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Will Privatizing Child Protection Protect Georgia’s Children? Yes and No.

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uKnnT.Em.56

As Georgia prepares to follow in Florida’s footsteps in privatizing child protection services, there has been a lot of politicking but little talk about the real issues that lead to failures to protect children “in the system.”  Privatization in Florida has been a very mixed bag, with some counties improving their performance and other counties mired in scandals involving the private non-profit agencies hired to protect children.  It’s reasonable to expect that Georgia will fare a little better, but don’t expect the failure rate to drop — or rise — significantly.

The failures lie in policies enforced by the courts, and nobody is talking about reforming those policies.

Like Florida, Georgia plans to eventually privatize the services that come after an investigation has determined a child is in danger, namely: foster care, family “reunification” interventions, and adoption.  State workers will continue to be responsible for investigating abuse, and courts will still be responsible for deciding if a child should be removed from a home, returned to a home, or adopted.

Private agencies do a great job with adoption, and some of them do a better job than the state in supervising foster care.  Much of this care is already done through public-private partnerships in Georgia.  But in all the politicized talk about private versus public, little has been said about the real  problem with our child protection services.

The problem is the mandate to keep families together or achieve “reunification” as soon as possible.

Approximately a decade ago, many states began to move towards a model of keeping families together, no matter the cost.  Florida went further than Georgia, though it wasn’t an issue tied to privatization because that part of child protection is still performed by state agencies.

And now Florida is counting the bodies.

In an extraordinary report, the Miami Herald investigated the deaths of 477 children who  had prior contacts with child protection services.  477 — since just 2008.  The Herald makes a strong case for blaming the mandate for “family preservation” for many of those deaths:

They tumbled into canals and drowned, baked in furnace-like cars, were soaked in corrosive chemicals, incinerated, beaten mercilessly, and bounced off walls and concrete pavement. One was jammed into a cooler posthumously; others were wrapped like a mummy to silence their cries, flattened by a truck, overdosed and starved. An infant boy was flung from a moving car on an interstate. A 2-year-old girl was killed by her mom’s pet python.

The children were not just casualties of bad parenting, but of a deliberate shift in Florida child welfare policy. DCF leaders made a decision, nearly 10 years ago, to reduce by as much as half the number of children taken into state care, adopting a philosophy known as family preservation. They also, simultaneously, slashed services, monitoring and protections for the increased number of children left with their violent, neglectful, mentally ill or drug-addicted parents.

Public or private, the child protection system is dealing with multigenerational problems that are far more severe than most people realize.  It’s easy to criticize government social workers, or to lash out at efforts by private agencies.  The hard part is acknowledging that “family preservation” may be the wrong goal:

Rather than go to court to force parents to get treatment or counseling, the state often relied on “safety plans” — written promises by parents to sin no more. Many of the pledges carried no meaningful oversight. Children died — more than 80 of them — after their parents signed one or, in some cases, multiple safety plans.

• Parents were given repeated chances to shape up, and failed, and failed and failed again, and still kept their children. In at least 34 cases, children died after DCF had logged 10 or more reports to the agency’s abuse and neglect hotline. Six families had been the subject of at least 20 reports.

The decision to prioritize family unification was made by bureaucrats and politicians from across the political spectrum.  Liberals defend state agencies and argue that biological parents should receive as many resources as possible to keep their children; conservatives argue for the primacy of family and against state involvement.  Failure is bipartisan:

“It’s the system that’s broken. When numbers take over instead of outcomes for people, you are doomed to failure,” said James Harn, a 30-year law enforcement officer who spent his last nine years as a commander supervising child abuse investigators at the Broward Sheriff’s Office before leaving a year ago. “They want to keep families together, but at what cost?”

Prioritizing family preservation is just one policy error.  Others involve the increasingly hands-off attitude towards the family arrangements of women living on public services and the leniency granted to serial offenders in the courts.  
Social workers have had little power since the 1960′s to insist that women on welfare live alone with their children, rather than inviting a boyfriend, or a series of men into their state-subsidized homes.  These unattached men frequently abuse the children they are living with:

The night before Aaden Batista died, his killer played a baseball game on his Xbox, smoked marijuana and gave the toddler a bath.

As Aaden’s mother, Whitney Flower, worked as a medical assistant at a nearby hospital, Jason Padgett Sr. prepared the toddler for bed, putting on his diaper before, ultimately, viciously shaking him and slamming his head on the floor. . .

Aaden became part of the yearly count of children killed at the hands of paramours — child welfare’s oddly genteel term to describe boyfriends or girlfriends of custodial parents. Protecting children from abusive paramours is one of the great challenges facing the Department of Children & Families.

