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Something Else Barack Obama and Bernadine Dohrn Share, Besides Secrets with Terrorist Bill Ayers . . .


. . . they find vicious murders of women pretty funny.

Bernadine Dohrn in December 1969, joking about the Manson family murder of Sharon Tate:

Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in pig Tate’s belly. Wild!  Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson!

Barack Obama in October 2012, joking about O.J. Simpson’s attempt to flee justice after murdering his wife Nicole:

“You didn’t know this, but for all you moms and kids out there, you should have confidence that finally somebody is cracking down on Big Bird,” Obama said, alluding to the famous O.J. Simpson chase scene. “Elmo has been seen in a white Suburban. He’s driving for the border.”

Sharon Tate’s blood on her living room wall

Nicole Simpson’s blood on her backyard walkway

Who jokes about things like this?

Sharon Tate was nearly nine months pregnant at the time she was killed.  She had been stripped and tortured before death, a rope strung around her neck and hung from a beam.  She begged the killers to temporarily spare her life, kidnap her, and let her deliver her baby before they killed her.  They laughed and killed her anyway.  She was buried with the body of her deceased son cradled in her arms.

After Tex Watson stabbed Tate to death, Susan Atkins stuck her finger in Tate’s wounds and wrote the word “pig” on a wall with her blood, an act that delighted Bernadine Dohrn when she heard about it.  Dohrn and other Weathermen adopted a four-fingered “fork” salute to signify the act of stabbing Tate in her pregnant stomach.

Bernadine Dohrn at the infamous Flint War Council, where she praised Sharon Tate’s killers

Still not funny: Dohrn, now a “Children’s Rights Law Professor,” smiling with her FBI Most Wanted poster

The 1969 Manson murders (five dead at Tate’s house, two more victims the next night) were intended to start a “race war” between blacks and whites. Ringleader Charles Manson hoped that pinning the brutal crimes on black radicals would anger whites enough to foment all-out war between the races.  Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers shared Manson’s vision of an America where blacks wreaked bloody vengeance on white society.  Dohrn’s “fork salute” was a celebration of such imagined violence: a proxy race war acted out by white hippies on a pregnant white woman’s body in the name of “civil rights.”

O.J. Simpson celebrates his wrongful acquittal

Twenty-five years later, the acquittal of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman was similarly celebrated.  Remember where you were?  Was anybody cheering?  Why were they cheering?

Ronald Goldman’s father and sister, stunned after the acquittal

The acquittal of O.J. Simpson was viewed by many on the Left as a sort of transhistorical balancing of the ledger, despite the warping of the scales of justice needed to achieve it.  Pick a body — pick two bodies — string them up, then give a get-out-of-jail-free card to the killer because of his race.  If the Southern Poverty Law Center had any honor, they would record O.J.’s acquittal as a hate crime alongside old cases of Klansmen who avoided prison for similar crimes.  It was a moment of deep division for the American people and a source of glee only for those who take pleasure in sowing such divisions.  There was nothing funny about it, just as no sane human being would find anything funny about sticking a fork into Sharon Tate’s pregnant stomach.

Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, proudly reminiscing about their days “underground” to a groveling reporter

Thomas Sowell recently described Obama this way:

If you want to know what community organizers do, this is it — rub people’s emotions raw to hype their resentments.

Ironically, he said this before Obama told his O.J. Simpson joke.

 Being “post-racial” doesn’t mean that you get to joke about a murder with grim race overtones that tore the country apart.

Especially if you’re the president.


And then, there’s this:

Calif. Parole Board OKs Manson Follower’s Release

LOS ANGELES October 5, 2012 (AP)  A parole board panel has recommended the release of a former Charles Manson follower imprisoned for 40 years for a double murder Manson engineered, but it’s not the last hurdle Bruce Davis will face as he seeks his freedom.
Bruce Davis: helped slaughter two people in 1969, but he did take classes in prison
Davis has been recommended for parole before.  Then-Governor Schwarzenegger rejected the recommendation.  Governor Jerry Brown will likely be making a similar decision very soon.  The last time Davis was recommended for parole, the California Parole Board argued that he deserved to be free because “he had no recent disciplinary problems and had completed education and self-help programs.”
Education and self-help programs.  Like this one.
According to his lawyer, Davis is also an unusually exemplary person who ministers to fellow prisoners and possesses special insight and so on.  They all do.  Prisons are filled with magical, entirely misunderstood people: it’s like a cross between Sound of Music and The Green Mile in there:

Davis became a born-again Christian in prison and ministered to other inmates, married a woman he met through the prison ministry, and has a grown daughter. The couple recently divorced . . . Davis also earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion.

Well that’s nice.  He also helped torture two men to death.  But, meh.  Bygones.  The last thing the parole board wants to do is dig up the past:

“While your behavior was atrocious, your crimes did occur 43 years ago,” parole board member Jeff Ferguson told Davis, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Elsewhere, in that unfortunately named thing called The Washington Monthly, the blog boards are incandescent with the thought that we would be so crude as a people to even imagine incarcerating anyone for life, particularly for the crime of merely torturing and killing two lesser-known, non-movie-stars.  One commenter offered the following justification for releasing Davis:

[He] didn’t participate in the more sensationalistic murders but rather only those of musician Gary Hinman and the caretaker at the Spahn Ranch, Donald Shea.

You know.  B-listers.

I’ve been predicting this day for years: now that the Left has priced the death penalty out of existence, their new, all hands on deck mission will be to eliminate Life Without Parole.  It is already presumed, in many circles, that believing in life sentences is a worse crime than murder itself.  Soon, the only way to end up behind bars will be to recommend sending people like Bernadine Dohrn or Charles Manson there.


Jack Dunphy: the Real Tragedy of Trayvon Martin

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When you want to know about homicide and race, or race and the media, or the media and crime, or crime and politicians, ask a cop:

When a local crime story explodes into the nation’s attention, it is worth asking why it has done so. According to the FBI, a murder occurs every 35.6 minutes in the United States, yet few of these killings garner any notice at all beyond the neighborhoods where they occur. So when any one of America’s roughly 15,000 annual homicides attracts what would seem an inordinate level of interest, we are left to wonder why. Are the people involved emblematic of some larger trend? Do the details of the crime offer instruction on how similar crimes might somehow be averted in the future? Or is there some other explanation, one that reflects the choices made by those who decide what stories they see fit to present to their audiences?

Surely the shooting death of Trayvon Martin is no exemplar of some national trend. Though his alleged killer, George Zimmerman, has claimed he shot Martin in self-defense, such “justifiable” killings totaled only 326 in 2010, nearly twice the number reported in 2000 but still a tiny sliver of the total number of homicides reported to police. And even if Zimmerman is shown to have acted illegally in shooting Martin, would this crime reflect some national outbreak of vigilante violence among neighborhood watch volunteers?

No, there has been no such outbreak.

So how to explain the fascination with Trayvon Martin’s death? In dispatching swarms of reporters to Sanford, Florida, where Martin was killed, our sophisticated betters in the media have sought to cloak themselves with cheap grace. They focus on one victim whom they perceive to be — and whom they present to be — an innocent victim of an unprovoked shooting, while ignoring the incalculably larger problem of violent crime in America’s black communities.
Read the rest at Pajamas Media.

George Soros Funds the Fight to Lie About California’s So-Called Three-Strikes Laws


First, a controlling fact.  California’s much-reviled “three-strikes” law bears no resemblance to what you’ve read about it in the news.  How much no resemblance?  Lots of no resemblance:

  • Prosecutors and judges have discretion in applying the law.  Discretion means “not draconian.”  Discretions means that it isn’t really a “three-strikes” law but merely a recidivist statute that permits, but in no way requires, application of its sentencing guidelines.  Someone can have 20 strikes and the law still won’t necessarily be applied.  Someone can rape and molest dozens of women and children and still not get three strikes sentencing.  The reality of criminal prosecution is that, in virtually all cases, when people face multiple charges (barring a few such as murder) those charges are telescoped down to one or two, and the others offenses are simply not prosecuted.  The tiny number of people facing three-strikes sentencing are extremely flagrant offenders who have committed dozens or hundreds — not two-and-a-half — violent crimes.
  • There are no people serving life sentences “merely” for stealing Cheetos or a VCR tape.  Those are myths.
  • Prosecutors use this recidivist sentencing law so rarely that most apply it just a few times a year, and even then, it frequently doesn’t lead to 25-to-life.  But media reporting frequently stops at the original charge.
  • The lies the media tells about “three-strikes” are legion.  The word” strike” better describes the media’s flailing confabulations about recidivism sentencing than any aspect of sentencing itself.

There is a great website by Mike Reynolds, an expert on California’s three-strikes law and its application (application being 95% of the law, no matter what they tell you in school).  I urge you to read his site and support his efforts:

Three Strikes and You’re Out: Stop Repeat Offenders 

Mike Reynolds debunks myths about three-strikes laws increasing costs for the state.  He proves that prison growth did not occur because of three-strikes laws; he explains who does and does not get enhanced sentencing, and he factors in the financial savings arising from reduction of crime arising directly from the prolific offenders who are sentenced under these laws.  In other words, he does what journalists and politicians ought to be doing, but do not.

From Mike’s site:

What is sometimes mistaken (or misunderstood) is the level of violence and brutality, as compared to the value of something rather minor. My daughter, Kimber, was murdered over a “minor” purse snatching. In fact, most murders are over little or “minor value” issues. Keep in mind, every “Three Strikes” case is closely reviewed by prosecutors who must prove the prior convictions in court. In the event that the defendant is found guilty of the current felony offense, the judge can, and does, review the merits of the case to decide whether or not to apply the full “25 to Life”, or reduce the case to a second strike.

On average, only (1) out of every (9) eligible third strikers gets a “25 to Life” sentence. The average third striker has (5) prior serious or violent felony convictions.

Read Mike’s site!  


Meanwhile, anti-three-strikes activism is an astroturfed social movement funded for years through various channels by billionaire financier George Soros.  The Los Angeles Times reports that Soros just gave $500,000 to the effort to get an anti-three-strikes measure on the California ballot in November.  The other major funding of the ballot initiative is Stanford Law Professor David Mills.  I wonder if anyone’s done an audit to see how much educational taxpayer money (even private schools rely largely on public funds) Professor Mills has used for his political activism.  His “academic” website is basically an advertisement for activism.  Why do California residents put up with paying for this guy’s hobbies?  Can’t he take his druggie-yellow sunglasses off for a photo for his law school?  Is that too much to ask?  What is that, a denim shirt?  Would a suit kill him?

“Professor” David Mills, Stanford University, Photographed on a Sunny Day.

Maybe he dresses this way to conceal the fact that he made a fortune in private investment firms before picking up a starring role at the previously dignified Stanford Law posing as a denim-wearing soldier for the right of thugs, rapists, and home invaders to continue their prolific criminal careers against non-investment firm types who can’t afford personal security like Mills’ and Soros’.

David Mills doesn’t even have a real vitae.  He’s published four editorials (one, risibly, in Slate; one, risibly, in MSN Slate) and one law review article in his own school’s law review, co-authored by a real scholar.

My goodness, the things that get you a law professorship at Stanford these days!


 Anyway, back to the three-strikes campaign.  Below you’ll find some articles I’ve written on the real criminal careers of the more famous poster-children of Soros’ and Mills’ cause.  It took decades for ordinary people and crime victims to create enough traction in the justice system to merely punish a small percentage of prolific criminals.  Now we stand to lose such progress.  These men — sheltered by their extreme wealth, capable of avoiding the consequences of their actions, are trying to empty the prisons in order to make themselves feel virtuous while spitting in the faces of law abiding Americans.  It’s a consequence-free titilation for them, on your backs and the safety of your loved ones.

If you’re in California, the time to push back is now.  George Soros and David Mills merely have money.  We have the truth.  We need letters to the editor every time someone makes a false claim about saving money on prison costs, or cries alligator tears about Supermaxes cluttered with Cheetos-stealing Jean Valjeans and other nonsensical lies.

Here are links to just a few of my posts on three-strikes laws and other recidivist measures under attack by George Soros:

Jerry DeWayne Williams: The original “pizza slice” poster boy for the anti-three strikes movement . . . and his real record

Robert Ferguson: “Bag of cheese” poster boy for the anti-three strikes crowd; of course there’s more to the story

Rodney Alcala: California serial killer and sexual torturer (worked for the LA Times after he racked up a horrifying record)

Russell Burton: 20 years of serial leniency for horrific recidivist sexual assaults in California and Georgia 

Lavelle McNutt: Prolific serial rapist with 36-year record of leniency in at least two states

Cliff Kincaid on the Real Story of the UC Davis Pepperspray Incident . . . and UC Davis Prof. Nathan Brown on “Teaching” Revolution


Cliff Kincaid interviewed UC Davis Professor Nathan Brown regarding Brown’s call for the campus to become a no-go zone for police.  This is a new strategy being used by many Occupy groups and other protestors, who look to be beginning to migrate to college campuses now that cold’s setting in.

Universities and colleges tend to be more hospitable than city parks, because they are much more nursery-like: nice places to crash; built-in constituencies of the verbosely idle; anorectic girls willing to share their cafeteria cards; PR-allergic administrators . . . and protection from the more deranged homeless and/or criminal hoi polloi who harshed many a city-park-Occupy vibe by hogging the tofu loaf, among less amusing ironies.

Besides, universities are already occupied by herds of tenured professors dreaming nostalgically of their own big moments occupying the lunchroom at Columbia.  And tenured professors have a superpower in the form of double-secret-protected speech, which they like to call “academic freedom,” a highly unusual title if you think about it, because, unlike other things labelled “free,” “academic freedom” is guarded very, very jealously by the very tiny subset of faculty who claim it for themselves.

 Professor Nathan Brown, exercising his special superpower academic freedom of speech

So it would seem that college campuses are ideal places for the weary Occupiers to winter, except, ironically, if the faculty succeed in this throw-out-the-police thing.  For, if excited gaggles of tenured professors like the ones occupying the English Department of UC Davis do get their way, then all the other perks of protesting on campus — warm dorm showers, landscaping for pupping tents, safety for females and other living things — well, all of that is going to go poof the moment every pickpocket, sex offender, and crazy homeless person learns that the post-structuralists over at U.C.D. have booted the campus cops to the curb.

The following is an actual statement by the entire UC Davis English Department demanding the disbanding of the school’s police force.  It sure is going to be a highly stimulated crowd at the Department Holiday Party this year:

 The faculty of the UC Davis English Department supports the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for Chancellor Katehi’s immediate resignation and for “a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus.” Further, given the demonstrable threat posed by the University of California Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to the safety of students, faculty, staff, and community members on our campus and others in the UC system, we propose that such a policy include the disbanding of the UCPD and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community. This will initiate a genuinely collective effort to determine how best to ensure the health and safety of the campus community at UC Davis.

Hmmm, except, as Cliff Kincaid observes, UC Davis has an actual crime problem:

According to the most recent crime statistics, while crime on campus in general showed little change from 2009-2010, some serious crimes were on the rise. There were 88 burglaries on campus in 2010, compared with 84 in 2009, and 21 forcible sex offenses compared with 18 the previous year. There were 11 aggravated assaults compared with nine in 2009.

How much worse will that get, once the coppers get replaced with composition teachers or, God forbid, roving militias conscripted from Philosophy or Classics?  Forget Occupy for a moment, and consider preoccupation, which ranks high among things that make campuses desirable for predators, along with stuff like:

      • keeping odd hours
      • living away from home for the first time
      • spatial un-vigilance due to music devices wedged in ears
      • public lugging of expensive consumer electronics on expensive bicycles
      • distractions brought upon by big ideas and/or hormones
      • beer

And that’s just the professors.  Think of the students.


Professor Brown, who earns a nice salary teaching classes on incoherencies such as the poetics of nanotechnology, has become something of a celebrity, thanks to an open-letter-blog-post currently mounted beneath an image of a fist on the website Bicycle Barricade (Get it?  French Revolution plus expensive bicycles), in which he fumed, scolded, and grandstanded; used the word “outrage” a lot; issued accusations about severe physical injuries that have not been confirmed by anyone; referred to himself as a special asset to the school, and then told the school’s chancellor that she, in contrast to him, was not an asset.  The latter seems awfully materialistic, coming from someone advocating for the overthrowing of rapacious consumerism, but, whatever.

Brown j’accuses:

[T]he administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. . . I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds. . . I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms [emphasis inserted, to emphasize the hysterical tone] that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. [Why?  He does not explain.] There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. [Let me see if I’ve got this right: they need space to assert their right to decide on the form of protest, and then they need other space to do the protesting . . . wait, I’m getting confused, perhaps you could say more about that]  There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

[Here comes the deconstruction part, so hang tight]Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately. . .

And so on.

You can find the entire “manifesto” here; yes, there is much, much more of it.  Technically, repetition is a rhetorical device, as I am sure Professor Brown will demonstrate repeatedly in coming days.  The tone of all of this is terribly childish, but, to me, not nearly so disturbing as the contents of the following video, which I need to preface by saying that it resembles nothing so much as one of those totalitarian mind-control dystopias hippy professors used to attempt to inoculate us against by assigning books by Orwell, back when I used to take English classes, or rather, back when I used to take English classes where the professors actually assigned novels, instead of assigning political manifestos instead of novels in English classes:
[you-tube video here.]
Despite all the cop-hating and protest-leading he’s been doing lately, Dr. Brown still seems to find it curious that anyone would question his course syllabus on past and present protest movements, titled: The Real Movement of History – Left Communism and the Communization Current.  Indeed, it is true, as he asserts, that his syllabus covers the seminal Marxist texts, a reasonable academic subject, if taught reasonably, by which I mean objectively.
Though I know the word “objective” is objectionable, I’m just going to put it out there.
Curiously, though, the syllabus ends with The Coming Insurrection, a manifesto with extremely detailed descriptions of the very scenario unfolding largely under Dr. Brown’s direction on the U.C. Davis campus as I write this, a scenario beginning with creating and then escalating conflicts with police, then demanding the removal of police from public spaces, then “occupying” those spaces, then fomenting total, violent revolution in which no one group takes responsibility for the violence being perpetrated by their leaderless, horizontal, mass-chanting compadres once the police have gone home — to protect their threatened families, is the way it goes in Dr. Brown’s reading list.

That’s not quite the same pedagogical coincidence as looking up at the sky whilst reading Wordsworth and suddenly thinking that you might consider “wandering lonely as a cloud.”

I quote The Coming Insurrection at length here because I think it’s important to see the point at which it is impossible for Dr. Brown to continue coyly insisting that he is merely teaching historical texts of revolution, as opposed to performing them step-by-step on the taxpayer’s dime while pretending to teach English:

In the subway, there’s no longer any trace of the screen of embarrassment that normally impedes the gestures of the passengers. Strangers make conversation without making passes. A band of comrades conferring on a street corner. Much larger assemblies on the boulevards, absorbed in discussions. Surprise attacks mounted in city after city, day after day. A new military barracks has been sacked and burned to the ground. The evicted residents of a building have stopped negotiating with the mayor’s office; they settle in. A company manager is inspired to blow away a handful of his colleagues in the middle of a meeting. There’s been a leak of files containing the personal addresses of all the cops, together with those of prison officials, causing an unprecedented wave of sudden relocations [emphasis added throughout]. We carry our surplus goods into the old village bar and grocery store, and take what we lack. Some of us stay long enough to discuss the general situation and figure out the hardware we need for the machine shop. The radio keeps the insurgents informed of the retreat of the government forces. A rocket has just breached a wall of the Clairvaux prison. Impossible to say if it has been months or years since the “events” began. And the prime minister seems very alone in his appeals for calm. . .

Liberate territory from police occupation. If possible, avoid direct confrontation.

“This business shows that we are not dealing with young people making social demands, but with individuals who are declaring war on the Republic,” noted a lucid cop about recent clashes. The push to liberate territory from police occupation is already underway, and can count on the endless reserves of resentment that the forces of order have marshaled against it.  Even the “social movements” are gradually being seduced by the riots, just like the festive crowds in Rennes who fought the cops every Thursday night in 2005, or those in Barcelona who destroyed a shopping district during a botellion. The movement against the CPE witnessed the recurrent return of the Molotov cocktail. But on this front certain banlieues remain unsurpassed. Specifically, when it comes to the technique they’ve been perfecting for some time now: the surprise attack. Like the one on October 13, 2006 in Epinay. A private-security team headed out after getting a report of something stolen from a car. When they arrived, one of the security guards “found himself blocked by two vehicles parked diagonally across the street and by more than thirty people carrying metal bars and pistols . . .

There’s no ideal form of action. What’s essential is that action assume a certain form, that it give rise to a form instead of having one imposed on it. This presupposes a shared political and geographical position – like the sections of the Paris Commune during the French Revolution – as well as the circulation of a shared knowledge. As for deciding on actions, the principle could be as follows: each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us. The circulation of knowledge cancels hierarchy; it equalizes by raising up. Proliferating horizontal communication is also the best form of coordination among different communes, the best way to put an end to hegemony.

Sound familiar?  Watch the whole creepy Dr. Brown repeato-video, and read his entire manifesto, and then as much of The Coming Insurrection as you can take without needing a nice long walk, and then let me know if you believe this guy has a snowball’s chance in hell of calling himself a mere scholar and not tactician of Marxist revolutionary tactics . . . anywhere but in academia, of course, where wishes are horses being ridden by beggars.

Furthermore, mustering all the authority of a former graduate student who involuntarily took a snootful of Marxist theory courses myself while expecting them to be about stuff like poetry or literature, I sincerely doubt Dr. Brown even grasps at feigning academic objectivity in his classroom.

I doubt it precisely because of the way he stood ranting in public about the relationship between his scholarship and the protests in which he was engaging.

I, too, have been schooled to interpret texts and see through rhetoric, and my take on Nathan Brown is that he stood in his own public square quivering precisely at the frisson of un-objectively teaching while doing — all the while feeling the ghost of the soapbox in Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner creaking beneath his Birkenstocks.

Or perhaps, his expensive Italian shoes.

But the main point here is not the class politics of footwear, and I apologize for presumptuousness on my part.  The point is whether Dr. Brown is being truthful when he says that his scholarship is one thing and his activism another, or whether the actual content of the former might not raise some troubling questions regarding both his academic professionalism and his current ascendence to spokesperson for the entire U.C. Davis English Faculty on the subject of overthrowing the police.

Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that Dr. Brown fails to include in his fascinating survey courses any viewpoint contrary to the assertion that communism is the inevitable and right endpoint of all history, shades of Fukuyama certainly withstanding.  Such is the minutiae of crabbed minds.  Or, the discipline of teaching history as once practiced (not performed) by modest intellectual giants in short-sleeved button-collared shirts humanly striving above all else to preserve the protocols demanded of them by the creed of professional objectivity.

Let’s set all this . . . traditionalism . . . aside, this outré neutrality, cast it into the depths of extreme relativism from which Harold Bloom, who is responsible for so much of it, somehow rises every morning inexplicably smelling as if he has just washed both his hands, as we instead contemplate one detail — the detail of how Dr. Brown’s oddly-named survey course on communism ends precisely where his public persona begins — with cries for bloody, absolute revolution in the streets, and not-too-veiled threats towards any and all “authority figures” but especially the police.

To borrow an ugly from the current argot, I’m just trying to problematize these things.


