodies.

In an extraordinary report, the Miami Herald investigated the deaths of 477 children who  had prior contacts with child protection services.  477 — since just 2008.  The Herald makes a strong case for blaming the mandate for “family preservation” for many of those deaths:

They tumbled into canals and drowned, baked in furnace-like cars, were soaked in corrosive chemicals, incinerated, beaten mercilessly, and bounced off walls and concrete pavement. One was jammed into a cooler posthumously; others were wrapped like a mummy to silence their cries, flattened by a truck, overdosed and starved. An infant boy was flung from a moving car on an interstate. A 2-year-old girl was killed by her mom’s pet python.

The children were not just casualties of bad parenting, but of a deliberate shift in Florida child welfare policy. DCF leaders made a decision, nearly 10 years ago, to reduce by as much as half the number of children taken into state care, adopting a philosophy known as family preservation. They also, simultaneously, slashed services, monitoring and protections for the increased number of children left with their violent, neglectful, mentally ill or drug-addicted parents.

Public or private, the child protection system is dealing with multigenerational problems that are far more severe than most people realize.  It’s easy to criticize government social workers, or to lash out at efforts by private agencies.  The hard part is acknowledging that “family preservation” may be the wrong goal:

Rather than go to court to force parents to get treatment or counseling, the state often relied on “safety plans” — written promises by parents to sin no more. Many of the pledges carried no meaningful oversight. Children died — more than 80 of them — after their parents signed one or, in some cases, multiple safety plans.

• Parents were given repeated chances to shape up, and failed, and failed and failed again, and still kept their children. In at least 34 cases, children died after DCF had logged 10 or more reports to the agency’s abuse and neglect hotline. Six families had been the subject of at least 20 reports.

The decision to prioritize family unification was made by bureaucrats and politicians from across the political spectrum.  Liberals defend state agencies and argue that biological parents should receive as many resources as possible to keep their children; conservatives argue for the primacy of family and against state involvement.  Failure is bipartisan:

“It’s the system that’s broken. When numbers take over instead of outcomes for people, you are doomed to failure,” said James Harn, a 30-year law enforcement officer who spent his last nine years as a commander supervising child abuse investigators at the Broward Sheriff’s Office before leaving a year ago. “They want to keep families together, but at what cost?”

Prioritizing family preservation is just one policy error.  Others involve the increasingly hands-off attitude towards the family arrangements of women living on public services and the leniency granted to serial offenders in the courts.  
Social workers have had little power since the 1960’s to insist that women on welfare live alone with their children, rather than inviting a boyfriend, or a series of men into their state-subsidized homes.  These unattached men frequently abuse the children they are living with:

The night before Aaden Batista died, his killer played a baseball game on his Xbox, smoked marijuana and gave the toddler a bath.

As Aaden’s mother, Whitney Flower, worked as a medical assistant at a nearby hospital, Jason Padgett Sr. prepared the toddler for bed, putting on his diaper before, ultimately, viciously shaking him and slamming his head on the floor. . .

Aaden became part of the yearly count of children killed at the hands of paramours — child welfare’s oddly genteel term to describe boyfriends or girlfriends of custodial parents. Protecting children from abusive paramours is one of the great challenges facing the Department of Children & Families.

“Paramours are a huge red flag,” said Richard Gelles, dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as chairman of child welfare at the school. “They are enormously over-represented as the slayers of young children.”

Under-prosecution and under-incarceration, especially for domestic violence, presents another problem.  Expect this problem to grow worse as “Right on Crime” Republicans, left and right-wing libertarians, leftists, and liberals join forces to shrink our criminal  justice system and empty the prisons.  Their political kumbaya moment is going to mean more violence, more crime, and more murders.   You need only peruse the Miami child death report to find evidence of hundreds of people who have been granted serial leniency in our allegedly-harsh justice system:

In the pre-dawn hours of May 5, 2009, Jasmine Bedwell had to make a decision: Take more blows or more chokes — but try to rescue her son from the clutches of her enraged boyfriend — or go find help. She left and borrowed a cellphone to call 911.




Timothy Alan Oates: Florida Under Gov. Bob Graham Let Another Child Rapist Free To Rape Again, Thank God for Registries


. . . The bad old days.  This is Timothy Allen Oates:

In 1987, according to the Tampa Bay Times, he was sentenced to “27 years for ransom, attempted sexual battery on an adult and indecent assault on a child younger than 16.”  Actually it looks like it was ten years.

In any case, he was not supposed to be out of prison until 1997.  Or maybe 2014.  But he only served four years.  He got out in 1991, and guess what he did next?  He went back to prison for additional charges (and some of what may be the same charges).  In 1993, he was sentenced to 27 years and served ten years and nine months.  He got out a second time in 2004.

And then guess what he did next?  We don’t know the whole story, but last month he allegedly molested at least one child younger than 12 and took off for Washington State.

So why was he released in 1991, just a few years after being sentenced for multiple, violent sex crimes?  Why did he receive a sentence of 27 years in 1993 and get out a little more than ten years later?

In order to understand this case, you have to do a bit of digging.  Here is his record with the Department of Corrections.  This first block is the sentencing from 1987.  The second block is the sentencing from 1993.  The third block is the time he actually served in prison.  Look at the dates of the offenses — the 2/1/87 and 9/2/87 offenses appear in both sentencings.  The 5/18/86 charge was only part of the 1987 court decision, while a new 3/1/92 charge appears in 1993.  So my guess is that he was released VERY early for the first set of charges, then re-offended the minute he got out, then was re-sentenced on some crimes and given additional time for the new charges.

There are some other things to understand: he was 23 when he was first sentenced for this set of crimes.  So we don’t know if he had a juvenile record.  He was given a serious second chance, then he went right back into prison.  He got a third chance after his sentence was cut by more than 60%.  Now he’s been caught again.

This is what crime control was like in the 1980’s.  Things got better in the 1990’s, but not enough.  What does it take to put away a child rapist?  I’ll get back to you when we figure that out.

Thank God for sex crime registries.  Without registration, this guy would still be on the loose.  If only the media would mention that once in a while.

Prior Prison History: (Note: Data reflected covers periods of incarceration with the Florida Dept.of Corrections since January of 1983)
Offense Date Offense Sentence Date County Case No. Prison Sentence Length
05/18/1986 L/L, INDEC.ASLT CHILD U/16 09/29/1987 HILLSBOROUGH 8607334 10Y 0M 0D
09/02/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 09/29/1987 HILLSBOROUGH 8711422 10Y 0M 0D
02/01/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 09/29/1987 HILLSBOROUGH 8711423 10Y 0M 0D

Current Prison Sentence History:

Offense Date Offense Sentence Date County Case No. Prison Sentence Length
09/02/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 03/11/1993 HILLSBOROUGH 8711422 27Y 0M 0D
02/01/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 03/11/1993 HILLSBOROUGH 8711423 27Y 0M 0D
02/01/1987 SEX BAT BY ADULT/VCTM LT 12(ATTEMPTED) 03/11/1993 HILLSBOROUGH 8711423 27Y 0M 0D
03/01/1992 KIDNAP;COMM.OR FAC.FELONY 12/09/1993 PINELLAS 9206504 27Y 0M 0D
03/01/1992 L/L, INDEC.ASLT CHILD U/16 12/09/1993 PINELLAS 9206504 15Y 0M 0D


Incarceration History:
Date In-Custody Date Out-of-Custody
10/02/1987 11/27/1991
04/08/1993 01/01/2004

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: Apologize to Sarah Palin: Updated


***Updated below***

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is quoted in the New York Times today sexually slurring Sarah Palin.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

The mayor, who is about to represent the city in hosting the Republican National Convention, apparently finds it terribly amusing that a local strip club is featuring a Sarah Palin look-alike who will imitate the Governor while stripping and selling her body.

This is an act of sexual vandalism against Palin.  Apparently, the New York Times, the Tampa Tribune, and the mayor of Tampa find the degradation merely amusing.

“I wonder whether the look-alike will be able to see Russia from the stage,” the mayor snickered.  In the New York Times.

It’s hard to imagine more inappropriate behavior from the elected official who will welcome Republicans to the city.  In my opinion, he should step away from that job now.  How could he possibly greet Palin after abusing her this way?

The Times deserves censure, too (as does the Tampa Tribune, which ran an earlier, even sleazier version of the story).

Apparently all the Times’ posturing about the dignity of women and the “war on women” doesn’t extend to Republican women.  We’re just supposed to take this sort of stuff lying down:

Over at the back door of the 2001 Odyssey, a limo-size tent with flaps — especially designed for discretion and camera-shy guests — is ready to go up. Déjà Vu is welcoming extra “talent” from around the country in its V.I.P. rooms.

And Thee DollHouse is all Americana: women plan to slip out of red, white and blue corsets and offer red, white and blue vodka. The headliner that week is expected to bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain ex-governor from a wilderness state, known for her strong jaw and devotion to guns and God.

“She’s a dead ringer for her,” said Warren Colazzo, co-owner of Thee DollHouse. “It’s just a really good gimmick to get publicity.”

Here is Bob Buckhorn’s phone number.  Let him know how you feel about embarrassing the city, the RNC, and Governor Palin.  And let the Times and the Tampa Tribune know that they have crossed a serious ethical line by publishing such slimy stories.  Cheap political shots aren’t journalism.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (813) 274-8251

New York Times Ombudsman Arthur S. Brisbane (212) 556-7652,

Tampa Tribune (813) 259-7711


***Update*** The Buckhorn/Palin story just got worse: Miami Herald political reporter Marc Caputo is sleazily bragging that the stripper “playing” Palin is the porn star paid by Hustler magazine to star as the Governor in a porn production with an unprintable title (way to go, Miami Herald, for printing it).  Hustler, Miami Herald — now, what’s the difference, again? 

To complain about Marc Caputo, e-mail the Herald’s Ombudsman at:  Ironically, the  paper’s ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, just wrote a column, “Looking for Ways to Tame Poisonous Words on the Web,” about commenters who are “venomous, profane and verge on being libelous.”  Schumater-Matos could start by weeding out such behavior in his own staff.


Radicals Coming to Tampa to Disrupt the RNC, Using Your Money . . . and Soros Grants

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The Republican Convention in Tampa is only a few weeks away.  The Occupy movement seems to be missing in action or washing their socks, but other activists are still preparing to disrupt the convention.  Teamsters, Welfare Rights groups, “Graduate Assistant” coalitions, the ‘new SDS’ and coalitions of subsidized professional agitators such as the Committee to Stop FBI Repression are making plans to descend on Tampa.

Last month, these activists used the taxpayer-funded facilities of the University of South Florida to plan their attack.  Why did USF President Judy Genshaft allow our property to be used by a bunch of radicals who are openly planning to disrupt an important political event and violate the speech and participation rights of ordinary Americans?

Here is a description of the protest planning that took place on taxpayer-funded property:

About 50 people from across the country gathered here June 16, on the University of South Florida campus, for the Coalition to March on the Republican National Convention Organizers Conference. There were representatives from more than 30 labor unions, student organizations, anti-war groups and immigrant rights groups from Florida, Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina, including the Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida, Students for a Democratic Society, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the United National Anti War Coalition, and Students Working for Equal Rights.

The conference focused on reaching out to groups and organizations opposed to the Republican agenda, in order to bring them to Tampa for the march. . .

Marisol Marquez and Fernando Figueroa, two of the lead Florida organizers for the Coalition to March on the RNC, facilitated a full schedule of workshops and planning sessions aimed at building for the march on August 27, the first day of the convention.

“The Coalition to March on the RNC is a group effort, in every sense of the word,” said Figueroa. “We’re hosting this conference so all of our coalition partners – workers, students, immigrants, and others – can build for this historic march in August behind a unified message and a cohesive organizing strategy.”

Mick Kelly, an organizer of the massive protest at the 2008 Republican Convention urged an all out national mobilization for the opening day of the RNC. Joe Iosbaker, a key organizer of May’s NATO Summit protest, summed up the key lessons of the Chicago demonstration. Tracy Molm of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression noted that the government would work to derail the planned protest. Angel Buechner, of the Twin Cites based Welfare Rights Committee stated that low-income people would join the Coalition’s march. . .

[O]n Friday, July 27, coalition partners will hold demonstrations, pickets and protests outside of local Republican Party headquarters or corporate sponsors of the Convention.

“The city of Tampa insists on restricting our right to protest the agenda of the Republican Party,” said Richard Blake, a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 385 and organizer with the Coalition to March on the RNC. “

Aww, the Teamsters feel “silenced.”  When did the Teamsters start channeling an Oprah audience?  Jimmy Hoffa must be squirming in his grave, wherever that is.

Unfortunately, some city officials in Tampa Bay have been caving to the protesters and granting them special access to elected officials, access not available to the real residents who pay public officials’ salaries and foot the city’s bills.

Occupy Protesters are also coalitioning with the radical Food Not Bombs to protest the RNC.  Food Not Bombs is a group that ought to be watched closely: they operate as a front group, using the excuse that they’re  “feeding vegan meals to the homeless” while they set up camps that serve as cover for radical activists.  FNB is packing up their seitan snacks and heading to Tampa Bay.  Don’t let the happy faces fool you:

Here is an interesting blog post from one local activist trying (and not exactly succeeding) to get involved in the “real” protest planning:

[D]elegations from St. Pete, Lakeland, Sarasota, Bradenton, and Tampa converged on Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa [June 4]. Occupy Tampa had felt a need to do some planning for the Republican National Convention (RNC) . . .  So far, I know of Resist The RNCOccupy The RNC, and March On The RNC, along with the official RNC itself. Within minutes of arriving at the Regional Gathering, I had gathered that although these separate groups are each coordinating strategy, tactics, and logistics for the RNC, they may not be coordinating with each other. And, at the moment, they are tight-lipped about their plans.

The activist writing this must not be not a member of the “in” group of radical protesters.  Interesting that the activists in charge are keeping such a tight lock-down on their real plans, concealing things from other activists who are trying to get involved in their events.  The blogger continues:

Upon our arrival, Food Not Bombs was on the scene serving a vegan lunch to all attendees. In Sarasota, the thoughtful Food Not Bombs crew has served the hungry during a number of the weekly Occupy rallies. I recognized Katie, who had been active with Occupy Tampa and is now volunteering with Food Not Bombs. I have met many people for whom the Occupy Movement has been a conduit, connecting their sense of injustice and disillusionment with a local activist group that stirs their passion. Like the Occupy Movement, Food Not Bombs is composed of volunteers who are dedicated to nonviolent, societal change. Like Occupy, each local group is autonomous. Like Occupy, there are no leaders and they involve everybody in the decision-making process. And like Occupy, Food Not Bombs supports protests organized by others. With that in mind, it is no surprise that they have decided to have an international convention in Tampa, during the week leading up to the RNC. Undoubtedly, there will be many more groups calling for a national march on the RNC.

Bull.  Food Not Bombs is actually planning a pre-RNC invasion, starting August 20.  They’re calling it VEGANPALOOZA, and it has nothing to do with really “feeding the poor.”  Instead, it will enable FNB to establish camps throughout Tampa and refuse to leave while glomming attention from partisan, naive, or headline-hungry media types.  And what happens when they refuse to stay inside the protest zones meticulously planned by the ACLU and Tampa government?

What, exactly, will happen with all that nice, friendly, egalitarian and inclusive “protest planning” being showered on the activists by our City Council?  The protesters will ignore it, like they do at every event where city officials give them an inch — or a mile.  It’s not about “free speech.”  It’s about disrupting an actually free and peaceful gathering — the Republican National Convention.

The Tampa City Council is setting itself up as a pasty.  They’re bending over backwards to please the ACLU and the National Lawyer’s Guild, as those groups act in bad faith with the city.  Of court they’re being abetted in this by the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Times).

It’s a vegan-based recipe for disaster.  Somebody in City Hall needs to remember who they really work for and start asking some hard questions about the deceptive tactics and “spontaneous” disruptions being planned by Food not Bombs and their peers.

The outsider-blogger continues:

I was not fully aware of the depth of activity nearby. Occupy Tampa is producing a TV show. Occupy Daytona has started a radio show. Occupy Tampa is starting a street theatre group. The OccupPlayers from Bradenton, who performed at the WSLR radio station in Sarasota a couple of months ago, is planning a performance in St. Pete and will make themselves available as requested by other locations. And for those holdouts who still like to read, there is an Occupied Tampa Tribune.

The General Assembly whipped through a number of proposals. All attained consensus, but one. The Tampa Region stands in solidarity with the student protesters in Quebec. The Tampa Region will hold a General Assembly at different locations, every two weeks, until the RNC. A most interesting proposal was brought forward to put out a National Call To Action Against Bain Capital. The actions would take place all over the country on the day Mitt Romney accepts the Republican presidential nomination. There is something almost romantic about this idea. Romney continues to receive a passive profit share and interest in Bain Capital investment funds. Bain Capital always made a profit even when the companies they bought went under, even when many workers lost their jobs, their pensions, and their healthcare. Such vulture capitalism is the poster child for what’s wrong with how our economic system functions. What better time to highlight these cold deficiencies than on the day of Romney’s acceptance speech.

A recurring concern voiced at the Gathering was dwindling participation. Leslie from Occupy Tampa was curious and concerned about attendance at other Occupations. A local religious leader made a plea for presenting a clear and constant message about the profound issues of economic inequality. He is hoping for a format that will draw people in and get them involved. Jason, who is from Tallahasse but has been staying with Occupy Tampa for the last month, threw out a concrete suggestion to the General Assembly. How about renting a truck, covering it with sheets, projecting messages onto it, and driving through Ybor City on a Friday night. Go to where the people are and make a bold statement. Leslie volunteered to coordinate outreach efforts to help bring more people out to participate.

Soon after the General Assembly came to a close, folks made signs and marched around downtown in solidarity with the Quebec students. Students there had called for a tuition freeze. Nightly protests consisted of clanging noisy pots and pans in the streets. The students wore red felt squares to symbolize being financially in the red, crushed by debt. In Canada, as in the United States, tuition hikes are leading to increasing student debt. Even after almost 100 nights of protest, the students hadn’t garnered much community support. But, when the government passed emergency legislation to limit students’ right to assemble and protest, thousands of community members flooded the streets in support. As I understand it, the strike by the Quebec students is the longest and largest student protest in Canadian history. And yet their debt is small potatoes when compared with the $1 trillion in debt taken on by college students in the United States. In addition to marching in solidarity with Quebec students, folks here are motivated by the spiraling student debt in the United States. A jubilant procession from the Tampa Regional Gathering marched through downtown, banging pots and pans and wearing red felt squares.

Oh yeah.  And possibly doing this.

Welcome to Tampa, kiddies.  It’s going to hot in those balaclavas, though:


I previously wrote about what is coming to Tampa, here.  In upcoming weeks I will detail the ways some elected officials are selling us out to the protesters.  Meanwhile, it’s time to send the city a polite but firm message: we don’t want to have to pay for anti-social radicals to have air-conditioned public facilities to plan their attack on the city.

We’re already paying enough, getting ready to prevent them from causing chaos in the street — or worse.  And why should we have to pay for this?  Why aren’t the groups listed above being sent the bill?



Today, Seattle: Tomorrow, Tampa. Or, It’s Not Registered Gun Owners Mayor Buckhorn Should be Complaining About.


While the Tampa City Council and camera-hungry Mayor Bob Buckhorn eagerly grandstand (with the aid of the MSM, of course) about the non-issue of legally registered gun-owners having their weapons with them during the Republican National Convention, take a good look at the types of problems they’re refusing to confront: violent Occupy/black bloc/anarchist thugs destroying businesses in Seattle Tuesday — and sure to be on their way to Tampa for the Republican Convention in August:

Watch the video here.  It’s disturbing. (someday, I’ll learn to imbed YouTube videos as well as the average 8-year old): wYT82Fec3cQ

Where, you might ask, are the Seattle police?  Well, spineless Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn probably reined them in, afraid that any response to these destructive thugs would turn into accusations of “police brutality” and the inevitable lawsuits.  At 2:23 in the video, the police show up . . . on bicycles.  How would you like that to be your son or daughter, wading into a hostile, club-wielding mob on a bicycle because the mayor wants to placate . . . the hostile, club-wielding mob?

Seattle Mayor McGinn.  Don’t bother shaving or anything, dude.

So businesspeople trying to make a living in Seattle are left to the mercy of the mob while the Mayor placates the looters.  Note the number of businesses that already have plexiglass or covered windows because of previous riots.  Taxpayers who pay extra to have storefronts in downtown Seattle?  Screw ’em.  Elected officials there have decided it’s worth risking the lives of their police and the safety of their citizens and the profitability of their business class — all to score brownie points with a bunch of inarticulate, screaming animals who will not only not be placated, but will be empowered by the Mayor’s impotent “gesture.”

Of course, Mayor McGinn gets a taxpayer-funded security detail.  The employees at that Niketown store being mobbed by thugs?  Not so much.  And when the store closes because its evil corporate overlords decide that it’s just not worth doing business in a place where elected officials privilege thugs over decent, ordinary citizens and businesspeople, those employees won’t have jobs, either.

I have a lot of faith in the Tampa and Hillsborough County police forces, and in the Chief of Police and the Sheriff.  But Mayor Buckhorn and some members of the Tampa City Council are beclowning themselves — on our dime — with hysteria over registered guns and other non-issues, while pandering to the wishes of the ACLU, which apparently has a direct line to the Mayor that ordinary, taxpaying citizens lack:

City officials met last week with the American Civil Liberties Union about “an exhaustive list of things” the ACLU thinks impinge on protesters’ First Amendment rights, said Joyce Hamilton Henry, director of the ACLU’s Tampa office. “The city was very receptive,” Hamilton Henry said.

How nice.  Now it’s time for Mayor Buckhorn to stop playing games and get serious.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.  On a Segway.  What is it with Mayors and Segways?


Because, these people . . .

