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Crafty_Dog
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« on: October 23, 2007, 02:11:32 PM »

Attacker of elderly man sentenced 
 
Mr Chaudhry walks with the aid of two walking sticks
A man who left a 96-year-old war veteran blind in one eye after attacking him on a packed tram has been given a three-year supervision order. Stephen Gordon, 44, launched his unprovoked attack on Shah Chaudhry in Croydon, south London, in December. Gordon, from Croydon, was found guilty of grievous bodily harm after the attack was caught on CCTV, Croydon Crown Court heard. The British Transport Police said they were "disappointed" with the sentence.

Walking sticks

"The blow to the victim's head caused serious injury, which has resulted in the victim losing sight in one eye," said Det Sgt Darren Stenning.

"And unfortunately since this assault, the victim's health has deteriorated and he now resides in a care home."

The attack took place on a tram travelling between Sandilands and East Croydon on December 14 last year. Gordon had tried to push past the victim, who was standing in the aisle leaning on his walking sticks. As he squeezed under the pensioner's arms his hat was knocked off and he swore at the man and punched him in the face. Police said two school children who were on the tram chased Gordon. They later gave evidence against him.
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/england/london/7056325.stm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2007, 08:59:40 AM »

Innocent man shares his 20-year struggle behind bars

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Willie "Pete" Williams had no idea when he was pulled over by police that the criminal justice system was about to steal away half his life.

 Willie "Pete" Williams, 45, spent half of his life behind bars for a 1985 rape he did not commit.

Sitting in the flashing glow of Atlanta squad car lights along Georgia State Road 400, the 23-year-old part-time house painter didn't know police were looking for a rapist who had struck nearby three weeks earlier.
Police questioned -- and then arrested Williams, triggering a series of mistaken witness identifications that led to his unjust conviction for rape, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy.

It was 1985 and Williams was sentenced to serve 45 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. "I felt betrayed. ... I felt like these people had taken my life for something I didn't do. I felt like I was being treated unfairly. ... I felt very, very angry towards everybody," said Williams last week, a free man after nearly 22 years behind bars.

He said he spent many of those years stoking that anger by fighting guards and inmates, while his childhood friends were developing careers and raising families.

Earlier this year, after DNA science proved his innocence, the 45-year-old with a graying mustache stood again before a judge -- who this time exonerated Williams. Williams' troubling story provokes discomfort in a nation that prides itself on a justice system where the accused are innocent until proven guilty. So far, DNA evidence has directly exonerated 208 wrongly convicted people in the United States, according to the Innocence Project.It's unknown how many prisoners now locked up in American jails could be freed by new testing of DNA evidence.

A jury of Williams' peers convicted him in the April 5, 1985, rape, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy of a woman in Atlanta's Sandy Springs neighborhood.
The victim told police her attacker first approached her to ask if she could help him find someone named Paul. Then he produced a gun and forced her into her car, according to police. They then drove to a dead-end street where the assault occurred.

Because the science behind each person's unique DNA signature was new to police in 1985, the key evidence that sealed Williams' fate was the testimony of three eyewitnesses who mistakenly said they recognized him.
"Mistaken eyewitness identification has long been the single biggest factor in the conviction of innocents," said Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project.

"That has got to be important to everybody, because if we can reform identification procedures, it will keep more innocent people out of jail and convict criminals who really commit the crimes."

A national nonprofit group, the Innocence Project has inspired creation of state and regional organizations including the Georgia Innocence Project, which exonerated Williams.
As a new prisoner Williams said he fought a painful struggle against the raw deal the world had dealt him. When board members denied him parole the first of three times Williams said, "they had to escort me to 'the hole' [solitary confinement]."
"I couldn't function out there around the other inmates," Williams said. "I was mad, I was bitter. I felt the whole world just gave me up."

It wasn't until 1997 -- more than a decade after he was locked away -- that Williams' own voice freed him from the grip of his anger. At Valdosta State Prison, a close friend named Charlie Brown helped him join a Christian choir -- leading him to accept Jesus.

"Singing was like being out here, in a sense. It freed me from all the things, from all the fights, from the officers who were cruel, prison, stabbings," said Williams, who especially embraced the hymn "Amazing Grace."

After singing got a hold of Williams, he said the hardest part of his heart started to dissolve.
"I didn't feel angry anymore -- or any hate."

Witness ID
To prevent more tragedies like Williams', innocence projects in many states, including Georgia, have begun pressing lawmakers to adopt special witness ID procedures called sequential double-blind lineups. Such lineups are administrated by officials who don't know who the suspect is and present each member of a lineup one-by-one instead of simultaneously.

Witnesses who see several potential suspects simultaneously are more likely to choose a person who looks most like the perpetrator -- but who may not actually be the perpetrator, according to the Innocence Project. The group also cites research that says misidentification is reduced if the person overseeing the lineup is "blind" to which person in the lineup is the suspect.

Georgia's Legislature held hearings Monday in Atlanta to study the research and the proposed standards, which have been adopted by New Jersey and jurisdictions in Minnesota, California and elsewhere.
Louis M. Dekmar, vice chair of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is skeptical of the research, but said the issue deserves further study.

"I don't believe the research is so compelling that we need to make swings and changes that don't bode well for criminal investigations and the criminal justice process," said Dekmar, a 30-year law enforcement veteran and chief of police for LaGrange, Georgia.

Dekmar argues investigators should be allowed to administer lineups to gauge reaction while they look at witness faces, to see if a witness is "stressed, weeping, nervous -- all those reactions that help detectives formulate whether this is a strong identification or a weak identification."

Williams' Case
Williams was convicted on the identification of three witnesses who first singled him out from a photo lineup, according to the Georgia Innocence Project.

More than 20 years later, Georgia Innocence Project attorneys arranged to compare Williams' DNA with DNA evidence collected from the 1985 rape. It was not a match, proving that Williams was not the attacker and opening the door to his release.

Shortly after Williams' exoneration, DNA science again played a role in the case when a genetic match resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of Kenneth G. Wicker for the crime that Williams had been wrongly convicted of. Years earlier Wicker had served four years in prison for another rape and two attempted sexual assaults, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

As Scheck's Innocence Project marks its 15th year, the 1995 O.J. Simpson defense attorney describes it as a movement for criminal justice as well as human rights.
"I think that it's going to be remembered for getting innocents out of jail, but also for changing the paradigm in the criminal justice system," said Scheck.

"There is a greater understanding now that sound scientific and critical research can go a long way toward proving injustice and prosecuting the guilty."
Sometimes an Innocence Project client is confirmed to be guilty by DNA evidence, but the group doesn't make the number of those cases available. Theoretically, If key DNA material in a case is properly preserved, there's no time limit on revisiting old cases, according to the Innocence Project.

Critics accuse the group of denying closure to communities and victims' families by giving new life to old cases. To that, project spokesman Eric Ferrero said, "Victims are not served by the wrong people being convicted."

Perhaps the most important victory for the project has been its role in sparing the lives of 15 people condemned to death. In 2000, 13 condemned prisoners were exonerated by a group of Northwestern University students affiliated with the Innocence Project.
Some of the innocent prisoners were freed through DNA testing, others were exonerated after new trials were ordered by appellate courts.

Those spared lives prompted then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan to declare a state moratorium on all executions and later, a blanket clemency of all 167 death row prisoners.
The moratorium remains in effect while Illinois authorities consider proposed reforms to the system.

Back in Georgia, during the ten months since Williams' friends and family welcomed him home with hugs and kisses, he's been taking his time rejoining society, attending electronics classes and dealing with his top complaint: 21st century traffic.

Williams has found a home in a church congregation and plans to join its choir, holding on to the spiritual anchor he formed in prison.
Money is tight for Williams, and, according to the Innocence Project, only 45 percent of those exonerated by DNA evidence have been financially compensated. He expects some compensation from Georgia, although the state has no law guiding such cases.

Regaining his freedom has renewed Williams' belief in the power of prayer, but he said it has done little to repair his faith in the nation's justice system. He wonders how many other Americans are still suffering injustices like his own. "When I see someone on television when they say, 'this is a suspect,' I have a difficult time believing that that actually is a suspect," Williams said.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2007, 03:18:21 PM »

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Musician in Terror Case Gets 15 Years

November 7, 2007 - 3:15pm

By LARRY NEUMEISTER
Associated Press Writer


NEW YORK (AP) - A New York jazz musician who pledged to teach martial arts to al-Qaida members was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday by a judge who said it didn't matter that no one from the terrorist group was actually involved in the case.

Tarik Shah, a martial arts expert, pleaded guilty in the spring to conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida. He was the third of four defendants to be sentenced for his role in a conspiracy to aid terrorist groups abroad.

Shah's lawyers had said he should get leniency because the plot originated when a government informant enlisted him to help al-Qaida, taking him away from an otherwise law-abiding life.

U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, however, gave him the maximum sentence, noting that Shah was recorded embracing a chance to teach martial arts to al-Qaida operatives, and even boasting that he knew how to fashion prayer beads into a strangulation tool.

Before he was sentenced, Shah, 44, asked the judge for mercy.
"I guarantee you will never see me again, judge, unless it's on the television playing (music) with someone," said Shah, who plays bass.
Tapes played at the trial of a co-defendant, Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, showed that Shah met with an undercover FBI agent he thought was an al-Qaida recruiter in May 2005.

During the meeting, he pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and agreed to provide martial arts expertise to al-Qaida fighters, according to the tape.

Prosecutors also said Shah met multiple times from 2003 through May 2005 with a confidential source and an FBI undercover agent, expressing the desire to help al-Qaida by recruiting others.

Sabir, of Boca Raton, Fla., is to be sentenced next week. He was convicted in May of providing material support to terrorists by agreeing to treat injured al-Qaida fighters so they could return to Iraq to fight Americans.

Previously in the case, a Brooklyn bookstore owner who pleaded guilty to money laundering and lying to federal agents was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and a Washington, D.C., cab driver who pleaded guilty to conspiring to help a terrorist organization was sentenced to 15 years.

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2011, 10:48:34 AM »


Sent to me by a retired USMS friend:
==============================


The Supreme Court decided yesterday that fleeing the police in a vehicle could be considered a violent felony.
 
Back in 1990 I was involved in a car chase event.  Afterwards, among other things, I argued that the act of fleeing law enforcement in a car (indeed the predicate act of escape from custody as well which was the situation in this case), was in and of itself an act of desperation with a high risk of a dangerous outcome and a disregard for others.  The head of U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) personnel told me, and I quote almost verbatim, that 'until the guy actually hit somebody with the car he was not a danger to the public.'  I thought he was a moron then, and I am glad to see the Supreme Court essentially agrees.
 