“Paramours are a huge red flag,” said Richard Gelles, dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as chairman of child welfare at the school. “They are enormously over-represented as the slayers of young children.”

Under-prosecution and under-incarceration, especially for domestic violence, presents another problem.  Expect this problem to grow worse as “Right on Crime” Republicans, left and right-wing libertarians, leftists, and liberals join forces to shrink our criminal  justice system and empty the prisons.  Their political kumbaya moment is going to mean more violence, more crime, and more murders.   You need only peruse the Miami child death report to find evidence of hundreds of people who have been granted serial leniency in our allegedly-harsh justice system:

In the pre-dawn hours of May 5, 2009, Jasmine Bedwell had to make a decision: Take more blows or more chokes — but try to rescue her son from the clutches of her enraged boyfriend — or go find help. She left and borrowed a cellphone to call 911.

 
 
 

 

 

Martin Preib versus the Innocence Industry

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An amazing article by Martin Preib, a Chicago cop who exposes the dark underbelly of the “innocence” industry, in which scores of law and journalism students and their professors resort to deception in their desire to play Atticus Finch to criminals who aren’t really wrongful convicted:

Wrongful conviction settlements are big business, but they are not always sensible. Chicago settles millions of dollars in cases where convicted offenders claim they were wrongfully convicted.

For a number of law firms, suing the city over wrongful convictions has become a kind of cottage industry. Inmates claim they were tortured and coerced into confessing. The offenders are freed from prison. Attorneys quickly initiate civil lawsuits against the city. Many people assume that a settlement signifies the police were culpable and had something to hide.

But this is not the truth in several key wrongful conviction cases, none more so than the Anthony Porter case, a double murder in 1982 in Washington Park on the South Side.

Preib shows how students and professors at Northwestern University and post-conviction lawyers didn’t even bother to interview the detectives involved in the conviction of Anthony Porter when they tried to exonerate Porter years later:

One common theme permeates the entire wrongful conviction movement: the police are crooked, willing to coerce confessions from the wrong man, willing to frame the wrong man, torture him, even. Police are often accused of racism in wrongful conviction cases, that they don’t care about African-American suspects or their communities. Many of these accusations were lobbed against the detectives in the Porter case, one of the most crucial wrongful conviction cases in the state’s history.

That Martin Preib could singlehandedly, with no resources, uncover more evidence than armies of well-connected, well-funded professors, students, and lawyers speaks volumes about the dynamics of post-conviction criminal justice activism.

The media repeats the claims of the Innocence Industry uncritically and dumbly parrots their nonsensical “statistics” about so-called “causes of wrongful conviction” — statistics and causes that are a pure fabrication.  If the Innocence Project were actually trying to create real wrongful conviction statistics, they would have to do several things they don’t do now — first and foremost contextualize their cases within the numerical universe of rightful convictions.

They would also have to stop inventing “causes of wrongful conviction” that highlight only one aspect of a case, often something minor or irrelevant to the conviction but that serves their ideological interests.

They would have to acknowledge that the most common “cause” of wrongful conviction is being a criminal and running with other criminals.  Lying for a criminal friend, being a non-DNA depositing co-conspirator in a murder that leaves no witness, dealing in stolen items from the crime, and letting your own brother go to prison in your place are all causes of wrongful conviction that you won’t find anywhere in the Innocence Project’s highly touted “statistics.”

Several of the Innocence Project’s most high-profile clients are serial rapists popped for the wrong crime BECAUSE they were committing similar crimes in the area or had done so elsewhere.  The media avoids mentioning this part of the story because they want to act out their own Atticus Finch drama.  Fabulist journalists go looking only for the story they want to hear, as Prieb demonstrates:

One wonders when journalism professors started teaching students to get only one side of a story. It turned out that, during the Innocence Project  investigation, the detectives say that neither Protess [head of the Innocence Project at Northwestern] nor his journalism students ever attempted to sit down with the detectives and listen to their account.

Finally, many Innocence Project clients were not actually innocent at all.

See here and here for examples of the misbehavior of activists wanting to spring guilty men to gratify their own self-regard.

I have repeatedly urged Innocence Project activists to use some of their vast resources and manpower to try to identify offenders who got away with murder and rape.  Merely saying this is a great way to get laughed at — or accused of racism, the movement’s eternal fallback pose.

The Martin Preibs of this world toil on their own in the shadows to correct grotesque injustices, as the defense bar and their media lackeys labor to spring anyone and everyone from prison, regardless of their crimes.

Imagine if someone made that into a movie.

