NSA Surveillance

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There are numerous questions about NSA surveillance:  How much is going on, what information does it actually capture, are government officials telling us the truth, has it helped us capture or kill terrorists, and is the erosion of privacy worth the candle?

The Federalist Society had a superb panel on these questions at its National Student Convention in Florida last month.  Two of the speakers really went at it, Prof. Randy Barnett of Georgetown and Stewart Baker, a former Bush Administration official.  A recording of the panel is here, and is very much worth your time if you're interested in this issue.  Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey also had some telling remarks.

My own views are, to be honest, insufficiently informed for me to say anything and be confident I'm right.  On the one hand, the present Administration has shown itself to be less than either competent or honest in dealing with this powerful tool.  On the other, we have seen what terrorists can do, and the need to prevent their success is prepossessing.

For however that may be, I ran across a take on the subject that's just too rich to pass up.

Pot Tourism

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As expected, Colorado's legalization of marijuana is producing an influx of tourists.  College student Levy Pongi, 19, traveled with friends from Wyoming to Denver to try it.  He jumped to his death from a hotel balcony.  AP reports:

DENVER (AP) -- A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony.

A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

The two recent deaths have stoked concerns about Colorado's recreational marijuana industry and the effects of the drug, especially since cookies, candy and other pot edibles can be exponentially more potent than smoking a joint.

"We're seeing hallucinations, they become sick to their stomachs, they throw up, they become dizzy and very anxious," said Al Bronstein, medical director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.

Incidents such as this do not, of course, establish that prohibition enforced by criminal law is necessarily the best policy.  What they do establish is that the pro-pot crowd is engaging in a propaganda campaign.  I call it "reverse reefer madness."  Just as in the past proponents of prohibition ridiculously exaggerated the harmful effect of marijuana, proponents of legalization today falsely minimize or even deny the harmful effects.  Distortion of the truth is wrong whichever way it goes.  We need to move forward in this debate with our eyes wide open.

And why would anyone drive all that way for legal marijuana?  Surely illegal marijuana is readily available in Wyoming.

Legal status does make a difference to some people, clearly.  Legalization will increase consumption.  Pretending it won't is yet another distortion.

Abolitionism, Meet Reality

Pro-criminal interest groups and academics are constantly admonishing us that we should use "evidence-based sentencing."  The problem is that they don't want consideration of what any normal person would consider "evidence."  Instead, the "evidence" upon which we are told we should rest our gaze inevitably turns out to be  --  guess what  --  some tendentious "study" or "report" done by these self-same groups.

Actual evidence is not hard to come by, however.  You can find it just by opening your local paper, as I did over lunch.  Here's the headline I saw:

Maryland jury finds Darrell Bellard guilty in drug-related quadruple slaying.

The story is as depressing as it is instructive.
Did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev know what he was doing, and intend to do it, when he planted the bomb that killed three people and grievously injured dozens more?

Well, read his own words

When asked to comment, one of his numerous defense lawyers refused, but was willing to say, "If the government's indictment is true, this [case] is about a family...a story of this family and the relationships between the people in [it]."

Well, not really.  It's a story about a Jihadist whose response to the generous welcome this country gave him was to hate it and kill its people with a home made, shrapnel-packed bomb.
Is it that we've locked up to many criminals, or that we have too much crime?

Congressional backers of slashing mandatory minimum sentences plainly believe the former.  Their main slogan is "incarceration nation," and they claim there's a "bi-partisan consensus" to cut the prison population.

One thing I learned in my days as a litigator is to listen for what you're not hearing. What I never seem to hear, amidst all these claims of consensus, is any polling results among ordinary people.  This makes a suspicious man like me wonder whether backers of so-called "reform" know enough to prefer not to take a poll; with all the George Soros money they've got, they could certainly commission one if they wanted.

