September 2014 Archives
The anti side is trying to create the impression that the deterrence debate is over and they have won. They frequently cite a report by Nagin et al., funded in part by a government grant and published by a government agency, saying that the studies do not provide sufficient proof to base policy decisions.
The paper clearly states in the front matter that it represents only the opinion of the named authors. (It may not even represent that, as James Q. Wilson, by far the biggest name on the cover, died before the final report was issued.) It is not any kind of official conclusion by the funding agency, but the other side tries to represent it as such.
Opponents who are either especially mendacious or who have been misled by their own movement's cleverly worded half-truths will claim that deterrence has been affirmatively disproved. No one who is both knowledgeable and honest claims that.
Prosecutors May Pursue the Death Penalty for Beheading Suspect: Prosecutors in Oklahoma have announced that they will likely seek the death penalty against 30-year-old Alton Nolen, the man accused of beheading a woman at his former work place last week. Michael Martinez of CNN reports that Nolen, an ex-con, allegedly attacked two women at a food processing plant after learning that he had been fired, Nolen beheaded one woman and was attempting to behead the other when he was shot by a reserve deputy sheriff. Nolen has a lengthy criminal record including convictions for assault and battery on a police officer, escape from a detention center, and drug possession.
Inmate Faces Additional Charges in Cold Case Killing: A New Mexico man extradited to Washington in 2003 to plead guilty in a cold case murder is now back in his home state to face charges in another cold case killing. Sara Jean Green of the Seattle Times reports that 63-year-old Anthony John Morris pled guilty to strangling a 19-year-old Seattle woman in 1982 after DNA linked him to the crime. While serving his prison sentence in Washington, Morris was linked to another cold case murder in Albuquerque and transferred back to his home state for trial. If convicted in the Albuquerque murder Morris he will return to Washington to serve out the rest of his sentence while authorities in New Mexico decide whether or not he should serve prison time in their state.
In previous years, the Court released orders the morning after the Court's "Long Conference." It has not done so this year. Beginning last Term, the Court consistently considered petitions at least two times before granting certiorari. To the extent that practice continues -- and there is no affirmative evidence the Court intends to drop it -- we would not expect orders granting certiorari today.
President Obama has announced to the world that America's police officers are as disruptive to civil society as Middle Eastern beheaders and Russian-backed rebels. Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, he agreed with "America's critics" who point out that America, too, has "failed to live up to [its] ideals; that America has plenty of problems within [its] own borders." He went on to explain the particulars:In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri--where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. And like every country, we continually wrestle with how to reconcile the vast changes wrought by globalization and greater diversity with the traditions that we hold dear.All the more important, then, for Obama to set the record straight. The idea that the Ferguson riots were the result of a predatory police force tantamount to sectarian murderers in the Middle East is a poisonous calumny. The threat to America's blacks comes almost exclusively from other blacks, not from the police. Every year, thousands of African Americans are gunned down by other African Americans, with no attention from the media and local government officials.
Kidnapping Suspect Linked to Cold Case Murder: Police in Virginia have announced that the man arrested in connection with the recent disappearance of a University of Virginia student has been linked to a 2009 cold case murder of another young woman. Meghan Keneally of ABC News reports that 32-year-old Jesse Matthew Jr. was arrested in Texas last week for the kidnapping of Hannah Graham. After his arrest, authorities revealed that Matthew had a forensic connection to the 2009 death of Morgan Harrington who disappeared after attending a concert near the University of Virginia. Matthew is expected to be extradited to Virginia some time this week to face charges of kidnapping.
Child Rape Suspect on the Run: A Massachusetts man out on bail for several felonies is on the run after authorities say he cut off his GPS monitoring device and assaulted his step-father. CNN reports that 26-year-old Gregory Lewis was arrested in August on four counts of felony child rape, he was released on bail and required to wear a GPS monitor-a month later, Lewis removed the monitoring device and fled the area after stealing his parents' vehicle. Police say Lewis returned to his parents' home over the weekend where he beat and tied up his step-father before stealing his gun and roughly 200 rounds of ammunition. Lewis is still on the run and is considered to be armed and dangerous.
The Cert Pool has the conference list. There are over 1800 cases on it. That's why it's called the "long conference."
Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation on Thursday, leaves a dismal legacy at the Justice Department, but one of his legal innovations was especially pernicious: the demonizing of state attempts to ensure honest elections.
[N]o aspect of American life has appeared more resistant to racial progress than the criminal-justice system. In the nineteen-fifties, when segregation was legal, African-Americans made up about thirty per cent of the prison population; today, they make up thirty-seven per cent, and that population has increased exponentially.