. . . are coming to Tampa for the Convention.  And if I owned a business in the protest zone and had to shut down for a week, or shell out money for new windows, or security guards, or worry about my employees getting to and from their cars — I’d be mightily pissed off watching Mayor  Buckhorn preen for the national press over his registered-guns hobbyhorse.  I’m outside the city limits, and believe me, Bob, such feelings — and business interests — don’t stop at the train tracks.

Speaking of pissed, here’s the reason they’re banning squirt-guns at the convention:

Bottles of Human Waste for NATO Protesters to Throw on Chicago Cops

From Second City Cop, a blog out of Chicago:

This is part or the whole of an extensive stash of bottles recovered in the 010th District the other day. All filled with human waste and no doubt whatever extra fecal matter the ne’er-do-wells were able to pick up on the parkways. Counts range from 100 to 500 bottles recovered depending on the rumor you believe.  We’re sure this isn’t the only stash floating around out there. How about the Department try something novel and get the media to cover what the protestors and anarchists are planning and maybe get the public overwhelmingly on our side?

Good question, as usual, from SCC.  Someone should ask Tampa Mayor Buckhorn the same.  He could have gotten behind his city’s police officers, and gotten out in front of this, and explained the squirt-gun ban to the public, but that might have cut into his gold-plated national media tantrum.  So he said this, instead, and his pals at the Tampa Times let him get away with it.  Without, like, asking any hard questions:

“The absurdity of banning squirt guns but not being able to do anything about real guns is patently obvious,” Buckhorn said.

In other words, why behave responsibly when you can glom a few moments scoring political points on the national news — after all, what’s a few cops being doused with urine and feces (and urine mixed with bleach, and battery acid, and other silly protester stuff?)

By the way, the allegedly peaceful Tampa Coalition to March on the RNC has already issued a declaration that they stand by “diversity of tactics.”  This means, specifically, that they are rolling out the welcome mat for black bloc/anarchist and other violent protest.

So, did the mayor ask any questions about this the last time he chummily confabbed with the protesters’ lawyers at the ACLU?  

Did anyone in the media bother to ask him why not?  

Nope.  They were too busy featuring giggly thingies like this, who think it’s hilarious to mock security efforts designed to keep all of us safe — conventioneers, protesters, business owners, but most especially the police, who will be the ones dealing with the thugs — that is, when they aren’t busy arresting this woman again, when she probably ought to be at her desk at work — working for the taxpayers who employ her, that is . . .

Arrested Occupy Protester, AFSCME Union Rep, Public Employee: Your Tax Dollars at Work

So long as Mayor Buckhorn and his echo chamber at the Tampa Bay (formerly St. Pete) Times keep attacking law-abiding gun owners instead of the anarchists and Food-not-Bombs lunatics and their black bloc “diversity of tactics” peers, our brave cops can expect to be soaked with human waste; business owners can expect to be cleaning up broken glass and laying off workers, and the rest of us can expect to be footing the bill for the mayor’s pre-emptive lack of spine.  As a taxpayer, I keep expecting something something different.  But I know that’s just a personality flaw.



Occupiers Demonstrate . . . What’s Wrong With Self-Esteem Education


Occupy Protesters are laying the groundwork to create chaos in Tampa during the Republican National Convention in August.

Tampa residents need to be aware of the ways these professional activists are costing us money.  Frivolous confrontations and false accusations against the police are just the first items on the price tag for their planned temper tantrum.  I hope the city and the county show the gumption to send the bill to these activists.  The Occupiers are raising plenty of money: the fact that they’re keeping their books like some money-laundering pizzaria shouldn’t let them off the dough hook (I can say this because I once worked at a money-laundering pizzaria).  Elected officials owe it to taxpayers to sue the non-profit entities through which these protesters are collecting donations.

They aren’t the least bit hard to find.

In Tampa, the first wasteful Occupy courtroom confrontation involves activists Alicia Dion and Kevin Flynn.  Flynn and Dion claim that they weren’t given “adequate notice” before being removed from a park where they were trespassing, and they also claim that the signs stating park hours weren’t clear to them.

Essentially, their legal argument boils down to insisting that they are irresponsible and incompetent.  Their defense to a trespassing charge is that they’re not good at understanding time or reading signage.

I’ll give them that.  It’s actually a perfect expression of the types of complaints fueling the Occupy Movement. Any parent of a two-year old knows this look:

Dion and Flynn: Watch out, here comes the howling!


But there’s a less funny side to the antics of the professional activist class. Two deliberate strategies guide this and all other Occupy actions:

  • take public land and claim it for private use
  • persecute the police

Dion and Flynn were part of a planned assault on the taxpayers of Hillsborough County and false accusations against the police.  They lied in court when they said they didn’t have adequate notice for clearing out of the park, and they lied about the police’s actions:

Dion and her boyfriend, Kevin Flynn, 33, were among a small group of Occupy Tampa protesters who tested the city prohibition on Nov. 7. City parks are closed from sunset to sunrise, except during special events. At midnight, the protesters refused three warnings from police to leave the park. Police said the warnings took about a minute.

Get it?  They didn’t “not know” or “not receive warning.”  They carefully orchestrated a confrontation, and then they lied about it in court.

Those lies matter, particularly the ones about the police, because they serve as justification for all the acts of violence and abuse perpetrated by Occupy protesters against the police.  Make no mistake about it: they are trying to use the courts, right now, to lay the groundwork for chaos and lawsuits later.

Tampa residents need to educate themselves about Occupy tactics, call their representatives, and make sure we’re not left paying the tab for these goons:

Rapes, Murders at Occupy Camps:

Occupiers Dump Feces and Urine

Occupiers Taunt Police, Intimidate Journalists, Disrupt Commerce

Occupiers Attack Police in Atlanta

Occupiers Urinate on Cross, Throw Bibles

Occupiers Riot, Break Windows, Shouting “F*** The Police”

and this . . .

Occupiers Demonstrate . . . What’s Wrong With Self-Esteem Education

I blame most of this on Free to Be You and Me

There’s something very disturbing about adults behaving like babies, and throwing tantrums on the street, and lying in court, and claiming persecution, persecution, persecution when they are the real persecutors.  We should be disturbed and remember that the police represent our interests.  They are us; they’re the ones putting themselves between us and the protesters, who have bad intentions and are lying about that, too.

On the bright side, the Republican National Convention is going to be held in Florida in Late August.  The 99% that actually matters will probably be 99 degrees with 99% humidity.  Fox News might have to set up watering stations for the protesters out of sheer compassion . . . or Mother Nature may be the one clearing the streets.


There’s Nothing “Senseless” About Nicholas Lindsey’s Killing of Police Officer David S. Crawford


The St. Pete Times (now Tampa Bay Times) has run its latest sob story** about an accused killer, this one Nicholas Lindsey.  True to form, the Times announces in its headline that it will explore why life unravelled for the St. Petersburg teen.

There is the usual objection to be made about such stories.  The reporting is all about the killer’s alleged good qualities, and the reporters work hard to diminish the killer’s responsibility, even though doing so crudely diminishes the value of the murdered police officer’s life.  Buying a Pepsi for a teacher is presented as mitigation against murdering a good man in cold blood.  In the past, I’ve had reporters from that paper tell me they believe they are being “balanced” in their reporting by telling the sob story of the murderer one day and the life story of the murder victim the next, as if doing so balances some ethical scale.

And so, the brute known as mawkish sentimentality strangles moral perspective at her rickety desk in the darkest corner of newsroom.

But even if one sets the lack-of-human-decency objection aside, the reporters still failed.  They failed to explore what they claim to have set out to explore, which is the alleged “unravelling” of Nicholas Lindsey’s life.  The young man committed other serious crimes and apparently faced no consequences for them, but the reporters don’t want to talk about this, so they shove it away quickly, as if it is irrelevant.  In doing so, they deny the very thing they claim to be seeking: the reason why Lindsey went so wrong so young.

Nicholas Lindsey had already been caught and arrested, found guilty, and allowed to walk out of some courthouse laughing over prior crimes.  His father and brother, too, served time.  This ought to be the beginning, middle, and end of the search to explain Lindsey’s escalation to cop-killing, but the reporters do not linger on the subject.  Why?  Have they internalized anti-incarceration biases to the point that they actually believe his prior record is irrelevant?   Or are they that afraid of ruffling the feathers of those who control the anti-incarceration message by shouting “prejudice” when anyone broaches the subject?

Either way, the prior crimes are brushed over, and the “unravelling” is presented as a “mystery” and also a “surprise.”  This is a complete fabrication.  There is no mystery.  There is no surprise.  The reporters scurry away from the facts, tumbling over themselves to reach the only acceptable meme, the “too many minority youths are incarcerated” meme.  Here is the story they must tell, the only story they allow themselves to tell: the prior arrests are irrelevant because punishing the youth for them would have been prejudiced; “gang life” has simply “changed” an otherwise decent young man; the young man is not really responsible for the murder he committed because he is a decent young man, only changed by gang life; more money spent on more social programs for youths who commit crimes is the only answer: thus the only real villain is anyone who refuses to throw more money at youth programs in St. Petersburg . . . a city that already has more youth programs than cockroaches.  Yet young black men keep killing each other and innocents who cross their paths.

There is a great deal of money to be had in this view, and real danger in questioning it.  There is, in fact, a virtually unlimited amount of money to be had in this view, for every time a young person commits a crime, that crime may be used as evidence of the need for more “programs,” which keep bad kids out of jail to commit more crimes, thus increasing the need for more programs.  The alternative — arguing that a youth who steals a car ought to go to jail so he learns his lesson if he is capable of learning a lesson — is virulently attacked as pure racism by the anointed experts who populate every university and law school, federal agency, and editorial board.  Who wants to risk that?

Here’s a question: what comes first, the social program or the teen murderer?

This is less a journalism problem than an “experts” problem.  The journalists just carry the experts’ water.  And so, after closing their eyes to the only real clue and tiptoeing cautiously around the other taboo — assigning blame to the killer’s drug-selling, absentee dad — the St. Pete Times reporters are left with nothing but an embarrassing handful of anecdotes about a violent young man’s paltry virtues: a soda purchased for someone, Lindsey not screaming at a teacher in detention once, an ex-girlfriend who has a mother who is eager to insert herself into the news.  The reporters talk about the killer being a “shy wisp” of a boy and bemoan the “fuzz” just “starting to grow” on his face.  This is repugnant stuff, but it’s all they’ve got because they won’t ask the real questions.

Here are the questions they refuse to ask: who is the judge who let Lindsey walk on previous serious crimes?  How many other youths who walked out his or her courtroom committed more crimes, destroying their lives and others’?  What can be done about it?  Who in our justice system bears responsibility for the legal decisions that enabled Lindsey to be free to commit more crimes?

And this: if Lindsey’s parents were so worried about their son’s involvement in gangs, what, precisely, did they do when he was previously arrested?  Why did they let him advertise his gang connections on Facebook?  Why didn’t they move away from the apartment complex which, allegedly, as the reporters choose to assert as undeniable fact, was the sole source of Lindsey’s transformation into a murderous gang-banger?

If the bar to acceptable behavior is set so low in Lindsey’s community that multiple car thefts aren’t taken seriously, then somebody decided it would be so.  Members of that community who really want change should be protesting outside the courthouse, demanding that judges and prosecutors save young men’s lives by throwing the book at them the first time, and every time they break the law.  They should be sitting alongside the police, who are attending Lindsey’s trial in street clothes because they are not allowed to wear their uniforms, lest doing so deprives the murderer of every little drop of the sympathy the activists deem as his portion.

I know there are people in that community who want to support law enforcement and want to do it out of love for the children who grow up to be Nicholas Lindseys.  I’ve worked in communities like the one that produced Nicholas Lindsey and met those people.  But they are silenced by wealthy and powerful anti-incarceration activists, people who don’t live in or visit such places.  The good people trapped in bad neighborhoods will never be heard so long as the elite activist class — and their eager water-carriers in the media — continue to silence them.  More Officer Crawfords will be murdered as a result, and more Nicholas Lindseys will live their ruined lives behind bars.

But the activists and the reporters will feel virtuous.  And isn’t that all that really counts?



**bad link, try:, or: At 16, Life Unravels for St. Petersburg Teen Accused of Killing Police Officer

Catholic Bishops and British “Journalist” Robert Waterhouse Attack the Victims of Robert Waterhouse


(Hat tip to Max)

Vicious two-time (at least) murderer and rapist-torturer Robert Waterhouse was put to death in Florida last week.  He took his first life 45 years ago.  To say merely that the wheels of justice move slowly is a repugnant understatement in this case.

Robert Waterhouse, executed in Florida 45 years after his first known murder, having a bit of fun with the press

Waterhouse’s first known murder occurred in 1966, when just offing some woman didn’t matter too much to the new crop of criminal fetishists playing sociologist beneath their black robes (let’s not forget to thank the denizens of that blood-drenched punchline called the New York State Parole Commission).  The victim was 77.  Waterhouse raped and strangled her: he tortured an innocent elderly woman to death.  But luckily for him, he did it in a state and at a time when such things just didn’t matter.

Such an act, and the subsequent early release of Waterman wasn’t considered injustice, just another run-of-the-mill rape/torture/murder/leniency in a city busy channeling William Kunstler’s ethical priorities.  Waterhouse got life, but New York State cut him loose after only seven years.  Seven years for the torture, violation, and murder of a defenseless, elderly woman.

Back in such bad old days (that many in our current justice system are trying to recreate), seven years was a typical sentence for this:

77-year-old widow Ella Mae Carter of 39 Washington Ave., Greenport, died of strangulation. She had been brutally beaten; 14 of her ribs were fractured. Teeth marks were found under her right breast. Police said there was evidence of rape, although that charge was never brought against him.

Life, reduced to seven years.  Too bad it wasn’t what we now call “hate crime” since he just did those things to a woman — then somebody might have actually cared, or might care about Ella Mae Carter today.  Waterhouse just slaughtered an old lady — not the sort of thing AG Attorney Holder gets excited about as he scrolls back through history seeking the right types of indignities and injustice to justify his current policies.  Nor was Ella Mae Carter’s murder the sort of thing activists take up as a decades-long cause.   They took up Waterhouse as their cause instead, of course, costing the rest of us millions, I imagine, in ensuing years.

Nor was Mrs. Carter’s murder the sort of thing that gets people like NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn screeching in front of cameras.  If anyone could prove the 77-year old victim had been gay, well, then, that would be a different story.  Then she wouldn’t be forgotten: she would be memorialized.  Books would be written.  Teaching Tolerance classroom syllabi would be scribed in her memory and imposed on young children.  What she endured would be held forth as proof of something bad, instead of being merely an inconvenient reminder of things the social justice industry want us to forget today: that killers aren’t victims; that victims don’t matter to them unless they fit certain political agendas.

Perhaps, had she been water-boarded at some point between the raping and the strangling, Code Pink would be roused to crudely crayon some signs to wave at Waterhouse’s execution, remembering the torture victim.

The hundreds of thousands of murders that occurred during the crime wave of 1965 – 1995 simply aren’t the types of injustice about which PBS makes solemn documentaries.  Some people simply matter more to the activist classes.  Some torture is outrage: other torture is just an excusable expression of the childhood pain of the torturer, who needs to be rehabilitated and “re-entered” into society.  Some injustice burns brightly decades, generations later; other injustice is swept under the nearest available carpet.

This has been the case for half a century now.  So nobody cared when Waterhouse got cut loose in the early 1970’s.  Certainly not the Kunstler types who were insinuating themselves at every level of the criminal justice system, in service to the criminals.  Few even cared when, a decade later, Waterhouse killed Deborah Kammerer after raping and torturing her.  Her body was found on a St. Petersburg beach.  Her anus had been brutalized.  She fought back, hard, before being drowned in the surf:

Teeth broken. Nose broken. Eyes swollen. She had been sexually mutilated with a bottle. She had a bloody tampon jammed down her throat. Wounds on her fingers suggested she tried to fight back. She didn’t die until she drowned.

Here is another description of the type of torture you never find puffed over by cultural elites like Susan Sontag in the New York Review of Books, et al:

Ms. Kammerer, who was described in news reports as “blonde,” petite, a bar-hopper and a (former) date of Waterhouse,” was found nude, lying face down in the mud flats next to Tampa Bay the following morning. A description in the March 12, 1985, edition of the St. Petersburg Times stated: “(Ms. Kammerer) had drowned, but not before her 5-foot-2, 90-pound body was repeatedly violated…

“According to the medical examiner, Ms. Kammerer took 22 blows to the head, some from a tire iron. Her nose was broken in three places, teeth were cracked, eyes swollen, neck choked, back bruised. She was raped. There were extensive cuts in her rectum, where a bottle was forced. A blood-stained tampon was jammed in her throat.”

Well that certainly sounds like the type of case that brings legal activists like Steven Bright lapping at the door. The jailhouse door, that is, to make a hero of the tooth-smasher, anus raper, woman strangler.  And lap he did, along with scores of other excited anti-death penalty attorneys and one buffoonish British “journalist” who discovered he shared the same name with a rapist-killer, and, on such stimulating grounds, inserted himself in the case.  Can you imagine anything more puerile and egocentric?  Anything more indulgently-dining-outish?  I suppose I lack imagination.

The other Robert Waterhouse: Guardian writer shares the name of a rapist-killer!

In recent media, the other Robert Waterhouse describes his fun times with his murderer-pal while systematically concealing the facts that convicted the murderer.  In The Guardian, of course.  What a distasteful, attention hungry little man, trampling on raped and murdered women to puff himself up.  To indulge . . . a hobby.  His writing illuminates an ugly impulse driving many journalists: he seems aroused by the fantasy of experiencing the “suffering” of the killer on death row; he identifies with the inflictor of torture so transparently that one must wonder how much time he spends strolling like a dirty flåneur in his mind through the details of the murders themselves.

Projected self-pity is such a noxious modern sin.

In his journalism, Waterhouse utterly misrepresents nearly every detail of the legal narrative, leaving out things like the evidence.  For his sake, one can only hope the subjective bits about his own feelings are equally inaccurate, or else he really is an embarrassing specimen:

My friendship with Robert started formally in early February 2001 when I interviewed him at Union Correctional Institution, Raiford. My presence there as a journalist ensured that we met with a screen between us. He was in cuffs and leg-irons. I would get to know him later as a friend in the more relaxed setting of the contact-meeting room nearby, where up to 20 inmates at a time receive approved visitors. But the press interview emphasized our wholly different positions, something that spurs me when I feel the need to be reminded.

I did eventually publish an article in the weekend edition of the London Financial Times. By that time I had met Robert on three further occasions. I spent four weeks last summer investigating his case in St. Petersburg while visiting at weekends, preceded by a few days on Long Island, New York, where Robert was born and grew up, and where he pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in 1966 [Oh, let’s not go into that messy thing, shall we?  Ruins the ambiance.]

He was then only 19. He spent the next nine years or so [simple math, Bob] in Auburn State Prison before being released on life parole, drifting from Long Island to Louisiana and eventually, in 1978, to Florida where he went to live with his aunt and uncle, the people who had raised him from the age of six months and had retired to St. Petersburg.

Robert has always insisted on his innocence of the St. Petersburg murder. A few months back, he wrote his account of the events of January 2-3 1980, the night Deborah Kammerer was murdered, for Justice Denied Magazine. I have questioned him closely on this account. He has stuck to his story, and I am not in a position to say I don’t believe him [translation: I know he’s guilty but lack the spine to admit it.] So, in writing about his case, I intend to concentrate not on guilt or innocence but on the wrongs I believe he suffered before and after his arrest on January 9 1980. These alone, I suggest, make up a prima facie example of justice denied.

Let’s start by setting the scene. St. Petersburg, or St. Pete, is a low-density conurbation of some 238,000 souls on the west side of Tampa Bay. Its downtown area faces the bay with a few skyscrapers and a famous pier. The town straddles an isthmus between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. On the gulf side, a string of resorts beside golden sands with names like Treasure Island and Madeira Beach. It’s a sub-tropical retirement haven, which in 1980 also attracted an easy-going, pot-smoking set of drifters [sic] Deborah Kammerer and Robert Waterhouse were among them.

They knew each other. They had smoked dope together and had made love three or four times. Debbie (as everyone called her) was a divorcée whose ex-husband and children were back in Indiana. She was a slight (90 pounds) fair-haired woman. Robert, on the other hand was, at 6ft 2in and 220 pounds, dark-haired and bearded, a strong, flashy 33-year-old determined to enjoy himself after spending most of his twenties behind bars [For torturing an elderly woman to death.  But, whatever.]. He had a string of drinking companions and women admirers.

[Here’s the part where Waterhouse leaves out Waterhouse’s other crimes, including an attempted double murder for which he wasn’t punished.  Details, details.  What a hack.]

One of the places they met was the ABC Lounge on 4th Avenue North and 35th Street North. It was from here that Deborah Kammerer left in the early hours of January 3, probably with the person who murdered her. She was discovered head down in the shallow muddy water of Tampa Bay at Lansing Park beside Beach Drive South East at 19th Avenue SE the next morning by a resident walking his dog. She was naked, had been hit viciously around the head many times, raped and otherwise violated. The autopsy concluded she had been alive when dumped in the water.

Robert, who had also been in the lounge the previous evening, contends that he did not speak to Debbie on that occasion. She was at the main bar with friends; he was in a side bar meeting someone who was to sell him some pot. He says he left early to do the deal, and only returned to drop off his contact. But a barmaid claimed she had seen Robert and Debbie sitting, drinking and leaving together (this was not corroborated by Debbie’s friends). However, that evidence and blood traces in his car which matched her blood type was enough, in a circumstantial case, to convict him.

Just three days after the murder, before Deborah Kammerer herself had been identified, Robert was put under police surveillance following an anonymous phone call. The caller identified his car tag, indicating that all the evidence needed was in the vehicle.