I just stumbled across a poll, although it's a year old and asks a slightly different question. It's from Rasmussen, and I'll quote the (very short) story in full (emphasis added):

Americans feel even more strongly that the biggest problem with the criminal justice system is that too many criminals are set free. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 68% of U.S. adults believe that the bigger problem with law enforcement and the legal system is that too many criminals are released, not that too many innocent people are arrested. Eighteen percent (18%) hold the opposite view and think the bigger problem is that too many innocent people are arrested. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

What backers of the Smarter Sentencing Act mean when they say there's a "consensus" in favor of the bill is now clear:  There's a consensus among cozy interest groups and academic leftists.  Talk to the man on the street, and it's a different story. 

News Scan

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Tennessee May Revive Electric Chair: The Tennessee House has adopted a bill that will allow use of the electric chair as an alternative execution method if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.  Erik Schelzig of the Associated Press reports that the bill would keep lethal injection as the preferred method of execution, but will allow the electric chair if execution drugs are not available or executions are delayed by legal challenges to the protocol.  Last week the state Senate passed similar bill.  Tennessee is currently holding 76 condemned murderers on death row.  The state has not carried out an execution since 2009.

NE Murderer May Receive Death Penalty: A Nebraska man who went on a 10-day murder spree days after being released from prison has been convicted of four murders may receive a death sentence.  Katie Knapp Schubert of Reuters reports that 27-year-old Nikko Jenkins began the killing spree less than two weeks after he was released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence for robbery.  A three judge panel will determine if Jenkins is eligible for the death sentence.  Nebraska has put just three people to death since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld capital punishment in 1976.  The last execution was in 1997.

Heroin Use Increasing Across the U.S.: Law enforcement officials from around the country are beginning to voice concerns about the growing problem of heroin use which in many parts of the county is killing more people than violent crime and car crashes.  Kevin Johnson of USA Today reports that a surge in the availability and purity of heroin has dramatically increased  overdoses. In 2012, roughly half of New York City's 730 drug overdose fatalities were from heroin and other opiates.  That was twice the number of NYC murder victims that year.  A yet-to-be released National Drug Threat Assessment rated heroin as the second highest drug risk behind methamphetamine.  "This kind of sneaked up on us,'' said Attorney General Eric Holder, who supports reduced sentences for drug dealers.   

On Brodway. Or is it Broadwey?

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Off topic but funny, Ellen Huet has this post at SFGate on typos literally set in concrete in the City by the Bay.
Lynne Tuohy reports for AP:

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire's Senate has voted to leave intact the state's centuries-old death penalty.

Lawmakers voted 12-12 Thursday on a death penalty repeal measure. The tie means capital punishment will stay on the books.

Last month, the House voted in favor of repeal, and Gov. Maggie Hassan (HASS'-ehn) had said she would sign the measure into law.

My understanding was that the governor had said she would sign it only if she were confident it would not prevent the execution of cop-killer Michael Addison.  Given the immediate attack on existing sentences in Connecticut, despite a very clear prospective-only clause in the bill, nobody can honestly guarantee that.

Hopefully the voters of New Hampshire, and other states, will elect more persons of sense in the coming election, the repeal threats will recede, and we can get back to the business of reforming the review process to make the penalty effective.

News Scan

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PA Mayor to Limit Police Cooperation with Immigration Officers: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to sign an executive order to limit collaboration efforts between his city's police department and federal immigration authorities.  Julie Shaw of Philly News reports that the order would prevent police from honoring detainer requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless the case involves a person convicted of a first or second-degree felony.  Prior to this order, ICE officials were able to request that a person suspected of being a non-citizen be held by city police up to 48 hours until immigration officers could take custody of them.

CO Police Suspect Accused Murderer was Hallucinating from Marijuana: Denver police are investigating to determine if a man accused of fatally shooting his wife Monday was hallucinating from edible marijuana.  Paresh Dave of the Los Angeles Times reports that the man's wife called 911 Monday night and told the dispatcher that her husband was "talking about the end of the world" and hallucinating, and mentioned that he may have eaten some marijuana. During the 911 call, 47-year-old Richard Kirk retrieved a gun from a locked safe and shot his wife in the head while the couple's three children hid in a bedroom.  Kirk was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, but has not yet been officially charged.

Reefer Madness, Literally

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Advocates of increased use of pot through legalization often mock the 1930's film, "Reefer Madness."  The idea seems to be that only Puritanical, moralistic, anti-science zealots could think the pot might adversely affect brain development.

