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Justice is a dish best served cold

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Baby Justice never stood a chance.  He was born with methamphetamine in his system and found frozen to death under some bushes along a slough bank 19-days later at the hands of his high, meth-addicted mother.

Baby Justice is dead.  His mother is in jail for second-degree murder and his father, Frank Rees, who has a history of meth related arrests and supposedly thought that the baby's mother "was clean", was arrested yesterday for his role in Baby Justice's death.  The baby was found dead almost exactly two years ago.  His mother was convicted by a jury almost six months ago.  Evidence at the mother's trial established that the baby's father was administering meth to the mother both days before and after his birth.  This evidence is what led to Rees' arrest.  Rees, 31, is now facing felony charges of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, and administering methamphetamine.  Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig stated that "Under California law, when another individual's unlawful or reckless conduct in the face of known risks is a substantial factor that contributes to the death of another person, criminal liability may be established."

In a jailhouse interview yesterday, Rees said "I can almost guarantee you this is going to be thrown out, . . .  The DA should come here and give me an apology. I lost my son. I think I've been through enough."  Really?  Rees may not have physically taken the baby out to the slough that night, but he's been described as a "as a womanizing, meth-addicted, paranoid ex-convict who wielded intense control over [the baby's mother] first as her drug connection, then as the father of her child" and had dosed the baby's mother "with veterinary-size syringes of methamphetamine mixed with acetone in the days before their son's death."  Who should be apologizing to who here?

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article102222787.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article102222787.html#storylink=cpy

Rees' new girlfriend, who herself was arrested last month for possession of meth, just gave birth to Rees' 6th child.  This new baby girl was born two months premature and it is probably safe to say that meth is in her system as well.

Baby Justice stood no chance and now there is another baby struggling to survive.  Her mother most likely uses meth and her father is in jail facing manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the half-brother she will never meet.  The sad cycle continues.

Another Part of President Obama's "Legacy"

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It goes way beyond merely skyrocketing violent crime in major cities over the last two years.

"Heroin overdose death rates increased by 26 percent from 2013 to 2014 and have more than tripled since 2010," says the January report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 47,000 people died from drug-overdose deaths in 2014 alone, including 28,647 from opioids and heroin overdoses. Nearly all of the heroin used in the U.S. is brought across the border by Mexican traffickers, who are nearly always illegal aliens.

The report states:

More persons died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than during any previous year on record. From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million persons in the United States have died from drug overdoses. In 2014, there were approximately one and a half times more drug overdose deaths in the United States than deaths from motor vehicle crashes. Opioids, primarily prescription pain relievers and heroin, are the main drugs associated with overdose deaths.

The article is here, and, I might immodestly add, quotes me extensively.



El Chapo in U.S. District Court

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Nicole Hong reports for the WSJ:

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the Mexican drug lord who evaded U.S. authorities for years and built a billion-dollar narcotics empire, is expected to make his first appearance in a U.S. courtroom on Friday.

Mr. Guzmán, who successfully escaped twice from maximum-security prisons in Mexico, was extradited to the U.S. late Thursday. His arrival came as a surprise to many, even to U.S. officials, who said Friday that they didn't know he was coming until the day of the extradition.
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As crime rises in may parts of the country, particularly in urban centers and states invested heavily in alternative sentencing, the call to end so called "mass incarceration" is still a high priority for the left as evidenced by this OpEd in the Sacramento Bee by Foon Rhee.  The author praises the outgoing President's embrace of sentencing reform and California's aggressive alternative sentencing policies, but he fears that that the incoming President will reverse this trend.  He suggests that on top of the tens of thousands of criminals already released early under these policies another 364,000 state and federal non-violent and drug offenders can be released without threatening public safety. 

The next day, a story buried in the same paper reported that drug overdose deaths have increased by 33% over the last five years, according to the CDC. A more thorough story on this issue was written by Michael Casey of CNS news.  A 2015 report by the Urban Institute found that 99% of drug offenders in federal prison were convicted of trafficking.  Anyone familiar with criminal trials understands that virtually all of the dealers got a plea bargain. 