At a news conference, Sgt. Jeremy Lewis of the Police Department in Moore, near Oklahoma City, said the suspect in the stabbing spree, Alton Nolen, began attacking workers at random after he was fired from his job at the city's Vaughan Foods Inc. processing plant around 4:05 p.m. local time on Thursday.
When police arrived, two women in the plant's front office area had been attacked and Mr. Nolen, 30, lay wounded from gunshots, Sgt. Lewis said. One of the women, Colleen Hufford, 54, was decapitated. "He did kill Colleen and did sever her head," Sgt. Lewis said.
Police determined that as Mr. Nolen attacked the second victim, Traci Johnson, 43, he was confronted and shot by the chief operating officer of Vaughan Foods, Mark Vaughan, who is a reserve Oklahoma County sheriff's deputy, Sgt. Lewis said. "This off-duty deputy definitely saved Traci's life," he said, describing Mr. Vaughan as a hero. "This was not going to stop if he didn't stop it."
Serial Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison: A California man convicted of murdering three women in the 1980's has been sentenced to three consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. CBS Los Angeles reports that 74-year-old Samuel Little was arrested and charged with the killings after DNA collected from the victims linked him to the crimes. Little was also linked to four other sexual assaults against women in both San Diego and Mississippi.
Convicted Murderer Sentenced to Death: A Las Vegas man convicted of kidnapping and murdering a 12-year-old girl four years ago has been sentenced to death. KATC News reports that in 2010, Thomas Sanders went on a road trip with the young girl and her mother to Arizona, as they were returning to Nevada, Sanders pulled the car over and shot the girl's mother in the head and proceeded to drive the girl cross-country to Louisiana. Evidence at trial revealed that Sanders shot the girl four times before cutting her throat and leaving her in the woods where she was found by a hunter later that year.
Some Republicans quickly condemned the idea of the Senate considering Mr. Holder's replacement when outgoing lawmakers would still be able to vote on the next attorney general. "Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder's successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced," Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said* * *Some Democrats said it would be a mistake to purposefully delay the process. "It would be irresponsible for anyone to try to delay confirmation of the country's chief law-enforcement officer for political purposes and I would hope responsible members of both parties would cooperate in a thorough hearing and a confirmation vote," said Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)
California Voters to Weigh 'Radical' Proposition: This November, voters in California will decide whether or not to approve a proposition that would dramatically change the way certain types of offenders are sentenced. Stephanie McNeil of Fox News reports that Proposition 47 would reduce certain non-serious, non-violent, drug, and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and allow individuals already incarcerated for those offenses to apply for a reduced sentence. It is estimated that roughly 40,000 people convicted in California each year would be affected by the measure.
Convicted Murderer Sentenced to Life: A Guam man convicted of murdering three people and injuring nearly a dozen more in a vehicle crash and stabbing rampage has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Grace Garces Bordallo of the Associated Press reports that 22-year-old Chad DeSoto was sentenced to three life terms for the murders and was sentenced to an additional 15 years for the attempted murder of 11 people. This was the harshest sentence that could be handed down as Guam does not have the death penalty.
How were the incidents "resolved"?
Barrett notes, "One question is whether the Senate, scheduled to return on Nov. 12, would have enough time to confirm a high-ranking cabinet official before the congressional session ends."
A confirmation hearing in the next Congress, with Chuck Grassley in the chair, could be quite informative. One can hope.
Convicted Killer Seeks New Trial: The Salvadorian immigrant convicted of murdering political intern Chandra Levy is seeking a new trial. Michael Doyle of the McClatchy DC reports that Ingmar Guandique was convicted nearly four years ago for the 2001 murder of Levy and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Guandique is requesting a new trial based on the claim that the prosecution's star witness was a one-time gang leader with an extensive criminal past, therefore making him a non-credible source of information.
Judges Utilizing New Tools in Sentencing Decisions: Judges from across the U.S. have begun using risk-evaluation tools when sentencing offenders in hopes of better assessing an individual's likelihood to reoffend. Joe Pallazzolo of The Wall Street Journal reports that judges consider factors such as an offender's age, gender, prior felony convictions, and the amount of times they have been incarcerated in the past year; offenders are then given a 'score' based on how many risk factors apply to them and judges use the result to determine a proper sentence. Judges aren't required to use the sentencing tools, but there is evidence showing that they are taking them into account. Use of demographic factors beyond the defendant's control is controversial.
Pennsylvania High Court Supports Murderer's Death Sentence: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled in favor of upholding the death penalty for a man convicted of murder in May 2010. Matt Miller of Penn Live reports that 25-year-old Jakeem L. Towles challenged his sentence based on the claim that prosecutors had intentionally kept black and Hispanic females out of the potential jury pool and that a defense expert should have been allowed to testify about his intoxication level at the time of the murder.
