Do Ralston and Bottoms Really Want Hate Crime Laws? Because the Atlanta Rioters Are All Hate Criminals. Including Bottoms and Ralston.

Certain politicians and pundits in Atlanta — Double-Dipping Mayor I’ll take two paychecks for that one job thank you very much Keisha Lance Bottoms, disgraced GOP House Speaker David Ralston, job-threatening public-radio-triple-dipper Bill Nigut, and every single Democrat and virtue-signaling Republican want to pass a hate crime law in Georgia.  Because Brunswick.  Because George Floyd.  Because “racism.”  Purportedly against all black men.  Purportedly by all police.

As of this writing, such rhetoric and the riots they birthed have resulted in serious injuries to more than 400 police and several murders of police, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage and looting. ... 

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David Shafer Sponsored the National Popular Vote Bill With Stacey Abrams. He Has No Business Being the Chairman of the Georgia GOP.

Did This Happen?

On Saturday, the Georgia GOP will hold their statewide convention in Savannah. Former State Senator David Shafer is one of the three candidates to head the state party. I spoke with Shafer this week at an advance event for the convention. He was gracious. He amassed a good record in the state senate. He seems like a nice guy.

But David Shafer has no business running the state party because he sponsored the National Popular Vote bill, a bill that would existentially devastate the GOP in Georgia — and everywhere else in the United States. Worse, he co-sponsored the bill with our party’s sworn enemies, people like Stacey Abrams and “Venceremos Brigade” Nan Orrock, who was my representative for 20 years, during which time I came to understand very well just how radical she is.  ... 

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We Killed the Hate Crimes Bill in Georgia, Again

20 years ago, I singlehandedly took on the SPLC and the ADL and the NAACP and the incredibly sleazy Rural Urban Summit and the HRC and a score of other alphabet soup organizations and helped kill the hate crimes bill in Georgia with a well-placed op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that argued these laws are in fact oppressive to speech and destroy equality for victims before the law.

And, oh yeah, that the hate crime activists are bunch of liars about the real uses of these “laws.”

I’m looking at you, Bill Nigut.  Unlike some of your victims, you can’t get me fired by throwing your ADL-abetted weight around, pal.  And trust me, I still remember the first time you twisted a story in my presence — to my benefit because I was a Democrat at the time — but I saw it and had the decency to be appalled for the pro-life activists you were perjuring on the other side.

Some of us have non-selective scruples.  Also, I know who you got fired.

A long, long time ago, when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, Bill Nigut taught me everything I needed to know about media bias.  Maybe I should write a children’s book about it.  Bill would be the grasshopper twisting arms and accusing people of prejudice in order to destroy their lives, then he would hop back to his nest (do grasshoppers live in nests?) and cash all his many checks from public, academic, nonprofit, and private agencies paying him to work some 900 hours a week because he’s that special kind of grasshopper.  Nice gigs if you can get them.  Maybe the state or the IRS should investigate exactly how much time he clocks at all those different jobs.

Probably it would be too gross to be a children’s book.  For example:

Bill Nigut, Investigative Reporter

So here is my anti-hate crime bill editorial this time.  Jesse Smollett helped me write it.  In a way.

Insider Advantage, Georgia ... 

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Georgia Rep. Chuck Efstration and Others Need to Answer Questions About Their Hate Crime Bill, HB426

So Georgia has another hate crimes bill pending,

HB 426 is sponsored by the following legislators:

Chuck Efstration, Calvin Smyre, Karen Bennett, Deborah Silcox, Karla Drenner, and Ron Stephens.

As I have documented for years, hate crime laws aren’t accidentally discriminatory and dishonest: they were designed to be discriminatory and dishonest. The drafters of hate crime legislation in 1997 — Bill Clinton, Eric Holder, Elena Kagan, and a bunch of politically motivated activists — weren’t driven by the desire to oppose hate whenever and wherever it happens. They were motivated to create a false picture of an America as a nation where ‘ordinary crime’ was not as important as the crimes they deemed “hate.”

To do this, they created hierarchies of victims.

They destroyed our highest principle of equality before the law.

They empowered unelected activists to dictate what was and was not hate, destroying the way that our democracy and our criminal justice system is supposed to work.

They made justice itself into just another identity politics shell game.

The biggest problem with selling the hate crimes racket to the American public was and is the problem of crimes committed against women for being women. There are just too many such “gender bias” crimes to … “count ’em,” as Bill Clinton laconically intoned to adoring audiences: if we counted all those crimes against women, then hate crime laws would just become about serial rapists and serial killers and other guys who snatched random women (or men, or boys, or girls) off the streets.

The hate crime activists — who were and are anti-cop leftists and race activists and gay activists and Jewish and Muslim groups and advocates for illegal immigrants — sure didn’t want that sort of outcome, especially as it carried with it the problem that many, if not most, hate crime offenders might end up being minority men. And they certainly didn’t want that, either.

So they cooked the books. Over the next few weeks as we try to stop the hate crimes bill in Georgia for the second time, I will tell the story of how the hate crimes industry started cooking the books in 1997 to get the statistics they desired, and how they have succeeded in pulling off the greatest statistical hoax in American history.

You can read the whole story right now by reading this PDF: Rape is Not A Hate Crime Against Women.

You can also read some of my earlier hate crime articles in the categories: “hate crimes” and “The Hate Crimes Racket” on this blog.

We need to get the sponsors of HB 426 to answer some hard questions about the bill they’re pushing on Georgia. If you live in their districts, please try to get them to answer the questions I have posed below for each of the bill’s sponsors. If they respond, I’ll post their responses, with or without your name. Also please feel free to ask me anything about hate crime laws and why I oppose them. If you email me with a good question, privately, I won’t use your name in my response here, but I like to know to whom I’m speaking off the blog itself.

This is a pro-cop blog, and I ALWAYS keep police and other law officials’ identities private. If you are a law enforcement officer or a state or federal statistician or prosecutor who wants to share information about the way you were taught to enforce (and not enforce) hate crime laws, I promise you I will never reveal your identity. I have references from police who will vouch for me. Believe me, I know what’s at stake.

Here are some questions for the sponsors of Georgia HB 426. Feel free to share it widely!

Questions for Sponsors of HB 426

Rep. Chuck Efstration, Dacula:

• Do you believe Ed Kramer, the infamous child predator and convicted child molester who has repeatedly eluded justice and recently was caught once again preying on a young boy in your district, should be charged with gender bias hate crime under your bill? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Why do you feel the need to prioritize so-called hate crime legislation this session when prolific sexual predators such as Kramer are still clearly not being properly monitored or incarcerated, leaving them loose in your district to prey on even more child victims?

• Why is prolific, Atlanta-based serial killer Michael Darnell Harvey, who mutilated and reportedly lynched by hanging at least some of his female victims while raping and murdering them, never cited among the notorious killers used to justify the alleged need for hate crime laws? Do you believe he should be added to the HCSA statistics as a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe violent serial rapist Blair Malachi Washington, arrested in your district, should be charged with gender bias hate? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe James Hiram Akil Watkins, arrested in your district for stabbing, beating, torturing and murdering his 77-year old neighbor, should be charged with a hate crime? If not, why not?

• Do you believe accused murderers Glenda Carter, Russell Williams, and Zarius Williams, charged with killing one man with a baseball bat and nearly murdered another in your district should be charged with hate crime murder and hate crime attempted murder under your bill? If not, why not? Do you believe they are hate criminals? If not, why not?

• Do you believe Franecha Torres, Nicholas Evans, and Khalil Miller, charged with brutally murdering a 21-year old man in your district, should be charged with hate crimes? If not, why not?

• Do you believe serial killer Charles Lendell Carter, convicted in your district, who killed three women, should be counted as a hate criminal in the federal HCSA (Hate Crime Statistics Act) statistics collection that may be updated in Georgia if your legislation passes? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe Samuel Little, who may be the most prolific serial killer of women in America, should be added to the federal HCSA statistics and other hate crime lists, such as those used to educate schoolchildren? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe the as-yet unidentified rapist who has left DNA at seven rape and attempted rape sites in Clayton County since 2015 should be counted as a gender bias hate criminal? A race bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

Rep. Deborah Silcox, Powers Ferry/Cobb County

• Do you believe prolific serial rapist Christopher Charles Sanders, who was released from prison five times and was most recently arrested for rape in your district, should be charged with gender bias hate crime? If not, why not? And if so, do you understand that the bill you are sponsoring will not count crimes such as his as gender bias hate?

• Do you believe Sanders’ sometimes co-conspirator, Ryan Neal Walker, should also be charged with hate crime for gang-raping at least one woman with Sanders? If not, why not?

• Although Sanders and Walker left DNA at the 2006 rape site and Sanders left DNA at other rape sites, due to lack of attention and resources, their DNA samples were not tested for years, during which time Sanders committed more rapes. How do you justify trying to pass legislation that knowingly, deceptively excludes rape victims from being counted as victims of gender bias hate (thus denying these victims and other women law enforcement resources) while rape victims in your district continue being ignored and denied justice in such egregious ways?

• Do you believe Aeman Lovel Presley, who murdered your constituent Karen Pearce in a random attack in Decatur and also killed three homeless men, should be categorized as a hate criminal for all four murders or just a hate criminal for some of his crimes, such as the crimes against homeless men?

• Do you believe serial killer Gary Michael Hilton, arrested in your district, who tortured and killed at least several women and one man, including Meredith Emerson in Cumming and Cheryl Dunlap, whom he decapitated, should be counted as a hate criminal in the federal HCSA statistics collection that may be updated in Georgia if your legislation passes? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Why is prolific, Atlanta-based serial killer and torturer Michael Darnell Harvey, who mutilated and reportedly lynched by hanging at least some of his female victims while raping and murdering them, never cited among the notorious killers used to justify the alleged need for hate crime laws? Do you believe he should be added to the HCSA statistics as a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

Rep. Karen Bennett, Stone Mountain:

• Do you believe the man who snatched a 13-year old child off a railroad track in your district and raped her should be prosecuted as a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe serial rapist Corey Griffin, who terrorized, beat, tortured and and raped multiple women in Clarkston and Stone Mountain, should be prosecuted as a hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Why is prolific, Atlanta-based serial killer and torturer Michael Darnell Harvey, who mutilated and reportedly lynched by hanging at least some of his female victims while raping and murdering them, never cited among the notorious killers used to justify the alleged need for hate crime laws? Do you believe he should be added to the HCSA statistics as a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Your district has one of the highest crime rates in the state. Astonishingly, your constituents have a one in 13 chance of becoming a crime victim. How many of these crimes do you view as hate crimes? How do you distinguish between hate crimes and other crimes in your district?

• How many of the murders in your district are what you would call hate crimes?

• Don’t you think you should be doing more to focus on the terrible crime rate in your district instead of advocating on the vague and politicized issue of so-called hate crimes?

Rep. Calvin Smyre, Columbus:

• Do you believe Carlton Gary, the prolific serial torturer, rapist, and murderer of women in your district, should be counted as a gender-based hate criminal in the federal HCSA statistics collection that may be updated in Georgia as a result of your proposed legislation? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe Samuel Little, who confessed to killing at least three women in your district, and who may be the most prolific serial killer of women in America, should be added to the federal HCSA statistics and other hate crime lists, such as those used to educate schoolchildren? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Columbus, your district, saw more than 1,000 reports of sexual assault in 2018 alone. Do you view some of these as potential gender-bias hate crimes? If not, why not? Do you view all of these as potential gender-bias hate crimes? If not, why not? How would you differentiate between gender-bias rape and non-gender-bias rape?

Rep. Ron Stephens, Savannah:

• Do you believe Reinaldo Rivera, serial killer, rapist and torturer of women, including at least two in your district, should be added to the federal HCSA statistics as a gender bias hate criminal? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe Samuel Little, who confessed to killing at least two women in your district, and who may be the most prolific serial killer of women in America, should be added to the federal HCSA statistics and other hate crime lists, such as those used to educate schoolchildren? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe Edward Charles Wilkins, convicted in 2007 of murdering three prostitutes in your district, should be counted as a gender-bias hate criminal in the federal HCSA statistics collection that may be updated in Georgia if your legislation passes? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe serial rapist Theron Morrell Hendrix, convicted of kidnapping and raping a child and two adult women in Savannah, should be added to the federal HCSA statistics. Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

Rep. Carla Drenner, Avondale:

• Do you believe Wayne Williams, the convicted murderer of two of Atlanta’s “Missing and Murdered” male children, some of whom disappeared in the vicinity of your district, should be counted as a race-bias and/or gender bias hate criminal in the federal HCSA statistics collection that may be updated in Georgia if your legislation passes? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Why is prolific, Atlanta-based serial killer and torturer Michael Darnell Harvey, who mutilated and reportedly lynched by hanging at least some of his female victims while raping and murdering them, never cited among the notorious killers used to justify the alleged need for hate crime laws? His victims include your constituents. Do you believe he should be added to the HCSA statistics as a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

• Do you believe serial killer and gay prostitute Howard Milton Belcher, who tortured and killed at least four gay men, including one in your district, should be added to the HCSA statistics as a gender-bias hate criminal? Do you believe he is a gender-bias hate criminal? If not, why not?

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The Daryle Edward Jones Case Grows Worse

Yesterday, I posted about yet another heinous sex crime committed by yet another felon who should have been in prison but was granted leniency and was free on the streets.

The information I had yesterday was limited to what I could find in public incarceration records, but today the Athens (Georgia) newspaper has more details about Jones’ criminal history.