And now, to this — the true story of what happened on the UC Davis campus in the hours leading up to the use of pepper-spray on a few systematically threatening, definitely not passively-resisting students and non-student professional agitators.  Here is the video you won’t see on the evening news, although it ought to be the one that is being seen, because it shows precisely what these protestors intended for the police they surrounded, and jeered at, and threatened.  Put yourself in the police’s shoes.

The video also shows a great deal about Professor Nathan Brown, although he is not in it.  It shows that despite papering his accusations with overwrought claims about his own special rhetorical perspicacity, he is just an average, even sophomoric, dissembler.  He wildly exaggerated what the police did; he threw a tantrum at his bosses, and he lied about the behavior of the protestors.  Even the best excuse that could be made for him is a particularly pedagogically unfortunate one: he just didn’t do a close enough reading of the text.

And now he is encouraging others to similarly misapprehend, and this makes for a demoralizing spectacle — an entire department of people claiming to be specially trained and insightful readers-of-texts, eagerly signing up without bothering to fact-check an inaccurate, premature, and presumptuous manifesto.

And these are the people getting paid to teach the art of reading.  Reading.  Remember that?






“Grassroots” Prisoner Strikes in California Actually Funded Directly by George Soros


The hunger strikes at several California prisons this summer may have seemed like spontaneous uprisings against torturous conditions.  That’s how many incurious souls in the fourth estate are portraying them.  To wit, this hand-wringing Washington Post editorial highlighting the “tragic modesty” of prisoner demands:

DOZENS OF INMATES at California’s Pelican Bay facility went on hunger strikes for several weeks this summer for what seemed like pitifully modest demands: “Allow one photo per year. Allow one phone call per week. Allow wall calendars.”  What would prompt such drastic measures in the quest for such modest goals? Answer: The protest was an exasperated and understandable reaction to the invisible brutality that is solitary confinement. Some of the Pelican Bay inmates have been held in “security housing units” for years; those tagged as gang members can expect to stay there for six years, with no certainty that they will be reintegrated into the general population even if they renounce gang membership.  When an inmate is holed up alone in a cell for up to 23 hours a day with no meaningful human contact, a photograph of a loved one or a weekly telephone call can help to forge a connection with the outside world. With little or no exposure to natural light, a calendar can help forestall losing all track of time, all sense of reality. These simple privileges, in short, can help ward off insanity.

Well, that sounds just horrible.  Why wouldn’t the cruel prison wardens allow a mere snapshot, or wall calendar?

Because the protests weren’t really about family pictures or calendars.  Because the inmates, and particularly their leadership, weren’t really harmless and misunderstood “ex” gang members in the first place.  Because the dozens of well-funded activist organizations who played the media like dumb fiddles aren’t telling the truth about either their tactics or goals.

The whole thing was a set-up, and any fish smarter than many fish in the MSM would have smelled something fishy and swum away from the bait.

Rainy Taylor, “Bay Area Revolution Club”

While the national and international media were busy wringing their hands over the seemingly sentimental prisoner demands, and dumbly reprinting activist agitprop as facts, local news sources like the Sacramento Bee bothered to ask real questions about the policy being protested — Secured Housing Units (SHU), cellblocks which isolate dangerous, disruptive, and gang-related prisoners from the rest of the prison population:

Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [] said they will review policies on how the agency determines which inmates are believed to be gang leaders who are then placed in a security housing unit.

But they insist that inmates inside the SHU, including several who have identified themselves as leaders of the hunger strike, pose a serious threat to others and are there for very good reasons. [emphasis added]

The state’s security housing units were designed as prisons within prisons to house the most dangerous criminals. While SHU inmates are largely isolated from other prisoners, corrections officials say, they still have certain amenities available to them.

“They have 23 channels, including ESPN,” [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. “I think that’s something that’s far from extreme isolation from the rest of the world.”

These guys get cable, including ESPN.  I certainly don’t pay for that.  Yet they claim they’re striking because they lack “wool caps” for “wintertime.”  Such demands don’t pass any smell test.  They are deliberately designed to create an impression that the prisoners are shivering in the cold, not sitting around watching Sports Center.

Inmates in California SHU watching cable TV . . . what, no HBO?

Yet the “wool caps for winter” campaign was repeated uncritically by media sources throughout the world.  Al Jazeera English published a wildly misleading editorial by one prominent Soros-funded activist, Issac Ontiveros, who calls SHUs “torture.”  For good measure, Ontiveros’ editorial throws in a bunch of other deceptive agitprop painting the U.S. as a “prison industrial complex” that must be overthrown.  He repeats all the activists’ greatest hits, bluntly lying about the real circumstances of mass murderer George Jackson’s death, whitewashing the horrific, racially motivated killings perpetrated by Jackson, and downplaying the murders of prisoners and guards by other prisoners during the Attica riots.  Racial accusation?  Check.  Denial of violence by “activists”?  Check.  America equals police state?  Check.

This is the type of “news” about America being disseminated around the world, all subsidized by George Soros.

Quite astonishingly, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee is actually using photos of the bloody Attica riots to illustrate their demands on behalf of the current California hunger strikers.  This is the coalition homepage:

Get it?  Give in and end the practice of secured housing units for offenders who stab prison guards, or . . . prisoners will riot and stab a bunch of prison guards.


Back on Planet Sanity, the San Jose Mercury News bothers to document real conditions in the SHUs, plus the behind-bars behavior that landed some of the benighted residents of California’s Secure Housing Units in secure housing to begin with:

Many of the inmates on the tour were housed in pairs in cells stocked with televisions and books. The cells had doors perforated with dozens of tiny holes, instead of standard prison bars, to make it more difficult for inmates to pass items from one to another.

In one area, two inmates in neighboring cells played virtual chess, calling out their moves to one another.

Inmates do have contact with other prisoners, staff and visitors, including spending more than an hour each day in exercise yards, [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. They have 23 cable television channels, reading materials, access to a law library and learning materials, and can correspond with family and friends.

Conditions are “far from what we think is torturous,” Hidalgo said, though some violent inmates and purported gang leaders are kept physically separated.

Three of the state’s prisons have such units, housing about 3,800 of the state’s 161,500 inmates.

Inmates sent to the unit “have essentially earned their way,” Hidalgo said. “They have numerous assaults on inmates, they have numerous assaults on staff, they have to be isolated for their protection and for the protection of other inmates. These are predatory-type inmates, and we need to ensure they are not harmful to others.” . . .

He said the strike originated in the unit’s “short corridor,” home to 202 top gang leaders. The department provided background on five strike leaders at the request of The Associated Press. They include:

— Todd Ashker, 48, who prison officials contend is a high-ranking member of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood. He’s serving 21 years to life for a killing another inmate at Folsom State Prison in 1987, the latest in a long series of convictions. He’s accused of stabbing five inmates and assaulted three employees in prison.

— Danny Troxell, 58, of the Aryan Brotherhood, who’s serving 26 years to life for a Fresno County murder. He’s accused of six assaults on other inmates.

— Arturo Castellanos, 50, of the Mexican Mafia, serving 26 years to life for a Los Angeles County murder. He’s accused of stabbing six inmates in prison.

— Ronnie Dewberry, 53, the Black Guerrilla Family’s “minister of education” in charge of orienting and indoctrinating other inmates. He is serving 25 years to life for an Alameda County murder.

— George Franco, 46, of Nuestra Familia, serving 15 years to life for a Santa Clara County murder.

Hidalgo said the strike was coordinated by gang leaders who normally are sworn enemies.


In order to understand the professional activists orchestrating the hunger strikes, you first have to understand that they view incarceration itself, whatever the crime, as illegitimate.  Their goal, stated openly, is to “empty all prisons.”  Yet, such extreme statements don’t place them beyond the pale in the progressive Left, who largely view America as a fascist police state.  The tone of this activism has grown increasingly extreme, even though public relations efforts often mute the rhetoric for certain audiences.  The current anti-incarceration movement is more powerful and more dangerous than their outré predecessors such as the original Black Panthers.  Unlike these former groups, the current movement’s leaders wield tremendous influence in public policy and legal policy organizations, as well as in the current Justice Department and other government bureaucracies.

Coordinated actions like the California hunger strikes also demonstrate the reach of such extremism into taxpayer-funded institutions like the California university system.  Several movement leaders are tenured professors whose activism is really their only academic work — activism subsidized by the taxpaying victims of the super-thugs being housed in SHU units.

Here are just a few of the activist groups involved in inventing the recent hunger strike.  In one way or another, nearly all these groups are bankrolled by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation:

Critical Resistance — founded by well-reimbursed, Communist, taxpayer-employed, “professor” Angela Davis, Critical Resistance is dedicated to eliminating prisons entirely.  Their mission statement:

We call our vision “abolition”, and take the name purposefully from those who called for the abolition of slavery in the 1800’s. Abolitionists believed that slavery could not be fixed or reformed – it needed to be abolished. As PIC [Prison Industrial Complex] abolitionists today, we also do not believe that reforms can make the PIC just or effective. Our goal is not to improve the system; it is to shrink the system into non-existence.

All of Us Or None — AOUON is at the forefront of a dangerous new legal campaign: promoting lawsuits against corporations like Home Depot when such deep-pocketed targets deign to choose to not hire ex-cons with criminal records.  That’s right — employers everywhere may soon be facing civil rights lawsuits if they choose any non-felon over a felon, or take applicants’ criminal histories into account in any way.  How would you like to not know the criminal background of your kid’s teacher — or your mom’s nursing home aide — or that guy Home Depot sent over to hang the new cabinets?  Disturbingly, Eric Holder is grandstanding on this issue and deploying the resources of the Department of Justice to “research” such discrimination claims.  The EEOC is, of course, on board through Holder’s Cabinet Level Prisoner Re-Entry working group.

Good luck not hiring muggers and robbers in the future.  See here for more shocking details.

Aw, heck.  The day is growing short.  I’ll just list the rest of the organizations agitating for wool hats for violent offenders.  Remember, all of these groups have joined hands with radicals seeking the release of all prisoners and the total elimination of incarceration.  Some things to ponder when reading this list:  Do most of these organizations and “organizations” really look like grassroots groups?  How many are part of the vast activist astroturfing being coordinated through “civil liberties” legal foundations?  How many are extreme left-wing or openly communist political and legal groups rebranding themselves as social justice advocates?  How many are directly or indirectly funded by George Soros?

[Answer: No, Lots, The Rest of Them, and Almost All the Big Ones]

A Better Way Foundation
A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Los Angeles, CA
ACLU of California (Read Statement here)
ACLU of Mississippi
AIDs Foundation Chicago
All of Us or None
American Civil Liberties Union (National)
American Friends Service Committee
American Gruner: Coalition of Latino Leaders

American Public Health Association (Prisoner Health Committee, Medical Care Section)

Arkansas Voice for the Children Left Behind
Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco)
Black Awareness Community Development Organization
Breakout!, New Orleans, LA
Bristol Anarchist Black Cross
Building Locally to Organize for Community Safety (BLOCS) –Atlanta, GA
Cafe Intifada
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
California Prison Focus
California Prison Moratorium Project
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
Campaign to End Prison Slavery (UK)
Campaign to End the Death Penalty (Read statement here)
Cante Wanjila Native American Reentry and Support Project, South Dakota
Center for Community Alternatives
Center for Constitutional Rights (National) (Read statement here)
Center for New Community (national)
Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Providence, RI
Center for Young Women’s Development
Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar
Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective (NC) (Read Statement here)
Chicago Anti-Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective
Chuco’s Justice Center
CLAC Legal Committee
Coalition for Prisoners Rights
Comité pour un Secours rouge canadien
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Community justice network for youth
Community Restoration Services (Los Angeles)
Courage to Resist (Read statement here)
Critical Resistance
CUAV: Community United Against Violence (San Francisco)
Defender Association of Philadelphia
Denver Anarchist Black Cross
Detention Watch Network
East Bay Saturday Diaologues with Dr. Nancy Arvold & April Schlenk
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Fair Chance– Los Angeles Project
Families & Allies of Virginia’s Youth
Families to Amend California’s Three-Strikes (FACTS)
Florida Immigration Coalition (Miami, FL)
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
Freedom Archives
Freedom Inc (Madison WI)
Fresno County Brown Berets
Friends Committee of Legislation on California
Frontline Soldiers
Generation 5
Glen Cove Solidarity
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
Human Rights Coalition- Fed Up! (Pittsburg)
Immigrant Workers’ Center
Immigration Law Clinic of UC Davis Law School
International Action Center
International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
International Council for Urban Peace, Justice & Empowerment
International Health Workers for Peace Over Profit (Read Statement here)International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, SF Bay Area Chapter
Justice for Families
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
Kemba Smith Foundation
L’En-Droit de Laval
La Raza Centro Legal
Labor/Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, CA
LAGAI-Queer Insurrection
Law Office of Rebecca Young, East Boston, MA
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Little Lake Learning Center
Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network (Read statement here)
Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (Read statement here)
Merced County Brown Berets
Milk Not Jails, New York
MIM Prisons
Modesto Anarcho Crew
Modesto Copwatch
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Jericho Movement
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild University of Pittsburg Chapter
National Policy Partnership for Children of the Incarcerated
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (Read statement here)
NC Piece Corps
Needle Exchange Emergency Program
New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter
New York City Anarchist Black Cross Federation
New York City Anti-Racist Action
November Coalition
Oakland Community Action Network
Oakland Education Association (OEA) Peace & Justice Caucus (Read Statement here)
Osiris Coalition
Parolees for Change (Los Angeles)
Parti communiste révolutionnaire
Pathways To Your FuturePeace & Justice of La Luz, New Mexico
Peace Over Violence Los Angeles
People’s Commission NetworkPeople’s Organization for Progress (NJ)
Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban Justice Center (NY)
Prison Activist Resource Center
Prison Health News
Prison Law Office. (Read Statement here)
Prison Policy Institute, Massachusetts
Prison Radio
Prison Radio Show CKUT 90.3 FM Montreal
Prison Watch Network
Prisoner Correspondence Project
Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie
QPIRG Concordia
Real Cost of Prisons Project
Redwood Curtain Copwatch
Registered Society within Association for Probation and Offenders’ Assistance, Germany
Republicans for Change
Resurrection After Exoneration, New Orleans, LA
Rethinking Schools
Revolution Newspaper
Revolutionary Athletes Worldwide (R.A.W.)
Revolutionary Hip Hop Report
Riverside Church Prison Ministry
Safe Streets/Strong Communities, New Orleans, LA
San Francisco Women in Black.
SF Pride at Work/HAVOQ (Read statement here)
Shabazz Legal Services
Socialist Action
Solidarity Across Borders
Southern California Library
Stanislaus County Radical Mental Health
Stop the Injunctions Coalition
TalkBLACK, Atlanta, GA
Tamms Year Ten, Illinois
Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth
The Mobilization to Free Mumia-Abu Jamal
The New Orleans Loiterers Union
The New York Campaign Against Torture (NYCAT)
The New York Task Force for Political Prisoners
The Outs
The Termite Collective
The WE Project, Los Angeles
Time for Change Foundation
Toronto Anarchist Black Cross
Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois
Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project
UHURU Solidarity Movement
United for Drug Policy Reform (Oakland, CA)
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United National Anti-War Committee
United Panther Movement
Urban Justice Center (New York City)
Vermont Action for Political Prisoners
Visions to Peace Project, Washington, D.C.
Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE)
Voices Unbroken
W. Haywood Burns Institute
WESPAC Foundation (NYC)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Pajaro Valley Chapter
Women’s Council of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
Women’s Prison Book Project (Minneapolis, MN)
World Can’t Wait

Fascinatingly, the Open Society Foundation isn’t on the list.  But they don’t really need to be: they are the list.


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Star Wars Bar Fights, the Compassion Racket, and Prisoner Re-Entry

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Thanks to cost-cutting, or rather, thanks to the fact that there are lots of criminals in California, Los Angeles County is going to have to provide jail beds and parole supervision for 7,000 additional inmates a year who would have otherwise been sent to state prisons.

In the L.A. Times, County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich had this to say:

“It’s a system that’s meant to fail,” Antonovich said, “and who is it going to fail? Every neighborhood, every community where these people are going to be running around….It’s a Pandora’s box. It’s the bar scene — a violent bar scene that you saw in ‘Star Wars’ — except they’re all crazy and nuts.”

This is the only picture I could find of the bar scene in Star Wars.  Everyone looks pretty calm.  I imagine Los Angeles County is about to start looking a whole lot worse.

Meanwhile, San Francisco is predictably responding to the collapse of the justice system by trying to pass a law that would prevent landlords and employers from asking about applicants’ criminal histories, because doing so unfairly stigmatizes them.  Times criminal-activist-cum-reporter Alexandria Le Tellier predictably scolds people for being small-minded and “scared” at the prospect:

I understand the instinct to feel scared and to wonder if criminals deserve jobs when unemployment is so high. But people deserve second chances. They deserve an opportunity to reintegrate into society and to get it right this time. If we create obstacles rather than opening the door to a life that’s worth living, then, as a society, we fail. Beyond compassion, we need to give people a way out of the life that got them in trouble in the first place.

Wow, that’s big of her.  Because, you see, people aren’t trying to protect their employees and businesses, or homes and neighborhoods, by making informed decisions about the character of ex-cons: they’re just being vindictive and scared.  I’m sure Ms. Le Tellier won’t mind when the next violent thug comes knocking to share her loft space.   She’s already sharing her confusion about the difference between “compassion” and “lying to vulnerable people about threats of violence” with the equally contemptuous Father Gregory Boyle of the controversial Homeboy Industries.  Like Le Tellier, Boyle loudly and repeatedly accuses ordinary, non-criminal people of being “heartless” and hateful while insisting that his charges are choirboys underneath all that social misunderstanding.  It’s all our fault, you see, that they’re forced to commit crimes: Los Angeles is just one big scene from Les Miserables where gang members set out to steal loaves of bread to feed their starving young-uns.

Father Boyle.  He thinks the American public is “uncivilized”

Like many self-appointed saintly types, Father Boyle’s sermonizing is laced with threats and insinuations that the heartless public will get what it deserves if it doesn’t yield to his superior example:

We lose our right to be surprised that California has the highest recidivism rate in the country if we refuse to hire folks who have taken responsibility for their crimes and have done their time . . . As a society, we come up lacking in many of the marks of compassion and wisdom by which we measure ourselves as civilized.

Lose our right to be surprised?  There’s something very ugly about so-called religious leaders claiming the moral high ground through this sort of ethical shakedown.  How do offenders “take responsibility” for the harm they have done to society by lying about their pasts to those who would employ or house them?

The dishonest, accusatory, and self-serving moral drama enacted by people like Father Boyle (aka “G-Dog”) and Alexandria Le Tellier is the real barrier standing between offenders’ pasts and their potential for real redemption.  “Doing time” doesn’t really “repay” society, or offenders’ victims: that’s a mere metaphor, no matter how many times it gets repeated.  Remorse isn’t possible without acknowledgment of harm.  And, like it or not, recidivism arises from criminal intentions, not career disappointment, as Boyle should know, having personally buried “173 of his homies” who apparently failed to find adequate satisfaction in building solar panels or baking bread at Homeboy Industry’s very pricey “campus.”

Romanticizing criminals while busking up their feelings of entitlement is a recipe for more crime, not less.

But if the federal government has anything to do with it, the insanity in San Francisco is poised to become national policy, now that the E.E.O.C. is getting into the “prisoner re-entry” game.  “Re-entry,” also know as showering offenders with public resources — from massages to green jobs to paid positions as “community organizers” — is Eric Holder’s pet project and has been elevated to Cabinet status by President Obama.

The E.E.O.C. recently announced that they’re in the “information and best practices gathering” mode regarding criminal histories and employers, a sure sign that craziness lies ahead.  Who wants to bet that the “best practice” they find turns out to be precisely what the most radical activists want: a right to sue for discrimination if employers or landlords deign to ask applicants to tell the truth about their criminal pasts?

How to Tell A Lie: NPR Says Rioters Just “Dancing” on Police Cars

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This is dancing:

This is not dancing.  This is thugs destroying public property:

The difference may be apparent to ordinary people, but not to certain publicly funded journalists.  Here is how NPR‘s Mark Memmott describes the scene above:

“some witnesses reported others dancing on top of police cruisers taunting them.”

Using the word “dancing” to describe kicking out the windows of police cars is blisteringly dishonest.  In other words, it is par for the course for NPR’s coverage of anything involving police.  Los Angelenos ought to be thanking the police for risking their necks to control and disperse these anti-social morons.  But instead, what we get from NPR is blunt lying.  Memmott acknowledges that “people threw bottles and vandalized cars,” but he calls destroying police vehicles “dancing” and doesn’t tell us who, precisely, were having bottles thrown at them.

In the alternative universe of NPR, police just aren’t as human as other people.  So bottles get “thrown” instead of “thrown at police,” and stomping up and down on police vehicles is called dancing.

The picture above is from the British Daily Mail Online.  Increasingly, I find I have to look to British tabloids to get pictures of street disruptions that American media simply refuses to show.  How interesting.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times used a very strange photo essay to transform an ugly riot against police into a montage of images of police running amuck and attacking harmless-looking individuals.  The photoessay is a triumph of anti-cop agitprop.  It really is very clever of the Times to show no pictures of the crowd’s behavior, only rows of police in riot gear.  Repugnant, but clever.  Here are all five photographs from the Times photoessay.  Unfortunately, I can only post small copies of the first four photos: to really grasp the intentionality of the paper’s efforts to misrepresent the event and paint cops as jackbooted thugs, go here:

See?  No rioters in this one.  Just a human wall of police, lit eerily by fluorescent purple lights.

No rioters here, either. Just one vulnerable-and-calm-looking youth making a peace sign as cops bear down menacingly.

Police running towards something that isn’t captured in the frame.

No rioters, just bystanders passively watching.  The cops are probably running to help other officers tazer some completely innocent grandpa.  In related news, Rodney King got arrested for the 14,000th time since his infamous 1991 arrest/payday.  His other post-can’t we all get along arrests include trying to run over a police officer with a car, hitting his wife with a car, punching a girlfriend in the stomach, indecent exposure, domestic violence against his daughters and their mother, threatening to kill one of his daughters and her mother, and trying to lead police on another famous high-speed chase, though this time the cops wisely just let him endanger scores of innocent drivers by weaving through traffic at speeds exceeding 100mph, until he crashed through a fence and hit a house.

The fourth photo shows a white cop grabbing a black man while another cop picks something up from the sidewalk and a third in riot gear brandishes a police baton.  You can practically hear the imagined caption: “cop in riot gear brandishes police baton.”  No scenes of marauding crowds in this one either, just one guy and three cops. It isn’t clear why the police are apprehending the man.  Did he just steal something?  Why is he running?  The Times doesn’t explain.  Nor do they tell us what this photo has to do with the riot.  Maybe it’s a stock image they use to flesh out their anti-police crusades.

Robocop getting ready to beat on invisible crowd, from the visual propagandists at the Los Angeles Times.

So that’s five photos of police looking menacing without one single image showing the rioters or the size of the out-of-control crowd that gathered outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  All in all, the Times actually ran six rioter-free photos, if you count one from the front page I wasn’t fast enough to capture — of some half-naked love child peering at the police line through a heart shape made with his hands.