Of particular interest back then was the number of mindless know it all drones who, although ostensibly operational personnel, had never been in any dangerous/complicated situation in their entire careers and who simply agreed in lockstep with this idiot who was head of USMS personnel.  For all practical purposes they were nothing more than, as most of them are right now, administrative employees who had been given a gun and a badge and who themselves would flee for their lives at the merest hint of danger like the cowards they are.  Most of them are an utter embarrassment to law enforcement in general, and the warrior ethos in particular.
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G M
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2011, 01:48:25 PM »



 
Of particular interest back then was the number of mindless know it all drones who, although ostensibly operational personnel, had never been in any dangerous/complicated situation in their entire careers and who simply agreed in lockstep with this idiot who was head of USMS personnel.  For all practical purposes they were nothing more than, as most of them are right now, administrative employees who had been given a gun and a badge and who themselves would flee for their lives at the merest hint of danger like the cowards they are.  Most of them are an utter embarrassment to law enforcement in general, and the warrior ethos in particular.

JDN will of course be happy to be an advocate for them.  wink
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bigdog
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2011, 02:20:55 PM »

I guess this goes here.

http://www.kmov.com/news/mobile/Secrets-of-woman-with-5-dead-husbands-die-with-her-123798659.html
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G M
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2011, 04:36:58 PM »


Interesting. Potentially what is known as a "Black widow" typology here.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2011, 11:04:10 AM »

Sad to see that by creating carnage this sick jerk gets his views publicized. 

Opinion polls have showed that only about 1 in 4 Norwegians supported the death penalty prior to this incident. http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article3881217.ece.  The last execution in peacetime was carried out in 1876.

Makes sense (?), in no situation should killing be the answer...

People hate the abortion analogy but that's where the legal killings are.  There is widespread acceptance of killing 14,000 unborn Norwegians per year in the public 'health' system.  In these 14k/yr situations, killing is the answer.  (But not for an unprecedented mass murderer?)

Doing without the unwanted is good for the resources of the earth (?) (citation needed)

But for the most heinous of the heinous, a capital ending is immoral?  We (as a society) will house and feed and give him humane treatment, free health care, keep him comfortable and with full legal protections for life, while publicizing his filthy manifestos. 

I'm not Norwegian but the issues are the same everywhere.  Mark me down as disagreeing.  Protect the innocent, punish the guilty and provide a certain,  lethal ending for those who commit the very most heinous of crimes against society.  His prosecution is based on only the evidence and facts of the killings.  His other views are of no public interest IMO unless it is part of a larger movement that needs to be stopped.  There is no logical link between opposing the Muslim migration and killing innocent Norwegian children and citizens.
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bigdog
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2012, 10:26:57 PM »

http://247wallst.com/2012/04/26/americas-most-and-least-peaceful-states/


The United States is more peaceful now than at any time in the past 20 years. Nevertheless, violence still cost the economy at least $460 billion in 2010, through a combination of lost productivity and direct costs, according to a new report published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the report in order to identify the most and least peaceful states, as well as how much they spend on violence.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2012, 10:56:26 AM »

As my nickname for the NY Times, "Pravda on the Hudson" suggests, often I hold it in low regard.  That said, this piece gets right the central point, one which I have made for many years now.  It is profoundly wrong morally, and profoundly counterproductive to have prisons where rape is part of the dynamic.

Unsafe Behind Bars
May 28, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/opinion/unsafe-behind-bars.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120529
 
After a three-year delay, the Justice Department has finally issued mandatory rape prevention policies for federal prisons and state correctional institutions that receive federal dollars. The new rules, which were given the force of an executive order, are a clear improvement over a draft version. If monitored and enforced, they could help curb the assaults that are shamefully endemic to the corrections system.

The new rules coincide with the release of a frightening study from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, which found that nearly 10 percent of former state prisoners said they had been sexually victimized during their most recent confinement. That is more than double the percentage found in a previous Bureau of Justice Statistics study released in 2010.

The rules say that all facilities must adopt zero-tolerance policies. And they include detailed requirements for prisons to investigate and report all allegations of sexual attack and improve medical and mental health care for victims. They also require that each correctional facility’s rape prevention programs be reviewed once every three years by outside auditors certified by the Justice Department. And the rules bar correctional agencies from imposing a deadline for inmates to report an allegation. Victims are typically traumatized by an attack and may take days or even months to gather the courage to speak out.

Unfortunately, the rules only discourage — but do not bar — the placement of youths in adult facilities, where they are at far greater risk of being sexually assaulted. Congress should end this practice once and for all. Until that happens, the new rules will better protect young people by requiring that they be housed separately from adults, prohibiting contact with adults in common areas and limiting the use of solitary confinement for young people, who are more vulnerable to suicide when left alone.

A state whose governor does not fully comply with the rules could lose 5 percent of any Department of Justice grant funds for prisons. If humanity is not enough to get prison systems to change their policies, maybe that penalty will work. Rape must not be part of a prison sentence.

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bigdog
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« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2012, 07:00:05 PM »

"The issue of what to do with sociopathic teenage criminals can be a vexing one.  Just as your logic about the drawbacks and injustice of putting them in with adult criminals makes sense, so too does the logic of saying they don't belong in with juveniles who are of the sort intended to be helped by the juvenile system instead of being preyed upon by these sociopaths." (Crafty, moved from UN thread)

Agreed.  I do not think that juvenile murderers should be in a general population type environment with a kid who has consumed alcohol at a younger age than allowed by law (and several other examples, of course).

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2012, 09:58:59 PM »

It is a terrible thing, but IMHO some of the gangbanging teens have gone places and done things that it is hard to picture rehabilitation.   For them juvie hall and/or prisons are but finishing schools on the road to becoming criminal hellions.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2012, 05:05:25 AM »

Woof,
 No mention of restoration of gunrights in most States and pro self defense laws being enacted.

         http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/11/12170947-fbi-violent-crime-rates-in-the-us-drop-approach-historic-lows?lite

                                                              P.C.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 11:28:50 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged

JDN
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« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2012, 08:34:55 AM »

Woof,
 No mention of restoration of gunrights in most States and pro self defense laws being enacted.

Is there any provable correlation? 
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DougMacG
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« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2012, 09:21:38 AM »

Woof,
 No mention of restoration of gunrights in most States and pro self defense laws being enacted.

         http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/11/12170947-fbi-violent-crime-rates-in-the-us-drop-approach-historic-lows?lite

                                                              P.C.

Excellemt point PC.  Imagine the story if it was higher crime associated with states running wild with concealed carry.

Correlated? Yes.  Provable? Probably.


« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 09:29:39 AM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2012, 11:32:47 AM »

JDN:

Forgive me, but your effort at a point here is tedious.  Does the correlation prove cause and effect?  No, but it sure as heck raises the question, as no doubt the question would have been raised had crime rates risen.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 02:38:28 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
JDN
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« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2012, 11:55:10 AM »

JDN:

Forgive me, but your effort at a point here is tedius.  Does the correlation prove cause and effect?  No, but it sure as heck raises the question, as no doubt the question would have been raised had crime rates risen.

Perhaps I wasn't clear.  I am not disagreeing with the premise.  I am a concealed carry advocate myself.  I was hoping in PC's reading that he might have come across some scholarly articles indicating a direct correlation, or even an indirect correlation.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2012, 02:43:02 PM »

I'm still not following.  Wasn't PC's point precisely that there is a correlation and that this correlation has gone unremarked upon by the pravdas?  (Is said correlation in and of itself a proof of cause and effect?  No, though IMHO it does weigh to the contrary-- i.e. to challenge the notion that guns sales and CCW laws lead to greater gun crime.)
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JDN
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2012, 10:27:10 PM »

Yes, it was "PC's point precisely that there is a correlation..."

However, with all due respect to PC, I was hoping that in his reading he came across supporting documentation.  For example, has crime rate dropped greater in states with "pro self defense laws" as a percentage versus other states?  Is there ANY validation of PC's opinion?  I am not attacking his opinion, frankly, I may subjectively agree, but I don't know if that opinion has any basis.  If yes, then this is powerful.  But if there is no substantiation, then it's all conjecture without basis of fact.  An interesting opinion however....
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2012, 11:55:28 AM »

I think a search for Prof. Lott will yield what you are looking for, but I'm realizing that this belongs in a gun rights or self-defense law thread instead of here.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2012, 10:28:42 AM »

I consider myself a supporter of capital punishment for certain crimes, but I must say that if the facts are as suggested by this piece then a grave injustice is about to be done.
=====================


NYT
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/us/a-push-for-clemency-in-pennsylvania-as-an-execution-nears.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120916

A Push for Clemency as an Execution Nears
By JON HURDLE
Published: September 15, 2012
•   
PHILADELPHIA — The scheduled execution of a convicted murderer has prompted pleas for clemency from thousands of people who argue that he should be spared because he had been sexually abused by his victim.

The inmate, Terrance Williams, 46, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Oct. 3 for killing a man after what his supporters say was years of being abused by the victim, as well as by a teacher and an older boy who first raped him when he was 6.   Mr. Williams was 18 in June 1984 when he beat to death Amos Norwood, 56.

Mr. Williams was also found guilty in a separate trial of third-degree murder, which does not carry the death penalty, for the killing in January 1984 of Herbert Hamilton, 50, who had made sexual advances toward him, according to court testimony. Mr. Hamilton was stabbed and beaten to death.

If the execution is carried out, Mr. Williams would be the first convict put to death involuntarily in Pennsylvania since 1962. Since reinstating capital punishment in 1978, Pennsylvania has executed only three people, all of whom asked for death after having exhausted their appeals.

A petition urging Gov. Tom Corbett and the state’s Board of Pardons to commute Mr. Williams’s sentence to life without parole has been signed, his lawyers said, by about 286,000 supporters, including former judges, religious leaders, mental health professionals and 35 advocates for children, who say his crimes resulted from a long history of abuse.

“Terry’s acts of violence have, alas, an explanation of the worst sort,” the advocates for children said in a joint letter in support of clemency. “Terry lashed out and killed two of the men who sexually abused him and caused him so much pain.”

The scheduled execution is opposed by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput, whose 1.5-million-member archdiocese has been shaken in recent years by evidence that some of its priests abused children.   The archbishop wrote in a weekly column on the archdiocese Web site that Mr. Williams deserved punishment but did not deserve to die because a judicial execution would perpetuate the “wrongheaded lesson of violence ‘fixing’ the violent among us.”

Mr. Norwood’s widow, Mamie, has also asked for clemency for Mr. Williams. Ms. Norwood, 75, wrote that she had been “angry and resentful” toward Mr. Williams for many years but later concluded that the only way to have a “peaceful and happy” life was to forgive him.

“I do not wish to see Terry Williams executed,” Ms. Norwood said in a signed declaration filed with the court, the prosecutor’s office and the Board of Pardons. “His execution would go against my Christian faith and my belief system.”

Pressure on Governor Corbett, a Republican, has also come from the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment, a bipartisan group that includes state lawmakers. On Thursday, the panel asked the governor to postpone planned executions until it completes a study of the death penalty and announces its findings in December 2013.

The case continues a recent focus on the sexual abuse of children in Pennsylvania after Jerry Sandusky, a former Pennsylvania State University football coach, was convicted of abusing young boys, and Msgr. William J. Lynn, a former senior official in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was convicted of child endangerment for failing to stop abuse by priests under his supervision.  Mr. Williams’s history as a victim of abuse was unknown to the jurors who sentenced him to death in 1986, according to affidavits signed by five of them who said they would have voted instead for life in prison without parole if they had known all the facts.