Convicted Murderer Sentenced to Life: A Michigan man convicted of stabbing a woman to death in front of her young children has been sentenced to life behind bars. The Associated Press reports that 36-year-old Stanley Harrison stabbed the woman multiple times in her front yard just three days after being released from prison for a robbery conviction. A life sentence was the harshest penalty the judge could hand down as the state of Michigan does not have the death penalty.
Vote NO on Proposition 47. It is a Trojan horse. Under the guise of protecting schools and neighborhoods, Prop. 47 turns certain crimes into misdemeanors and exposes Californians to significant harm. For instance, Prop. 47 makes possession of date-rape drugs into a misdemeanor at a time when we're combatting sexual assault on college campuses. Too many people fall prey to identity theft. By reducing the crime of identity theft to a misdemeanor, Prop. 47 carries neither consequence to the thief nor relief to the victims, who are forever haunted by the aftermath of the crime.
All communities struggle with gun violence. Stolen guns are often used to commit violent offenses, shootings and murders. Too many children and innocent bystanders have died from gunfire. Stealing a firearm, under Prop. 47, would be only a misdemeanor. That reduction does nothing to ensure safe neighborhoods or create safe schools.
As I noted on this blog over three years ago, I experienced hypoxia in the altitude chamber in Air Force flight training and know it to be painless from that personal experience.
State Representative Mike Christian of Oklahoma City suggests using nitrogen gas for executions. Christian says it would be painless for inmates and affordable for Oklahoma.
Local State Representative Pat Ownbey says he's in favor of a more humane method, and wants to see more research on the gas. Now, several professors at East Central University in Ada will take on the task.* * *Christian has organized a team of researchers at East Central University to study the gas and its effects. Professor Michael Copeland claims nitrogen hypoxia will make people feel euphoric or drunk. If a person inhales nitrogen gas, the person will quickly become unconscious and die within minutes.
The Oklahoman has this editorial, concluding "state lawmakers, Christian in particular, deserve credit for taking a serious, thoughtful approach to this ultimate application of government power."
New York Man Charged in Violent Weekend Homicide: A New York man with a lengthy criminal past has been arrested and charged with the stabbing death of his wife. Tina Moore of the New York Daily News reports that 56-year-old Martin Migliozzi, who has several prior arrests for drug possession, stabbed his wife multiple times with a pair of scissors Sunday afternoon in what authorities believe may have been a dispute over drugs. Migliozzi is facing charges of murder, manslaughter, and criminal possession of a weapon.
Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty in Pregnant Woman's Murder: Prosecutors in Somerset, Pennsylvania have announced plans to seek the death penalty against a man who allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend and her baby. The Associated Press reports that 25-year-old Denver Blough shot his girlfriend, who was 8 ½ months pregnant, in their apartment on May 31. The baby was delivered by Caesarean section right before the woman died, but the baby was pronounced dead a few weeks later due to complications from the shooting. Blough remains in custody on two counts of criminal homicide and other charges related to the shooting.
Englishmen, though, only get one legislative vote -- for their representative in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. That may be about to change, Nicholas Winning and Jenny Gross report in the WSJ.
And the prize in economics goes to [drum roll] ...
ISTAT -- the Italian government's National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.
The full list is here.
My point is really two fold: (1) most of the folks I see should go to prison and most reasonable observers would agree; (2) in the few "close" cases where a judge must decide between prison and probation, I am not good at making that decision personally and [18 U.S.C.] section 3553(a) is not much help.
May 2013: Strength of the Evidence
Sept. 2013: Wash. Sup. Ct. Overturns Bizarre Ruling on the Strength of Evidence
Oct. 2013: Prosecutor's Discretion to Seek the Death Penalty
July 2014: Washington Supreme Court Reverses Another Absurd Order in the McEnroe/Anderson Case
Now, I am informed, the Washington Coalition Against the Death Penalty is handing out flyers at the entrance to the courthouse. Hundreds of persons have been summoned for the venire, so naturally a large portion of the people entering the courthouse on this day will be prospective jurors.
The flyer is here.
Coincidence that WCADP chose this day and this location to hand out flyers? Of course not. This is jury tampering, and it is a crime.
Execution Date set for Convicted Killer: The Missouri Supreme Court has set an execution date for a man convicted of murdering a mother and her two children more than a decade ago. Jeff Phillips of KSPR News reports that Mark Christeson killed the woman and her children after she refused his sexual advances. His co-defendant in the case agreed to testify against him and was given a life sentence in exchange for prosecutors dropping the death penalty. Christeson is scheduled to be put to death October 29. If the execution is carried out as planned, he will become the ninth death row inmate executed in Missouri this year.
