Amazing, the amount of work it takes to get our leaders to the point of appearing to do their jobs.  But the job of getting elected officials to do their jobs, alas, is never done.  The mayor and chief of police have promised more police on the streets by next summer (and if this promise is not kept, they will be long gone anyway, so accountability is moot).  A weekend crime sweep netted 159 arrests, including many for outstanding warrants, which means that enough manpower was deployed to do what is supposed to be done all the time: pick up people with outstanding warrants.

In other words, in the last five days, the mayor briefly did her job by addressing the crime problem while only slightly denying it; the chief of police was spotted in the same zip code as his office, and law enforcement officers were given enough resources for all of 48 hours.

So far, so good.  But now those 159 arrestees are in the hands of the District Attorney and the Court.  And that, my friends, is where everything falls down.

~~~

There are two compelling crime stories in Sunday Paper this week.  “Back on the Streets Again: Midtown Battles the Same Offenders Over and Over” addresses the problem of the courts.  Patrick Bray and Stephanie Ramage profile just a few of the repeat offenders emboldened by the justice system’s inability to hold them accountable for their actions:

Midtown resident Kim Bannerman was attacked in her minivan while stopped at a traffic light at the corner of 5th Street and Peachtree Street one day in June.

Her attacker, Kim Paige, a Midtown vagrant with mental issues, stood in the street obstructing traffic and then climbed on the hood of Bannerman’s van, maneuvering around to the driver’s side window and attempting to pull Bannerman out of the van by her hair.

How many times has Kim Paige attacked strangers on Atlanta’s streets?  Well, that’s hard to figure.  The Clerk of Superior Court, Cathelene Robinson, does not post criminal records on the Clerk of Court’s website.  She does, however, dedicate a portion of the website to a yearbook-like photo collage of her own life.  The website also weirdly features a “History of Fulton County” cribbed from someplace else, in which we learn:

North of the Chattahoochee River what is now Fulton County is quite different than Atlanta and its environs. Although rapid growth is battling history in an oft repeated scenario, the quiet, aged roads of Milton County sing a song of a different era, when horseless carriages were preceded by horsedrawn ones and you would see your next door neighbor every other week.

What, one might ask, is this corn-pone blathering doing on the Clerk of Court’s website, instead of access to the criminal records that comprise the office’s actual business?  Perhaps it has to do with pretending (pretending badly) to proffer the never-delivered “History of the Fulton County Court,” for which Ms. Robinson’s impressively corrupt mentor and predecessor, Juanita Hicks, was handsomely paid (hit the link for some good advice from Maureen Downey about recalling Robinson).

Taxpayers may not be able to look up Kim Paige’s criminal record to determine precisely how worried they need to be the next time she mounts a car hood and starts trying to pull the occupants out by their hair,   but they can learn that Clerk of Court Cathelene Robinson’s motto is: “Whatever you chose to be, strive to be the best.”

And that is just one sign of the chaos in judiciary.  But it is an important one, and the first that should be fixed.  Without systematic access to the outcomes of criminal cases, there is no way to know if the courts are functioning at all.  There is no way to know which judges are enforcing sentencing and recidivism laws, or which violent offenders are being allowed to walk by the district attorney — no way to make informed decisions at election time or evaluate the “alternative sentencing” programs being forced down people’s throats.  Why are the courts permitted to operate in secrecy?

From the Sunday Paper article:

Besides [Kim] Paige, the [Midtown Ponce Security Alliance] MPSA is keeping an eye out for several other vagrants they don’t want to come back. One is Kenneth Lamb. Known as the “barefoot panhandler,” Lamb has spent most of his adult life in prison for rape, aggravated assault and robbery. . . Yet another concern is Ricky Love, who is currently in jail after years of terrorizing people in Midtown. The Fulton County Superior Court convicted him in September 2008 for aggravated assault. Love was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment but credited with two years already served in pre-trial detention. The judge suspended the remainder under two conditions:  Love must undergo treatment for mental health issues and banishment from Fulton County. . .

“Unless they are caught with a gun or drugs on them, the judges are not going to do anything and the suspects know that,” says one policeman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

~~~

So how many of those 159 defendants arrested in the weekend sting are already out on the streets again?

How many mentally incompetent or young offenders among them are learning the lesson — right now — that they can get away with attacking someone or stealing something?

Below is the record for Kenneth Lamb’s state incarceration history — in other words, for those crimes deemed serious enough to bump him up to state prison, not just arrest-and-release or a stint in county jail.  I’m hypothesizing, because I don’t have the records in front of me, and Cathelene Robinson is busy scrapbooking on the Fulton County Superior Court website, but it looks to me that case #127823, for aggravated assault, robbery, motor vehicle theft, armed robbery, rape, and conversion, netted Lamb four seven-year sentences in 1980, and he walked out of prison 3 years, 8 months later.  Two months after that (at the most), he raped again, and then again, and there is little reason to doubt that he committed other rapes for which he was not caught or convicted.

Because studies claiming that sex offenders are not prone to recidivism are bunk.  And the police routinely close several rape cases when a serial offender gets sent down for one or two.

So the next time your neighbor chews you out for not expressing proper empathy for the “harmless” homeless person breaking into your basement or grabbing strangers by the hair on the street, tell them to contemplate Kenneth Lamb’s record, or any one of the thousand of others that illustrate the failure of our justice system to protect the public (including, for that matter, the actually harmless homeless, who are the easiest prey).

LAMB, KENNETH C

GDC ID: 0000220527

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
YOB: 1962 RACE: WHITE GENDER: MALE
HEIGHT: 5’09” WEIGHT: 162 EYE COLOR: HAZEL HAIR COLOR: BROWN
SCARS, MARKS, TATTOOS
TATTOO/MEDIUM BODY
INCARCERATION DETAILS
MAJOR OFFENSE: POSS OF COCAINE
MOST RECENT INSTITUTION: BALDWIN STATE PRISON
MAX POSSIBLE RELEASE DATE: 09/30/2006
TENTATIVE PAROLE MONTH: NOT ALLOWED IN THIS CASE
ACTUAL RELEASE DATE: 09/30/2006
CURRENT STATUS: INACTIVE
KNOWN ALIASES
A.K.A. LAMB,KENNETH
A.K.A. LAMB,KENNETH CHARLES
A.K.A. LAMB,KENNETH L
STATE OF GEORGIA – CURRENT SENTENCES
CASE NO: 608522
OFFENSE: POSS OF COCAINE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 01/03/2006
SENTENCE LENGTH: 0 YEARS, 4 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
STATE OF GEORGIA – PRIOR SENTENCES
CASE NO: 177743
OFFENSE: poss of marijuana
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 01/08/1985
SENTENCE LENGTH: 0 YEARS, 12 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 177743
OFFENSE: AGG ASLT W INTNT TO RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 01/08/1985
SENTENCE LENGTH: 20 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 177743
OFFENSE: RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 05/03/1984
SENTENCE LENGTH: 5 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: NOT AVAILABLE
CONVICTION COUNTY: CONVERSION
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: ARMED ROBBERY
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: ROBBERY
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: THEFT MOTORVEH OR PART
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: ROBBERY
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: AGGRAV ASSAULT
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE
STATE OF GEORGIA – INCARCERATION HISTORY
INCARCERATION BEGIN INCARCERATION END
07/20/2006 09/30/2006
03/14/1985 02/20/2005
07/11/1980 03/04/1984
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