“I was not aware that the victim in that case had been having sex with Terrance and other teenage boys,” wrote one juror, whose name is redacted in a court document notarized in July. “If I had known those circumstances at that time — what had led him down that path — that definitely would have been a factor and my decision would have been different from the death sentence.”

Pennsylvania does not require judges to instruct jurors in first- and second-degree murder cases that a life sentence means there is no possibility of parole.   All five of the jurors who signed affidavits said they were unaware that if they voted for a life sentence, Mr. Williams would actually be incarcerated for the rest of his life.

“If I had known that a life sentence meant life without parole, I personally would have voted for a life sentence, and I think other people probably would have voted for life, too,” one juror wrote.

Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for District Attorney R. Seth Williams of Philadelphia, said jurors should have been in no doubt about the options before them. “In the case of a capital murder charge like this one, the law is very clear: either death or life in prison without the possibility of parole,” she wrote in an e-mail.

On Friday, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of Philadelphia Common Pleas Court agreed to hear defense arguments that the killing of Mr. Norwood was motivated not by robbery — as stated by Marc Draper, a co-defendant at Mr. Williams’s trial — but by Mr. Norwood’s sexual abuse of Mr. Williams.

Mr. Williams’s lawyers, who are seeking a stay of execution, say the evidence of sexual abuse, to be presented at another hearing on Thursday, was improperly suppressed by the prosecution at trial.

After Friday’s hearing, the district attorney rejected the arguments that the killing had been motivated by sexual abuse and said they had been dismissed by various courts, including the United States Supreme Court.

On Monday, Mr. Williams’s case will be heard by the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. A unanimous vote of the five-member body is required for a recommendation to overturn the death penalty, and it is expected to announce its decision the same day. But the board’s decision is not binding on Mr. Corbett, who signed a death warrant for Mr. Williams on Aug. 9.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2012, 10:17:29 AM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/opinion/three-strikes-of-injustice.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121009
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G M
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« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2012, 11:26:07 AM »


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G M
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« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2012, 12:21:55 PM »


Let's expand on this point. Prisons are expensive, but uncontained criminal populations are even more so.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2012, 05:51:48 PM »

IIRC the US has the largest % of its population in prison of any country on the planet, so it's not like we're being entirely wimpy.

In the first case mentioned in the clip in the article, there were two burglaries of empty homes and years later $20 worth of meth possession mandatorily leading to life in prison does not seem to me to be a punishment that fits the crime for this man. 
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« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2012, 06:52:01 PM »

IIRC the US has the largest % of its population in prison of any country on the planet, so it's not like we're being entirely wimpy.

In the first case mentioned in the clip in the article, there were two burglaries of empty homes and years later $20 worth of meth possession mandatorily leading to life in prison does not seem to me to be a punishment that fits the crime for this man. 

Aren't the first two felony convictions supposed to be a clue to someone? When do we attach consequences to actions?
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« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2012, 07:08:15 PM »

Staying with the example in question, the impression I have is of a man who was badly stupid as a young man (the two burglaries of unoccupied homes) but now he seems to have a loving wife and child.  Denying the judge the option of giving him less than life for $20 of meth seems quite the blunderbuss approach to me.
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« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2012, 07:13:55 PM »

I can't view the video at the moment, forgive me.

I am curious if the documentary makers actually examined the legal documents related to the various sob stories or just went by the word of the subjects of the video.

Often, less serious sounding felonies end up on the paperwork after a plea bargain. What were the circumstances of the original charges? If it were your unoccupied home, would you be so tolerant of the burglaries?
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« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2012, 07:47:51 PM »

Your point about plea bargaining is quite sound, we are in agreement here.  We are agreed that burglaries are serious and quite deserving of prison time.

What remains for you though is to answer my point about current law denying discretion to the judge to give less than life for $20 of meth-- (not likely that plea bargaining was a factor here!)
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« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2012, 07:56:54 PM »

If someone has failed to learn from their first two felony convictions, then it's clear to me they need the supervision of the state and away from the public. The reason laws like 3 strikes came about, removing discretion from judges, was the many horror stories of career criminals sliding through the justice system like they were teflon coated. If we have to err, err on the side of the public.
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« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2012, 06:30:43 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/science/mandatory-prison-sentences-face-growing-skepticism.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121212&_r=0
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« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2013, 10:21:15 AM »

The first page of a long article:


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/magazine/can-forgiveness-play-a-role-in-criminal-justice.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130106

By PAUL TULLIS
Published: January 4, 2013


At 2:15 in the afternoon on March 28, 2010, Conor McBride, a tall, sandy-haired 19-year-old wearing jeans, a T-shirt and New Balance sneakers, walked into the Tallahassee Police Department and approached the desk in the main lobby. Gina Maddox, the officer on duty, noticed that he looked upset and asked him how she could help. “You need to arrest me,” McBride answered. “I just shot my fiancée in the head.” When Maddox, taken aback, didn’t respond right away, McBride added, “This is not a joke.”

Maddox called Lt. Jim Montgomery, the watch commander, to her desk and told him what she had just heard. He asked McBride to sit in his office, where the young man began to weep.

About an hour earlier, at his parents’ house, McBride shot Ann Margaret Grosmaire, his girlfriend of three years. Ann was a tall 19-year-old with long blond hair and, like McBride, a student at Tallahassee Community College. The couple had been fighting for 38 hours in person, by text message and over the phone. They fought about the mundane things that many couples might fight about, but instead of resolving their differences or shaking them off, they kept it up for two nights and two mornings, culminating in the moment that McBride shot Grosmaire, who was on her knees, in the face. Her last words were, “No, don’t!”

Friends couldn’t believe the news. Grosmaire was known as the empathetic listener of her group, the one in whom others would confide their problems, though she didn’t often reveal her own. McBride had been selected for a youth-leadership program through the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and was a top student at Leon County High School, where he and Grosmaire met. He had never been in any serious trouble. Rod Durham, who taught Conor and Ann in theater classes and was close to both, told me that when he saw “Conor shot Ann” in a text message, “I was like: ‘What? Is there another Conor and Ann?’ ”

At the police station, Conor gave Montgomery the key to his parents’ house. He had left Ann, certain he had killed her, but she was still alive, though unresponsive, when the county sheriff’s deputies and police arrived.

That night, Andy Grosmaire, Ann’s father, stood beside his daughter’s bed in the intensive-care unit of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. The room was silent except for the rhythmic whoosh of the ventilator keeping her alive. Ann had some brainstem function, the doctors said, and although her parents, who are practicing Catholics, held out hope, it was clear to Andy that unless God did “wondrous things,” Ann would not survive her injuries. Ann’s mother, Kate, had gone home to try to get some sleep, so Andy was alone in the room, praying fervently over his daughter, “just listening,” he says, “for that first word that may come out.”

Ann’s face was covered in bandages, and she was intubated and unconscious, but Andy felt her say, “Forgive him.” His response was immediate. “No,” he said out loud. “No way. It’s impossible.” But Andy kept hearing his daughter’s voice: “Forgive him. Forgive him.”

Ann, the last of the Grosmaires’ three children, was still living at home, and Conor had become almost a part of their family. He lived at their house for several months when he wasn’t getting along with his own parents, and Andy, a financial regulator for the State of Florida, called in a favor from a friend to get Conor a job. When the police told Kate her daughter had been shot and taken to the hospital, her immediate reaction was to ask if Conor was with her, hoping he could comfort her daughter. The Grosmaires fully expected him to be the father of their grandchildren. Still, when Andy heard his daughter’s instruction, he told her, “You’re asking too much.”
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« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2013, 08:07:15 AM »

Punishing False Witnesses
"You shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother"—Deuteronomy 19:19.
We are commanded to punish false witnesses by sentencing them to the exact punishment they wished to impose upon their innocent fellow. If their testimony was intended to expropriate money, they must pay the amount they wished the other to lose. If their testimony was intended to impose upon the defendant corporeal or capital punishment, they are the ones flogged or put to death.
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« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2013, 05:23:35 PM »



http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2008/Jul/22/ln/hawaii807220338.html
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« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2013, 08:49:33 AM »




PHOENIX — Members of a white supremacy group descended on a home here 11 years ago to scare a man into paying back the $200 his roommate had accused him of stealing. The attack ended in the man’s death.

Jeremy Johnson. Mr. Johnson, Ms. Nelson and Mr. Gaines killed a man in Phoenix, but brokered plea deals and were able to avoid trials. They could all be out of prison by 2028.

Three of the four people who were eventually arrested brokered plea deals, avoiding a trial. The roommate, Jessica Nelson, 37, who instigated the beating, and a skinhead recruit named Jeremy Johnson, 30, who pummeled the man, Mark Mathes, with a baseball bat, could be out of prison in four years. Sean Gaines, who shot Mr. Mathes as he was thrown naked from a car onto a county road, is scheduled for release in 2028, at the age of 47.

Only one of the perpetrators, a young man who by all accounts was not directly involved in the killing, received the death penalty. Patrick Bearup, 36, who helped dispose of Mr. Mathes’s body and severed one of its fingers to retrieve a ring, was convicted of kidnapping and first-degree murder.

Such cases, in which a defendant with lesser culpability draws the harshest sentence, are not uncommon in Arizona, and elsewhere around the country. Of the six inmates executed in this state last year, four were equally or less culpable than co-defendants implicated in the same crimes, according to Dale A. Baich, the supervisor of the capital habeas unit in the federal public defender’s office, which handles appeals of capital cases in federal court. (Prison records show that three of those four co-defendants have been released.)

In many of the 32 other states that carry the death penalty, similar stories unfold as prosecutors, when deciding whom to charge, weigh the cost of mounting a capital trial, which can reach $1 million, against the likelihood of a conviction.

In 2011 in Ohio, Gov. John R. Kasich, using his clemency powers, commuted to life in prison the death sentence of a man convicted of killing two people. The governor, a Republican, said it was unclear if he had been the one to actually commit the murders. Another Ohio inmate, John Getsy, was executed in 2009 for killing the mother of his intended target in a murder-for-hire plot, despite a clemency recommendation by the state parole board, which said that other participants in the crime, including its architect, had not been sentenced to die. (The governor at the time, Ted Strickland, a Democrat, overruled the board.)

Mr. Bearup’s case was one of 135 pending capital cases in Maricopa County in 2006, more than the combined number of cases in the next three jurisdictions at the top of the list: Los Angeles County and Clark County, Nev., each with 36; and Harris County, Tex., with 17.

“In an ideal world, the prosecution would have ironclad proof against all the co-defendants to be able to pick the worst for the death penalty, but we have an inequitable system, a bargaining system,” said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, which tracks the number of executions across the country.

“If you give the prosecution some help,” Mr. Dieter said of defendants in such cases, “you’ll get something out of it.”

In 1972, the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to invalidate all death penalty laws in the country because they had been too arbitrarily applied. One of the concurring justices, Potter Stewart, wrote that the Constitution could not “permit this unique penalty to be so wantonly and freakishly imposed.” States moved to rewrite their statutes, narrowing their definition of first-degree murder or the number of aggravating factors used to define a capital crime. The idea was to make sure the death penalty would be reserved for the worst of the worst.