Two days later Robert was pulled over by police cruisers as he left another St Petersburg club. His driver’s license was taken from him. He was told he could only get it back by accompanying police to the police station. There, he was questioned but not arrested. He was free to leave. However, his car must stay. A search warrant issued the next morning for the car led to a warrant for his arrest on January 9. The police, and the district attorney, were sure they had their man.

So the police hit the jackpot when, prompted by the mystery caller, they found that the registered owner of the 1973 Plymouth Satellite was none other than Robert Waterhouse, on life parole for a previous murder. Or was it the other way round? Did they concoct the call to match the profile? The caller was alleged to be a middle-aged male with a New York or New England accent. Robert’s uncle Chet Foster and “family friend” Ken Norwood both fitted the bill, but both denied involvement.

In pre-trial suppression hearings of August 1980, Robert’s court-appointed attorneys, Paul Scherer and John Thor White, moved to strike evidence found in the car as inadmissible because they claimed Robert had been unlawfully detained when made to take his vehicle to the police station. They also moved to strike damning statements taken in a police station interview of January 10 not in the presence of a defense attorney, even though the Pinellas County Public Defender had been appointed to Robert’s case.

Judge Patterson allowed the automobile evidence [Oh, just blood evidence, hair evidence, admission she was tortured in his car, other forensics, nothing important to a British journalist (I am beginning to believe the breed may not actually exist)] (without which the prosecution case would have crumbled) [Yes, prosecutions tend to crumble when you don’t consider, you know, evidence] but ruled against the verbal statements. However, after further representation by prosecutors Bob Merkle and Jack Helinger, Judge McGarry reversed Patterson’s opinion and allowed everything to stand.

This was the first, but by no means the last, example of prosecution bullying [Bullying?  Does he mean doing his job?  We are talking about a man who ripped a woman’s anus open with a bottle, and this thingy is whining about bullying?].  The trial transcript illustrates many instances of Merkle, in particular, hustling trial judge Robert E. Beach into accepting his view of how things should be conducted.

The trial was a big event in the St. Petersburg of 1980. According to reports the courtroom was packed. Judge Beach, whose background was in commercial law, had seen two decisions recently overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. The DA’s department was known for its aggressiveness. Bob “Mad Dog” Merkle was at the start of a career which took him to be Assistant US Attorney in Tampa and one-time Republican candidate for the US Senate before opting for lucrative private practice. He needed the victory he quickly gained  [Oh, no.  The prosecutor wanted to win the case, even though some British journalist with a fetish problem wanted him to lose it twenty years later!]. 

Among photographic “evidence” allowed as a backdrop to the trial were pictures of Ms Kammerer not as she was discovered in Tampa Bay but after she had been literally scalped during autopsy.  [So what?  Why the scare quotes around the word “evidence”?  This is what happened to Ms. Kammerer, no matter how much Waterhouse wishes to officially cleanse the record.  How sickeningly, sickeningly dishonest he is.] Jurors were illegally offered a handbook of advice on how to conduct themselves. So-called expert witnesses put on the stand by the county were not cross-examined in an adversarial manner. The defense brought only one witness compared with the prosecution’s 30 or so. The prosecution had delayed until the very last moment to disclose exculpatory witnesses to the defense, contravening Brady rights.

Robert was in fact never asked by his defense counsel to provide a list of witnesses. It wasn’t until the trial opened that the defendant realized that his own car would be identified as the crime scene, with Merkle borrowing from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to invoke blood and guilt [Confabulation, distortion, meaningless technicality, utterly meaningless observation, confabulation, and more lying.  Waterhouse was convicted on the evidence.  Too bad there isn’t a minimum mandatory for recidivist dissembling].

Here is Robert Waterhouse’s last word on Robert Waterhouse. He calls the rapist-murderer “brave” and a courageous example to us all:

[M]y friendship with Robert, with his wife Frances and with other Death Row families — indeed my opportunity to meet briefly other inmates — is an extraordinary ongoing experience. To be one amongst perhaps 50 people at Saturday visiting time talking, laughing and eating, putting the bravest of faces on the worst of circumstances, is to know that human nature does indeed triumph in adversity.

Robert Waterhouse is surely the most, well, to put it as best as I can, icky advocate of Robert Waterhouse the rapist-killer, but there are others eager to empathize with the murderer, with any murderer.  Here is a deeply disturbing empathy spiel from a childhood friend who felt sorry for Waterhouse because people wouldn’t talk to him at a party after he raped and murdered a 77-year old woman:

Mr. Tyler remembers seeing Waterhouse at the Apple Tree, a Mattituck nightspot, after his 1975 parole. “A lot of the guys he used to hang out with were there, but no one would talk to him,” Mr. Tyler recalls. “No one could relate to him. What do you say to someone who has been in prison for 10 years? It was a very awkward situation. As much as I wanted to go up to him and say, ‘Hi, Bob, how are you doing,’ there wasn’t anything to say. Everyone must have had the same attitude, because no one else talked to him. He was standing there all alone like a lost soul, just looking over the crowd.”

Awww, poor baby.  What is the matter with these people?  What do you ask him, Mr Tyler?  So, Bob, how did it feel to torture and rape that sweet elderly woman to death?  Hey, want a beer?  How about: What the hell is that bastard doing out of prison?   The void where outrage should exist has been replaced with people more worried about hurting the feelings of a serial killer-rapist.  The sheer perversion of what has become of the old saw about “walking in another person’s shoes” would leave Atticus Finch vomiting in his coffin for eternity.  If he existed.

I think we should call crimes like Waterhouse’s precisely what they are: Lynching.  Robert Waterhouse’s murder of Ella Mae Carter became a lynching the moment he walked out of prison instead of spending the rest of his life there; his murder of  Deborah Kammerer was a lynching because our legal system chose to not protect her.  The people who excuse Waterhouse’s crimes and denounce his incarceration, particularly the other Robert Waterhouse, are no different from those who used to stand by the sidelines cheering on murderous Klansmen.  Using accurate language would clarify the mind as we grapple with the fact that there are thousand of Robert Waterhouses out there eluding justice because society doesn’t care enough to apply its own laws when politically irrelevant types of people are denied justice.  Call all such murders lynchings; call them all hate crimes, and then, once we’ve had a nice bracing emetic of ethical and intellectual consistency, we can start to have that real conversation about injustice everyone keeps nattering about.

And when we do that, the Robert Waterhouse journalists of the world can also be named what they truly deserve:  Apologists.  Propagandists.  Aroused houseboys for torturers.  And worse.  Because he clearly enjoys doing this sort of thing with rapist-murderers, enjoys it with enough appetite to deploy his profession to obliterate the memory of women who suffered and died.

Whining about the distasteful nature of a photograph of a tortured woman’s raw scalp.  What a man.


Most recently, the Catholic Bishops have taken it upon themselves to cruelly criticize Deborah Kammerer’s surviving family.  In the interest, in their case, of opposing the death penalty, the Bishops publicly accuse Kammerer’s loved ones of serious moral transgressions.  This behavior has got to stop.  I ask that practicing Catholics send a letter to the Catholic Bishops asking them to withdraw their statement and apologize to Ms. Kammerer’s relatives.  One need not oppose the Catholic teaching on the death penalty to call for an end to such scapegoating of victims’ families.  Below is my letter:

Dear Bishop _____,

I am writing to ask that you and the other signatories publicly withdraw your statement falsely accusing the families of Robert Waterhouse’s victims of harboring hatred.

In the media, you stated of them: “Anger destroys while forgiveness frees one to live again in peace, blotting out the desire for revenge.”

This is deeply offensive.  You do not claim to know these people, nor does it appear that you have counseled them — and had you done so, you would have no business speaking publicly about their feelings in any case.  Yet you pronounce in the most public forum that you do know what they are feeling, and then you presume to correct them in that public place.  You position alone does not grant you knowledge of, nor authority over, their hearts.

You must also know in your own hearts that press releases like this one are not written to heal.  If they were, you would hardly broadcast them in a newspaper.  You are engaging in anti-death penalty activism, and that is all.  Through the act of publishing these words, you are exploiting your positions as religious leaders and exploiting the act of counseling, not sincerely offering real comfort to possibly (possibly not) troubled souls.

Victims in high-profile cases are too frequently subjected to such pressures from Catholic authorities.  And while I personally know and know of individual religious who have offered the greatest comfort to crime victims, I also know of many shameful demonstrations of public excoriation and political misuse of other victims by Church representatives.  The murderer becomes the victim, and the victim becomes the enemy of the cause.

This sort of advocacy is deeply corrosive.  You are dragging innocent bystanders into your activism for their loved ones’ killers.  You are also choosing to make ethical scapegoats of people who are mere witnesses, both legally and morally, to the workings of our justice system.  Society sentenced Robert Waterhouse to death, not the victims’ families, and not a mob.  Elected officials alone can commute his sentence.  Your appeal to the victims is mere calculation, and it is cruel.

Please withdraw your statement, and apologize to these grieving people for your misuse of them, now and in the future.


To the other Robert Waterhouse, I have just this to say:

Zip up your pants and get a different hobby, pal.




Anarchy, Socialism, Freedom, and Running At Night

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Last night, around 8, I went running in my neighborhood.

I had my dog with me.  A cattle dog, well-trained, loping like a wolf, loving the weirdness of being outside after dark.  She’s a night girl like me.  I’d been feeling deeply awful for days — flu, bronchitis, but suddenly the softness of the Florida air, and the warmth of November on the West Coast, and the dark brightness of lights rippling off water stirred some reserve in me and I was off like my lungs hadn’t been hacking up fluids for days, running like a bullet.

If only I had been a bullet.

I hadn’t gone a mile before some s***head in a truck pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride.  What, me and my dog wanted a ride?  Jogging on a sidewalk, we wanted a ride?

I have a hard time explaining this to some people.  I don’t want to whine about men, or the state of the world, but it’s been years since I’ve felt safe enough to run before or after sunrise, which is the only time you can run outside much of the year where I live, and it’s been years since I’ve had a dog who could run at all, and I was being careful by going from house to house to house of people I knew, intentionally — from the folks who own the restaurant, to Yolanda’s, to Nancy’s, past the cop on the corner, to Conrad’s, to Bobby Nell’s, to James and Janelle’s, carefully so I felt some little sense that the night could belong to me and that I wasn’t taking anything that even resembled a risk, but there are crappy people everywhere, and often evidence of prostitution at the end of the road in the morning, and more than once a man pulled up by the waterfront down the street from my house in broad daylight even (how could it matter that much?), and then last night I was just feeling the night air and there he was: stupidity, threat, and unknown quantity pulling up out of the darkness.

So I leaned towards his rolled-down window and said to him in my calmest, most matter-of-fact voice:

“I’m going to cut you with broken glass.”

And he uttered objectionable sexist pejoratives and sped away.  Under the circumstances, what else would he, or I, do?

I’ve always wanted to think that men like that would pause for a moment and just apologize for ruining the black soft asphalt smell, and the exuberance of sensing the stingrays and sharks and dolphins and manatees hovering in the rimming black water, and the ospreys and owls and squirrels hovering in the palmettos — that he might apologize for ruining all that hovering and quivering presence, which is what is really extraordinary about Florida.

But life isn’t like that.  There just isn’t enough of Robert Herrick, seeing:

how amber through the streams
More gently strokes the sight
With some conceal’d delight

And so on.

Screw it.  I’m tired of being afraid.  Last night when I wrote this, this is the part where I expressed anger, and I took the section out, because as someone very wise once told me, someone who was nearly prosecuted for shooting a thug who was pistol-whipping him during an armed robbery as he tried to save his co-worker’s life . . . well, in the spirit of the comment itself I won’t say exactly what he said to me, but it’s true that one should never make a point of literally documenting one’s hand in writing.

Because I want to enjoy the soft beauty of the coastal Florida night.  And I don’t want to upset my dog or frighten the neighbors, nor the manatees, who subsist on nothing harsher than lettuce and young mangrove shoots.

Ecosystems ought to be preserved.  Women ought to be able to run at night.

I’ve had ecosystems on the mind lately, because so many people are trying to tear them down in the name of “rescuing” them.  I’ve been thinking about how ironic it is that the protestors, whether on college campuses or city parks, are all so extremely naive about the ways they are being used by professional protestors — capital-A Anarchists, in every sense of the word — who are hell-bent on tearing down everything around them.  They say they want to tear down “capitalism” but thanks to the Anarchists they’re really starting with attacking laws that are the only thing that stand between us and chaos.

They say they want “freedom of thought” and “freedom to go where they want,” but the very first thing the Occupy Anarchist puppet masters (as distinct from the ubiquitous Occupy puppeteers) did was silence and repress women by demanding that women do nothing about being raped at Occupy sites: thus the very first accomplishment of the Occupy movement has been to make it less possible for women to go where they want to go and experience the very freedom that is supposed to be the movement’s goal.

This is hardly accidental.  I spent enough time on the Left to realize that the world’s worst most sexist creeps gravitate to extreme Leftist politics, and I spent enough time researching social movements of the past to realize that this condition is central to all revolutionary activism, not some aberration merely concurrent with the rise of bell bottoms.

Socialist creeps in the 19th century demanded that women practice free love to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of spreading socialism, just as Bill Ayers demanded the same of some girlfriend in an apartment in the 1960’s to prove her commitment to racial equality.  19th century anarchists like Charles L. Govan insisted that families and familial relations must be destroyed in favor of mutual philandering, the only true freedom to Govan and one given the predictably creepy name of “Voluntary Cooperation.”

Govan (on the left), practicing Voluntary Cooperation at Home Colony in Pierce County, Washington?

Look back to the late 19th Century and what you find there is a bunch of Anarchists saying things about sex and marriage that wouldn’t be out of place in the infamous “campus sex codes” established by feminists today, while simultaneously insinuating themselves in the larger American socialist movement with the explicit aim of using socialism’s tools to tear down capitalism’s house, then socialism’s house, then their own houses just to be consistent, until everyone would just wander around having Voluntary Cooperation with each other while the cows milked themselves.

You know, like the Occupy protestors.

I realized a long time ago that the utopia imagined by Leftists would not be the type of place where I could go running in the moonlight, whereas places created by the types of people who don’t feel the compulsion to make up disturbingly bloodless titles for stuff like “sex” are the ones who can be trusted to create the types of places where women can walk alone when they feel like it.

Behind all the infantile posturing and useful idiocy about to be unleashed on the United States over the next several months is one very ugly truth: these people want to create a world that is very much worse than this one.  And despite the silliness of their visible facade, for the first time in my life I think the activists on the far Left are powerful enough to actually create real destruction.  They have the institutions, having insinuated themselves in NGOs and government bureaucracies and especially throughout academia.  They have the money, much of it from George Soros, which is why I think it’s so important to look at the ways he is trying to dismantle the American legal system by targeting policing, and courts, and elections.

The streets where I run used to be named after socialist heroes because the town I live in was founded as a socialist colony in 1911.  But those people harbored a very real and healthy suspicion of itinerant anarchists who had managed to destroy other small socialist collectives in other states.  So they survived, and evolved, through hard work, vigilance, religious faith, family values, and real voluntary cooperation, not the type that needs to be dictated to you by some bearded, wild-eyed ideologue.  That’s why I can even think about running at night here, now.

It’s a lesson we had all soon better revisit.

In a nutshell: cows don’t milk themselves.

Why No Action in the Murder of Bria Metz? Or, How to Derail Justice by Driving Up Costs

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I heard from the father of Bria Metz yesterday: he said it’s been two years since Bria’s murderer, Aurelio Martinez, confessed to the crime.  Yet Martinez still hasn’t been to trial or been sentenced.

Bria Metz, murdered at 17, her body was abandoned by the side of a highway

Aurelio Martinez, sex offender and child abuser, confessed to killing Bria

The state of Florida also hasn’t gotten around to resolving Martinez’ 2003 felony child abuse and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges.  Apparently, the authorities are too busy doing other things.

Here is my previous post on the disgraceful record of Florida’s serial failure to keep the public safe from Aurelio Martinez.

So why does it take years to try a case in which the murderer confessed?  The answer lies in the machinations of the defense bar, and the perverse, outsized power they wield over criminal procedure and admission of evidence in our courts.  I don’t use the term perverse lightly — while the Florida Bar grandstands around the state pretending to examine problems of evidence that are either exceedingly isolated incidents or trumped-up claims by professional activists using fake statistics and faked “studies,” real problems that result in real denials of justice fester, unresolved — for many thousands of victims who will never receive justice as a result.

It would be nice if the Bar cared about that.  They don’t.

Here is a record of the docket entries in one of Martinez’ current charges.  Some entries are routine paperwork.  Others represent the types of manipulation that defund the courts.  Remember that most docket entries equal your money being spent in some way, large or small — and 155 docket entries into this murder case, there still hasn’t been a trial, just machinations and delays.

Martinez is also churning attorneys — another behavior designed to postpone trial, and a strategy frequently abetted by the defense attorneys themselves.  Must be nice to have that sort of power over other people’s money — and the administration of justice.

Imagine that you are the parent of a murdered child, forced to witness this drawn-out manipulation of procedural rules.  Bria’s family will likely be enduring this sickening game for the rest of their lives.  In the eyes of our legal system, Aurelio Martinez is the victim now:

Pinellas Case Uniform Case Entitlement Date Filed
CRC0912955CFANO 522009CF012955XXXXNO STATE VS MARTINEZ, 06/23/2009
Type Apr Cal Final Disposition Comp Division
01/30/2012 TRL M
Reset Original Sort Docket Date Docket Entry Defendant
1 11/01/2011 REMOVE FROM: MTN/HRG) A
2 11/01/2011 REMOVE FROM: MTN 110311/0830 AM -M-(REMOVE FROM A
4 10/12/2011 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 013012 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
5 10/11/2011 REMOVE FROM: TRL 110711/0830 AM -M- A
6 10/11/2011 TRIAL SET: 013012/0830 AM -M- BRING A
10 10/04/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING – 110311 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
12 10/03/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING: 101111/0830 AM – MTN TO CONTINUE A
17 09/27/2011 SUBPOENA (028) STATE A
27 06/20/2011 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 110711 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
28 06/17/2011 REMOVE FROM: TRL 082911/0830 AM -M- A
29 06/17/2011 TRIAL SET: 110711/0830 AM -M- A
33 06/09/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING: 061711/0830 AM – MTN/CONTINUE TRIAL & A
40 04/13/2011 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 082911 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
41 04/12/2011 TRIAL SET: 082911/0830 AM -M- A
46 02/23/2011 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 041211 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
47 02/22/2011 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 041211/0830 AM -M- A
52 02/07/2011 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 022211 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
53 02/04/2011 REMOVE FROM: TRL 022211/0830 AM -M- A
54 02/04/2011 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 022211/0830 AM -M- A
55 02/04/2011 COUNSEL A
56 02/04/2011 HEARING SET: 022211/0830 AM -M- MTN TO DISMISS A
57 02/04/2011 AT 8:30 A
58 02/04/2011 REMOVE FROM MOTION CALENDAR 2/17/11 A
61 02/01/2011 HEARING SET: 020411/0830 AM -M- MTN TO CONTINUE A
63 01/25/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING – 021711 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
66 01/13/2011 SUBPOENA (028) STATE A
78 10/04/2010 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 022211 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
79 10/01/2010 TRIAL SET: 022211/0830 AM -M- A
83 08/30/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 100110 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
84 08/27/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 100110/0830 AM -M- A
88 06/21/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 082710 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
89 06/18/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 082710/0830 AM -M- A
93 04/30/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 061810 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
94 04/29/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 061810/0830 AM -M- A
98 02/19/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 042910 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
99 02/18/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 042910/0830 AM -M- BRING A
Reset Original Sort Docket Date Docket Entry Defendant
4 02/03/2010 NOTICE OF HEARING: 021110/0830 AM A
8 01/15/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 021810 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
9 01/14/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 021810/0830 AM -M- BRING A
11 11/20/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 011410 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
12 11/19/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 011410/0830 AM -M- BRING A
16 10/09/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 111909 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
17 10/08/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 111909/0830 AM -M- BRING A
21 08/10/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 100809 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
22 08/07/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 100809/0830 AM -M- A
28 07/20/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 080709 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
29 07/17/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 080709/0830 AM -M- A
37 06/29/2009 NOTICE OF ARRAIGNMENT – 071709 COURTROOM: M AT 09:00 A

Serial Killer Bobby Joe Long: Why Florida Courts (And Those In Other States) Are Really Out Of Money


This is Bobbie Joe Long:

Serial Killer Bobbie Joe Long

Bobby Joe Long raped scores of women in the Tampa Bay area and murdered as many as 11 and possibly more.  He confessed to multiple murders and there are mountains of evidence, including a victim who escaped and left personal items in his bedroom to prove she had been there.  Bobby Joe Long has been behind bars since 1984.  27 years later, we’re still paying for his legal games.  How many millions of dollars has he cost us in all that time?

He is the real reason why the entire Florida Court system is in danger of shutting down for lack of money.

Sure, there are other reasons.  There’s these guys . . .

Hon. Paul Hawkes, FL Rep. Marti Coley(R), Hon. Brad Thomas

Appellate Judges Paul Hawkes and Brad Thomas, who went on a wild spending spree with 48 million taxpayer dollars to build what is being dubbed the Taj Mahal of courthouses, complete with mahagony-lined private suites for . . . Paul Hawkes and Brad Thomas.  Yes, they are wearing cunning hardhats with their names engraved on them.

Florida’s “Taj Mahal” Appeals Court

There’s also cash flow problems due to another real estate boondoggle, the foreclosure crisis.  The State Bar says they will run out of operating funds very, very, very soon.  And what happens then?

“The courts are running out of money, and if we run out of money, we cannot keep our doors open,” said 10th Circuit Judge John Laurent, chair of the Trial Courts Budget Commission.  “It’s important we keep the doors open. One reason is access to justice, and one is public safety. I don’t think we could go for several months without a court system. No, that’s not an experiment we want to participate in.”