In order to actually see pictures of things like rioters jumping on police cars, you do have to look to the British press.  I’ve begun to notice major American dailies “cleaning up” raw footage that shows rioters and criminals committing crime and replacing them with ominous-looking shots of the police response.  Here is a picture showing the size of the crowd.  Contrast this with the Los Angeles Times’ photos, and you can see how hard the Times had to work to disappear the street violence.

Luckily, not all the witnesses were journalists, so at least we have some record of what actually happened.  “There were people trampling all over the police cars, smashing the windows,” said Greg Magda, who was working in a coffee shop nearby.  Being a non-journalist person, Mr. Magda didn’t get the memo about calling the cop-car-trampling and window-smashing “dancing” instead.  There is a war on cops in this country, and the media is playing an increasingly nasty role in encouraging hatred of police.

{Updated} Aesthetic Tragedy, New York Times Style: Mime Panic Buttons Defunded in California


It’s hard to find anything to say about this story that the New York Times has not trumped simply by writing it:

A Safety Valve for Inmates, the Arts, Fades in California

NORCO, Calif. — Fifteen men darted across the room, their faces slathered in greasepaint, reciting lines from “Tartuffe.” The stage, such as it was, was a low-ceilinged recreation room, and the cast was a troupe of felons who had just stepped in from the dusty yard of the California Rehabilitation Center . . . Two years ago, arts in corrections programs were a mainstay of prisons across the country, embraced by administrators as a way to channel aggression, break down racial barriers, teach social skills and prepare inmates for the outside world.

Or, maybe not.  Though such activities are supposed to reduce recidivism, Times writer Adam Nagourney acknowledges “there is no conclusive research on that.”

No conclusive research.  No conclusive research, not anywhere in the vast offender-validating, crime-denying rabbit warren of California higher education?  Not one, single, believable, peer-reviewed study subsidized by all the drooling millionaires of PEN?

In other words, despite the best efforts by armies of superlatively funded academic researchers, nobody could cook up a justification for spending money on those “arts coordinator[s] in each of the 33 California state prisons, overseeing a rich variety of theater, painting and dance.”

“[The] programs have become a fading memory,” the Times laments.

Once, in the golden age of not long ago, there were mimes teaching Moliere on your dime to child molesters; felons riffing Tartuffe with tax dollars.  Now, no more.

Mime tear.

Tartuffe, incidentally, is a play that happens to be about distrusting expressions of virtue, and authority in general.  So maybe the problem isn’t “the arts.” Maybe the problem is the art being taught, and who is doing the teaching.  The Times story inadvertently serves as Exhibit A for this theme:

Only two prison arts programs are left in California, and both rely on volunteers and private contributions. The one here is run by the Actors’ Gang, whose artistic director is the actor Tim Robbins [who] has become nearly as familiar a figure at the prison as the warden himself.

Of course, that “familiarity” comes with a price tag for the rest of us, though you can bet your last button they’re not including our names on the embossed fundraiser invites.  It costs money for Tim Robbins to prance around maximum security reliving old movie roles.  “The real actors are issued panic buttons to attach to their belts, in case they are cornered,” notes the Times.  Why the “real actors” don’t rely on the curative power of aesthetic accomplishment is not explained. But, enough of that; back to Tim Robbins:

Mr. Robbins instructed the inmates to feel fear . . . “What is Tartuffe afraid of?” he said, wearing a wool skullcap and dressed in black. “Being discovered. Because that would mean jail for him.”

“Something is coming after you!” he said urgently to the inmates as they scampered around. “What is it?”

“Cops!” one inmate yelled.

“Cops!” Mr. Robbins responded, clapping his hands in delight. “Then run!”

How wry, shouting at prisoners to run away from the police.  How, Attica-ey.

Admittedly, Mr. Robbins does have experience successfully encouraging the dreams of aspiring young actors.

Oh, wait, scratch that: Mr. Robbins has experience encouraging the murderers of aspiring young actors who dream of success.

Richard Adan, Murdered by Jack Abbott at 22

Ask the family of Richard Adan.  Adan was a 22-year old aspiring actor and playwright who was brutally stabbed to death in 1981 in his own family’s restaurant by Jack Abbott, a sociopathic killer who was supposed to be in prison but had been freed early because Robbins‘ future wife, Susan Sarandon, and others used their star power to obtain his release {Sarandon, in cahoots with Norman Mailer, helped get Abbott released before she met Robbins; Robbins and Sarandon chose to name their son after Abbott a few years later — the original version of this post was incorrect about Robbins’ attendance at Abbott’s 1982 trial — thanks to Cinesnatch for noting the error}.

Robbins‘s future wife Sarandon said she saw artistic talent in Jack Abbott, so obviously he should go free.  Bolstered by intense lobbying by the New York Times, New York’s literary elite, and PEN, some pathetic, star-struck losers on the New York State parole board agreed to let Abbott go, even though he told his artistic sponsors that he would kill again, which he did, a mere did six weeks after his release.

Jack Abbott, Toast of New York’s Intelligentsia

So, to summarize: in 1981 Tim Robbins‘ future wife Susan Sarandon was among those who helped get murderer Jack Abbott out of prison on the grounds of Abbott’s perceived artistic “talent.”  Abbott immediately satisfied the edgy aesthetics of Susan Sarandon by performing the ultimate act of “outsider” art, stabbing an innocent young man to death outside the man’s family’s restaurant.  The day after the murder, the New York Times ran a glowing review of Jack Abbott’s art (I can’t provide a link: the Times has Stalinistically mopped away this reprehensible little bit of its own history).  Now, in 2011, the Times runs a story about Robbins teaching theater to violent offenders in order to help them gain early release — because participating in programs like this one is all about gaining points towards release, never mind the claptrap about race harmony and self-actualization.

Yet, somehow, the Times doesn’t feel the need to mention Tim Robbins’ previous record with prisoners and arts programs in this story.  Curious choice.

In 1982, Abbott went on trial again. A few of his other supporters, like Norman Mailer, mustered enough big-boy shame this time to cower in the shadows.  But not Susan Sarandon: she continued lobbying for Jack Abbott’s release on the grounds that he was a talented artist.  Robbins’ especially shameless wife showed up daily for the trial in support of her talented murderer.  Later, after she met Tim Robbins, they named their firstborn son after the killer: Jack Henry Robbins.

It is difficult to imagine the degree of callousness it takes to sit in full view of a family mourning for the death of their son while fawning over his killer.  Then, to name your child after the killer?  That should have been the end of those sickos’ careers.  But in Hollywood, Sarandon and Robbins are considered voices of moral authority, not in spite of this heinous inhumanity, but because of it.  Sarandon and Robbins weren’t done torturing and degrading crime victims after the Abbott case, however: they and Sister Helen Prejean made the lives of several other victims hell in the process of making their film, Dead Man Walking.  They grotesquely rewrote and toned down the crimes, wrote the existence of inconvenient survivors out of the story, and invented the killer’s on-screen remorse wholecloth, all under Tim Robbins’ direction.

Robbins chose to disappear victims and crimes.  Why does the corrections system of California permit him to continue using taxpayer resources to perpetuate similar whitewashing today?  The Times‘ story about Tim Robbins’ touching drama academy behind bars carefully avoids mentioning the crimes these sensitive thespians committed.  Reporter Adam Nagourney did not bother to contact the victims of these men, some of them rapists.  He didn’t bother to ask the victims for their point of view on the program.  Isn’t that what reporters are supposed to do?  Instead, we get giggly effervescence (from the slideshow):

The workshops and rehearsals are antic and oddly entertaining: guards can be spotted peering through a window. The inmates, like Matthew O’Day, are animated, campy, energized, liberated and fearlessly engaged, comfortable even playing women in a sea of gang tattoos and muscles.

“Campy, energized, liberated and fearlessly engaged.” “Cops!” cries Tim Robbins, “clapping his hands in delight.”  “[R]un,” he shouts.  What are these inmates supposed to be learning?  What do they learn in other programs, like Changing Lives Through Literature (see here and here), which is taught by anti-incarceration activists who pen long, weepy paeans thanking their offender-students for enriching their pale, law abiding lives?  Check out this particularly troubling story.

I first became interested in prisoner education programs when my own rapist got cut loose early (to commit more heinous rapes of his favorite prey, elderly women) because he allegedly completed “college psychology” courses in prison, a fascinating accomplishment for someone who also got time off the front of his sentence for allegedly being mentally slow.  Too many prison higher educations programs and arts programs are run like this, and by people like Tim Robbins, who see rapists and murderers only as heroes and rebels striking out righteously against America’s “stultifying, capitalist, fascist state.”

And so, unsurprisingly, the material taught is most frequently about crooked justice and wrongful incarceration.  How, again, is this supposed to rehabilitate anyone?  It doesn’t, as respected criminologists have observed.  Vocational training, GED preparation, 12-step programs — those things often help, and contrary to the fabulists at the Times and elsewhere who claim that prisoners today have no access to enrichment or education, they are available to higher numbers of inmates — and also higher percentages of inmates — than ever.

In contrast, all these fantasy workshops on poetry, Restoration drama performances, and college classes about injustice in America do nothing but stroke offenders’ — and their teachers’ — egos.  Reading news stories about such programs, it is impossible not to notice how the teachers pose as acolytes, blaming society for their students’ crimes and praising offenders for their extraordinarily special talents and insights.  In this program funded by crime victims and other Virginia taxpayers, Andrew Kaufman brings his young U.Va. students into prison to read books like The Death of Ivan Illyich with offenders.  Ivan Illyich, remember, is a story about an unethical judge.  The U.Va. students — girls — coo on command over the offenders’ good manners, while judging their own non-felonious classmates harshly.  How early they learn what is wanted from them.  “All four women said the residents were far less superficial and more respectful to them than many male U.Va. students,” the reporter writes.  Really?  Did the girls see the offenders’ records?  Does Kaufman also take them on field trips to visit their victims?

No.  Of course not.  In the moral universe occupied by people like this, the only victims are the men behind bars.  “Cops,” cries Tim Robbins, “run!”  Inmates can still pursue the arts and read books in all of these prisons, of course.  It’s just that taxpayers and crime victims are no longer subsidizing anti-American, anti-incarceration, anti-bourgeoise arts camps for inmates, as they were once forced to do.  “We enjoyed this real lush period when there was this boom in prison growth,” brags Laurie Brooks, speaking of the time in the early 1980’s when then-governor Jerry Brown forced taxpayers to shell out for “lush” prisoner arts programs.

Remember how well that turned out? Crime rates continued their steady climb until sentencing reform took hold, removing prolific offenders from the streets for longer than a semester  or two.  So why is it that Tim Robbins, one of the most troubling figures of the pro-offender cultism that resulted in unmeasurable bloodshed and suffering, even permitted to go into California state prisons to hobnob with violent felons?  Why do taxpayers  and voters allow him to enter correctional institutions and foment his own special brand of resentment towards authority figures and police?  Why aren’t victims’ groups up in arms?

Tim Robbins

Isn’t one Jack Abbott one too many?

Three Chances Instead of Three Strikes: Giovanni Ramirez and the Supreme Court

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Giovanni Ramirez has been arrested for inflicting permanent brain damage in the April near-death beating of Giants fan Bryan Stowe.  Some non-news regarding the arrest:

  • Ramirez is “at least” a three-time convict and a felon.
  • Ramirez is a convicted gun criminal.
  • Ramirez is a “documented gang member.”
  • Ramirez was not serving time at the time of the beating.  He was out on parole despite prior convictions for attempted robbery, robbery, and firing a weapon in a public place . . . at least.

Well, who could be surprised?  The headlines this week are about the Supreme Court decision forcing California to release 46,000 inmates on the grounds that their civil rights are violated by prison overcrowding.  Bad enough, but those 46,000 soon-to-be wrongfully freed offenders are only a fraction of the problem.  They, at least, ended up in prison for some portion of their sentences.

In addition to the 46,000, how many Giovanni Ramirezes are “wrongfully freed” by other means in California every year?  Why was Ramirez on parole, instead of being in prison?  Here’s another interesting, unasked question: did some prosecutor and/or judge allow him to plead down to “firing a weapon in a public place” in 2005 to make it easier to avoid applying California’s “three-strikes” law?  Did the prosecutor find some other excuse to avoid seeking three-strikes?  This type of thing happens every day.

In 2005, what were the real charges against Ramirez?  What sentences did he receive for attempted robbery in 1998 and robbery in 1999?  How much time did he serve, and how much time did he get off?

There’s no way to learn the answer to questions like this until somebody in Los Angeles unearths Ramirez’ entire criminal record, from arrests to final dispositions.  And reporters virtually never bother to do that.  The courts and the media collude to conceal basic information about criminal cases from the public.  Journalists don’t like risking their special access by embarrassing judges or prosecutors, so nobody asks the hard questions, such as this one:

Would Bryan Stow be at home playing with his children instead of hovering near death with profound brain damage if some L.A. judge had not granted Giovanni Ramirez an entirely unearned “third chance” in 2005?

When you start looking at complete criminal histories — pleas, dropped charges, nolle prosequi, et. al. — the justice system starts looking more and more like the hat check in a social club for unrepentant thugs.  I started this blog in 2009 when I learned of a judge in my old neighborhood who suffered no consequences (still hasn’t) for wrongfully releasing a serial offender who went on to kill a female cancer researcher.  Rather than spending her time in court examining the offender’s record and assigning the correct statutory punishment, the judge spent her time oohing and ahhing over a wedding dress website with the offender and praising him for “rehabilitating” himself so creatively.

The prosecutor also dropped the ball, but if judges don’t accept responsibility for what happens in their courtrooms, why bother calling them judges?

This terrible dereliction of duty went to the heart of the problem: the judge treated the predator like a victim and also as a sort of Oprah-esque hero of his own life.  She used our resources and her authority to inflate his self-esteem and her own sense of magnanimity, instead of punishing him and protecting us.  And an innocent woman died a horrible death because of it.

Unsurprisingly, the wedding dress website was a scam.  That tacky aside illustrates an important fact:

The only real rehabilitation is consequences.

Judicial rulings like this are frighteningly routine: judges on ego trips walk into courtrooms and see, in prisoners, a reward-rich private constituency. Grandstand on their behalf, and you win approval from all the places where approval matters to any ambitious judge: law faculty, the ABA, the academic research class, liberal activists, and huge swaths of the federal judiciary positioned between your bench and the Supreme Court.  Also, during administrations like this one, the Justice Department.

Not to mention the media, the DNC, and even certain conservatives — the previously convicted, the pro-pot libertarians, the ego-tripping Christians, and these people.


I see the Supreme Court decision as the culmination of seventeen years of radical opposition to California’s extremely successful and life-saving three-strikes law.  How successful?  You won’t find many people asking that question in the universities, or the press, but on his well-documented website, Mike Reynolds asserts that three-strikes has had a profound effect on public safety:

[A]n average of 1,000,000 serious or violent crimes are prevented every 5 years and 10,000 Californians spared from becoming murder victims since its passage in 1994.

Yet the public debate continues to revolve around myths of people being sent up for shoplifting cheese or a pizza slice.

The Myth of Jerry DeWayne Williams and his Pizza Slice

Thirteen Strikes and Still Not Out. . . Robert Ferguson is Not a Victim


Here, if you can stomach it, is a celebratory roadmap to the anti-three-strikes movement by Bill Boyarsky, who presents himself as a loner bemoaning what he (astonishingly) sees as the failure of the media to cover the “neglected evil” of racism in the criminal justice system and specifically California’s three-strikes law.  Now there’s something you never read about in the mainstream press.  Neglected, you know, like Boyarsky was neglected as he was forced to toil in barren fields like . . . the City Editor’s position at the L.A. Times, the Annenberg School for Communications, presiding officer on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, Northwestern University, and Berkeley.

Bill Boyarsky, courageous voice in the wilderness

It really is all about them.  Damn the cost to the rest of us.

Clockwork Riots, L.A. Lakers Style: These Are Not Sports Fans

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Imagine the crappiest job in the world:

You put on your Men’s Warehouse suit and drive to the office, dreading the inevitable outcome of the day.  Settling into your cubicle, you arrange the day’s work on the chipped laminate desk: a billy club, mace, and a copy of the quarterly budget figures for your division, awaiting approval from above.  In the next cubicle, Joey H. is already rocking back and forth in his mesh swivel knockoff, working the screws on one of the padded armrests.

The word comes from headquarters right before lunch: the budget numbers are good.

Joey lets out a guttural shriek, rips the loosened arm off his chair and kicks the front wall off his cubicle, still howling.  You grab the mace and billyclub and follow him as he tears a path of destruction to the break room, carefully avoiding getting too close, shouting at him to step down.

Joey ignores you and smacks out a fluorescent light fixture with his arm-rest, sending bits of glass and toxic powder all over accounting.  Then he pulls a wad of gasoline-soaked newspaper out of his pocket, lights it with a lighter, and throws the flaming mass in the paper recycling bin by the door.

Mike D. wearily rises from his desk, shouldering his fire extinguisher, and heads for the blaze.

You follow Joey into the break room.  He’s already used a folding chair to demolish the front of the snack machine, filling his pockets with KitKats while chanting “We’re Number One.”  You notice he’s been working out.

“Put the Kit Kats down, Joey,” you say.

“F*** You, Pig-Man,” he screams, winging a full Red Bull can at your face.  Luckily, you thought to wear your plexi face shied to work today.  Now that you’ve cornered him, Joey head-buts your belly.  That hurts.  You smack him a few times with the billy-club, always aware that the altercation is being recorded on security cameras for later review.  Finally, you manage to subdue him with the help of Kathy P., the new associate from sales.  She’s brought her handcuffs, and Joey’s taken off to the bathroom to wash up and get ready for Personnel to review the security tapes.

Later that day, the verdict comes back from Human Resources.  While you should have tried to stop Joey before he broke the front of the snack machine, you’re not going to get docked pay for using excessive force subduing him, like last quarter.  Kathy P. however, is going to have to go before the panel and explain why she bruised Joey H.’s wrist while snapping the handcuffs on.

Cop Injured By Lakers Enthusiasm

Joey H. gets assigned five hours of community service, which immediately gets suspended, as HR is testing a new program which will use positive messaging and self-esteem training to encourage him to stop setting the office on fire.  (Nancy W., still recovering from those lycra burns from the spring quarter numbers, stifles a bitter laugh).  Joey takes the rest of the afternoon off to meet his new esteem coach at the Starbucks.  The rest of the staff gets down to sweeping up broken glass and trying to scrub the scorch marks off the walls while running the numbers on the cost of replacing the carpet.

All except Kathy P., who is hiding in the bathroom to avoid those a-holes from PR who want to snap her picture and use it to illustrate a story they’re writing about the proper way to subdue a co-worker.  You settle into your smoke-fill cubicle and tug your rumpled necktie, wishing you could take it off as you start in on the stack of paperwork explaining your actions.

It’s going to be a long night.  There’s no way you’re going to catch that Lakers game.


That job would really suck.

It’s called “policing.”

I think most police would be grateful if the media and political leaders would just drop the fiction that such premeditated and utterly predictable riots (oh, I’m sorry, University of Santa Cruz: “uprisings”) really have anything to do with uncontrollable fan excitement over sporting events.

For every honest person knows that certain sporting events are just used by criminals and criminal wannabes to justify — to schedule — their own main events: destroying property, setting fires, looting stores, and throwing heavy things at policemen who are damned if they do respond and damned if they don’t respond.  The Los Angeles Times described the mayhem this time as a “a sour note as Los Angeles Police Department officers clashed with rowdy fans.”  Clashed with?

Imagine what a strictly factual report would say:

Police were forced to prepare for weeks in advance, planning and deploying tactical forces at great personal risk, including risk of lawsuits, and all at taxpayer expense, to try to minimize the anticipated violent lawbreaking scheduled for the conclusion of the Lakers game.

Rowdy fans? Do these look like rowdy fans, or do they look like people who showed up knowing they’d have some consequence-free fun breaking things and attacking bystanders and cops?

Alas, there’s always an apologist in academia ready to argue against personal responsibility:

Psychologist and author Robert Cialdini, who has studied the behavior of sports fans, said the seemingly inevitable reaction by fans on the winning side is rooted not only in the emotional connection they build to their teams but in a chemical one as well.  Fans are so heavily invested in their teams that studies have shown that their testosterone levels spike significantly after they watch a major victory, Cialdini said. Elevated levels of the hormone are known to cause increased aggression, especially in young men.

See, they’re not responsible.  They’re just hormonal.

“When the team wins, we win and we feel it in a very personal way,” Cialdini said. “We’re likely to experience a great sense of arousal and joy even though we haven’t done anything.”

OK, why do people riot when their team loses, too?  Shouldn’t they be taking up needlepoint and thinking about changing their hairstyles instead?  And does this really look like joy over a championship season?


How about holding the rioters accountable, instead of the police? L.A.T. columnist Sandy Banks did acknowledge that the police presence was necessary, but even she couldn’t resist minimizing the actions of the criminals and reserving too much irritation for the cops putting their lives on the line . . . to protect people like her.  It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but why is it so difficult to look at images like this and just blame the guilty parties . . . full stop?

The antics of a bunch of losers shouldn’t obscure the patience, goodwill and high spirits of the thousands of fans who ventured downtown for a communal party and wound up being treated like pariahs. . .  The basketball game had barely begun when LAPD officers were summoned to dispatch growing crowds in the area.  “Keep moving, keep moving.” The command came over the loudspeaker as a phalanx of officers advanced, moving us off the paseo and onto crowded Figueroa Street. They pulled metal gates across the entrance to the complex to keep us out. . . . [The police] deserve a lot of credit for controlling the chaos. Everywhere you looked there were cops: on horseback, scooters, motorcycles and bikes, in buzzing helicopters and siren-blaring black-and-whites. If that set some nerves on edge, it also made clear who was in charge.  But it was hard not to feel unwanted. “If you don’t have a ticket, go home” was the officers’ message — explicitly delivered and universally ignored.

Throwing chunks of concrete at cops’ heads and trying to pull people out of their vehicles aren’t “antics.”  And what Banks labels a police message here is actually a message from the criminals, to people like her: they own the streets, and law abiding people don’t.  The police were merely stuck in the middle, trying to prevent innocent people from being injured by violent, lawless criminals.

I’d like to see Ms. Banks follow up by following the cases of fifty-or-so rioters arrested for violent “antics,” as they get serially dismissed by the courts.

Maybe then she’ll gain a better understanding of why it really is that L.A. — and other cities, like Atlanta — can’t host public events for decent people like her.  And the answer has nothing to do with whether your team wins, or how the police react to it.

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.

Riots and Reporters

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Recently, the death of former L.A.P.D. chief Daryl Gates inspired a smattering of recollections of the Rodney King riots, in which 53 people died.  That loss of life, which included horrific murders of good samaritans trying to save others, is largely forgotten in favor of a narrative that exculpates — even celebrates — the rioters, while blaming police for both causing the violence and failing to quell it once it started.

In other words, the police were guilty because they used too much force against King after he weaponized his car, but they were also guilty because they didn’t use enough force against the rioters, though they would have been just as guilty had they used more force to stop the rioters.  The police are guilty no matter what they do, not just in America, but everywhere.  And in this strange rubric of culpability, they are deemed more guilty when the crime rate increases but also more guilty when the crime rate decreases.