In California, as a result of Proposition 47, which converted felony drug possession to a misdemeanor, drug arrests are down dramatically.  Under the state's Realignment law, most drug dealers do not go to prison anymore and users, if police even bother to arrest them, are cited and punished with a few hours in a local jail as reported in the Desert Sun. 

There has been much debate on this blog regarding whether drug dealers should be considered violent criminals.   Assessing the hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed by the illegal drugs they sell, I would say yes.  Mr. Rhee and others who think like him would likely disagree, as I am sure that they would be quick to deny any connection between the mass release of federal and state drug dealers and the increase in overdose deaths. 

Is the War on Drugs a Failure?

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Academia, the Left, and libertarians relentlessly tell us that the War on Drugs is a failure.

I just came across this article, which begins:

According to a recent report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), today's teens are actually better behaved than the generations which preceded them, relatively speaking.

According to the annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) fewer teens are having sex and using drugs or alcohol. In fact, today's teenagers actually have the lowest rates of ecstasy, heroin, and meth use on record.


I don't know the extent to which the criminalization of these dangerous drugs has contributed to the decrease in their use by young people, but I do know two things. First, attaching costs and risks to the use of X will reduce the use of X; and second, the law is a teacher as well as an instrument, and its lesson that drug use is bad is one we should preserve.

Katy Murphy of Bay Area News Group has this story on the latest Field Poll.  Both of the death penalty propositions are ahead by single digits in this poll, though 10% remain undecided on 66.  The marijuana and gun control initiatives appear to be headed for approval.

Once again, Field gave its respondents only the confusing ballot language on 66.  That would accurately gauge the votes of people who will vote without consulting anything else and those who have already gotten information from other sources and made up their minds.  It would not, however, reflect the votes of people who have not yet made up their minds on the "down ballot" questions and will consult external sources before doing so.  Other polls that tell people in simple terms that 66 will speed up enforcement of the death penalty show it doing far better, as I noted earlier.
A:  In a word, no.  Not close.

I want to follow up on Kent's post about the Gallup poll on sentencing, focusing specifically on drugs. My reason is that the sentencing reform proposals in Congress concentrate mainly on lowering drug sentences. This has also been the focus of the (liberal majority) Sentencing Commission in recent years. 

One of the things I often hear when I debate sentencing "reform" is that lowering sentences is the politically astute thing for Republicans to do.

That is simply false.

California Proposition Poll

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SurveyUSA has this poll on California's ballot propositions, among other things.

"Proposition 62, which would end the death penalty in CA and replace it with life in prison, trails by 15 points today and is headed for defeat." If that sounds familiar, it's nearly identical to what the same poll found about two weeks ago, noted in this post.

"Proposition 63, which outlaws large-capacity magazines and requires background checks on ammo purchases, leads by more than 2:1 and will pass." 

"Proposition 64, which would legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana, is supported 52% to 41%. Caution advised."

And Proposition 66, which would streamline the death penalty and allow us to restart executions?  They didn't poll on it.  Again.

The pollsters note:

Polling ballot measures and citizen initiatives is an inexact science. In general, having nothing to do with California specifically and having nothing to do with 2016 uniquely, opposition to a ballot measure increases as Election Day approaches. Rarely does support for a ballot measure increase over time. It is likely that opposition to Propositions 56, 62, 63 and 64 will increase once early voting begins on 10/10/16. This may alter the calculus on recreational marijuana Proposition 64, which today has the most fragile advantage of those measures tested.
Susan Pinker has this article in the WSJ with the above title, reviewing the research.

In the previous post, I noted my rare agreement with Jerry Brown that a marijuana industry with legitimacy and mass marketing would produce an increase in consumption that will diminish us as a nation.  This is why.  We are already suffering from a decline in the ambition and work ethic that made us a great nation in the first place.  The last thing we need is a chemically induced steepening of our decline.

The Trouble With Pot Legalization

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Q.  Who said this about marijuana legalization?

The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK. But there is a tendency to go to extremes. And all of a sudden, if there's advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?

