Ash Joshi: “But Being a Quisling Apologist for Murderers is my Job”

Another great in-depth story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about chaos in the courts.  Note that Metro Atlanta courts other than Fulton County aren’t catch-and-releasing murder defendants like muddy-tasting catfish, like Fulton does.

Volume is no excuse: volume of cases means that judges and prosecutors should be appealing to the public for support and banging down doors at the Georgia General Assembly for more resources, not lowering standards. ... 

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An Interesting Story From the Memphis Commercial Appeal: Not Minimizing Crime

If only journalists and politicians in Atlanta simply acknowledged the real price of crime, instead of arguing over numbers and criticizing the public for caring.  Here is how the Memphis Commercial Appeal handles a “drop-in-crime-but-still-too-much-crime” story:

[P]olice crime stats show substantial drops in 2009, more than 16 percent below the same period in 2006. ... 

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

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

 ... 

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More on the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “Homeless Sex Offenders” Hysteria

How easy is it to predict the many ways the media has substituted thinly-disguised advocacy and sheer make-believe for reporting on the alleged “homeless sex offender” crisis?  Painfully easy. 

Before I even read the latest installment of the homeless sex offender soap opera, the one that appeared in the AJC last week, I made up a list of rules for such stories: ... 

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Homeless Sex Offenders are Not Gentle Woodland Creatures, Nor Innocent Sprites, Nor Toy-Making Elves

Now the Atlanta Journal Constitution has joined other news outlets spinning fairy tales about the plight of homeless sex offenders forced to live in the woods/under bridges/by the wee blarney rock, where the moss grows.

The stories go like this: completely harmless, harshly punished sex offenders are being forced to live in tents for no other reason but that we invented “draconian” laws that limit where they can obtain housing.  If only we didn’t insist on these cruel living restrictions, why, they’d all be happily ensconced in little cottages with gingham curtains.  But instead, they have to live in the big, bad woods. ... 

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Peter Hermann (Baltimore Sun) Sheds Some Light on the Murder Rate, Looks for Light in the Courts

If you read nothing else this week, read the following two articles by Peter Hermann.  Baltimore struggles with crime and court issues very similar to Atlanta’s.  More severe, in their case:

Delving More Deeply Into Shooting Stats ... 

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Atlanta Unfiltered Explains the Murder Defendants

The Georgia investigative blog — news, not opinion — Atlanta Unfiltered has information about some of the 45 murder defendants reported to be free on bond.  Apparently, there are some inaccuracies — two remain in jail, four are facing manslaughter or other charges, and two had charges dropped.

That still leaves 37 murder defendants walking the streets (and who knows how many defendants who shot or raped somebody but didn’t kill them). ... 

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The Real Perception Problem is the Perception of the Courts

The comments thread in response to this article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution contain a lot more insight than the article itself, which morphed from the purported subject of policing into another attack on the public for caring about crime.*  No surprise there.  While the criminologists try to minimize crime using formulas measuring relative cultural pathology and other number dances, the public hones in on the courts:

It is time that we stop protecting the young criminals – Start publishing names, parents names and city – Might just be that some parents will be so embarrassed that they will take control of these young people – Start publishing names of judges that continually grant bail bonds or m notes for “REPEAT” offenders. — “D.L.” ... 

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A Truly Offensive Effort to Whitewash the Crime Problem

What’s the matter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution?

In the last year, the residents of Atlanta stood up and declared that they do not want their city to be a place known for crime, where murders and muggings are taken in stride.  They declared that one murder, one home invasion, is one too many.  They partnered with the police — ignoring the headline-grabbing anti-cop types who perennially try to sow divisiveness. ... 

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The Genesis of a Lie: How Brutal Killers Become Victims, Part 4

On September 4, the jury in the Denise Lee murder trial returned a verdict of death for the man who kidnapped, raped, and murdered her, Michael King.  The next day the Sarasota Herald Tribune ran a story detailing the travails King would face on death row, such as limited access to exercise and no air conditioning:

Air conditioning is forbidden on death row, so inmates mostly keep still.  “It’s awful,” said the Rev. Larry Reimer, who has visited for 27 years to minister to a death row inmate. “It is hotter there than you permit animals to be kept.” ... 

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The Genesis of a Lie: How Brutal Killers Become Victims, Part 3

On August 28, jurors in the Michael King trial in Sarasota, Florida found King guilty of raping and killing 21-year old mother, Denise Amber Lee.  Here is a photo of Lee’s father, Rick Goff, listening to the last 911 call Denise managed to make, in which she was recorded begging for her life.  It’s worth remembering that the families were forced to sit through all the courtroom games the defense played while trying to get King off on a technicality.  Which technicality?  Any and all of them, of course.