Today comes news from that citadel of Puritanical, moralistic, anti-science zealotry, Northwestern University:

Casual marijuana use may come with some not-so-casual side effects.

For the first time, researchers at Northwestern University have analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes - and found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.

The study's findings, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, are similar to those of past research linking chronic, long-term marijuana use with mental illness and changes in brain development.


My post yesterday describing White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler's remarks about Presidential clemency did not go nearly far enough.  Now that I take a closer look at the AP report, I have to wonder whether something very, very broad is afoot. Specifically, I wonder whether the President is planning to implement the heart of the Smarter Sentencing Act on his own.  It would scarcely be the first time this President by-passed Congress.

Here is what Ms. Ruemmler is reported to have said:

"The president believes that one important purpose [of executive clemency] can be to help correct the effects of outdated and overly harsh sentences that Congress and the American people have since recognized are no longer in the best interests of justice," Ruemmler said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday at New York University's law school. "This effort also reflects the reality that our overburdened federal prison population includes many low-level, nonviolent offenders without significant criminal histories."  ***

[She also] said the Justice Department plans in the coming weeks to encourage worthy inmates to request commutations, with bar associations offering to help with applications. She said Obama's new budget proposal calls for seven more staffers to be added to the Office of Pardon Attorney to handle applications, saying that the two years the office has taken to resolve petitions in recent years has been "unacceptably long." She said Obama met with U.S. attorneys last month and asked them to personally review petitions to consider "whether granting clemency would be consistent with the values of justice and fairness that are the hallmark of the best traditions of the Department of Justice."

To me, this sounds like a mass commutation is in the works, and I gather I'm not the only one who senses this.

Here are a few notes on legislation on the death penalty in several states.

In Delaware, a bill to repeal the death penalty came up a vote short to get out of committee.  Representative John Atkins has this letter in the Cape Gazette.

In New Hampshire, a repeal bill squeaked out of committee on a 3-2 vote and heads to the floor of the Senate.  Supporters of the bill claim that it will apply prospectively only and not effect the death sentence of cop-killer Michael Addison, the state's lone death-sentenced inmate.  If the bill does pass, I would bet every penny I have that the death penalty opponents will then join Addison's efforts to claim that the bill does require his sentence to be set aside.  We already saw this in Connecticut.

Some years ago, the North Carolina legislature passed a stealth repeal by playing the race card and enacting legislation that enabled death row inmates to have their sentences overturned by producing statistics on race and the death penalty that don't actually prove anything.  The Death Penalty Quota Act (misnamed the Racial Justice Act) was repealed when persons of sense regained control of the legislature, but cases decided in a lower court before repeal were argued yesterday in the North Carolina Supreme Court. Martha Waggoner has this story for AP.
It's by now no surprise to readers that I have been doing what I can to oppose the so-called Smarter Sentencing Act.  I made probably my most comprehensive case against it here.

I'm delighted to see that, since I published that post, another reason why the SSA is unwise and unnecessary has become evident.  

Just this morning, as Sentencing Law and Policy notes, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler announced at a conference at NYU Law School that the power of executive clemency "can serve as a 'fail-safe' for correcting errors that cannot be corrected by other means."  She did this in the course of explaining yet another commutation the President has issued.

Just so.  Ms. Ruemmler's remark, taken together with the unprecedented initiative of Deputy Attorney General James Cole to increase the exercise of this Presidential power, underscores my point that the putative horror stories of low-level defendants' being given long mandatory minimums do not constitute a valid reason to adopt a blunderbuss, across-the-board lowering of such sentences. 

As we now plainly see, the President stands ready to act where the judicial system has gone overboard.  Where the deserving already have a remedy, there is no cause, and considerable danger, in opening the floodgates for the undeserving.

News Scan

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Habitual Offender Accused of Murder: A Georgia man with a lengthy criminal past has been named as the prime suspect in a recent shooting death.  Alexis Stevens of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 30-year-old Kendrick Cheeves, who was on parole at the time of the killing, has spent the majority of his adult life in prison after being convicted of crimes including child molestation, statutory rape, and several drug charges.  Cheeves has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, and if found guilty, faces a possible death sentence.