In an interview, the Maricopa County attorney, Bill Montgomery, who was elected in 2010, said his prosecutors, who handle most death penalty cases in the state, abide by a guiding principle: “Is this a case where the death penalty would be a just punishment in light of how we’ve handled similar cases,” based on the “brutality of the particular case in question?”

It is not a “side-by-side” comparison, he said, but a decision based on whether the evidence can prove a capital crime and whether the death penalty is supported. (His office currently has 68 pending capital cases.)

Defense lawyers have long argued that the state’s statute leaves too much of the decision in prosecutors’ hands.

In a motion filed before the state’s Superior Court last month, Susan L. Corey and Garrett Simpson, public defenders in Maricopa County, which accounts for 63 percent of the inmates on Arizona’s death row, said the problem was that the law was too broad.

They pored over more than 200 first-degree murder cases from 2010 and 2011 to check if the aggravating factors — the state has 14, up from 6 in 1973 — separated the most egregious from the rest. What they found was that virtually every one could have been tried as a capital murder.

“The point I’m trying to make is, it can’t be random,” Ms. Corey said.

Sometimes, money determines whether a defendant’s life is on the line. Last year, Greg McPhillips, the deputy attorney in Mohave County, in northwestern Arizona, said in a motion that because of a “budgetary crisis,” the county could not afford to try more than one death penalty case at a time. He gave up on seeking the death penalty against a man facing charges of first-degree murder, child abuse and sexual assault in the 2010 death of his infant son, choosing instead to pursue a capital case against a man accused of killing a teenage girl and injuring her mother.

“Do people who commit equally heinous crimes get the same results? The answer is unquestionably no,” said Christopher Dupont, a lawyer in Phoenix who has served as a consultant in death penalty cases in several states, including California and Nevada. “It’s a total mystery who is going to face the death penalty and who is not.”

Mr. Bearup’s case was dogged by challenges from the start: an inexperienced lawyer, an implausible defense of not being there for the attack and a decision to represent himself at sentencing and offer no mitigating evidence which jurors could weigh against the death penalty.

Last summer, he filed a motion to waive all legal challenges to his sentence. Judge Warren J. Granville, who had presided over Mr. Bearup’s trial, ordered a doctor to assess his competency. The doctor’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder was challenged by the prosecutor. A hearing is scheduled for May 10.

Judge Granville, as the statute requires, had reviewed the legality of Mr. Bearup’s sentence, which he affirmed, though not before rebuking Andrew Thomas, the former county prosecutor, for pursuing a capital case against a man who “even under the state’s theory, did not cause the physical death” of Mr. Mathes. (Mr. Thomas was disbarred last year, over malicious criminal and civil charges brought against political opponents.) “Justice,” Judge Granville wrote, “was not done for Mr. Bearup.”

From death row, Mr. Bearup has been studying to become a pastor, a course he is set to finish as a motion challenging his conviction is due, in June. It is his last chance at challenging his conviction in the state courts.
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« Reply #35 on: April 08, 2013, 04:45:35 PM »


Mick Philpott jailed for life – judge's sentencing remarks in full
Mrs Justice Thirlwall says father was 'driving force' behind plot and says his 'callous stupidity' left six children dead in house fire

As I said yesterday in the course of argument, this is a unique sentencing exercise.

You have each been convicted of six counts of manslaughter. Each count represents the death of a child. They ranged in age from five to 13. They died as a direct result of the fire set in the hallway of 18 Victory Road in the early hours of 11 May last year. All three of you are responsible for the deliberate setting of that fire. All three of you are responsible for those deaths.

I have not the slightest doubt that you, Michael Philpott, were the driving force behind this shockingly dangerous enterprise. You, Mairead Philpott, the mother of all of those children and you, Paul Mosley, a family friend, assisted him.

The background to these offences has been rehearsed at length in this court and elsewhere but it is my duty to set it out in sufficient detail for my sentencing decisions properly to be understood.

 
Court artist's drawing of Mick Philpott, Mairead Philpott, and Paul Mosley at Nottingham crown court.

Michael Philpott

Until February 2012 you lived in one household with your wife and her six children, and with another woman, Lisa Willis, and her five children, making 11 children in all. You were the father of nine of the children. You were, by that time, 55 years old. Mairead Philpott was 31. Lisa Willis was 28. Those arrangements had been in place for around 10 years or so. During that period you married Mairead Philpott. Lisa Willis was a bridesmaid at your wedding. The children were, on the evidence, well fed and clothed. They attended school regularly.

You were obsessed with Lisa Willis. Indeed, it was plain to me when you were giving evidence over more than three days in the witness box that you still are. In the period before Lisa Willis left, on at least three occasions you asked Mairead Philpott to agree to a divorce so that you could marry Lisa. Apparently you expected Mairead to remain in the house with the children just as before. Mairead Philpott refused. I shall return to that later.

In February of last year Lisa Willis left you, taking her children with her. She did not dare tell you she was leaving. She told Mairead Philpott that she was taking her children swimming. She and the children left with the clothes they stood up in and their swimming things. You soon realised what had happened and you set about trying to bring her back. The evidence shows that you tried sweet-talking her. You tried cajoling and then bullying her. Sometimes you moved between the three tactics. She would not come back. You could not stand the fact that she had crossed you. You were determined to make sure that she came back and you began to put together your plan.

Before I turn to what you did next, it is necessary to look at the history of your relationships with other women.

The first with which I am concerned was a relationship with a girl in her teens. You were in your 20s. The relationship was characterised by violence; there were repeated beatings. On one occasion you broke her arm, on another you dislocated her knee with a sledgehammer. You were sure that she was having affairs and would come back from your posting in the army to check on her, repeatedly. Eventually she summoned the courage to bring your relationship to an end. You did not accept her decision.

You broke into her house, armed yourself with a knife and went to her bedroom where you stabbed her repeatedly in a ferocious attack which left her with life threatening injuries from which she has never fully recovered. You intended, as a jury were later to find, to kill her. When her mother intervened you turned on her. You stabbed her repeatedly in a further vicious attack and you caused her serious injuries. You were convicted of attempted murder and wounding with intent contrary to section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act. You have, I am rightly reminded, served your sentence for that but it is clear from the evidence that I excluded from the trial that you have repeatedly used that conviction as a means of controlling other women, terrifying them as to what you might do to them if they did not follow your will.

When you came out of prison you married your first wife. Three children were born. You subjected your wife to physical violence throughout your relationship. She never reported anything to the police. She was too afraid to do so. She knew of your past. She believed she could not leave you. She simply hoped that the time would come when you would leave her. And that time came when you took up with a very young Heather Kehoe. She was 16 when she ran away with you, you were in your 40s. She spoke tellingly of life with you: sometimes you were charming, always domineering, always in control. Your initial plan in the early days of your relationship was to find a house big enough to accommodate the children of your first marriage who were to be removed from their mother. In the event they remained living with their mother. Heather Kehoe had two children. You controlled her through physical and sexual violence, threats and emotional abuse. Eventually she ran away from you. You prevented her from taking the children and they remained with you for some six months. She achieved custody of them only after a protracted court battle. Ever since you have subjected her to repeated allegations, seeking to undermine her relationships with the children. She, like the two women before her, speaks of the life-long damage she has suffered as a result of her relationship with you.

You then met Mairead Philpott. At that time she was a young single mother of one little boy. She told the court that she saw you as her guardian angel and moved in with you. She loved you, as she told the court. She also found in that household in the early days of your relationship the security she craved and had not previously found. You then met Lisa Willis, as I have described. Mairead agreed to have her in the house. She told the court she was hurt. Of course she was. You did not care. You controlled and manipulated those women as you had controlled and manipulated their predecessors. They ran the household and looked after all the children. They went out to work. Their wages and their benefits went into your account, you controlled how money was spent. Your suggestion that this was a joint account and this was a normal family arrangement was frankly ridiculous. These two young women were not even permitted to have a front-door key. You checked on Lisa Willis's relationships at work. Exactly as you had done in your earlier relationships. I accept that the level of physical violence had reduced in recent years, but the level of control, aggression and fear most certainly did not. Women were your chattels, there to look after you and your children (for that is how you describe them all). You bark orders and they obey. Witness after witness described the dynamics in your household. You were kingpin, no one else mattered.

What was plain from the earliest stage of the evidence was the importance to you of your children. In addition to the 11 who formed the household in early 2012 you have another seven. Having heard the evidence and having observed you carefully throughout your trial I am quite satisfied that for you the principal purpose of your many children is to reflect on you. Their needs, desires and aspirations were very low on your list of priorities, if indeed they featured at all. You craved attention, you enjoyed the limelight. You courted publicity. You were and remain the centre of your world and it is plain that you require everyone in your life, but particularly the women, to make sure that you remain at the centre of their world. Your needs and desires took precedence over everything, everyone else, including your children. You so arranged your life and theirs so that everything was done for the pleasure of Michael Philpott.

I turn back then to the events of the spring of 2012. You wanted to achieve the return of Lisa Willis. The way of achieving that, you decided, was to engineer the return of the children to you. She would then surely follow. In March, on a pretext you engineered a confrontation with Lisa Willis and her family which ended with threats from her sister. Within a very short time you had formulated the plan which would lead to the death of those six children. You began to plant the idea that Lisa Willis and her family were threatening to set fire to your home. You mentioned it to acquaintances and friends. In April you persuaded Lisa Willis to meet you but she did not repeat the exercise. In May you posted an entry on Facebook identifying her brother-in-law as the father of her eldest child. This was another of your obsessions. Early in your relationship you had beaten her with a weapon to try and force her to agree with your suspicions. She never did. In early May in response to the Facebook posting she telephoned you. You say she threatened you. You were delighted with that. You called the police immediately and demanded that she be arrested. You were furious that the police refused to do that. You demanded that there be a change of supervising officer, just as (I note in passing) you had done in late 2011 in respect of an assault where the police would not dance to your tune. From the time she came back for clothing in February to the time of the fire you repeatedly sought to use the police to strengthen your position against Lisa Willis. They were not drawn in.

A court hearing was set for 11 May in respect of the arrangements for the children. You told people that you had a plan, something up your sleeve. At trial you preposterously said that the plan was to ask for residence at the hearing on the 11 May. It was obvious nonsense. You knew perfectly well that there was no reason to remove those children from the care of their mother. You had to do something extreme to get your own way. And you did.

The means by which you were to achieve the removal of Lisa Willis from the care of her children were outside the comprehension of any right-thinking person. The plan, which you had plainly been considering for some time, was to set fire to your home on the night before the court hearing, making it look as though the fire had been set from outside. You would then rescue the children from upstairs via an external ladder. You would be the hero of the hour. Lisa Willis would be arrested and you would have achieved your aim. You had even arranged for the children's school places to be held open for them for the Monday morning.

It was a wicked and dangerous plan. And you put it into effect with the assistance of your two co-defendants. You poured petrol on the floor. Paul Mosley was responsible for removing the containers from your home. You set light to it. After a short while Mairead Philpott spoke to the emergency services. It became clear that there was no chance of a successful rescue and the children perished. The latter half of the 999 call is harrowing evidence of the unravelling of the plan.