And they are damning, not only because he got out early for a murder he committed in 1994, but even after he got out early and immediately committed another crime, the state essentially passed on an opportunity to put him behind bars for that crime for a substantial period of time.

Here’s the story:

Jones was paroled in 2010 [for the 1994 murder], but he was quickly back in prison.

In August 2011 he was arrested on stalking and terroristic threat charges for having threatened to murder a woman, according to records. The arrest sent him back to prison for a parole violation but he was paroled again in October 2013.

Two months later, on Dec. 23, Jones was convicted for the 2011 stalking and terroristic threats charges and sentenced to 200 days of incarceration with six years of probation. He was given credit for time already served.

Jones has been treated to serial leniency, which is the default choice of our justice system nearly all the time.  In 1994, he was allowed to plead (presumably down from murder) to voluntary manslaughter, which put him back on the streets.  Then he was given a mere 200 days (with credit for time served, no days, actually) for stalking and terroristic threats committed in 2011.

These aren’t “nothing” sentences.  But they do reflect the normalization of reduced sentencing throughout the criminal justice system.  Academicians, the media, and leftists relentlessly accuse our justice system of being too harsh on offenders.  But exactly the opposite its true.  It would not have been too harsh to sentence Jones to life without parole for murder in 1994, but he got 20 years instead, and then he got released four years early, originally serving only 16 years for taking a life.   And while we don’t know all the details of the 2011 case, I doubt it would have been “harsh” at all to sentence him to something more than time served for stalking and threatening to kill a woman.

Serial leniency has now resulted in a 14-year old girl being kidnapped, raped and tortured:

 [L]ast Wednesday, Athens-Clarke County police said that Jones lured a 14-year-old girl into a vehicle then locked the doors so she could not escape.

He allegedly drove the girl to an isolated location where he pulled a gun and sexually assaulted her, police said.

Jones, of Oak Hill Drive, was arrested two days later on charges of rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated child molestation and aggravated sodomy.

Chalk up another rape to the anti-incarceration activists who shill the fantasy that our prisons are stuffed with victims of harsh, unjustly long sentencing — “victims” who must be petted, celebrated, sympathized with, released early, and “re-entered” into society on our dime.  That little girl’s horrific ordeal is more blood on your hands.

 

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Let Out Early for Voluntary Manslaughter, Now Accused of Kidnapping and Rape

Here’s another one.

Another what?

Another offender who should have been in prison but was let out early, and some innocent child paid the price.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Daryle Edward Jones kidnapped and raped a young girl in Athens, Georgia:

Jones, 41, has been charged with rape, aggravated assault, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and kidnapping in the case. He remained in the county jail Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what they did not report: Daryle Edward Jones was supposed to be in prison until April.  Or at least that is how long he would have served, had he served his entire previous sentence.  Which, of course, nobody ever does, but isn’t it nice to imagine that somebody, somewhere, even once, would serve all their damn time?

In April of 1994, Jones committed voluntary manslaughter.  It’s hard to know from the online records what he really did, but suffice to say that getting 20 years in 1994 was the maximum for that crime and serving nearly all of it was unusual, so I suspect at least one of two things:

  • The crime was particularly heinous and the voluntary manslaughter was offered only with an agreement to serve a long sentence.
  • Jones, who was 21 at the time, must have had a terrible juvenile record, likely sealed.

So Darlye Jones went to prison for voluntary manslaughter in April, 1995 (he’d probably had a year in jail before that) and got out June, 2010, fifteen years later.  Then he was back in prison from January, 2012 to October, 2013, possibly for a parole violation because no other crime is listed.  Four months after finally being released, he has committed a heinous kidnapping/rape.

What is there to learn from this?

Under-prosecution may be the problem.

My guess — and it’s just a guess — is that Jones had a prolific and violent criminal career before being put away at the age of 21.  Yet he was only charged with one crime, which is entirely typical, even today.  Contrary to what all liberals and all those Right on Crime Grover Norquist types and Reason libertarians believe, our criminal justice system is wildly lenient towards nearly all criminals and expends the resources to put away only a tiny fraction of people who commit even serious crimes.

And given his current crime and the severity of his previous sentence, he may have been a sex offender but the sex offense was not kept on the table for some reason.  He’s not in the sex offender registry, as far as I can tell.

There is troubling talk across the Right today about prosecutorial over-reach.  I consider such talk to be almost entirely anecdotal and wildly out of touch with reality in our criminal courts — and motivated in large part by Alex Jones and his ilk, who have it out for police in an utterly personal and unhinged way.

Yes, the Department of Justice in Washington and Eric Holder in particular are troubling, and Holder is openly contemptuous of the rule of law and treats victims of crime with contempt — except those who fit certain categories of so-called hate crime that he invented in 1999.  Holder is pro-criminal, anti-victim and almost entirely lawless, but Eric Holder does not represent law enforcement in the states.

The sort of leniency that lets a killer walk free to rape a child is what too often represents criminal justice in the states.  We need longer sentences and more law enforcement, not less of both.  How many times do we have to see stories like this?  Let’s talk about what the feds are up to, certainly.  But don’t conflate that with state courts where, especially in urban areas, crimes like burglary aren’t even being investigated, let alone prosecuted anymore, and prolific criminals still have most of their charges dropped against them every day.

Here is a terrific response by “David” to yet another anecdotal complaint about “over-prosecution” from the Right.  It is in response to this (uncharacteristically) lazy screed in what is usually an excellent source on crime policy, City Journal:

Before every reader of this article jumps on the “let’s bash prosecutors” bandwagon, the good professor’s thoughts warrant a bit of careful consideration. Professor Bhide is, after all, a PROFESSOR of law, not a practitioner. And his online list of accomplishments shows that he has never practiced criminal law at any time in his illustrious career. Indeed, his expertise lies more in the realm of business and, perhaps, economics. Having said this, Professor Bhede is correct to be outraged by Ms. Khobraghade’s arrest and the humiliating and inexcusable way she was treated while incarcerated. Professor Bhede is also correct when he expresses concern about the proliferation of federal criminal laws. And perhaps Professor Bhede is also on to something when he quotes the following from the ABA (though this organization is not particularly well-known for either its objectivity or its lack of bias): “‘Individual citizen behavior now potentially subject to federal criminal control has increased in astonishing proportions.'”

But the key words in the quote Professor Bhede uses from the ABA are “potentially subject”. For even though there are too many federal criminal laws, it has been my actual experience that the feds prosecute only a tiny fraction of the cases they could file. Additionally, the feds file ONLY when they are assured of victory (not the standard for filing a criminal charge, contrary to Eric Holder’s excuses to the contrary) and potential good press. Professor Bhede lists a number of activities that Congress has criminalized since our Constitution’s ratification. But the impetus for the “busybody Congresses” that pass these laws usually takes the form of busybody groups and individuals who believe this or that activity should be criminalized. Prohibition readily comes to mind. …

So for those who are ready to jump up and say, “Professor Bhide is absolutely correct! Federal prosecutors need to be reigned in!”, I would respond that too often these very same prosecutors do too little with regard to crimes that directly impact the safety and welfare of our society. And I say this because I spent almost 20 years as a state prosecutor, in a major metropolitan area, where I concentrated primarily on handling felony narcotics dealing and firearms offenses. (To those who would protest and say that I was part of the problem because I was part of the “War on Drugs”, I would respond as follows: Please go tell this to the little 75 or 80 year old woman who is afraid to go out on her front porch because a group of punks–usually armed–are slinging crack, coke, or meth in her neighborhood. This person lives in fear for her life every day. Tell her that the street in front of her house is not a war zone. She’ll say you’re wrong.) Very little assistance was provided prosecuting these crimes by any of the U.S. Attorneys and their staffs in the city where I worked. I don’t know what, exactly, were the priorities of our resident U.S. Attorneys (several of them came and went during my time as a deputy prosecutor), but I do know that they couldn’t be bothered to help make our city’s streets and outlying areas safer. With the laws available to them, U.S. Attorneys can do a lot to put really bad people out of commission for very long periods of time. But if a certain crime (or group of crimes) aren’t on some important politician’s radar, well, such crimes won’t be prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney. …

Too many laws? Perhaps. Not enough use of many of the laws already in existence? Yes. …

 . . . read the whole thing here 

 

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Murder by Leniency? Another Reason We Need To Stop Treating Domestic Violence Like Domestic Violence

There once was a time when feminist activists tried to make the courts respond to domestic violence the way they respond to violence between strangers.  This was a very good impulse, both morally and rationally, and also in terms of making our justice system operate equitably (in the “equal,” not “social justice” sense of the term “equitable”).

You shouldn’t serve less time for stabbing someone just because she is your wife or was once your wife.  Or your husband.

The law shouldn’t make exceptions for people based on their identities.  Criminal acts should be the only factor determining punishment.  Of course, there is manslaughter and there is murder; crimes of passion and random violence; there are many factors to be considered when two people live together and the relationship is a violent one.  But the goal of making the criminal act, not the relationship, the deciding factor for the punishment is and always has been a good goal.

Those early domestic violence advocates were dealing with a judicial system that did, until surprisingly recently, make it exceedingly difficult to put violent offenders behind bars if the targets of their violence were their own family members.  Things are better now.  They aren’t perfect.  They’re more equal.  The overall path has been towards equality.  And as I write this, I know I will hear from people who feel they were given a raw deal because they are men and the feminists have taken over the courts, so let me say this up front: I happen to advocate for radical equality, not special treatment of anyone, unless they are children, for obvious reasons.  I’m also very suspicious of feminist legal ventures that attempt to excuse murders by women who claim they were suffering from battered woman syndrome and are therefore not responsible for their actions.  If self defense is the defense, so be it.  But there are plenty of women who belong in prison, or deserve to stay there, as much as any other murderer, despite the fact that their victim once battered them.

Having worked with the domestic violence movement, I know enough about the dynamics of the crime to know that men are not infrequently victims too.  That’s actually more reason for us to pursue every domestic violence case objectively and with little consideration for the voluntary relationship involved, except insomuch as the technical elements of that relationship can be considered evidence of a crime.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between the legal reforms of the 1970’s that demanded equal treatment for blacks, or women, or gays, versus the special rights movements that subsumed these earlier efforts.  For a brief window of time, equality was the ambition, and a lot of good came of that.  Those healthy legal efforts led to new sex crime laws, for example, that punished the offender based on his behavior, not on the victim’s identity.  They opened the door for prosecutions of men who raped men and the prosecution of female rapists — virtually all of whom target children.  They enabled battered women to see their violent husbands serve time for beating them, and visa versa.

But then the emphasis shifted to special rights, special protections, affirmative action justice and identity-based law enforcement.  The politicization of crime is spinning wildly out of control these days — illegal immigrants are given special leniency when they can’t produce a driver’s license in Los Angeles, for example; the hate crimes industry is a bottomless pit of prejudicial law enforcement; affirmative action poisons every aspect of employment law and equal rights; federal meddling casually threatens police with career-destroying racial charges for simply trying to do their jobs.   The sheer notion of equality before the law is deemed risible by the “best” legal minds.

Equality isn’t the goal anymore.

We need to get back to that moment when it was the goal.  Because in addition to being the right thing to do, equality worked a hell of a lot better than the alternative.  Inequality of any type, I’ve come to believe, is the handmaiden of leniency.  When any crime is politicized, the courts lose the moral authority they need to maintain every law.

I thought of this when I saw the following headline in the Atlanta Journal Constitution today:

Slain woman predicted her own death

Donna Kristofak was terrified and letting the court know it. John S. Kristofak, who was her husband for 19 years, had been arrested six months earlier as he chased her in a Wal-Mart parking lot. In his car were a butcher’s knife and what police called “a suicide note.”

During a court hearing Oct. 12, Mrs. Kristofak begged a Cobb County judge not to release him from jail. “I fear for my life,” she told Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs, telling the judge that a court-issued order of protection would not stop her crazed ex-spouse.

Early Thursday, fugitive squads arrested Kristofak, 58, after a short struggle at a Motel 6 in Union City, ending a publicized five-day manhunt. He was charged with doing exactly what he’d promised earlier this year: murder.

I have a lot of questions about this case.  What the hell was this man doing out of prison for time served, seven months after trying to kidnap and plotting (with evidence) to murder his ex-wife last March?  Why wasn’t he prosecuted for attempted kidnapping and given a real sentence?  Why wasn’t he given a sentence enhancement for repeatedly violating the restraining order in place against him before the March incident?  What happened to the mandatory minimum of 10 years without parole for kidnapping in Georgia?  Was a protective order used in lieu of prosecuting him for kidnapping?

Why does anybody get time served and probation for attempting to kidnap, with the written intent to kill, anyone?  Ex-wife or no ex-wife?

The judge in this case has more explaining to do, as does the prosecutor and the defense attorney and everyone else involved in what may be an illegal plea deal that left an unsurprised woman unsurprisingly dead.  I’m not saying that any of them treated John Kristofak with special leniency because his target was his ex-wife, but why was he released from prison with such a paltry sentence when he had just set out to kill someone, threatened her repeatedly, stalked her, and then tried to kidnap her from a public place?

Kristofak remained in jail until October, when he cut a plea deal with the court that would sentence him to seven months in jail and have him serve the rest of the 5-year term on probation.

According to the transcript of the guilty plea Oct. 12, Donna Kristofak told the judge: “I definitely want a permanent order of no contact. May I also say that a protective order existed the night of the arrest and I do not feel that will necessarily bring safety.”

Judge Grubbs: “I understand that. It’s a little different with a TPO and filing a protective order. … If he violates the order in this case he gets picked up by the probation violation and put in jail immediately.”

