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Hillary Clinton and Thomas Alfred Taylor’s Underpants: It Takes a Village to Rape a Child

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Or maybe we should say: It Takes a Village to Get Away With Raping a Child.  

bill-and-hillary

This is Hillary Clinton in 1975.  She was on her way to becoming a “feminist icon,” so of course she stepped up to defend a 41-year old man who admitted to raping a child — a twelve-year old child.  There were two witnesses to the crime — another man and a teen boy who were in the car with the rape victim.  The offender plied the child with alcohol and then raped her.

As reported in The Washington Free Beacon in a well-researched article by Alana Goodman, Clinton, in 1975, by her own giggly admission, knowingly orchestrated a fraudulent test of the evidence from the crime in order to try to deceive the jury about her client’s guilt: she sent a part of the rapist’s underpants that had no fluids on it to a lab in New York and then threatened to use the negative lab result to disprove the prosecutor’s other evidence.  She also made false claims about the victim’s mental state, calling her an unstable liar.  Ultimately, despite powerful evidence condemning the rapist, the prosecution let Clinton’s client plead down to little more than time served.

There are lessons for everyone in this story.

Academic Feminists (a category that includes many feminist journalists) are now piling on anyone who deigns to criticize Clinton for using dirty tricks forty years ago to help a child rapist get off with a slap on the wrist.  This may sound odd, but Academic Feminists have never been interested in putting real rapists into real prisons.

In fact (a fact you won’t learn in women’s studies classes), from the very beginning of the modern feminist movement, Academic Feminists have been far more interested in playing identity politics than in punishing rape.  At the first meetings of the N.O.W., violence against women wasn’t even going to be included as a platform of the group, out of fear that condemning violence against women would result in some minority men getting convicted for the rapes they committed.

Couldn’t have that.

Better to throw all rape victims under a bus than hold black rapists responsible for their rapes  – of mostly black women and children.  From the beginning of modern feminism, racial and ethnic sensitivity – who committed a crime — was more important than the victim or the crime itself, let alone the ethic of justice for all.

[It should be noted that this attitude disgusted a critical mass of other feminist women who started working with police to protect women and children anyway — regardless of the color of their offender.  These service provider types generally like to stay away from politics, and they shouldn’t be confused with Academic Feminists and other political bottom feeders]

Fast-forward to today: the Academic Feminists have spent the last several years perfecting their March Towards Universal Guilt But No Prison Time Only Re-Education For All Men But Especially White Fraternity Brothers.

Academic Feminists have always just been leftists who care more about emptying the prisons than about real victims of crime.  They would rather exploit rape cases for political ends than imprison rapists.

For example, Amanda Marcotte at Slate is wagging around her frayed invisible Code of Defense Lawyer Ethics to explain why Clinton wasn’t merely right to use deceit and character assassination of a 12-year old rape victim to get her rapist client off: according to Marcotte, Clinton was super-right to use deceit and character assassination of a 12-year old rape victim to get her rapist client off  because she’s Hillary Clinton:

Defense attorneys have an unpleasant but necessary job, and Clinton did what she was obligated to do, which was to give her client a constitutionally mandated adequate defense. … As long as juries keep acquitting based on this myth that women routinely make up rape accusations for the hell of it, defense attorneys will continue to use it. The problem here is a larger culture that promotes rape myths, not defense attorneys who exploit these myths in last-ditch attempts to get acquittals for rapists who have overwhelming evidence against them.

According to Marcotte, everyone else uses rape myths, so the legal standard is to use rape myths, so Clinton was just giving her client the benefit of a really good defense by using rape myths and she should be praised for doing this because it had to be super hard for her to shed her principles that way, but, by the way, if a frat brother uses a rape myth, even if there’s no rape involved, even if he’s just making a bad joke, he deserves to be destroyed, preferably by Amanda Marcotte, Hillary Clinton, and millions of other women.

Yes, this is the way the Academic Feminists think.  I think it has something to do with all that mascara intersecting ink from bad tattoos and shards of bad prose by Judith Butler in the dark little place where your heart’s supposed to be.  Other people just call it identity politics.

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Amanda Marcotte, Defense Ethics Specialist, With Cat

The Academic Feminists are certainly showing their tushes with this defense-of-Hillary-defending-the-child-rapist-thing.  At least the masks are off.

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Wicker Women

But there is another story here, one that it would behoove the conservative critics of Academic Feminism to remember as they fight back against the guilt-by-identity regime. The lesson is this: in the real world, in real courts, real rape victims are still being subjected to such horrific, humiliating injustices, and real rapists and child molesters are still walking away from their crimes in nearly every case.

Forget the idiotic academic fake statistics that claim one in five women are raped in college for a moment: in the real courts, one in five rape victims don’t ever get a day in court.  Hell, more than four in five rape victims don’t ever get a day in court.  So while you’re busy fighting the Academic Feminists, do not make the mistake of believing that what you see happening on college campuses has any bearing on the real criminal justice system.

And when you’re done demanding justice for yourself, you should demand justice for victims of real rape, lest you become like the Campus Feminists you’re fighting — lest you become interested in injustice only when it affects you and people who look like you.

Once you’re done being disgusted by the glee that Hillary Clinton expressed in recounting her clever deceits that freed a child rapist, don’t get gleeful yourself over Clinton’s comeuppance: there’s still a child victim involved, and nothing about what happened to her is funny.  There’s still an injustice to be righted.

The Hillary Clinton rape defense is also an important story because it lays bare the perverse lies that pass for criminal defense and the sleazy tactics that warp rules of evidence.  If conservatives really care about right and wrong and justice and injustice and toppling identity politics, they cannot draw a circle around these real injustices committed against rape victims and say: this has nothing to do with me because I’ve been persecuted by the Campus Feminists.

There are many thousands of rape victims, hundreds of thousands of them, victims of real rape, who have  been denied justice.  Hillary Clinton’s giggly story shows how easy it was in 1975 to get a rapist off, and things haven’t changed as much as one might think today.

We need conservative men to be willing to stand up for these victims, because the campus feminists don’t care about them.  That little raped girl isn’t responsible for speech codes and campus tribunals against frats.  Rapists still routinely walk because of warped rules of evidence and prejudiced jurors who believe they’re sticking it to the man, or sticking it to some feminist, or playing Atticus Finch by springing a predator back onto the streets.  Child molesters still routinely plead down to time served, or less.  If the conservative movement is going to engage the subject of rape, they should also stand up for these rape victims instead of putting all their energy into battling feminists in the fantasy-realm of academia.  It would be nice to see Minding the Campus and Truth Revolt and Phi Beta Cons expand their interrogation of injustice and rape to include the real courts.