The jury were spared some of the most harrowing details of the removal of the children from 18 Victory Road. Mercifully their deaths were swift and, it would seem, without pain. No one could have listened to the evidence of the firefighters and not be moved by what they had done and what they had seen in their efforts to combat the fire and save the children. Your neighbours were traumatised by what they saw; several of them tried to help. They risked their own safety to try and help. Their bravery was required as a result of your callous stupidity. It is clear that they have been shattered, as has the local community generally by the knowledge that you and your co-defendants started this fire deliberately. Within minutes of the fire you were telling people that this was the responsibility of Lisa Willis and her family. You blamed the police for not acting sooner. Lisa Willis was arrested and her children were taken into care. She had nothing to do with this fire, neither did her family. When your friends were gathering around you at the Premier Inn you were eager to hear that Adam Taylor, your neighbour, might be responsible, even though you knew perfectly well as the covert tapes show that he had nothing to do with it. You went to the police, reported it and he and his wife were arrested on six counts of murder, as you plainly intended.

I recognise as I must that the offences of which you have been convicted are offences of manslaughter and not murder. That means that I sentence on the basis that you did not intend either to kill your children or to cause them really serious harm.

But let me be clear: what you did intend, plainly, was to subject your children to a terrifying ordeal. They were to be woken from their beds in the middle of the night with their home on fire so you could rescue them and be the hero. Their terror was the price they were going to pay for your callous selfishness. In fact they paid with their six young lives. They had no chance of survival and I am quite sure that when you set that fire you were not thinking about them because you simply did not care. You were going to get your own way.

It has been said on your behalf that you were a good father. Lisa Willis said so, as did others. They said you loved your children. I cannot give that description to a man who acted as you did.

You lied to the police and you lied to the jury. Ever since the fire your life has been a performance for the public and the police, and then in this court. Your conduct has been punctuated by collapses and shows of distress designed to evoke sympathy where none is merited, designed to manipulate emotion.

I accept you have lost six children. I very much regret that everything about you suggests that your grief has very often been simulated for the public gaze.

You made sure that Mairead "stuck to the story", checking with her at every opportunity that she wasn't going to stray, as you put it. You knew that Mairead Philpott would do almost anything for your approval, to please you, to get your attention, as she put it. Without you she would never have become involved in this plan. Because she failed to put her children before you she has lost all of them. Nothing I have seen in your conduct before and during this trial gives me any reason to believe that you had the slightest concern for Mairead Philpott. She, too, was expendable.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment. You are a disturbingly dangerous man. Your guiding principle is what Mick Philpott wants he gets. You have no moral compass. I have no hesitation in concluding that these six offences are so serious and the danger you pose is so great that the only proper sentence is one of life imprisonment and that is the sentence I impose upon you.

The law requires me to impose a period of years that you will serve before you are considered for parole. To reach that period I must identify the determinate sentence you would have served had I not imposed a life sentence. The determinate sentence would have been one of 30 years' imprisonment. I am required by parliament to halve that to reflect that were this a determinate sentence you would serve only half. The minimum period you must therefore serve before you are considered for parole is one of 15 years. From that I deduct 307 days to reflect the time you have already served on remand to give a term of 14 years and 58 days. Whether or not you are ever released will be a matter for the parole board.

Mairead Philpott

I am not going to repeat the history. Nor do I need to reiterate how serious these offences are.

As a result of what you did in the early hours of 11 May 2012 all your children lost their lives and you have lost all of your children. I accept that you feel their loss profoundly and that your grief is real. It is clear from what has been said about you by Mr Smith [Shaun Smith, her QC] that your children were your route to fulfilment. You loved them and cared for them.

I have already made clear that this was Michael Philpott's plan. I accept that he treated you as a skivvy or a slave, and you were prepared to put up with that. As became clear during the trial you were prepared to go to any lengths, however humiliating, to keep him happy. At an early stage of the trial it appeared that you were entirely downtrodden by Michael Philpott to the extent that it appeared that you felt you had no choice but to do whatever he wanted in whatever way he wanted in any aspect of your lives together. But as the evidence came out it was plain that this was not quite the position. This was put beyond doubt when you gave evidence. You pointed out that you had stood up to him in the past. That is why when he asked you for a divorce on no fewer than three occasions you refused him. That was a request you were simply not prepared to accommodate, whatever he said. It is inescapable therefore that when something was important enough to you, you were capable of exercising a choice which was not his choice.

These were your children; your first responsibility, surely, was to them. Instead you joined in with his plan, putting his obsession with Lisa above the safety of your children. The reality of the plan you went along with and helped execute was that your children were to be frightened out of sleep in the middle of the night and rescued by their father from a fire that should never have been started. The risks were obvious and overwhelming and anyone who has heard the harrowing wailing from you on the 999 call can hear your realisation that this had gone horribly wrong and your children were in mortal danger.

But by then it was too late and you bear your responsibility for that. You put Michael Philpott above your children and as a result they have died.

After the fire you threw your lot in with Michael Philpott. You supported him in his quest to get residence of the other children. You complied with his sexual demands to keep Paul Mosley onside.

You lied to the police and you stuck to the story, just as he asked you to, to the police and to the jury. You did not, I recognise, agree to lie about the relationship between Adam Taylor and Lisa Willis when Michael Philpott set about blaming him.

Before these offences you had committed no criminal offences. You now have convictions for six counts of the manslaughter of your children.

I am quite satisfied that a determinate sentence is appropriate in your case but it must reflect the magnitude of these offences. The sentence I pass is one of 17 years' imprisonment. Of that you will serve one half, at which point you will be released on licence. If you commit any further offences during the operational period of the licence you will be liable to be recalled and may have to serve the balance of your sentence. Any time that you have spent on remand will be deducted from the period you are to serve.

Paul Mosley

Everything that I have said about the seriousness of these offences applies to you.

Michael Philpott's obsession with Lisa Willis was nothing to do with you. Where his children lived had nothing to do with you. You have young children of your own. You must have appreciated the appalling risk to which these six children were to be exposed when this fire was started in their home. And yet you were prepared to go along with the plan and to join in with it to please your then friend, Michael Philpott. I am quite sure that one of your tasks that night was to remove the petrol containers from the scene so that the attack would appear to have come from outside. You enjoyed the attention that you gained from your proximity to the fire. You boasted of being arrested and bailed for six counts of murder. You could not help telling people that this was a plan that had gone wrong. You were going to hand yourself in as "it wasn't fair that Mick was taking all the blame", "what would you say if I told you we rehearsed it all six weeks earlier", and so on. When your clothes were analysed it became clear that petrol additive was on your jeans, your jumper and on one of your shoes just as it was on the clothing of your two co-defendants.

You, too, are responsible for the deaths of six children. As a result you have lost all contact with your own children. You may not see them now until they reach adulthood, if then. Unsurprisingly, your former partner wants nothing to do with you in the light of all that has become known about your conduct in the course of this trial.

Since you were convicted of robbery as a teenager you have not been in trouble with the police at all, but that good conduct is of little assistance when set against the seriousness of these offences.

I see no proper basis upon which to distinguish between you and Mairead Philpott. Accordingly the sentence I pass is one of 17 years' imprisonment. You will serve half of that period. Thereafter you will be released on licence. If you commit any further offences you will be recalled to prison and may have to serve the rest of your sentence. Any time that you have spent on remand will be deducted from the period you are to serve.

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« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2013, 12:30:04 PM »

Some very difficult and dangerous questions are discussed in this piece:
==========================

The Criminal Mind
Advances in genetics and neuroscience are revolutionizing our understanding of violent behavior—as well as ideas about how to prevent and punish crime..
By ADRIAN RAINE
WSJ


In studying brain scans of criminals, researchers are discovering tell-tale signs of violent tendencies. WSJ's Jason Bellini speaks with Professor Adrian Raine about his latest discoveries.

The scientific study of crime got its start on a cold, gray November morning in 1871, on the east coast of Italy. Cesare Lombroso, a psychiatrist and prison doctor at an asylum for the criminally insane, was performing a routine autopsy on an infamous Calabrian brigand named Giuseppe Villella. Lombroso found an unusual indentation at the base of Villella's skull. From this singular observation, he would go on to become the founding father of modern criminology.
 
Lombroso's controversial theory had two key points: that crime originated in large measure from deformities of the brain and that criminals were an evolutionary throwback to more primitive species. Criminals, he believed, could be identified on the basis of physical characteristics, such as a large jaw and a sloping forehead. Based on his measurements of such traits, Lombroso created an evolutionary hierarchy, with Northern Italians and Jews at the top and Southern Italians (like Villella), along with Bolivians and Peruvians, at the bottom.
 
These beliefs, based partly on pseudoscientific phrenological theories about the shape and size of the human head, flourished throughout Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lombroso was Jewish and a celebrated intellectual in his day, but the theory he spawned turned out to be socially and scientifically disastrous, not least by encouraging early-20th-century ideas about which human beings were and were not fit to reproduce—or to live at all.

The racial side of Lombroso's theory fell into justifiable disrepute after the horrors of World War II, but his emphasis on physiology and brain traits has proved to be prescient. Modern-day scientists have now developed a far more compelling argument for the genetic and neurological components of criminal behavior. They have uncovered, quite literally, the anatomy of violence, at a time when many of us are preoccupied by the persistence of violent outrages in our midst.
 
The field of neurocriminology—using neuroscience to understand and prevent crime—is revolutionizing our understanding of what drives "bad" behavior. More than 100 studies of twins and adopted children have confirmed that about half of the variance in aggressive and antisocial behavior can be attributed to genetics. Other research has begun to pinpoint which specific genes promote such behavior.
 


Brain-imaging techniques are identifying physical deformations and functional abnormalities that predispose some individuals to violence. In one recent study, brain scans correctly predicted which inmates in a New Mexico prison were most likely to commit another crime after release. Nor is the story exclusively genetic: A poor environment can change the early brain and make for antisocial behavior later in life.
 
Most people are still deeply uncomfortable with the implications of neurocriminology. Conservatives worry that acknowledging biological risk factors for violence will result in a society that takes a soft approach to crime, holding no one accountable for his or her actions. Liberals abhor the potential use of biology to stigmatize ostensibly innocent individuals. Both sides fear any seeming effort to erode the idea of human agency and free will.

It is growing harder and harder, however, to avoid the mounting evidence. With each passing year, neurocriminology is winning new adherents, researchers and practitioners who understand its potential to transform our approach to both crime prevention and criminal justice.
 
The genetic basis of criminal behavior is now well established. Numerous studies have found that identical twins, who have all of their genes in common, are much more similar to each other in terms of crime and aggression than are fraternal twins, who share only 50% of their genes.
 




Donta Page's brain scan, left, shows the reduced functioning of the ventral prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain that helps regulate emotions and control impulses—compared to a normal brain, right.

In a landmark 1984 study, my colleague Sarnoff Mednick found that children in Denmark who had been adopted from parents with a criminal record were more likely to become criminals in adulthood than were other adopted kids. The more offenses the biological parents had, the more likely it was that their offspring would be convicted of a crime. For biological parents who had no offenses, 13% of their sons had been convicted; for biological parents with three or more offenses, 25% of their sons had been convicted.