Access to justice and public safety: good things.

But the real problem with funding our justice system is the limitless resources and vast latitude given to any criminal who ever gets convicted of anything.  If they get convicted, that is.  According to a group of researchers who put together a list of every time Bobbie Joe Long skinned his knee or bumped his nose, his first rape charge came in 1971, when he was only 18 (a juvenile record might be sealed).  Before that he shot his dog to death through her vagina, but, whatever.  The girl wasn’t believed.  Nor apparently was his wife, a few years later.  Nor was the next rape victim who dared to put herself through reporting him in 1981, only to see him receive probation for lesser charges, then demand a retrial, receive one from some compassionate judge, and walk free, acquitted that time.  Then there was the twelve-year old girl he tried to abuse while in police custody (he got two days for that crime).  There was the hospital job where he was fired for sexual abuse of the patients, but nothing else was done.  He was hired by several other hospitals after that. Then in 1984, a gunpoint abduction charge that was reduced, astonishingly, to a fine to pay for the damage to the woman’s vehicle (which she had crashed in order to escape him).

When you read through a record like this, it’s hard to see the criminal justice system as anything other than a sort of playground for inhuman psychopaths, with defense attorneys and judges standing on the sidelines virtually encouraging the Bobbie Joe Longs of the world to go out and kill again.  I find it very hard to believe that, with the exception of the police, any of the public servants who came into contact with Long in all those years felt the least bit motivated to get him off the streets.  He did everything short of walking into a police station and confessing to raping and murdering women, and then he finally even did that, and then the location of the game changed slightly, but the courts kept playing with him and encouraging him, and they continue to do so today.

Meanwhile, what percentage of his victims received so much as one day in court to address the vicious rape and attempted murder they barely survived, or the murder of someone they loved?  How many serious violent crimes, even murders, attributed to Long were carelessly shelved without a second thought?

The reality of our criminal justice system is this:  we could spend ten times as much as we do today and 75% of crime victims still wouldn’t see their cases addressed by the system.  Liberals care only about criminals, and, increasingly, conservatives care only about cutting costs.  And liberals control the judiciary, and conservatives control the purse strings, especially in Florida.  The math isn’t hard to do.

In 1970, when Bobbie Joe Long was just beginning his violent career, Milton Eisenhower, one of the most respected criminologists in the United States, complained that of the 10 million serious crimes committed annually in the United States, only one-and-a-half percent resulted in even temporary incarceration of anyone.  Those numbers are probably better today.  But the people we trust to keep us safe have grown worse: they’re no Milton S. Eisenhower, who actually believed the justice system should protect the innocent and punish the guilty.  Bobbie Joe Long will have many more taxpayer-subsidized days in court, probably in the Taj Mahal, which is essentially a playground for him and his peers.

Another Problem With Hate Crime Laws Is That They Make No Sense


Unless, that is, you subscribe to the the notion that sticks and stones and fists and kicks don’t hurt nearly as much as name-calling.  From the N.Y. Daily News, which, like every other newspaper in the country, wouldn’t be covering this garden-variety Florida assault if it were not being labeled a hate crime:

David McKnight, 22, was playing the song “Wasted” by Gucci Mane when, he says, he was confronted by 14-year-old Joshua Lamb, reports.  “The argument involved the black male suspect saying, ‘You shouldn’t be listening to rap music because you’re white,’ ” said Palm Bay police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez.  When McKnight, who is Caucasian, refused to turn off the music, Lamb and a group of friends assaulted him.  “I couldn’t get away fast enough,” McKnight told WFTV. “One of them spit on me, punched me, knocked me downI got a couple of kicks in from a couple of them.”  McKnight told police Lamb was with at least seven others.  “I told him to drop it. I was like, ‘Just drop it, let’s go, there is eight of you and one of me. Just drop it,’ ” McKnight said. “And he says, ‘I’m not dropping anything.’ Bam! [He] punched me.”  McKnight did not retaliate and, according to the police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, he “fled before any further battery could take place.”  But WFTV reported that he suffered a swollen eye, broken toe, concussion and choke marks around his neck in the fight.

This account raises questions.  Why did the reporter use the term “didn’t retaliate” to describe a victim trying to avoid serious harm while being randomly attacked by a gang of young men?  Why was only one man charged in the assault?

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Joshua Lamb was the only assailant charged because only Joshua Lamb’s assault can be “counted” as a hate crime, also that the other physical attacks on McKnight are being deemed inconsequential precisely because there’s a so-called “hate crime” to trumpet.

That’s the problem with these laws: if you insist that “hate crime” is “worse than other crime,” as our Attorney General is so fond of saying, you’re already half-way to dismissing “non-hate” acts as inconsequential.  Thanks to the existence of hate crime laws, the fact that Joshua Lamb said something stupid to a total stranger is officially of more consequence than the fact that he and a gang of his peers ambushed and punched, kicked, and choked a man, sending him to the hospital.

If Lamb had committed the same crime against a black youth, he probably would not face many consequences: the assault, severe as it was, would merely be filed away as one of the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of non-hate crime assaults that largely get dismissed by prosecutors and the juvenile courts.

If Lamb had not uttered some belligerent teenage nonsense while assaulting McKnight, the same would probably occur: a slap on the wrists in juvenile court, at the very most.  The New York Post, and virtually every other paper in America, certainly would not be reporting the story.  Lamb would not be facing prison time.

And, quite creepily, if McKnight were a female, and Lamb had attacked her while spouting sexist slurs, instead of spouting schoolyard anti-white taunts while attacking a white man, it wouldn’t count as hate . . . though if Lamb had called a male victim “bitch” while kicking him, it might count as anti-gay bias.  Hate crime laws inevitably normalize certain types of hate speech in order to promote the “principled opposition” of other types.

So we now have a legal system that — in practice — minimizes crimes like striking and kicking a person while maximizing the consequences for select types of speech.  And once you get in the practice  of deeming some types of people more important; others things naturally follow, including playing down anything done to the “less important” victims, like normalizing calling a woman “bitch” as you punch her, or normalizing black-on-black crime.

Hate crime laws actually codify prejudice.

Joshua Lamb would have faced no more than a first-degree misdemeanor charge if he had jumped McKnight without expressing his opinion of rap music first.  The maximum sentence for this crime in Florida is one year of incarceration or probation (likely the latter, at the very most).  Now he faces a possible five years in prison because of an opinion he expressed regarding rap music while incidentally beating a total stranger.

Doesn’t this simply reinforce Lamb’s perception that what he thinks about rap music is the important thing?


Wasted, by Gucci Mane, the song David McKnight was listening to when he was attacked — the song Joshua Lamb felt enough prejudice over to commit a so-called “hate crime” to defend his racial right of ownership  — is littered with hateful slurs and degrading references . . . directed at women, of course:

I don’t wear tight jeans like the white boys
But I do get wasted like the white boys
Now I’m looking for a bitch to suck dis almond joy
Said she gotta stop sucking ’cause her jaw’s sore
Gotta bitch on the couch, bitch on the floor . . .

and so on.

How unsurprising.  Good thing hating women isn’t ever hate crime.  It would simply be impossible to fit it in the headlines.

The War on Cops: Blame the Courts, Not the Police.

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It is not yet August, and 94 police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year, 87 by the mid-year mark (June 30), and seven more in July.  That’s an increase of 43% since 2009.  But another fact emerging from the statistics is even more chilling: gun killings of officers have more than doubled in the last twenty-four months, rising 22% in 2008 – 2009, and a staggering 41% in 2009 – 2010.

That is an increase of 63% in just two years.

Those numbers are only fatalities.  Attempted murders — including nonfatal gunshots, stabbings, attacks with vehicles, and other aggravated assaults — aren’t counted.  In Tampa Bay, where I live, four police officers were actually shot last month, in two separate incidents in the last week of June.  Two officers survived serious gunshot wounds.  Two others, David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, did not.  Kocab’s wife, Sara, who was nine months pregnant with their first child when her husband was gunned down, delivered a stillborn baby a few days ago.

Then she got up the next day and went from the hospital to court to face her husband’s killer:

Profile in Courage: Sara Kocab (on the right) in Court

Over the weekend, Chicago buried the third cop ambushed in that city in recent weeks. Also over the weekend, a policeman was shot dead in Detroit, bringing the year’s total there to three.  Warnings have appeared in the Chicago media alleging that more cops will be targeted.  This is especially troubling because all the recently murdered officers were felled in surprise attacks.

Just days after [Michael] Bailey’s death, there is a new warning. The police department has acknowledged that both District 3 and District 6 in Chatham, near Officer Bailey’s home, have received phone call threats against its officers. Text messages containing the gist of the threat and a warning have been circulating among officers there.  “More police officers will be shot&gang bangers in the area are passing the word&every night they will be ambushing police in the Chatham area. Please pass along this info and please be safe,” reads one of the text messages.

Imagine the response if “gang bangers” were targeting anyone other than police.  We have come to expect this and even accept it.  The nation’s top Justice Department official, Eric Holder, has said nothing about the slaughter of cops (he is, after all, a man with a history of pushing clemency for cop killers).  The President, who singled out individual police for public excoriation, somehow can’t seem to find the time to recognize these officers’ sacrifices, even when the murdered police hailed from his own hometown and lived lives steeped in the community volunteerism the President claims to value.

Other than covering crime scenes and funerals, the media has remained almost entirely silent about the war on cops — except when they’re pointing fingers at the police.  But what’s really driving this war?  Even the most cursory survey of cop killings offers a single, extremely obvious answer: courtroom-bred, free-range, grudge-bearing recidivism.  A culture of excessively lenient sentencing emboldens thugs and is papered over by opinion-makers who wouldn’t dream of criticizing the sentencing judges or even the “gang bangers” themselves.

After all, newspaper columnists and reporters wouldn’t want to lose their all-important insider status.  Invitations dry up when you ask the wrong questions, and who wants to blame poor youth when there’s a cop, any cop at all, to finger?

So, at best, you get schizophrenic reporting, like this seemingly promising article by the Chicago Sun-Times.   The reporters flirt with a few facts but end up defaulting to a blame the cops mantra:

This is the story of why they won’t stop shooting in Chicago.  It’s told by the wounded, the accused and the officers [not so much by the officers] who were on the street during a weekend in April 2008 when 40 people were shot, seven fatally.  Two years later, the grim reality is this: Nearly all of the shooters from that weekend have escaped charges. “You don’t go to jail for shooting people,” says Dontae Gamble, who took six bullets that weekend, only to see his alleged shooter walk free.  “That’s why m————- think they can get back on the streets and kill again. You feel me?”

OK, Dontae, so there are no consequences for shooting people.  Who do we blame for this?

So far, not one accused shooter has been convicted of pulling the trigger during those deadly 59 hours from April 18-20 of that year, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.  Only one suspected triggerman — a convicted armed robber caught with the AK-47 he allegedly used to blow away his boss — is in jail awaiting trial.

And why is that?  Why does it take two+ years to bring an accused killer to trial?  Might there be something wrong with the courts?

Oh goodness, no.  That couldn’t be. Or if there were, reporters couldn’t possibly investigate, because then they might not get invited to boozy lunches with important lawyers and politicians and judges.

It must be the police’s fault.  Cue, curtain left:

The Chicago Police Department’s batting average for catching shooters has fallen to an alarmingly low level. Detectives cleared 18 percent of the 1,812 non-fatal shootings last year. They were slightly better in catching killers — 30 percent of murders were cleared in 2009.  But here’s the catch: When police “clear” a case, that doesn’t always mean a suspect got convicted — or even charged.  Sometimes police seek charges against a suspect, but the state’s attorney won’t prosecute without more evidence. Other times, the shooter is dead, or the victim refuses to testify after identifying the shooter. Cops call those “exceptional” clearances.

Except . . . it’s not “cops” who make up this lingo, or this accounting system, or these statistics.  It’s not as if your front-line street cop wakes up in the morning and says, hey, here’s how I’m gonna enforce the law today.  Police brass and other political appointees, D.A.s, judges: they’re the ones who make the decisions.

But the Sun-Times reporters make it sound as if the only people with any agency, or any responsibility, in the entire justice system are the street cops.

This is the way the vast majority of reporters report crime: they simply don’t bother to look behind things like failed clearance numbers and ask why it’s so hard to satisfy the current status quo for removing known, armed, violent, recidivist felons from the streets.

They don’t bother to ask why evidence that would have sufficed for a conviction twenty years ago isn’t good enough today, or why prosecutors don’t try to bring every charge possible against known, dangerous offenders.  Reporters certainly don’t go to the guy in the black robe and ask why that convicted armed robber who “blew away his boss” with an AK-47 was out on the streets in the first place.

That type of question is considered off-limits, whereas no question about even the greenest police recruit is off-limits.

How many times do judges even have to say no-comment?  You don’t have to not comment if you don’t get asked anything in the first place.

Better to just criticize police.

The Sun-Times story continues with one “gang banger” shooting another “gang banger” who claims he’s too afraid to testify but isn’t too afraid to try to get money out of the government’s victim compensation fund.  Next, the reporter spends an inordinate amount of time following the victim around town as he pontificates against the police while bragging that he has forgiven (and refused to testify against) the thug who shot him.  After recovering from his wounds (doubtlessly on the public dime), then wasting months of police and courtroom resources, Willie Brown changed his testimony but suffered no consequences:

‘I could be Willie the Rat, but I don’t care about s— like that,” Willie Brown said while rolling a joint near Sheridan and Wilson in the Uptown neighborhood.  Brown is 28. He lives in a run-down high-rise and walks with a limp because he got shot in the leg.  He said he was a bad kid, a teenage Vice Lord and stickup man who did prison time for robbing a corner store with a toy pistol in 2003 while high on weed and angel dust. He had the munchies that day and was looking to steal “wam wams and zoom zooms” — prison talk for snacks — when a police officer saw the gun poking from Brown’s waistband and arrested him. He was paroled in 2007.

Did the reporter even bother to check Brown’s real record?  His arrest record?  Just took his word for it?

On April 18, 2008, Brown took a bullet in his upper right thigh outside 1012 W. Sunnyside. He was the 10th person to get shot on that bloody April 2008 weekend.  “That was a horrific moment,” Brown said.  He says he saw the guy who shot him.  Heck, he even talked to the alleged shooter, Darnell Robinson.  Brown was on his way to buy beer about 11:30 p.m. that Friday when Robinson and his brother stopped him in the street.  Robinson supposedly asked, “What is you?” — street slang for “What gang are you in?”  Brown said he told them about his past Vice Lords affiliation.  Robinson said he was in the “Taliban” before he started shooting, according to Brown.

Nice.  Every Chicago cop’s spouse knows that this is what their husband or wife is walking into, every day.

Police arrested Robinson, who was 31 at the time and had been behind bars for residential burglary and selling drugs. Brown identified Robinson as the shooter, and the case headed for a trial.  Robinson, who claimed he was innocent in jailhouse interviews with the Sun-Times, sat in Cook County jail for 13 months until prosecutors had to let him go because Brown changed his story several times.  Why did Brown’s story change? Because “my momma told me to,” he said.  “I did it so he could go home. I’m not no stool pigeon,” Brown said, recounting his story while scarfing down McNuggets at a McDonald’s in Uptown.  “I don’t have anything against him — it’s like he never shot me. I wouldn’t want to see the m———– sitting in jail because that [jail] is hell. I spared that dude. That’s all I did. I did it for my mom.”

How touching.  Our tax dollars support this behavior from beginning, to middle, to violent, bloody end.  This is how cops and other innocent people end up getting shot on the streets.  How about interviewing the judge or parole board officer who let Robinson go free the last time?  Brown?  How about reviewing their real records, step by expensive, bloody step through the courts?

But at least Brown screwed the system “for his mom.”  I wonder if Hallmark makes cards for that.

Brown said he sometimes bumps into Robinson on the street.  “I talked to the guy. He said he was sorry. I said, ‘Forget about it. Don’t worry about it.’ . . . I feel like I should have forgiven [him] for they know not what they do. He needs to be happy and thank God like I did. Everybody should go by that code.”  And in that moment — as Brown talked about forgiveness as his brand of nonviolent street justice — Robinson walked into the McDonald’s with two friends.  “There he is. That’s him right there!” Brown said.  The accused shooter and the victim awkwardly shook hands and hugged — each assuring the other, “We cool.”  Robinson nervously asked if reporters at the table were police officers. Robinson said repeatedly that he didn’t shoot Brown, but he wouldn’t talk more about it unless he was paid $30. Then he disappeared down Wilson Avenue, heading east toward the lake.  Brown said he and Robinson have a simple understanding: “Don’t f— with me. I won’t f— with you.”

Yes, until the next time.  Why didn’t the prosecutor go ahead with the trial anyway?  The public is sick of this.  Or throw Brown in jail alongside Robinson, for lying and changing his story, for false accusations?  How about making Brown pay for his hospital bills if he won’t cooperate with the prosecution?  Would anything short of zero tolerance guarantee that either of these felonious buffoons will live to old age, or at least not kill anyone besides themselves?  And: “forgiveness [is] his brand of nonviolent street justice”???

Among all the prayers this tableau summons, one can only pray that the reporter was attempting irony.

The newspaper article ends with another drug dealer (this one shot, self-admittedly, in a “deal gone bad”) who complains that the cops didn’t do a good enough job investigating his case (though it is a judge who dismisses the charges).  Funny how even the worst thugs know which side of the bread is buttered and kiss up to judges.

So, in the final analysis, courtroom failures don’t exist and the police are responsible for snitching, for the culture of no-snitching, for the lack of evidence, for the rejection of evidence, for being too tough, for being too weak, for responding to crimes, for not responding . . . for merely existing while some thug sits in McDonald’s stuffing his face, pontificating his views on police performance at a reporter who is hopefully just pretending to hang on his every word:

[Repeat felon and shooting victim Dontae] Gamble also said authorities should have done a better job of investigating, putting together a stronger case and getting their facts straight since a judge might not believe a guy like him.

This would be laughable if police weren’t dying.

It’s too bad the Sun-Times reporters spent all their time eliciting opinions from people like Dontae Gamble and Willie Brown instead of focusing on the one striking fact buried amidst all the street-gang high-fives and sentimentalist clap-trap, because this fact explains entirely why police are dying on Chicago’s streets and elsewhere.  It should have been the starting point for the article they should have written:

Shooting victims in Chicago are almost as likely to have a long rap sheet as the shooters. In 2008, 72 percent of murder victims and 91 percent of accused killers had arrest histories, according to police statistics.

Long rap sheets.  Recidivists all.  If 91% of accused killers in Chicago have long arrest histories, it is not the police who are to blame for their presence on the streets: it is the courts and corrections systems that repeatedly cut them breaks and cut them loose.  The recent killer of two police in Tampa had a long rap sheet, as did the man who shot the two other officers who survived, as did the man who shot another Tampa cop last year, as did all the known cop killers in Chicago, and Detroit, and in Oakland and Seattle and L.A.  And so on and on and on.


The media may have dropped the ball on the war on cops, but thanks to the internet there are other sources of information from police themselves and police-turned-bloggers.  This article, by Dave Smith at PoliceOne blog is worth a thousand afternoons with the likes of Dontae Gamble.  And this column, by Chicago Sun Times columnist Michael Sneed, counters several ill-times, ham-handed screeds by Sneed’s anti-cop colleagues at the paper.

Two Tampa-Area Police Dead, Two Others Wounded: It’s Time for a Citizen’s Review Panel . . . of the Courts

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The Tampa Bay area is reeling from four police shootings, two fatal, two non-fatal only because the officers were wearing bullet-proof vests.

This morning, Tampa officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis were killed at a traffic stop.  David Curtis was the father of four young children.  He worked the overnight shift so he could spend more time with his children.  Jeffrey Kocab was about to become a father: he leaves behind a wife who is nine months pregnant.

Jeffrey Kocab                          David Curtis

Even in death, David Curtis is continuing to serve.  His organs are being harvested today to save the lives of people he never met.  In the next few weeks, Jeffrey Kocab’s wife will bury her young husband and give birth to his child.


Of course, the person being sought in these murders has a long record and should have been in prison:

Police said they are looking for Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, and Cortnee’ Nicole Brantley, 22, but have not named them as suspects.  Morris was released from state prison in April after serving two years on a drug conviction in Hillsborough County, records show.  In October 2005, he was arrested by Tampa police on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and robbery. He was found not guilty.

Morris spend nine months in prison, starting in 2004, for several cocaine charges.  Upon release, he was quickly re-arrested and charged with murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and robbery.  Some judge or jury acquitted him.  Why, I wonder.  Surely, with multiple gun charges, and an attempted murder, there was evidence.  Police did manage to put him away again after the murder acquittal — on yet more drug charges accumulated over two years.  He went back to prison in 2008 and got out two months ago.

Why didn’t the murder charges stick in 2005?  Why wasn’t Morris’ cumulative — and accumulating — record considered in sentencing him?  Now two police are dead, and while it is premature to draw any conclusions, I hope the question gets asked: What happened in the courts that enabled a repeat offender, a violent gun felon, a man charged with a previous murder, to be walking the streets of Tampa last night?

[The] incident began about 2:15 a.m. when [Officer David] Curtis pulled over the Toyota, which was missing a tag, near 50th Street and 23rd Avenue, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. The passenger was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant out of Jacksonville for a worthless check, so Curtis called for backup and Kocab came to the scene.  Both officers were shot in the head at close range as they approached the passenger side of the Toyota. . .

Somebody in the courts, or the prosecutor’s office, or the city council, or the state legislature, needs to step up and announce a top-to bottom review of the choices made that put this killer back on the streets, not once, not twice, but three times (not counting the inevitable juvenile record).  People crawl all over themselves to create citizen review boards whenever a police officer makes any kind of mistake.  Why shouldn’t the same be done with our courts, especially when officers get killed, but also whenever someone else gets killed by a predator who should have been in prison?