Scoring political points isn’t everything.  Only people like Amanda Marcotte and Hillary Clinton should be guilty of an accusation like that one

 

 

 

Chicago Weekend: Is Crime Down, Or Are Neighborhoods Emptying?

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Is crime really dropping in Chicago? Not long ago, the public would have been forced to rely on some pretty unreliable sources for an answer:

  • academicians who worship at the ‘the public’s crime fears are overblown‘ altar
  • mainstream reporters who worship at the “academicians who worship at the ‘the public’s crime fears are overblown’ altar” altar
  • Chicago politicians

From sources like that, you get contradictory numbers like this, in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Five men were killed and at least 19 other people — including two children — were hospitalized after violence in the city this weekend.

Despite the violent weekend, Chicago Police announced Sunday that violent crimes have decreased for the 30th consecutive month and there have been 31 fewer murders this year than through June of last year, a 14.4 percent decrease. The crime stats also indicate a decrease in aggravated batteries, aggravated assaults and criminal sexual assaults.

Five people blown away, 19 others shot or otherwise injured, in one unremarkable weekend that featured the sort of bad weather that tends to drive people off the streets, so that’s good news: crime is down!  (**Update: 11 more shot overnight Sunday, ten homicides total)

Sure, murders are down.  They don’t say how much agg. assaults and batteries dropped, nor do they offer what might be the most accurate measure of non-safety — the number of shootings, as oppose to the number of entirely successful gun murders.  Let’s not reward bad aim, or good doctoring.

At least the public has alternative sources of information, now that cops are blogging.  Second City Cop speculates about other possible explanations for the alleged “drop in crime”:

Are there any actuaries out there who can determine the per capita rate of homicides? We lost at least 200,000 people in the recent census, and since rates are measured in terms of crimes per 100,000, is this a real drop in crime or just a statistical equivalent? And are we still doing that thing with people shot during robberies? And the other thing that negates the FBI ever using Chicago numbers in their crime stats because they’re so hinky?

SCC’s commenters (also cops) knock a little more gild off the lily:

What about property crimes? Criminal damage reports? Thefts? And what of the clearance rates, esp. for violent crimes, like robberies? Oh, I forgot, robberies are property crimes, acc. to Cline.

Crime has gone down for over 30 straight months with the shortage of cops? We don’t need any more cops. In fact lets get rid of all of them and let the animals run the asylum.

With severe police shortages, crime reports fall through the cracks.  So is the public “over-reacting” or is crime under-reported?

It also appears from the cop blogs that Chicago authorities are camouflaging crime numbers by classifying gun robberies as “property crime” instead of violent crime.  I imagine this sort of free pass gets carried over to Chicago courtrooms, where felons who stick guns in peoples’ faces get off easy because it’s just a “property” offense.  And remember all the criminals robbing other criminals who aren’t about to call 911, and the residents intimidated into silence.

Remember too the nine-year olds and eight-year olds and 12-year olds caught in the crossfire.  I don’t even think that’s a complete list from the past week.

How many violent crimes go unreported in a city like Chicago?  This demoralizing Chicago Tribune must-read offers some insights:

Whatever you do, don’t use my name, said the 83-year-old widow, and the fear in her voice was palpable. . .

We [the reporters] met a lot of longtime residents on many blocks fighting to hang on to and regenerate their communities. We wanted to tell their stories, but more often than not they would not let us if we used their names. They are terrified of retribution by the criminal elements — gangs and drug dealers — whose activities mushroomed in the newly vacant houses around them. . . ”It’s like young people are berserk around here,” said the elderly widow. “It’s like they’re destroying themselves. Practically every other night or so, we hear shooting just west or east of us, or in the alley. It sounds so close, it scares you.”  She has lived in her house for 54 years, one of the early black families to move into the community. . . After years of watching, [the elderly residents] know by sight most of the players in the nightly drama. The one they fear most is a soft-spoken boss of street crews selling drugs.  ”He is just an ordinary-looking person,” said one of the block club’s men. “He doesn’t dress fancy or drive flashy cars. He is very quiet and usually very courteous with people on the street. But he is a vicious killer who is all business.

“Everybody knows who he is.”

If the drug boss knew people were reporting his activities to the police, club members agree he would strike back at them. It’s a frightening prospect because they say he calmly shot a man to death in front of witnesses near their block several years ago and walked away free. The fear of reprisal for reporting criminal activity seems well-founded. Police recognize that gangs and drug dealers plant their own people into community meetings as spies, taking notes on which residents speak out against illegal activity. Community policing experts tell residents to report crimes in strict privacy, not in public forums.

Does any of this sound like good news about the crime rate?  Is Chicago really getting safer, or is the opposite true, despite any temporary drop in murder stats?  The reporters here lay too much blame on the “subprime mortgage crisis,” instead of on the thugs or the justice system that allows them to get away with murder, empty houses or no empty houses.  But, otherwise, the story serves as a fierce corrective to the “crime is down” boosterism coming out of city hall.  For the senior citizens trying to hold their neighborhoods together for the uptenth time in fifty years, it’s horror show:

They are terrified of retribution by the criminal elements — gangs and drug dealers — whose activities mushroomed in the newly vacant houses around them . . . crime problems didn’t seem epidemic, block club members say, until the recent foreclosures as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.  According to the census, Englewood and West Englewood lost nearly 20,000 residents in the last decade. Now, 3,500 boarded-up houses and empty lots dot the communities

This actually confirms Second City Cop’s musing about population and statistics: high-crime areas experienced large population losses during the recent mortgage crisis.  So it might be that crime rates, adjusted for population, have not dropped at all.

Gee, you’d think some city statistician or publicly funded academic would have caught this.  No, they’re all far too busy denying the existence of crime and lobbying to empty the prisons.  Meanwhile, back on the block:

Because their street is quieter than nearby streets, the longtime residents say police don’t patrol their block as frequently as they do adjoining ones.  ”The drug dealers and addicts know that,” said an 80-year-old woman who is also a longtime block club member. “The addicts buy their drugs around the corner and then park in their cars on our block to use their drugs and have their sexual encounters (to pay for drugs). At night, you know they are smoking crack from the blue flame that flares up.”

She talks despairingly of how the crime surge has changed her life.