Conversely, rioters are rarely held responsible for the crimes they commit, which may be why they often look so happy hurling bricks through store windows, while the policemen look so grim.  Riots are holidays from even small amounts of social responsibility for people who carry that burden lightly enough to begin with, and the worst violence is usually committed by criminal hangers-on just looking for any excuse to break things and steal and beat people while posing for the cameras.

In 1992, this dynamic had ugly consequences in Atlanta. The Rodney King riots in Atlanta were a weird, wannabe event, a manufactured spectacle, though the violence was real.  Looking back, I can’t avoid a creeping suspicion that the riots got as bad as they did in Atlanta because CNN is headquartered in the area where they occurred.  CNN reporters often illustrate their stories by taking their cameras to the streets below their studios: anyone familiar with the area will recognize the CNN food court in footage from countless stories on countless subjects.  CNN “man on the street” interviews are often something quite a bit more specific, as in: “the man on Forsyth Street between Luckie Street and MLK, in downtown Atlanta at lunchtime.”

So after the riots broke out in L.A., CNN did what they always do and went looking for footage in downtown Atlanta just beneath their studios (any other news network would do the same).  What ensued was strange mini-riots in which youths were obviously acting out for the cameras.

You can’t deny the excitement of news reporters when they’re jostling for position in a big national story like that one.  Is it fair to say that they egged the rioters on?  I’m not sure I would go quite that far.  But I do remember this: uninvolved people got off the streets pretty quickly, leaving little pockets of rioters fighting little pockets of police, being shadowed by little pockets of the media, all in the shadows of the CNN headquarters.  In L.A., it was far too dangerous to report from many portions of the city: police helicopters were actually taking fire over populated areas.  In Atlanta, the street scene arose symbiotically with the television cameras.

And the losers, as usual, were the police.  As Jack Dunphy writes in an interesting article here, Daryl Gates’ recent death has become yet another occasion for the media to single him out for blame for the damage done to Los Angeles by the rioters.  The way I remember it in Atlanta, the police were exasperated hall monitors trying to keep gangs of young men from doing more damage to downtown businesses and innocent pedestrians while the reporters aimed their cameras at the policemen, hoping one of them would make a wrong move, and the story would explode.

Thanks to Modern Sex Offender Registries and DNA Databases, A Rodney Alcala Would Not Succeed Today

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Today, the lead story on all my local news stations was about a Schizu named Tuchi who saved his family from a house fire by barking incessantly at the flames.  Dog-saves-family-from-fire stories are always popular.

Not so popular, at least to the media?  Stories about how registering sex offenders saves lives.  There is only one story to be told about sex offender registries, according to the fourth estate, and that story is how registries viciously destroy men’s lives when all they did was commit one little sex crime and must now live forever under the cold eye of the state.

The corrective to such thinking is always just under the reporters’ noses, but most never seem to suss it out.  Rodney Alcala is one such corrective, but once you get past the fact that Alcala has a giant IQ and funny hair and was once a contestant on The Dating Game, the media (with one significant exception) seems to have lost interest in any lessons that might be learned from his long and shocking criminal career.

For the L.A. Times, studied incuriosity is understandable: after all, they literally allowed Alcala to operate under their noses — in their offices — after he’d racked up an incredibly horrifying, publicly recorded sex crime record.  I’d be busy changing the subject, too.

But what about everyone else?  Alcala is a poster boy for the efficacy of registering sex offenders and other demonstrably violent criminals.  Here is a guy who went from raping and trying to murder an 8-year old in California to working as a camp counselor in New Hampshire while spending weekends in New York killing socialites.  Sure, he did it under an assumed name, but when you combine fingerprinting and national registries and DNA database sharing, you come up with a pretty compelling explanation for the sharp reduction in sex crimes over the past twenty years.

And when you don’t bother to do these things right, what you get is a trail of raped and murdered women, from places like Venice (Florida) to Bradenton, precisely where I once tried, and failed, to prevent a similar trail of women’s bodies, eighteen years ago.

Things are better today.  But they won’t stay that way if we don’t recognize and acknowledge innovations that have actually lowered the crime rate.  Powerful, well-funded, pro-offender activist groups are always working to roll back the clock on things like DNA databasing and minimum mandatory sentencing and three-strikes laws and sex offender registration, and, sadly, they’ve got most of the print media yipping their agenda like so many toy poodles.

Rodney Alcala’s Criminal Appeals: Is Alcala Smart, Or Is The System Stupid?

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Much is being made about Rodney Alcala’s allegedly superior intelligence. I don’t buy it any more than I buy it when defense attorneys wave a piece of paper in the courtroom and claim their client is mentally challenged and thus deserves a break.  It’s just theater.  Alcala’s a haircut with cheekbones: his IQ, whatever it might be, matters far less than the pro-offender sentiments of the era when he was first tried, and re-tried.

It certainly didn’t take a rocket scientist to play the California criminal justice system for a fool back in the 1970’s.  Unfortunately, in many ways, the same is still true.

Here are ten specific breaks the system gave Alcala, breaks that either enabled him to add to his body count or torment the families of his victims.  Such breaks weren’t reserved for serial killers with MENSA memberships, which is why places like L.A. were so fatal for all sorts of women.

How fatal?  Seven, or fifty, or even 100 women and girls, depending on how much evidence Alcala provides and the police uncover with the massive public appeal for assistance now underway.  Again, I have to ask: why weren’t these pictures distributed to the public decades ago?  Why were families forced to sit in limbo while authorities had hundreds of photos linking a known sadistic rapist and murderer to scores of unidentified women and girls?  I’m sure the police, given adequate resources, would have worked these cases.  But we’ve never given police adequate resources.  We still don’t charge even serious offenders with the totality of their known crimes.

Still it’s a tribute to reformers that some (though not all) of these fatal justice system errors would not occur today.

#1: Judicial Leniency, Indeterminate Sentencing Sets a Killer Free, 1971

Rodney Alcala was 25 in 1968, when he was caught in the act of raping and beating an eight-year old child to death.  That’s a chilling number, 25.  Kidnapping from a public place, the brutality of the rape, the extreme violence — all are hallmarks of an experienced, brazen killer who had escalated his behavior long before that crime.  If Alcala conformed to typical patterns (and there’s no reason to believe he did not), he probably started sexually victimizing girls and women around the time he reached puberty, a full decade before he attacked “Tali S.”  That’s potentially a lot of unnoticed crimes:

His first known attack was in 1968, when he abducted a second-grade girl walking to school in Hollywood, using a pipe to badly bash her head and then raping her — only to be caught red-handed because a Good Samaritan spotted him luring the child and called police. When LAPD officers demanded he open the door of his Hollywood apartment on De Longpre Avenue, Alcala fled out the back. Inside, police found the barely-alive, raped little girl on Alcala’s floor. It took LAPD three years to catch the fugitive Alcala, living under the name John Berger in New Hampshire — where the glib and charming child rapist had been hired, disturbingly, as a counselor at an arts-and-drama camp for teenagers.

Attempted murder, plus kidnapping, plus rape of a child, plus absconding.  Seems like he’d never see the light of day again.  Unfortunately, for future victims at least, pro-offender psychologists and other activists had so infiltrated the criminal justice system in California that the horror of Alcala’s crime was ignored by the courts.  From the moment he appeared in some California judge’s courtroom, he ceased to be a (failed) killer and child rapist.  He became a client and recipient of social services, a victim needing guidance, rehabilitation, “education,” and counseling.  It’s a soul-sickening travesty, one that deserves more exposure:

When Alcala was caught hiding out under the assumed name Berger on the East Coast [in 1971], a conviction for brutally raping a child in California was not a guarantee of a long prison sentence. California’s state government of that era had embraced a philosophy that the state could successfully treat rapists and murderers through education and psychotherapy.  The hallmark of the philosophy was “indeterminate sentencing,” under which judges left open the number of prison years to be served by a violent felon, and parole boards later determined when the offender had been reformed. Rapists and murderers — including Alcala — went free after very short stints. He served a scant 34 months for viciously raping the 8-year-old, who is known in official documents only as “Tali” . . . Deeply controversial, “indeterminate sentencing” was ended by then-governor Jerry Brown. But by that time, Alcala was free. . . . Retired LAPD Detective Steve Hodel, who investigated Alcala’s rape of Tali, recalls, “My impression was that it was his first sex crime, and we got him early — and society is relatively safe now. I had no idea in two years [he would be out] and continue his reign of terror and horror. I expected he was put away and society was safe. … It is such a tragedy that so much more came after that.”

“Education and psychotherapy.”  For raping and trying to kill a little girl.  It is important to understand that these highly educated “experts” were not simply trying to grope towards to some psychological discoveries that would only be discovered later.

Knowledge that murder is bad, for example, pre-dates 1971.

As I’ve written previously, I believe Alcala would have received a more severe sentence if he had just bludgeoned the little girl, instead of raping her and bludgeoning her.  I suspect the rape actually acted as a mitigating factor, turning him into a victim in the eyes of the people empowered to run our courts.  For when a prison psychiatrist found him “considerably improved” and ready for release less than three years after being convicted of attempted murder and child rape, that psychiatrist was undoubtedly referring to the fad psycho-sexual therapies in use at the time — and still being promoted by many academicians and practitioners today.  Like Dr. Richard Rappaport, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD Medical School, San Diego, who testified in Alcala’s most recent trial that Alcala should not be held responsible for serial sex murder because he just can’t help enjoying . . . sexual murder.

#2: Parole Board Leniency, 1974

It takes two to tango: a judge who refuses to hold a sick predator responsible for his crime by giving him an indeterminate sentence, and then a parole board that decides the “rehabilitation’s taken.”  Who served on that parole board in 1974, the one that decided to cut Alcala loose?  I’d love to see the transcript.  If anyone would send it to me, I’ll post it.  This wasn’t some gray-area first offense.  I wonder why the media hasn’t sought out these people and asked them why they let Alcala go.  As public servants, the parole board members should feel obliged to revisit such a devastating error.  A year’s worth of such decisions would make interesting reading — and yet one more interesting corrective to mythic beliefs that our country is too harsh on criminals.

#3: Prosecutorial/Judicial Leniency, Not Believing a Victim, Failure to Punish Recidivism, 1974

After the parole board cut him loose, it took Alcala two months to get caught with another child.  Two months.  Or, possibly, less:

In 1974, two months after he got out of state prison, Alcala was found at Bolsa Chica State Beach with a 13-year-old girl who claimed he’d kidnapped her. He was convicted only of violating parole and giving pot to a minor, however . . .

A convicted, violent, child rapist is found with a 13-year old girl who tells police she has been kidnapped.  What happens next?  Somebody doesn’t believe the child.  Who?  The judge?  The prosecutor?

#4: Parole Leniency, 1977

Alcala served another short sentence, and was apparently declared “re-reformed.”  Then a parole officer cut him some breaks.  It makes you wonder: was there anyone, anywhere in California’s criminal justice system, outside police themselves, who harbored a negative attitude towards violent offenders?

[T]wo years later, upon his second release from prison, the law went easy on Alcala again. His parole officer in Los Angeles permitted Alcala, though a registered child rapist and known flight risk, to jaunt off to New York City to visit relatives. NYPD cold-case investigators now believe that one week after arriving in Manhattan, Alcala killed the Ciro’s nightclub heiress Ellen Hover, burying her on the vast Rockefeller Estate in ritzy Westchester County.Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, who hopes during the current trial to put Alcala permanently on death row for Samsoe’s 1979 murder and the slayings of four women in the Los Angeles area, says: “The ’70s in California was insane as far as treatment of sexual predators. Rodney Alcala is a poster boy for this. It is a total comedy of outrageous stupidity.”

#5:  Social Leniency, 1977 – 1979: The Polanski Effect

It really does take a village.  Between the time Rodney Alcala was released from prison on his second child offense charge, and when he was captured after the murder of 12-year old Robin Samsoe, it seems that nobody he encountered (outside the police) felt it was right to judge him for — oh, little transgressions like trying to murder a young child he was raping, or being a suspect in several other murders, or being investigated in the Hillside strangler cases, or ending up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.  Surely, FBI agents and other detectives approached Alcala’s co-workers and employers when he was being investigated for these crimes; surely his family and friends and professional acquaintances knew about the rape and beating of the 8-year old child.

So why did the L.A. Times choose to hire him anyway?  Why didn’t his supervisors there act on the knowledge that he was circulating his home-made child porn to co-workers?  Why did the Dating Game producers allow a child-rapist on their show?  Why did Alcala have such success in high-end social circles, in the art world, and with celebrities such as Roman Polanski?  Well, that one’s pretty easy to answer.

Was Alcala’s social success, in fact, based on his status as a “sexual outlaw,” being “persecuted by the pigs”?  Such was the argot in newsrooms and art circles, after all.  Funny how all the people who knew him then are so tight-lipped now: it sounds as if he really got around, between slaughtering young women:

1977  Ellen Hover, Jill Barcomb (18), Georgia Wixted (27)

1978  Charlotte Lamb (32), Monique H. (15), Jill Parenteau (21).  And more to come.

#6: Yet More Judicial Leniency, and Help From Mom, 1979

Another kidnapping and rape, another lost chance to get Alcala behind bars.  The police catch ’em and the courts let ’em go, leaving two more girls dead.  This type of behavior from the bench, sadly, continues today:

Alcala’s alleged reign of terror might have been halted in early 1979, when a 15-year-old hitchhiker called police from a motel in Riverside County to report she had just escaped from a kidnapper and rapist. Although Riverside police quickly charged Alcala with kidnapping and rape, a judge set his bail at just $10,000, paid by his mother. While free, police say, Alcala killed 21-year-old computer keypunch operator [Jill] Parenteau five months later in her Burbank apartment. The killer cut himself climbing through her window, and prosecutors now say Alcala’s rare blood type has been matched to the blood remnants.  Six days after Parenteau’s slaying, Robin Samsoe disappeared, a child-snatching that sent fear rippling through safe, quiet Southern California communities. Samsoe’s friend Bridget told police the two swimsuit-clad girls were approached that day by a photographer who asked if he could take their pictures. The man was scared off by a suspicious neighbor, but shortly after that, Bridget lent Samsoe her yellow bicycle so that Samsoe could make it to ballet class. Samsoe was never seen again.  Detectives circulated a sketch of the mysterious photographer to the media, and a parole officer recognized his parolee Alcala. Twelve days after she vanished, on July 2, 1979, Samsoe’s skeletal remains were found by U.S. Forestry Service rangers. Alcala was arrested on July 24 at his mother’s house in Monterey Park.

#7:  Criminal Appeals, 1984

Alcala was found guilty of murdering Robin Samsoe in 1980 and was sentenced to death.  But that verdict was overturned in 1984 by the California Supreme Court.  The court found that the jury had been “unduly prejudiced” when prosecutors introduced information about about the rape and attempted murder of the 8-year old child in 1968.

Evidence of prior crimes is sometimes admissible at certain times, so long as the priors are materially similar to to crime being tried.  For instance, is raping and trying to murder an 8-year old girl at all similar to raping and murdering a 12-year old girl?  There’s a four-year difference in the ages of the victims there, and a higher success component on the whole “murder” thing.  I’m sure, however, that the California Supreme Court could not have overturned Alcala’s death sentence on such a frivolous distinction.  It must have been some other frivolous distinction.

#8: Criminal Appeals, 2001

This time, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals got a piece of the action.  They decided that, because one witness’ testimony from a previous trial was read from the stand without the witness being in the room, the entire second trial, which doubtlessly cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of taxpayer dollars to re-try, simply had to be tossed out because of this.

What’s the matter with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals?  Richard Posner says they’re just too large for their own good, with too many different justices thinking together, and he’s got a well-known large brain that thinks in perfect unison with itself.  Me, with my quotidian little intellect, I think they just never saw a serial killer appeal they couldn’t bleed for, since they don’t have to, like, literally bleed, like the victims.  Not a very elegant argument, I know, but maybe it would pass muster before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

#9: Alcala’s Exclusive Access to the Courts, 1979 – 2010

With his denim pantsuit aesthetic and not-very-bright courtroom performances, Alcala doesn’t really present as a brain trust.  But he doesn’t need to be one.  And defendant can tie up the courts — and further devastate victim’s families — with frivolous lawsuits and endless appeals designed to catch certain activist judges’ eyes:

Alcala has spent his time behind bars penning You, the Jury, a 1994 book in which he claims his innocence and points to a different suspect; suing the California prisons for a slip-and-fall claim and for failing to provide him a low-fat diet; and, according to prosecutors, complaining about a law that required he and other death-row inmates to submit DNA mouth swabs for comparison by police against unsolved crimes. Alcala is still as cocky as ever — bold enough to represent himself in the trial for his life, now unfolding in Orange County. And why not? He has a talent for mining legal technicalities and has repeatedly enjoyed success with appellate judges.

Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy likens Alcala to a video game villain that keeps coming to life and says that the appellate courts have hit restart on this real-life murderous villain’s rampage through the system. The families of the victims as well as those close to the investigation criticize the decisions as misguided political statements by justices who opposed the death penalty and ignored the facts of the case. For Murphy, who tried the latest Samsoe case, each decision to overturn stripped away more evidence from his arsenal against Alcala. And for Robin Samsoe’s family, the legal setbacks have altered the course of their lives, ripping through like aftershock upon aftershock following a devastating earthquake. . . Samsoe’s mother [Maryanne Connelly] spoke eloquently about the hardships she has endured in the 31 years since her daughter’s murder, waiting for justice that never came. . . Meanwhile, her daughter’s killer has spent most of his life in prison, and has perfected the art of working the system to his advantage, filing lawsuit upon lawsuit when he felt his rights were violated while in custody – such as a civil suit against an investigator who did not respond to a request for discovery within 10 days. In fact, a contempt case against the Orange County Jail is still pending. . . Connelly wonders where her rights were, while the man who killed her daughter became comfortably institutionalized. This inequity has become the rallying cry of all the victims’ families, as well as victim’s rights advocates, who say the system has coddled a vicious killer while failing victims’ loved ones.

If the victims’ families had the same rights as Alcala, they could sue him for mental cruelty.  Where such a trial could be held is a difficult question, because his co-defendant would be the justice system itself.

#10: Turning the Courtroom into His Last Killing Field, 2010, and Beyond

“He was blowing kisses at me across the courtroom, and I thought I was going to lose my mind,” Connely said. “And I thought I was going to go crazy, you know. And I reached into my purse and I was going to grab it, you know, and I thought, ‘I can’t do this.'”

That’s Marianne Connelly, speaking recently about Alcala’s 1980 trial for the murder of her daughter: back then, she once brought a gun to the courtroom to shoot Alcala.  I doubt anyone would have blamed her then, and they certainly wouldn’t blame her now, after thirty more years of sitting in courtrooms watching Alcala toy with her, and other victims, for fun.

Where was the judge while Alcala was blowing kisses at his victim’s mother?  Did that judge feel his hands were tied, thanks to our perverse appeals system?  Or did he simply not care?  Why did he allow the defendant to behave that way?

This unique, public humiliation and torture of crime victims is one thing that has not changed in 30 years.  From the most recent trial:

Robin’s brother Tim Samsoe, 44, said the worst thing was watching Alcala perk up in court every time he got the chance to see old photographs of his alleged victims.  “You see the gleam in his eye,” said Samsoe. “He’s enjoying this again.”

According to prosecutors, Alcala always enjoyed torturing his victims:

[Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt] Murphy told the packed courtroom that Alcala took his time terrorizing his victims by choking them with his bare hands, waiting for them to wake up at least once, then strangling them again — sometimes using shoelaces or panty hose. “It is a staggeringly horrific way to die,” exclaimed Murphy. “There is ample evidence the women put up some resistance….He gets off on it. It was fun.”  Once they were dead, Alcala allegedly [he has since been found guilty] would then pose their bodies.

Now the only victims he has access to are the relatives of the women and children he killed:

Robert Samsoe, who was 13 when his little sister was slain, tells L.A. Weekly, “I don’t have any faith in the system. Some people, they are just afforded all the chances in the world. Alcala has cost the state of California more than any other person because of his lawsuits. And they treat him like a king. Everybody is walking on pins and needles around him.

Alcala dragged out his latest trial for weeks, representing himself, attacking victims, rambling on and enjoying himself.  If this judge felt he simply had no power to prevent such behavior, he should now take steps to do something about the warped system of which he is a part.  When is enough enough?

At the trial’s close, Alcala forced family members to listen to a recording of Alice’s Restaurant, a move that nearly drove one columnist to violence.  Frank Mickadeit, of the OC Register, wondered how family members could hold themselves back:

To make the family and jurors listen to somebody, even Guthrie, sing: “I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and guts and veins in my teeth”? I guarantee you, that made nobody in the room think about how horrible Alcala’s death might be, as was apparently his intent. . . In all the years I’ve covered trials, I’ve never once wanted to personally wreak vengeance on a defendant. I can dissociate along with the hardest of professionals. But at Minute 50 on Tuesday, Murphy got me to go to that unprofessional place, where the father, brother and uncle lives.  I think it might have been one young woman’s morgue-photo – a head that was missing a third of its face because Alcala had bashed it away with a rock.  I stared hard at the back of Alcala’s tan sports coat, where the collar met the unruly mass of gray curls that cascades down his back (Arlo-like, if you must know), and I thought hard about that 15 feet between me and that thin neck. A cat-like leap, a bound, a forearm-lock, a snap – he’d never see me coming. The burly deputy sheriff between us would, though, so there was no chance even if I had indulged my momentary fantasy.  I looked to my left. Immediately across the aisle from me was Robert Samsoe, Robin‘s brother – roughly my age and size. He was wearing jeans, penny loafers and white socks, and I could see his right foot tapping nervously during these last 10 minutes of Murphy’s closing. The photo of another victim, her lower lip torn away, flashed up. Murphy hadn’t even begun recounting Robin’s death yet. . . Mercifully, there are no morgue photos of Robin, at least not in the sense that there are of the other murder victims. When they found Robin, just a skull was left – albeit a disfigured one from where Alcala had bashed in her teeth.  Robert Samsoe didn’t leap out of his chair and break Rodney Alcala’s neck, as part of me would have like to have seen.

Of course he didn’t.  The victims figured out long ago that they are not actually people, with human rights, including the right to dignity, in the eyes of the law.  The only person in that courtroom whose rights were being protected was Rodney Alcala.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Rodney Alcala: The Forrest Gump of Sex Murder. And What That Says About the Rest of Us.


Yesterday, serial killer Rodney Alcala was sentenced to death for the third time for the 1979 murder of 12-year old Robin Samsoe.  He was also sentenced for the torture-killings of four other women.

Today, the media is reporting brief, painful snippets about the five victims.  Many other victims are believed to exist.

Tomorrow, Alcala will undoubtedly begin appealing the sentence again.  Why not?  The taxpayers of California pay his legal bills: his lawyers have grown fat over the past three decades, helping a serial killer play games with the appeals process.   The victims have spent lifetimes sitting in courtrooms watching him toy with their loved ones’ memories.

Perhaps the worst part of this story is the role played by certain culturally powerful people who knew about some of Alcala’s most vicious crimes but still allowed him get out of prison or provided him with the cover of social credibility.