Accepting the Preposterous as the Premise

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SL&P has an entry introducing a paper that argues for legalizing dope.  The paper begins as follows:

Many who argue against the legalization of marijuana suggest that while its consumption may not be very harmful, marijuana indirectly causes significant social harm by acting as a "gateway drug," a drug whose consumption facilitates the use of other, more harmful, drugs.  This article presents a theory of "gateway crimes", which, perhaps counterintuitively, implies that there are social gains to decriminalizing offenses that cause minor harms, including marijuana-related offenses.

A typical gateway crime is an act which is punished lightly, but, because it is designated as a crime, being convicted for committing it leads one to be severely stigmatized.

I stopped reading there, because, having been around for a few decades, I understand (as does every other more-or-less rational person) that the notion that being convicted of smoking a joint "leads one to be severely stigmatized" is preposterous. Pot smoking, whether or not one got caught at it, was very widely accepted in my Baby Boomer generation, and is even more widely accepted now. You're more likely to be stigmatized (as a Puritanical nerd) if, by the time you're 25, you haven't smoked a joint.

The stuff that gets put for as "scholarship" in legal academia continues to amaze.

Just say no to marijuana, kids

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Now this is interesting....finally a scientifically backed article on the realities of marijuana use among adolescents.  

Pot Classification

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Alicia Caldwell reports for AP:

The Obama administration has decided marijuana will remain on the list of most-dangerous drugs, fully rebuffing growing support across the country for broad legalization, but said it will allow more research into its medical uses.

The decision to expand research into marijuana's medical potential could pave the way for the drug to be moved to a lesser category. Heroin, peyote and marijuana, among others, are considered Schedule I drugs because they have no medical application; cocaine and opiates, for example, have medical uses and, while still illegal for recreational use, are designated Schedule II drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said the agency's decision came after a lengthy review and consultation with the Health and Human Services Department, which said marijuana "has a high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use." The decision means that pot will remain illegal for any purpose under federal law, despite laws in 25 states and District of Columbia that have legalized pot for either medicinal or recreational use.
Answer:  When Barack Obama is handing out clemency to drug felons.  If they were packin' heat on the street corner, well, look, boys will be boys.  

The important thing is to shimmy down the prison population.  If the federal recidivism rate is half (49.3%, exactly), and crime across America is skyrocketing, please, get over it.  We need to "rebuild our communities"  --  with drug pushers.

Heather MacDonald lays it out in her telling piece in the National Review.

President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal prisoners yesterday, part of his ongoing crusade against a criminal-justice system he regularly declares racist and draconian. The White House trumpeted the fact that this was the largest one-day grant of clemency since 1900....

Many of the commuttees possessed stolen firearms or firearms with their serial numbers obliterated. Some were in violation of National Firearms Registration, which can mean possession of a federally prohibited weapon, such as a machine gun, silencer, or sawed-off shotgun. We don't know how many guns the offenders actually had; a commuttee during a previous batch of commutations had 40. 

Nor does the Justice Department's press release disclose the actual incidence of firearm possession by these federal convicts. Gun possession can be used to increase a federal sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines without a prosecutor's actually bringing a formal charge. A gun charge can also be plea-bargained away. Many advocates of criminal-justice reform believe in maximum gun control, yet White House press releases on the president's commutations have been silent on the widespread incidence of illegal gun possession.


All fifty states utilize implied consent laws to require motorists arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence ("DUI") to submit to a chemical test to determine the amount of alcohol and/or drugs in her/her system.  The blood alcohol concentration ("BAC") results are the best evidence of intoxication level to be used in a subsequent DUI prosecution.  

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled on three consolidated cases brought by three different motorists who challenged the criminal penalty for refusing to consent to a chemical test of their breath, blood, or urine.  The post I wrote summarizing these three cases can be found here.  

In Minnesota and North Dakota (and 11 other states), it a separate crime to refuse to a chemical test.  California does not make refusal a separate crime, but instead it can be used as a sentencing enhancement if the motorist is convicted of a DUI.  Now that Birchfield/Bernard/Beylund hold that a warrant is required for all chemical testing of blood, the California legislature will need to modify the current law (VC 23612) to comport with the Supreme Court's ruling.  

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