“I don’t want shooting outside my house or out in the alley. I just want to go to the store and not be afraid, and to get on the bus without fear.”

Is crime really down? Or have the official statistics merely been pummeled by fear of reprisals and thinned by the cop shortage . . . then massaged by statisticians, pled down by attorneys, and shiatsu-ed again by academics, until that hard metal barrel pointed at someone’s face has metamorphosed into a property crime, or maybe just drug possession, if victims are too afraid, or too felonious, to come forward?

Then the anti-incarceration activists can claim that we need more “alternatives to prison” for all those “drug and non-violent offenders” who fill cells.  And the cycle starts over again.

Englewood Neighborhood, Chicago (Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune / July 10, 2011)

Do Jobs Programs Cause Crime?

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With something approaching fifty years of economic and crime statistics consistently disproving any correlation between recessions and crime, not to mention the last 12 months of terrible economic news coupled with still-dropping crime rates, you’d think journalists might finally start questioning their knee-jerk pronouncements about “lack of opportunity” being the primary motivation for unlawful behavior.

But they won’t.  Journalists simply can’t, I think, let go of the idea that young people (males, mostly) commit crime primarily because they are being unjustly deprived of economic opportunity.  To let that idea go would result in nothing less than the catastrophic collapse of a myth on which rests perhaps a fifth or more of the emotional underpinnings of the fourth estate.   It would require shifting culpability for criminal behavior from society at large, where journalists and policymakers are comfortable placing it, onto individuals who commit crimes (and in many cases their families and immediate communities, but no farther).

With the exception of some big city newsrooms, however, the rest of the world is moving on.  Journalists who cling to the disproved crime-economy calibration are even starting to sound out of step with many crime experts, and not just conservative think tank ones like Heather Mac Donald who have long argued against “root theories” of crime.  Even James Allen Fox of Northeastern University was quoted this week denying the correlation between recession and crime:

Prof. Fox said a common assumption that crime goes up during a recession is wrong. Historic data show there is little connection between economic conditions and crime, particularly violent crime.

Then again, this was an article in the Wall Street Journal.  Almost exactly a year ago, in a now-widely derided editorial, the New York Times drew a very different inference from Fox’s statements on the economy:

Federal and state programs that are supposed to provide jobs, services and counseling have been poorly financed for years. They are likely to suffer further as cash-strapped states look for ways to save money. The timing couldn’t be worse.

Fewer jobs programs are going to equal more crime, the Times cried.  They continued:

A new study by James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt of Northeastern University suggests that violent crime among young people may be rising, that the much-talked-about reduction in the crime rate in the 1990s may be over, and that much more must be done to prevent young people from succumbing to the gang culture.  The study also shows that the murder rate for black teenagers has climbed noticeably since 2000 while the rate for young whites has scarcely changed on the whole and, in some places, has actually declined. While more financing for local police would be useful, programs aimed at providing jobs and social services are far more important.

The inconsistency here is not Fox’s: he was calling for varied interventions, including policing.  But the Times is simply incapable of acknowledging the role of policing and incarceration in lowering crime rates.  They can’t stop chanting “jobs or crime,” even though economic and crime trends in the 1960′s, 1970′s, 1980′s, 1990′s, and now 2000′s utterly belie that claim.  Only one thing will stop crime, they insist (hysterically, it’s fair to say):

[T]he economic crisis has clearly created the conditions for more crime and more gangs — among hopeless, jobless young men in the inner cities. Once these young men become entangled in the criminal justice system, they are typically marginalized and shut out of the job market for life.  President-elect Barack Obama’s administration and Congress will need to address the youth crisis as part of the country’s deep economic crisis. That means reviving the federal summer jobs programs that ran successfully for more than 30 years.

Ah yes, summer jobs programs.  The single biggest graft incubator and inner-city political corruption cash cow since the mafia tipped its first garbage pail.  Start a riot and burn down all the legitimate businesses in your neighborhood?  Get a jobs program.  Serial killer on the loose?  Get a jobs program.  Fiscal conservatives take over Washington?  Get a jobs program to sop mayoral nerves.  Big government liberals take over Washington? Jobs programs, jobs programs, jobs programs.

After years of observing jobs programs in Atlanta, which is an epicenter of such things, I came to the conclusion that jobs programs themselves are a cause of crime, and not just the proximate crimes that arise directly from the grants-giving process, like kickbacks, or pay for play, or just plain stealing, though such graft is not inconsequential.  Beyond the immediate larceny, jobs programs grow a culture of extreme political corruption.  They bankroll the most crooked, on-the-make actors in city and county politics, many of whom started out on the jobs side of community outreach and resurfaced a few years later peddling substandard mortgages and community redevelopment scams, scams that contributed mightily to the current economic crisis.  When a critical mass of community leaders are on the make, when political appointees like chiefs of police are chosen by people who are themselves on the make, you get a culture where crime flourishes.

I’m no statistician, but somebody who is could probably create a nice chart correlating jobs program dollars with indictments for political corruption: in Atlanta, that chart would prominently feature former Mayor Bill Campbell, who built both his indictable inner circle and his “get out the vote” muscle on such programs, most notably the hundreds of millions of dollars in squandered and pilfered “empowerment zone” monies.  Hundreds of millions of dollars buys a lot of bad actors, large and small, from the “community activists” who can be relied on to squeal and grandstand for a few thousand bucks, to the classes who expect a few hundred thousand in contracts for their spouses and children in return for political cover.  These people didn’t care that some neighborhoods in the city were ringing with gunfire: that sound was merely cha-ching in their pockets as they held out their hands and Washington filled them with money.

Atlanta’s worst years, while crime skyrocketed and the mayor and his cronies ransacked city government, only came to an end after the jobs program money ran out, and chastened city leaders had to cope with the hangover.  And with this reality: jobs programs don’t create jobs: they create programs.  Once the grant money runs out, or, more likely, gets pocketed, there’s nothing left in its place.

The crack epidemic ended the same way: things got crazier and crazier and crazier until people burned out, or they went to jail and cleaned up their acts, or they died, and those who survived were more cautious not to go down that path again.

This time around, positive results are occurring in cities where police and courts, or the public, or all three engage in tactics that can be broadly named “broken windows” policing.  A neighborhood group that patrols its own streets and takes on vandalism and abandoned buildings and shows up in court to testify is engaging in broken windows policing, even if the police aren’t officially involved and the judiciary is still dragging its heels.  Atlanta is the best example of that happening at the community level — while New York, Los Angeles, and Orlando are proving the effectiveness of the “broken windows” theory directly through their police and courts.