Mrs. Kristofak: “Yes, your honor, I respect that and thank you for that. My fear is that I may not survive that …”

“I understand,” the judge said, cutting in.

“… I fear for my life,” Mrs. Kristofak continued.

“I can’t tell you with 100 percent, I’d be lying to you and I am sorry you are in that position,” said the judge, sounding sympathetic. “But whatever I do, you can go out and, you’ve got that risk but you will have that … copy of the protective order so the minute you get nervous about anything you call the police. … It’s as close as we can get to 100 percent.”

“Thank you, your honor,” Mrs. Kristofak said. “May I ask, your honor, that it is on the record that I fear for my life?”

“It is on the record,” said Judge Grubbs . . .

On December 22, John Kristofak killed Donna Kristofak in the garage of her home.

Keeping Kristofak in prison would have been 100%.  Apparently, the restraining order was a giant zero.

If Kristofak was treated with special leniency in the March crime because his victim was his wife, something needs to be done about that.

If Kristofak was treated with run-or-the-mill leniency for no special reason, something needs to be done about that, too.

 read the article here

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Gaming The System: DragonCon Founder Edward Kramer Caught With Another Boy

I wonder what Bob Barr has to say about Ed Kramer’s health these days.

Ed Kramer, Pre-Miraculous Recovery/New Child-Endangerment Charges

As reported here, back in 2009 Barr, the former Libertarian Presidential Candidate, helped his client Ed Kramer avoid trial — helped him avoid justice — in multiple felony charges for child molestation and aggravated child molestation.  Barr and fellow defense attorney Edwin Marger managed to convince a judge in Georgia that Ed Kramer simply could not stand trial because it would be too painful for him to show up in a courtroom because of some obscure, obviously pretend spinal illness.

You know, kind of like fantasy role-playing.

Kramer had first been arrested in 2000 — yes, 2000 — on charges of molesting three boys.  The DragonCon founder had managed to “game” the system for nine years.  Then Bob Barr took a little break from running for President and representing Baby Doc Duvalier to score a highly unusual deal for his DragonCon client: house arrest on the grounds of his extreme-yet-vague “disability.”  Not a plea, mind you: just no trial.

In other words, the three young victims were denied justice. Their rights as citizens were literally stripped from them via legal wizardry performed by someone who claims to represent individual liberties.

Well, some people’s liberties.

Of course, Ed Kramer immediately pushed the envelope and demanded release from house arrest. Of course, the judge granted it, along with the right to travel to another state and to “check in” by telephone.  Of course, Kramer didn’t even bother to meet those requirements.  Of course, nobody in our ever-so-vigilant court system bothered to follow up.  Of course, the victims, and the molestation charges, simply got lost in the shuffle.

Ed Kramer, Pre-Pretend Spinal Cord Disease ... 

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Lavelle McNutt Sentenced To Life. Finally. After Only 35 Years of Getting Cut Loose for Rape After Rape.

Atlanta serial rapist Lavelle (Lavel, Lavell) McNutt was sentenced to life this week for two rapes and two other assaults that occurred while the convicted sex offender was working in Atlanta’s Fox Sports Grill restaurant.  When you look at McNutt’s prior record of sexual assaults and other crimes, you really have to wonder what inspired the owners of Fox Grill to endanger female employees and customers by choosing to employ him.

Particularly with McNutt’s history of stalking women.  Particularly with the length of his record, and the density of his recidivism.  Was some manager actually sympathetic to McNutt’s hard-luck story?  This is no record to overlook.  Below is my partial round-up of the crimes I could find on-line.  I’m sure there’s more in arrest reports.  This guy is the classic compulsive* offender.

[*Of course, in using words like “compulsive,” I speak strictly as an amateur. Northeastern University Criminologist James Alan Fox has handed down an edict informing all non-criminologists that they are not to use fancy criminologist lingo when talking about crime.  Crime victims, especially, are not supposed to use big words or act like they know stuff.  Furthermore, they’re not supposed to become journalists, because they’re, like, totally damaged.]

James Alan Fox, Professional

We’ll return to Dr. Fox soon.  Very soon.  Back to McNutt:

McNutt’s first adult rape conviction, for two separate rapes in New York State, occurred in 1976, just after he turned 18. When you see an 18-year old convicted of a serious offense, you have to wonder about the contents of his sealed juvenile record: 18-year olds don’t wake up one day, break into the first house they see, and rape the occupant. They usually start experimenting with sexual abuse early in adolescence, victimizing their siblings, peers, and other easy targets. How many children and young women had already been sexually assaulted by McNutt by the time he aged out of the juvenile system?

I believe those victims exist, and that unlike Lavelle McNutt, they were abandoned by society. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the football coaches and college presidents who treated McNutt like a victim because he was a rapist abetted him in his crimes, thus sentencing his victims to a lifetime without justice.

The two rape victims in the New York State cases were also denied justice, only in a different way. McNutt was sentenced to a preposterously light term of five years for the two rapes. He served less than three years of that, and by 1979 he was a college student at Atlanta’s Morehouse University. Almost immediately, he was charged in another sexual assault, this time for aggravated sodomy. In May, 1979, he began serving a seven-year sentence for that crime. He got out in three years.

In 1982, Lavelle McNutt was 24 years old and already had three adult sexual assault convictions on his record. Two years later, he was convicted of aggravated assault in Clayton County. Was that a rape case, pled down to a non-sexual charge? He also had a burglary conviction in Fulton County, date unknown. Burglary and aggravated assault charges from the early 1980’s might very well have been rapes, or attempted rapes. Atlanta was notorious at that time for going easy on sex offenders — thanks largely to irresponsible jurors who rendered sex crime prosecutions almost impossible to win, regardless of the circumstances. An ugly contempt for victims of rape was the status quo in the courts. The malaise incited by public prejudices towards victims crashed the entire system, and Atlanta was a rapist’s paradise. And a victim’s nightmare. It would be very interesting to know more about those crimes.

In 1984, McNutt was sentenced to five years for the aggravated assault. Oddly, he did serve nearly all of that sentence, receiving only a few months off, probably for the time he was behind bars awaiting sentencing. This is another reason I suspect that the underlying crime was something more serious than aggravated assault. In any case, for five years the public was protected from him. Pre-sentencing reform, this was the best a prosecutor could do. In August, 1989, he was free again.

In 1992, McNutt was charged in Fulton County with the offense called “Peeping Tom.” Funny as that sounds, he was probably casing out a victim to rape or amusing himself between more serious attacks. He received three years for the Fulton crime and 12 months for a crime labeled “other misdemeanor” in Gwinnett County. He was out again two years later, in 1994.

And then the crimes started again. Disturbingly, there are parole officials and possibly prosecutors and judges in Metro Atlanta who then ignored Georgia’s new sentencing laws and continued to illegally grant McNutt leniency, enabling him to rape even more women.  Why is nobody in the Atlanta media looking up these cases and asking the corrections department, to explain their actions?  If I was one of McNutt’s later victims, I’d sue everybody involved in cutting him loose.

Georgia’s sentencing reform law was passed in 1994. It was supposed to enhance sentencing for repeat offenders and extend sentences significantly for so-called “serious violent offenders.” But the law was passed with several default mechanisms that enabled judges to keep releasing repeat offenders onto the streets. Consider this language:

Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, any person convicted of a felony offense in this state or having been convicted under the laws of any other state or of the United States of a crime which if committed within this state would be a felony and sentenced to confinement in a penal institution, who shall afterwards commit a felony punishable by confinement in a penal institution, shall be sentenced to undergo the longest period of time prescribed for the punishment of the subsequent offense of which he or she stands convicted, provided that, unless otherwise provided by law, the trial judge may, in his or her discretion, probate or suspend the maximum sentence prescribed for the offense [italics inserted]. (O.C.G.A. 17-10-7)

In other words, a criminal must be sentenced to the maximum penalty the second time he is convicted of a felony unless the judge decides to sentence him to something other than the maximum penalty, such as no time at all, as in the case of six-time home burglar Johnny Dennard. What is the point of a law like this? The point is that the criminal defense bar still controlled the Georgia Legislature in 1994, and other elected officials lacked the courage to stand up to them. The rest of the story is that too many judges betray disturbing pro-defendant biases, even when it comes to violent predators like Lavelle McNutt.

Nevertheless, other portions of the 1994 sentencing reform law did strengthen sentences for repeat offenders. In 1996, McNutt was charged with aggravated assault and stalking in Fulton County. Aggravated assault is not one of the “seven deadly sins” that trigger sentencing as a “serious violent felon” under the 1994 act: if it were, he would have been sentenced to life without parole due to his prior rape convictions.

Yet even as a “non-serious violent felon” repeat offender, McNutt was still required under the 1994 sentencing reform act to serve the entire sentence for his crimes. But he didn’t. He was sentenced to six years and served less than four. He walked into prison in January, 1997 and walked out again three and a half years later, in July of 2000. Even counting the time he may have spent cooling his heels in the Fulton County jail before being transferred to the state prison (or maybe not), he was out of prison four years and two months after the date of the crime for which he was sentenced to no less than six years behind bars, with no parole.

Here is the code section that restricts parole for four-time felons:

[A]ny person who, after having been convicted under the laws of this state for three felonies or having been convicted under the laws of any other state or of the United States of three crimes which if committed within this state would be felonies, commits a felony within this state other than a capital felony must, upon conviction for such fourth offense or for subsequent offenses, serve the maximum time provided in the sentence of the judge based upon such conviction and shall not be eligible for parole until the maximum sentence has been served. (from O.C.G.A. 17 -10-7)

Can anybody explain the fact that McNutt was granted parole? Who let him go early, apparently in direct violation of Georgia’s reformed sentencing law? Did the prosecutors fail to record his three prior felony convictions dating back to 1976 — two rapes (counted as one, unfortunately), aggravated sodomy, and the 1984 aggravated assault? Did the judge ignore the law of Georgia in sentencing McNutt? Did the Department of Corrections ignore the no-parole rule? Who is responsible?

These questions remain unanswered since 2009. Heck, they remain unasked, in the Atlanta media market.  More questions:

  • Why didn’t the judge give McNutt a longer sentence in the first place? How could any judge look at the accumulated evidence of violently predatory sexual behavior, of repeat offenses rolling in after each brief incarceration, and not decide that it was his or her duty to protect the public for longer than six years? Does anybody on the criminal justice bench in Atlanta even contemplate public safety in sentencing?
  • Why was McNutt charged with stalking and aggravated assault for the same incident? Was he actually attempting to commit a sexual assault? Could he have been charged with attempted sexual assault instead, a charge that would have triggered the life sentence (read: 14 years) as a serious violent felon and repeat offender? Was he permitted to plead to a charge that didn’t carry life imprisonment? Did the Fulton prosecutor’s office do everything it could do to keep McNutt off the streets, given his disturbing prior history and relentless sequence of serious crimes?
  • Was McNutt’s DNA checked before he was released from prison in 2000? Could other rapes have been solved, and charged, before he walked out of prison again? How many rapes could have been prevented, including the four recent Buckhead-area sex crimes, if this had been done? His first adult rape conviction occurred in 1976 — his latest rape charges occurred quite recently. Does anybody believe he took a twenty-year hiatus from hunting and torturing women?

I have said before that if McNutt had been labelled a hate criminal, someone in the media, or the legal world, or the activist circuit, would have cared.  Serial rapists are hate criminals, at least by the definition created by the activists, no matter how much these same activists try to keep rapes of women out of the discussion.

For, serial rapists choose one random victim after another to target; they attack the things that make their victims women (their sexual organs, and the same goes for serial rapists who target men); they use sexual slurs while violating their bodies; they attempt to degrade them; they spread fear among other women.  So why didn’t the hate crime activists utter a peep over McNutt’s crimes, or the crimes of any of the other serial rapists blighting women’s lives in Atlanta over the years? Why does the media give hate crime activists a pass — the gay groups, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, CAIR, and Justice Department officials, especially Eric Holder –as they labor hard behind the scenes to keep serial rapes from being counted as hate crimes?

At the very time hate crime activists in Atlanta were busy trying to find the first case that would showcase their new law in the way they wished (the Georgia law is since overturned), Lavelle McNutt slipped out of prison, unnoticed.

Lavelle McNutt had been a free man since July, 2000, working in Atlanta-area restaurants, even managing them. He wasn’t hiding. As if his prior record isn’t bad enough, the current allegations about him are sickening: an informant reported that he carried “duct tape, wigs, lubricant and sex toys” in his car, to use during sexual assaults.

McNutt has now been sentenced for two rapes and two other assaults between 2007 and 2009. And what was he doing between 2000 and 2007?  Where was he?

In April 2007, authorities said, McNutt raped a woman inside her Sandy Springs home on Riverside Drive after holding a knife to her neck and bounding her with duct tape.

Later in February 2009, McNutt was charged with being a Peeping Tom after a woman at Macy’s at Lenox Square in Buckhead discovered a man watching her disrobe in the women’s dressing room.

In March 2009, prosecutors say McNutt attacked a Buckhead woman as she was leaving her apartment on Canterbury Road. He began dragging her away when she broke free and ran for help.

That same day in March, McNutt stole the purse and apartment key card of a woman walking her dog in Piedmont Park. The next day the woman found underwear missing from her home and later discovered hanging in a tree.

She is lucky she didn’t walk in on him.  Lavelle McNutt is a dangerous sadist.  Gerald Ford was president when he was first caught.  Gerald Ford.  The Bicentennial.  Patty Hearst.  Farrah Fawcett.  Apple computers invented.  You know, 35 years ago. ... 

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The Green Mile Syndrome: David Lee Powell Was Not Innocent. His Victims Are Not Hateful.