Had Alcala been put away for life after he was caught, in 1968, in the act of raping and beating an 8-year old girl, his later victims — Georgia Wixted, Jill Parenteau, Charlotte Lamb, Jill Barcomb, Robin Samsoe, and others — would be alive today.  But in 1971, at his sentencing, the state of California decided that Alcala deserved another chance.  They gave him to just a handful of months for the crime, practically letting him walk free for the near-murder of an 8-year old.  The child survived only because police broke into Alcala’s house while he was beating her head in with a steel pipe.

This sentence is a perfect illustration of the theory that, until recently, predators actually received lesser sentences when they sexually violated their victims.  I believe Alcala would have gotten a much longer sentence if he had merely tried to kill the child, without raping her, too.  In the therapeutic environment of the 1970’s justice system, being a sexual offender was literally an excuse for lawbreaking.  Sex offenders were to be pitied, if not slyly admired.

Anybody care to challenge that?

Rodney Alcala

Now for the weighty hangover of such indulgences. Investigators are asking anyone missing loved ones to look at this gallery of photographs that were in Alcala’s possession.  It’s not known how many women and girls he killed, so the photos may lead police to more victims.

You have to wonder why this wasn’t done decades ago.  The photographs have been in the possession of authorities since around 1979.  Perhaps if the state were not so strapped from subsidizing Alcala’s relentless manipulation of the courts, they would have a little more cash on hand to look for more of his victims:

Alcala has spent his time behind bars penning You, the Jury, a 1994 book in which he claims his innocence and points to a different suspect; suing the California prisons for a slip-and-fall claim and for failing to provide him a low-fat diet; and, according to prosecutors, complaining about a law that required he and other death-row inmates to submit DNA mouth swabs for comparison by police against unsolved crimes. . . He has a talent for mining legal technicalities and has repeatedly enjoyed success with appellate judges.

Astonishingly, after being convicted of the vicious rape and attempted murder of an 8-year old, making the FBI’s ten most wanted list, absconding, being sent to  prison, being released, then getting packed off to prison again for abducting a 13-year old girl, Alcala landed a job at the Los Angeles Times.  The newspaper is being quite circumspect on the whole serial killer recruitment snafu thing, but it was reported in L.A. Weekly.

You might think a whole building full of investigative reporters would have betrayed a little curiosity when a two-time convicted child rapist started flashing home-made child porn around their water cooler, particularly considering the fact that he was also under investigation for the Hillside Strangler killings at the same time.

You’d think so, but you would be wrong.  From the L.A. Weekly:

Even as the L.A. Times was publishing sensational articles in the late 1970s about the mysterious Hillside Strangler, who terrorized much of L.A. at that time, Alcala, who worked typesetting articles for that paper, was being questioned by the LAPD in relation to those very murders.  In an interview with the [L.A.] Weekly, Alcala’s former Times colleague Sharon Gonzalez remembers: “He would talk about going to parties in Hollywood. It seemed like he knew famous people. He kept his body in great shape. He was very open about his sexuality. It was all new to me.”  He brought his photography portfolio to show his Times workmates, she says, and the photos were “of young girls. I thought it was weird, but I was young, I didn’t know anything. When I asked why he took the photos, he said their moms asked him to. I remember the girls were naked.”

You don’t want to seem like you’re judging the man.

Gonzalez adds that she wasn’t “smart enough or mature enough to know” that she was looking at child porn. Yet incredibly, she describes how L.A. Times‘ management in the 1970s had a golden opportunity to turn Alcala in, but did nothing: “There were other people in the department who were in their 40s and 50s. The [Times] supervisor at the time — she saw it.” Instead, the reaction at the newspaper was, “We thought he was a little different. Strange about sex.”

Which L.A. Times managers knew about Alcala’s record? His impromptu workplace polaroid shows?  Good for Gonzalez for coming forward: does anyone else have a conscience?  Considering the paper’s current editorial stance opposing sentencing enhancements and measures to monitor sex offenders, it would be illuminating to know if any current editorial board members were among those who knew him back then.

Of course, doing nothing to stop child rape was in at the time.

It is actually hard to believe that Alcala was given a job at the Times despite his heinous record.  Was he given the job because of it?  There is no way they couldn’t know about his past: he was a registered sex offender, had made a daring escape and had been, you know, in the papers.  Were journalists actually so besotted with ideas about the illegitimacy of incarceration that they bought the idea that he had been . . . rehabilitated?

Had Maileresque outlaw mentality really eroded such giant chunks of the ethical hive?

Alcala studied film-making under Roman Polanski, too. I wonder what other passions they shared.

Hollywood pedophiles, media crusaders, rapist-loving parole boards, lenient judges, hip defense attorneys, art-world glitterati, The Dating Game (also post-child rape): this guy was the Forrest Gump of sexual torturers.

The most painfully comprehensive coverage of the Alcala saga is Christine Pelisek’s excellent series of articles in L.A.Weekly.  Read them and weep:

Dating Game Serial Killer Suspect Cross-Examines Himself Over His Hair

Orange County Prosecutor: Suspected Serial Killer and Dating Game Contestant Rodney Alcala Savagely Killed His Victims Because “He Enjoyed It.”

Rodney Alcala’s Final Revenge: Begged to Spare Victims’ Families At Trial, The Alleged Serial Killer Ratchets Up The Suffering

Rodney Alcala: The Fine Art of Killing: One Man’s Murderous Romp Through Polite Society

Orange County Judge Sentences Serial Killer and Dating Game Winner Rodney Alcala to Death


Tomorrow: Rodney Alcala’s Criminal Appeals

Thirteen Strikes and Still Not Out. The Media Gets Three-Strikes Wrong Again. Robert Ferguson is Not a Victim.


Reporters searching to illustrate the cruel and arbitrary nature of California’s three-strikes law have struck out again.  Their careless advocacy is actually providing opportunities to inform the public about facts that should have been part of the reporting on this subject all along.

Particularly, that the three-strikes law isn’t arbitrary.   Prosecutors have wide discretion in choosing to apply “three-strikes,” or not.  All that hype about an hysterical public forcing prosecutors and judges to send away shoplifters and pot smokers for life sentences?  Not true.  Prosecutors choose to forgo three strikes from 20% to 40% of the time when they could use it.

Petty criminals striking out for a series of minor property crimes?  Not true.  The California law actually requires the first and second “strikes” to be for serious and/or violent crimes.  When the third crime is a lesser offense, that’s when prosecutors often choose not to pursue enhanced sentencing.

Three convictions over a lifetime, even for youthful offenses, and then you’re out?  That’s not the way the law works.  Look at the real records of the people sentenced.  Routinely, only some of their prior “serious and/or violent” offenses are counted as first and second strikes.

Yet the wildly slanted reporting continues.

For years, the media poster boy of three-strikes was Jerry DeWayne Williams, mythically incarcerated for life for stealing a slice of pizza (a story that is not true, no matter how many times it is fervently recounted by overstimulated sociology professors — see my post, here).  In fact, Williams has been arrested three more times with virtually no consequences since that not-actually-serving-life-for-pizza-theft incident.  He threatened to kill someone, in front of a police officer, and got released.  He violated probation — twice — and got released.  Yet the “experts” don’t relay such facts to their students when they rant against three-strikes laws and the cruelty of the American Justice System in the front of the classroom.

Nor do they explain why they have been using such an inane falsehood to illustrate their arguments against this law for more than a decade now.  Have they no better case to make?  Such as, maybe, a real one?

Recently, the activists-cum-academicians-cum-journalists excitedly found another fake “three-strikes victim” to play up.  Robert Ferguson, an ugly piece of work, became an instant hero when he shoplifted a bag of cheese from a grocery store and a prosecutor tried to have him put away for 11 years, prompting wild outcry.  Activist rage ran high against the prosecutor, and the “arbitrary” system, and the cruelty that lies in people’s hearts, etc. etc. etc.

Thanks to another little-contemplated fact of three-strikes laws — that judges also may exercise sentencing discretion — Ferguson will actually be out of prison in about two years.  Yet the newly-minted myth of his oppression will undoubtedly live on in the hearts of sloppy reporters and college professors.

It is now apparently a hanging offense for a prosecutor to so much as request a strict sentence for a career criminal.

And, contrary to newspaper reports, Ferguson did more than steal a bag of cheese.  That was the less serious charge,  not that you would read it in the paper.  Marcos Breton, of the Sacramento Bee, offers a bracing corrective to the hagiography being built up around Robert Ferguson:

Robert Ferguson is the definition of a recidivist criminal, in and out of prison since the early 1980s.  He didn’t just steal a bag of Tillamook shredded cheese worth $3.99 from Woodland’s Nugget Market. He stole the wallet of a mom tending to her sick kid at a 7-11.  He’s broken into people’s homes numerous times. And every time he’s been released from prison, he’s committed new crimes and gone back in.  He could have been sentenced to life in prison long before now. His public defender, Monica Brushia, confirmed he has six strikes against him with all the burglaries and crimes he’s committed over the years.  Ferguson just hasn’t been sentenced that way. . .

Some would argue that 11 years is still too severe for Ferguson’s crimes – and [Yolo County Judge Thomas] Warriner agreed. With time served, Ferguson could be on the street in less than two years, Brushia said.  “He hasn’t gone around hurting people,” said Brushia, who added that Ferguson can’t control his bipolar impulses.  So what happens when he gets out of prison next time? “I told him, ‘You really need to stay medicated and get the psychological help you need,’ ” Brushia said.  Does Brushia think he’ll stay clean? “I’m not a fortune teller,” she said.

How contemptuous of her.  She should have to repeat that to Ferguson’s next victims.  For that matter, does she really think she’s doing her client a favor, getting him released to a situation where, according to her, he is a constant danger to himself and actually innocent people (if this bipolar stuff is true, rather than being the latest excuse reeled out to justify anti-social behavior)?  Ferguson has 13 previous convictions.  He has spent 22 of the last 27 years in prison for other crimes.

13 convictions.  13.  Six separate burglaries.  And it makes the international wire services and shrieking headlines in Europe when some prosecutor asked a judge to do something to protect the public from him?

It’s worth repeating that Ferguson was not only being prosecuted for shoplifting cheese.  He had an additional, more serious crime, for which the prosecutor was seeking the enhanced sentencing.  He thuggishly robbed a woman who was distracted when her sick child vomited in a 7-11.

Imagine if the media had reported truthfully:

Career Criminal With 13 Convictions Tried for Robbing Mother Tending Her Sick Child, Additional Theft

That sounds lots worse than what was reported by the brave truth-tellers of the MSM:

Man Who Put Cheese Down His Pants Faces Life Sentence

Make that “sounds worse” to everyone except the criminal-fetishizing New York Times, which calls the assault on the mother “petty theft,” and CBS News, which calls the robbery of the mother, and I quote, “(extremely) petty theft.”  Nice.

Marcos Breton continues:

The truth is, there is a good chance Ferguson will victimize someone again. He has nearly 30 years’ experience as a career criminal.  What if he breaks into a home, stumbles in on a family and panics?

Good point.  He’s a mentally ill career criminal who has already escalated to breaking into houses and attacking individuals in public spaces.  Who, besides Ms. Brushia, wants to bet that will end well?

The prosecutor in this case, Jeff Reisig, has been demonized. However, as Breton explains, Reisig virtually never uses three-strikes:

[I]n the end, Reisig wasn’t seeking a life sentence. After a psychologist’s report indicated that Ferguson is bipolar, Reisig sought 11 years.  Since 2000, only 12 people – less than 1 percent of Yolo’s felony caseload – have been sentenced to life under the state’s “three strikes” law, Reisig said.

To summarize: for the past ten years, more than 99% of the felons walking into a Yolo County courtroom have not been subjected to three strikes, and 12 were, a little more than one per year.  Yet this is not good enough for the activists: they want 100% of all felons to be given endless second chances.  In their eyes, every criminal is simply a misunderstood saint.  In their eyes, we are the only real criminals, for wanting to be safe.

The dishonesty of the media on three-strikes is impressive. Ferguson’s more serious offense goes largely unreported in the rush to condemn the prosecutor and make up sheer lies about the workings of our justice system.  Fewer than 1% of felons in Yolo county get three-strikes, and yet the New York Times uses the story to groundlessly blame the California budget crisis on the three-strikes law, squeezing in some misinformation about Jerry DeWayne Williams for good measure.  Meanwhile, misrepresentations spreads around the world.  The UK Telegraph gets the sentencing wrong and doesn’t include the wallet theft; the Guardian, likewise, runs multiple, inaccurate stories that neglect the actual charges and misrepresent the law.  What an embarrassment, all around.

This website has real statistics on California’s “three strikes” law.

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.

Three Strikes Laws: The Myth of Jerry DeWayne Williams and His Pizza Slice


As California begins emptying prisons over the protests of voters, a powerful coalition of anti-incarceration activist groups are declaring victory over the quaint notion that people should be punished for crime:

Prison reform advocates such as Jim Lindburg, a lobbyist for the Friends Committee on Legislation, hope that the state’s first significant corrections-policy change in decades ushers in a whole new mind-set on crime.  “There’s really nothing scientific or magical about the length of prison sentences,” Lindburg said. “Those are political calculations made in a political environment. It seems preposterous to me to suggest that letting people out a little bit early is going to have any kind of (negative) impact on crime rates. I think we just need to change the way we think about public safety.”

Well, actually, there’s already been at least one disturbing crime committed by one of the first men released a “bit early,” so scratch the “no negative impact” thing.

Also, there’s nothing “magical” about the length of prison sentences.  To the contrary, imprisonment works in the most mundane and predictable way: it keeps non-reformable offenders away from fresh victims for a set amount of time, and schools others in the consequences of offending again.

What hubris, accusing the public of “magical thinking” because they want offenders off the streets.  Why is it that those who trumpet loudest about their own peace-loving natures and non-hierarchical ways always come off as angry, insufferable elitists?

The Friends Committee on Legislation of California  (FCLCA) , guided by Quaker values, advocates for California state laws that  are just, compassionate and respectful of the inherent worth of every  person.

Make that the inherent worth of offenders, full stop.  Oh please, just do it.  You know you want to.  The Friends do not waste their breath or stationary advocating for the inherent worth of people who aren’t convicts, or ex-cons.  Ditto all those activist nuns getting their jollies on death row.  There’s no thrill in standing alongside ordinary people who fear for their safety — no thrill, and generally no microphones, either.


As the anti-incarceration movement gears up to exploit the financial crisis, expect more mass early releases and the gutting of three-strike and other recidivism laws.  Consequently, alongside all the faux-Buddhist arguments about one hour in prison being the same as 100 or 1,000 days (the real magical thinking), academic cheerleaders have now exhumed that all-time sorriest argument against three strikes laws: the fake-life-for-stealing-a-slice-of-pizza guy.

Why fake?  Because Jerry DeWayne Williams didn’t get life.  He didn’t serve 25 years under three strikes.  His sentence, like the sentences of 25% to 45% of the offenders who qualify for three-strikes, was downgraded to a “second-strike” offense . . . because judges and prosecutors have that discretion and use it every day.

Here is professor Jennifer Walsh, writing in late 2002:

[S]tatistics indicate that discretion in three strike cases is invoked frequently and consistently. A 1998 survey of California District Attorneys revealed that prosecutors in urban jurisdictions use discretion in approximately 20-40 percent of eligible cases [now higher] . . . An evaluation of judicial discretion exercised in San Diego County found that judges exercised discretion in 29 percent of eligible three strike cases. They were also 100 percent more likely to use discretion if the triggering offense was minor. Moreover, judges were more likely to strike a prior strike if the defendant had no history of violence and no history of weapons possession or weapons use.  Perhaps most reassuring is the data that shows that in San Diego County, over half of the initial third strike filings that involved a minor third strike offense were later downgraded to second strike offenses. This exercise of discretion by prosecutors and judges prevented these defendants from receiving the enhanced sentence when they were perceived as undeserving.  Findings like these confirm that the judicious exercise of discretion under the California three strikes law creates a safeguard for defendants who are technically eligible for the mandatory sentence, but whose past and present conduct is considered to be outside the spirit of the law.

Read that paragraph carefully, because you’re not going to see it in the news, where reporters simply cut and paste rhetoric from various activist groups, wildly misrepresenting the law itself.  Professor Walsh notes that those subjected to California’s three-strikes law generally had violent or serious crimes as their third offense:

State statistics indicate that the third strikers in prison include 294 for murder; 34 for manslaughter; 1,408 for robbery; 356 for assault with a deadly weapon; 416 for other assaults or battery; 136 for rape; 241 for lewd act upon a child; 136 for other sex offenses; 83 for kidnapping; 776 for residential burglary; 288 for possession of drugs for sale; 191 for sale of drugs, 28 for manufacturing drugs; 356 for weapons-possession; and 25 for arson.

First and second offenses must be for serious or violent felonies to trigger the enhancement, another little-noted fact.

But facts simply don’t matter to the activists.  If facts mattered to them, they wouldn’t be holding up Jerry DeWayne Williams as an example of a person who was sent away for 25 years for stealing a piece of pizza, because he wasn’t.

And it’s very much worth asking why criminologists and reporters cling so eagerly to this one story, repeating it endlessly when it is not true in the first place and is also decades old now: can’t they produce a better tale of woe?

But it gets worse.

This week, the Los Angeles Times ran a bizarre feature on Jerry DeWayne Williams.  The gist is that Williams is a victim of three-strikes even though he was not subjected to it.  It is apparently enough that the law exists for Williams to continue to feel victimized by it.  The reporter calls this serving a “life sentence” of having to abide by the law:

“I walk on eggshells,” [Williams] said. “Any little thing that I do, I could be back for the rest of my life.”

Strangely, however, not even that claim holds up under scrutiny.  Williams has received lenience repeatedly since the pizza incident, a fact that neither he nor the reporter seem to view as a contradiction of his profound feeling of victimization.  One of his subsequent crimes was even a threat of violence:

in September 2003, his girlfriend called 911 and reported that Williams was verbally abusing her. A police officer arrived to find Williams moving out after a fight and demanding $150 he had paid toward the bills.  As the officer looked on, Williams told his girlfriend: “I’m going to put a bullet in your ass if I don’t get my money.”

A prosecutor and a judge let him off:

Williams, who was unarmed, was arrested and charged with making a criminal threat, a felony that could have landed him back in prison for life. But Kings County prosecutors did not treat the crime as a third strike. Williams pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor and was released from jail after 17 days.

And then he immediately broke the terms of his probation upon leaving prison, again with no consequences:

As part of his sentence, he was barred from leaving Kings County without permission. Nevertheless, Williams moved to Moreno Valley to live with another sister. An arrest warrant was issued and remains active.

And then again:

Since landing in Moreno Valley, he has been arrested once — for being drunk in public — but was released without charges being filed.

How on earth does the reporter square such facts with his depiction of Williams as a desperate, haunted man peering nervously over his shoulder, terrified of the slightest slip-up?  He was not afraid to violate his probation.  Twice.  He was not afraid to threaten to murder someone — in front of a policeman.  He doesn’t sound particularly frightened at all.  He sounds as if he knows that he can avail himself of a passel of silk-stockinged civil liberties attorneys any time a knucklehead cop dares to take him in for attacking a woman, or some other offense.

He sounds as if he knows that his notoriety has placed him above the law.

In one of the many courtrooms, Williams has been sentenced in, a prosecutor “unfurled a computer printout of Williams’ criminal history that extended from his outstretched arm to the floor,” and yet Williams is not behind bars.  Considering the gang and drug activities that consumed his earlier years, the threat of three-strikes has probably saved his life, but he is far too busy whining to be grateful.


What the criminologists and the activists will not admit, will not acknowledge, let alone discuss, is this: for every Jerry DeWayne Williams, there is a John Floyd Thomas, arrested repeatedly in California over the span of more than two decades for sex crimes and burglaries but released repeatedly, to rape and (now we know) kill again.

Jerry DeWayne Williams may owe his life to the three strikes law, but it did not arrive in time to save the lives of the thirty women in Los Angeles Thomas is now suspected of raping and strangling.

Thirty murdered women.

Funny, you never hear Quakers (or most criminologists) talking about that.


To read more factual material about California’s three-strikes law, go to the Three Strikes and You’re Out: Stop Repeat Offenders website.  Rather than trumped-up anecdotes and accusations of fascism, you’ll find data on California’s three-strikes offenders, statistics on use of judicial discretion, examples of dangerous offenders who would have been out of prison, but for the law, and studies evaluating the effect of the law on California’s crime rate.

The Guilty Project, Kevin Eugene Peterson and Charles Montgomery: Two Sex Offenders Who Would Have Been Better Off Behind Bars

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Early release is going to be a disaster. It would be less of a disaster if the public had access to the real criminal histories of the people being released.  But we’re being kept in the dark: nobody wants to admit the chaos in criminal record-keeping.

genthumbKevin Eugene Peterson

Already, someone has been cut loose on the pretense that was merely a non-violent offender, when he was not.  He immediately tried to rape a stranger.  How immediately?  A few hours.  Expect more of the same:

Kevin Eugene Peterson, who was released from the Sacramento County Main Jail around 11:30 p.m. Monday, was arrested by Sacramento police around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday after he allegedly attempted to rape a female counselor at Sacramento’s Loaves and Fishes on North C Street.

Peterson qualified for the early-release program, supposedly restricted to non-violent offenders, because his latest arrest was for violating parole on an earlier felony: assault with a deadly weapon.  Get it?  He should have still been in prison for the felony weapon charge, but because they let him go early to save money, once he got sent back to prison for breaking the law again, he was classified non-violent, rather than counting the parole revocation as a reinstatement of his previous sentence.

Most people assume that revoking parole means reinstating the person’s original sentence.  That is, after all, what we are told about the parole process.  We’re not told the truth, apparently.

So by failing to abide by the law the last time he was released, Peterson got himself to the head of the line to be released early a second time.  Now a woman has been abducted and terrorized.  Authorities say their hands are tied, however, because they are bound by the rules that classified Peterson as “non-violent”:

Peterson was one of 121 non-violent inmates released from Sacramento detention Monday and Tuesday after the state penal code was re-written as a cost-saving measure.  About 250 inmates were expected to be let free by week’s end.  While good behavior traditionally could cut up to a third of a California jail inmate’s sentence, the new law passed by the state Legislature last year mandated county jail inmates with good behavior be set free after serving only half of their sentenced term.  While all of the inmates considered for early release are non-violent offenders, Peterson was originally arrested in August 2007 in south Sacramento on a felony assault with a deadly weapon.  However, since Peterson served that sentence and was sent back on a non-violent probation violation in December, he was eligible for early release.  Also, the assault with a deadly weapon charge did not result in great bodily injury to the victim, nor did that attack include the use of a fire arm.

More loopholes: because Peterson failed in his effort to do “great bodily harm” to someone, and the “deadly weapon” he used was something other than a gun, the great whirling roulette wheel of justice eventually slotted him out as a non-violent offender.  There are a million such loopholes in our sentencing laws, not to mention the giant classificatory loophole that is plea bargaining.

Which raises a serious, though entirely neglected question: how many of these other “non-violent” offenders slated for release, or released already, are actually violent felons?

When politicians promise that only non-violent offenders will be allowed to walk free in these cost-cutting schemes, they’re lying.