In contrast, cities that continue to do things the “old way,” and, not incidentally, are still mired in the same old political culture — Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago — still have high homicide rates, give or take a few points.

I don’t know what, if anything, will “tip” the current pockets of high-crime, inner-city culture away from self-destruction this time.  But empowering two-bit political hacks by handing them wads of money for fictional “jobs programs” will just make things worse.

No matter what the editorial board at the New York Times believes.

What a Difference Seven Months Makes?

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Remember this?

Well, according to the data that we have, there are some neighborhoods where the data don’t go along with what has actually transpired in their community.  We’ve had reductions [in crime] in a lot of those neighborhoods.  And then, some of the neighborhoods that we’ve had an increase in burglary and property crimes, those neighborhoods haven’t had a large outcry. . . I think they just respond to what they hear.  And a lot of times, perception to them is reality.

That was Chief Pennington in late January, saying that residents were over-reacting to crime, that it was just in their heads.

Here is Pennington August 7:

“In 2009, crime is down 10 percent . . . Since I joined the force [in 2002] crime is down 25 percent.”

Ben King, a graduate student at Georgia State who has an excellent blog called Terminal Station, writes:

We’ve all noticed that the police department’s contention that crime is down doesn’t seem to match what we see for ourselves.  I decided to do a little data project to figure out if the official police stats can help shed any light on what is going on.

My first post looks at residential burglaries, but I’ll also be looking at a lot of other types of crime and doing a some different types of analysis than just this first post.

What King found was a 65.1% increase in residential burglaries from 2004 – 2008.  I urge you to read the entire report at Terminal Station, which explains his methodology and includes easy to understand break-outs by Neighborhood Planning Units.  Here is his “short version”:

  • Residential burglaries are up significantly across the city
  • Southwest Atlanta has seen the highest increases in burglaries
  • East Atlanta and Grant Park had high levels of burglaries, and they’ve only gotten worse
  • Mild improvements in 2009 aren’t enough, given the increases of the last three years

Residential burglaries are up across the city

One thing that is lost in the overall numbers that get reported is how specific categories have performed. Residential burglaries are up significantly, both city-wide and even more in certain NPUs. From 2004-2008, the number of home burglaries increased 65%.


It is no surprise, then, that people feel less safe. Their homes are being violated at an alarming rate. This also places the statistics from 2009 into better context than I reported earlier. Through the first six months of 2009, residential burglaries are actually down slightly:


The fact that burglaries are down by 2% so far doesn’t negate three years of double-digit increases from 2006-2008. When it comes to residential burglaries, the city gets a big, fat, FAIL.

To summarize:

Chief Pennington says crime is down.

Ben King says burglaries are up 65% in just the past four years.

Pennington is particularly insistent that crime has not increased in certain neighborhoods with active neighborhood associations and e-mail notification lists, such as East Atlanta and Grant Park.

Ben King says this is certainly not true of burglaries:

NPU W, which includes Grant Park and East Atlanta, saw moderate increase in 2005 and 2007 before also exploding in 2008.  2008 was a bad year for the city as a whole, but particularly bad for NPU W – it brought them in to position as the #1 NPU in the city for residential burglaries for the year.