Someone claiming to be cop-killer David Powell’s cousin has written me, accusing Powell’s victims and the justice system of various sins.  Unsupported allegations like these too often pass for debate over the death penalty in the mainstream media.  Therefore, it’s worth a look, though the slurs Powell’s cousin tosses at the victims ought to just be trash canned.  See here and here for my previous posts on Powell.

The writer, John Struve, makes several assertions about minutiae of the appeals process — assertions that should be taken with a very large grain of salt, for he offers no proof.  It’s not as if the courts didn’t revisit these cases in detail: that is why it took 30 years to execute Powell.  It’s not as if Struve lacks access to the court documents.  But he feels no need to back up his claims, and in this, the media has unfortunately trained him to need no proof as he says everything and anything about the case against Powell.

For, while a technical error or defense-biased evidentiary rules can blow a strong case for the prosecution, the defense suffers no consequences for repetitively and flagrantly lying.  Many activists and defense lawyers feel that such lies are an honorable act — a sort of noble rot that produces the always-desired outcome of avoiding consequences for crime.

If Mr. Struve would like to send actual documentation backing up any of his assertions here, I’ll post it.  But his claims sound like the type made loudly and repetitively — in cases like Troy Davis’ in Georgia — that lazy reporters reprint without looking into the original court records, or the prosecution arguments, or the trail of appeals.

John Struve’s letter:

You are all so short sighted. The fact still remains that the dying Ralph Ablanedo, when asked who did this, said, ” a girl” and “That damn girl.”

Powell’s female accomplice was the driver.  Powell opened fire not once, but twice on officers.  Ablenado’s dying words are being misrepresented, which is an awful thing to do.

Several officers testified at Sheila’s parole hearing in 1982 stating that she was a future danger to society and that she did all the shooting and threw the grenade. Unfortunately, this information was not released to us, the family, until 2002, and the prosecutors at that time thought it would be easier to get the death penalty for a man than a woman. He had already exhausted all of his appeals by this time.

Actually, the female accomplice testified that Powell thrust a grenade at her, but she wasn’t able to deploy it right.  I’m sure the officers testified that the she should never get out of prison.  I would be very surprised if they testified that she “did all the shooting.”  Struve appears to be accusing these police of lying in their original testimony in the Powell trial — a serious allegation.  Defamation of character is actionable.

Incidentally, if this case were tried today, changes in the law would make it easier to hold all offenders responsible for a crime in which someone is murdered.

Now a human being that had definite reasonable doubt of guilt has been murdered.

Not true.

Just like Cameron Todd Willingham.

The Powell case has nothing to do with the Willingham case.  The Willingham case, in which a man was executed for setting the fire which killed his three small children, is another cause celebré, thanks to wildly biased and strangely querulous reporting in the New Yorker.

Why is it that New Yorker editors seem to thrill at watching predators prey on the great unwashed?

Meanwhile, back in the real world, forensic scientists are revisiting the Willingham case.  But cherry-picked claims about the fire itself, which constitutes the much-publicized defense, ignores other forensic evidence and the actual testimony that put Willingham behind bars (and you can buy expert witnesses to say anything — they charge by the act, as do many professionals).

I’m not going to bother to link to anything regarding Willingham.  The local news reporting, read in total, explains the controversy.  Virtually everything else should be read with a highly critical eye.  Embarrassingly, even Wikipedia places the word “alleged” before prosecution testimony that passed courtroom muster while allowing defense testimony which failed to pass muster to be stated as fact.  Pretty unprofessional of them, but that’s typical of reporting in these cases.

It’s death by a thousand cuts for the truth. Back to John Struve:

I am 33 years old, so my cousin David had been in jail my entire life.

Officer Ablenado has been dead for the last 33 years of his sons’ lives.  Shame on Struve for attempting to insert himself into that tragedy.

Once it came to a point where justice had failed due to officer and political vengeance

Again, defamation?

that caused the truth to be buried, we realized that we needed to embrace that David was guilty of this single act.

And then there was the auto theft, petty theft, stockpiling weapons, drug dealing, over 100 bad checks — yeah, he was a boy scout carrying hand grenades and automatic rifles around in a car, serially ripping off innocent people by the scores.  Come on.

Maybe not the one who pulled the trigger, but definitely responsible as the law of parties would suggest. He took that responsibility, although up to his murder, always stated that he has no recollection of what happened that dreadfully fateful night. All we wanted was for his life to be spared. Please read his story at letdavidlive.org before jumping on the “eye for an eye” human written testament of justice bandwagon dated over 2000 years ago.

Crying “vengeance” is offensive.  Struve doesn’t know these people.

If killing 100 evil people means that even 1 is innocent, then that indicates that the entire system is dysfunctional. Just think if it were you or someone you loved that was truly innocent. Now, my only hope is that the Willingham and David’s cases serve as martyrs to help us move from the 18th century into the new world where people actually think instead of seek blood for blood. Since David was put to death, then you should

See, we are all vengeful.  Bloodthirsty.  If I had a dime for every time some bloated defense attorney wannabe accused me of wanting innocent people to suffer . . . I still wouldn’t have enough money to buy enough earplugs.

all believe that Officer Leonardo Quintana should be held to the same standards. [?]   The unredacted Key Point report specifically states that his reckless tactics were what caused the police sanctioned murder of a defenseless individual, Nathaniel Sanders III. And unlike David, he had a history of reported violations prior to committing his murder. I used to be a huge proponent of the death penalty, but as I go through life, as I probably would have felt during the Spanish Inquisition, I question the tactics that we, as a society, use to punish individuals for acts of behavior “outside” that of what is considered the norm.

Behavior “outside” that of what is considered to norm? Is Struve equating blowing away an innocent public servant and trying to murder several others (whom Powell shot at, and missed) with, say, changing radio stations or hairstyles?

My brother is a Texas State Trooper. If he were killed in the line of duty or otherwise, I would not want the death penalty for the accused. If he were to murder someone on the taxpayer’s dime or not, I would not want him to receive the death penalty. Now we mourn. Next we move forward with our efforts to abolish the death penalty 1st in Texas, then in the entire United States. NOTE: What do you do when it is later found out that someone WE executed is found to be innocent? Go to their grave and pour some Mickey’s on it?

Nice.  Struve places his feelings above the officer’s family’s, makes himself the center of attention, accuses the real victims of heinous, animalistic rage, defames scores of police officers, and then accuses society of failing to live up to his standards of morality.  So much of this activism is a sickness, parading around as morality.

I wonder if this John Struve is the same person who sent me an anonymous e-mail celebrating the recent murder of Chicago Officer Thomas Wortham?  The sentiment sounds similar.

I welcome any suggestions for identifying anonymous e-mails.

~~~

You don’t have to support the death penalty (I don’t) to be disgusted by what passes for activism and reporting on death row cases.  An enormous, fact-free myth system has been built up around allegations that innocent men fill our prisons and molder nobly on death row.  This “Green Mile” syndrome, indulged by politicians and priests and professors — and more journalists than you could shake a forest of redwoods at — well, it has consequences.  It abuses the real victims, because they are falsely accused of everything from ransacking the justice system to being simply evil.

Careless reporting gives careless people free reign.

Consider the Troy Davis case. It has also become a cause celebré.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution has reported ceaselessly on the activism for Davis and editorially advocated for him.  Yet, nowhere in their reporting (unless there are articles that have never appeared on-line) have they bothered to mention the subject of forensic evidence withheld by the original trial court on a technicality, evidence that strongly supports Davis’ guilt.  Nor have they addressed the case made by prosecutors who were (quite unusually) freed up to discuss evidence against Davis after the Supreme Court made an unusual decision to revisit that evidence.

Nor have they mentioned efforts by Davis’ lawyers to keep physical evidence from being considered as the case gets revisited, thanks to the Supreme Court’s actions.  No, you couldn’t possibly trust the public with information about the real issues at stake in the Davis case, and other death row appeals.  Atlanta readers — by far the largest audience of Davis supporters — know nothing of any of this, unless they read Savannah papers:

Black shorts evidence:  After months of wrangling over evidence and legal issues, attorneys for the state’s attorney general’s office last week asked permission to submit Georgia Bureau of Investigation reports concerning “blood examination on pair of black shorts recovered from (Davis’) mother’s home on Aug. 19, 1989.”  They also asked to submit a report of DNA typing of the item.  Davis’ lawyers cried foul, urging Moore not to allow the evidence which they called “untimely” and “of questionable probative value.”  They argued it would “clearly prejudice” (Davis’) ability to rebut the contents of the report.  The jury hearing Davis’ 1991 trial never heard about the shorts after Chatham County Superior Court Judge James W. Head barred them from evidence because of what he found was police coercion of Davis’ mother, Virginia Davis, when she arrived near her Sylvester Drive home Aug. 19, 1989.  Police seized the shorts from a dryer while searching for the murder weapon.

And this must-read from the Chatham County D.A., published last year in the Savannah Morning News:

Chatham County’s district attorney explains why he’s not concerned that an innocent man may be put to death.

Many people are concerned that an innocent man is about to be put to death. I know this, and I understand it. I am not likewise concerned, however, and I want to explain why.

The only information the public has had in the 17 years since Troy Davis’ conviction has been generated by people ideologically opposed to the death penalty, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused.

While they have shouted, we have been silent. The canons of legal ethics prohibit a lawyer – prosecutor and defense counsel alike – from commenting publicly, or engineering public comments, on the issue of guilt or innocence in a pending criminal case.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, the case is over, and I can try to tell our side.

First , Davis’ advocates have insisted that there was no physical evidence in the case. This is not true.

Crime lab tests proved that the shell casings recovered from the shooting of Michael Cooper at a party earlier in the evening were fired from the same weapon as the casings recovered from the scene of Officer Mark MacPhail’s murder. Davis was convicted of shooting Cooper.

And, while it isn’t physical evidence, consider the “testimony” of Officer MacPhail himself: When he comes to the rescue of a homeless man being harassed and pistol-whipped, the officer ran past Sylvester Coles on his way to catch Davis. This makes Davis the only one of those two with a motive to shoot Officer MacPhail. Yet Davis’ lawyers argue to condemn Coles for shooting MacPhail. Why would he?

In fact, Davis’ advocates are eager to condemn Coles based on evidence far weaker than their characterization of the evidence against Davis. Where is their sense of fairness? This is the same Sylvester Coles who promptly presented himself to police, and who was advised by counsel to tell all that he knew – with his lawyer not even present. Which he did. No lawyer who even faintly suspects a client of criminal conduct would let him talk to the police without counsel.

Second , they claim that seven of nine witnesses have recanted their trial testimony. This is not believable.

To be sure, they’ve produced affidavits; a few handwritten and apparently voluntarily and spontaneous, except for concluding with “further the affiant sayeth not.” Who wrote that stuff? The lawyers, perhaps?

The law is understandably skeptical of post-trial “newly-discovered evidence.”

Such evidence as these affidavits might, for example, be paid for, or coerced, or the product of fading memory.

If every verdict could be set aside by the casual acceptance of a witness’s changing his mind or suggesting uncertainty, decades after the event, it is easy to see how many cases would have to be tried at least twice (perhaps ad infinitum).

Thus the law sets strict standards for such “newly discovered” evidence.

For example, it cannot be for a lack of diligence that the new evidence was not discovered sooner, and the defendant is expected to present that evidence at the earliest possible time.

Yet these affidavits were not offered in a motion for new trial until eight days before the first scheduled execution in 2008 seventeen years after Davis’ conviction. If this affidavit evidence was so compelling, why didn’t they rush to seek a new trial in 2003 when they had most of the affidavits they now rely upon? Or collect those affidavits earlier?

Each of the now-“recanting” witnesses was closely questioned at trial by lawyers representing Davis, specifically on the question whether they were in any way pressured or coerced by police in giving their statements or testimony. All denied it.

And while an 80 percent recantation rate – the first in the history of the world ? – may seem to some as overwhelmingly persuasive, to others of us it invites a suggestion of uncanny coincidence, making it very difficult to believe.

Third , they claim that their “newly discovered evidence” (i.e., the recantations) hasn’t been adequately considered by the courts. This is not true.

The affidavits, in various combinations, had already been reviewed by 29 judges in seven different types of review, over the course of 17 years, before Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state Parole Board halted the execution in 2007, saying they wouldn’t allow a possibly innocent man to be executed. Then, after more than a year of reviewing all of the evidence on both sides, and hearing from every witness Davis’ lawyers presented – including Davis – they refused to grant clemency.

The trial was fair. Davis was represented by superbly skilled criminal defense lawyers. He was convicted by a fair jury (seven black and five white). The post conviction stridency we’ve seen has been much about the death penalty and little about Troy Davis.

The jury found that Davis, after shooting another man earlier in the evening, murdered a police officer who came to the rescue of a homeless man Davis had beaten. Mark MacPhail had never even drawn his weapon.

A more complete discussion of these – and other – points can be found at Chathamcounty.org/vwap/html [link gone]
Spencer Lawton Jr. is Chatham County District Attorney.

Why would the AJC be so coy, essentially misleading an audience of millions on crucial elements of physical evidence in a controversial case?  Because what they are doing is not reporting: it is advocating for Davis.  Ditto Davis supporters like the Pope, Bob Barr, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu — none of whom, I’m sure, bothered to reach out to Officer MacPhail’s family.

As I’ve said before, oppose the death penalty on grounds of universal ethics, or opposition to state-administered death, but when you make a faux hero out of a murderous, worthless criminal like Troy Davis, you are doing so at the cost of the humanity and dignity of the real victims.

Slain Officer Mark Allen MacPhail’s Children ... 

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

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.