Speaking of erasing evidence of crime, here is one sadly typical consequence of extreme leniency: subsequent violent death of the offender.  He might have been safer in prison, after all:

charles_montgomery_cousinCharles Montgomery

Charles Montgomery was born in the back room of his grandparents’ house on the 400 block of E. 104th St. in the Green Meadows neighborhood of South Los Angeles. Twenty-four years later he died on that very street, a few houses down, shot on his way home from the store in the early afternoon, his family said. . . Montgomery, a 24-year-old black man, was shot several times in his upper body about 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 by a man who approached him on foot, police said. Montgomery died at the scene. . . Police said they have no suspects and no witnesses have come forward.  “It was broad daylight — it just don’t get more blatant,” said Kali Kellup, Montgomery’s  cousin. ”Somebody saw something.”

No witnesses have come forward.  Kellup also said that people were shocked because his cousin was shot in a little section of the block that was “considered neutral territory.”  That a war zone with agreed-upon “neutral” spaces is an accepted reality in any corner of America ought to be more shocking.

Raised by his grandparents, who have lived on the block for more than 50 years, Montgomery was known to be “happy go-lucky” and constantly in motion. His family said he had the mental state of a child; he was afflicted with an unknown mental condition that doctors could not diagnose.  “He was always happy, always laughing about something,” Kellup said. “Even if you didn’t know what it was, he was laughing about something.”

He was also charged with attempted forcible rape, and kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon, serious charges that got pleaded down to a non-sexual charge.  I tend not to believe people who claim that a predator isn’t responsible for his crimes because of mental incapacity.  If you’re capable of kidnapping and assaulting someone, you’ve got some competence, not to mention enough to face the consequences.  If there are consequences:

As a teenager, Montgomery spent two years at juvenile hall before being charged as an adult with assault with intent to commit a felony, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and attempted forcible rape, according to court documents.  In 2003, two years after he was taken into custody, his court-appointed attorney agreed to a plea on his behalf. Montgomery was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, and the other charges were dropped, according to court records. Montgomery was sentenced to two years in state prison; however, he was given over two years of credit for time in custody and good behavior and was released, according to court records.

Two years, and no record as a sex offender, for assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and attempted forced rape.  That’s what passes for normal these days, but the Justice Department and their Crime Experts keep insisting that we are far too harsh on all offenders, that we need to roll back sentencing even more.  To what, minutes or hours in a cell?  When you already get time served for armed kidnapping and attempted forcible rape, or a slap on the wrist and two-time early release for assault with a deadly weapon, what exactly are we going to cut?  The people controlling this debate are not speaking honestly.

Kellup said he believed his cousin was innocent.  “He was basically a fall guy,” he said. “It was a travesty of justice.”

Just a “fall guy” in a kidnapping and attempted rape?  Hmm, with a deadly weapon involved?  If everyone, from the prosecutor and the defense attorney and the judge, to his own family, had not worked so hard to excuse Montgomery’s prior crime, then he would probably still be alive today.  In prison, but not dead.

“I wish they’d stop the killing,” Montgomery’s grandmother said. “Young people killing one another for no reason at all.”

Media Bias in Crime Reporting: Hank Asher, the St. Pete Times, and Journalists’ Favorite Armed Robber (of the Week)


Two stories today underscore the media’s fundamental prejudices — prejudice against those who try to uphold the law, and prejudice for offenders.

In the St. Petersburg Times, there was a follow-up story to Susan Taylor Martin’s highly personal hatchet job on Mark Lunsford, father of murder victim Jessica Lunsford.  Back in November, Martin sneeringly attacked Lunsford for, among other things, having the temerity to earn $40,000 a year working as an advocate for child predator laws although, as she observed, he holds “only” a high school diploma.  She also criticized Lunsford for comping a $73 celebration at Outback Restaurant on the night the man who raped and murdered his daughter was convicted for her death.

You know, comping . . . one . . . meal.  Like journalists like Ms. Martin do when they attend nicely-heeled journalistic ethics conferences, and civil rights banquets, and other activities approved by the Central Committee for the Maintenance of Media Elitism.

See my previous post on the article here.

Now Martin has returned to the subject of Lunsford’s employer again, publishing a less lurid but hardly objective “follow-up report” on Hank Asher, the computer mogul who hired Lunsford as a lobbyist.  The article purports to address Asher’s work in data mining to support anti-terrorist, child predator, and foster care investigations, but Martin cannot seem to resist indulging her weird obsession with the lifestyles of people who advocate for, rather than against, law enforcement.  The photo caption once again mentions the price of Asher’s house and the fact that he owns a jet; the story is largely a re-hash of ground covered in her earlier story.

Maybe someone at the Times decided that Martin’s November slash job on Asher and Lunsford was so far outside the bounds of acceptable reporting that they’re doing a make-over.  If this is it, well, the third time around, they need to send in someone who isn’t so busy examining the silverware:

Data-mining whiz Hank Asher, who has a private jet and a $3 million mansion, rents part of the Boca Raton office park where IBM once made personal computers.

We actually know that already, because such details were prominently featured in the Nov. 11 story.  You don’t see the Times obsessing over the personal income of people with whom they see eye-to-eye, like defense attorneys and prisoner advocates.  You don’t see them questioning the motives of former elected officials who dedicate themselves to the defense bar after retiring from public service.  But anyone who works, instead, to put child predators behind bars — well, surely they must be hiding something.  Read the rest here.

On the flip side, criminologists and journalists are mourning the death of their favorite armed bank robber.  No point in lingering over little details like what it felt like to be his victim when he held the gun to their head, though.  John Irwin, you see, was not only an armed felon who fell into crime for the noble reason that he found it stimulating — he then went on to become a criminologist and anti-incarceration activist, serving on the board of the radical anti-incarceration Sentencing Project, organizing a “prisoner’s union” to hijack more of our tax dollars for frivolous lawsuits, and most recently celebrating his media-approved adventures in anti-victim advocacy with an autobiography titled Rogue.

Of course, the media is reverential towards this type of contemptuous behavior toward the law, and against crime victims.  The innocent person whose brains Irwin threatened to blow out for kicks and giggles was, of course, not consulted:

John Irwin had the usual choice when he got out of Soledad Prison in 1957 after a five-year stretch for armed robbery: Do more crime, or remake his life.  He chose rebirth – with a passion.  Over the next half century, Mr. Irwin became one of the nation’s foremost advocates for compassionate reform of the prison system, the author of six heralded books dissecting criminal justice, and a tenured sociology professor at San Francisco State University. . .”John was fearless about being honest about the realities of crime and justice,” said Naneen Karraker, a national advocate for prison reform. “He had the courage to see things differently from the common way.

That would be “compassion” towards predators, not their victims, and “fearless” and “courageous” as in spewing the journalist-and-academic approved party line opposing incarceration for all offenders, even the most violent and dangerous, no matter the cost to society.

Among other “fearless” acts, Irwin started something called the Convict Criminology Movement, in which inmates and ex-cons got tax dollars to get college degrees, and a leg up in getting hired as college professors — while their victims received nothing, of course, and thus ended up subsidizing their predators’ educations and careers.  Nice.  The man who raped me got one such utterly fake prison-house degree, which helped enable him to get out of prison early (for the third time) and get back to his true calling raping elderly women.

Thanks, John Irwin.

How many people have been raped and murdered by convicts who should have been in prison but were out on the streets because of Irwin’s campaigns?  There’s no way to ever know.

But to call such activism “courageous” in the virulently anti-victim, pro-offender, anti-incarceration circles Irwin moved in is absurd.  Anyone who thinks being an ex-con would in any way be a detriment to the tenure process hasn’t spent much time being “fearless” on college campuses over the last 30 years.  There is nothing courageous about telling the choir exactly what they want to hear.

East Coast Rapist, DeKalb County Rapist: Serial Rapists and DNA. It Works. If You Bother to Use It.

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(Hat tip to Pat)

In 2007, I stood by the mailbox of the house I once briefly rented in Sarasota, Florida, contemplating the short distance between my house and the house where my rapist grew up, less than a mile, and a strikingly direct path over a well-worn shortcut across the train tracks.

I had just spent several months and many hundreds of dollars to get copies of the police investigation reports for my rape and some of the court records of the man who was accused of, but never prosecuted for the crime. Every time he was sent away on another sex crime conviction, the police closed all the other rape cases they attributed to him.  In 1987 he was tried for one sexual assault, and at least six other cases were shelved, including mine.

Such was the economy of justice in 1987: rapes were not deemed important enough to expend the court resources to try every known defendant for every crime.  This attitude arose not from the police but from the legal establishment and, by extension, the public.  It was an accepted status quo, not just in Sarasota, but everywhere.

To behave as if each rape victim actually deserved justice and every woman deserved to be safe from offenders was not anybody’s priority for spending money in 1987.  The same can still be said today, though attitudes have spottily improved.  We’ve never spent enough money to thoroughly investigate and prosecute more than a fraction of all crimes.

Criminals know this, though the public remains largely oblivious.

I remember being astonished when the police told me the D.A. would not be prosecuting my case, even though there was evidence and a rape kit.  A few months later, the first rape case in the United States using DNA evidence would be won in Orlando, a mere hundred miles and three jurisdictions away.  There, the D.A. had decided to be aggressive and use this new technology already in use in Britain, and he succeeded.  But more than a decade would pass before DNA evidence was even routinely collected and databased in most states.

A lot of people slipped through the cracks unnecessarily during that decade, including my rapist.  Sentenced to 15 years for his 1997 crime, he walked out of prison seven years later, the beneficiary of both the state’s unwillingness to fully fund prisons and activists’ efforts to get every convict back onto the streets as quickly as possible.  He immediately returned to raping elderly women, his preferred victims, and wasn’t back in prison until 1998.  At least the prisoner activists, and the defense bar, were happy.

Before the statute of limitations ran out on my case, I had offered to return to Florida to testify against my rapist. to try to keep him behind bars for a longer period of time.  The state had the ability to test the DNA in my rape kit.  I hired a private detective and reached out to the then-current Sarasota County D.A.  They practically laughed at me for having the audacity to suggest such a thing and said they didn’t have the money to go back and try old cases.  So Henry Malone walked, and more elderly women were raped.

Have things changed, even now?  Yes and no.  Two serial rape cases in the news show both progress and stagnation.

The stagnation is in DeKalb County, Georgia, the eastern part of metro Atlanta.  I know the area well: I worked there and lived nearby for much of two decades.  A serial rapist is on a real tear in DeKalb, raping at least three women since October and possibly three more since the last week of September.  Police officials told reporters that they had requested rush DNA tests on the three unknown cases from the state lab and were waiting for results.  But when CBS News Atlanta went to the state lab to find out why the tests weren’t done yet, the head of the DNA testing unit told reporters that no such request had been made.

I’m generally sympathetic to the police — less so to police brass, who sometimes rise through the ranks due to politics, not professionalism (there are some great precinct sergeants in Dekalb County, though).  But now that the mistake has been made, the executive command ought to be out in front, showing the public that they are serious about doing everything they can do, as quickly as they can do it, to catch this rapist.  Six, or even three rapes in a few months is escalating behavior, and he threatens his victims with a gun.

Ironically, the police caught several other fugitives while searching for this rapist.  It’s all about resources: we live knee-deep in wanted felons and under-investigated suspects, and our elected officials pretend that this is a perfectly normal way to live.

Meanwhile, police in the Washington D.C. area are using the media to appeal to the public to help them find the “East Coast Rapist.”  There should be more publicity.  This rapist has been active for at least 12 years: DNA tests reveal a pattern of travel between the D.C. suburbs, Connecticut, and Rhode Island during that time.

So there is a chance that somebody else knows the identity of the rapist because of his changing locations.  Profilers used to assume that serial rapists and serial killers were loners, but this, like so many other presumptions (ie. serial killers are usually white men, serial offenders pick only one type of victim) have been proven to be false.

The Washington Post has an interactive map listing the locations and dates of the East Coast rapist’s attacks in today’s paper:

GR2009121700056The rapist may have been in prison for some other crime between 2002 and 2007, and even 2007 and 2009.  You have to figure that officials in Washington D.C., Connecticut, and Rhode Island have already submitted DNA to the national database, so if he had ever been convicted of a sex crime, or even served time for some other felony in most states, his DNA would be on record somewhere.

But who knows?  Maybe he was committing sex crimes in one of the many places where DNA samples don’t get processed properly, like Wisconsin and Michigan and California.  Maybe he’s supposed to be behind bars but hasn’t been picked up yet because nobody is bothering to keep track of thousands of offenders who have absconded on bail, the situation in Philadelphia.

It’s all about resources.  Twenty-two years after the first use of DNA in convicting a serial rapist, there should be no backlogs.  Rape is too important.  Thousands of offenders shouldn’t still be walking out of prison after skipping their DNA tests, through deceit or carelessness.  Every one of these cases represents a denial of justice to someone.

Too bad criminal justice activists and law professors and university president-types don’t get all worked up when the person being denied justice is the victim, instead of the offender.

When I purchased the transcripts from some of Henry Malone’s many perambulations through the courts (and how nice that I had to pay, and pay a lot, for them), I was astonished to read the details of one hearing that was held at Malone’s behest because he demanded reimbursement for a fine related to his car, which had been impounded when he was arrested for sexual assault.  The judge and the defense attorney seemed amused by his bizarre demand.  I don’t find it so funny.  Imagine what we paid for the judge to read that demand, for the lawyer to research the claim and represent Malone in court, for the court reporter, and the security guards, and everything else that went into assuring that Henry Malone would get to be heard in court over an inane and dismissible whim.

The same courthouse where I had been denied the chance to face Malone for raping me because nobody wanted to bother spending the money to try him for more than one rape.  Criminals have rights the rest of us can’t dream of.  It’s all about the resources, and every last dime goes to offenders; they get everything they want, whenever they want it, out of the courts, while their victims wait out in the cold.

What Does Mike Huckabee Have in Common With The Activists Who Supported Lovelle Mixon?


In March, four police officers in Oakland California were gunned down while trying to bring child rapist Lovelle Mixon to justice.  On Sunday, four police officers in Parkland, Washington were gunned down by another child rapist eluding the law.

Here are the officers killed by Maurice Clemmons in Parkland, Washington on Sunday:


Sergeant Mark Renninger, and Officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards

Here are the officers killed by Lovelle Mixon in Oakland, California back in March:


Sergeants Ervin Romans, Daniel Sakai, Mark Dunakin, and Officer John Hege

Eight more officers’ lives sacrificed to the empathy/leniency complex.  Their killers should have been in prison, but certain people, and policies, led to their being on the streets.


When the four Oakland officers were killed last spring, some activists shockingly sided with their killer, Lovelle Mixon.

Likewise, in 2000, Mike Huckabee overlooked Maurice Clemmons’ violent past and his record of attempting to harm corrections officers and pardoned him.  Now four more officers are dead.  Two child rapists, eight dead officers: were Huckabee’s actions really all that different from the radical activists who excused the actions of Lovelle Mixon?

The Seattle Times has released these records from Clemmons’ successful 2000 appeal to Huckabee.  The future cop-killer was already well-versed in the language of prison-house reform and sophisticated denial of responsibility for his crimes:

“I succumbed to the peer pressure and the need I had to be accepted by other youth in my new environment and fell in with the wrong crowd and thus began a seven (7) month crime spree which led me to prison,” Clemmons wrote in his application to Huckabee.

Clemmons said he came from “a very good Christian family” and “was raised much better than my actions speak (I’m still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought to my family name.),” he wrote.

Clemmons added that his mother had recently died without seeing him turn his life around and that he prayed Huckabee would show compassion by releasing him.

For his part, Huckabee has release a disturbing statement blaming other people for Clemmon’s continued freedom:

Huckabee issued a written statement Sunday night through his daughter and spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee, saying the “senseless and savage execution” of the police officers “has saddened the nation.”

If Clemmons is found to be responsible, Huckabee’s statement said, “it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state. . . . It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state. This is a horrible and tragic event and if found and convicted the offender should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

This time, he means.

Huckabee is similarly guilty of playing fatal politics with women’s lives by getting Wayne Dumond released early: Dumond, recall, went on to rape and kill at least two more women, having been given a friendly scolding and some free therapy for several other rapes in the past.

Here is a shattering video from the mother of one of the women Dumond raped and murdered after Mike Huckabee set him free.  Disturbingly, Huckabee spent several years denying his role in Dumond’s release until the Arkansas Times’ Murray Wass exposed the truth about his role.

Making light of violent crime seems to be a fixation of Huckabee’s: he named his garage band “Capitol Offense.”  Funny for murder vicitim’s families, right?

While we’re at it, let’s not forget revered New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy’s sleazy role in the campaign to get Wayne Dumond off.  Dunleavy trashed the rape victims’ reputations, accusing them of lying (at least the ones who survived).

Similarly, the Village Voice’s Wade Harkavy stumbled all over his unusually limited vocabulary to summon enough words to minimize Dumon’s previous rapes (“Forced submission,” “brief penetration” and “accost” are especially nice.  So is flinging around slurs like “cracker” in a major publication).

What do all these people have in common? Right-wing, Left-wing, or maximum security wing, they all believe rapists, and other violent men, deserve more understanding, less incarceration, and lots of second chances.  They all believe that criminals in general, but especially sex criminals, are simply “misunderstood,” the “real victims” of society and an “oppressive police state.”

And then innocent policemen get assassinated.

This should spell the end of Huckabee.  It won’t, but it should.  Just watch: he’ll be playing the victim with Roman Polanski next.

Journalistic Ethics Week, Part 2: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — Why the California Gang Rape Wasn’t Called Hate.


In the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, more people are noticing the ways the media takes its marching orders from political activists, abetted by criminologists who use their position to promote political causes through a thin veneer of “academic” observation.  This activism-disguised-as-expertise has played a central role in enforcing the orthodoxy of hate crimes activism for more than a decade.

So when ordinary people ask, “why is this crime not a hate crime?” the media answers by turning to activist-criminologists like Jack Levin and James Allen Fox, who spool out definitions that are utterly irrational on their face but go utterly unchallenged: it is an intricate dance designed to shut down discussion, not actually explain anything.

For they cannot explain, speaking honestly, why writing an anti-female screed, then going out and gunning down a bunch of women in a gym is not a hate crime, but merely the selective targeting of random women motivated by hatred of women, which would be a bias crime if the killer selected blacks, or gays, or Muslims, but is not hate because he selected women.

In that case, the hate crime “experts” took the long road around the words, “hate crime,” and talked about the killer’s feelings of alienation, instead of his expressions of hatred.

Sound familiar?

The Fort Hood case is troublesome because hate crime activists simultaneously wish to depict the murderer as a victim of hate crime, but not perpetrator of it.  Could these troubles be overcome without the media’s complicity?  Nobody will know, for the media has stuck to the activists’ script, reporting on non-existent “backlash” hate crimes against Muslims as if they were real events while studiously playing down the killer’s own expressions of hate.  But this time, for many watching, the veneer is beginning to crack.

A few weeks ago, the movement had a different problem on their hands: they needed the media to deflect attention from the fact that the gang who raped a young women to the cheers of photo-snapping, cheering onlookers actually looked one heck of a lot like . . . a lynch mob.  Journalists did this the usual way: by chattering about other things that became the “meme” of the story.  Avoiding the subject of hate crimes was particularly important in that case because the crime was a rare instance of the type of mass, bystander-witnessed violence activists talked about when they passed hate crimes laws a decade ago — far more so than Matthew Shepard’s killing.

Tragic as it was, Shepard’s murder involved partying and a bar pick-up, exactly like many crimes committed against women that nobody calls hate, just something done to a woman.

If not for the media’s obedience, it also might have been a bit discomfiting for President Obama to sign the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Act right on the heels of this victim throwing a giant wrench in the works by getting attacked by a hate mob while just being a female and not one of the groups the President and Attorney General Eric Holder want to highlight.

Obama couldn’t acknowledge out loud that the law he just signed is not really intended to apply to hatred directed at certain types of people (such as women) who get targeted every day because of “what” they are.  To admit the truth would look bad and raise uncomfortable questions.  But he also couldn’t call the gang-rape-with-onlookers a hate crime because the activists who dictate which crimes will count as hate did not want this type of crime against women counted.  Silence was Obama’s only cover.  And so, silence is what he chose.  Luckily, no one questioned him.


For, imagine what Obama would have said as he signed the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Act, had a white mob attacked a black man five days earlier, instead of just attacking a female.  Imagine if a white gang had just raped a black girl, or if a gang of straight men (preferably white) had sexually abused a transvestite.

Then Obama and Holder would have stood side by side in the East Room and denounced the crime as a blight on America’s soul.  But this victim wasn’t the right type of victim, and the offenders weren’t the right type of offenders, even though crime itself was a textbook “hate crime” according to the textbook Eric Holder wrote back in the Clinton years.

Let us be very clear about what Obama did: he denied the actions of a hate-filled mob as he signed a law that purportedly opposes the actions of hate-filled mobs.

Nobody should ever forget that.

Consider all the ways the California gang rape was clearly a “hate crime”: a crowd gathered to cheer on the girl’s attack; the victim’s genitals were targeted; hate speech was used; photographs were taken (a classic sign of mob violence is taking souvenir pictures), and fear spread among other females in the vicinity (one told the media she was transferring schools immediately).

It takes a real expert to deny that this attack was, in fact, hate.

Luckily, reporters had experts handy, particularly Jack Levin.  Levin is the academic who recently walked the quivering press through the “hey, isn’t blogging about hating women and then going to a health club and shooting a bunch of women a hate crime?” danger zone.  He’s the go-to guy for tamping down such inconvenient questions, the academic reporters turn to when they get that phone call reminding them “not to call this one a hate crime on the news, because, you know, it was just a woman.  Talk a bunch of nonsense about something else, would you?”

Levin and the others swung into action, talked about “snitching” and “group dynamics” and Kitty Genovese; they carefully talked about anything except whether the crime should be prosecuted as a hate crime, though others were certainly asking that question.

Levin discussed “snitching culture” but not hate.  Drew Carberry took an empathetic little stroll in the mob’s shoes:

“If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then doing nothing becomes the norm.” explains Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention.

To say the least, this is not the way spokespeople from the National Council on Crime Prevention talk when they’re talking about hate crimes.  Here is how they talk about crimes that are deemed to be hate:

[H]ate crimes are acts of terrorism.  So let’s think about what we need to do in order to drive these latest statistics back down.  After all, we are at war with terror abroad.  Let’s not forget the war at home.

See, the behavior of the men in the gang-rape was a “cultural norm.”  Hate crimes, on the other hand, are acts of “war” that must be fought with weapons, not “understanding.”

Does anybody actually believe that CNN would be consulting psychologists to talk about the mob’s feelings if the perpetrators were white males and the victim was a minority or a homosexual?  Of course not.  The mere thought is laughable.

As new victim-groups (the homeless, illegal immigrants) clamor to be included in hate crime laws, and established victim-groups accuse others of failing to prioritize their victimization, and the problem of counting or not counting women festers, the hate crimes movement increasingly relies on the media to keep quiet about the enforcement of these laws when the wrong type of victim gets targeted.  Recent random attacks on women, in particular, have been met with a sort of hysterical denial from hate crime activists and reporters, so hysterical that no less a liberal than Bob Herbert grumbled about it in the pages of the New York Times.  Here is Herbert commenting on the failure of the media (which had turned to Levin for deflection) to talk about hate in recent cases of gunmen targeting females:

[T]here would have been thunderous outrage if someone had separated potential victims by race or religion and then shot, say, only the blacks, or only the whites, or only the Jews. But if you shoot only the girls or only the women — not so much of an uproar.