Immediately following the jury’s conviction, the sentencing hearings began.  King’s lawyers set out to argue that a childhood sledding accident rendered him incompetent, a mitigating factor the jurors would have to weight against his crimes — if it was true. ... 

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The Genesis of a Lie: How Brutal Killers Become Victims, Part 2

With so many opportunities to exclude evidence, and so few ways to get it admitted, it is only the most unlucky offenders who ever see the inside of a courtroom.  This terrible reality is what many journalists and defense attorneys call the genius of our system, though, of course, it doesn’t feel that way when it is your daughter or wife begging for her life.

~~~ ... 

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Middle-Class Gangsters: Is Poverty a Good Excuse for Being a Gangster?

The subject of middle-class youths joining gangs was raised in both the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the New York Times last weekend, but in very different ways.

The Times, predictably, describes such youths as “swept up” by forces beyond their control, like their poor counterparts, as if they have no responsibility for choosing to commit armed robbery: ... 

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Empathy for Murderers, Contempt for Their Victims

One day after the on-duty murder of Tampa Police Cpl. Mike Roberts, the St. Petersburg Times actually published a story bemoaning the killer’s hard life.

We learn that Humberto Delgado Jr. had insomnia, was good at fixing things, was a dad just like Roberts — well, not exactly, because he didn’t support his children and he murdered a police officer, but the Times is nothing if not relentless in its efforts to assert that offenders are as much the victims of the crimes they commit as the people they choose to victimize: ... 

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Leniency Lunacy: Atlanta’s CBS News Tackles Recidivism, Judicial “Discretion,” and Fulton County Prosecutors Going Easy on Repeat Offenders

Hat tip to Paul Kersey:

Atlanta CBS News Investigative Reporter Joanna Massey dissects the problems in the courts.  This is thoughtful reporting (here is part 2), and hopefully there will be follow-up on points raised by the story, such as: ... 

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Risible Poppycock from the Criminology/Journalism Complex: The Sentencing Project and The Delaware News-Journal

It ought to take more than 25 seconds and two mouse clicks to find evidence that the media and The Sentencing Project are making stuff up.  It ought to, but it does not.

The Sentencing Project is a well-funded, powerful, anti-incarceration advocacy organization.  They pose as a think tank that publishes objective academic research on crime and punishment. ... 

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Post-Press Conference Fallout: Aphorisms Versus Platitudes

I had not been watching Atlanta television news until I tried to watch the press conference yesterday morning.  They are sending people to bang on doors, looking for the Chief of Police, and challenging the Mayor on her unwillingness to address the issue.  My apologies.  The media is alive and kicking in Atlanta.

Yesterday morning, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Police Chief Richard Pennington held a press conference to talk about crime.  Here is some of what they said, culled from local news reports: ... 

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Yellow Leadership/White Collar Crime/Newspaper Blues

Some days, it’s hard to sound constructive. Thursday blues?  For once, I’m not gonna try:

Exhibit A: Somebody should demand that Atlanta Police Chief Pennington surrender his day book, so people can see precisely what he is doing for all that money.  How often does he go to the office?  Where is he at 5:05 p.m.?  At 7:05 a.m.? ... 

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No-Snitch Children and No-Punishment Adults

Every weekday, I receive a useful summary of crime, policing, and justice news stories called Crime and Justice News, compiled by Ted Gest at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  Considering that there are so many relevant articles from which to choose, Gest and his assistants do a good job of spotting national trends.

But, sometimes, reading through the report is singularly depressing, not only because crime is depressing, but because the trends in crime prevention that crop up regularly these days seem doomed to failure. ... 

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Another Entirely Accurate Critique of the Miami Homeless Sex Offender “Crisis”:

From PROTECT, the National Association to Protect Children:

Miami’s Julia Tuttle Causeway fiasco–where about 70 “registered” sex offenders have been herded under a bridge to live–is being challenged in court by the ACLU. ... 

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Crime Denial at the New York Times: An Update

Yesterday, while writing about the Times‘ willful misrepresentation of a child sexual assault conviction, I noted:

[W]hen I see an offender with a record of one or three instances of “inappropriate touching,” I suspect that’s the tip of the iceberg.  I suspect the conviction is the result of a plea bargain agreed to just to get the sick bastard away from the child and onto a registry, which is the most victims can reasonably hope for in the courts these days . . . ... 

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Crime Denial at the New York Times, Part 1: Regarding the Torture of (Some) Others