King and his colleagues are going to crunch the numbers on muggings and car break-ins next.  This is exciting work, and it shows the power of internet-accessible data.  It’s too bad, however, that it takes the volunteer labor of private citizens to do the type of work that ought to be done with the money we pay in taxes.

~~~

8,133 residential burglaries in 2008 is a lot of invaded homes.  Now if only we had on-line access to court dispositions, we would be able to see what percentage of those cases resulted in anyone being convicted of a crime and how many of those convictions resulted in incarceration, however brief.

Then you would know what your government is really doing, or not doing, to stop that guy crawling in your bedroom window.  I think those facts would shock people.

My sense of the way it washes out in the courts is this: juveniles need not worry too much about burglary charges.  They are generally given a pass the first time they get caught, unless violence is involved.  Even their second or third arrests rarely get them time in a juvenile facility (then, when they age out of the juvenile system, those records are sealed).

Once a burglar has “aged out” at 18, he gets another free bite of the apple with his first (the famously abused “first-time offender” category), and sometimes second and third burglary charge, if nobody is paying attention.  After that, his defense attorney counsels him to plead down to drug charges and request community treatment in lieu of incarceration.

It’s sort of like an apprenticeship, you see.  We should charge them tuition.

Crime Rate Up or Down? Thoughts From Around Atlanta

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Is the crime rate up or down in Atlanta?  The Atlanta Journal Constitution, echoing City Hall, continues to vote “down.”  Their editorial board is sticking to the argument that crime is a perception problem, though they have thankfully stopped mocking victims:

[S]tatistics alone don’t stir many souls toward either fear or a sense of security.  What does get people going are violent shocks to their everyday world. Things like finding your home’s been ransacked, or facing a gunman on the sidewalk. . . If people don’t feel safe, a computer’s worth of data and spreadsheets likely won’t persuade them otherwise. That’s where human contact and conversation comes in, starting at the top and spreading to cops on the beat.  Perception can trump reality if people’s emotions keep them from believing that crime really is on the run.

Meanwhile, Marcia Killingsworth reminds readers that crime isn’t really down at all in some parts of the city:

Just to refresh your memories, here are some crime stats, beginning with some[] from an AJC piece on February 8 – six months ago – that should have burst Shirley [Franklin's] double bubble:
  • In East Lake and part of Kirkwood, violent crime jumped 53 percent.
  • Robberies went up in four beats and made a 71 percent jump from 2007 to 2008 in the East Lake/Kirkwood area.  (Atlanta police point to the explosion of two crimes; burglars kicking in doors to get to flat-screen televisions and thieves swiping GPS units from cars.)
  • East Atlanta has been hit the hardest. Since 2006, home burglaries ballooned by 147 percent. Other thefts, classified as larcenies, jumped by 87 percent.

In our little southside neighborhood of Ormewood Park, between 2007 and 2008, burglaries nearly doubled, 67 burglaries in 2007 and 125 in 2008.

Atlanta Unfiltered has crime ticking up dramatically, too.

Stephanie Ramage at Sunday Paper argues that not only are crime statistics being cooked, but that Chief Pennington had a similar culinary history in New Orleans, where he worked last (before being brought to Atlanta through the efforts of Mayor Franklin’s now-deceased ex-husband):

APD Chief Richard Pennington was lauded in New Orleans for bringing down the number of that city’s reported incidents of crime, yet shortly after Pennington left to become Atlanta’s chief in 2002, some high-ranking officers were fired for tampering with New Orleans’ crime reports.  Pennington brought his numbers game with him to the APD which already had its own shameful history of cooking the books. As reported by the New Orleans Times Picayune on Oct. 24, 2003, “a review of more than 700 reports written in the 1st District from January 2002 to June 2003 found 42 percent of crimes were incorrectly classified and another 17 percent were ‘questionable.’ More than 200 of the downgraded incidents found in the sample studied were serious crimes that included violence or threats…”

Ramage cites Atlanta neighborhood websites where residents are busy documenting individual incidents of police failing to take reports that reflect the real nature of crimes:

According to recent postings on its neighborhood website, citizens in Kirkwood have reported break-ins only to have the police discourage them from filing reports (go to “Message Boards,” then “Public Safety” and select the thread on “Crime Reporting and the APD.”)  One resident, J. C., sums up the trend by enumerating previous postings by other residents:

  • “#1 S. W. – ‘When we called again the next day, both the 911 operator and the officer that responded to the call kept telling us that we didn’t need to make a report unless we were making an insurance claim.’
  • #2 S. C. – ‘A house of my client was broken into on Cottage Grove last week and it was only after becoming insistant that the officer pulled the already completed case number card out of her pocket and gave it to the owner.’
  • #3 J. C. – ‘The KSP [Kirkwood Security Patrol] officer, as usual, was awesome to us, but the police officer APD sent really tried to dissuade us from filing a report.’
  • #4 A KNO Board Member – Had a shed break-in, and the officer was unwilling to file a report until they insisted.”

C. continues, “These are not isolated incidents, and four independent occurrences indicate to me a larger problem at hand. I truly think this is a systemic problem from the top down, namely Franklin/Pennington, and not a bottom up problem from the officer level.”

Ramage concludes:

A police officer in fear of losing his job told me last week, on condition of anonymity, “The current administration says if a car window is broken and nothing is taken, it’s ‘damage to property,’ not ‘entering auto.’ Unfortunately, central records ultimately has final say-so on how an incident is classified.” That is a quote, word for word.

How many crimes-in-progress get interrupted this way?  In my old neighborhood, it sounds to me, quite conservatively, that it must be at least three a week.

Just because people are stopping some criminals in the act, however, doesn’t mean the offenders are not out there preying on the innocent.  And the fact that civilians have taken on the task they are paying police to do is dangerous.  I find it amazing that elected officials, academicians, and many journalists are utterly incurious about these factors.  Their position — that people have no right to complain about crime if the crime rate (allegedly) has dropped — drips with presumption and contempt.

In cities like Los Angeles and New York, where people know the Chief of Police has their backs, the discussion is about stopping crime, not denying crime, whether or not the statistics are heading in the right direction.  In contrast, the utter corrosion of trust in Atlanta’s elected officials is not the result of people imagining non-existent danger.  The corrosion of trust has occurred because Pennington and Franklin are treating residents with non-imaginary contempt.  Here is Pennington in the AJC:

We have enough resources. . . Since I joined the force crime is down 25 percent.  Where is the chief?  Working hard for you and employing 30-plus years of professional training and experience on the job.

Well, right off the bat, as they say, he isn’t working hard for anyone, and he refuses to prove that he even shows up for work, which casts the rest of what he says in that editorial in a questionable light.

In response, Atlantans Together Against Crime (ATAC) founder Kyle Keyser points out that it took months of protests and lobbying to get the APD to put more officers on the streets, months while City Hall ignored residents’ requests:

Atlanta is getting more police officers and, specifically, more foot patrols. The city will start focusing on gangs — upping the Gang Task Force to 25 officers — and will do “sweeps” in areas of gang activity. They will also start enforcing the 11 p.m. curfew for city youth. Pennington admitted that criminals do not fear the APD. These measures are, in part, to send the signal: “We’re here and we’re watching you.”

Keyser sets the right tone by praising the Mayor and Chief for their recent stirring, but no more than is warranted.  Such is democracy, in an election year, in a city where residents know precisely how hard it is to get their leaders to stop denying the realities of crime on the streets:

The merit and efficacy of these measures will be for us to decide together, as they work alongside the efforts we’ve been taking in our own communities. We’ll either see the added benefits on our streets or we won’t. . .

To city hall I say, “Good morning!” Yes, they’ve woken up but they’ve been asleep too long. When I’m stirred awake by the sirens of six cop cars chasing down eight masked perpetrators in my driveway — as I was this past weekend — sleep isn’t an option.

It shouldn’t be for my city leadership either.

Is There a Tipping Point with Crime? A Tipping Point for Crime Prevention?

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In Chicago, 225 people were shot in July, and 42 of them died from their wounds.  In one night alone, a dozen people were shot; on another night, six men were murdered.

In Baltimore, last Sunday, 18 people were shot in five different incidents.  In the Baltimore Sun, Peter Hermann and Arthur Hirsch profiled an emergency room nurse on duty throughout the carnage:

After she’d helped a man who had been shot three times into a wheelchair, after an SUV had delivered another shooting victim and two more men had walked past with bloodied T-shirts covering their wounds, nurse Cindy Barber began to wonder just what was unfolding in the Johns Hopkins emergency room.  “Are there more coming?” she asked herself. “Is someone still after them, and are they going to come here?”

Even as the New York Times insists that crime isn’t a problem, that crime statistics are down (a phenomenon they predictably attribute to everything under the sun except locking people up), several cities are seeing explosions of violence rivaling, or exceeding, previous years’ records.

Or the casualty rates of war zones.

Yet, it is true, the highest crime rate spikes seem to burn themselves out.  Not that crime ever really drops to the point of not being a problem, but extremely violent neighborhoods do get pulled back from the brink.  Given the summer that’s shaping up in Baltimore, Chicago, and, to a lesser degree, Atlanta, it’s worth asking what works when the crime rate spikes from endemic to epidemic.

Thirteen years ago, Malcolm Gladwell (of “Tipping Point” fame) published an interesting article about crime epidemics and broken windows policing in the New Yorker:

In 1993, there were a hundred and twenty-six homicides in the [Seventy-Fifth Precinct]. Last year, there were forty-four. There is probably no other place in the country where violent crime has declined so far, so fast. Once the symbol of urban violence, New York City is in the midst of a strange and unprecedented transformation. According to the preliminary crime statistics released by the F.B.I. earlier this month [1996], New York has a citywide violent-crime rate that now ranks it a hundred and thirty-sixth among major American cities, on a par with Boise, Idaho.

Atlanta has already done one of the things New York City did back in the 90′s: it shut down its high-density, high-crime public housing projects.  Closing the doors on Grady Homes and Techwood Homes (a move that drove many problem residents outside city limits) probably accounts for most of the reduction in the city’s crime rate during the last decade.  Maybe the question criminologists should be asking is this: “If we control for the demolition of previous high-crime zones, should crime actually be lower than it is right now?”

I also suspect that severe outbursts of violent crime do “burn themselves out” because certain neighborhoods literally self-destruct, with offenders killing each other off or finally going to prison for substantial sentences.

However, “waiting until the last guy goes out in a cavalcade of bullets, hopefully without taking too many innocent eight-year olds with him” is not public policy.  Nor is clicking the red shoes and insisting: “But things were so much worse in 1993!”

Isn’t it better to throw the book at young gang-bangers the very first time they get caught stealing a television set, rather than burying them, or their victims, two or three years down the line?

Blogging Crime Versus “Disappearing” It: Chicago and Atlanta

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Chicago:

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

Take a look at two different sources discussing the Taste of Chicago event.  First, there is the official statement, reported in the Chicago Tribune:

The volatile vibe remained at this year’s holiday fireworks and food festival along Chicago’s lakefront, and authorities Saturday detailed the arrests of eight people accused of carrying guns or knives and several fights that triggered stampedes for the exits Friday evening.

Unlike last year’s pre-July 4 celebration — when one person was killed and several were injured — police said no one was shot in the vicinity of the Taste of Chicago on Friday.

“No Shootings This Year,” reads the headline, a low bar to set.  But is it true?  Here is Mike Doyle, reporting from the blog Chicago Carless:

To compare the stories, I jotted down a thumbnail list of each version of events–the official, and the insider. Here’s what I found:

Events Reported to News Media by City Officials

–One gun-related arrest in afternoon (gang member with shotgun in bag.)
–Arrests for unspecified reasons at Buckingham Fountain at 8:30 p.m.
–No mention of early fireworks start.
–One major fight at 9:45 p.m. (30-person gang melee at Michigan and Congress.)
–Various small, unspecified incidents.

Events Reported by Second City Cop Blog

–Gang members “take over” Buckingham Fountain area and by one account officers are told by police commanders (“Gold Stars”) to “leave it alone, let them have it.”
–911 dispatchers report two people shot at Buckingham Fountain.
–A potential effort (noted here and here) to silence radio reports of shots fired or gang fights.
–Gangster Disciples “50 deep” walking through Taste grounds and throwing gang signs.
–Latin Kings platooning along Roosevelt Road and heading towards Taste grounds.
–Multiple gang fight calls (10-1s.)
–”Numerous chases” and “multiple weapons recovered.”
–Fireworks start at least half-an-hour early.
–At least ten significant gang fights along Michigan Avenue in addition to the large melee as crowds left the southern end of the Taste grounds.

Next, I checked in with my Twitter followers and performed several searches of Twitter’s public timeline to look for tweets that might bear out the Second City Cop version of events. Here’s a sampling of what I found:

“my first year at the taste of chicago fireworks and go figure a shooting occurs 10 ft away from me!” (@chibookgrl, 7:00 p.m. Jul 4th)

Doyle’s appeal for more information bring in detailed accounts of fights and even a possible shooting.  Cops are under enormous pressure to downgrade crimes.  Prosecutors are under enormous pressure to write off charges.  How much crime gets “disappeared” these ways?

Atlanta:

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the activity of court-watching is providing residents with criminal-by-criminal details of crimes that could have been prevented, if only some judges would actually incarcerate some offenders at some point in their fulsome careers.  Here is only the latest career criminal, finally put away, thanks probably to the mere fact that, this time, somebody was watching when he walked into the courtroom, as reported by intrepid IntownWriter and court-watcher Marcia Killingsworth:

Arrested over 27 times and with three prior felony convictions, Andre Keith Grier returned to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob’s courtroom this week. This time, he came to enter guilty pleas to negotiated charges. . . .

Here’s the final outcome on the three cases:

  1. Robbery and Burglary:  15 years to serve 10 years; balance probated. The conditions of his probation are a drug evaluation and treatment, a job, and to stay away from Zone 6.
  2. Theft by Receiving Stolen Property:  10 years to serve
  3. Entering Automobile:  5 years to serve
    Theft by Taking:  10 years to serve to run concurrent
    Possession of Tools:  5 years probation consecutive with the same terms as Case 1 and restitution to the victim.

“All of cases run currently, so the total sentence is 15 years to serve 10 years with balance on probation,” Schwartz says. “Although he is parole eligible, with his record and the robbery charge he is not likely to be paroled until he has completed the majority of his sentence.”

Make that armed robbery charges.  Holding a gun to somebody’s head ought to be enough to get you sent away for ten years, no questions asked, but that does not always turn out to be the case.  I am hesitant to criticize judges at precisely the juncture when they being to respond to citizen demands for real incarceration for serious crimes, but I still have to ask — what happened in court the other 24 times he was arrested?