~~~ ... 

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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.”

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
 ... 

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Is Texas Incarceration Policy Really Different Now, Or Is That Cowboy Just A Journalist Riding His Hobbyhorse?

With a flick of public relations rhetoric, Texas has suddenly become a media darling to criminal justice journalists who previously viewed the state as mean and bloodthirsty.  The sudden transformation of the Lone Star State into the South Massachusetts of empathetic corrections was accomplished entirely in the media, of course, where gaining good PR is as easy as clicking your heels and saying: “I think it’s time we considered alternatives to incarceration, Joe.  This puttin’ people in jail just ain’t working.”

You don’t have to do it, you just have to say it.  Then you hand out lollypops and watch the great reviews (oops, I mean newspaper stories) roll in.

Articles of this stripe all read the same, which is unsurprising, as they start with pure opinion (incarceration is mean and us reporters believe it doesn’t work), proceed to cherrypick other opinions (some judges are looking at drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration, as if they didn’t already), beat in vague inference (drug treatment works, sometimes), add two cups of accusing the public of inventing the problem of crime in their own overactive imaginations (that’s just a “perception” your car got stolen, Ms. Hysteric), all topped with a dollop of political grandstanding (let’s get us some of that drug treatment and stop being mean, like Bob over there, who says he’s “tough” on crime just to get re-elected . . . hey, you gonna quote me, right?).

The Texas Miracle version of this story has been making the rounds for weeks.  Now it’s surfaced in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in an “analysis” of the “difference” between Georgia and Texas sentencing practices, one that feigns objectivity while ignoring real sentencing practices and hammering away at the notion that crime actually exists and is the — you know — reason we have criminal sentencing.

Note the not-very-objective lead, beneath the not-very-objective headline, beneath the not-very-objective series heading:

Government Waste in Georgia

A billion-dollar burden or justice?

Hmmm, which do you think it’s going to be?

AJC investigation: Georgia leads nation in criminal punishment

By Carrie Teegardin and Bill Rankin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia taxpayers spend $1 billion a year locking up so many criminal offenders that the state has the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. When it comes to overall criminal punishment, no state outdoes Georgia.

Well, except for those three other states.  Also, don’t crime rates matter, as in: ‘Georgia also has a higher rate of criminal activity than these states it is being compared to here?’ No?  OK.  Just asking.

Hard-nosed measures approved with wide public support forced a five-fold increase in corrections spending since 1985.  A monumental prison construction campaign that quadrupled space over the last four decades seemed like money well spent as record crime rates in the 1990s left Georgians fearful of becoming the next victims of violence.

Wow.  That’s a lot of vague, condemnatory prose squeezed into a few brief lines.  “Hard-nosed” measures?  “Seemed like money well-spent?”  And you know, “wide public support” is code for “what a bunch of deluded buffoons.”

What was that support for?  For not being victimized by violent repeat offenders, the impetus for Georgia’s excellent two-strike law?  How much did violent crime rise?  What percentage of serious and recidivist crimes resulted in prison sentences, before and after those new prisons were built?  Was that money well spent, looking at the decline in crime rates after two-strikes for violent crime was passed, for example?  Anyone?

One might also ask what the alternative response to those “record crime rates” might have been.  Rolling over and letting criminals destroy even more lives?  Kill more of their peers, who were on the front line of the carnage?  But you can’t talk about the number of lives saved by raising incarceration rates.  Not in the Atlanta Journal Constitution or any other big-city paper.

Reporters simply believe incarceration doesn’t work.  End of story.

The rest of this purported “study” consists largely of quotes from politicians positioning themselves against spending money on incarceration for a variety of vague reasons: you might call it more of a study of politicians’ habits in exploiting the subject of crime than a look at crime itself.  Revelations include the startling fact that some conservatives don’t like paying for new prisons because they don’t like taxes, or “big government.”  Wow, that’s really illuminating:

Mark Earley, a Republican former attorney general in Virginia who is chief executive of the nonprofit Prison Fellowship, agreed.  “When you have in Georgia 1 in every 70 adults [incarcerated] and 1 in every 13 is in some form of correctional control, that’s big government with a big big G, ” he said.

The big “G.”  Usually, reporters mock such language.  But when it’s in the service of advancing their hobbyhorse of empathizing with violent offenders, I guess anti-guvmint claptrap gets a pass.

How unsurprising that Early is also “chief executive of the nonprofit Prison Fellowship.”  Just like Mike Huckabee, who made a very destructive public hobby of sharing Bible passages with rapists and killers before cutting them loose?  Well, that’s a viewpoint you can take to the bank.

Unlike, say, actual recourse to actual crime statistics, which are nowhere to be found.

Shake the bushes and it’s not actually hard to find someone with an -R after their name who gets off on hanging out with prisoners while posturing for the cameras.  Of course politicians will always say they like alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders.  That’s why there are and always have been alternatives, including the much-abused alternative of simply letting the vast majority of offenders plead their sentences down.  Everyone’s always happy to talk about alternative sentencing, but has it worked?  In which cases?  Are violent offenders being permitted to slip through the cracks?

Oh, never mind.

Extraordinarily, the AJC article, which purports to analyze Georgia’s incarceration policy from 1990 to 2010, contains just one mention of an actual crime: stealing baby formula.  Yes, that’s right: stealing baby formula.  Of course, we all remember the bad old days of the baby formula wars, back in old 1-triple9.  Lost a lot of good men that day.

Goodness.  The reporters were obviously so deep in serious analyzing mode that they managed to overlook the 13,000 murders that happened in Georgia over the same time.  Not to mention the 50,000 forcible rapes.  500,000 aggravated assaults . . . and so on.  Nope.  Not a one.  One case of stealing baby formula stands in for all those horrific human losses, just so the reporters can smugly point fingers at the public and scream: Hysterics!  Passing all those hateful laws just to incarcerate poor baby formula thieves!

How intellectually dishonest.

Of course, this type of reporting isn’t really about analyzing the efficacy of incarceration policies.  But when reporters actually go so far as to fluff up some fake Jean Valjean moment (more likely a baby formula theft to procure drugs, not feed babies) instead of actually addressing the tidal wave of violent crimes that took the lives 13,000 Georgia residents, why does nobody call them on it?

Meanwhile, back in reality, there is no simple way to compare Texas’ current shifts in sentencing policy with those in any other state: journalists who feign to do so are mainly extrapolating political speeches and vast budget line-items that bear no conclusive relationship to the actual working of a diverse (in the old fashioned sense of the term) landscape of courts.  At least they don’t need to worry about the vast cheerleading squad we call academia actually pointing out their errors: evaluating sentencing outcomes is a court-by-court task that virtually nobody, including academicians, ever bothers to attempt.  Those who do end up with book-length descriptions of justice systems that fail to address most crimes, out of despair and lack of funding: one illuminating example is Edward Hume’s year-long observation of the Los Angeles juvenile court system: No Matter How Loud I Shout.

For, when there is no such thing as a judicial precinct where every charge is brought against every defendant, and when a large, if not the largest, percentage of charges get abandoned or pled down outside the courtroom, how can any policymaker or academician or reporter or pundit make sweeping claims about statistical outcomes with a straight face?  Judges know this.  Prosecutors know this.  Yet they are never asked by most journalists (who also know this) to simply quantify all decisions, to produce their complete records for the public to scrutinize, a task that would be as easy as hitting a button in the computer age and would tell us a great many thing the public does not know but deserves to know.  We are, after all, footing the bills as well as dealing with the consequences of every decision made in every court.

Actual facts are never demanded, or provided, to support all this nonsense about “finally” offering alternatives to sentencing (there are always alternatives — there always have been alternatives, including just not bothering to act on most crimes).

No, this is all merely grandstanding.  Smoke and mirrors.  But it has passed for public debate about crime for fifty years, and journalists are hardly going to change their game now.

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Riots and Reporters

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.

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Michael Harvey, “Mr. X,” Guilty of Murder. Now, Where Was He From 2005 – 2008? 1999 – 2003? 1985 – 1998?

Michael Harvey is now the third man found guilty of one or more murders of prostitutes and other women in southeast Atlanta in the early 1990’s.  As I wrote last week (see here and here), the state missed at least two earlier chances to link Harvey to that crime and get him off the streets: once in 2003, when they were supposed to have taken DNA from him before he left prison for another sex crime, and again in 2005, when they (apparently) got around to testing his DNA and linked it to the murder of Valerie Payton — but then failed to charge him for three more years.

OK folks, the trial is over.  When is somebody going to ask the GBI, and Fulton County D.A. Paul Howard, why it is that the rape kit of a women murdered by a probable serial killer, and a DNA sample they could have obtained as early as 1996?

You don’t just wake up one day and stab a woman fifty times, arrange her body for display, and leave a note on her stomach taunting the police — written on the back of a photo of her 8-year old child.  Talk about a crime that cries out for justice — and indicates other victims.  In fact, Harvey has another sex crime conviction, and a third victim testified at his trial that he raped and threatened to kill her around the same time Payton was murdered.

One would think the GBI would have prioritized getting Payton’s rape kit tested, and maybe they did — or maybe they didn’t.  Maybe the APD never sent the rape kit to them.  Maybe it’s all the fault of the Fulton County D.A., which had the ability to push for DNA testing when Harvey was convicted for another sex crime and kidnapping in 1996 (got a mild slap on the wrist).  DNA had been used to convict sex offenders for a decade by then.  Rape and kidnapping had been clearly identified as a social ill, too, though his sentence hardly reflected that.  Maybe it’s the fault of the Department of Corrections, which released Harvey in 1999, by which time they should have been databasing the DNA of all felons convicted for sex crimes.  Certainly, by 2003, Harvey was required by law to give a sample, when he served time for an aggravated assault.  Why wasn’t he identified then?

Where was Michael Harvey between November 1985 and May 1998, after he already had a record, before he was first arrested for a sex crime?  Where was he between September 1999 and February 2003, after he was convicted of one sexual assault, sternly scolded for a whole 16 months, then cut loose again?  Where was he between June 2003 and his arrest in 2008 for the murder he was linked to in 2005?

Where was he in 2005, when he was identified as Valerie Payton’s murderer but not officially charged for three more years?

Somebody screwed up.  Why does nobody care?

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Criminal Appeals: Why Was Serial Rapist Ali Reza Nejad Out on Bond?

The good news: U.S. Marshals in Houston caught violent serial rapist Ali Reza Nejad after he slipped off his ankle monitor and fled Georgia upon hearing that the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed his conviction and 35-year sentence last week.

Nejad, Before and After Dye Job

The bad news? Violent serial rapist Ali Reza Nejad was allowed to stroll out of prison after being convicted of two rapes, while his case worked its way through the ridiculous and expensive appeals process in Georgia’s horribly overburdened courts. ... 

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Vicki McLennan, Pioneering Atlanta Crime Victim Advocate

Vicki McLennan in 2007, on the beach in Panama City *

Vicki McLennan, who practically invented crime victim advocacy in the State of Georgia, died today after a long, courageous battle with breast cancer.

For more than 30 years, Vicki worked to reform the legal system so that all victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual violence would be sheltered, treated with respect by authorities, and given a chance to have their voices heard in court.  Her influence was felt nationally, though she never wasted time burnishing her reputation.  At the Georgia General Assembly, I watched her reach across party lines to find allies to pass laws to protect women and children.  She was a southern feminist who belied every stereotype.  She loved men; she loved children; she was very, very funny.

She had great hair.

She also never backed down from danger.  Over the years, I met women who told me they literally owed their lives to Vicki.  Some still bore the evidence.  Before most people ever noticed, or felt compelled to act on some types of violence being secretly committed in their own communities — before police response and the shelter system were what they are today — Vicki was performing crisis triage, getting the victims to safety.  Then she would put on a suit and drive downtown to change the laws (or enforce them).  She was as comfortable transporting someone to a safe house in the middle of the night as she was standing in front of a bank of microphones, or testifying in front of a Senate committee.  I think it all came easy to Vicki because she knew she was doing the right thing.

Vicki started her career in the domestic violence movement. She helped set up emergency shelters, then she helped fund them.  She was a key lobbyist in the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in southern states.  She also worked with the police to improve their response to domestic violence and sex crimes.  In 1993, Vicki went to then-Atlanta Police Chief Eldrin Bell and requested a meeting.  She formed a long working relationship with the police, helping improve training at the police academy for domestic violence, sexual assault, and later child assault investigations.  Lou Archangeli, Deputy Chief (retired) of the Atlanta Police Department, writes of her tireless efforts to ensure that every victim was treated fairly by the police:

In 1995 she compelled the Atlanta Police Department to change the manner that it accepted and processed sex crime investigations.  Through her deliberate and persistent manner she politely worked her way up the chain of command, and ultimately compelled Chief [Beverly] Harvard to change a “checklist” that was being used by Sex Crimes investigators to exclude selected crime victims from Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) reports submitted to the GBI and the FBI.  In 1996 and 1997 the Atlanta Police Department engaged in the underreporting of violent crimes, particularly crimes against poor women, the homeless, drug users and prostitutes.  A subsequent audit by the GBI confirmed these illegal actions by the Atlanta Police Department.  Ms. McLennan intervened to insure that there was no retaliation against the people who exposed this practice, and garnered political support for once again changing the manner in which APD responded to crime victims.

Vicki never backed down from the hard fights.