Murder Rate on the Rise in South Africa: Authorities in South Africa are reporting that 17,000 murders took place between March 2013 and March 2014, resulting in a 5% increase over the previous year. Christopher Torchia of the Associated Press reports that along with the increase in murders, South Africa is also experiencing an increase in home robberies and carjackings as well. Police say it has been hard to control the escalating murder rate because in most cases, the victim and the murderer know one another.
Last week, The Post published a series of in-depth articles about the abuses spawned by the law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture. As two people who were heavily involved in the creation of the asset forfeiture initiative at the Justice Department in the 1980s, we find it particularly painful to watch as the heavy hand of government goes amok. The program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.
Asset forfeiture was conceived as a way to cut into the profit motive that fueled rampant drug trafficking by cartels and other criminal enterprises, in order to fight the social evils of drug dealing and abuse. Over time, however, the tactic has turned into an evil itself, with the corruption it engendered among government and law enforcement coming to clearly outweigh any benefits.
The National Crime Victimization Survey, which showed a bump up for 2012, showed a reversion back for 2013. The graph to the left is from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Report, Criminal Victimization, 2013.
Update: BJS issued a correction September 19. There was a problem with the scale on the original figure. I have pasted in the corrected figure.
It has been two years since CDCR said the Governor had directed it to develop a one-drug protocol to eliminate the problems and the litigation over the three-drug method. There is simply no excuse for taking so long.
CJLF's press release is here.
In the book, Clinton rejects the idea of choosing between the "hard power" of military might and the "soft power" of diplomacy, sanctions and foreign aid. Instead, she advocates "smart power," which seems to mean "all of the above." When I hear officials talking about "smart" this or "smart" that, I hear a buzzword that is often meant to obscure policy choices rather than illuminate them.Second the motion. And it's not just officials.
Jury Recommends Death Penalty for Convicted Killer: An Ohio jury has recommended that David Martin, who was convicted of capital murder last week, be sentenced to death for his crime. Sade Hurst of WKBN News reports that Martin was found guilty of robbing, kidnapping, and killing 21-year-old Jeremy Cole and shooting a 25-year-old woman in her home in 2012. The judge presiding over the case has the final say on sentencing, and is expected to announce his decision next week.
Couple Convicted of Craigslist Murder Sentenced to Life: A newlywed couple who admitted to murdering a man they met through Craigslist 'because they felt like it' has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. John Beauge of Penn Live reports that the young couple agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for avoiding a possible death sentence. In addition to the murder charge, the pair also plead guilty to charges of aggravated assault, robbery, and possession of an instrument of crime.
I like to stress that the document was only a proposal on that day, not the supreme law of the land. It only became a contract between the people and their government, and hence the supreme law, when ratified by the people.
Personally, I would prefer that Constitution Day be the date of ratification, but that's a bit hard to pin down. By its terms, the Constitution formed a union of nine states and was the supreme law of that union on the day the ninth state ratified. That would be New Hampshire on June 21, 1788. Everyone knew, though, that the new union had no chance without the big dogs, Virginia on June 25 and New York on July 26. It's a bit spooky how close those votes were.
Despite the title and subhead, Kelling's first point is that "Broken Windows" is about more than policing.
Here's the theory in a nutshell. If a window is broken in a neighborhood and no one fixes it, it's a sign to all that nobody cares. People prone to vandalism become more bold, while people who would like to keep the neighborhood up become more likely to take a "why bother?" attitude. Things spiral downward, ultimately increasing major problems, including crime.
Taking care of problems that some people regard as petty actually does matter a lot.
Dr. Kelling, BTW, is a long time friend and advisor of CJLF, as was his co-author, the late James Q. Wilson
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A Texas woman convicted of the starvation and torture death of her girlfriend's 9-year-old son a decade ago was executed Wednesday evening.
Lisa Coleman, 38, received a lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal to spare her.
She was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m. CDT, 12 minutes after Texas Department of Criminal officials began administering a lethal dose of pentobarbital.
Digging Up Richard III
My Kingdom for a DNA Identification
Arrest Made in Decades-Old Cold Case Murder: Authorities in Ohio have arrested the man they believe is responsible for the 1981 killing of a police officer. Frazier Smith of WHIO News reports that 63-year-old Mitchell Ruble, who was also a police officer, killed the deputy at his home after he was terminated from the department for using excessive force while on duty. Ruble is currently in county jail without bond.
Convicted Murderer Sentenced to Death: A Louisiana man who escaped from prison and murdered a Florida college student while on the run has been sentenced to death. CBS News reports that 43-year-old Kentrell Feronti Johnson, along with two other men, escaped from a Louisiana prison facility and fled to Florida where they kidnapped a graduate student and beat him to death, leaving his body in an open field. One of Johnson's co-defendants has also been sentenced to death for the crime while the other plead guilty to all charges in exchange for a life sentence.