And that leads to another question: whither those other 24 alleged crimes?  What becomes of them, statistically?

Killingsworth reminds readers:

Fulton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Andrew Schwartz says he believes the presence of neighborhood representatives made a difference. “In my opinion, the reason Mr. Grier received this sentence is because of your community’s involvement and willingness to come to court.”

Here is a notice from the Fulton County CourtWatch about a pending case involving another serious repeat offender.  Several things about his record stand out:

–Demetrius Lester is an 17-Time Convicted Felon.*
–Lester is charged with 3 Felonies – Theft by Receiving (Auto), Criminal
Damage to in the Second Degree and Fleeing & Attempting to Elude.
* The previous notice stated that Lester had 18 prior felony
convictions.  Another review showed that one Burglary case had been
reduced to Theft by Receiving (Misdemeanor).  Therefore, he has 17 prior
convictions.

Seventeen convictions.  What on earth were the sentences?  There are repeat offender laws in Georgia.  If they have so little teeth, or if some loophole is enabling judges to ignore them, why isn’t the legislature doing something about it?

Not to make light of this man’s behavior, but when I looked up his state prison record, I could not help but be amazed by the number of aliases he has accumulated:

KNOWN ALIASES
A.K.A. HAWKINS,DENICO
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETERIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRE
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRIC
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRIUS MICHAEL
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRTIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUIS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUIS MICHA
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUIS MICHAEL
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETTUIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMTRIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DOMETRE
A.K.A. RACKO,FREDDY
A.K.A. ROOKS,TRAVIS
A.K.A. SMITH,DARRLY
A.K.A. SMITH,DARRYL
A.K.A. VESTER,DEMETRIUS
A.K.A. WOODS,ANTONIO

Freddy Racko? That’s not a very good alias.  If I met somebody named Freddy Racko, I would assume they were doing something illegal.

OK, back to not being amused. Lester/Hawkins/Racko/Rooks/Smith/Vester/Woods has three separate burglary convictions.  Two homes and a church, this man entered.  Four separate convictions for breaking into cars.  One conviction for possession of firearm by a felon.  Not one, but two terrorist threats and acts convictions.  Two obstructions of a law enforcement officer.  One criminal interference of government property.

Eight separate stints in state prison, and who knows how many arrests.  This is beyond revolving door justice.  More from Fulton County CourtWatch:

Facts:  Around 10:00AM on Tuesday June 9, 2009, Officers J. Storno and
I. Streeter of Zone 3 saw the Defendant driving without a seatbelt in
the area of Grant Terrace and Georgia Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30312 (between
NPU-W and NPU-V).  Upon initiating a traffic stop, the Defendant sped
away at a high rate of speed and in a manner that was dangerous to the
public.  At one point, the vehicle flew off the ground and caused a
smoky haze upon landing.  The Defendant finally hit a telephone pole and
fled on foot.  Officers Storno and Streeter were eventually able to
apprehend the suspect after an extended chase.

I have spoken to the victim of the car theft.  He has been left without
a vehicle and has endured a significant financial hardship as a result
of having his car stolen.  His vehicle was a total loss and the
insurance company had to pay off his lien-holder, leaving the victim
without a car. Fortunately, no one was injured during Defendant’s
attempt to elude the police but, according to the officers, he was
driving in a manner that easily could have injured someone.  Defendant
is also suspected in other car break-ins in the Summerhill and Grant
Park neighborhoods.  One incident was caught on video and posted on You
Tube, but a positive ID was not able to be made.

Criminal History:  Defendant has 17 felony convictions, including 5
prior convictions for Entering Auto (all in Fulton County), 3 prior
convictions for Burglary (2 residential, 1 for burglarizing the Georgia
Avenue Presbyterian Church), as well as convictions for Terroristic
Threats, Interference with Government Property and Sale of Marijuana.  I
have obtained certified copies of all of his convictions and will be
presenting them in court.

The District Attorney is asking for the maximum penalty which is 16
years in prison (10 years for Theft by Receiving, 5 years for Criminal
Damage to Property in the Second Degree and 12 months for Fleeing and
Attempting to Elude).  However, under the law, the judge can sentence
the Defendant to anything, including straight probation.  The District
Attorney has recidivised the Defendant under OCGA 17-10-7(c), therefore
the Defendant will have to serve every day of the prison sentence he is
given, if any, without parole.

Community Support is greatly appreciated to keep this repeat offender
incarcerated.

So what is the problem?  It’s called 17-10-7 of the Georgia Code.  It requires people convicted of a second felony to serve their entire sentence.  Sounds good, right?  Except there is nothing in Georgia’s recidivist code that prevents judges from suspending that entire sentence after delivering it.  Thus Freddy Racko can climb into your car, steal it, endanger police and civilian lives, and total the car — yet still walk away without a single day in prison.

Hopefully, it won’t happen this time.  But how many times has it happened with Racko(Lester) before?  How many times, outside those 17 convictions, have charges against him been dropped?  How many charges were dropped in the process of assigning those 17 felonies?  It boggles the mind.

And remember, those are only the times he got caught.

More on Emergency Medicine and Murder Statistics

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A subscription is required to read the study I talked about on Friday.  It is titled “Murder and Medicine, The Lethality of Criminal Assault, 1960 – 1999.”  Here is the abstract:

Despite the proliferation of increasingly dangerous weapons and the very large increase in rates of serious criminal assault, since 1960, the lethality of such assault in the United States has dropped dramatically. This paradox has barely been studied and needs to be examined using national time-series data. Starting from the basic view that homicides are aggravated assaults with the outcome of the victim’s death, we assembled evidence from national data sources to show that the principal explanation of the downward trend in lethality involves parallel developments in medical technology and related medical support services that have suppressed the homicide rate compared to what it would be had such progress not been made. We argue that research into the causes and deterability of homicide would benefit from a “lethality perspective” that focuses on serious assaults, only a small proportion of which end in death.

Homicide Studies, Vol. 6, No. 2, 128-166 (2002)
DOI: 10.1177/108876790200600203

Here is a brief article describing the study — one that does not require a subscription.  Note:

In the research [Dr. Anthony Harris] and a team from Massachusetts University and Harvard Medical School found that technological developments had helped to significantly depress today’s murder rates, converting homicides into aggravated assaults.
“Without this technology, we estimate there would be no less than 50,000 and as many as 115,000 homicides annually instead of an actual 15,000 to 20,000,” they say in a report of the study in the journal Homicide Studies (2002;6:128-66).
Another way of looking at this is that 50,000 to 115,000 attempted murders are defined down to aggravated assault each year.  And we know how fluid sentencing may be for aggravated assault.  In Atlanta, a young man who fired a gun outside a crowded club, striking his target three times, was sentenced earlier this year by Judge Marvin Arrington to “staying in school.”  Thus are crime stats and prison costs kept in check — on the backs of the rest of us.
We still pay for all of those lifesaving medical interventions, however, even if such costs do not show up in Pew Center studies advocating for “community sentencing” and other alternatives to incarceration — alternatives like telling a gun criminal to “stay in school” instead of sending him to prison.