In 2001, then-Lt. Governor Mark Taylor appointed Vicki to co-chair the Senate Study Committee on the Abuse of Children.  The creation of that committee, and the policies that resulted from it, were Vicki’s finest bipartisan success.  Conservative Georgia legislators such as Warren Massey and Tom Price worked alongside progressive legislators Donzella James and Mike Polak to make the case for more funding for child protection and a renewed commitment to prosecuting child molesters — after hysteria over a handful of badly-prosecuted child molestation cases took a heavy toll on prosecutors’ ability to put sex offenders who target children behind bars.

Of all the legislative battles she fought, I think Vicki was especially proud of this one.  She and Lt. Governor Taylor made Georgia a safer place for these most vulnerable victims of sexual violence.

Vicki was also proud of her work on women’s health.  In 2002, she worked with state senator (now Congressman) David Scott to pass a breast cancer bill that allowed breast cancer patients and their physicians “the right to determine their length of stay in the hospital and their level of medical treatment.”  After celebrating passage of the bill, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Ironically, she lacked health insurance, because the work she chose to do was too often ill-paid, or not paid at all.  This tragically impacted the quality and length of her final years.  Like many committed activists, Vicki always put the needs of others before her own well-being.  She paid too high a price. ... 

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

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.

~~~ ... 

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The Guilty Project, Wayne Williams: Still Guilty. And the Role of Child Prostitution in his Murders.

images

To name all defendants Innocent Until Proven Guilty is a beloved tradition, and an ethical one, at least so long as the pontificating guardians of the reputations and feelings of criminals are willing to let it go once their clients have, in fact, been proven guilty.

Yet this is almost never the case.  Defense attorneys express a touching faith in the wisdom of the public and juries . . . until precisely the moment a guilty verdict is reached.  Then, like lovers scorned, they denounce everything about their former paramours: their intelligence, their morals, their identities, their actions, their collective and individual races.  All are fodder for the endless second act of criminal justice: the post-conviction appeal.

It’s never over, as victims know, particularly when it comes to notorious defendants.  In the weird rubric of prisoner advocacy, the most heinous criminals attract the loudest cries for reconsideration.   Attention-seeking activists and lawyers seize on the worst of the worst to prove their own superior compassion, or to thumb their noses at society in the biggest way.  And so the garden-variety mugger must line up behind the child murderers and serial rapists.

Susan Sarandon won’t be playing your religious confessor in the Hollywood version of your life if all you did was steal a few cars, no matter how badly you feel about having done it afterwards.  Rape and murder a few kids, though, and she might come calling.

~~~

And that brings us to Wayne Williams. Thanks to the notoriety of the Atlanta Child Murders (at least those Atlanta child murders), Williams possesses all the best in serial killer accessories: a team of lawyers laboring (on our dime) to endlessly re-try his case; internet nuts issuing manifestos that nobody can ever really know if anybody is ever really guilty; miniseries and media attentions, breathless stories about DNA testing that disappear from the news when they fail to exonerate, and so on.

Wayne Williams ... 

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Remember, Marcus Wellons is a Murderer. You Are Paying for his Latest Appeal. And That’s Not Funny.

A slim majority of the Supreme Court has granted convicted rapist and murderer Marcus Wellons another chance to keep appealing his case.  Because the appeal is based on a bizarrely distasteful incident, it has attracted media attention.

Whereas a run-of-the-mill appeal by someone who merely tortured, raped and murdered a high school girl wouldn’t merit any attention at all:

Something strange happened during the 1993 murder trial of Marcus Wellons. Outwardly, the Supreme Court observed Tuesday, the trial “looked typical.” But “there were unusual events going on behind the scenes.”  For example: The Georgia judge in the case spoke outside court to jurors who had gathered at a local restaurant.  And after Wellons was convicted and sentenced to die, jurors presented the female judge with a gift of “chocolate shaped as male genitalia,” as the Supreme Court recounted it.  If that were not enough, they gave the bailiff a chocolate gift “shaped as female breasts.”

Justice Samuel Alito, dissenting from the majority opinion to send the case back to a lower court to be reconsidered, called the jurors’ gifts “troubling,” “strange and tasteless.”  On that, anyone could agree.  Why would jurors do such a thing?

Though it hasn’t been widely reported, Wellons’ attorney is actually arguing that the gag gifts are “evidence of the jury’s racial bias” against Wellons.  In other words, she is saying that the chocolate genitalia represents Wellons.  So what do the chocolate breasts represent?  The 15-year old victim?  Would jurors be that racist?  That callous towards a dead young girl?

Or were they, perhaps, merely blowing off steam after a long trial and sentencing?  Remember, the jurors had just been subjected to horrifying evidence of cruelty, endless legal posturing (while their lives were put on hold for weeks or months), and then the netherworld of post-conviction testimony, in which a parade of character witnesses and hacks for hire wax poetic on the defendant’s qualities, spinning fairy tales out of pig’s ears.

I don’t wish to excuse the jurors’ extremely bad taste, but could anyone emerge from such an experience without getting a bit punch-drunk?  Could a civilian witness the clown-car pile-up of criminal procedure and walk away feeling merely refreshed?

Well, that hardly matters now.  File it in the same trash-bin that holds the facts of the actual crime, and the defendant’s actual guilt, which nobody is questioning: Marcus Wellons has been appealing the minutiae of this case for twenty years now on your dime, and he’s going to continue doing the same, also on your dime, for the next five, or ten, or twenty years, as his violent actions and his victim’s life both fade from memory.

And that is the really distasteful joke.

Tomorrow: Lack of Remorse, Parade of Appeals

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A Trying to Be Civil Exchange on Sex Offender Registry Laws

eymann, jeffrey allan.jpg

Last week, after writing about this strange article that attempted to depict the flight of nearly 250 Fulton County (GA/Atlanta) sex offenders as “no big deal” because the offenders mostly targeted family members or their girlfriends’ kids (!), I was barraged with abusive and threatening e-mails apparently originating from a pro-sex offenders website.

But I also received some thoughtful commentary from other people who disagreed with my view that registries protect the public and are one factor in the decline in the sex offense crime rate.  I’ve been meaning to write more about the registry issue because I think the media reflexively reports on it in bad faith.  I also think academicians with anti-registration biases are crafting advocacy research and making claims that do not stand up to scrutiny.