As for environmental factors that affect the young brain, lead is neurotoxic and particularly damages the prefrontal region, which regulates behavior. Measured lead levels in our bodies tend to peak at 21 months—an age when toddlers are apt to put their fingers into their mouths. Children generally pick up lead in soil that has been contaminated by air pollution and dumping.
 
Rising lead levels in the U.S. from 1950 through the 1970s neatly track increases in violence 20 years later, from the '70s through the '90s. (Violence peaks when individuals are in their late teens and early 20s.) As lead in the environment fell in the '70s and '80s—thanks in large part to the regulation of gasoline—violence fell correspondingly. No other single factor can account for both the inexplicable rise in violence in the U.S. until 1993 and the precipitous drop since then.

Lead isn't the only culprit. Other factors linked to higher aggression and violence in adulthood include smoking and drinking by the mother before birth, complications during birth and poor nutrition early in life.

Genetics and environment may work together to encourage violent behavior. One pioneering study in 2002 by Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt of Duke University genotyped over 1,000 individuals in a community in New Zealand and assessed their levels of antisocial behavior in adulthood. They found that a genotype conferring low levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), when combined with early child abuse, predisposed the individual to later antisocial behavior. Low MAOA has been linked to reduced volume in the amygdala—the emotional center of the brain—while physical child abuse can damage the frontal part of the brain, resulting in a double hit.
 
Brain-imaging studies have also documented impairments in offenders. Murderers, for instance, tend to have poorer functioning in the prefrontal cortex—the "guardian angel" that keeps the brakes on impulsive, disinhibited behavior and volatile emotions.
 
Of course, not everyone with a particular brain profile is a murderer—and not every offender fits the same mold. Those who plan their homicides, like serial killers, tend to have good prefrontal functioning. That makes sense, since they must be able to regulate their behavior carefully in order to escape detection for a long time.
 
So what explains coldblooded psychopathic behavior? About 1% of us are psychopaths—fearless antisocials who lack a conscience. In 2009, Yaling Yang, Robert Schug and I conducted structural brain scans on 27 psychopaths whom we had found in temporary-employment agencies in Los Angeles. All got high scores on the Psychopathy Checklist, the "gold standard" in the field, which assesses traits like lack of remorse, callousness and grandiosity. We found that, compared with 32 normal people in a control group, psychopaths had an 18% smaller amygdala, which is critical for emotions like fear and is part of the neural circuitry underlying moral decision-making. In subsequent research, Andrea Glenn and I found this same brain region to be significantly less active in psychopathic individuals when they contemplate moral issues. Psychopaths know at a cognitive level what is right and what is wrong, but they don't feel it.

What are the practical implications of all this evidence for the physical, genetic and environmental roots of violent behavior? What changes should be made in the criminal-justice system?
 
Let's start with two related questions: If early biological and genetic factors beyond the individual's control make some people more likely to become violent offenders than others, are these individuals fully blameworthy? And if they are not, how should they be punished?
 
Take the case of Donta Page, who in 1999 robbed a young woman in Denver named Peyton Tuthill, then raped her, slit her throat and killed her by plunging a kitchen knife into her chest. Mr. Page was found guilty of first-degree murder and was a prime candidate for the death penalty.
 
Working as an expert witness for Mr. Page's defense counsel, I brought him to a lab to assess his brain functioning. Scans revealed a distinct lack of activation in the ventral prefrontal cortex—the brain region that helps to regulate our emotions and control our impulses.
 
In testifying, I argued for a deep-rooted biosocial explanation for Mr. Page's violence. As his files documented, as a child he suffered from poor nutrition, severe parental neglect, sustained physical and sexual abuse, early head injuries, learning disabilities, poor cognitive functioning and lead exposure. He also had a family history of mental illness. By the age of 18, Mr. Page had been referred for psychological treatment 19 times, but he had never once received treatment. A three-judge panel ultimately decided not to have him executed, accepting our argument that a mix of biological and social factors mitigated Mr. Page's responsibility.
 
Mr. Page escaped the death penalty partly on the basis of brain pathology—a welcome result for those who believe that risk factors should partially exculpate socially disadvantaged offenders. But the neurocriminologist's sword is double-edged. Neurocriminology also might have told us that Mr. Page should never have been on the street in the first place. At the time he committed the murder, he had been out of prison for only four months. Sentenced to 20 years for robbery, he was released after serving just four years.
 
What if I had been asked to assess him just before he was released? I would have said exactly what I said in court when defending him. All the biosocial boxes were checked: He was at heightened risk for committing violence for reasons beyond his control. It wasn't exactly destiny, but he was much more likely to be impulsively violent than not.
 
This brings us to the second major change that may be wrought by neurocriminology: incorporating scientific evidence into decisions about which soon-to-be-released offenders are at the greatest risk for reoffending. Such risk assessment is currently based on factors like age, prior arrests and marital status. If we were to add biological and genetic information to the equation—along with recent statistical advances in forecasting—predictions about reoffending would become significantly more accurate.

In a 2013 study, Kent Kiehl of the University of New Mexico, looking at a population of 96 male offenders in the state's prison system, found that in the four years after their release, those with low activity in the anterior cingulate cortex—a brain area involved in regulating behavior—were twice as likely to commit another offense as those who had high activity in this region. Research soon to be published by Dustin Pardini of the University of Pittsburgh shows that men with a smaller amygdala are three times more likely to commit violence three years later.
 
Of course, if we can assess criminals for their propensity to reoffend, we can in theory assess any individual in society for his or her criminal propensity—making it possible to get ahead of the problem by stopping crime before it starts. Ultimately, we should try to reach a point where it is possible to deal with repeated acts of violence as a clinical disorder.

Randomized, controlled trials have clearly documented the efficacy of a host of medications—including stimulants, antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilizers—in treating aggression in children and adolescents. Parents are understandably reluctant to have their children medicated for bad behavior, but when all else fails, treating children to stabilize their uncontrollable aggressive acts and to make them more amenable to psychological interventions is an attractive option.

Treatment doesn't have to be invasive. Randomized, controlled trials in England and the Netherlands have shown that a simple fix—omega-3 supplements in the diets of young offenders—reduces serious offending by about 35%. Studies have also found that early environmental enrichment—including better nutrition, physical exercise and cognitive stimulation—enhances later brain functioning in children and reduces adult crime.
 
Over the course of modern history, increasing scientific knowledge has given us deeper insights into epilepsy, psychosis and substance abuse, and has promoted a more humane perspective. Just as mental disorders were once viewed as a product of evil forces, the "evil" you see in violent offenders today may someday be reformulated as a symptom of a physiological disorder.
 
There is no question that neurocriminology puts us on difficult terrain, and some wish it didn't exist at all. How do we know that the bad old days of eugenics are truly over? Isn't research on the anatomy of violence a step toward a world where our fundamental human rights are lost?
 
We can avoid such dire outcomes. A more profound understanding of the early biological causes of violence can help us take a more empathetic, understanding and merciful approach toward both the victims of violence and the prisoners themselves. It would be a step forward in a process that should express the highest values of our civilization.
 —Dr. Raine is the Richard Perry University Professor of Criminology, Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of "The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime," to be published on April 30 by Pantheon, a division of Random House.
Dr. Raine is the Richard Perry University Professor of Criminology, Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of "The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime," to be published Tuesday by Pantheon, a division of Random House.
 
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« Reply #37 on: April 29, 2013, 05:40:49 PM »


Rising lead levels in the U.S. from 1950 through the 1970s neatly track increases in violence 20 years later, from the '70s through the '90s. (Violence peaks when individuals are in their late teens and early 20s.) As lead in the environment fell in the '70s and '80s—thanks in large part to the regulation of gasoline—violence fell correspondingly. No other single factor can account for both the inexplicable rise in violence in the U.S. until 1993 and the precipitous drop since then.

Or, as the baby boomers aged, they stopped committing so many crimes, as crime is generally a young male thing.

Genetics and environment may work together to encourage violent behavior. One pioneering study in 2002 by Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt of Duke University genotyped over 1,000 individuals in a community in New Zealand and assessed their levels of antisocial behavior in adulthood. They found that a genotype conferring low levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), when combined with early child abuse, predisposed the individual to later antisocial behavior. Low MAOA has been linked to reduced volume in the amygdala—the emotional center of the brain—while physical child abuse can damage the frontal part of the brain, resulting in a double hit.

Or, being abused tends to make one prone to acting out of rage, and having had antisocial behavior modeled by one's parents, an abused child might then follow those behavior patterns of the parent when they become adults.

So what explains coldblooded psychopathic behavior? About 1% of us are psychopaths—fearless antisocials who lack a conscience. In 2009, Yaling Yang, Robert Schug and I conducted structural brain scans on 27 psychopaths whom we had found in temporary-employment agencies in Los Angeles. All got high scores on the Psychopathy Checklist, the "gold standard" in the field, which assesses traits like lack of remorse, callousness and grandiosity. We found that, compared with 32 normal people in a control group, psychopaths had an 18% smaller amygdala, which is critical for emotions like fear and is part of the neural circuitry underlying moral decision-making. In subsequent research, Andrea Glenn and I found this same brain region to be significantly less active in psychopathic individuals when they contemplate moral issues. Psychopaths know at a cognitive level what is right and what is wrong, but they don't feel it.

Would a brain scan show that the author of this piece is prone to seeing 27 as a meaningful number for an alleged scientic study of neurology and criminal behavior?  rolleyes
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« Reply #38 on: May 14, 2013, 07:13:39 PM »

http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-monsters-that-walk-among-us/?singlepage=true

The Monsters that Walk Among Us

If you sat next to Ariel Castro in a movie theater, you would never guess how evil he was.



by
Jack Dunphy


I remember the first person I arrested for murder.  I had been out of the LAPD academy only a month or two, and my training officer and I were assigned a radio call known as a “welfare check.” These calls most often arise when someone is unable to contact an elderly relative or friend.  We went to the house in question, the home of an elderly widow, and found no evidence of a forced entry or any other outward sign of trouble.  But given the woman’s age and the accumulation of mail and newspapers at her front door, and as none of her neighbors had seen her in some time, my partner made the decision that we should break in.  We did so, expecting to find the woman dead of a heart attack, a stroke, or any of the other natural causes that claim people her age.
 
Yes, she was dead all right, but there was nothing natural about what had killed her.

 


When the homicide detectives arrived and assessed the scene, they told us it appeared that the woman had been raped and then stabbed to death with a kitchen knife.  The killer, having worked up an appetite, cooked and ate a meal as the woman lay dying in the next room.  To this day I am haunted by the thought of the terror she must have felt in those final moments of her life.  Who could have done such a thing, I wondered.
 
Later, with the detectives still sifting the crime scene for evidence, there was little for my partner and me to do but stand near the yellow crime-scene tape and keep the curious at bay.  A young man of about 20 approached and asked us what was going on, and in the most perfunctory of terms we told him that the woman in the house had died.  A detective in the house contacted us by radio and told us to step out of earshot from the man, and when we had done so the detective informed us we had been talking with the likely killer.
 