Illinois Man Found Guilty of Killing Teen: A Chicago man has been found guilty of murder in the stabbing death of a 14-year-old girl in 2011. CBS Chicago reports that John Wilson Jr., who was out on parole at the time of the murder, stabbed the girl multiple times and left her for dead after she discovered him burglarizing her family's home. Wilson was convicted in 2002 for robbery and sentenced to 11 years behind bars. He only served eight years of his sentence and was released on parole.
Death Row Inmate asks for Stay of Execution: A Pennsylvania man convicted of murdering three people and sentenced to death has asked a federal judge for a stay of execution. Brian Bowling of Trib Live News reports that 34-year-old Miguel Padilla, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, murdered three people at a night club in 2006 after his friend was denied admittance. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed Padilla's death certificate earlier this week after he exhausted all of his state appeals.
In New Mexico, incumbent Governor Susana Martinez has opened up a commanding 18% lead over Attorney General Gary King in an Albuquerque Journal poll. Real Clear Politics has moved this race into the "Likely GOP" column. A commanding win in a "blue" state would make Martinez, a former district attorney, a credible possibility for the 2016 national ticket.
In Colorado, the Denver Post has the race too close to call. RCP calls it a toss-up. Unlike Kitzhaber, Hickenlooper may pay a political price for his death penalty weaseling. The Post says "only" 18% consider that a "major factor" in their decision, but 18% is a lot in a tight race. Of course, it depends on how many of those 18% are swing voters as opposed to people who would vote for the proverbial yellow dog before Hickenlooper, but given the across-the-political board support for the death penalty we often see in "crosstabs," with even self-designated "liberals" split about even, I have to think at least a couple percent of those 18 are people who might have otherwise voted for Hickenlooper.
The most puzzling aspect of the reprieve Gov. Kitzhaber granted to my client Gary Haugen is why he chose the utterly unprecedented device of a reprieve of indefinite duration, which will expire as soon as he leaves office, rather than using the more conventional method of commuting Haugen's death sentence to life in prison.
Murderer Pleads Guilty to Avoid Death Penalty: A Florida man has agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder and spend the rest of his life behind bars in order to avoid a possible death sentence. Daphne Duret of The Palm Beach Post reports that 58-year-old Serge Motti had arranged to meet with the victim for a drug deal, but at the meeting Motti murdered the man and then ran his girlfriend over multiple times before shooting her as well. Motti was convicted of murder in New York in 1979, but was paroled and relocated to Florida.
CA Bill Aimed at First Time Offenders: A California bill awaiting approval from Governor Brown would allow first time offenders convicted of misdemeanors to have their criminal record wiped clean if they agree to plead guilty or no contest to certain crimes. K. Puenta of the Los Angeles Register reports that Assembly Bill 2124 would allow judges to defer sentencing for individuals found guilty of certain 'non-serious' offenses, and if certain conditions are met, the offense would be wiped from the record within a year. The governor has until the end of the month to either veto the bill or sign it into law. Governor Brown vetoed a similar bill last year.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
If a Jihadist were going around the United States committing random murders, you might think it would be a significant news story. But apparently not: until this morning, I had never heard of Ali Muhammad Brown, a "devout Muslim" who murdered at least four random American men as an act of Islamic jihad.
From the start Mr. Cosby never played the race card--in fact, he kept it so far up his sleeve that it was invisible. He did perform at benefits for civil-rights causes and walk in the cortège after the assassination of Martin Luther King. But he made few public pronouncements, and his TV shows and movies strenuously avoided racial issues. NBC executives anticipated white protests when "I Spy" went on the network, but there was hardly any blowback.Such is the price for speaking Politically Incorrect and inconvenient truths.
Criticism, instead, came later from some blacks who felt the Huxtable ménage was a fairy-tale about black family life that diverted attention from the obdurate problems of African-Americans. Mr. Cosby further inflamed them when he began to lecture black mothers, and especially fathers. "I'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange [prison] suit," he exclaimed at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of school desegregation. "How come you don't know he had a pistol? And where is his father and why don't you know where he is?"
Without fanfare, Mr. Cosby had worked for years to increase the number of blacks recruited behind the scenes in TV and the movies. And he was a top benefactor of historically black colleges, including a $20 million donation to Spelman College. None of it mollified his black critics.
For more on Cosby's views on crime -- and on the failure of leadership -- see Juan Williams, Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It.
Damon Hininger, chief executive of Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America, said in an interview that government clients are increasingly concerned about the long-term costs of housing inmates and are pushing CCA and other private operators to save them money by reducing recidivism, the number of inmates who are released only to do a repeat turn in prison.My reaction to stories like this is "yes, but..."