Of course, the activists are absolutely correct when they say that actually counting gender-based violence directed at women would “overwhelm” hate crime statistics.  So would enforcing hate crime laws whenever minority offenders express anti-white bias while committing crimes.  So would counting anti-female and anti-white slurs as “verbal intimidation hate incidents,” as other slurs are frequently reported and counted.

In other words, enforcing these laws with an even hand would spell the end of their political usefulness.

But it never comes to that, thanks to the media and their criminologists.  The Justice Department readily acknowledges the invaluable role the media plays, as this extraordinary quote from a Justice Department bulletin explains:

The influence of print and broadcast media is critical in shaping public attitudes about the hate crime, its perpetrators, and the law enforcement response.

The media is critical in shaping public attitudes. Yes, they actually put that in writing.


Eventually, however, Americans are going to get tired of being lectured that most murders are not hate-based but that a tiny handful are hate-based and thus far more significant.  They are going to get sick of being told they simply must believe, as Eric Holder lectured Congress, that the crimes he calls hate crimes are “different from” and “spread more fear than” and “are worse than” other crimes.

None of this actually makes any sense, which is why Holder and others keep repeating these words instead of making real arguments.

I suspect the entire hate crimes industry is going to collapse some day under the weight of legal irrationality and their biases, just as the hate-speech courts in Canada lost their credibility and collapsed after a few brave journalists stood up to the mind-bogglingly subjective application of those laws (In America, hate crime activists focus on street crimes because speech is protected).

And when this happens, I predict that the Fort Hood shootings, and Barack Obama’s silence on the California sex lynching (there is no better term for it) as he signed the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Act — will be remembered as a turning point.

DNA Could Have Stopped Delmer Smith Before He Killed, But Nobody Cared Enough To Update the Federal Database


This is Delmer Smith, who is responsible for a recent reign of terror on Florida’s Gulf Coast that left women from Venice to Bradenton terrified of violent home invasions, murder and rape:

Delmer Smith gave a DNA sample to the Feds 15 years ago, when he was incarcerated in Michigan on federal bank robbery charges.  And then what did the Feds do?  Well, in fairness, they were super busy not watching Phillip Garrido as he repeatedly raped and impregnated the child he was holding captive in his backyard.

So the feds apparently did nothing with Delmer Smith’s DNA.  Now a slew of women have been raped, and at least one murdered, crimes that could have been easily prevented if the feds had done what they were supposed to do and entered Smith’s DNA into the appropriate database.

But they couldn’t be bothered, just like the states so often can’t be bothered, just like Florida couldn’t be bothered fifteen years ago when they let my rapist walk out of prison to commit more rapes of frail, elderly women because they didn’t bother to link him to other crimes using DNA from kits they were supposed to test, but didn’t.

In precisely the same neighborhoods Delmer just tore through: Sarasota, Venice, North Port.

This time, to be clear, it wasn’t the Florida courts that screwed up: it was federal authorities.  Funny how they all screw up in precisely the same way, though: serial neglect of serial criminals who rape and kill again.  How much do they screw up?  Well, I’m understandably tuned in to this little piece of Florida’s West Coast, but it takes about fifteen minutes on Lexis-Nexus to find similar “mistakes” in every state.  We are letting extremely violent criminals slip through the cracks, and nobody seems outraged about it: nobody seems to be trying to plug the many holes in the system, or even to try to figure out what those holes are.


What to do?  Although police are usually the ones singled out when a serial offender is on the loose, their actions are rarely the reason recidivists are free.  Blame the courts — from lax prosecutors to lenient judges, to the hash the defense bar has made of our criminal justice system.  Also blame parole boards, and legislators and governors who refuse to fund prosecutions and prisons at realistic levels.

Finally, blame the activists who will do anything to get certain offenders out from behind bars, all the while banging the drum that “America is a prison state: we incarcerate too many people for too long. . .” Any cursory review of crime reports, arrests and convictions shows that precisely the opposite is true: we incarcerate too few people, and we let them go too soon.

People still routinely get a few months in jail for molesting a child, or probation for shooting someone.  But how do we make this visible, when prosecutors and judges want to hide their actions, and reporters won’t report on it?

It’s Time for a “Guilty Project”

Failure to Update DNA Database

Delmer Smith: suspected in a dozen home invasions, several rapes, one  or more murders, all thanks to the failure of federal authorities to enter his DNA profile in the CODIS database.  Too bad the F.B.I. sent a profiler down to Florida tell the cops that the killer was probably a male with anger issues, instead of making sure CODIS (which is the FBI’s responsibility) was up to date.  How many other violent offenders have slipped through the cracks in CODIS?  Does anybody know?

Serial Judicial Leniency, Failures to Prosecute, Failures to Enforce Parole, Failure to Correct DNA Deception, Failure to Update DNA Database

Walter E. Ellis, arrested at least a dozen times, including two (or three) attempted murders; convicted of several serious crimes, including attempted murder; repeatedly released early, despite multiple parole violations; received merely three years for nearly killing a woman with a hammer; charges apparently dropped for attacking another women with a screwdriver . . . and Wisconsin authorities didn’t bother to get a DNA sample from Ellis at the time they discovered that the sample supposed to be his had been “donated” by another inmate, a child rapist.  12,000 other convict samples are currently missing from Wisconsin’s list.

Serial Judicial Leniency, Failure to Update DNA Database, Reliance on Inaccurate Profiling(?)

John Floyd Thomas, first convicted of rape in 1957, arrested multiple times, convicted of rape again, released early again, now suspected of killing as many as 30 elderly women, avoided giving a DNA sample when he was required to do so, apparently without any consequences.  True Crime Report is attributing his ability to elude capture to inaccurate profiling indicating a white killer, but I’m not sure about that because there were surviving victims thought to be linked to the serial murders.


Where is the Outrage?

Prior to these belated DNA matches, the only one of these three men who served any substantial time in prison was Smith, and that was for robbing a bank, not assaulting a woman.  Authorities in Milwaukee can’t even figure out what happened to one of Walter Ellis’ previous attempted murder charges for an attack on a woman.

Just trying to kill women still doesn’t count for much, it appears.

The flagrant acts of these men, and of thousands of others — the lack of consequences they experience that enables them to attack multiple female victims — all beg the question: why aren’t serial crimes targeting women counted as hate crimes against women?

Why aren’t the resources of the hate crimes movement — the public outrage, the state and federal money, the well-funded private opposition research, the media attention, the academic and activist imperatives — brought to bear on cases where the people being targeted are women?

The answer is shameful.  Hate crimes leaders and opposition researchers don’t want their movement “distracted” by the the fact that women are far and away the most common category of victims targeted because of their identities.  These activists want to keep the focus on the picture they are painting of America, on race and ethnicity and sexual orientation, so they don’t want their statistics “overwhelmed” by a whole bunch of woman victims.

Consequently, activists who otherwise fight to get certain crimes counted as hate crimes fight even harder to keep any serial crime against women from being counted as hate — as the media laps at their heels, quiescent as a warm gulf tide.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been a central player in this ugly little deception for more than a decade now, so don’t expect changes anytime soon, especially with journalists’ self-enforced code of silence.

However, to give Holder credit where credit is due, he does advocate expanding the federal DNA database, an unpopular position to take in the current administration.


There is a personal silver lining in the Delmer Smith case. The man who had the temerity and insight to finally put my rapist away for life is the same man who had the temerity and insight to catch Smith before he killed more women.  It was a cognitive leap and real police work, apparently done by linking Smith to the sexual assaults after he got caught in an unrelated crime, a violent bar brawl.  And then locking him up on federal parole violations until a DNA sample could be tracked down.

Thank you, Venice Police Captain Tom McNulty, for taking yet another bastard off the streets.  That’s policing.

More Lessons from the Milwaukee Serial Killer Case: Victims’ Lives Aren’t Worth Very Much


Failure to Protect:

Following the identification of Milwaukee serial killer Walter E. Ellis, Wisconsin officials are acknowledging that at least 12,000 DNA samples that were supposed to be taken from convicted felons and databased are missing from the state registry.

Add to that the 50,000 felon samples acknowledged missing in Illinois, and the hundreds of thousands of other samples from both felons and victim kits that are routinely discovered “stockpiled” or “shelved” or simply gone missing, and what becomes visible is a systematic abandonment of the rights of victims and protection of the public from crime.

So why is there no outcry?  Why are ten, or thirty, or fifty dead women so easy to leave behind?  Sure, we read these stories with prurient interest.  The term “serial killer” piques imagination and inspires Hollywood stories.  But nobody seems to be able to take the next step, to behaving as if injustice to victims matters as much as injustice to anyone else.

For it isn’t just that Ellis’ DNA sample disappeared.  It’s far worse than that.  Ellis convinced another felon to give a sample for him.  On discovering the duplication of samples in the database, the tech simply threw out the one wrongly attributed to Ellis and left his profile blank.  It sounds as if this happened all the time, but nobody did anything about it.  Ellis was released from prison three months before the faked DNA sample was noticed, and his address was known, but authorities did nothing to obtain an accurate sample.

Even with a serial killer operating in Ellis’ neighborhood, and his own prior record, there apparently wasn’t enough curiosity about his effort to conceal his DNA.

Bodies, Bodies Everywhere:

DNA technology has been used in criminal convictions in the United States since 1987, when the first rape case was won using DNA in Orlando, Florida.  Despite the astonishing promise of this technology, it was years before some states even began testing suspects for DNA, and nearly a decade passed before the FBI managed to convince the first few states to begin sharing samples.  At every step of the way, civil liberties organizations have fought implementation of DNA testing, except, of course, in cases where it might be used to exonerate someone.

Georgia recently passed the threshold of solving 1500 cold cases from their database, though “solving” doesn’t necessarily translate into convicting the offenders.  Who’s got the money for all that?  And Georgia, like every other state, still suffers from perennial backlogs and rape kits that go missing.  Meanwhile, murderers like Brian Nichols get stables of silk-stocking lawyers on the public dime.

Little wonder the bodies keep piling up.  In addition to the seven murder victims now tied to Walter E. Ellis, twenty other similar, unsolved murders are being investigated again.  That’s twenty-seven raped and murdered women in Milwaukee whose killers were never caught.  Why?  Lack of resources.  Too many murderers, and not enough cops:

Nick Sandoval, a detective . . . said the homicide unit was understaffed and detectives were often overwhelmed by the number of killings they were investigating. There were 85 homicides that year.  “We were so short-handed,” he said. “Homicides would come in and we would start on one and we never really got our teeth into them to the point that we could do decent follow-up work. We would come in the next morning and, lo and behold, we would have another one. It was like a vicious circle.”

Here is what the cold case investigators in Milwaukee had to comb through:

They sifted through 500 names in case files, 15,000 sexual assault cases spanning 23 years, 6,000 prostitute-related investigations, and 2,000 arrests in the geographic areas where bodies were discovered over a 15-year period.

As I mentioned in this post, Ellis was arrested multiple times.  It isn’t clear why he wasn’t convicted and sentenced to prison after some of those arrests.  How much precious police time and manpower got wasted because prosecutors and judges didn’t follow through?

A Convicted Rapist Working in a Hospital?

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, there are so many serial killings and serial rapes being re-investigated now that it takes color-coded charts to sort them out.  Investigators searching for the killer of ten young, black women recently stumbled upon a serial killer responsible for another cluster of crimes: the rapes and rape-murders of dozens of elderly white women in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Like Walter Ellis, John Floyd Thomas managed to avoid giving police a required DNA sample.  Prior to the advent of DNA, Thomas had twice been convicted of rape, sent to prison, and released.  Later changes in the law required him to submit a sample, but he apparently didn’t comply and was not caught.  He was finally identified by a detective who was trying to solve the young women’s murders by rounding up convicted rapists who had avoided the new DNA law.

One chilling aspect of Thomas is his criminal longevity: his first rape conviction came in 1957, and he is now tied through DNA to a 1986 case.  That’s nearly 30 years — or perhaps longer — of raping and killing women.  Why didn’t he get caught?  Well, he did, of course, once in 1957, and again in 1978, but he was released early, so he could continue doing this:

The “Westside Rapist” became one of the more notorious criminals of the era. Victims ranged in age from the 50s to the 90s. Bella Stumbo, the late Times feature writer, wrote in December 1975 that the “serenity” of the neighborhoods where the victims lived “had been so grotesquely invaded by that elusive maniac the police loosely refer to as the ‘Westside rapist,’ now accused of sexually assaulting at l[e]ast 33 old women and murdering perhaps 10 of them.” She said residents lived in “small colonies of terror.”  The attacks appeared to stop in 1978. That year, a witness took down Thomas’ license plate after he raped a woman in Pasadena. He was convicted and sent to state prison.

Five years later, he was out, and the killings started up again.

Thomas was enabled by his family and by a legal system that made it very difficult to keep him locked away for long.  Others also apparently overlooked his criminal record to give him jobs in social work, a hospital, and a state insurance agency.  It is hard to understand how somebody with a prison record for rape could get a job in social work, or in a hospital, where he had access to vulnerable, elderly, immobilized women — his preferred targets.

Thomas was a work acquaintance of activist Earl Ofari-Hutchinson, who wrote this thoughtful article in the wake of Thomas’ capture.

Released Early and Not Monitored

Meanwhile, investigators are asking why Phillip Garrido, who kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard when she was 11 and held her captive as a sex slave for 18 years, was released decades early from a federal conviction for another brutal sex crime.

Decades early.  The federal system, at least, is supposed to be strict when it comes to offenders serving time.  Garrido received a 50-year sentence for an horrific kidnapping and sexual assault in 1976.  11 years later, he was released, apparently in violation of federal sentencing rules:

[Q]uestions intensified Monday over how Phillip Garrido could have served only 11 years in prison after a 1976 rape and kidnapping for which he had been given a 50-year federal sentence as well as a life term in Nevada.

Garrido was convicted of kidnapping in federal court for abducting Katherine Callaway in South Lake Tahoe on a November night nearly 33 years ago and driving her — handcuffed and hogtied — to Reno. He then pleaded guilty to a Nevada state rape charge for assaulting her in a storage unit.

Former Assistant U.S. Atty. Leland Lutfy, who prosecuted the kidnapping case, said Monday that he was “amazed” because, at the time, he believed that defendants convicted of federal crimes were required to serve two-thirds of their sentences — in this case, 33 years. That would have kept him safely away from Dugard, who was snatched from her quiet street in 1991.

“It makes no sense to me,” he said in an interview.

The real question Lutfy and others need to be asking is this: how many more Phillip Garridos are out there?

I wonder why anyone bothers to express surprise that an offender with a life sentence walked out of prison after a few years to commit more violent crimes against women and young girls.  It happens every day.  The U.S. Parole Commission, which was responsible for Garridos’ release, is refusing to answer questions:

A spokesman for the U.S. Parole Commission did not return a call for comment about why Garrido was set free in 1988.

Loyola Law professor Laurie Levenson said that barring an extraordinary situation, “there is no way on a 50-year sentence he should have been out.”

Count me not surprised: parole boards are frequently stacked with pro-offender activists who believe themselves to be above the law.  In trial testimony that should have been reviewed by the federal parole board, Garrido admitted to acting on uncontrollable sexual urges for children as young as seven:

Phillip Garrido admitted that starting in 1968 he hung around schools and pleasured himself while “watching young females.”  “I have done it by the side of schools, grammar schools and high schools, in my own car,” Garrido said in court testimony obtained Tuesday by The Daily News.  Asked how old these girls were, Garrido replied, “From 7 to 10.”

Nevertheless, the parole board decided that he should be released after serving one-fifth of his sentence, and he immediately kidnapped Jayce Lee Dugard.  Three years later, when Jayce was 14, she gave birth to the first of the children with which her rapist impregnated her.  Parole officers apparently didn’t notice that the man they were supposed to be watching had a pregnant prepubescent girl living in a shack in his backyard.

That means the parole officers also did not avail themselves of any records regarding his conviction.  Or something even worse — they knew his history but still viewed Garrido as the real victim of a harsh system.  How could they neglect to check the structures in his backyard, when he was on parole for kidnapping a woman and holding her in a storage unit, and neighbors raised questions about the young females in the storage unit in his backyard?  It belies the imagination, yet the media seems strangely incurious about Garrido’s parole officers.  Why?


This woman, U.C. Berkeley Police Specialist Lisa Campbell, didn’t think Garrido’s behavior was normal when she saw him dragging his “family” around the Berkeley campus.  She started asking questions and ultimately rescued Jayce Lee Dugard and her daughters:

Walter Ellis, John Floyd Thomas, Phillip Garrido: the cops arrest them, and the judges and parole boards let them go.  Not anymore, at least, for these three men.  But how many women and children had to be raped, and killed, in just these three cases, before anybody in the courts could be bothered to respond appropriately, all the times these men could have been put away?

The Good Kids in the Crossfire

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I was going to write about good kids getting killed in the crossfire when I got up this morning.  Then I read the Atlanta Journal Constitution and realized there was nothing to add:

One person was in custody Thursday in connection with the early morning shooting death of a Spelman College student hit by a stray bullet on the campus of nearby Clark Atlanta University. . . The victim, Jasmine Lynn, of Kansas City, Mo., was “walking southbound on James P. Brawley when she was struck in the chest by a stray round from a group of individuals involved in a physical altercation on Mitchell Street,” Atlanta police Lt. Keith Meadows said. . .

According to Lynn’s Myspace page, the 19-year-old sophomore was majoring in psychology and minoring in business.  She was a 2008 graduate of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City.

And this, from the Los Angeles Times last week:

It’s Always the Good Kids: That’s The Sad Part About It

A street memorial for Samuel Leonard, a 22-year-old black man. Leonard was shot while getting into his car at the intersection of West Century Boulevard and Hobart Boulevard in Gramercy Park. Credit: Anthony Pesce / Los Angeles Times

Samuel Leonard, a 22-year-old black man, was shot and killed in the 1700 block of West Century Boulevard in Gramercy Park on Saturday, Aug. 22, according to Los Angeles police. . .

This afternoon friends and neighbors of Leonard gathered at memorial set up at the site of his shooting. Surrounded by caution tape, the display included 22 votive candles, more than 10 bouquets, two pictures, and a handful of stuffed animals.
Albert Tyson, 45, said he lived across the street from Leonard and had known him since he was 14 or 15 years old.  “He was a good kid,” Tyson said. “He didn’t get into any trouble. He didn’t use drugs.”
Tashika Brackens, 32, lived down the street from Leonard. She said her husband was friends with him, and he would frequently drop by her home to say hello to her two young daughters or ask what they were making for dinner.  “He would talk to anybody. He was real friendly,” she said. “I had seen him that morning…. I think someone was just jealous he had a good job and a good car.”  She said Leonard worked at LAX in the baggage claim department but wanted to get a job with her as a bus driver and, eventually, to go back to school.  “It’s always the good kids, that’s the sad part about it,” she said. “I just don’t understand, just don’t understand.”
Albert Tyson had this extraordinary thing to say about the memorial for Leonard:
Though there were several visitors to Leonard’s memorial, people did not linger.  “People get shot up at memorials now,” Tyson said. “I don’t want to stay too long.”
Rochelle Riley is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press.  She has written two editorials in as many weeks that are must-reads on the current crime crisis:

More than 1,100 people have been shot in this city! And 215 have died! That’s 215 faces families won’t see. That’s, most likely, 215 funerals. . . We have to find a way to stop letting reports of violence and death pass by like commercials in the daily drama of our lives.

Detroit has a new Police Chief who seems to be making a difference, instead of denying the problem:

[Detroit Police Chief Warren] Evans says if Detroiters don’t muster up some righteous indignation about the crime that’s sweeping the city, it will be harder for his department to stay ahead of it.  “People have got to get indignant,” he said. . . On Friday, Evans met with every ranking person in the DPD — inspectors, commanders, assistant chiefs, deputy chiefs — and assigned each of them to take five citizen complaints and go meet with the person who filed it. “They’ll talk about the problem, and we’ll check it out. That will have a tremendous impact. … If people see someone with four stars, five stars, two stars out there answering complaints that will say a whole lot more to people than lip service.”

The chief doesn’t know what kind of crime it would take to wake people up, to stir some righteous indignation. But he’s bracing for it. In the meantime, he said, “I don’t want people living in denial about where we’re at.”

Imagine having a Chief of Police who talks like that.

Today’s column by Rochelle Riley:

The problem has been like a tropical storm that changes to a hurricane and catches us off guard.

For years, we’ve made excuses.

For years, we’ve looked the other way.

For years, we’ve pronounced other things more important. But what is more important than children committing murder?

Continue reading here.

Gang Outreach or Just Enforcing the Law: Chicago, LA, Atlanta

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Will Atlanta be the next Chicago or L.A.? Those cities have been shelling out big bucks to “ex-gang members” and holding summits and negotiating with gangsters rather than prosecuting them.

Imagine the impact this must have in communities where these thugs live, where they now draw paychecks because they are/were thugs, and walk the streets empowered by their special relationships to certain politicians.  How does that not teach children the value of going bad?

Predictably, the people drawing paychecks from these programs declare them a complete success, while, jarringly, also insisting that if the money doesn’t stop coming, the killings will start again.  Think about that for a moment: do gang prevention programs just create a new ways for gangs to shake people down?  Meanwhile, despite the purported success of these programs, the body count keeps growing:

A 15-year-old Chicago girl who was shot in the head outside her Far South Side home Wednesday as she shielded a younger relative from gunfire has come through surgery, a relative said this morning.

And in L.A.:

The gang member accused of murdering a local high school football player will face the death penalty, prosecutors announced Wednesday. . .

Espinoza, an 18th Street gang member and illegal immigrant, had been released from jail on a firearms charge the day before Shaw was killed.

So what would have kept 17-year old Jamiel Shaw from being killed?

  • A fiscally unaccountable, money-hemorrhaging program with a fancy name that pays politically-connected ministers to “pastor walk” the streets (as Mayor Franklin is proposing), or a policy of not releasing offenders caught with guns prior to their convictions?
  • A “gang negotiation” program that pays thugs who pretend to have gone clean (and later it turns out they haven’t, even when powerful politicians get snowed by them), or sentencing laws that take thugs off the street for significant periods of time when they get caught with guns?

I worked in the world of non-profits and community outreach for a long time, and that is precisely why I’m so cynical about gang summits and pastor walks.  We already spend billions on this stuff, and there is little untainted evidence that it does anything but enrich the non-profits themselves and feed the machines of local politicians.

I’m always amazed when people say to me: “why don’t we do more to reach out to delinquents and help them get jobs and other services they need, instead of throwing them in jail and throwing away the key?”

Well, to answer the first part of the question, we already do, and to answer the second part, that is precisely what we don’t do, even though it would save lives.