Summer Months, Crime Statistics, Emergency Medicine, and Aggravated Assault

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Summer is here, and as blogger Second City Cop observed, Chicago is already experiencing blood shortages due to violent crimes:

Doctors [at Chicago's Stroger Hospital] say the facility’s supply of O-negative blood is dwindling. . .

“Tonight we may be in a very tough situation,” Dr. Dennis said. “Because we’re that short on O-negative blood.” . . .

Dr. Dennis says the reason for the shortage is the high numbers of victims of shootings and other violent crimes who come to Stroger Hospital for life-saving treatment.

“We see probably an average of between 10 and 15 people who get shot or stabbed every night,” Dr. Dennis said.

And this bring up an interesting point about crime statistics.  Much statistical analysis of crime relies on the murder rate, for it is assumed that murders are recorded consistently and accurately, moreso than any other type of crime.  However, when you compare murder rates across the past fifty years (usually this is done to make the case that peoples’ fears about crime are unfounded, because the murder rate is quite stable), you need to consider advances in emergency medicine today compared to ten, thirty, or fifty years ago.

Contemporary emergency and post-emergency care saves the lives of many crime victims who would have died in 1960, or even 1980, from identical injuries.  In other words, the murder rate would be significantly higher today if we were still using 1960′s (or 80′s)-era medicine to treat all the shooting and stabbing victims who roll into our emergency rooms.  This must be taken into account when making arguments about the prevalence of crime.

How much higher would the murder rate be if emergency medical care had not improved dramatically?  You can’t look to the “attempted murder” rate for answers because attempted murder is not a criminal charge that gets used very often (almost never in some states).  It is best to look at rates for aggravated assault if you want the most accurate measure of changes in violent crime between, say, 1960 and 2007.

Here is the murder rate for those two years:

  • 1960 murder rate:  5.1 (per 100,000 inhabitants, for all numbers)
  • 2007 murder rate:  5.6

Here is the aggravated assault rate:

  • 1960 aggravated assault rate:  86.1
  • 2007 aggravated assault rate:  283.8

So the murder rate rose 9.8% between 1960 and 2007.

But the aggravated assault rate rose 229% over the same time.

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

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

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

The convicted-and-imprisoned-sex-offenders-only database also revealed a chilling reality: many of the prolific rapists whose DNA matched other sex assaults had only ever been convicted of non-sex crimes such as drug crimes, burglary, and robbery.

Any prosecutor of a certain age will tell you that, before DNA evidence, it was so difficult to prosecute rapists that prosecutors often made the choice to allow rapists to plead to non-sex offenses such as burglary just to (temporarily) get them off the streets.  This strategy was directed at serial, stranger sex offenders who were known to the cops but managed to avoid conviction because the public was so resistant to finding anyone guilty of rape.  Taylor’s database made this injustice to victims visible.

Unfortunately, the types of injustice (to victims) and justice (against offenders) the database revealed was of little interest to the media.

Nevertheless, for several years, Georgia’s DNA database quietly withstood efforts by “civil rights” activists to shut it down.  In 2000, the legislature expanded DNA testing to all incarcerated felons: 70 crimes were immediately solved, including serial rapes committed by convicts who had no prior rape convictions.

In 2007, the legislature expanded the database again, adding felony probationers — that weird category, the existence of which should splash some cold water on heartfelt feelings that we are far too harsh in sentencing and imprisoning criminals.  In the real world, even violent felons still routinely walk away with nothing more than probation for their crimes.

As of a year ago, thanks to the expansion of the database, 12 of these “felony probationers” were linked to serious crimes through DNA.  That’s 12 fewer violent offenders on the streets.

Still, no paper.  Few headlines.  Fewer editorials.  And, eventually, Georgia began to fall behind other states in DNA databasing.

As I write this, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has briefly emerged from his offender-kumbaya-fervor to sign a bill requiring all people arrested for felonies to submit DNA samples for analysis — just like they submit photographs and fingerprints.  Florida now joins 20 other states that are using DNA to investigate and solve crimes (Denver D.A. Mitchell R. Morrissey has a good website explaining the use of DNA in the courts).

But Georgia still languishes on the list of states that do not require DNA samples to be drawn upon arrest for a felony.  Here is a chart comparing state laws from the DNA Resource Report.

In 2008, the Georgia Legislature did pass Senate Bill 430, which started out as a felony arrestee DNA database bill but got watered down through the legislative process.  It emerged as little more than a statement affirming that prosecutors may ask the GBI to check a suspect’s DNA sample against the existing database so long as “the sample was obtained through a search warrant, consent of the suspect, court order, or other lawful means.”  Then it concludes: “The bureau [GBI] shall not add a DNA profile of any such suspect to any DNA data bank except upon conviction.”

In other words, a bill that started out attempting to add felony arrestees to the state database morphed into a bill specifically restricting arrestee DNA from being added to the state database.  I’d like to know the story behind this watering-down, particularly as it occurred at the same time when other states were successfully expanding their DNA databases to include felony arrestee samples under certain conditions.

Why did Georgia fold?  Is there another bill in the works?

If you still aren’t convinced that arrestee DNA databasing is an urgent need, take a look at the website for DNA Saves, the organization Dave and Jayann Sepich started after their daughter Katie was raped, strangled and set on fire in New Mexico in 2003.  Her offender was arrested and convicted of several other crimes, but his DNA had never been databased, so her murder went unsolved and he went free to continue attacking women for three years after Katie’s death.

How many victims of murder and rape in Georgia would have been protected by such a law?

Meanwhile, here is a statement from FDLE commissioner Gerald Bailey to the St. Petersburg Times correcting some of its inaccurate and fear-mongering press on the issue of arrestee DNA:

A valuable tool in fighting crime

Your editorial regarding the new Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA database legislation failed to provide the public with a full picture.

This initiative, once funded, will expand Florida’s DNA database to include samples from persons arrested for felonies. The process is no different from the way Florida already stores and handles fingerprints from arrests. Like the current law on fingerprints, the DNA legislation has provisions for removal of the file when a person arrested for a felony meets certain requirements.

The database in its current form has been a great investment for our citizens; every month it generates an astounding 230 hits. These hits match an unknown DNA sample left at a crime scene to a known felon whose DNA is already on file, or links two or more unsolved crimes. It’s an invaluable investigative tool.

Including felony arrests means more samples in the DNA database and more crimes solved. It also means crimes will be solved faster and, most important, crimes will be prevented. Taking DNA at the first felony arrest ensures that DNA is taken from those offenders who evade felony conviction time and time again. It ensures that DNA from the first felony will be matched to that offender’s next crime, halting further victimization and saving lives.

Florida becomes the 21st state to take samples from felony arrestees. There is no other tool that can prevent violent crimes as efficiently and effectively as this. The Legislature got it right. Our citizens expect this level of protection. I think they deserve it.

Gerald Bailey, commissioner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tallahassee

I certainly deserved it: too bad it wasn’t there to help me in Florida when I needed it.  Worse, too bad it still doesn’t exist to protect victims in Georgia.