Teen up for Release After Serving Four Months of Eight-Year Sentence: A Texas woman is outraged after the teenager who robbed her home will be eligible for release after spending only four months behind bars out of a possible eight-year sentence.  Jason Whitely of KHOU Houston reports that 19-year-old Brandon Jordan, who was already on probation for theft at the time of his most recent arrest, will be eligible for release under 'shock probation', which allows for a judge to summon a convicted felon back to court up to six months after being sentenced.  This type of probation is rarely used since very few convicts qualify, and was intended as a rehabilitation tool for young offenders. 

Convicted Triple-Murderer Set to Die: A Texas man convicted of the stabbing murders of his ex-girlfriend, her three-year-old son and her mother is scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening after spending nearly 12 years on death row.  Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press reports that attorneys for Jose Villegas are seeking a last minute stay of execution from SCOTUS based on the claim that they have new evidence indicating that their client is mentally impaired.  On Monday the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied that request.  At the time of the killings, Villegas was out on bond for a sexual assault charge.

Justice Not Mush

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Much of what we hear about the Boston Marathon murders is  --  excuse me  -- unadulterated mush.  Have we had enough yet of teddy bears, plastic flowers and yellow ribbons? Have we had enough of the vapid talk that seems inevitably to follow them?  Take this, for example, from yesterday's Washington Post article commemorating the bombing:

Boston and its surroundings braced for an emotional week that begins Tuesday...It will be a chance to mourn the dead and remember the bloodshed, but also...to marvel at the way events have brought this community together.

"We're going to turn it into a moment of unity and perseverance and [strength] as a city," said Alison Beliveau, 25, of South Boston, who finished a run Monday morning outside Marathon Sports, where the first bomb went off one year ago. "We made it through. We're going to make it."

Did anyone ever doubt that they were "going to make it?"  I know this will be attacked as unfeeling, but it's time to say it out loud:  Is there anything here but trendy, empty sentiment? All these commemorative talks, especially by politicians, are just so much hot air.  That by itself wouldn't be too awful  --  hot air is what politicians do  --  but I think there's something more subversive going on:  It distracts us from the central reality, and from what we need to do.
"Incarceration nation" is the slogan of the hour.  In the pages of every liberal paper, you can't go more than a few days without some earnest editorial, or some quasi-editorial masquerading as a "news story," telling us that we have too many people in jail.  All this jailing is expensive, inhumane, and counterproductive.  For these reasons and more, we should curb the use of imprisonment.

Almost always, the people writing this stuff are careful to add something to the effect that, "Of course, there are  some really dangerous people who need to be incarcerated." The reassurance of sanity is pasted in to persuade us that our opponents want the much-heralded "balanced approach."

But one must wonder.  The emotive engine of the anti-incarceration movement is more deeply rooted than its ostensible arguments.  It's the belief that the United States is a Bad Country  --  driven by racism, inequality, privilege, greed and inhuman callousness.  If you don't believe me, go to any Ivy League school and look at what's posted on the bulletin boards as you walk down the hall.  Then look at some of the more "innovative" course offerings in the catalog.  

So is a mere curbing of imprisonment what they actually want?  Hey, look, every now and again, the mask slips.
One of the principal arguments for the Smarter Sentencing Act is that its reduced use of incarceration will help curb the federal debt.

Is that true?

Today, tax day, is a good day to see for yourself.  Take a look at where your tax money actually goes.

Why We Have the Death Penalty

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Today is the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Dozens of people received life-long, disfiguring injuries.  Three died: Krystle Campbell, 29; Chinese national Lu Lingzi, 23; and  Martin Richard, 8.  The latter was  to have started his first season in Little League in a few weeks.

The bombing was undertaken by two Jihadist brothers.  The older one was  killed after a shootout with police four days later.  The younger, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and is awaiting trial in November.

No serious person is claiming there is doubt of his guilt, or that he's mentally or emotionally disabled, or that he acted other than intentionally, knowing full well what he was doing.  The defense, if you want to call it that, is that he was following his brother.