Do readers have any idea how much is already spent doing social services, and to what little effect?  The city, county, state, and Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) already directs billions of your dollars into job training and outreach and gang prevention and social service programs  — as Stephanie Ramage details in this excellent article about money spent on Atlanta’s Vine City, and the dubious results:

[M]oney is not the area’s primary problem.  According to Ivory Lee Young, who represents them on the Atlanta City Council, English Avenue and Vine City get more government money than any other neighborhoods in Atlanta. They have received more than $23 million in public funding in recent years. . .There’s the Parcel 25 Trust Fund, which takes a small percentage of earnings from the Courtyard at Maple apartment development and reinvests it in Vine City. . . There’s the Urban Residential Finance Authority (URFA), which has shelled out more than $10 million to the area over the past 20 years. . . The Westside Tax Allocation District (TAD), managed by the Atlanta Development Authority, also includes both neighborhoods. On Aug. 17, it made $2.8 million available for capital improvement projects only . . . In 2005, the Westside TAD disbursed almost $14 million to English Avenue and Vine City. The federally funded Title 20 empowerment zone has allocated $5.8 million for the area.  A Weed and Seed resource audit found that between $4 million and $5 million in funding was disbursed into English Avenue and Vine City in 2008 alone.

And so on.  That doesn’t include all the other resources from private and corporate non-profits, not to mention the vast amounts of taxpayer dollars that go into high-need education, day care, after-school care, city-funded summer camps, Head Start, housing, food stamps, W.I.C. free health-care, transportation, and job training programs, all the types of outreach that activist and the Mayor and Police Chief are now saying we need more of.

Frankly, I wish people would start talking back a bit when their elected officials tell them they’re not doing enough.  It’s utterly untrue, and it’s also pretty insulting.  If you spent a couple of years bopping around in those “outreach” programs, you’d be amazed at what some people are milking off your largesse.  I was surprised.  Salaries of 80K, 150K are hardly uncommon in community outreach — and salaries, frankly, are only the tip of the iceberg.  Then there are the questionable land investment deals that enrich the activists, the power that comes from being able to employ (and thus indebt) vocal community activists and naive VISTA and AmeriCorps neophytes, and the ever-so-flexible category of “administrative costs” that are used to build astonishingly cushy fifedoms, thus laying the ground for future grant-getting.

From Ramage’s article:

There is the Northyards Business Park Improvement Fund, which takes a portion of the money earned from the office park where Bauder College is located and infuses it into English Avenue. The fund is overseen by Antioch Baptist Church North, which boasts a $4.5 million annual budget on its Web site and runs the Bethursday Development Corporation.

Bob Jones, the head of Bethursday, failed to return calls for this story. However, the church’s Web site states the following:

“In addition to the ultra modern, multi-million dollar worship center which was dedicated in 1991, the church campus includes a bi-level administrative complex, a large formidable business plaza that houses the offices of the Antioch Urban Ministries, a community computer center, and the membership orientation facilities, four major parking lots, and a multi-functional Youth Center and adjoining recreational green space for outdoor activities. Dr. [Cameron Madison] Alexander [the church’s minister] has organized the Bethursday Development Corporation to manage building development and other investment opportunities of the Antioch Congregation. In late 2003, construction began on the church campus for a 261 unit apartment building.”

Look, if community programs and community development worked, I’d be the first person in line to support them.  But in addition to largely being theft and waste of taxpayer money, they don’t work.  They often make problems worse, because once you’ve got activists being enabled by tax dollars, those people are empowered through their political connections and your money to promote agendas that actually undermine public safety.

Like doing away with minimum mandatory sentencing, which Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned as part of that “gang summit” Mayor Franklin and Chief Pennington famously attended last week.

How on earth, one might ask, would doing away with laws that take the most violent offenders off the streets actually help with the gang problem?

Good question.  In order to answer it, you have to first understand that the people overseeing the movement to “talk to gangs, not prosecute them” are philosophically opposed to incarceration as a response to crime.  They’re not just anti-incarceration: they believe that people who commit crimes are not really responsible, just deprived.

They believe that you are responsible, for not giving these folks enough things, and that’s why they’re stealing your television set.

Broad strokes, I’ll admit.  But this is the philosophy of the courts, where municipal and criminal court judges have been drawn narrowly from anti-incarceration activist circles for decades.  It’s not the philosophy of the cops on the streets, but it is the philosophy of many Police Chiefs and Sheriffs, many chiefs and sheriffs being elected officials first and cops second.

And it is definitely the philosophy of our new Attorney General, who by saying the things he said at that gang summit clearly delivered the message that he, and the feds, plan to impose themselves on a government power that is not theirs, that is supposed to lie in the hands of the states: sentencing for crimes.

Listen very carefully as Pennington and Franklin and even Fulton D.A. Paul Howard talk about the new gang initiative in coming weeks.  Think about the weird undercurrent of chatter about how this isn’t about putting people away, and we can’t possibly get these people off the streets.

And while you’re at it, take a good look at that child holding up his pants with one hand while trying to break into your car with the other.

How well do you think “negotiating” with him is going to work?

And who’s going to get paid to pretend it did?

Murder by Anti-Incerceration Activism

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From a City Journal article by Heather Mac Donald.  How the murder of 17-year old Lily Burk could have been prevented:

The recent arrest of a vicious murderer in Los Angeles vindicates—tragically, only after-the-fact—several policing and sentencing policies that anti-law-enforcement advocates have fought for years. . .

On July 24 at around 3 pm., 17-year-old Lily Burk was walking down a midtown Los Angeles street on an errand for her mother. A 50-year-old homeless parolee with a three-decade-long rap sheet confronted the high school senior as she approached her Volvo. . .

At 4.52 pm, Samuel pulled the Volvo into a Skid Row parking lot at Alameda and 5th Street and abandoned it. Burk had already been murdered, her head beaten and throat slashed open with a broken bottle; her body was left in her car. . .

Samuel then walked nearly a mile through Skid Row, drinking beer from a paper bag in violation of L.A.’s open container law. Two LAPD officers on horseback stopped him for the public-drinking offense and questioned him. He told them that he was on parole and agreed to be searched, according to the police. They found a crack pipe in his pocket and arrested him. The post-arrest search of Samuel turned up a Volvo key and a cell phone. The next morning, a worker from a Skid Row business discovered Burk’s car with her body in it. Samuel’s prints were in the car; his clothes had blood on them.

Samuel’s apprehension shows the enormous power of broken-windows policing, which the American Civil Liberties Union has fought against on L.A.’s Skid Row and throughout the country.. . . When officers question people in high-crime areas for misdemeanor offenses, they regularly find warrant absconders and parole violators. In 1996, a New York police officer nabbed a young man jumping a subway turnstile, a crime that a decade earlier had been regarded as simply an inevitable response to poverty and too trivial for the police to worry about. The turnstile-jumper, John Royster, turned out to be wanted for an ongoing campaign of terror against women in New York that included murder, rape, and a nearly lethal beating; had he not been picked up for the subway offense, he undoubtedly would have gone on to assault more women.

Of course, the effectiveness of broken-windows policing in capturing Charles Samuel is only half of the story.  The other half is the story of how anti-incarceration activists, and their allies in the judiciary, kept Samuel out of prison in the first place, despite his brutal, violent, recidivist record of crime:

California’s “three strikes and you’re out” law is the most reviled sentencing policy in the country—reviled, that is, by the anti-incarceration lobby. It allows prosecutors to seek a sentence of 25 years to life against an offender who has already served time for two violent or serious felonies when he is convicted of a third felony.

Anti-law-enforcement advocates fancifully charge that the law’s main effect is to send away hapless sad sacks whose only misstep was to succumb to the urge for a pizza when they didn’t have enough change in their pockets to buy a slice. These advocates regularly lobby Sacramento to loosen or repeal the law.

Mac Donald is right: the only time the media writes about three-strikes, it is to push a questionable sob story.  There is no discussion of these laws when they are used to finally get a violent recidivist off the streets.  The media will bang the drums when some offender with a long rap sheet finally kills someone.  But then they go back to playing amnesiac and reflexively opposing the laws that could have prevented the crime in the first place.

In Atlanta, for example, it appears that everybody has forgotten about the various sentencing and judgment errors that ended in Eugenia Calle’s murder.  Apparently, there will be no professional consequences for the judge and prosecutor who let Shamal Thompson walk as a “first offender” (for the third time), rather than enforcing Georgia’s minimum mandatory law, as they were required to do by law.  Are we all just going to collectively forget what happened, until the next time the next recidivist captures our attention by killing someone?  No consequences for offenders and no consequences for the prosecutors and judges who fail to do their jobs and put them away: a perfect circle.  No wonder judges so frequently identify with offenders, and not with the rest of us.

Heather Mac Donald:

Samuel was a good candidate for a third-strike sentence, thanks to an earlier attack that foreshadowed Burk’s murder. In 1986, he walked up to an elderly man sitting on his porch in San Bernardino (in the so-called Inland Empire east of Los Angeles), grabbed the man’s cane and beat him with it, then forced him inside his home and demanded money. When the old man could only come up with ten dollars, Samuel commandeered the man’s car and drove the owner to an ATM. The terrified senior citizen was unable to withdraw any money, however, whereupon Samuel struck him with his cane again, punched him in the stomach, and threatened to kill him if he called the police, according to the Los Angeles Times.  Samuel pled guilty in 1987 to robbery, residential burglary, and car theft and was sentenced to six years. He became eligible for a three-strikes sentence in 1997, following a conviction for another San Bernardino burglary (the 1986 robbery and burglary charges counted as his first two felonies). But his rap sheet failed to note that the 1986 burglary was a residential burglary, as opposed to a non-residential break-in. Only residential burglaries count as “serious” felonies for three-strikes purposes; breaking into a store, office building, or commercial space is regarded as “non-serious” and can be repeated indefinitely without triggering a three-strike step-up in sentencing. (So much for the idea that the three-strikes law is blindly draconian; in fact, it makes careful—perhaps overly careful—distinctions between felonies.)

To make a long story short (I am quoting too much already: read the article, it’s good), Samuel managed to avoid three-strikes in 1997 because somebody did not accurately record his prior record, and no prosecutor caught the error (sound familiar?), and he avoided three-strikes again in 2006 because another prosecutor, bowing to anti-incarceration activism, did not request the sentence (sound familiar?).  Over the years, he got other breaks as well and was most recently sentenced to a “community drug treatment program” despite the routine insistence that violent offenders are not permitted to take advantage of such options.   Now a 17-year old girl is dead, brutally murdered.  How many other people did he get away with killing?

Much misinformation about three-strikes laws circulates in the media:

  • When activists say three-strikes laws offer no room for the get-out-of-jail card that is judicial (in)discretion, don’t believe them.  Even California, with by far the strictest three-strikes law in the country, still allows judges and prosecutors discretion to release violent, repeat offenders to the streets.  Georgia’s law is utterly toothless, with judicial discretion over-ruling virtually any consequences for crime by allowing judges to suspend all time to be served at the times of sentencing.
  • When district attorneys tell you they don’t need addition resources, they are playing politics with your safety.  Nobody seriously believes that any district attorney’s office has the resources to actually enforce the law.  The law has not really been enforced in this country for decades.  Every district attorney’s office is so short-staffed, in comparison to the real quantity of crime, that virtually every offense gets brief consideration by some harried prosecutor and then a generous plea deal.  Criminals know this and act accordingly.  Until that changes, no district attorney should go around claiming that he doesn’t need resources.  Paul Howard.
  • It is 2009.  Even I have learned to use computers, and I am a recalcitrant luddite.  The average computer tech could design a system during his lunch break that would record and database all prosecution, sentencing and incarceration outcomes.  By suppertime, the data could be available to the public on the internet.

However, if people really knew what was happening in the criminal courts, a lot of heads would roll.  Judges and prosecutors would find themselves answering for the leniency so ingrained at every level of the system that it seems natural — so long as you don’t look too hard, and it is not your daughter they are burying this week.

Recidivist Chutes and Ladders: The Russell Burton Record


The children’s board game, Chutes and Ladders, offers a clearer template for understanding our criminal justice system than a hundred studies put forth by academicians and think tanks.  Here is one example:

Russell Burton, who has been called a “Ted Bundy in the making,” was born in 1967.  According to the Los Angeles Daily News, when Burton was 17, he was arrested in Lancaster, California and charged with “breaking into a woman’s apartment and fondling her in bed.”  “Fondling” is a troubling term here: you fondle your child, or a puppy.  When you break into a woman’s house and try to rape her, that isn’t “fondling.” (“81 Years for Sexual Predator,” L.A. Daily News, 4/27/05, fee for link)

LADDERS:  But apparently, the judge felt otherwise.  A Los Angeles Juvenile Court Judge allowed Burton to avoid prosecution for B & E and attempted rape — by joining the Army.  The Army accepted him, and he was stationed in Georgia.  Thus, in 1984, nearly ten years after the first hard-won battle for rape law reform, the sentence for breaking into a woman’s house and attempting to rape her could still be no sentence at all.

Columbus, Georgia has paid a high price in violent sex crimes.  Several serial offenders have cut a bloody path through that town —  and the Army did precious little to stop at least two of them.

On September 3, 1987, Burton pulled alongside a car being driven by three teenage girls in Columbus, Georgia, near Fort Benning, where he was stationed.  He got the girls to pull over by indicating that something was wrong with their car, pointed a gun at them, and forced them to drive to a remote area.  He raped one girl and orally sodomized the other two.

Benning was 19 years old when he committed this crime.  The sophistication of the attack and the high risk involved — multiple victims, gun use, confrontation in a public place, abduction from one location to another — indicates that he was already an experienced, violent rapist.

CHUTES: In 1988, Burton was sentenced to life for the rape, 20 years for the kidnapping, and 20 years for the sodomy.  He entered prison in Georgia with a life sentence.  There was no sentence of life without parole in Georgia at that time.

Astonishingly, life without parole only became an option in Georgia a few week ago, during the 2009 Georgia General Assembly (previously, a prosecutor had to try for the death penalty to qualify a case for life without parole).  Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, when Democrats controlled the Georgia legislature, defense attorneys controlled the judiciary committees.  Credit where credit is due: such sentencing reform only became a reality in Georgia when Republicans took over both chambers.

LADDERS:  In any case, Burton didn’t have to wait for any parole board to cut him loose: the United States Court of Appeal for the 11th Circuit did that in February, 2002, fourteen years after he was sent away for life.  The Court granted Burton a new trial on the grounds that the district attorney “inappropriately” mentioned that Burton had exercised his right to remain silent when he was arrested.  Now, I know that constitutional attorneys would argue that mentioning Burton’s demeanor upon arrest is horribly prejudicial and tramples all over his rights.  But this blog isn’t a courtroom, so facts can be stated in plain English here: a violent sexual predator was released from prison because a prosecutor told the truth about what the violent sexual predator did when he was arrested, instead of not telling the truth about it, in a court rigged to let criminals off for virtually anything, instead of designed to discover the actual truth of a case.

Rigged like the fairway games at a sleazy carnival.

Or a dice throw in a children’s board game.  Such is our appeals process.

MORE LADDERS:  Burton was released from prison pending a new trial.  Then somebody decided that it wasn’t worth spending the money to try him again — thus deciding that the safety of women is less valuable than other things we could be spending money on, like appeals for violent rapists like Burton.*  In 2003, he was permitted to plead guilty to one count of rape and three counts of kidnapping in exchange for time served.

MORE CHUTES:  It turned out to be a good thing that Burton was required to plead to a sex offense.  Rapists used to be routinely permitted to plead down to non-sexual offenses.  That is why a high percentage of the first several thousand rapists identified through DNA matches had prior records only for crimes such as substance abuse and burglary, two common pleas that allowed predators to move from place to place and continue committing sex crimes with impunity.

Burton moved back to California and was required to register as a sex offender, which turned out to be one of the many, many thousands of good things that arise from sex offender registries — things you will never read about in any newspaper, of course.  Newspapers depict registering sex offenders as terribly cruel and ineffectual.

Anyway, after the good judges of the 11th Circuit threw Burton’s life sentence out on a technicality, and after the State of Georgia declined to try him again, it took him less than a year to go on a violent, crazed hunting spree against women.  It may have taken even less time, for there are no guarantees that Burton didn’t attack women in Columbus, or elsewhere in Georgia, or Alabama while he was awaiting the re-trial that never happened.

What is certain is that in 2004, freshly arrived from Georgia, he stalked and tried to abduct a woman in a parking lot in Palmdale, California.  The woman escaped.  He then attacked a teenager with a knife, trying to drag her into his car.  She escaped, and he was arrested.  After his arrest, three young girls came forward and reported the following crime:

The girls said a man approached them at the store saying he had car trouble and needed a ride, Lankford said. When he climbed into their car, he threatened one girl with a screwdriver and forced the sisters to take him to another town and back. He then forced one sister to drive his car while he rode with the other two. At a second parking lot the sister driving his car jumped out, and the man ran to his car and sped away. (“Felon Chargd in New Crimes,” Columbus Ledger-Inquirer, 3/2/04, fee for link)

These are the types of crimes that end with children’s bodies melting in the desert.  Luckily, those five victims escaped, but who didn’t?

By 2004, Burton was a fluent advocate for his own rights.  Upon arrest, he said to the police, “I’m a child molester, I want my phone call, and I want my attorney.” (ibid.)  Here is where the sex offender registry comes in: had he not been listed as a sex offender, he certainly would not have mentioned his prior convictions, and he might have been let free to await trial before the three young girls had time to see him in the newspaper or the judge learned of his record in Georgia.  Such things happen all the time, as readers of this blog know.

So the sex offender registry law may have saved lives in California that week.  The next time you read a news story condemning registries, remember Russell Burton.

CHUTES: In 2004, Burton was tried in Los Angeles Superior Court and found guilty of stalking, attempted kidnapping, making terroristic threats, and possession of cocaine.  His sentence for these crimes illustrate the effectiveness of California’s “three-strikes and you’re out” laws:

Burton’s sentence consisted of three terms of 25 years to life plus a one-year weapons enhancement and a five-year prior-serious-felony enhancement. (“Rapist’s Sentence Cut by 25 Years,” Los Angeles Daily News, 10/30/06, fee for link)

A dozen years earlier, prior to sentencing reform, Burton would likely not have received such a long sentence for these crimes, even though he has proven that he poses a serious threat.  And without the “three-strikes” rule, any sentence he did receive would have been slashed automatically the moment he set foot in prison.

LADDERS and CHUTES:  Burton immediately set to appealing his new convictions.  Why not?  In 2006, an appeals court agreed to throw out one of his 25-year sentences, the one for stalking, on the grounds that following a woman from one shopping mall to another did not rise to the level of stalking (the more people learn about the substance of most appeals, the better).  But in addition to doing this, the 2nd District Court of Appeals of California also rejected Burton’s claim that the three-strikes law constituted cruel and unusual punishment because so much time (14 years, to be precise) had elapsed between his crimes.  Here is what the court had to say, as reported in the Los Angeles Post:

“His prior strikes were for serious, violent offenses. So were two of the three convictions for which he was originally sentenced here, presently including the attempted kidnapping of a young woman, using a knife,” the ruling said.

“The interim between the two sets of offenses was consumed mostly by imprisonment, which did not restrain appellant from recommencing the same type of crime upon release. Given appellant’s unbroken history of violent crime, we cannot find this case to be one of the admittedly rare ones in which the recidivist sentence is unconstitutional,” the appeals court said.

CHUTES, CHUTES, CHUTES.  It looks as if Burton has finally lost in his bid to be free, thanks to the public outrage over repeat offenders that inspired changes in state laws and sentencing policies.  We won the game, this time.

But none of these laws are carved in stone, and many voices, including highers-up in the new Justice Department administration, are clamoring to roll back sentencing guidelines, overturn three-strikes laws, and eliminate sex offender registries.  The federal Adam Walsh law, requiring states to participate in a national registration system, is officially in limbo, short-circuiting the next stage of information-sharing between the states.  We’re at an information impasse in other ways, too: if any private industry in America had an IT network resembling that used by most courts, they would cease to exist.

The price of incarceration is eternal vigilance, too.

*Re-trying Burton doubtlessly would have been difficult, especially for the victims.  And it is always a risk to involve jurors in rape cases, for prejudices against rape victims persist and in many ways have grown stronger.  Too many people feel it is their duty to root for convicts as under-dogs, and they stupidly romanticize anyone appealing a case — until it’s their own daughter or mother who gets raped.  But difficulties like this are also used as an excuse to do nothing at all to restrain violent offenders in the interest of saving money in an overwhelmed and under-staffed court system.  This should have been a case where all stops were pulled out to keep Burton in prison.

Another (Wannabe) California Cop Killer, and Her Apologists: Sarah Jane Olson and Ruben Rosario

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As some in Berkley/Oakland and Austin, Texas celebrate the murders of four police officers by child-rapist Lovelle Mixon, the recent release of Sarah Jane Olson, fugitive, murderer, attempted cop killer and Weather Underground activist should remind us of the origins of the sentiment “kill the pigs.”

Well-off radicals like Olson descended on poor communities in Oakland in the late Sixties, when it was hip to do so, and fomented violence there in the name of “revolution.”  When the wretched stakes for real community members wore out their welcome, these itinerant revolutionaries trotted back to their to upper-class enclaves, leaving conditions in the impoverished, urban, minority neighborhoods much worse than they found them.

There is a direct path from the careless radicalism practiced by Olson to those who are celebrating the murder of four police officers today. When someone calling himself the “Prisoner of Conscience Coalition, Minister of Information” posts anonymous internet screeds threatening police sympathizers and mocking the murdered officers, he is mimicking “kill the pigs” rhetoric that should have died out when the last Weatherman traded his dashiki for a pair of Hush Puppies, reinstatement to the family trust fund, and the tenure track.  The Hush Puppy crowd has much to answer for in Oakland this week.  So, too, has the anonymous POCC Minister.  Everything old is new again, as evinced by the instantaneous, postmortem rehabilitation of Mixon himself.


Meanwhile, amazingly, a few journalists are still defending Olson.  Last week, Twin Cities Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario fired off a “humorous” column complimenting the post-conviction conduct of both Sarah Jane Olson and Stanley Dean Baker, a confessed cannibal who murdered a social worker and was found with the woman’s hacked-off fingers in his pocket.

Rosario’s column, “Come On, Sarah Jane Olson is not Osama Bin Laden,” starts off as a jokey comparison between Olson and Baker (Which would you rather live next to, the cookie-baking mom or the cannibal?).  But in an apparent warm rush of good feelings about any convicted killer, Rosario abandons this modicum of judgment and spends the rest of the piece paying tribute to the good character of both.

Funny stuff, hacking a social worker to pieces. Rosario cracks a joke about Baker’s nickname (Fingers).  He slavishly praises one parole officer who calls Baker “brilliant,” and claims — as if it matters, or is true – that Baker never killed again. He doesn’t manage to get around to bothering to name Baker’s forgotten victim, but he does take the time to scold the public for not adequately appreciating a parole system that gives men like Baker a second chance. He also expresses outrage that Baker lost a job, once, after people learned of his grotesque crimes.  That “injustice” arouses his slumbering indignation.  Anything for a convict, you see.

Pretty appalling stuff.  But the most dishonest aspect of Rosario’s column is what he leaves out – the facts of Sarah Jane Olsen’s unfunny crimes. Olson participated in the murder of Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four.  She planted explosives under police cars that were parked in public places.  She kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach during a bank robbery, causing her to miscarriage.  Rosario doesn’t mention these facts.  He talks about her cookie-baking instead.

A week and four dead police officers later, Rosario’s whitewash of Sarah Jane Olson’s attempts to kill policemen is even less forgivable.  It’s rhetoric like this, and the unrepentant posture of Olson herself, that lives on, sadly, in neighborhoods in Oakland that can ill afford such self-destructive theatrics.