Meanwhile, in Lakeland, an hour outside Tampa, two other policemen are alive today thanks only to their bulletproof vests.

Deputy Paul Fairbanks

Deputy Michael Braswell

Deputies Paul Fairbanks and Mike Braswell were shot multiple times after stopping Matthew Tutt, who is described as a “21-year old . . . with a long criminal history.”  Another repeat offender who should have been in prison.  He was killed by police at the scene, but his presence on the streets that night ought to be the subject of another citizen’s review.  The fact that, by the grace of God, the officers were saved by their vests doesn’t change the fact that Tutt tried to murder them:

Tutt fired seven times, according to the sheriff’s office. Three of those bullets hit 58-year-old Deputy Paul Fairbanks III — in the stomach, left wrist and left elbow, Judd said. Deputy Mike Braswell, 32, was hit in the right hand, twice on the chest and once in the right thigh.

Ironically, there will probably be a review of the officers’ actions in shooting Tutt.  But there will be no review of the court’s decision to allow Tutt to be out on the streets, armed and dangerous, when he might have been in prison instead.  So long as we challenge and micromanage police actions while handing out free passes to the rest of the justice system, it’s the police who will continue to suffer and die.


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Just when you think the stupid barrel’s run dry:

Yes, that is a wanted poster inked onto the arm of defendant Tyree Gland, on trial for killing a young girl, Deandre Brown, in a drive-by shooting.

The real joke?  Our rules of evidence.  Gland’s lawyer has demanded that the tattoo be concealed from jurors because it might “unfairly prejudice” them.  In other words, it might lead jurors to believe that Gland is the type of person who puts out hits on police officers.

The judge rejected the defense’s request.  This threat against an officer of the law will not be brushed under the carpet, like so many others.

But it makes one think: how many times a day does some guilty person walk because a different judge has granted an equally inane demand to suppress facts?

Gerardo Regalado — Thank God It Wasn’t A Hate Crime: He Was Just Shooting Women

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. . . walking past the men to shoot them.

Gerardo Regalado

You wouldn’t know it from the non-existent, non-headlines, but the town of Hialeah, Florida suffered its worst mass murder and hate crime on Sunday when Gerardo Regalado shot seven women, killing four.  All the victims were or are mothers.

Regalado now joins the ranks of other woman-killers who curiously avoid the “hate crime” label, such as George Sodini, the Pittsburgh gym killer who wrote rambling anti-female diatribes before murdering three women, and Charles C. Roberts, who sent all the male pupils away from an Amish schoolhouse before binding and shooting 11 little girls, killing five.  Apparently, shooting every single woman in a restaurant while leaving the men unharmed is simply no proof that you harbor some murderous grudge against the female sex, at least according to the hate crime experts, who dread the day when somebody peers up from the statute book and says: “Hey, wait a minute, doesn’t gender mean female sometimes?”

You know, like killing 3,000 Americans on September 11 counts as anti-American nationality bias crime?

Oops, scratch that.

No, you won’t hear a peep from the experts, unless, that is, they feel the need to do damage control by going on record to deny that targeting females is anything like targeting gays, or ethnic minorities, or Hispanics, or the homeless, or any of the other extremely rare victimizations that contribute to their portrait of America as an immigrant-bashing, racist, homophobic place.  Counting women wouldn’t just crowd the picture frame: it would utterly overshadow all other crimes designated “hate,” and you can’t have that when the picture’s the point.

And so, for instance, in the wake of George Sodini’s carefully premeditated, females-only bloodbath, hate crime experts James Allen Fox and Jack Levin trilled shamelessly in the media that “a friendless society,” not the killer’s own clearly stated anti-female motives, was to blame for the women’s deaths.  That was a close one, owing to Sodini’s voluminous scribbling on the subject of hating women, that is, hatred of people who happen to be female and not male, which looks an awful lot like anti-female bias to anyone except the highly trained.  Fox and Levin had to do a real song-and-dance to avoid the subject of anti-female bias crime in that case.  And so they did, frantically pointing fingers at the economy, the internet, distracted parenting, telecommuting, and (quite horrifyingly when you consider how much this sounds like Sodini himself) people who don’t smile at strangers at the gym.

Yes, the nation’s foremost hate crimes experts looked at the mass slaughter of random women in an exercise club, and rather than acknowledge that the killer left behind a giant, pulsating neon arrow pointing at his own irrational loathing of women, they blamed the victims, musing that if only the dead women had previously been nicer to a future killer they never actually met, he might not have needed to mow them down at a later date.

That’s why the experts get the big bucks.  And the media follows in silent lockstep.

Fox and Levin haven’t weighed in on the Gerardo Regalado killings yet (maybe they haven’t heard about them, given the weird dearth of coverage).  Neither have Mark Potok, Brian Levin, the current or past leadership of the N.O.W., Eric Holder, or any other official or unofficial hate crimes activists, but if they do, it will doubtlessly be to deny that singling out female victims and shooting them in the head has anything to do with bias or hate, especially this year, when the official theme of hate crimes activism is the purported “rising tide” of anti-immigrant hate.

It certainly wouldn’t fit the activists’ message to have a Hispanic immigrant accused of committing the worst hate crime since Maj. Hasan shot dozens of innocent Americans, killing 13, and the “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried, but failed, to slaughter hundreds of American citizens by crashing a plane over Detroit.

Oops.  Scratch that.  Those aren’t being counted as hate crimes either.

Actually, if Gerardo Regalado’s murders were recorded as hate crimes, he wouldn’t even officially be counted as “Hispanic” because he’s the offender, not the victim. When Hispanics are the victims of hate crime, they’re designated “Hispanic.”  When they’re the perpetrators, the government counts them only as “white” or “black” (you can guess which one is useful to the activists).  That this is happening is not some paranoid persecution fantasy lurking in the minds of racists, but a mere fact of the hate crime statistics-gathering protocols implemented under Eric Holder’s leadership when Holder was point person on hate crimes in the Clinton Department of Justice.

It only sounds like some paranoid persecution fantasy.

Sort of like, “Singling out females to kill has nothing to do with hating women, even when you leave a note in your gym bag explaining that you are killing women because you hate women.”

George Sodini

Or, “Raping and beating a woman nearly to death because she wouldn’t dance with you does not indicate gender bias.”

Mbarek Lafrem

Or, “killing Americans whilst screaming anti-American slogans is not an anti-American-nationality hate crime.”

Nidal Hasan

You can see why we need experts to explain all this to us.

Here is the Miami Herald’s description of the murdered and wounded women. Remember, according to Attorney General Eric Holder, hate crimes are “far worse” than these crimes:

• Maysel Figueroa, 32, of Hialeah, who lived with her husband and their small son. She started work at Yoyito only a few days ago, after leaving a job at a discount store.  Late Sunday, Figueroa called her husband and said she would be home soon, the neighbor said. She didn’t arrive, so he went to look for her at the restaurant.

• Lavina M. Fonseca, 47, lived with her daughter across the street from Figueroa. She previously lived in Cuba’s Guantánamo province and studied Spanish and Russian literature at the University of Havana. She came to South Florida less than a year ago.  Fonseca’s daughter, Lexania Matos, 18, is a Hialeah High student.

• Zaida Castillo, 56, of Hialeah, followed her only daughter, son-in-law and grandson from the rural Cuban town of Quivicán to the United States about six years ago. In Cuba, Castillo was a vet, treating chickens on a farm. She cooked in Yoyito’s kitchen and tried to support her elderly mother back in Cuba. Castillo planned to visit her mother in November.

Three other victims who remained hospitalized Monday night include:

• Yasmin Dominguez, 38, believed to be Molina’s cousin, who was there to pick her up, or protect her from Regalado. She was the first to encounter Regalado outside. He shot her, then walked into Yoyito. She remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

• Ivet Coronado Fernandez, who came from Havana about four months ago, lived with her mother in Hialeah. She was shot twice. Coronado called her brother Felix Fuentes from the restaurant and told him she had been shot. Fuentes said Coronado underwent two operations but may lose her arm.

• Mayra de la Caridad Lopez, 55, of Hialeah Gardens told her husband from her hospital bed Monday night she might have survived the massacre by diving under a metal table. She was washing pots and pans when she heard gunshots and screaming.  As Regalado entered and began shooting, De la Caridad Lopez dove for cover but was shot in the back.  It was supposed to be a happy day for her. After being unemployed for months, Sunday was her first day on the job at Yoyito’s.

Jordan Gibson, Jose Reyes, Wilson Gomez, Leonard Scroggins: “I didn’t want to be one of those cases where you find my remains three years from now.”

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You wouldn’t know it from the way many in the media cover crime, but recidivists with extremely violent records are still routinely cut loose from prison early, or allowed to stay free while awaiting trial.

Or allowed to attend high school with nobody knowing they’re sex offenders.

But wait, isn’t America supposed to be a police state, where people sometimes shockingly serve full sentences for their crimes?  Not in these cases:

Jordan Anthony Gibson, Atlanta, Georgia:

Gibson is currently a suspect in multiple rapes.  But even though he was caught in 2009 with items belonging to the rape victims, it took police a year to get back DNA results from the State Crime Lab positively tying him to two of the sex crimes.  This story says a lot about the state’s priorities, letting a suspected serial rapist’s DNA collect dust on a shelf for 13 months while some judge actually let the suspect walk free.  It also says a lot about the way the defense bar has convinced the judiciary to raise the bar way too high on evidence in criminal convictions: why isn’t being in possession of rape victims’ property enough to try someone for rape?  Why couldn’t he have been tried, or at least actually held under real supervision, on burglary or robbery charges until the DNA came back?  Don’t we have enough laws on the books to keep people like this off the streets for their other crimes.  of course, that would involve the courts actually displaying a commitment to treating crime like crime.

Part of the problem is the perception that crimes like burglary and robbery are now deemed too minor to even address.  And we know who to thank for that.  yet, somehow, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wants you to believe that we are far too harsh on criminals.  And so, you have a man now known to be a serial rapist, who could have been prosecuted for robbery and kept behind bars as the rape investigation continued, instead set free for a year as the crime lab didn’t bother to prioritize its work in a timely way.  Money problems?  Well, then, they should be using a case like this one to yell from the rooftops that they need more funds.  They don’t make waves like that, though.

Nor do Atlanta’s politically motivated “victim advocates” — many of them campus rape activists — who would rather berate all men for alleged sexist insensitivities than get their fingers dirty actually advocating for swift justice against a real rapist.  Oh, for the days when there were real feminists.  Here’s the serial rape story:

Police charged a man Friday for two of a string of rapes early last year along the Briarcliff Road corridor. DeKalb County Police investigators believe Jordon Anthony Gibson may be responsible for more sexual assaults, however.  Gibson, arrested Thursday, had been in police custody [that’s an ankle monitor, not jail] for more than a year on related charges.  On April 11, 2009, Gibson, 19, was stopped for a traffic violation, and police found property from the rape victims inside his car, DeKalb County police spokesman Jason Gagnon said.  Police, at the time, charged him with several counts of robbery, but continued to consider him as a person of interest in the series of rapes, Gagnon said.  DNA samples were taken from Gibson at the time of his arrest, but they were returned only a few weeks ago, police said.  The GBI’s results showed Gibson to be a positive match in two of the rapes.

Umm, so why wasn’t he arrested weeks ago?  Why wasn’t he picked up the very same day that the DNA results were known?  What exactly does it take to remove a dangerous, DNA-identified rapist from the streets, especially when he’s facing a long prison sentence?  Why did the warrant take “weeks” after the DNA match?

“We had a strong feeling that he was our guy, just due to the fact that those sexual assaults discontinued the minute he was arrested,” Gagnon told the AJC. “However, we didn’t have the evidence.  After the robbery charges, Gibson was released on a $60,000 bond and given an ankle monitor.  “We wanted to keep up with him,” Gagnon said.  There were at least five more rape victims for whom Gibson’s DNA did not match.  “Sometimes DNA can possibly be tainted,” Gagnon said, in explaining why there were not more matches.  As far as waiting a year for DNA results, Gagnon said investigators were patient.  “We’re just glad it came,” he said.

Look, at some point, somebody in the system needs to stand up and say:

Waiting a year for DNA results in serial rapes with the main suspect out in the community is NOT acceptable.  Having a court system in which we can’t even push a robbery conviction to get a suspected rapist behind bars while we investigate his other crimes is NOT acceptable.  If the courts are so distracted and overwhelmed that they can’t process a case like this in less than 13 months; if the DA doesn’t feel it is a priority to get a guy like this off the streets ASAP, then we really don’t have justice.  We really don’t have courts; we really don’t have prosecutors who can say they’re representing the people.  We don’t have anybody bothering to prevent the next preventable rape.

I understand why a cop can’t say this.  What I don’t understand is why a judge won’t say it.  Somebody needs to be the person who has the courage to challenge this type of utter failure.

Somebody . . .  some politician, some DA, some well-paid victim activist, needs to speak up.


Because when nobody speaks up, this is what happens: Jose Reyes, Seattle, Washington

A convicted sex offender is accused of raping a special education student at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School. KING 5 [news] has learned some staff [k]new a sex offender was at the school, but parents and students did not.  Prosecutors say 18-year-old Jose Reyes convinced a 14-year-old freshman to go into a girls bathroom at Roosevelt to make out. But, he then forced himself on the student. Other students believe he was in some sort of relationship with the girl.  Few at Roosevelt knew about Reyes’ disturbing past:  In January of 2007, police say Reyes lured a 10-year-old-girl into a public library parking garage and asked her to take off her pants.  In April of 2007, he was charged with trying to lure an 11-year-old girl at a [G]reenwood park. And in May 2007, he tried the same thing with a five-year-old girl, asking her to sit on his lap in exchange for trading cards.

And those are the crimes he was caught committing.  Of course, if this were the New York Times reporting the story, they would probably describe Reyes as the victim of a vile Romeo and Juliet law and leave out the part about the five-year old.

When Reyes started school this year, certain teachers, staff and security were told that he is a Level 2 sex offender. State law dictates that no one else is required to be notified.  Many parents say that’s ridiculous. . . The Seattle School District says while Roosevelt was notified of Reyes’ sex offender status, the report did not give details about his past and that report never made it from police to the school district itself.

I wonder why Reyes was granted a Level 2 status, given that he was a recidivist who targeted extremely young victims.  Should his age matter, when he predated small children?  Were some of the charges dropped (like they are always dropped), and that is why he was free to rape a special ed. student?

Shouldn’t every sex crime be prosecuted?


And shouldn’t sex crime cases take less than, say, a decade to process?  Especially when the rapist spends that time walking free on the streets and then commits another sex assault?  Was this a DNA-delayed case?  Something else?  Wilson Gomez, Brandon Florida:

A Brandon man already facing rape charges from last year was arrested Saturday morning on similar charges, according to an arrest report.  Deputies arrested Wilson Gomez, 50, at his home at 202 Mason St., after, they say, he had sex with a woman who did not give her consent. He is charged with sexual battery, the report said.  Gomez was arrested in 2009 and charged with sexual battery using a deadly weapon or force causing injury in connection with a 2001 incident, jail records show. According to Hillsborough County court records, these charges are part of an ongoing case and he has not been convicted.  Gomez is held without bail at the Orient Road Jail.

It seems that when offenders know they’re going to jail, they often act out.  Why don’t judges see this?  Why do they keep letting dangerous predators go free to await trial?  Like, in the next case.


Leonard Earl Scroggins, San Diego, California:

Scroggins is a convicted recidivist sex offender (very) recently out on parole who was allowed to remain loose even after fondling a child a few days after getting out of prison.  Astonishingly, San Diego Deputy District Attorney Enrique Camarena feels that letting the two-time convict remain free after the sex offense against a child was a sign that the system is working, because Scroggins is now facing life in prison for removing his monitoring anklet and sexually assaulting four other females in a crime spree last week, including a 13-year old girl he stabbed and tried to kidnap at knife-point and another woman attacked with a knife.

That means the system is working?  Using women and children as prey because we’ve raised the bar so much on prosecuting anyone for anything that you practically have to kill a child to get put away?  That’s a solution?  What does the system look like when it’s  not working?

The prosecutor in the case says he is not frustrated with the system even though Scroggins has a history of breaking the law and violating parole.  “Unfortunately we have to get to this point where the guy commits serious acts on consecutive days, to multiple victims to get to this point where he is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. But that’s a big punishment and I think as a society we have to wait until the time is right,” says Camarena.

“Society” has to “wait until” what???  Look, even though he was in Napa Valley, this guy wasn’t selling no wine before its time: he was kidnapping women and children at knife-point after the proud state of California cut him loose early for two previous sex crimes and failed to hold him accountable for attacking a child.  I don’t know if D.A. Camarena is some wanna-be pol using his current office to climb the political ladder, or some wanna-be defense attorney using taxpayers and victims to train for his future job by working for the prosecutor’s office (a not uncommon scenario), or if he is actually a decent law-and-order guy driven insane by the impossibility of bringing charges against anyone for anything these days.  But it is appalling to say that any woman or child should be sacrificed to “serious acts on consecutive days, to multiple victims” to get a bloody prosecution rolling.

Jesus wept.

I don’t quite know how to express this because it should not need to be expressed, but the system wasn’t working when Scroggins walked out of prison early for two rapes.  It wasn’t working when he attacked a child and got away with it in March.  It wasn’t working when he wasn’t punished for violating his parole — by molesting a child — and remained free on an ankle monitor.   It’s not working if you need a high-tide body count before the D.A. feels he can proceed with prosecuting a dangerous recidivist predatory child sex offender.  And if the D.A. reacts to these circumstances by making excuses instead of shouting from the rooftops, something is very, very broken.

Here are Scroggins’ prior offenses.  Or, at least, the ones that someone bothered to prosecute:

Department of Corrections documents show convicted sex offender Leonard Scroggins in and out of prison. Back in the mid-90’s he was sentenced to ten years for rape in Napa County. He served four and a half, but violated his parole twice; finally being released in 2003.  A couple of months later, Scroggins went back to prison after pleading guilty to a terrorist threat involving kidnapping and rape. He again violated parole, and was just released from prison this past March.

That’s two violent sex crimes, three parole violations.  Then came the un-prosecuted child molestation (please drop the “fondling” bit), which apparently led to the ankle monitor but no prison time.  Then the rampage this week, which relieved the District Attorney of actually having to take a stand by trying Scroggins on one child charge before he committed more sex crimes.

Look, I’m sympathetic to the difficulty of getting charges to stick in this joke of a justice system.  But can’t the D.A. so much as express mild disgust that his hands are so tied?  Isn’t that his job?

Meanwhile, as politicians fuss over expensive-yet-futile measures like requiring sex offenders to provide their e-mail addresses and instant messaging names to police, or creating yet another freeway alert system to warn of offenders who are “misbehaving” (their term) or absconded, the one sane voice in the California crime cacophony is that of Scroggin’s 13-year old victim.  She harbors no illusions about the stakes of the game:

Scroggins [put] a knife to the throat of a 13-year-old girl and tr[ied] to drag her into his car.  “He kept repeating in a low voice, ‘Get in the car or I will cut you,”‘ said Guadalupe Perez, an eighth-grader at National City Middle School.  The girl said she screamed and reached for the knife, cutting her finger, then elbowed the man and ran.  “If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said.  “I didn’t want to be one of those cases where you find my remains three years from now.”

“I didn’t want to be one of those cases where you find my remains three years from now.”  Shame on the rest of us.

Jeffrey Dwight Carr, Michael Ray Tackett: Violent Recidivists Wandering the Streets

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While investigative reporters and their academic mouthpieces busily crochet their latest screeds against the notion of putting criminals in prison, here’s a quick sampling of people who should have been behind bars, but weren’t.  Of course, this isn’t a criminological study, because we’re going to actually mention the crimes these men committed, instead of just breathlessly envisioning the endless possibilities of their next “re-entry” into society.

It looks like the last re-entries were easy to a fault.

Jeffery Dwight Carr, Orlando Florida:

Police in Central Florida say a registered sex offender cut off his electronic ankle monitor, kidnapped a woman and tried to have her cash a $1,000 check. Jeffery Dwight Carr has been charged with robbery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

Although his juvenile record is not available, Carr wasted no time racking up offenses the minute he turned 18: five auto theft convictions in two years.  How precocious of him.  He got a rolling slap on the wrist and just a few months behind bars, which is too bad, because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been free to commit that sexual assault of a minor in 2002.

Of course, people don’t serve time for every crime they commit, so once they’re popped for something, it makes a certain kind of criminal sense to keep committing more crimes, because you won’t actually serve more time for them.  Unless the state has a recidivism law.  And bothers to enforce it.  Which Florida does.  And didn’t.  Oh well.  He’s behind bars now, and the victim was very lucky to escape with her life.


Michael Ray Tackett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

You’d think we’ve lost enough police officers recently.  None were injured hauling Tackett back into custody last week for the brutal, armed 2007 rape of a real estate agent, thank God.  But why was he out on bond awaiting a 2009 charge for the brutal, armed rape of another real estate agent, when he has a criminal record of multiple rape charges, and a neighbor reported that this was Tackett’s second armed standoff with the police?

Michael Ray Tackett

Tackett was previously acquitted twice for raping women who were prostitutes, in 2003 and 2005.  Both women admitted to selling sex to him on different occasions but went to police when he became violent, pulled weapons, and raped them.  You would think that type of history would be enough to keep him in jail awaiting trial after he committed his 2009 rape — of a real estate agent he stalked and attacked in an empty house she was showing.  Yet after that terrifyingly violent crime, and despite his extremely scary record, Tackett told the court that he had a back problem that couldn’t be addressed in prison, so he’d need to await trial at home.   The judge actually bought the back pain story and decided Tackett was a good candidate for pre-trial bond.  You know, like Ted Bundy:

Dec. 16, 2009: A West Pittsburg man accused of luring a real estate agent to an empty Jefferson Township house and raping her June 11 is free on bond.  Michael R. Tackett, 38, had his bond reduced Thursday from $200,000 to $100,000 by Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge John C. Reed after his defense attorney Thomas W. Leslie called the initial amount excessive.  Assistant Mercer County District Attorney Ryan Bonner said Tackett testified Thursday that he required medical attention due to back surgery, and that he couldn’t get it through the Mercer County Jail. . . “Obviously, we were disappointed and alarmed that he bonded out,” said state police trooper Dan Sindlinger.  He said Tackett is potentially dangerous and may have a pattern of targeting real estate agents, and warned them not to show homes alone.