As an eager rookie, my inclination was to slap the handcuffs on him as quickly as I could.  My partner, with his greater experience and accompanying wisdom, played it differently.  He continued to engage the man in small talk, cleverly eliciting some admissions that would later prove valuable in the murder case against him.  We would come to learn that the woman had befriended the killer — a neighbor — some years before and often hired him to perform odd jobs around the house.  He had completed one such job before raping and killing her.
 
While the man struck me as a bit odd, to my then-untutored eye there was nothing in his demeanor that suggested he was capable of the horrible crime he had just committed.  In speaking with other neighbors later, I didn’t find one who wasn’t completely shocked by what the man had done.
 
Which brings us to the unfathomable, decade-long ordeal of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, the three women recently freed from their kidnapper in Cleveland.  How, we wonder, could one man kidnap and hold in captivity even one person for so long without being discovered?  How twisted must a man be to carry out such a crime not just once but three times?  And how can so twisted a person move among us without our detecting the depth of his malevolence?
 
We want to comfort ourselves with the delusion that we can spot the dangerous people in our midst.  We look at the man accused in the Cleveland case, Ariel Castro, and we tell ourselves we would have known something was amiss behind the walls of his ordinary looking clapboard home.  Never in my neighborhood, we say.
 
But the truth is that most of us haven’t a clue about what goes on inside our neighbors’ homes, even in those neighborhoods described, like Ariel Castro’s, as “tight-knit.”  As anyone who reads the papers knows, this term is most often a press euphemism for “poor” or “crime-plagued,” and indeed the Cleveland Police Department’s crime map reveals that officers in Castro’s neighborhood are kept busy.  Zoom in on the map to the area just south and west of the I-90/I-71 interchange, expand the date range from the last seven days to the last 30, 60 and 90, and watch the dots on the map multiply like so many poisonous spores in a Petri dish.
 
I’ve spent most of my police career in Los Angeles working in similar neighborhoods, and even in those that genuinely are “tight-knit” there are always those few individuals who, like Ariel Castro, are themselves at varying stages of coming unraveled.  I’ve arrested murderers who had been living right under the noses of people who couldn’t bring themselves to believe that their friend, neighbor, or even family member had shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned someone to death.  Once he washes the blood off his hands, your typical murderer looks much the same as anyone else.
 
Did the police make mistakes in their handling of the three women’s disappearances?   Perhaps.  Michelle Knight’s name was dropped from an FBI database of missing persons only 15 months after her disappearance, but there is little cause to believe her continued presence in the database would have led to her recovery.  After all, Amada Berry’s and Gina DeJesus’s names were in the same database the entire time they were held, to no effect at all.  And as for those who say the police should have done more to find the women, one must ask: What more could they have done?  In all three abductions the police had no witnesses to describe a suspect and no crime scene from which to pluck forensic evidence.  And there was nothing about Ariel Castro that would have offered police cause to suspect him in the cases or to search his home.
 
No, it isn’t easy to spot the evil person next door.  Witness the various characterizations of the Tsarnaev brothers, the Boston Marathon bombers, whom most acquaintances described as ordinary young men incapable of such a horrific crime.  And now we know that the brothers have been implicated in a 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Mass., not far from the Watertown neighborhood where the elder brother was killed in a shootout with police and the younger one was captured.  How many of their friends suspected they were such cold-hearted killers?  How many of the strangers they encountered every day saw even a hint of the darkness in their souls?  None of them, I’m sure.
 
So it is with Ariel Castro.  Yes, now that he’s been identified as the proprietor of the Seymour Avenue Dungeon, his neighbors are making claims that they suspected him of bad things all along.  There was a naked woman chained up in the backyard, went one report, but the police failed to investigate.  All of these tales were concocted after the rescue, police say; there was nothing about Ariel Castro or his house that would have offered the slightest hint at what he was doing behind his closed door.
 
Ariel Castro is accused of unspeakably evil acts, but like the Tsarnaev brothers, like that murderer I arrested years ago, like all those killers on the loose in Chicago and most other cities you could name, he went unrecognized until the evidence of his crimes leapt out and grabbed someone’s attention.
 
Not every criminal — or even every murderer — sinks to the level of depravity occupied by the likes of the Tsarnaev brothers and Ariel Castro.  But consider: The Boston Globe reported that police solved 43 percent of the city’s murders in 2012, leaving 57 percent of the killers out and about and free to kill again.  In Ariel Castro’s Cleveland the police do a better job of things, with a 2012 murder clearance rate of 69 percent, but that still leaves 31 percent of its killers on the loose.  And in Chicago, a mere 132 of the city’s 507 murders that occurred in 2012 were solved, for a clearance rate of just 26 percent.  That’s a lot of killers running around out there going to restaurants and the movies and partaking in all the other pleasures the less homicidally inclined enjoy, maybe even sitting in the theater right next to . . . you.
 
Enjoy the show.
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« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2013, 11:33:53 PM »

Also posted in the Self Defense Law thread

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-murder-verdict-reduced-20130520,0,6854907.story
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« Reply #40 on: June 17, 2013, 12:41:21 AM »

http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/NY-man-who-says-4-kids-vandalized-home-is-charged-4603699.php
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« Reply #41 on: June 17, 2013, 07:13:13 AM »



I guess common sense has been banned in New York as well.
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« Reply #42 on: June 26, 2013, 07:28:51 AM »

Suspect in Hollywood stabbing an AB 109 inmate
By TAMI ABDOLLAH, Associated Press
Updated 7:48 pm, Tuesday, June 25, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The homeless man charged with murdering a woman at a popular Hollywood tourist attraction had a lengthy criminal record including dozens of arrests dating back six years, officials said Tuesday.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky asked Tuesday for a chronology of events between the release of Dustin Kinnear from state prison April 6 and the killing of Christine Calderon last week.

Yaroslavsky said Kinnear, 26, was released from prison and ordered to report to county probation for supervision instead of state parole as part of AB 109, the criminal justice realignment program pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The law, which took effect in October 2011, was in response to a federal court order to reduce California's prison population. Under it, nonviolent, non-sexual and non-serious criminals are sentenced to county jail instead of state prisons. The law also allows some inmates to report to county probation officers rather than state parole agents once they are released from custody.

That was the case with Kinnear, who began serving a three-year state prison sentence last December for violating terms of his release after he was sentenced to a year in county jail and three years of probation for a 2010 conviction of assault with a deadly weapon. In that incident he'd threatened a security officer with a broomstick, though it's unclear if the person was actually hit, Bingham said.

Kinnear was on probation in 2012 when he was found with brass knuckles and a dagger. He was sentenced to three years in state prison for violating his probation terms and was released April 6 after serving 96 days because of custody credits.

Dana Simas, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said assault with a deadly weapon is not defined as serious or violent under the state penal code.

"He was out in the community," Simas said. "He would have been in that exact place at that exact time regardless of AB 109."

Kinnear was picked up by police four times since his release — including an April 27 incident where he was arrested for lying to a peace officer. On May 28, he was convicted of battery and sentenced to three days in county jail, but he was released May 29 after serving two of his three days in custody while waiting for his case to be heard.

Kinnear's "extensive arrest history" includes more than two dozen arrests on assault, battery as well as drug-related charges dating to May 2007 and four convictions, Bingham said. The department is also researching his mental status. Kinnear had appeared in court last week wearing a yellow jail shirt, indicating psychological problems.

"We're all sitting here trying to figure out how could this happen," Yaroslavsky said. "How could somebody like this fall through so many cracks? The red flags were all over the place, and the entire system, from the state all the way down was colorblind."

Yaroslavsky said the issue is whether Los Angeles County officials were properly notified by the state and had enough time to adequately supervise Kinnear.

The state corrections department provided details on Kinnear to county officials one day before he was released from state prison, instead of the required 120 days, he said.

"On Monday you get a packet, on Tuesday he's on the streets of our county," Yaroslavsky said. "That's what happened here."

Luis Patino, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the law requires 30 to 60 days' notice depending on the situation, though the department tries for 120 days, he said.

"It appears that we were told that we had to release him sooner than we thought because of the time that the judge had given him as credits," Patino said. "We do everything we can to try to give the counties as much as lead tie as we can, sometimes it's not just physically possible."

Yaroslavsky said the county departments of probation, mental health, public health and the Sherriff's Department need to determine whether laws and procedures are "adequate to protect against any of the possible gaps in the AB 109 process," states Yaroslavsky's motion Tuesday, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Within 30 days, officials must also provide details on Kinnear's criminal and mental background, whether protocols for release were followed, and whether current laws and procedures are adequate to protect against possible gaps.

"What you have here is AB 109 was sold to the public as only impacting state prisoners who are nonviolent, non-sexual and non-serious (offenders)," Yaroslavsky said. "And here you have somebody who was in jail for assault with a deadly weapon and that is serious and it is violent by definition, and he ends up in the streets of Hollywood."

Bingham said the department is doing a thorough administrative review and will submit it to the board. "We take public safety very seriously and we're looking into this matter," Bingham said.
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« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2013, 10:20:43 AM »


By JESSE WEGMAN
Published: July 20, 2013

 

Do you remember where you were standing at this moment five years ago? Ten years? Twenty? Seventy-eight men in Northern California do.
Today's Editorials



They have been held in solitary confinement for at least 20 years, each in his own 8-by-10-foot windowless cell at the Pelican Bay supermax prison, with about a thousand others — half of whom have been there for more than a decade. They are allowed only about an hour of “recreation” each day, often in shackles, in a cement enclosure not much larger than their cell.

Even among inmates accustomed to severe across-the-board restrictions of their liberties, there is a breaking point. This month, as many as 30,000 prisoners in California, most of whom are not in solitary confinement, went on hunger strikes to protest its mass use.

In truth, that breaking point was passed long ago. Every day, it seems, there is another news story, psychological study or official report demonstrating the severe damage caused by long-term solitary confinement.

A 2011 United Nations report said the practice can amount to torture and called for a ban on terms longer than 15 days. In this country, there are an estimated 25,000 prisoners in long-term solitary in supermax prisons; in California, the average stay is nearly seven years.

The inmates are isolated because prison officials have determined that they pose a threat to the safety of the guards and other prisoners, despite a growing body of evidence that such use of solitary does not reduce prison violence or promote safety.

At Pelican Bay, the overwhelming majority of the men in solitary don’t even have a record of violence; they are placed in solitary for their “gang associations,” despite the fact that such associations have hardly any predictive value for a prisoner’s likelihood to be violent.

The little hope these inmates have of leaving solitary lies mostly in what prison officials call “debriefing,” or snitching on other gang members. (California officials say that about 200 inmates statewide have been classified for return to the general prison population under a pilot program that considers behavior and other factors besides debriefing.)

Opponents of solitary do not deny that certain inmates are too dangerous or disruptive to live among the general prison population. The issue is whether depriving thousands of people of virtually all human contact for years on end, without real opportunities to get out, goes beyond any reasonable standard of proportionality in punishment. “They want to make these people suffer — it’s exactly what the goal is,” said Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama. “Whose interests are being undermined if you let someone for the first time in a year talk to their mother?”

Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of solitary confinement are distressingly rare, mainly because of a strict federal law that limits litigation over prison conditions. But several recent suits have begun to make some headway, including one in California that relies on the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment to call for an outer limit of 10 years in solitary.

The Supreme Court has not ruled directly on the issue, but it has said that the length of a stay in solitary “cannot be ignored” when determining whether it violates the Eighth Amendment. And the court’s 2011 ruling that overcrowding in California’s prisons violates the Constitution might help pave the way for redress by suggesting that courts do not have to defer to prison officials on all matters of prison administration.

States that have recently reduced or nearly eliminated the use of solitary — from Mississippi to Ohio to Maine — have found it is possible to maintain safety and control in prisons while respecting basic human dignity. There is a difference, after all, between punishment and torture. Prisoners shouldn’t have to starve themselves for us to see that.

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G M
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« Reply #44 on: July 21, 2013, 10:51:38 AM »

I can't speak for every corrections system obviously, but from what I've seen, inmates have to try real hard to end up in solitary. Correctional entities try to avoid it, as it's very expensive.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #45 on: July 25, 2013, 06:28:50 AM »

 SAN FRANCISCO — WHEN the police arrived last November at the ransacked mansion of the millionaire investor Raveesh Kumra, outside of San Jose, Calif., they found Mr. Kumra had been blindfolded, tied and gagged. The robbers took cash, rare coins and ultimately Mr. Kumra’s life; he died at the scene, suffocated by the packaging tape used to stifle his screams. A forensics team found DNA on his fingernails that belonged to an unknown person, presumably one of the assailants. The sample was put into a DNA database and turned up a “hit” — a local man by the name of Lukis Anderson.

Bingo. Mr. Anderson was arrested and charged with murder.

There was one small problem: the 26-year-old Mr. Anderson couldn’t have been the culprit. During the night in question, he was at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, suffering from severe intoxication.

Yet he spent more than five months in jail with a possible death sentence hanging over his head. Once presented with Mr. Anderson’s hospital records, prosecutors struggled to figure out how an innocent man’s DNA could have ended up on a murder victim.

Late last month, prosecutors announced what they believe to be the answer: the paramedics who transported Mr. Anderson to the hospital were the very same individuals who responded to the crime scene at the mansion a few hours later. Prosecutors now conclude that at some point, Mr. Anderson’s DNA must have been accidentally transferred to Mr. Kumra’s body — likely by way of the paramedics’ clothing or equipment.

This theory of transference is still under investigation. Nevertheless, the certainty with which prosecutors charged Mr. Anderson with murder highlights the very real injustices that can occur when we place too much faith in DNA forensic technologies.

In the end, Mr. Anderson was lucky. His alibi was rock solid; prosecutors were forced to concede that there must have been some other explanation. It’s hard to believe that, out of the growing number of convictions based largely or exclusively on DNA evidence, there haven’t been any similar mistakes.

In one famous case of crime scene contamination, German police searched for around 15 years for a serial killer they called the “Phantom of Heilbronn” — an unknown female linked by traces of DNA to six murders across Germany and Austria. In 2009, the police found their “suspect”: a worker at a factory that produced the cotton swabs police used in their investigations had been accidentally contaminating them with her own DNA.

Contamination is not the only way DNA forensics can lead to injustice. Consider the frequent claim that it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, for two DNA profiles to match by coincidence. A 2005 audit of Arizona’s DNA database showed that, out of some 65,000 profiles, nearly 150 pairs matched at a level typically considered high enough to identify and prosecute suspects. Yet these profiles were clearly from different people.

There are also problems with the way DNA evidence is interpreted and presented to juries. In 2008, John Puckett — a California man in his 70s with a sexual assault record — was accused of a 1972 killing, after a trawl of the state database partially linked his DNA to crime scene evidence. As in the Anderson case, Mr. Puckett was identified and implicated primarily by this evidence. Jurors — told that there was only a one-in-1.1 million chance that this DNA match was pure coincidence — convicted him. He is now serving a life sentence.

But that one-in-1.1 million figure is misleading, according to two different expert committees, one convened by the F.B.I., the other by the National Research Council. It reflects the chance of a coincidental match in relation to the size of the general population (assuming that the suspect is the only one examined and is not related to the real culprit). Instead of the general population, we should be looking at only the number of profiles in the DNA database. Taking the size of the database into account in Mr. Puckett’s case (and, again, assuming the real culprit’s profile is not in the database) would have led to a dramatic change in the estimate, to one in three.

One juror was asked whether this figure would have affected the jury’s deliberations. “Of course it would have changed things,” he told reporters. “It would have changed a lot of things.”

DNA forensics is an invaluable tool for law enforcement. But it is most useful when it corroborates other evidence pointing to a suspect, or when used to determine whether any two individual samples match, like in the exonerations pursued by the Innocence Project.

But when the government gets into the business of warehousing millions of DNA profiles to seek “cold hits” as the primary basis for prosecutions, much more oversight by and accountability to the public is warranted. For far too long, we have allowed the myth of DNA infallibility to chip away at our skepticism of government’s prosecutorial power, undoubtedly leading to untold injustices.

In the Anderson case, thankfully, prosecutors acknowledged the obvious: their suspect could not have been in two places at once. But he was dangerously close to being on his way to death row because of that speck of DNA. That one piece of evidence — obtained from a technology with known limitations, and susceptible to human error and prosecutorial misuse — might mistakenly lead to execution at the hands of the state should send chills down every one of our spines. The next Lukis Anderson could be you. Better hope your alibi is as well documented as his.

Osagie K. Obasogie, a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings, and a senior fellow at the Center for Genetics and Society, is the author of the forthcoming book “Blinded by Sight: Seeing Race Through the Eyes of the Blind.”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #46 on: July 25, 2013, 02:41:30 PM »

http://www.officer.com/news/11062190/man-who-killed-nypd-officers-gets-death-penalty?utm_source=Officer.com+Newsday+E-Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS130719002
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« Reply #47 on: July 26, 2013, 09:57:38 AM »

U.S. Prison Populations Decline, Reflecting New Approach to Crime
By ERICA GOODE
Published: July 25, 2013 30 Comments

   

The prison population in the United States dropped in 2012 for the third consecutive year, according to federal statistics released on Thursday, in what criminal justice experts said was the biggest decline in the nation’s recent history, signaling a shift away from an almost four-decade policy of mass imprisonment.



The number of inmates in state and federal prisons decreased by 1.7 percent, to an estimated 1,571,013 in 2012 from 1,598,783 in 2011, according to figures released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an arm of the Justice Department. Although the percentage decline appeared small, the fact that it followed decreases in 2011 and 2010 offers persuasive evidence of what some experts say is a “sea change” in America’s approach to criminal punishment.

“This is the beginning of the end of mass incarceration,” said Natasha Frost, associate dean of Northeastern University’s school of criminology and criminal justice.

About half the 2012 decline — 15,035 prisoners — occurred in California, which has decreased its prison population in response to a Supreme Court order to relieve prison overcrowding. But eight other states, including New York, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, showed substantial decreases, of more than 1,000 inmates, and more than half the states reported some drop in the number of prisoners. (Figures for three states were estimated because they had not submitted data in time for the report.) The population of federal prisons increased slightly, but at a slower rate than in previous years, the report found.

Imprisonment rates in the United States have been on an upward march since the early 1970s. From 1978, when there were 307,276 inmates in state and federal prisons, the population increased annually, reaching a peak of 1,615,487 inmates in 2009.

But in recent years, tightened state budgets, plummeting crime rates, changes in sentencing laws and shifts in public opinion have combined to reverse the trend. Experts on prison policy said that the continuing decline appears to be more than a random fluctuation.

“A year or even two years is a blip and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but three years starts to look like a trend,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit research group based in Washington. But he said that the rate of inmates incarcerated in the United States continued to be “dramatically higher” than in other countries and that the changes so far were “relatively modest compared to the scale of the problem.”

Most observers agree that the recession has played a role in shrinking prison populations. In 2011 and 2012, at least 17 states closed or were considering closing prisons partly for budgetary reasons, representing a reduction of 28,525 beds, according to a report by the Sentencing Project published last year.

But Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project, said that while fiscal concerns might have led to the turnaround in some states, the need to cut budgets had not been the deciding factor.

“They’re not simply pinching pennies,” Mr. Gelb said. “Policy makers are not holding their noses and saying we have to scale back prisons to save money. The states that are showing drops are states that are thinking about how they can apply research-based alternatives that work better and cost less.”

Changes in state and federal sentencing laws for lower-level offenses like those involving drugs have played a central role in the shift, he and others said, with many states setting up diversion programs for offenders as an alternative to prison. And some states have softened their policies on parole, no longer automatically sending people back to prison for parole violations.

But changing public attitudes are also a major driver behind the declining prison numbers. Dropping crime rates over the last 20 years have reduced public fears and diminished the interest of politicians in running tough-on-crime campaigns. And public polls consistently show that Americans are now more interested in spending money on education and health care than on building more prisons.

“People don’t care so much about crime, and it’s less of a political focus,” said Professor Frost, who is a co-author of a forthcoming book, “The Punishment Imperative.”

The result has been an unusual bipartisan effort to reduce the nation’s reliance on prisons, with groups like Right on Crime, devoted to what it calls the “conservative case for reform,” pushing for lower-cost and less punitive solutions than incarceration for nonviolent offenders.

Marc Levin, senior policy adviser for Right on Crime, described the change in conservatives’ position on parole violators: It used to be “Trail ’em, nail ’em and jail ’em,” he said, “but there’s been a move to say, ‘Yes, there’s a surveillance function, but we also want them to succeed.’ ”

Some of the most substantial prison reductions have taken place in conservative states like Texas, which reduced the number of inmates in its prisons by more than 5,000 in 2012. In 2007, when the state faced a lack of 17,000 beds for inmates, the State Legislature decided to change its approach to parole violations and provide drug treatment for nonviolent offenders instead of building more prisons.

In Arkansas, which reduced its prison population by just over 1,400 inmates in 2012, legislators in 2011 also passed a package of laws softening sentencing guidelines for low-level offenders and steering them to diversion programs.

“It’s a great example of a state that made some deliberate policy choices to say we can actually reduce recidivism and cut our prison group at the same time,” Mr. Gelb said.

Joan Petersilia, a law professor at Stanford and a co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, said in an interview last year that she thought Americans had “gotten the message that locking up a lot of people doesn’t necessarily bring public safety.” California’s example, she said, has also spurred other states to consider downsizing for fear of facing similar litigation.

But Professor Petersilia added that though the trend may have begun out of a need for belt-tightening, it had grown into a national effort to rethink who should go to prison and for how long.

“I don’t think in modern history we’ve seen anything like this,” she said.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #48 on: August 07, 2013, 10:33:33 AM »

Tragic facts here.  What punishment for the son?

http://www.guns.com/2013/08/06/deputy-faces-assault-charges-after-catching-his-wife-in-bed-with-his-dad/
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jcordova
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« Reply #49 on: August 07, 2013, 02:38:31 PM »



So sad and even made his son lose his job. No bueno  sad
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