The New York Times is the most important newspaper in America, and that is unfortunate, for in their pages, ordinary criminals are frequently treated with extreme deference and sympathy, even respect.  Some types of criminals are excluded from this kid-glove treatment, but that is a subject for another day.  For the most part, ordinary (property, drug, violent, sexual) criminals comprise a protected class in the Times.  Even when it must be acknowledged that someone has, in fact, committed a crime, the newsroom’s mission merely shifts to minimizing the culpability of the offender by other means.

There are various ways of doing this.  Some have to do with selectively criticizing the justice system: for example, the Times reports criminal appeals in detail without bothering to acknowledge congruent facts that support the prosecution and conviction.  They misrepresent the circumstances that lead to (sometimes, sometimes not) wrongful convictions while showing no curiosity about the exponentially higher rate of non-prosecution of crimes. ... 

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Blogging Crime Versus “Disappearing” It: Chicago and Atlanta

Chicago:

In Chicago, something interesting is happening as “twittering” and blogging and e-mail bring in first-hand reports that deviate from official versions.  It is hard to whitewash incidents of violence and rioting when people are reporting them in real time and police are going back over their incident reports to compare notes later. ... 

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The New Normal: Atlanta

I, for one, think newspapers are being rejuvenated by their current financial crisis.  The old-fashioned, insular newsroom, with its disturbing status quo on crime reporting (defendants are victims of society; victims are society, and thereby guilty of something) is becoming a thing of the past.

Over the holiday weekend, the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran this must-read story by Bill Torpy, in which he examines the real costs of retail burglaries for small business owners: ... 

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“National Network for Safe Communities” or More of the Same Old Song?

The newest hot thing in crime reduction is actually an old idea that has been tried again and again, at staggering cost, with little objective evaluation of the results.  It is now being re-packaged as an initiative called National Network for Safe Communities, and several large cities are already signing on.  The idea is to “reach out” to the most prolific criminals, the ones who control drug dealing and gang activities, and try to engage them in dialogue to get them to stop dealing, robbing, and shooting — before threatening them with prison.

To put it another way, cities overwhelmed by crime will hand over yet another get-out-of-jail-free card to offenders who already, in reality, have fistfuls of them.  Cities will reinforce the status and egos of the worst offenders by engaging them in “dialogue”  (predictably, some of these offenders will simply use their new status to grow their criminal enterprise, like this M-13 gang member/executive director of Homies Unidos, a “nationally recognized anti-gang group”).  Cities will create and subsidize larger numbers of expensive, redundant, slush-fund “job outreach programs” and “youth intervention initiatives” and “community summits” and “lock-downs service provision weekends” — more, that is, than even exist now. ... 

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An Important Law Georgia Still Does Not Have: Arrestee DNA Databasing

Back in the 1990’s, Georgia Lt. Governor Mark Taylor made it a priority to build the state’s DNA crime database.  He did this long before other states got on board, and for many years Georgia was rightly viewed as a leader in using DNA to solve violent crimes.  Taylor was driven by his strong commitment to victims of rape and child molestation who had been denied justice.  He did not heed the civil rights and convict rights lobbies who tried to stir up hysteria over using DNA to solve crimes (ironically, these same activists are howling over the Supreme Court’s utterly reasonable decision last week not to enshrine post-conviction DNA as a blanket, federal right, when 46 states already guarantee it, as even Barry Scheck admits: don’t believe virtually anything you read about this case on the editorial pages).

Taylor’s leadership on DNA databasing yielded an extraordinary number of database “hits” long before other states got their databases up and running.  In 1998, only convicted and incarcerated sex offenders were required to submit DNA samples in Georgia, yet 13 repeat-offender rapists were immediately linked to other sexual assaults, and scores of “unidentified offender” profiles were readied to be used if those offenders were finally caught and tested. ... 

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Chilling Undercounting of Crime

At the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Conference, Ted Gest from Crime and Justice News had some interesting things to say about crime under-reporting.  Murder statistics are usually considered the gold standard, statistically, since it’s hard to misplace a body.  But maybe not so hard, since Detroit managed to “lose” 100 of them last year:

Contrary to FBI statistics, more than 100 Detroit homicides were left off the books last year, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told the Detroit Free Press. Worthy said the Detroit Police Department underreported that 306 people were killed in 2008. She said the homicide number is actually 423. ... 

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