In other words, the judge decided that rather than using stuff like prison guards and bars to keep an eye on Tackett, he would place the burden for watching out for him directly on the real estate agents he was known to be stalking.  After all, lots of real estate agents are part-time ninjas trained in taking down potential serial killers, right?

Tackett was charged with rape in 2003 and 2005 in Lawrence County and acquitted both times, according to published reports. . .  Authorities said Tackett met the woman during a real estate open house. About a week and half later she was showing him a house on Seidle Road when police say he pinned her down, told her he had a gun and raped her repeatedly.  Tackett threatened to kill the woman. He ordered her to answer questions about her family, recited her address, and threatened to kill her and her family if she reported the incident, police said.

And now, the parade of technicalities begins:

Tackett used a fake name when he contacted the woman but she found a photo on the state’s Megan’s Law sex offender registry that looked similar to the man she said raped her, police said.  A Neshannock Township policeman saw the picture, which was not Tackett’s. He realized it looked like Tackett, with whom he’d dealt before.  The policeman showed the woman Tackett’s picture, and she confirmed it was him.  Leslie is trying to have that identification, and any subsequent courtroom identifications of Tackett suppressed in the case. He said showing the picture outside a lineup was “unduly suggestive.” A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6 on that motion.  In a later state police lineup, the woman said she was “100 percent sure” it was Tackett who raped her, police said.  She also identified Tackett’s car, and was able to point it out from a block away while driving through West Pittsburg with her husband, police said.

The details from the 2007 rape are also chilling:

[Tackett] had been sought by police in the rape of a real estate agent on May 24, 2007. State police said the agent had agreed to meet with Tackett to show him a home along Huson Road in Woodcock Township, Crawford County.  According to documents filed earlier this year in the office of District Judge Lincoln Zilhaver of Saegertown, Crawford County, the agent showed the house to Tackett, who had given her the false name of Randy Thompson, for about four hours, starting around 10:30 a.m.  Toward the end of the showing, Tackett asked to see the basement. Once in the basement, police said Tackett used a stun gun on the woman and raped her.  The woman provided a detailed description of her attacker, including his height and weight, that he wore glasses, had a tattoo and shaved his pubic area.  She also identified Tackett in a photo lineup. During the investigation, police searched Tackett’s wife’s car, which the woman also described to police as the vehicle used by her attacker.  That vehicle search turned up items including a copy of Real Estate magazine and a stun gun.

This sounds like a case where insane pro-offender evidence rules, in addition to judicial and juror leniency, slowed down police in their efforts to contain a suspected serial rapist and, possibly, serial killer.  Let’s hope the body count isn’t too high.  But of course, the real problem is that we just put too many people in jail, man.

Tomorrow: more violent recidivists wandering the streets . . .

“Poppa Love” Speights: It Takes a Village to Rape a Child

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This has been the unfortunate theme running through my head as I watched the “Poppa Love” Speights saga unfold in recent weeks on the Tampa news.  Speights came to the attention of police years ago, when his young daughter reported being repeatedly raped — and threatened — by him.  But despite his lengthy police record (30 arrests) and the young woman’s testimony, prosecutors felt they could not convict Speights at the time.  A year later, the police had proof that Speights was a child rapist when another, even younger girl gave birth to his baby: she had been 12 at the time Speights impregnated her, and DNA matched him to the crime.

But that was two years ago: since then, a judge granted Speights bail to await his trial for child rape, and he apparently returned to the household where he had raped and impregnated the young girl and where a dozen or more other minor children still resided.  His mother, wife, aunt, and several of his own children supported Speights, so it is reasonable to assume that he remained in contact with many other potential child victims, either with or without the permission of child protection authorities.  His bail was not repealed when his trial began, and Speights absconded two weeks ago when it began to dawn on him that he might not walk away from the latest charges, as he had done literally dozens of times after arrests in the past.  He was convicted in absentia and recaptured after an expensive manhunt.

Yet despite all this, despite raping and impregnating a child and fleeing a courtroom and being featured on America’s Most Wanted, Speights still believed he could game the system: he asked the judge yesterday for house arrest for the child rape and seemed genuinely surprised when Circuit Judge Chet A. Tharpe ordered life in prison instead.  Is Speights crazy, or are we crazy?

I say we’re the crazy ones.  Speights was merely reacting logically to a situation he had experienced dozens of times in the past.

For, until yesterday, the state has never really held Speights responsible for anything, from serially abandoning children, to breaking dozens of laws, to committing heinous sexual crimes.  Despite his extremely lengthy arrest record, he has never served state time.  Despite fathering more than 30 children and apparently having no legal employment (none was reported in the news), he was still living with approximately a dozen of his offspring in housing doubtlessly subsidized by taxpayers, who also doubtlessly subsidize the dozen or so other women who have filed paternity charges against him over the years.  Despite being accused of child rape twice, and fleeing custody once, he was permitted to bond out of jail in 2008 and remain free for two more years, as taxpayers also paid to prepare his defense.  Despite being identified as the father of an infant conceived in a child rape that took place in the presence of other minor children, he was apparently permitted to return home to those children (I say apparently because nothing was reported about restrictions placed on Speights when he was released to await trial).

It isn’t accurate to say that Speights tried to hide his crimes: a man who names himself “Poppa Love,” and tattoos his name on his girlfriends and girl children cannot be said to be trying to hide anything.  And despite their unruly protestations in court, his mother and current wife and aunt and assorted girlfriends cannot really pretend that they didn’t know about his behavior, not when he has had a dozen paternity charges filed against him and multiple domestic violence charges, and other child rape charges.  These women knew, and they too should be held responsible for recklessly endangering children.  Speights even tried to pin the child rape on two of his own sons.

The obscene spectacle of a child rapist with 30+ children claiming in court that he is a good, responsible father who allegedly “puts food on the table” and “presents under the tree” is only exceeded by the grim spectacle of a court system and child protection system that either could not or would not prevent him from doing more harm a long time ago.

Speights is the rapist, but we’re the ones who failed to protect his victims, all the while literally subsidizing his crimes.

The Guilty Project: Why Were “Papa Love” Speights’ Other Victims Denied Justice?

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Now that fugitive child rapist “Poppa Love” Speights has been tracked down by the police (for the second time — after a Tampa judge actually cut him loose on bail despite his flight from the law on child-rape charges in 2008), maybe more of his victims will come forward.

Then again, that’s what was said the last time, too.

You can hardly blame Speights’ victims for not trusting authorities to keep them safe — some authorities, that is.  The police worked hard, for years, to put Speights away.  Other child victims came forward, at grave personal risk, only to be denied a day in court.  The courts remain bluntly inaccessible to victims of child rape and overly sympathetic to their assailants.  This is true despite decades of advocacy.  Here’s why:

  • Myths of wrongful prosecution, fed by media activists such as Dorothy Rabinowitz, who wildly exaggerated the prevalence of wrongful prosecutions after a handful of unjust prosecutions made headlines . . . twenty years ago.   Rabinowitz and other self-proclaimed “wrongful prosecution experts” irresponsibly claimed that these isolated cases constituted a vast, shadowy movement against innocent, falsely accused defendants.  There was no such thing, and neither Rabinowitz nor any of her equally irresponsible peers ever bothered to try to make a statistical case.  Nor were they asked to do so: it was enough to point fingers, shriek “witch hunt” and dine out on the outrage they were generating — while countless child victims watched their own chance for justice evaporate, thanks in large part to the hysteria Rabinowitz orchestrated.  How many prosecutions were actually found to be flawed?  So few they are remembered by name and may be counted on one hand.  How many victims of child sexual assault were consequently denied even a chance for justice?  It’s impossible to know.  But hundreds of thousands of cases of child sexual abuse have gone un-prosecuted in the twenty years since Rabinowitz et. al. helped put a deep chill on the public’s willingness to believe victims of this crime.
  • Pro-offender biases on the part of judges. Too many judges see their role as defenders of defendants instead of objective arbiters of the law.  This probably has a lot to do with the number of politically-connected defense attorneys who make it to the bench.  I personally can’t conceive of any other reason why some judge let Speights walk free in 2008, even after he was found to have fathered a child by raping a 12-year old.
  • Defendant-biased evidence rules that make it virtually impossible to introduce facts and arguments in the courtroom.  In Trials Without Truth, William Pizzi explains how Supreme Court-driven exclusionary rules have warped the trial system, always in favor of defendants.
  • Public unwillingness to foot the bill (and the defense bar’s successes in padding it).  Even when evidence exists to try defendants, prosecutors working with extremely limited budgets can only afford to try a fraction of cases, or sometimes a fraction of charges against individual defendants.  Add that to the multiple ways defendants can get off on technicalities, and prosecutors are forced to shelve the majority of the cases they ought to be bringing to trial.

The criminal career of “Papa Love” Speights is a direct consequence of these prejudices and shortcomings.  His sexual crimes against children have been known to the police for years, but they never succeeded in bringing charges that stuck, until DNA identified him as the father of an infant whose mother was 12 when she was raped and impregnated by him.  Even then, a judge let him go free to await trial.

Another child victim who had come forward — his own daughter — never got her day in court, says St. Petersburgh Times reporter Alexandra Zayas:

A teenage girl went to police in 2005, saying her father raped her repeatedly for two years, paid cash for her silence and for good measure, showed her a gun.  Prosecutors lacked enough evidence to pursue charges.  A year later, that same man raped a 12-year-old niece and slipped her $20.  He was John Jerome Speights Jr., a 45-year-old with more than 30 children and paternity claims from more than a dozen women. He calls himself Poppa Love.

Speights actually tattoos his name on his wives and female children:

His ex-wife’s thigh “belongs to P. Love.” Daughters are inked “Daddy’s Girl.”  Over the years, he has had access to many young girls, including his own daughters and other relatives.

The details of the daughter’s rape are chilling.  The child reached out to authorities and told the police of other victims, but the State Attorney’s Office declined to act.  Why?

His daughter was 14 when it started. At a family reunion in northern Florida, she told police, she ended up alone with him in a motel room.  He asked if she was a virgin, she told police. He said he was going to give her a test. Then he had intercourse with her, while telling her, “I am not having sex with you,” she said.  It happened more than once, she reported. On a porch, in motels, in his car, near a graveyard. In the front yard of her aunt’s home. In his house, after he locked the other kids out.  The daughter said he told her to think of him as her boyfriend. That he would whip her brothers if she didn’t have sex with him. That if she told, he’d shoot himself, she said, or drive them both off the road. . . Speights denied the allegation. When police came, he fled.  They spoke to his wife. She said neither of them was employed and that she collected disability checks for the kids.  “Eight children live with them,” the detective wrote. “She said that she doesn’t know their ages because there are too many of them to keep straight.”  The daughter reported seeing young girls taken out of the bedroom late at night, but none of them alleged abuse.  Speights skipped his interview with police. His wife told them his attorney had advised him against talking.  The following day, a detective presented the case to the State Attorney’s Office and was told there was insufficient evidence. The case was closed but could be reopened with more proof.

Where was child protective services?  Astonishingly, Speights actually took one of his victims to court for child support — and the victim was thrown into jail.  The girl was 15 when he impregnated  her:

Court files suggest that [the niece’s child] wasn’t the first baby he fathered with a teen. In 2004, he filed a child support case in one such case. He was 30 when their son was born. She would have been 15. She could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.  When she failed to pay, the Hillsborough court held her in contempt and Gulfport police threw her in jail.

A judge in Hillsborough County court threw a teen mother in jail at the behest of the adult who impregnated her.  Another judge — or possibly two — let Speight remain free from 2008 to 2010.  If this case does not cry out for a top-to-bottom review of the court’s response to child abuse and sexual abuse cases, what does?

If only crusading journalists like Ms. Rabbinowitz behaved as if victims deserved justice, just like regular people.  Don’t hold your breath, though.

Tomorrow: What, if anything, can be done.

The Guilty Project: Who Let Child Rapist John Speights Escape on Bond? And What About Those Other 30 Arrests?


This is John Speights. He strolled out of a Tampa courthouse last week during his trial for raping a 12-year old child and disappeared.  The sheriff couldn’t stop him because a judge had let him bond out back in 2008, when he was originally charged with ten counts of child rape.  And, oh yeah, he’s been arrested at least 30 other times in Tampa alone for charges including battery, bigamy, aggravated assault, cruelty to a child and domestic violence, yet he has no state prison record, which means that prosecutors had to drop some or all of those charges, or other judges cut him serial breaks for multiple violent crimes . . . or all of these things happened, enabling him to remain free to rape children.

The police catch ’em and the courts let ’em go:

John Speights, aka “Poppa Love”

Oh and, by the way, Speights impregnated his child victim, yet the judge granted bond anyway, even, apparently, after the results of the DNA test were known.  The child victim gave birth two years ago, and Speights was unambiguously identified as the father.

If ten counts of child rape affirmed by DNA doesn’t count as a no-bond situation, what does count?

Was the judge who let him go in 2008 (despite knowing about the DNA) the same judge who presided over Speight’s trial last week, or did two entirely different Tampa judges independently make the same troubling call: that a man who impregnated a little girl should be permitted to remain free while being tried for an offense that would put him behind bars for life?

And if there were two judges involved, why didn’t the trial judge withdraw Speight’s bond?  Is this another case of one judge not wishing to “second guess” the decision of another (see here, here, and here)?

The judge who let Speights bond out in 2008 put his child victim, a relative, in grave danger, but she’s hardly the only child who was endangered by Speight’s bond.  Speights has fathered 32 children of his own, and he raped his victim in a household where 12 of his children were also living.  So he was committing child rape in a house with 12 other potential victims, and he even committed child rapes in a room where his infant was sleeping, and yet, some judge looked at this evidence and let him go back to that household and those children to await trial?

That betrays a profound lack of seriousness in the court’s approach to this crime.

For, does anybody actually believe Speights only raped one little girl?  Besides the judge, that is?  Thanks to DNA, prosecutors and police were able to build the current case against him, but detectives told America’s Most Wanted that they had tried to build sexual assault cases against Speights in the past, only to have the victims withdraw out of fear.  Given that, and his prior arrests for acts of violence against women and children, and the fact that his relatives are defending him and have turned on the current victim, there is no way this man should have been permitted to see the light of day since his first appearance in the courtroom two years ago.

Not only is Speights a violent child sexual predator who tried to flee the police when they went to arrest him for child rape, but he is an extremely dangerous type of violent child sexual predator: one who has groomed a cabal of accessories among his own family.  The family is so well-trained that they left the courtroom when he waved his hand, marching out as he absconded.

It takes a village to rape a child.

In this case, the “village” includes Speights’ family, the Hillsborough County Courts, and twisted exclusionary rules that make it nigh-on impossible to mount a successful prosecution of even the worst offenders.  Not a very nice place to live, this village.  How many other children are in danger from Speights at this very minute?

It utterly defies comprehension how some judge could sit in a courtroom, look at Speights’ 30 prior arrests, his prior history of absconding, the intimidation of the victim, the age of the victim, the impregnation of the victim, the evidence of rapes committed in the presence of an infant and multiple other children, the record of violence, the family members supporting the rapist, and still say: “Hey, here’s a guy who deserves to be released on his own recognizance.”

And why isn’t anyone in the media asking the right questions? Instead of asking the court why a dangerous child rapist with a history of fleeing police was granted bond in the first place and then had that bond upheld by the trial judge, reporters asked the sheriff why he couldn’t keep Speights from leaving the courthouse.  The answer, of course, was simple: the law wouldn’t allow them to stop him, once the judge granted bond:

Speights had been free on $60,000 bond since 2008. According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Larry McKinnon . . . when a person has been released on bond, it is not the responsibility of the bailiffs to monitor them when they are in court. They are allowed to go as they please, although they have been entrusted to show up for all court matters.  “The bailiff’s responsibility is to monitor the proceedings of the court and not to guard or supervise those out on bond. That’s why they’re out on bond,” McKinnon said.

Reporters have carefully avoided naming any of the judges involved.  I imagine that’s because they know that if any judges get criticized, they will lose valuable media access to all judges.  That’s how the game gets played, after all.  I’ve had more than one reporter tell me so.  Easier to point fingers at the nearest cop and call it a day.

And God forbid if Bill O’Reilly comes knocking on the courtroom doors about another Tampa rapist inappropriately cut loose by a judge.


America’s Most Wanted featured Speights on their show and have offered something nobody in the local press seemed to think important: a detailed description of the man, and his tattoos.  They’re hard to miss:

5 feet 10 inches tall and 205 pounds — and he’s covered with tattoos, including: praying hands and Playboy bunny on his right arm; snowman and tiger on right shoulder; cross with a rose on his left arm; a rose with the name “Twandra” on his chest; “Pop” on the left side of his chest; “$$$” on the inside of his left thigh; and the word “Psych” tattooed on the left side of his neck.  Catch this convict before he hurts someone else. Call us right now at 1-800-CRIME-TV if you’ve seen him.

Media (Un)Ethics: Using the Anniversary of Jessica Lunsford’s Murder to Advocate For Sex Offenders

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Last week marked the fifth anniversary of Jessica Lunsford’s murder. Nine-year old Lunsford was kidnapped, raped, and buried alive by her neighbor, a convicted sex offender.

You would think the anniversary of Lunsford’s horrific murder would give rise to thoughts about our failure to protect her and other victims of violent recidivists.  You would think reporters would cover stories about early release of sexual predators, lax sentencing of sexual predators, and failure to punish sexual predators.  You would think that, but you would be wrong.  In Florida’s “prestige” media, the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald,  Lunsford’s death is treated as a cautionary tale — not cautioning against the fatal practice of going easy on child rapists, mind you, but scorning those who are trying to prevent similar crimes from happening again.

The problem, according to John Frank of the SPTimes, is not that John Couey was free to kill Jessica five years ago: the problem is that public, thoughtless brutes that we are, reacted to the murder of Jessica by lowering our opinion of sex offenders:

The brutal killing of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, which happened five years ago today, fueled the creation of a boogeyman in Florida politics: the sex offender.

Never mind that the “boogeyman” in this case and countless others was not an imaginary threat but a real one, thus not technically a boogeyman at all.  This is the breathless first sentence of a breathless denunciation of any and all efforts to keep track of sex offenders, from stricter sentencing, to registration laws, to living restrictions, to simply not feeling warm and fuzzy enough towards that convicted child molester who wants to lead your son’s scout troop.

I say “denunciation” instead of “reporting” because reporting signifies a veneer of objectivity.  At least the Times refrained from attacking Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, this time.   That must have been hard for them, for attacking Mark Lunsford over everything from his educational background to the type of car he drives has become a sort of newsroom sport among Times staffers.

I wrote about Lunsford-bashing here and here.

Lunsford has been unforgivably smeared, and now the anniversary his daughter’s death is being used to slyly advocate for rapists and killers under the guise of “reporting.”  If only the St. Petersburg Times had an institute for journalistic ethics or something: maybe they could visit it and learn to reign in such ugly behavior.  Instead, because Mark Lunsford is a crime victim advocate, rather than an advocate for criminals like the man who murdered his daughter, he’s fair game to the so-called reporters who hound his every move.

Sex Offender Two-Step: Those (Pricey) Revolving Prison Doors

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Crime Victims Media Report is back, after an unexpected hiatus.  Some updates:

Loc Buu Tran

A reader informs me that Loc Buu Tran, previous granted probation for a kidnapping and sexual assault in Clearwater, Florida has finally been convicted of murder in Orlando, after his trial for slaughtering his girlfriend was repeatedly delayed:

Another appeal in the making, yes, but a little light filters through this cloudy justice journey. Today, Loc (Anthony) was judged “guilty, 1st degree murder”. His jury found fourteen stabs a bit zealous for simply giving her the head’s up that he was in control.

Jo Frank

Loc was convicted of sexual battery, kidnapping, and obstruction of justice in 1998.  The woman he kidnapped and raped had “rejected him.”  For this shockingly violent crime, he got . . . a get out of jail free card by some sympathetic judge who probably believed it was merely an acting-out-sort-of-kidnapping-and-rape-thing.  Two years probation for sexual assault and kidnapping.  They probably apologized to him for his inconvenience.

In 2001, the state had another chance to punish Loc and protect women when he violated his probation by committing multiple acts of credit card fraud.  Consequently, he faced prison time for the sexual assault, along with the new charges.  But instead of taking into consideration his new status as a recidivist, another judge gave him another “first offender” chance and telescoped down all his charges to one sentence.  You can guess what happened after that:

[A]fter letting Tran get away with a known rape for four years, then catching him violating his probation with several other charges, then sentencing him to an absurdly short prison term . . . [t]he State of Florida let him go early, after serving only 26 months of a 38 month sentence.

They also apparently trash-canned the rest of his probation, for good measure.  It’s all about prisoner “re-entry,” you know.  Probation’s a drag.  How dare we ask judges to enforce the law when rapists need to be rehabilitated back into society and given job training and that all-important-help getting their voting rights reinstated (Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s weird hobbyhorse)?

As we know now, Tran “re-entered” society with a bang.  A slash, really, stabbing [another] young woman to death when she tried to break up with him.   Given the court’s repeated bungling of his case this time, you have to wonder if he’ll ever really be off the streets.

Well, he is now, at least until the defense attorneys manage to find the golden key that sets the rapists free.  When Floridians pay property taxes this year, they should remember that they’re now bankrolling Loc’s endless appeals.