He plans to expand the company's prison rehabilitation programs, drug counseling and its prisoner re-entry work in cities around the country. It's a significant shift for CCA, which has built a profitable business from incarcerating people--nearly 70,000 inmates are currently housed in more than 60 facilities. The company is the fifth-largest correction system in the country, after only the federal government and the states of California, Florida and Texas.
"This is a watershed moment for our company and we hope it will be for our entire industry,'' Mr. Hininger said. "We are determined to prove that we can play a leadership role in reducing recidivism and that we have every incentive to do so. The interests of government, taxpayers, shareholders, and communities are aligned. We all just need to recognize that and commit to that.''
So we should note here when we see a refreshing breath of candor from our opponents. I recently stumbled on this article in Slate from last May by Boer Deng and Dahlia Lithwick.
But as American physicians sideline themselves and European pharmaceutical firms (and American ones with global ties) decline to supply the most known and efficacious lethal injection drugs, corrections officials have been pushed to use inferior methods and substandard providers. In other words--and painful though it is to admit--the real culprit in the death of Clayton Lockett is opposition to the death penalty. In pushing for outright abolition of capital punishment, we have undermined the counterveiling effort to make it as clean and painless as possible. The perfect has become the enemy of the good-enough execution.Yup.
Florida High Court Upholds Death Sentence: The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of upholding the death sentence for a man convicted of kidnapping and murdering an 11-year-old girl a decade ago. Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Herald-Tribune reports that attorneys for Joseph Smith appealed his sentence based on the claim that their client should have been allowed to interview jurors about any misconduct that may have happened during his trial. This is the second time Smith's death sentence has been upheld by the state's high court.
Convicted Killer Charged with Murder: An Indiana man on parole for killing his girlfriend and shooting her mother has been arrested and charged with murder. Erica Coghill of WLKY News reports that Joseph Oberhansley was arrested after authorities discovered a woman's body in the home he had been living in during a welfare check. Oberhansley was on parole in Utah for the murder of his girlfriend in 1998 and has a lengthy criminal past, he is being held in county jail without bond.
Police Make Arrest in Cold Case Killing: Police in Idaho have arrested a man believed to be responsible for the murder of a 25-year-old woman more than a decade ago. Michael H. O'Donnell of the Idaho State Journal reports that 39-year-old Brad Compher has been charged with first-degree murder after fingerprint evidence collected from the crime scene linked him to the murder. If found guilty, Compher faces life in prison or a possible death sentence.
Immediately upon their capture, the perpetrators had intelligence value that overrode the retribution interest in giving them their deserved punishment quickly. That day is long since past. That day had already passed before Barack Obama became President. Is he actually going to leave office after two full terms without executing KSM or any of the other top leaders of this atrocity?
Attorney General Holder once said on this matter that "failure is not an option." At this point it looks like failure is a near certainty.
So when you are stone cold guilty of a crime for which the death penalty is clearly appropriate, what do your lawyers argue about at the last minute? Drug expiration dates. Really.
"I shot my brother-in-law in self-defense and I shot my wife by accident," he told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "There's no doubt I committed this crime. The dispute is the sequence of how it happened."Actually, not too much of a dispute. That "accidental" shooting involved 11 bullets. The gun was a semiautomatic, not a full automatic, so that requires pulling the trigger "accidentally" 11 times. And there were multiple witnesses. Trottie told his wife as he was killing her, "Bitch, I told you I was going to kill you."
So when you are stone cold guilty of a crime for which the death penalty is clearly appropriate, what do your lawyers argue about at the last minute? Drug expiration dates. Really.
FL to Seek Death Penalty for Triple-Murder Suspect: Prosecutors in Panama City, Florida have announced plans to seek the death penalty against triple-homicide suspect Derrick Thompson. Zack McDonald of the News Herald reports that Thompson is believed to have killed three people in July, including a former Sheriff's Officer. Thompson allegedly confessed to all three murders upon his arrest, but recently plead not guilty to all charges. A trial date has not been set.
Charges Filed in Cold Case Murder: A Texas man has been identified as the main suspect in a murder that took place more than two decades ago. KCBD News reports that authorities believe 44-year-old Joseph Jeffrey is responsible for the beating death of a man in February 1991. Jeffrey has a lengthy criminal background and has faced several serious charges in the past including assault and driving under the influence.
Reams of philosophical discussion have been written about retribution, but no philosopher ever put it better. Evil wins when we let murderers off too easy. Evil should not win.
Realignment Costing Counties Millions: California counties have been left to deal with millions of dollars worth of health care costs for inmates under Governor Brown's Realignment plan, which shifted thousands of inmates from state prisons to county jails in 2011. Tim Lantz of KFBF reports that the state's 10 largest counties reportedly spent $560 million for medical and psychological care for inmates in the last fiscal year, resulting in a 16% increase since Realignment went into effect three years ago. State officials are working on a plan to allow counties to enroll inmates in the Affordable Care Act in order to reduce the overwhelming health care costs.