The New York Daily News has this retrospective.  The pictures are graphic, as they should be. The picture of Dzhokhar's sworn enemy, the scourge of the earth, the Great Satan, follows the break.

Still Guilty

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One of the staples of abolitionist lore is that we execute innocent people. Abolitionists squabble among themselves as to what the number is, although they largely coalesced around the Roger Keith Coleman innocence hoax as the star attraction.

Until it fell apart, that is.

Anyway, the current candidate is Cameron Todd Willingham, notwithstanding that his own lawyer attests to his guilt.

The latest attempt to bully Texas into reversing the jury's findings failed, proving to the Innocence Project "that the clemency system is completely broken in Texas."

More likely, it proves that after-the-fact "scientific evidence" adduced by those with an ideologically driven point of view still doesn't count as much as evidence produced in open court and tested by the adversarial process.

Some Crime Victims Count...

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...and some don't.

President Obama met at the White House with the families of the victims of the Newtown, Conn. school massacre.  Nothing wrong with that; it was a shocking national tragedy.  I have some misgivings that the meeting was enlisted in a political cause, but that's how it goes with this Administration.

The President has refused to meet, however, with the families of the victims of  another mass shooting, even though (unlike the case with Newtown), he was  the Commander-in-Chief of the people ambushed, and even though they were killed, not by a lunatic, but by a "soldier" of the same Jihad that has attacked America before.

What difference does it make, really, whether the federal government has some paltry financial interest in pretending, absurdly, that the Ft. Hood massacre five years ago was just "workplace violence" instead of a terrorist attack?  For my money, what compels the President to meet with Major Hasan's victims does not depend on how they are categorized.  What compels it is basic decency. 

Manning's Sentence Upheld

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AP reports that the 35-year court-martial sentence of mass leaker Pvt. Bradley Manning, who now calls himself Chelsea, has been confirmed by the commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan.  The sentence can be further appealed to the Army Court of Criminal Appeal.

Manning's appellate lawyers, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, told supporters Sunday in Washington that they expect to argue that the sentence unreasonable. It is the longest prison term ever given by a U.S. court for leaking government secrets to the media. They said they also expect to argue that Manning's speedy trial rights were violated, that the Espionage Act was misused and that high-ranking commanders improperly influenced [the] case.

News Scan

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CA Murder Suspects had Lengthy Criminal Past: Police in Southern California have arrested two registered sex offenders as the prime suspects in the murders of four women.  The Associated Press reports that both men were being supervised by police after being arrested in 2012 for removing their court-ordered GPS devices and fleeing to Nevada.  Police believe both men targeted their victims because of their ties to prostitution and escort services, and are determining if there are more victims in California and other parts of the U.S.

Felons Able to Buy Guns Amid Background Check Backlog: More than 360 guns were sold in Maryland last year to people prohibited from owning them due to an overwhelming backlog in conducting gun ownership background checks.  Erin Cox of The Baltimore Sun reports that all but four of the guns sold to those prohibited from owning them were recovered by undercover troopers, and police believe there was only one incident to date involving a gun being used by a prohibited buyer.  Just last week, the Maryland State Police were able to clear the backlog of background checks that at one point, stood at 60,000 requests.

White Supremacist Arrested in Triple Homicide: A Missouri man with a history of racist and anti-Semitic activity has been arrested as the person responsible for three murders this weekend, two of which occurred at a Jewish community center and the other at a Jewish assisted living facility.  Fox News reports that 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller has been involved with white supremacist groups for the majority of his life, and was the subject of a nationwide manhunt in 1987 after police say he violated the terms of his bond while appealing a conviction for operating a paramilitary camp.  The Justice Department has announced plans to file hate crime charges against Miller, he is scheduled to be arraigned this week.

The Feds Go Stark Raving Mad

A couple of days ago, I said that race mongering had gone stark raving mad, by comparing Martin Luther King unfavorably to sneering cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Tonight I have to say that the federal government, my former employer, has likewise gone stark raving mad.  I refer specifically to its siege of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

I don't know all the merits of the dispute.  I'll assume arguendo that the Bureau of Land Management is 100% correct in claiming that Bundy is poaching on federal land, by grazing his cattle there without paying.  