I’ll be writing that in the subject line of my check.

Maybe it would be cheaper if we just let him go again, like all the anti-incarceration activists chant.  Of course, they’re also the ones making it so expensive to try people in the first place.  CourtWatcher Orlando, which witnessed Tran’s trial(s), has more to say about the way defense attorneys ran up costs at his trial.  Tran committed murder in 2006.  A few months ago, after the state finally got around to trying him, his trial was suspended because the judge realized Tran had been her client earlier in his epic crawl through the courts.  Responsibility for this mess-up can be laid directly at the feet of the defense bar, which has made prosecuting any defendant so mind-numbingly drawn-out and irrelevantly complicated that the courts can’t cope with even an obvious murder like this one.  Every delay is a victory for the defense bar, which tries to make trials as expensive as possible in order to bankrupt the system.

Then last month, Tran’s trial was postponed again because a translator got sick.  That means dozens of people on the state payroll, and all the jurors who had reorganized their lives to do their duty to society, and the traumatized family members and witnesses, were all left twiddling their fingers for the second time in a row.  Yet CourtWatcher is reporting that Tran didn’t even need a translator.

And, of course, we paid for the translator.  If we had not paid for the translator, that would doubtlessly be grounds for appeal, even though Tran didn’t need a translator.  Nevertheless, I predict that something relating to the translator will be appealed anyway, just because it’s there.  All this costs money.  Our money.

Instead of letting convicts out of prison early to save money, state legislators should be taking a hard look at the ways the defense bar wastes our money, all in the name of some people’s utterly manufactured version of “rights.”  It’s another must read from Orlando, here.


Meanwhile, in Georgia, Michale Coker writes to report the capture of Charles Eugene Mickler, one of the absconded sex offenders featured in a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

You will be happy to know Mickler is currently in the Gwinnett County Detention Center on a probation violation. This weirded me out since I know this guy. Oddly enough it was Need To Know* publications where I discovered he was wanted.

Charles Eugene Mickler

*Need To Know is one of the for-profit broadsheets detailing offenders.  It is not on the web but sells in hard copy.

Mickler does not appear to have served any time in prison for his 2007 sexual battery conviction.  Then he absconded.  Of course, the story in the paper didn’t raise the question of why someone convicted of sexual battery was not imprisoned for the crime.  Instead, the reporter wrote that the public need not worry about all those absconded sex offenders because they generally “just” target people (ie. children) they know.  Except for the ones who didn’t, as I detail here.  See my original post here.

How many of those absconded sex offenders have been located?  The media already answered that question.  The answer goes something like this:

How heartless of you to believe these men should be monitored, you vengeful hysterics!  I’m not telling.

In fact, the only coverage, to date, of these 250 absconded sex offenders has been the one story focusing on scolding the public for caring that these men have violated parole and gone hiding.

Policing public sentiment is so much more important than policing sex offenders, you know?


Until it isn’t:

Chelsea King

King’s parents, at a vigil, after her body was found.

John Albert Gardner, who is being held in Chelsea King’s murder, is a convicted sex offender who had been given an easy plea deal for a prior sex offense.  He could have served 30 years in prison but was released in five, instead, against the recommendations of psychiatrists, who said he was a high risk to attack more little girls.

But, hey, California saved some money cutting him loose instead of incarcerating him, didn’t they?  And prisoner re-entry is so important.

Now Gardner is also being investigated in other horrifying crimes.  Isn’t there a different end to the story?

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, a 16 year old girl, walking to a friend’s house in Lake Elsinore, said a man pulled over and asked her for directions. She told police he asked if she was a virgin, showed a gun, and tried to force her into the car. She ran away. This happened in October 2009.

At the time, Gardner was not registered as a sex offender in Riverside County because he was living in San Diego County, said John Hall, with the District Attorney’s office.  Gardner registered in Riverside County, in January, when he moved to his grandmother’s house near Lake Elsinore.

Escondido police are trying to figure out if Gardner is responsible for the disappearance of a 14-year-old Escondido girl.

Gardner is also a suspect in the case of a 22-year old girl who was attacked in the same area where King’s car was found.

Gardner had already admitted to molesting a neighbor girl back in 2000. According to court records, he had lured her over with a movie.

King’s parents are planning a memorial. During an interview, King’s parents expressed concern that Gardner was released from jail after serving only five years, despite a psychiatric evaluation that recommended he stay locked up for 30 years.

John Gardner

Disturbed enough, yet?  Here is more disturbing information:

As recently as November 2009, Gardner registered as a sex offender at an Escondido address two miles from the school.

People living at the Rock Springs East condominiums said they were shocked to learn Gardner had lived in their building.

A woman with small children who lived next door to Gardner and recognized him from photos posted online over the past few days said he lived with a blond woman and two toddlers.

The former neighbor, who didn’t want to give her name, said teenagers, both male and female, often came over to play video games at Gardner’s apartment. She said she could hear the loud games through the walls.

She and other neighbors said Gardner had moved out about six months ago.

In 2000, Gardner was convicted of a forcible lewd act on a child and false imprisonment after he took a 13-year-old neighbor girl to his mother’s home in Rancho Bernardo. The girl accused him of repeatedly punching her in the face and touching her private parts.

A psychiatrist who interviewed him in that case said he would be a “continued danger to underage girls” because of the lack of remorse for his actions.

Prosecutors initially charged Gardner with more-violent sex crimes that could have resulted in a sentence of more than 30 years because the terms would have been served consecutively. He was sentenced to six years in prison as part of a plea agreement and served five years before he was released in September 2005. He completed probation in 2008.

In 2000, Gardner didn’t go out and attack a stranger: he targeted someone he knew, a 13-year old neighbor, to be precise.  If Gardner had lived in Georgia, that would qualify him for the “don’t worry, those absconded sex offenders only target people they know” category.

Until they don’t.  And what does it matter anyway, except as an idiotic argument by people who can’t stop justifying the behavior of sex offenders and opposing sex offender registries?  Gardner’s record illustrates a disturbing point that anti-registration types never acknowledge: it takes real nerve, and a real lack of worry over consequences, to target children who know you and can identify you.  Maybe people should be more worried, not less worried, about child molesters who know their victims.  Unlike anti-incarceration activists, child rapists don’t worry so much about the distinction.  They go after children they know, and they go after children they don’t know: one is just easier to access than the other.

Although the real solution would have been to never let Gardner out of prison again, once the sick coddle of California justice cut him loose, DNA database laws and sex offender registration probably saved some lives, including the lives of the little girls whose mother was shacking up with Gardner.  How could any mother let some man move into her house, with her two young children, without checking to see if he shows up on a sex offender registry?

If you know a co-habitating mother who hasn’t checked her partner’s background, do it for her.  Today.  The world is full of sex offenders cut loose by some judge or prosecutor or parole board.

When Politicians Gain Support Because They Break the Law: Ray Sansom and Kevin White


Rogue’s Gallery:

Republican State Representative Ray Sansom

Democratic County Commissioner Kevin White

When elected officials break the law, they break the law for all of us. They represent us, after all, so their actions in public office reflect the people who elected them.

Unfortunately, some constituents actually seem to relish the role of co-defendant to wrongdoing.  Witness Tampa-area County Commissioner Kevin White, who appears to be enjoying increased support because he was found guilty of sexual harassment of an employee, a sleazy move that cost taxpayers $450,000.

White’s campaign for re-election is based less on his legislative record than on the argument that he is the victim of a witch-hunt because he was found guilty of something.  Financial beneficiaries of the generous taxpayer-funded social programs that dot his district are lining up to tell reporters that nobody can possible ever know what happened between White and his accuser, even though a court determined that, in fact, we do know beyond a reasonable doubt, which is why the councilman’s skin-crawling behavior with a very young woman is costing the rest of us 450 big ones.

This nobody can ever possible know the truth or what lies in the hearts of men or if anyone is every truly really guilty of anything nonsense is precisely why Kevin White needs to be held responsible for his actions.  Sure, it is costing taxpayers more money to sue him to try to recoup the expenses caused by his behavior, but not suing him would be more expensive: it would send the message that you can get away with committing crime so long as you complain loudly afterward that you are the victim, not the perpetrator.

Meanwhile, Florida state representative and former House Speaker Ray Sansom has been pulling a Kevin White (or is it Kevin White pulling a Ray Sansom?) in the Florida state capitol, where a cabal of hold-out Republican bigwigs have been behaving precisely like Kevin White apologists by rallying around the disgraced politician, who funneled big sums of taxpayer cash to a pal in the community college system in return for an unadvertised, six-figure, no-show job at the college.

For months after Sansom’s dealing became public, Republican Party officials worked behind the scenes and before the cameras to dissuade the legislature from taking action on Sansom, claiming it would be too expensive, or needlessly divisive, or just plain mean to do so.  When Sansom resigned suddenly from the House yesterday, Republican Representative Bill Galvano told the media “We are his colleagues, and that makes it heart-wrenching.”

Why heart-wrenching?  Why not call the crime disgusting?  As a former educator in Florida’s community college system, where I took home about $7 an hour with no benefits and no job security to teach a full load of classes to equally hard-working students (who were also subsidizing Sansom with their tuition), I think I speak for many thousands of teachers and students when I say:

What a thief.

The attempted-kid-glove handling of Sansom is particularly troubling because of his ties to U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, who is running as a political reformer against current Governor and Senate candidate Charlie Crist.  Pretty high stakes, indeed.  National stakes.  If Rubio won’t talk about his dealings with Sansom, after he appointed him as his own budget chief, then how can voters trust him to stand for honest government?  If Rubio won’t harshly condemn this type of theft from the taxpayers, then why should anyone believe he is going to reform anything?

Worst of all, when we excuse criminal acts by elected officials, we are sending a message to other criminals that their behavior is acceptable.  Imagine if Ray Sansom stole a car instead of finangling a shockingly obvious kickback.  What would Marco Rubio say then?  What can anyone say to the car thieves when nests of political operatives are busy trying to help their colleagues (and themselves) avoid full legal inquiries?

When you let this type of corruption go unchecked, here is the government ethics you get, courtesy of Kevin White supporters at a fundraising event held for White at the famous Columbia Restaurant in Tampa last week:

A jury last August found White had made unwanted sexual advances to former aide Alyssa Ogden then fired her when she rebuffed him. White has maintained his innocence. The jury ordered that he pay Ogden $75,000.  A year earlier, White had to pay a fine of $9,500 to the Florida Elections Commission for using campaign funds to buy tailor-made suits and ties.  Those missteps, however, didn’t dim the enthusiasm of the crowd that lined up Wednesday for the Columbia’s renowned Paella a la Valencia and swayed to a light jazz and blues combo. Longtime friend Bob Vallee called White a “good person” who was unfairly accused by a young woman who wanted money.  “You’ve got to realize, there are two sides to every story,” Vallee said. “The mistake Kevin made was in firing her. If he hadn’t of fired her, she wouldn’t have done anything.”

Wow, thanks for clearing that up, Bob.  In other words, if you’re going to break the law, you’d better keep diverting taxpayer funds to your mark, in case she decides to squeal.  There’s a heaping helping of political ethics.  And, note to the Columbia Restaurant: that’s the last time I pay a dime for your rice and beans.  Lie down with dogs, and you deserved to be tarred by the same brush.

“I don’t know if [Kevin White] did what they say he did, but overall I think he’s been a good politician,” said supporter Linda Wilcox, who is making a first-time run for the county commission in another race.  “I think he’ll be a better commissioner because through all this adversity, he still did his job,” said another supporter, Fred Hayes.

Get it?  White is a better man for having tried to wriggle out of paying the bill he ran up for sexually harassing an employee.  It was a learning experience. Heck, if he’d of done it a few more times, Ray Sansom could buy him a college degree.

Killer Craig Wall Given $1000 Bail, Kills Again: When Prosecutors Act Like Defense Attorneys


Craig Wall

This guy, Craig Wall, a violent convicted recidivist felon, is a suspect in the murder of his five-week old son earlier this month.  The baby’s mother then received a restraining order on Wall, and when he violated it last week, he was arrested.  The investigation into the baby’s death — the fact that he was a murder suspect — should have been presented in court after his arrest.  But the prosecutor simply didn’t mention it.  Instead he offered Wall a plea deal, a small fine in exchange for pleading guilty.  Wall even rejected the plea (hey, why take halfsies if it’s clear that nobody is going to bother to hold you responsible for anything, anyway?).  He was granted bond instead — for $1,000 — also with the prosecutor’s blessing.

Then Wall walked out of the courtroom and killed his baby’s mother.

Who’s responsible?


The better question might be, who isn’t responsible? The prosecutor’s boss, Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe, said he was “dumbfounded” by his employee’s actions.

Bernie McCabe, state attorney for Pinellas and Pasco counties, said his staff needs to be reminded of fundamental principles that were not followed in this case.  His chief assistant, Bruce Bartlett, plans to meet today with prosecutors who handle misdemeanor hearings.  “They are being paid to be advocates and not just stand there with their hands in their pockets,” Bartlett said.

Good for McCabe for acknowledging that something is horribly wrong.  The question remains whether this is an isolated incident or the status quo in the offices McCabe oversees.

Wall is accused of stabbing to death Laura Taft, 29, early Wednesday . . . Two days earlier, Wall was released from the Pinellas County Jail on a $1,000 bond after a bail hearing. No one at the hearing mentioned that Wall was a suspect in the death of his 5-week-old son this month, even though police had noted that fact in the arrest affidavit.

So information about a murder charge is not even mentioned in a court hearing to determine whether a defendant who has violated a restraining order is too dangerous to be released on bond?  What, then, does get mentioned?

Was the prosecutor just not doing his job?  Or is he one of many prosecutors who are using their office to train to become defense attorneys — the more lucrative, and in many powerful circles, more culturally admired job?  Was the prosecutor simply overwhelmed by work and forced to try to settle this case — any case — with minimum effort?  This is how we starve the courts.

And what of the judge?  What does he have to say?


Here is a related murder case in Orlando, with some interesting statistics.

Outrage: How, Precisely, Did Delmer Smith “try to go straight”?

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The Sarasota Herald Tribune, a newspaper with an addiction to excusing, or at least minimizing, the behavior of the most violent criminals, just did it again.

In a front-page story on Delmer Smith, the brutal South Florida serial killer and rapist charged with yet another woman’s death last week, the paper boldly asserts that Smith “tried to go straight” after his release from prison.  Did he, really?  Is there proof for this fascinating claim?  They don’t offer any: they just say it’s so.

Down here in the real world, Smith was committing extremely violent rapes within weeks of being released from prison.  Confronted with such facts, why would any newspaper leap to limning the silver lining of the rapist’s character?

Habit, I suppose.  In the moral universe of the SHT newsroom, all ex-cons are automatically presumed to be earnest practitioners of self-reform . . . until they’re not, and sometimes even after that.  In Smith’s case, the distance between the prison door and his first known violent attack is actually extremely short.  Released in October 2008, he attacked and beat a female jogger a few weeks later and then immediately committed a violent home invasion and sexual assault of two additional women.  Escalating attacks followed.

The Herald Tribune, however, doesn’t bother to mention this inconveniently compressed time-line.  How could they, and simultaneously resuscitate the beloved theme of felons and second chances?  It’s as if they laid all those brutalized women alongside a story they like to tell about crime and punishment — a story in which hope springs eternal for the rehabilitation of any criminal — and chose the story, over the reality.

They had little to work with, far less than a widow’s mite, but that didn’t stop them.  It’s Valentine’s Day Week, after all:

Delmer Smith III spent much of his life in prison before finally being set free in 2008. Upon his release he moved in with his wife in Bradenton, a woman 23 years his elder that he met as a prison pen pal.  For a brief spell, Smith, 38, seemed to be living within the law, seeking work as a personal trainer, a mechanic and at a grocery store.

Poor Delmer.  Such hopes and dreams.  If only society had been more welcoming to him, why, then, it might have taken him more than one holiday sales season to start raping and killing women.  You see, it’s all our fault.

The Tribune story is drawn largely from claims made by Smith’s geriatric jailhouse pen pal and ex-beau — you know, one of those pathetic women who seeks excitement, attention, and romance by getting involved with violent prisoners.  Women like this regularly cross the line from accommodating to abetting.  That, and the decision to shack up with violent felons in the first place, ought to make reporters wary, but it’s amazing what can be overlooked in the rush to non-judgment.  The Tribune allows this woman to prattle on, behind a veil of anonymity, about her romance with Smith on the same week another victim’s family has been forced to publicly re-live the murder of their wife and mother:

[Smith’s] wife — a 61-year-old woman who no longer lives in the area but asked that her name not be used for fear of retribution — first befriended Smith almost 10 years ago. Another inmate was writing to the woman’s friend and asked if Smith could contact the Bradenton woman by phone. A few days later, he called and their relationship took off.  Over the years, they wrote back and forth, including a Valentine’s Day card she still has. One day he called and proposed. She agreed and the woman says they had a ceremony in the penitentiary.

Their relationship “took off.”  She still has his Valentine’s Day card.  How touching.  I’m glad we all know that, because it sort of humanizes him, doesn’t it?

Given their track record (see here, here, and here), I’m actually surprised the Tribune didn’t go even farther — interviewing, say, a forensic psychologist for hire or a “re-entry” expert to offer up platitudes about how we all have to work harder to make offenders feel welcome once they’ve paid that pesky debt to society.  Meanwhile, the paper’s official antipathy towards all types of post-incarceration monitoring — expanded DNA sampling, registration lists, living restrictions –blinds them to the fact that, in the absence of such laws, Smith might still be on the loose.

No, you couldn’t possibly go off message (especially in a news story) and acknowledge that expanding the DNA database really does saves lives (when administered properly, that is).  Better to stick with the usual song-and-dance about ex-cons turning over new leaves, though it hardly fits the facts.   The reporter, and his editors, should apologize for this stomach-churning exhibitionism.

Update on Delmer Smith: Another Murder By DNA Database Neglect


Delmer Smith (see The Guilty Project, here), who managed to get away with at least dozen extremely violent crimes before being identified because the F.B.I. didn’t bother to load his DNA into the federal database, is now being charged in the murder of Kathleen Briles.  Dr. James Briles found his wife’s body in their home.

Kathy Briles, mother of three, would be alive today if the government and our criminal courts bothered to prioritize the lives of victims with half the vigilance they direct towards the rights of offenders.  Pro-offender activists, who hammer away at every effort to monitor violent offenders who have been returned to the streets, are culpable too.

But nobody prioritizes victims, except the police.  Victims remain expendable.

Delmer Smith

Here is Dr. Briles:

MANATEE — Dr. James Briles finally got the chance to focus his rage on someone Thursday, more than six months after finding his wife bound, gagged and beaten to death in a pool of blood in the living room of their Terra Ceia home.

Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube announced that Delmer Smith III — already charged with beating and raping several women in their Sarasota homes — has been served with a warrant charging him with murder in the death of Kathleen Briles on Aug. 3.

Detectives say Smith, 38, bludgeoned the 49-year-old woman to death with an iron antique sewing machine, before stealing several items from the house.

After Steube told a room full of media of Smith’s arrest, Dr. Briles spoke on behalf of his sons, Calvin and Curtis, and daughter Kristen Venema, saying Smith deserves “no quarter.”

“Let me say a little bit about Delmer Smith,” said Briles, who found his wife’s body after returning home from work. “He is a coward, a sociopath and a punk. His sole purpose is to inflict suffering.”

Briles said Smith is not only in jail to protect the public from him, but to “protect him from us.” He spoke of his anger, and the horrifying discovery of his wife.

“Am I angry? Oh yeah,” he said. “You’d understand that if you saw what I saw when I came home.”

Good for him.  He’s got every right to be angry:

Investigators also believe Briles’ death might have been avoided, if not for a backlog in the entry of DNA samples into an FBI database.

The FBI had Smith’s DNA, taken while he was in federal prison on a bank robbery conviction. But since it had not been entered into the database, there was no match when Sarasota detectives last spring submitted evidence from four earlier home invasion attacks.

There wasn’t a match until after Smith was arrested for a bar fight in Venice, and after detectives asked the FBI to enter his DNA into the database.

And after Kathleen Briles was dead.

More coverage.

Part of the story here is police performance.  The cops came through when federal parole agents did not.  Venice Captain Tom McNulty (who also helped put my rapist away for good, after various judges and parole officials cut him serial breaks for two decades), was among investigators in two counties who made the cognitive leap to tie Smith to the home invasion crimes and hold him pending DNA analysis — after Smith was arrested in an unrelated bar fight.

Had that fight happened in any one of a thousand other jurisdictions, there is a good chance Smith would have walked away from jail and been free to keep committing crimes.

Delmer Smith is only one of several serial killers and rapists who have literally gotten away with murder thanks to lax sentencing, nonexistent parole, and failure to enforce DNA database laws — a systematic neglect of legal reforms that cost countless women their lives.  There’s John Floyd Thomas, suspected of killing some 30 women in Los Angeles — his first rape conviction was in 1957.  There’s Walter E. Ellis, who killed at least nine women, and managed to avoid detection because Wisconsin officials failed to bother to hold him responsible for submitting another inmate’s DNA as his own before releasing him from prison.

How many more Delmer Smiths are out there?  One is too many.

Julia Tuttle Bridge, Redux: More Made-Up Reporting on the “Sex Offenders Under the Bridge”


Quick, what’s more bathetic than a sack of drowned kittens?

Why, it’s the Sex-Offenders-Under-the-Bridge in Miami.  Again.  In Time this time.  Apparently, it’s just not possible to guilt the fourth estate into covering this issue factually (see here, here, and here for my prior posts).  Is some defense attorney running a tour bus for gullible reporters to guarantee a steady supply of this melodrama?  If so, I wish they’d take a side trip to go shopping for new adjectives:

The Julia Tuttle Causeway is one of Miami’s most beautiful bridge spans, connecting the city to Miami Beach through palm-tree-filled islands fringed with red mangroves. But beneath the tranquil expanse sits one of South Florida’s most contentious social problems: a large colony of convicted sex offenders, thrown into homelessness in recent years by draconian residency restrictions that leave them scant available or affordable housing. They live in tents and shacks built from cast-off supplies, clinging to pylons and embankments, with no running water, electricity or bathrooms.