Convicted Killer Sentenced to Life Behind Bars: A Texas man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the beating death and robbery of a man more than eight years ago. KTRK News reports that after being found guilty, 36-year-old Luis Rodriguez was given an automatic life sentence because the state elected not to pursue the death penalty in his case. One of Rodriguez's co-defendants is already serving a 15-year sentence for the crime while another suspect is still at large.
Victim's Family Outraged Over Trial Delays: A California family is frustrated by trial delays for the man accused of killing their son more than four years ago. Jeremiah Dobruck of the Los Angeles Times reports that the accused killer, Daniel Wozniak, allegedly confessed to killing Sam Herr and his college tutor in 2010, but the trail has been delayed several times for several reasons including the defense attorney's heavy workload and requests to postpone court proceedings. It is believed that Wozniak killed Herr in order steal a large amount of money from his savings account.
Bill to Increase Punishment for Overdose Deaths: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced plans to support a bill to increase penalties for drug dealers found guilty of contributing to overdose deaths. The Associated Press reports that the legislation calls for sentencing dealers to life with parole after serving 25 years for adult overdose victims and life with parole after 30 years for juvenile victims. The Governor believes the bill will deter drug dealers and help combat the state's opiate addiction crisis.
Florida High Court Upholds Death Sentence: The Florida Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of murdering two people within hours of each other. Andrew Pantazi of The Florida Times-Union reports that Billy Sheppard Jr. shot and killed two people in separate car jacking attempts in the summer of 2008. Sheppard challenged his death sentence based on the claim that the prosecution used hearsay during trial and that the jury was biased
Convicted Felon Charged in Triple-Homicide: A Missouri man with a lengthy criminal record is behind bars once again after authorities say he shot and killed three people and assaulted two others leaving them critically wounded. CBS News reports that police believe 34-year-old Brandon Howell, a convicted felon, drove down a quiet neighborhood street Tuesday afternoon and began shooting at anyone standing outside. Howell was paroled in 2011 after serving time for a home invasion conviction, he is currently being held in county jail without bond.
If one is remembered for the rules one breaks, then our court must be unforgettable. By taking this capital habeas case en banc now--after certiorari has been denied by the Supreme Court and well after the deadline for en banc review by our court has passed--we violate the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and our own General Orders. We also ignore recent Supreme Court authority that has reversed us for doing the same thing in the past. No circuit is as routinely reversed for just this type of behavior. We ought to know better.Aside from the specific procedural question in this case is a deeper question. Congress passed a landmark law in 1996 for the specific purpose of a making capital punishment effective. One of the reforms was to crack down on successive petitions -- the filing of a new federal habeas petition after the first one has been denied. This was, initially, one of most effective reforms in the package. It was upheld by the Supreme Court with remarkable swiftness, two months after enactment of the law. See Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651 (1996). (CJLF filed an amicus brief. See footnote on p. 654.)
However, the effectiveness of the reform has been diluted in recent years by the use of various procedural devices to reopen the old petition instead of filing a new one. The Supreme Court has not been tough enough in restricting this practice. Habeas corpus is not just another civil case. Congress spoke clearly when it said that once a case is finished it should be reopened only for certain very compelling circumstances (like, for instance, we got the wrong guy). An arguably insufficient consideration of "mitigating" evidence that has nothing whatever to do with the crime, which is what Henry is about, is not a good enough reason to further delay already badly delayed justice. Congress has decided that, and the courts need to respect that.
Federal Judge Denies Stay of Execution: A federal judge has denied a motion to stay the execution of a Missouri man convicted of murdering two people more than a decade ago. Alan Burdziak of the Columbia Daily Tribune reports that attorneys for Earl Ringo challenged his sentence and asked the judge to reopen his case. The attorneys claim that they were not given enough time to plan a proper defense after his original lawyer was removed from the case. Ringo is scheduled to be executed on September 10.
Suspected Cop Killer Recently Released on Parole: The New York man believed to be responsible for Wednesday's fatal shooting of a police officer was released from prison and placed on parole only a few weeks ago. The Associated Press reports that Thomas Johnson III shot the officer after a brief pursuit in Rochester Wednesday evening. It was the first time since 1959 that an officer from that department was killed in the line of duty. Johnson was released from prison in August after serving a year behind bars for a parole violation.
New Mexico's remaining death row inmates are asking the state's highest court to spare them from potential execution because lawmakers repealed capital punishment after they were sentenced to die by lethal injection.Months later would be good in comparison to Connecticut. That state's high court heard oral argument April 23, 2013 and has been sitting on it for over a year. CJLF filed an amicus brief in that case. (It's only 10 pages because that is all Connecticut rules allow for amici.)