But this justifies a para-military siege?  Use of dogs on Bundy's unarmed son?  The stationing of snipers?

As John Hinderaker of Powerline writes, the use of that degree of force in a dispute of this character is essentially madness.  Do the people at BLM not remember the disaster at Waco, where the stakes (possibly children subject to on-going abuse) were incomparably higher? 

At the same time this Administration is falling all over itself to go easier on drug trafficking, with the rampant violence inevitably associated with it, it sends in a quasi-army to deal with a cattle rancher who won't pay up.

When Is a Repeal Not a Repeal?

When it is nothing more than a ratification of the long-existing status quo.

I bring this up because death penalty abolitionists are licking their chops over a vote this week in a committee of the New Hampshire Senate to abolish that state's death penalty. As the Washington Post reports, the vote was 3-2, and the state House of Representatives has already given overwhelming approval to the bill.

It the bill passes the full Senate (which, as the Post notes, is up in the air), abolitionists are certain to start up again with more op-eds about how "the death penalty is dying."

Well, not really.  As I have previously noted, among the states that have repealed the death penalty in recent years, it barely existed anyway.

This is especially so in New Hampshire.  The fact the Post fails to report is that the Granite State has not executed anyone since 1939.

News Scan

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Inmate Arranges Kidnapping While Behind Bars: Federal authorities say a North Carolina inmate was able to use a smuggled cell phone to help orchestrate the recent abduction of  the father of the prosecutor's who sent him to prison.   Michael Biesecker and Allen G. Breed of the Associated Press report that 49-year-old gang member Kelvin Melton used the smuggled phone to send over 123 calls and text messages to a group of five people who assaulted 63-year-old Frank Janssen over the weekend.  Janssen was taken from North Carolina to Georgia by the kidnappers who sent several threatening text messages to Janssen's wife threatening to behead her husband if she notified the authorities.  FBI agents were able to rescue Mr. Janssen Thursday morning. 

Border Patrol Overwhelmed by Migrants Seeking Asylum: Border Patrol agents working in the Rio Grande area of southern Texas have been overwhelmed with the recent increase in migrants illegally crossing the border seeking asylum and a permanent home in the U.S.  Todd Heisler of the New York Times reports that thousands of migrants from Central America are flooding the borders day and night seeking asylum from their native countries, putting a strain on resources and causing a huge backlog in immigration courts.  In the last six months alone, Border Patrol agents made more than 90,000 apprehensions, a 69 percent increase from last year. 

Teen Charged as Adult in Brazen Killing:  A 16-year-old Indiana criminal, whose record includes 29 violent crimes, will be charged as an adult after authorities say he shot and killed a 24-year-old newlywed and father-to-be during a morning walk.  Alex Greig of the Daily Mail reports that Simeon Adams, who laughed and smiled during his murder arraignment, shot and killed the man during a robbery attempt last Tuesday. Police also believe Adams is responsible for a shooting that occurred just two days prior.  Adams has been charged with felony murder and attempted robbery, his trial is scheduled to begin June 2.

Damnation by Loud Praise

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I have written often to try to expose what's really going on with Eric Holder's support for so-called smarter sentencing initiatives.  I could not possibly do more to expose it, however, than Holder himself did two days ago by praising these initiatives at none other than race-huckster Al Sharpton's National Action Network Convention.

I'll say one thing for Mr. Holder:  He didn't try to hide it or put lipstick on it.  His gushing praise for Big Al, in the same speech and in the same venue as his praise for watered-down sentencing for drug dealers, is front and center on the Department of Justice website.  Among other things, Mr. Holder says:

Thank you, Reverend [Al] Sharpton - and thank you all for such a warm welcome.  It's a pleasure to be back home in New York City.  And it's a tremendous honor to join the National Action Network - once again - in helping to open your important Annual Convention....