Draconian . . . clinging to pylons . . . tranquil expanse . . . it’s beginning to sound like a Simpsons episode.  And then, there is the embarrassing failure to fact-check:

Miami is hardly the only place in the U.S. where registered sex offenders can’t find shelter. In Georgia, a group living in tents in the woods near Atlanta was recently ordered out of even that refuge.

Oh, please.  “[O]rdered out of even that refuge.” Cue to violins.  That’s not what happened.  The county spent taxpayer resources arranging housing for them, just as they spend taxpayer money to address all their needs.  Didn’t the Time reporter bother to speak to county officials?

Press releases from activist organizations are not facts.

Here’s a better way to describe the “homeless sex offender” drama in its entirety: inspired by the Miami story, reporters coast to coast set out to comb bridges and underpasses, eagerly seeking encampments of homeless sex offenders.  Lightening their trip by jettisoning the heavy burden of objectivity, they finally stumbled upon a handful of men shacked up in the woods outside Marietta, Georgia — living there for about five minutes while other housing was being found for them.  Included in the group was a particularly violent child abuser who had been booted from his last taxpayer-subsidized dwelling because he couldn’t be bothered to pay a token bit of rent (he, of course, was the one being represented by a “civil rights” group suing the rest of us for failing to provide him with more free housing after he screwed up the last handout).  Plus there were a few other child molesters crying poverty and misrepresenting their convictions to the gullible gal Friday sent to interview them.  Meanwhile, nobody really noticed the hundreds of sex offenders living nearby in perfectly legal housing, just like nobody noticed the thousands of non-homeless sex offenders in Miami.

Other than the Miami encampment and the blink-of-an-eye Atlanta thing, the only other reported sighting of a homeless sex offender was by the New York Times’ Dan Barry, and that was entirely accidental: Barry didn’t realize that the manipulative old coot he was slavishly profiling was actually an absconded child rapist . . . because he didn’t do a simple thirty-second online fact-check to confirm any part of the man’s sob story.  Ouch.

Of course, the media’s failure to actually find more homeless sex offenders (let alone homeless sex offenders whose homelessness can be vaguely attributed to living restriction laws) did nothing to quell their passion for the story.

Anyway, back to the latest breathless confabulation:

But the Miami shantytown, with as many as 70 residents, is the largest of its kind [make that the only one of its kind], thanks to a frenzied wave of local laws passed in Florida after the grisly 2005 rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford by a convicted sex offender. The state had already been the first to enact residency rules for convicted predators, barring them in 1995 from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other children’s sites. Municipalities, with questionable authority, then adopted even tougher ordinances — there are 156 of them so far. Miami Beach, for example, bars offenders from living within 2,500 feet of all school-bus stops, effectively precluding them from living anywhere in the city.

Not true, not true, and not true.  Consistency: not always a virtue.  A “frenzied wave of local laws”?  What kind of reporting is that?  Frenzied?  Is the public “frenzied,” or did elected officials pass laws in response to public concerns about child rapists living incognito in homeless shelters and on the streets, in poor neighborhoods, among children who often lack supervision?

Note to self, Reporter Skipp: two courts have ruled that, in fact, the authority of the municipality in question is not “questionable”: that’s your opinion, and your opinion hardly belongs in a purported news story now, does it?  Particularly with no mention of the fact that, when challenged by the well-heeled lawyers from the side you’re on, the county won in court.  Twice.  Who died and made you a judge in Miami-Dade County anyway?  You are supposed to be a journalist.  This is supposed to be a news story.  Go read the court rulings.  Then report them.  Easy, right?

And are these men really homeless because they’re sex offenders?  How many had housing prior to their convictions?  How many assaulted a child in the last place they lived, with relatives or girlfriends, and that’s the real reason they’re on the streets now? “Effectively precluding them from living anywhere in the city”?  Wrong again.  Thousands of other sex offenders are housed throughout the city.  What’s wrong with these particular men?  And what does the ordinance actually say?  Reporting on this story has been shamefully devoid of such facts.

Could it be that the bridge-dwellers are sexually violent drunks and druggies who would be homeless anyway, especially as many of them have long records of other crimes that would make anyone choose to reject them as tenants?  Could it be they’re cleverly playing journalists like violins in the interest of advancing their lawsuit against the city, and busking up the federal handout they’ve been promised?  Do they, like so many homeless we shower with resources, prefer to live rough rather than avail themselves of taxpayer-subsidized housing that comes with some behavioral strings and a move away from their old stomping grounds?

And what happened to all that federal funding (our tax dollars) slated to be thrown at this trumped-up problem six months ago?

This tiny minority of Miami-Dade’s sex offenders who are living under the bridge are the only ones responsible for their own homelessness and the persistence of the encampment.  Some are staying on because they are suing the city, of course.  You know, that “questionable authority” place across the water?

Ah, but who cares? The academics have arrived to assist the lawyers suing the city, armed with their trumped-up research about how living restrictions cause rapists to do more rapin’.  None of this can actually be proven, of course, but that doesn’t stop certain politicians from repeating the claim, over and over and over again:

“The safety of Floridians has suffered as local politicians have tried to one-up each other with policies that have resulted in colonies of homeless sex offenders left to roam our streets,” says state senator Dave Aronberg, a Democrat running for state attorney general.

Has it really?  Are sex offenders really “roaming the streets” more because they’re being watched?  How does that work?  Prior to living restriction and registry laws, all sex offenders were free to “roam the streets” with impunity: to say that more do so now due to rules against such behavior is just intellectually dishonest.

Also intellectually dishonest?  Not getting a quote from someone who disagrees with the claims you’re pushing as fact in what’s supposed to be an objective news story.  You know, reporting both sides of a contentious issue?  Whatever happened to that?

Incidentally, the very last thing Florida needs is an A.C.L.U.-style Attorney General who spouts inane anti-incarceration propaganda at the drop of a hat.

To actually report this story, which not one journalist has done, you have to consider the offense patterns of this small group of men and others offenders like them.  Where did they find their victims?  Should society allow them to go back to identical circumstances?

To make the claim that living restriction laws threaten public safety, you have to compare recidivism rates before and after living restrictions were put in place.  And nobody has done that, either.  In fact, they cannot do it, because child molestation (the law in Florida applies to child molesters, not that you would know that from the news) so rarely gets reported, let alone reported in a timely manner.

Recidivism is nearly impossible to measure in a system where the vast majority of serial offenders, especially those who start as juveniles, are permitted to plead down to single offenses or non-sex crime charges.  So there are many things we cannot know.  Researchers claiming that they can isolate a specific cause-and-effect relationship between criminal behavior and the existence of these laws are just churning out propaganda in the service of activists who are looking for ways to pad their lawsuits.

No matter what David Aronberg claims.

Here’s an example of the type of research claims now being made by activists:

Research by agencies like the Minnesota Department of Corrections has found that a stable home is the strongest guarantor of sound post-incarceration behavior among sex offenders.

Well, of course it is.  It’s also the type of self-selecting factor that makes research conclusions suspect in the first place.  Having a “stable home” to go back to means you’re among the cohort of offenders who haven’t utterly bollocked every aspect of your life, or engaged in such chaotic and violent behavior that you had no stability to begin with and nothing left to lose.  It means you haven’t raped your own kids and thus can’t go home (hopefully, it means that).  It means you aren’t so addicted or psychopathic or mentally disorganized or impulsive or violent or lazy that you won’t follow the rules for the housing you’ve been offered.

By the taxpayers, including rape victims who pay taxes and are thus frequently forced to pay their own rapists’ rent.  A little gratitude would be attractive, instead of all this carping.

Academics take obvious insights like ‘offenders with stable lives are more stable’ and mutate them into policy arguments against monitoring offenders.  This is politics disguised as research.  And don’t think they’ll stop when they overturn living restrictions; the ultimate goal of the pro-sex offender movement is to do away with registration itself, so offenders can slip back into anonymity once they’ve served the six months (or mere probation) that still passes for punishment for many child molestation convictions.

It’s worth asking why reporters continually get so snowed by myths — like the claim that living restriction laws are magically forcing sex offenders to re-offend when they wouldn’t do so otherwise.  I think it’s the consequence of a mindset that refuses to contemplate, or write about, the existence of the crime itself.  They see the criminal, and empathize, but work hard to deny the existence of his victims.  Consequently, the thing that’s missing from all the extensive coverage of the “homeless sex offenders” is their crimes, as if these men are just people who have been randomly and unfairly designated “sex offenders” and sent to live under a bridge.  How can we even begin to have a conversation about the efficacy of these laws when reporters refuse to include any discussion of the types of crimes the men committed, and might commit again, in their stories?  Once we’re done reading about the lean-tos, and the slap of the waves, and the extension cords snaking through the encampment, could we possibly talk about child rape for a moment?

I once had a reporter tell me that he didn’t choose to write about an offender’s crime if he has “paid his debt to society.”  That’s risible.  We don’t write sentencing laws in order to let reporters feel that cinnamonny rush of self-esteem for opposing them; reporters shouldn’t cover crime policy without including the subject of . . . crime.

So, despite all the award-winning coverage of the view of the unjust sunset from under the Julia Tuttle Bridge, we haven’t really begun discussing the real issue, which is this: considering these men’s actual records and our continuing extreme leniency in sentencing, which settings pose the most risk for re-offense?  The last homeless shelter where they stalked vulnerable runaways?  Their ex-girlfriend’s apartment, where they raped their last six-year old victim?  Enough with the drama about pitiful child maulers: what works?

The men under the bridge are neither heroes nor victims; most would probably be homeless anyway, and it is grotesque that activists posing as journalists continue to trumpet their cause in editorials disguised as new stories and devoid of even the most basic facts.

Trials Without Truth: The Library Rapist

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Defense attorneys in Tampa Bay are attempting to derail the trial of accused two-time rapist Kendrick Morris.  They are demanding that DNA evidence identifying Morris as the rapist in two extremely violent sexual assaults be thrown out because, they allege, police collected it improperly.

Of course, there is no other way for them to defend their client: his DNA matches the two rapes.  So Morris’ lawyers are treating the courtroom like a casino craps table, not a serious truth-finding forum, a sadly reasonable presumption on their part, in fact.  Warped rules of evidence, piled one upon the other, create countless opportunities for keeping important facts from being considered by judges and juries.

What remains, once enough evidence has been suppressed, is something like kabuki-theater, in which the alleged word choice of a police officer seeking a DNA sample from a dangerous suspect is deemed more important than the facts of the brutal rape itself, or the suffering of the victim, or the community’s safety.

Or the integrity of the court.


Nobody pretends they’re doing anything other than playing games with the truth, because they don’t need to pretend.  A vast choir sings the praises of gaming facts through suppression of evidence.  The loudest voices, of course, are those of the law school professoriate.  When I attended law school, I did not stay long enough to enroll in the criminal law classes, but that was hardly necessary: my property law professor and contracts law professor and legal writing instructor waxed on endlessly about the virtues of defending criminals, by hook or by crook, as it were.

It’s a cult, and a deeply satisfying one, in which reality need rarely impinge.  Until, of course, it is your daughter pulling up to drop off some library books on a school night who encounters one of the inevitable consequences of our lenient criminal justice system.

Since I started writing this blog, I’ve noticed something strange.  I regularly hear from pro-offender activists who are enraged that I would deign to criticize even the sleaziest of defense tactics, as if any act on the part of the defense is some pure Platonic good hovering spotlessly over the crude, bemerded masses demanding justice.

That isn’t the strange part.  I expected that.

What is strange is that many of these commenters then go on to melodramatically assert that they would like to see the particular criminal I happen to be describing locked up for life, or tortured, or killed.  It’s as if they’re trying to relate (or overcompensate) by saying: Well, that guy, he should fry — no, he should be beaten up, then castrated, then killed.  But other than that, it’s fair game to do anything to get your client off, and all the other predators deserve second chances.

I’m confused by this.  Do they really not see that oaks grow from little acorns, and recidivism grows from the little seeds they plant in the minds of young criminals every time they help them game the system?  Do they really not see that, as we let larger and larger swaths of recidivists off the hook for everything short of murder, we’re creating more murderers — particularly if we keep telling these young offenders that they’re the real victims, and the people they victimize are not?

The really offensive thing about Kendrick Morris’ defense is that there are absolutely no consequences for filing some 76 pages of false accusations against the officers who investigated the Bloomingdale library rape.  Morris’ lawyers know he’s guilty, so they’re screaming police abuse.  Throw everything at the wall; malign the reputations of a couple of decent public servants along the way, just to see what sticks.

The victims I hear from are far more sober and rational about the justice system — in contrast to the way they are depicted in the news, and in defiance of the way they are treated.  Like late-stage cancer patients, they are aware that their hopes will probably not survive the trial process.  Even when offenders are made to pay for their crimes, the victims are made to pay, too.  And after any trial is over, an army of activists stand at the ready to take up the inmate’s cause, no matter what horrors he has perpetrated.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have handed our criminal justice system over to partisans for criminals, and now we must take it back.

The Guilty Project, Tommy Lee Sailor (Updated): The Media Proves Me Wrong


The St. Petersburg Times has been digging into Tommy Lee Sailor’s past, asking hard questions about Florida’s many failures to keep Sailor behind bars.  Sailor is the serial rapist and self-described serial killer who was deemed “reformed” by Florida Corrections — until last New Year’s Eve, that is.  Only his victim’s courage, quick thinking by 911 operator Ve’Etta Bess, and quick action by the police saved that victim’s life.

So on the one side, you have the response of public safety professionals, and the victim herself.  On the other side, you have the courts, and the Department of Corrections, and Sailor’s attorneys, and even prosecutors, all agreeing to let Sailor go, or not even try him for sex crimes, not once or twice, but repeatedly.

The cops catch them, and then the courts let them go.

In the wake of Sailor’s violent holiday rampage, I predicted that local media would not dig into Sailor’s previous history, nor name officials who let him off easy in the past.

I love being wrong about stuff like this.

St. Pete Times reporter Rebecca Catalanello just filed this story.  She names some names.  It is damning.  This exposé ought to be required reading for any state legislator planning to try to roll back the state’s “three–strikes” laws in order to save money.

Because Tommy Lee Sailor is what happens when you cut corners on public safety:

TAMPA — “I’m a serial rapist,” he taunted her. “I’m a serial killer.”  His hands closed around her neck and things went black. . . [P]olice had come to the neighborhood before. Detectives knew the man she said attacked her. Judges and probation officers knew him, too.  Tommy Lee Sailor, 37, had been arrested at least 30 times before the Jan. 1 attack — never for murder, but three times on rape charges. He had spent only three years outside prison since age 16.  Four times, probation officers told judges and parole commissioners that prison was the best place for Sailor.  In July, after the last warning, the Florida Department of Corrections released him, counting on an ankle monitor and a probation officer to track his whereabouts.

So, despite 30 arrests, and pleas from parole officers that he was too dangerous to release, the Florida Department of Corrections decided to take another chance on Sailor.  How hateful, towards the victims.

The buck stops with the heads of state agencies in cases like this, or at least it ought to.  But Charlie Crist’s appointee, Walter McNeill, has not made a public statement about his department’s failure to keep women in Florida safe by taking Sailor’s crimes seriously.

Why no comment from above?  And where is Frederick B. Dunphy, head of the Florida Parole Commission?

Is there any single legislator in Tallahassee planning to ask these men some hard questions about early release of violent recidivists?  That needs to be part of the discussion about rolling back the state’s three-strikes law.

These are the things state officials know about Sailor.  When he was 11, police charged him with lewd and lascivious behavior with a child. A judge withheld adjudication.

Sexual assault of a child.  And the state does nothing, except protect Sailor’s anonymity so he could go on to rape other children.  Rapists start young, and they target children in their family and neighborhoods before moving on the more difficult targets.  We know this: we’ve known it for a long time.  No judge belongs on the bench if he or she doesn’t act on such knowledge.  Who was the judge?  That judge wasn’t named.  But they should come forward and explain themselves.  Because what that judge did was sentence Sailor’s first known victim, and probably many more young victims, to the act of being raped.  That judge saw only one victim: the rapist.  He or she violated every principle of justice.

But, hey, it’s just a rape victim.  Or maybe 20.

[Sailor] made it to the ninth grade at the former Monroe Junior High School. But in 1987 alone he got arrested 11 times. Among his listed offenses: aggravated assault, grand theft motor vehicle and battery on a law enforcement officer.  At age 16, he armed himself with a can of Mace and stole beer. The courts had heard enough. A judge sent him to prison. Earlier crimes caught up with him, lengthening his sentence.  He earned a GED in prison, then got out in 1992 at age 20.

Three or four years for one sexual assault (probably many more), dozens of arrests, violent crimes.  Welcome to the bad old days, before three strikes.  Only they’re beginning to look a lot like the present, despite three strikes laws that sit on the books.  Will anyone in Tallahassee talk about that?

[Sailor] still faced 30 years’ probation when he moved in with his Port Tampa grandmother and got a job at a Subway.  Eleven months after his release, he was charged with robbery.  Probation officers Maureen Watson and Annetta Austin recommended that Sailor be returned to prison “for the maximum time allowed,” his probation permanently revoked. Sailor, wrote Watson, “is not a good candidate for any type of street supervision due to his violent tendencies and continual criminal behavior.”

Too bad nobody listened.

Sailor, then 21, had been out of prison little more than a year when three women told police he had raped them, all within a month.  One woman, a former girlfriend, said they were sharing a beer in a Port Tampa park on Valentine’s Day 1994, when he dragged her to the men’s bathroom, choked her and forced himself on her. She was 29.  Two weeks later, on March 1, he met a medical assistant at a gas station and drove her to a secluded spot near MacDill Air Force Base, where he beat her, raped her, then apologized and wiped her mouth. She was 27.  Two weeks after that, he met a Circle K clerk at a bar. They wound up in her car, which got stuck in the sand on a dirt path at the edge of the base.  The clerk, who was 29, tried to stay calm while he raped her repeatedly. Afterward, she cried and asked him why.  “Because I knew you wanted it,” he said, according to a police report.

So this is a persuasive guy, groomed by lenient judges and lenient prosecutors and lenient parole officials to know that a predator like him can get away with serial rape in Florida.  Where’s the thrill in that?

Prosecutors dropped the Valentine’s Day case. The victim, who previously had consensual sex with Sailor, waited a month to report the attack and was, according to police, reluctant to take him to court.  As the other two cases headed to trial, Sailor struck a deal.  Sentencing guidelines at the time suggested he could serve 11 to 19 years in prison for each sexual battery, if convicted.  Probation officers Annetta Austin and Maria Hanes recommended the maximum. They also wanted Sailor to spend an additional 17 years in prison for breaking the terms of his probation.  Had that happened, he might have been an old man when released.  Instead, he pleaded guilty to the two rapes and an unrelated robbery.  Circuit Judge Donald Evans, now retired, approved the deal.

Shame on Judge Evans.  Shame on every single judge who lets sex offenders like this shave down their time behind bars, for no other reason but that all the other judges do it.  I’m hardly surprised that some of Sailor’s victims were reluctant to testify.  Why should they believe the state would protect them?  And for what?  Subject yourself to that terror, not to mention the humiliation of being abused by a scummy defense lawyer on the stand, and then all the judge is going to do is give your rapist exactly the same amount of time anyway?

Concurrent sentencing. How many lives have been lost to the ethically discordant sound of those words?

We should gain some clarity on this fact: concurrent sentencing is a prosecutor and a judge saying to the victim: “Your life will count half, or a third, or a tenth as much as your rapist’s life counts.  He can go out and rape you and your mother and your sister, and we will value his future freedom over the crimes two of the three of you have experienced.  Three of you equals one of him, in the eyes of the court.  Now shut up and go home.”

We’re appalled by stories like this one from Pakistan, where rape victims get punished for their assailant’s crimes.  But, really, how different is it to place a Tommy Lee Sailor back onto the streets by denying the legal personhood of some of his victims?

The story of Sailor’s most recent trip back to freedom is simply horrifying.  Over the years, the Times reports, multiple parole officers begged parole commissioners and judges to keep him behind bars.  Up the chain of command, however, there was always somebody willing to let him go.

Here is Sailor, snowing Parole Examiner John B. Doyle with some fabricated story about finishing beauty school and finding work.  Why, precisely, did anyone in Parole think it was a good idea for a convicted serial rapist to become a beautician in the first place?  I can’t believe I have to write that down.  It’s nauseating to think about, isn’t it?

The Florida Parole Commission sent a hearing examiner, John B. Doyle, to meet with [Sailor]. Doyle heard from Sailor, Tampa police Officer Michael Jacobson and probation officer Aaron Gil.  “I would like to get another chance so that I can finish school,” Sailor told Doyle.  Gil recommended that Sailor go back to prison, based “on the seriousness of his original offenses.”  But Doyle, the examiner, decided otherwise.  “You did a lot of time on the street, Tommy, and you’re doing something with your life, getting to school,” Doyle said, according to an audio recording of the hearing. “But it looks like you’re having a small problem with drinking. I did find you guilty of all charges, but I’ll take a gamble on you.”  Doyle noted that Sailor was about to finish training at the beauty school. That meant he would be able to get a job. That meant he could repay the cost of his supervision.  At the time, Sailor owed $2,868 to the Department of Corrections.  On July 22, the parole commission met and agreed to let Sailor stay on probation.

Will any legislator hold hearings on this travesty of justice?  Will any legislator hold the Parole Board responsible for what they have done?

Good for the St. Pete Times.  They may have saved lives with their reporting.  I’m going to go buy the newspaper.