Timothy Allen and Robert Fry contend their death sentences violate state and federal constitutional protections because New Mexico abolished capital punishment in 2009 for future murders but left it in place for them. Both men were convicted and sentenced to death for murders committed years before the repeal.
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments from lawyers on Oct. 1, but a decision by the five justices likely wouldn't be made until months later.
The issue isn't that hard. If you simply decide according to established constitutional law, of course a legislature has the power to reduce the maximum punishment for future offenses without overturning existing sentences. That is established beyond serious question. If you simply want to reach a Politically Correct result and have to back in some plausible legal reasoning to support the predetermined result, that's a little more work, but it doesn't take a year.
Paradoxically, a win for these two murderers would be a loss for repeal advocates in other states. Where the vote is close, prospective-only operation may be key to passage, and a court decision striking that down would make repeal more difficult.
Convicted Killer Granted Parole: An Oregon family is outraged after the man who murdered their teenage daughter more than two decades ago was granted parole. KOIN 6 News reports that Conrad Engweiler was just 15-years-old at the time of the murder, but was tried as an adult and sentenced to life behind bars with a minimum of 30 years, a sentence which Oregon law didn't allow at the time. Engweiler is scheduled to be released from prison next month, and will be required to register as a sex offender.
Recently Released Criminal Arrested for Murder: An Arizona man arrested this weekend on suspicion of second-degree murder had been released from prison just hours before the killing. Agnel Philip of The Republic reports that 22-year-old Ignacio Lomeli had been released from prison Sunday morning after spending two years behind bars on multiple domestic violence charges. Hours later, Lomeli was in police custody telling officers he shot and killed a man out of self defense. Lomeli is currently being held in county jail on $1 million bond.
As noted previously on this blog, a Republican majority in the Senate would produce significant changes in criminal justice. Judicial nominees who are sufficiently anti-law-enforcement to produce unanimous Republican opposition could once again be kept off the bench. Legislative changes that are opposed by the pro-criminal crowd but not so strongly as to filibuster or veto otherwise important legislation could be placed into larger bills. (The Prison Litigation Reform Act, for example, was placed into a budget bill back in 1996.) There won't be sweeping changes either way in the next Congress, but the scope of what is possible would expand with a Senate majority.
I thought about posting on this, but Eugene Volokh has this long post at the eponymous Conspiracy that I mostly agree with, so I'll just link to him.
The provocative title of this post is the title of this provocative new article available via SSRN and authored by (former federal prosecutor) Mark W. Osler and (current federal judge) Mark W. Bennett. Here is the abstract:
Numbers don't lie: America has suffered an explosion in imprisonment that has been fundamentally unrelated to actual crime levels.
Yes, well, we all know what other kind of incarceration was "fundamentally unrelated to actual crimes" -- concentration camps!
The "Ambien Defense" has been getting a lot of press in 2014. Sometimes called the "Zombie Defense," it's the argument that someone charged with a crime--and the crimes have ranged from DWI to child sexual abuse to murder-- took Ambien (or generic zolpidem) beforehand and had no memory of the crime.
A few similar examples follow.• August 19: A Montana man was sentenced to 100 years for murdering two sisters in their early 20s. He stabbed one victim over 130 times, including 34 times in the face, and beat, gagged, strangled, and stabbed the other. A judge called the killings "ritualistic" and "systematic." The man said he took Ambien before the killings and had no memory of them, but pleaded no contest to avoid a trial.
I come back to a city in crisis, as the gun violence and murder rates from the summer have dwarfed, in historic proportions, the rates from the previous summer and the past several summers.
NY Murder Suspect Released 30 Days Before Attack: The New York man arrested and charged with this weekend's murder of an elderly man during a robbery attempt had been released without bail just 30 days ago after being arrested for a burglary-related felony. John M. Annese of SLive.com reports that 20-year-old Dante Viggiano broke into an elderly couple's home while they were away celebrating their birthdays. When they returned, Viggiano stabbed them both multiple times, leaving the husband dead and the wife severely injured. Viggiano had been released from jail August 2 on his own recognizance for a fourth-degree grand larceny charge and was scheduled to be back in court later this month. He faces charges including murder, attempted murder, and burglary.
Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty in Cellmate Murder Case: Authorities in Utah will seek the death penalty for a man accused of murdering his cellmate in April 2013. Emiley Morgan of KSL News reports that 33-year-old Steven Crutcher strangled his cellmate to death with a bed sheet in what prison officials believe may have been a racially motivated attack. At the time of the killing, Crutcher was serving a 10-years-to-life prison sentence for kidnapping a correctional officer during an escape attempt.
As expected, Hill has filed a certiorari petition in the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking review of this decision. The case is Hill v. Owens, No. 14-6033.