[W]e have modified the Department's charging policies so that defendants accused of certain nonviolent, low-level federal drug crimes will face sentences appropriate to their individual conduct, rather than stringent mandatory minimums, which will now be reserved for the most serious criminals.  We are increasing our emphasis on innovative diversion programs like community service initiatives that can serve as alternatives to incarceration. 

Translation:  Since incarceration actually works, we're going to cut back on it.

Perspective:  Holder knows that slashing sentences for drug pushers will go over big with the President's political base. 

Eric Holder, His Own Law

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As noted in the last entry, the Sentencing Commission voted today for an across-the-board lowering of drug sentences, given that drugs are no longer a problem the Commission has become partial to the defense bar.

The problem is that Eric Holder jumped the gun, so eager is he to give a break to drug dealers.  He had already ordered federal prosecutors not to object to defense requests for the anticipated reduction.  This is not to mention that the reduction, now adopted, will, if allowed by Congress, not become effective for more than six months.

Holder's over-eagerness did not sit well with Commissioner and Eleventh Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, even though Pryor voted for the reduction.  As reported by NRO:

"I regret that, before we voted on the amendment, the Attorney General instructed Assistant United States Attorneys across the Nation not to object to defense requests to apply the proposed amendment in sentencing proceedings going forward," Judge William Pryor, Jr. said at a public hearing in Washington. "That unprecedented instruction disrespected our statutory role, 'as an independent commission in the judicial branch,' to establish sentencing policies and practices under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984."

Judge Pryor was not the only one to notice Holder's overreach. 

A Tale of Two Days

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Day One, April 9, 2014  --  Sheriffs warn of violence from Mexican cartels deep into interior of U.S.:

Outmanned and outgunned, local law enforcement officers are alarmed by the drug and human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering that Mexican drug cartels are conducting in the U.S. far from the border.

The United States Sentencing Commission voted today at a public meeting to reduce the sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug trafficking offenders...The Commission voted unanimously to amend the guidelines to lower the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table across drug types.

Somebody, please, wake me up.  My nightmares didn't used to be this weird.

News Scan

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TX Executes Convicted Killer: A Mexican national convicted of murdering a former Baylor University history professor was executed Wednesday evening after spending nearly 15 years on death row.  Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press reports that 44-year-old Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas entered the U.S. illegally after escaping from a Mexican prison where he was serving a 25-year sentence for a murder he committed in 1989.  He had also been linked to the rape of a 15-year-old girl and had been accused of slashing another inmate in the face while awaiting trial.  Hernandez-Llanas was the sixth Texas murderer executed this year.

Murderer May Avoid Death Sentence due to Poor Health: A Missouri man convicted of one murder and suspected in two others may avoid a possible death sentence after a series of delays and his deteriorating health has stalled the case.  Jim Salter of the Associated Press reports that 62-year-old Gregory Bowman was convicted of killing a teenager in 1977.  In a separate case, he was convicted of murdering another teen and a 21-year-old woman the following year.  On appeal, Bowman's convictions in the 1978 killings were overturned, but the Missouri Supreme Court upheld his conviction in the 1977 murder and ordered him to be re-sentenced.  Delays has pushed his sentencing hearing back to April 2015.  Bowman may not be able to attend after the judge was informed that he is suffering from a potentially fatal kidney ailment. 

Race Mongering Goes Stark Raving Mad

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What's the difference between an unrepentant cop killer and Martin Luther King?

Not that much, according to a lesson plan used by the Oakland schools and financed by  -- are you ready for this?  --  the U.S. Department of Education.

And this wasn't just any cop killer; it was Mumia Abu-Jamal, the darling of Anti-American Left, including would-be Assistant Attorney General Debo Adegbile

Now there was one important difference between the nation's foremost advocate of non-violent change and the gun-toting Mumia:

Mark Lewis Taylor, a professor of theology and culture at the Princeton Theological Seminary, identified [a major difference] between Abu-Jamal and King, saying the former radio journalist has worked more obviously than the assassinated civil rights leader within an "international framework of justice struggle."

That's it, ladies and gentlemen.  Cop-killer Mumia was better than King, because he lined up more aggressively with Soviet front organizations.

You have to read the article to believe it.

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