What follows is my response to “Nunya,” one of the thoughtful, if angry, responders.  This won’t be my last word on the subject.  I hope it will spur a real conversation about the efficacy of these laws, the myths that have risen up around them, and what we should and should not do to improve the sex offender registration system.  “Nunya” and I disagree about many things, but I think we agree that recidivism rates and the vexed issue of statutory rape committed by young men (or, as I see it, alleged recidivism rates and allegedly statutory crimes) deserve more attention.

~~~

Nunya: There are so many things in your article that are erroneous it’s difficult to know exactly where to start, but I will begin at the beginning with your title: “Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry Works”. Since these laws have been in place for a number of years now, with Georgia having passed one of the toughest set of laws in the country over three years ago, I’m sure you can point to plenty of documented evidence as to how these laws have actually reduced sexual crimes in this country, right? There must be plenty of studies that show a dramatic decrease in sex crimes all over the nation as a result of the laws you claim are so effective.

No, I can’t “point to plenty of documented evidence.”  In order to document evidence, we would need to have a criminal justice system that functions adequately and predictably in response to sex offenses, and we don’t have one.  So nearly all of the types of statistics that people would like to see are currently impossible to produce, at least accurately.

While there are both more and less reliable figures on victimization rates, no statistical analysis indicates that anywhere near half of all sex crimes result in an investigation, let alone prosecution, of an offender.  The conviction rate is far lower for sex offenders who target children.  Statistics on recidivism that make claims about a “3%” or “4.5%’ rate are thus simply untrue.

What they are actually measuring is the performance of our criminal justice system, not recidivism.

Some recidivism studies are more obviously unreliable than others.  Things activist-academicians do to minimize recidivism rates include:

  • Counting only imprisonments, not convictions.  As I’ve illustrated in my blog, an unknown number of convicted sex offenders are not being sent into the state prison system after they have been found guilty of crimes as serious as child rape.  Some research on recidivism focuses only on offenders who have entered the prison system.
  • Counting only subsequent convictions, rather than investigating the cause of parole or registration violations that send an offender back to prison.  When a first-time sex offender is caught in the act of committing or trying to commit another sex offense, often the most-cost-effective way of removing him from the streets is to simply revoke parole or charge him with a registry violation.  How many of the men returned to prison for these alleged “non-sex” crimes were actually caught trying to commit another sex crime but were not prosecuted for that offense?  Nobody knows.  But in our perennially underfunded courts, there is tremendous pressure to save money by simply revoking someone’s parole or convicting them of merely “failure to report” when they are caught committing another sex crime.
  • Studying only a small time frame after release.  When you track offenders only for the time when they are under the highest post-incarceration scrutiny, often completing half-way house and therapeutic interventions, of course you’re going to find lower recidivism rates.  Virtually all the studies cited by pro-offender activists track offenders for very short periods of time after release.
  • Failing to account for strategic conviction practices from the recent past, when they apply.  Even when researchers look at re-offense rates over longer periods of time, they do not consider prior practices such as charging sex offenders only with property crime in order to guarantee a conviction.  Yet DNA databases are revealing vast numbers of sex offenders with only drug or burglary convictions who have been matched to un-prosecuted sexual assaults on the database.
  • Leaving out juvenile sex offenses.
  • Counting only convictions and ignoring consolidated charges.  This is the way most recidivism gets “disappeared” in the first place.  When sex offenders are caught, they are rarely prosecuted for more than one crime, even when they are suspects in multiple crimes, even when they confess to multiple, or prolific, sex crime sprees.  Even stranger, serial rapists who leave behind DNA routinely aren’t prosecuted for all their known crimes.  Each sex crime investigation that gets shelved when an offender is sent away for another crime artificially lowers recidivism rates.  With child victims, of course, recidivism against single victims is routinely “disappeared” when prosecutors can prove any single instance of abuse.  Here is merely one recent example of the practice, from Court Watch Florida (Orlando):

State v. Jeffrey Allan Eymann  2009-CF-004477-O
Charged with 1,200 counts of Lewd/Lascivious Molestation of a Child < 12 years old
Victim was the daughter of his ex-girlfriend.  Eymann pled on 10/16 to 1 count of Lewd/Lascivious Conduct. All other counts were dropped. Sentenced to 7 years in prison + 5 years sex offender probation; no contact with victim, but may have contact with victim’s mother.

CourtWatchFlorida’s blog does a great job of illustrating the many ways criminal records get minimized as they are processed through the system.  Here is a study that looks at variability in recidivism studies.  I can’t link to the entire report, but if you have a library card, you may be able to log into the database with a librarian’s help.

Nunya: The fact is Tina, sex crimes have not only increased over the years since these laws were passed but now, as a result of politicians and the media seizing on the public’s fear, these so called “child protection laws” are now responsible for children themselves, some as young as 13, being victimized for life as a “sex offender”. What might have initially been a good idea, a public listing of violent and potentially dangerous people that the public needed to be aware of, has turned into a watered-down joke, full of all sorts of “dangerous” offenses such as public urination, mooning, and consensual sex among teens, which, I might add, I’m sure all of us, including the above mentioned article’s author, have probably engaged in at some point in their lives. So now we are ALL sex offenders. Be sure to pick up your membership card at the door.

Well, no.  According to the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), which measures reported crimes, forcible rape rates have dropped in every year but one since 1992.  So what’s changed?  Sentencing reforms, post-incarceration registration, and and the gradual implementation of DNA databasing.  Sexual assault rates have also fallen by more than 60%.  People are not being placed on the sex offender lists for pranks like mooning, or for public urination.  Violent sex offenders often engage in flashing and “peeping Tom” behaviors, which is why these crimes are treated, as the should be, like sex crimes, even if they seem dismissible to many.

The idea that public concerns about sex crime are groundless “fears” manufactured by the media and forced onto a gullible public, is an opinion, not an argument.  Women must routinely and reasonably contemplate the safety of the choices they make: they are not hysterical for doing so.  I will address statutory and allegedly statutory crimes in more detail below, but let me observe here that in a state such as Georgia, where there are approximately a million teenagers, half of whom will have had sex while still a teenager, there is no evidence that “consensual sex among teens” is causing people to end up on the sex crimes registry.

Rather, in a state where there have been nearly 29,000 forcible rapes reported to authorities since the registry went into effect (crimes after 1995), and many times that number when you count other sex crimes, it hardly seems outrageous that some of the 17,893 people on the Georgia registry are teens who raped or otherwise sexually assaulted other teens or younger children.

As to recidivism, many many studies, by independent groups not associated with criminal justice, repeatedly verify that sex offenders, as a category, have the lowest recidivism rate of any crime. Period. You should bother to look at them before you start expounding about an issue that you obviously have very little knowledge about.

See above.

One [thing] that I do agree with you on [is] that journalists, ALL journalists, including those who write such biased reporting as yours, should “hold themselves to a higher standard” as you say. The truth is that all reporting is biased in some way, since it is written by people who are, as a result of being human, biased in their opinions. The best a person can do is to look at the facts and try to reach an objective conclusion based on those facts. Someone has already posted some links to resources where some of those facts can be verified. I suggest you educate yourself before you pose as an authority on this, or at the very least provide references for your information so that the reader can verify what you say.

“Of course most victims know their offenders.” I got confused on this one Tina. Since it is true statistically that most, and by that I mean MOST people, children and adults, who are sexually abused are done so by people they know (usually a family member or friend of the family), how does monitoring the others, in this case strangers which would include previously convicted sex offenders, help to reduce incidents of abuse? Let me put it this way: monitoring people who have already committed a sexual crime in the hopes that it will prevent a future offense is like locking the barn door AFTER the horse has already gotten out of the barn. To use the reasoning that we need to know the whereabouts of the 250 people whose whereabouts are unknown to the authorities in order to feel safe from sexual offense makes no sense at all. Again, it’s not the stranger in town you need to watch, it’s the uncle, the dad, the brother, etc. If politicians and others, such as yourself, are as concerned about the safety of children as you say you are, then why not do something to protect them from the group that represents the greatest threat to them, namely their own family and friends of the family? Maybe we could remove all children from their homes until they are 18 and allow periodic supervised visits by their parents? I’m being facetious here but hopefully you get my point. WE ARE WATCHING THE WRONG PEOPLE!

What is so hard to understand about this?

I have to admit that I am terrifically, monumentally confused by the argument that people who target children they know are less of a danger (For what?  For recidivism?) than people who “snatch random children off the streets.”  Of course, there are very few of the latter compared to the former, but so what?  Registries are not designed to modulate some abstract economy of fear, or label people before they get convicted of a crime: they are designed to keep tabs on individual people who have a proven propensity for sexually abusing children or adults.

Nevertheless, this weird argument keeps popping up in activist propaganda (where it was obviously manufactured), and, predictably, journalists have now begun parroting it (without entirely understanding it, I think) in news stories.

But it makes no sense.

Adults who prey on children they know — be they coaches, step-dads, uncles, grandfathers, priests — pose a risk to any child they get to know in the future.  They also continue to be a danger to the children they victimized or knew or were simply related-to prior to their first conviction.  And because they’re far more likely to be released from prison (or not sent in the first place) than sex criminals who abduct random children, there’s an argument to be made that registration is even more crucial for offenders whose modus operandi involves targeting children in their lives and/or “grooming” children through their legitimate relationships with them.

Compulsive child molesters are often compulsive groomers: do we say that the youth minister should not be on the registry because he gets to know his victims first?

Adults who prey on children in their own families, or extended families, also pose a special danger if their relatives protected them in the past, or if the cycle of sexual abuse is part of the family dynamic: they may be returning to households where there are still vulnerable children, not to mention returning to families that will continue to protect them, excuse them, or even participate in their crimes.  Parents don’t always lose custody when they commit a sex crime against their own children, or another minor relative, and protecting these especially vulnerable children was actually one of the motivations behind the creation of sex offender registration laws.

Many child molesters access their victims through consensual adult relationships with single moms.  So, what happens when one of them strolls out of prison, meets a new woman, and moves in with her and her children?  Should we “not worry” because he’s not out on the streets, when, instead, he’s alone in the apartment, babysitting the six-year old while her mom goes to work?

I think this argument (more of a campaign, it is so coordinated) is a very clear example of activists controlling the media discourse: it’s such a strange claim to make, but, suddenly, it’s being voiced in many quarters.  Some might say that what the activists mean is that we should be more worried about sex offenders who haven’t been caught yet, as opposed to the sex offenders who have been caught.  But that makes no sense, either, as a criticism of registries.  It would be useful to be able to place all child molesters, including those who haven’t been caught yet, on a list.  But the fact that we can’t monitor child molesters who have not yet been caught and convicted is no argument against monitoring those who have, regardless of how they choose their victims.

Now, clearly there are some people who are dangerous and represent a potential threat to public safety, and they should be prevented from hurting anyone else. But if that’s the case then why are these people not in prison in the first place? Why are they being released? I suggest that they reason the really dangerous people are out on the street is because due to just about anything even remotely sexual in nature being treated as a sex crime, there simply isn’t room enough to keep the really bad guys locked up.

I don’t agree: I think there are simply a lot of sexual offenders, not that there are no prison spaces because we’re imprisoning minor sex offenders.  And even though the numbers in prison look large, the victim pool is far larger, especially when you start adding in sexual crimes against children and adolescents.  Nobody is “keeping rapists out of prison” because they’re filling prisons with lesser sexual offenders: heck, they’re simply not sending many rapists and child molesters to prison because the system is simply criminally lenient across the board, as I’ve illustrated countless times on this blog (search “The Guilty Project” for a partial rogues gallery).  Who are these people sitting in prison for lesser sexual crimes?

I do agree that a lot of the men out on the streets after sex crime convictions should be locked up forever, instead.  The real solution to that problem, however, is vastly expanding the number of people with life sentences.  And precisely the same activist groups that are trying to get sex offenders off registries are simultaneously trying to get even the most violent recidivists out from behind bars.  It’s all one very well-funded, well-placed, powerful movement.

I further suggest that you have a look and see exactly what will get you a place on the sex offender registry these days for yourself. The Georgia Sex Offender Review Board, the government body who is responsible for classifying the risk level of offenders on the registry, has gone on record as saying that only 4% of those listed pose any real significant threat to society. That means for every 4 people listed there are 96 who should not be there at all.

Here is another interpretation: the Georgia Sex Offender Review Board is not doing its job.  You complained, above, about dangerous, recidivist sex offenders being free on the streets when they should be locked up?  Well, the folks responsible for bringing that free-range-serial-rapist-show to a theater near you are the same ones being trusted to classify the offenders they’re cutting loose: do you think the parole board wants to admit that they’re letting a bunch of predators out early every other Thursday?  It took me about two clicks to find someone on the registry who should be classified a sexual predator but is not.  And then I found a lot more of them.

Here is the rule (you can read the entire code section here):

The board shall determine the likelihood that a sexual offender will engage in another crime against a victim who is a minor or a dangerous sexual offense. The board shall make such determination for any sexual offender convicted on or after July 1, 2006, of a criminal act against a minor or a dangerous sexual offense and for any sexual offender incarcerated on July 1, 2006, but convicted prior to July 1, 2006, of a criminal act against a minor.

Here is somebody who should be classified a predator.  And, oh yeah, he’s absconded:

Miguel Ortiz... 

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Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry Works. Why Don’t Newspapers Report That?

A convicted child rapist is suing the state of Georgia to keep his name off the sex offender registry.  I wonder who’s paying his legal fees for this foolishness?  Jim Phillip Hollie was actually convicted of three separate sex offenses in Gwinnett County: one count of child molestation (5 yrs.), one count of aggravated sexual battery (10yrs.), and one count of aggravated child molestation (10yrs.).

He’s already being given the concurrent-sentencing free-pass: his 25-year sentence is already reduced to 15 to serve, ten on probation.  But apparently that’s not lenient enough: he wants more leniency.  Hollie is claiming that being placed on a registry is like extending his “sentence” beyond the maximum allowable 30 years.

Registration, and other restrictions placed on sex offenders, have been absurdly misrepresented by the media.  Reporters simply don’t write stories about registration working — though it works every single time an offender gets reminded he’s being watched or gets sent back to prison for breaking the rules.  That didn’t used to happen before registries placed sex offenders under scrutiny.  And, contrary to the activist-driven “scholarship” arguing that sex offenders aren’t likely to re-offend (in-depth studies and victim data and sheer common sense dictate otherwise), sex offenders do target one victim after another.  Does anybody really believe that people like Hollie wake up one day at the age of 32 and decide to rape a child, just this once, just out of the blue?

The truth about sex offenders is that they get away with many, many crimes for which they are never punished.  The truth about sentencing and the courts is that virtually every offender benefits from systemic leniency and a plea system that trades money-savings up front for public safety on the back end.  These truths, and sex offenders’ proclivity for recidivism, is why we’re resorting to band-aids like registration, and living restrictions, and involuntary commitment, when what we should really be doing is growing the courts and actually bothering to hold offenders responsible for all of their crimes.

Sex offender registration works every time a single mom looks up that nice-looking man from the apartment complex who asked her out and learns he’s been convicted of molesting his last girlfriend’s kids.  It works every time somebody applies for a job and the background check shows a propensity for sexual violence.  Yet there’s a news blackout on these types of stories.

Admittedly, it’s not the same type of story when a sex offense is prevented.  But when reporters take up the issue of registration, they behave as if the only case to be made is the “anti-registration” one.   They don’t investigate instances or the prevalence of offenders being sent back to prison — what they did to get caught this time, and all their prior crimes, not just what shows up in the prison records.  They don’t speak to the victims to learn what was left out of court proceedings.  They don’t ask if there’s a juvenile record.  They take the canned and highly selective sob-stories handed to them by activist groups and regurgitate them in a few lines.

They never acknowledge that the sexual assault rate has dropped since registration laws were passed — and this, from reporters who will swallow any vague claim about crime being related to the weather, or the economy, even after those flavors of correlation get disproved again, and again, and again.

Media bias against monitoring sex offenders leads to a lot of sloppy reporting.  Reporters routinely fail to check the real criminal histories of sex offenders they interview, taking the offenders’ descriptions of their own crimes at face value.  Virtually all youthful sex offenders appearing in news stories claim that they’re guilty of no more than “Romeo and Juliet” cases of statutory, consensual intercourse.  Reporters believe them and repeat their claims without calling the prosecutor and the victim to see just how “consensual” the incident really was.  Rapists start young and target young victims in their immediate surroundings: how many of those “statutory” cases are pleas down from a worse crime, or not even “merely” statutory at all?  You have to ask questions to get answers to questions like that, and with utterly uncharacteristic shyness, reporters don’t ask, don’t tell.

Even non-youthful offenders often make the “Romeo and Juliet” claim, and nobody seems to bother to, say, count off on their fingers to see if the ages and offense dates even match.

Reporters need to hold themselves to higher standards — heck, some kind of standard.  They need to start fact-checking actual offense and prosecution records whenever they describe an offender’s prior record.  They need to contact victims if they’re going to allow an offender to describe a sex crime as consensual sex.  Sure, doing this would be uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as being the victim who reads in the paper that the man who raped her is telling the world that it was just some star-crossed affair.

But they won’t.  They’re so besotted with the idea that sex offenders are the real victims — victims of society — that they approach issues like sex offender registration with blinders on.  Remember the utterly manufactured “homeless sex offender” debacle?  Not one news organization had the integrity or standards to corrected their misreporting of legal facts, or the real criminal histories of the offenders they profiled, or any of the other published inaccuracies confabulations in that activist-invented crisis.

In a related story, Georgia officials are reporting that they can’t find “nearly 250” sex offenders who are supposed to stay in touch with officials in metro Atlanta.  250 absconded sex offenders, breaking the law and evading authorities.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has this utterly bizarre coverage:

Nearly one-tenth of the area’s registered sex offenders who are not in jail are listed as “absconded” — meaning that law enforcement authorities have lost track of them, despite a strict law intended to keep such offenders under close supervision and away from potential victims.

Nevertheless, some say the long list of missing offenders — rapists, kidnappers and molesters, as well as people convicted of engaging in consensual sex acts when they were minors — should cause no alarm.

“The people on the registry are not the ones to be concerned about,” said John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which maintains the sex offender registry. “It’s the ones who live right up under your nose. Stranger-on-stranger sex crimes do happen. But most cases involve people the victim already knows.”

Nothing to worry about, move along, move along.  Two of the men are child rapists with a high likelihood to re-offend — predators.  All of them have committed crimes bad enough to come to the attention of authorities and result in a conviction — and as anyone who works in the criminal justice system knows, most sex offenders get away with most sex offenses most of the time, so just having a conviction indicates at least one serious lapse in self-control.

Why motivated GBI spokesperson John Bankhead to minimize the fact that 250 sex offenders from the metro Atlanta are currently missing?  Were his words taken out of context?  Was he trying to say that there are so many more sex offenders who have never been prosecuted that this mere 250 don’t pose as much risk as the non-prosecuted ones?  Because, if that’s what he’s saying, it’s horrifying and implies the need for more, not less, vigilance on sex crimes.

Of course most victims know their offenders. That’s not an argument against being worried that 250 un-incarcerated offenders in Atlanta are actively breaking the law.  Child molesters use trust and family relationships to gain access to their victims.  The fact that they knew their prior victims does nothing to minimize the possibility that these absconded offenders will do exactly the same thing with new victims.

But instead of even bothering to profile any of the most prolific and dangerous offenders on the absconded list, the reporter skips directly from playing down the danger posed by these men to another re-hash of the faux “homeless” controversy:

Georgia’s sex offender registry, known for its restrictive rules governing where offenders can live, work or even loiter, has been controversial since its creation in 1994. This fall, authorities forced a group of homeless sex offenders to leave a makeshift camp behind an office park in Marietta — one of the few places, the men said, they could live without breaking the law.

See my post here explaining the many ways the AJC got this story wrong the last time they staged a textual pity party for a bunch of shiftless sex offenders on the make for yet another government handout.  Rather than calling them homeless sex offenders, a more accurate label would be: “Sex Offenders Who Want You to Pay Their Rent and Have the Southern Center for Human Rights Staff at the Ready to Sue You to Make You Do It (and, oh yeah, pay their legal fees, to boot).”

And so, a story about 250 sex criminals absconding from the law morphs into yet another story about how the offenders themselves are the ones being victimized by society, complete with quotes from the offenders’ attorneys, yet no quote from anyone disputing their claims.  This is journalism manufactured by anti-incarceration activist caveat.

And in this case, it comes with a particularly steep price for the victims.  If the reporter and his editors are going to work so hard to assert that these men pose no danger to society, shouldn’t they ask some of the men’s victims what they think of such a curious, subjective, opinionated, cheerily uninformed claim?

For, after all, how would you feel if you had experienced being raped by, say, your uncle, and then you endured the trial, and alienation from family members, and all that hell, and your uncle gets out of jail and goes into hiding, and some careless reporter prattles on that he isn’t really dangerous because he “knew” the victim he picked the last time?  I’d feel pretty appalled.  Making assertions like this smacks of minimizing non-stranger sex crimes, when in reality, non-stranger offenders are every bit as dangerous, and often more dangerous, especially if they’re being abetted by sympathetic relatives and dysfunctional families.  And I think the psychological harm they do to their victims dwarfs the harm done by most stranger-rapes.

But hey, nothing to see here: it’s just the AJC crudely diminishing the experience of hundreds of rape victims, mostly child victims, in order to cobble another soapbox for the activists over at the Southern Center for Human Rights.  Just another day in the vast media pity party for men who rape children.

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

GR2009121700056

(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:

The 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.

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Turkey Seeking New Gravy Train, or Misunderstood Geek?

“People may not like his style” begins the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s denouement of the Chief Pennington years.

As if the crime-weary public has been complaining all along about the cut of Chief Pennington’s jib, not the fact that he poo-poohed the rising crime wave, turned on his own officers, and stopped doing his job.

But implausible deniability has been the newspaper’s line on crime ever since the public started demanding, say, a chief of police who takes all home invasions equally seriously and doesn’t take his marching orders from two-bit activists, or pull a Houdini for months on end.

It’s not that writers Bill Rankin and Bill Torpy are particular fans of the Chief, or any cop — the paper’s biases run to offenders.  But when Pennington started parroting the paper’s “Crime? What crime, you stupid hysterics?” line, he became an occasional ally on the side of print journalists and against the public. ... 

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Pre-Holiday Mop-Up: Marvin Arrington and Georgia Juvenile Justice Take Me To School

I wrote this a few weeks back and never posted it: I was waiting for a confirmation of some details.  In December, Crime Victims Media Report will be re-launching with more emphasis on The Guilty Project, an effort to document the ways prolific and violent offenders avoid justice.

I have been hearing recently from crime victims, their families, and other people who personally knew offenders before they were caught: their stories are compelling, and they have a lot to say about the justice system that needs to be heard by wider audiences.

There are millions of Americans who aren’t criminals but have been denied justice because some criminal got away with murder thanks to a lenient judge, or because the system is simply hard-wired to let offenders go.  These stories need to be told, and they are not being told in newspapers.  Meanwhile, as the following illustrates, too many of our courtrooms have become therapeutic entities for the benefit of even the most violent offenders.  If you know of a case or a court ruling that deserves notice, please contact me, either on the website or at my e-mail, tinatrent2@yahoo.com.

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Over at Georgia Juvenile Justice, somebody’s rather upset that, way back in an editorial published in early September, I called Judge Marvin Arrington the “host” of a graduation party held from some violent inmate, rather than the “invited guest speaker.”  Here is their complaint, which got cc’d to a bunch of state employees and then mailed to Sunday Paper a mere six weeks after my editorial ran:

Permit me to respond to your editorial entitled “Judge Marvin Arrington’s Criminal Court” in the September 2, 2009 issue of The Sunday Paper.  This editorial unwittingly perpetrates a myth concerning Judge Arrington’s role at the Metro Regional Youth Detention Center’s (Metro RYDC) graduation last May.  You should be aware of the following facts.

Judge Arrington did not hold a “graduation party” for a convicted felon at the Metro RYDC.  This graduation was arranged by the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) Education Department.  This graduation ceremony was one of several held at DJJ facilities during the 2008 – 2009 DJJ school year.

Judge Arrington was simply invited as a speaker for the occasion. . .

Well, excusez-moi for not getting the table settings right.  Arrington was, in fact, the graduation speaker, though in the writer’s quest to minimize the judge’s role, he slides past that point for a few sentences.

Anyway, what I actually wrote was this:

Last spring, Arrington also held a “graduation party” for a convicted felon awaiting new charges at the Atlanta Metro Youth Detention Center.

So the Juvenile Justice official is right that Arrington didn’t “throw” the party for a convicted felon awaiting new charges but was merely the “honored guest” at the party for a convicted felon awaiting new charges.  It’s a tiny point, and, of course, not the point of my editorial.  My point was that Arrington, like many judges, behaves as if his role is to boost the self-esteem of violent young convicts rather than doing the things that are supposed to be his job: holding offenders responsible for their actions, protecting the public, and enforcing the law through appropriate sentencing.

Unfortunately, the courts are awash with ceremonies and celebrations for offenders.  In the trendy rush to treat offenders like “clients” and practice a therapeutic jurisprudence that wins praise from the academic/media/defense bar cabal, judges are too often tempted to abandon their role as enforcers of the law.  Sometimes they do this in the courtroom itself.  Sometimes they go off-site to other places to do it, but the effect is the same: they are carrying their title as judge with them.  They are speaking for the court and getting paid by the very same taxpayers who are being victimized by these offenders’ crimes.

And meanwhile, while they’re busy doing these other things, they’re also using the excuse that there aren’t enough resources to address all crimes, so most cases get pleaded away or postponed into perpetuity.  The prisons are full, they tell us, when what they really mean is that they philosophically oppose incarceration as deterrence.  The courts are suddenly broke, they’re telling us now, as if routinely pleading out 90% of all cases because they lacked the resources to try them in the past, right up until yesterday, wasn’t proof that they were broke before.

Back to my schooling.  I didn’t, incidentally, get the party’s location wrong, nor did I allege that Arrington presided over this particular offender’s trial, nor did I mention (let alone misrepresent) any of the other programs the Justice Department official reeled off in his demand that I stop “perpetrating myths” — I wasn’t even writing about those things.  This complaint letter by a state official is sadly dishonest throughout, both accusing me of misrepresenting facts I did not misrepresent and reeling off a list of corrections to the record about subjects I did not mention.

I suggest they get busy over at Juvenile Justice working on a retraction of the things of which they falsely accused me — or I might just sit myself down and write a firm letter to the editor complaining about them, by, say, January or February. ... 

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Richard Elliot Reports on Catch and Release in Atlanta: Who Needs a Plea Bargain When The Police Aren’t Even Allowed to Detain Youths For Breaking into Your House?

What happens when you strip away consequences for holding a gun to somebody’s head, or kicking in somebody’s back door?  What happens when you tell a 16-year old that the worst thing that will happen to him if he commits a serious crime is a few months behind bars, hardly a threat to a child who views incarceration as a sign of street cred?  And what happens when you prevent police from even detaining the kids who just broke into your neighbor’s house?

This is what happens to the offender:

The 18-year-old who was shot dead Saturday by Macon police officers had been released from prison in September, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections Web site.

The DOC’s inmate query site said Bradley Gastin was paroled Sept. 16 from Rogers State Prison in Reidsville. On April 29, 2008, he began serving a three-year sentence for robbery by force, according to the site.

Gastin walked out of prison, early, two months ago.  Now he is dead, after trying to run over police officers during a carjacking.  Thank God no police officers were killed, in what is only the latest dangerous situation directly traceable to the broken juvenile justice system:

Macon police say Gastin and 20-year-old Tommy Lee Hardy Jr. on Saturday carjacked a Ford Expedition and later rammed a Macon police car with the stolen vehicle.

Two police officers, who were standing near the police car, fired several shots that killed Gastin, who was driving the Expedition.

Hardy is now charged with armed robbery and carjacking.  That means the young men had a gun in that car.  They held a gun to somebody’s head and then tried to kill some cops.  At what point does the public get to see the dead youth’s juvenile record, to see precisely how many times some judge let him walk in the past?

Who wins here?  Only the people who have decided that grandstanding against law enforcement is more important than protecting the public — or protecting the offenders from themselves.

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Meanwhile, Channel 2’s Richard Elliot reports an infuriating story about the Juvenile Justice’s Detention Assessment protocol, which forces police officers to release juvenile offenders immediately back onto the streets for crimes like drug trafficking (certain drugs), escape with a dangerous weapon, cruelty to children, and burglary.  I couldn’t find the story on the Channel 2 website, but the Dekalb Officers blog links to it here.

Imagine calling the police to report a break-in in progress in your neighbor’s house.  The police come and catch the youths running down the street with your neighbor’s laptop and gun.  What happens next?  Well, unless they have serious priors or pending felonies (which would require somebody in the courts actually doing something about what they did the last time) the police have to let them go with an order to appear in court.

Before your neighbor gets home from work, the gang that rolled his house will be back on the streets again.

Looking for whoever called the police on them.  In other words, you.

The same goes for calling the cops on that kid tearing down a street sign, or breaking a car window, or selling drugs, or prostituting themselves.  Intervening at all has become an extremely high-risk activity: why get involved at all?

It could be said about many of these crimes, but why is burglary even on the list of so-called “catch and release” offenses?  Why have we dumbed down the horrifying act of violating somebody’s home?  The Juvenile Justice system is playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives.  And still, despite the manifold, tragic failures of such leniency, the drumbeat continues that we are too harsh with juveniles, we have to offer more “services” instead of incarceration, we lock up too many kids and throw away the key.

Bunk.  None of that is the least bit true.  Despite massive hype to the contrary and breast-beating by the usual suspects, there are very, very few youths in the state system serving adult sentences for their crimes.  Meanwhile, Atlanta, and every other city, is knee-deep in recreation centers, after-school care, interventions, recreation, and so on and so on and so on.  It’s a giant patronage machine used as much to organize political machines and get out the vote, frankly, as to “provide services” where they are needed.  I know.  I’ve seen those payrolls.  I’ve written those grants.

When somebody starts telling the truth about that, maybe more kids will get the help they really need — speedy removal to detention centers for long enough time to turn their lives around, or at least keep them, temporarily, out of harm’s way.

For, as frustrating as the story Richard Elliot uncovered may be, it’s the tip of the iceberg.  He’s just talking about the youths who don’t get detained for even one night.  How many youths charged with even more serious crimes bond out on after a day, or a week, or a month?  How many of those cases simply disappear into the worm-hole of the courts?

I spend a lot of time blaming anti-incarceration advocates for creating such a dangerously lenient system, but, in fairness, a lot of the built-in leniency is just as much a product of the politics of fiscal conservatives who don’t want to spend the money it would take — or bother expending the political capital for the fight — to fund the courts, monitor the performance of judges, and actually get “tough on crime.”

When the state legislatures return to work this year, there is plenty of blame to go around. ... 

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James Ferrell: A Rap Sheet Too Long to Repeat, Shoots A Cop Now

DeKalb Officers blog pulled up James Ferrell’s arrest record after Ferrell shot a cop last week, an attempted murder already reduced to an aggravated assault charge.

How is shooting an officer, even if you only hit him in the leg, not attempted murder?  If the sentencing code of Georgia is so incoherent that it is better to charge someone with a lesser crime in order to circumvent the possibility of a shorter sentence, why doesn’t the legislature fix that terrible problem?  Or is it the District Attorney’s office that is being incoherent on the “shooting a cop isn’t attempted murder” thing?  Would Ferrell be charged with attempted murder if he had shot a cop in some other county?

Of course, this latest spree is not Ferrell’s first, or fifth, or even tenth run-in with the law. His first adult arrest, in DeKalb County, at least, came in 1986, 33 days after his 18th birthday, a real efficiency record.  Candles still warm on the plate.  So one must presume a sealed juvenile record.

Fast-forward 23 years. Here is the story, reported in the AJC:

Ferrell was as passenger in a car stopped shortly before noon Thursday. The officer was running a license check when he spotted Ferrell climb out of the car and run . . . The officer chased the passenger and got into a struggle with him. During the struggle the suspect grabbed for the officer’s gun . . . He was unsuccessful but later produced his own gun, which he used to fire at least one shot. A bullet grazed the officer’s knee.  As the officer was recovering, Ferrell carjacked a nearby motorist and drove off in a Ford F-150 . . .

In September, Ferrell skipped out on his parole and had a warrant issued for his arrest, according to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.  DeKalb court records show Ferrell is also wanted on a warrant for failure to appear in court.  That warrant stems from a 2008 arrest where Ferrell was charged with hit and run, fleeing, obstruction and impersonating an officer, according to records. He was released on bond, but failed to return to court in April.

So last April, Ferrell, while on parole, committed a serious crime, including impersonating an officer.  Even though this violated his parole, some judge let him bond out of jail anyway.  And, of course, he didn’t show up back in court.  Inexplicably, it took until September before the state parole board noticed and issued a warrant for his arrest.  Meanwhile, DeKalb was busy sending him certified letters that he cleverly avoided answering.

Hey, DeKalb County, he’s just not that into you.

What does it take to not be let out on bond? Bear in mind, this is a guy with a twenty-year history of serious, violent crime.  In 1990, he was sentenced to 20 years to serve for multiple armed robberies and aggravated assault.  That was some sentence to get back then — it must have been one heck of a serious aggravated assault.

Serious, like shooting a police officer, which will now also show as only another “aggravated assault” on the new page of his rap sheet, if it doesn’t get pled down, too.

I’m at a loss.

Of course, Ferrell didn’t serve even a third of that 1990 sentence: he was back out on the streets by 1996, and then he was arrested again and returned to prison briefly and released and arrested again, this time for rape, all the while when he could have been cooling his heels in a prison cell.

By 2003, when Atlanta police arrested him for rape, Ferrell had served only nine of the 20 years to which he’d been sentenced in 1990.  And somehow, despite repeated parole violations, nobody bothered to make him finish the sentence.  So what is the point of parole again?

It is not clear what happened with the Fulton County rape charge: it seems to have disappeared.  That would be a nice question to ask someone: what happened to the rape arrest?  It looks like nothing happened.  Why?

And now a cop is shot.  “Grazed,” some say.

Well, thank goodness it wasn’t something serious.  Just another day in our absurdist criminal courts.

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