Crossing Lines: What’s Wrong with the Wrongful Conviction Movement by Martin Preib

Martin Preib’s Amazon Page

 

 

Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine Tortured and Killed People: Thank God They’re Not Hate Criminals

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Which in the eyes of our law makes their crimes less horrible, even if you kill dozens of people, piling up so many bodies you have to map out dump sites.

But, it was just women.  And a few little girls and babies.  And some men.  So you won’t hear Eric Holder fulminating about how important it is that we have Removed These Hate Criminals From Society.

Wesley Shermantine

Loren Herzog: Not a Killer Killer, Just a Manslaughterer

Oops, silly me.  We actually let Herzog go free.

Loren Herzog was released after anti-incarceration activists in California got his multiple murder sentence reduced to manslaughter with help from the California Appeals Court.  Score another point for our out-of-control rules of evidence.  Herzog confessed repeatedly and was read his rights repeatedly, but some lawyer colluding with a bunch of self-important judges decided that they would strike a blow for postmodern adjudication and overturned his murder convictions, giving him manslaughter instead.  Herzog then got time off for “good behavior” and walked out of prison in 2010.  The prosecutors had decided to bargain with him, rather than trust a jury to convict him again.  Why?  Probably because it’s California.

No word on why they didn’t even try to pop him for three strikes.  But three-strikes is unfair and has been overturned by the public.  In California.

Pretty sexist term, manslaughter.  Somebody should make a federal case about that.

Maybe then Eric Holder would be interested.

The Sixth Appellate District in California declared that their decision to throw out the multiple confessions in Herzog’s case should not be used to decide other cases.  In other words, they knew they were being grotesquely political in their actions but cut him loose anyway to make themselves feel above politics.  Judges’ self-esteem matters more than justice.

The San Joaquim Record weighed in with a ludicrous editorial about Herzog’s imagined “rehabilitation.”  Journalists like to see themselves as little balloons of righteous sensibility floating above the angry rabble:

[S]ince he could eventually be among us, we hope he succeeds.  We hope he becomes the productive member of society he so utterly failed to become before.

Aww, how touching.  How . . . rational.  But maybe it’s not the smartest Hallmark moment to hope for a serial killer to “succeed.”  That’s about as digestible as the court hemming and hawing about whether they should require Herzog to hold a job.  This is how the black robes spend your money, while money couldn’t be found to dig up and identify all the bodies.  Nobody was ashamed enough to tamp down the parroting rituals of the sacrament of rehabilitation, not even in this case.

The new normal in criminal justice is psychotic.  California is now well into demonstrating the logical endgame of the “root causes” theory of crime, which blames an unfair society, not criminals themselves, for the crimes they commit.  Root causes theory is the prerequisite for dehumanizing victims to the point that their offenders assume their place in the pantheon of sympathy emanating from courtrooms and newsrooms.  A mother can wait decades to get her daughter’s tooth or a bone fragment to bury, but there is a system in place to counsel serial killers on their job prospects when the state cuts them loose.

Michaela Garecht

Cyndi Vanderheiden

Kimberly Billy

Chevelle Wheeler

JoAnn Hobson

Now, if these murders were viewed as hate crimes, federal money would be raining down, and Herzog would have never, ever walked free . . . see how the game works?

Californians just voted to speed-dial their crime sentencing back to the Seventies.  A $2.4 million dollar donation from George Soros, and another cool million from Stanford Professor of Dismissing Murder David Mills greased the skids.  Expect more horrific injustices to pile up, like Herzog and Shermantine’s forgotten victims.

As ordinary criminal law gets gutted financially and ethically, the sanctimonious and prejudiced Hate Crimes enforcers scour the nation to make examples of people who use homophobic slurs while robbing people, or who spray paint ugly words on innocent sidewalks.  This is how we make some people less human than others.  Ironically, George Soros funds the hate crimes movement at the same time he funds movements to excuse other murderers.

The mere existence of hate crime laws makes the justice system deeply . . . unserious.  Maybe we should expect unserious outcomes.  When someone can admit killing a dozen people, and it doesn’t create outrage when he is released from prison, and the courts decide just to not try him for most of his crimes, while at the same time a faked racial slur sparks mass federal investigations and months of headlines, can anyone call that serious?

It’s not justice anymore: it’s a clown show.  Prostitution, not adjudication.  Holder and his peers have sold off pieces of our law enforcement system to the racial, ethnic and gay activists who scream the loudest, while bending over backward to “re-enter” ordinary murderers and rapists back into society.

As Judge Dredd says, there’s no justice, there’s just us.

This is Loren Herzog’s attorney Peter Fox, who crudely suggested that his victims get over their anger at Herzog.  ”It’s not fair to call him a killer.  He is just guilty of having the world’s worst friend,” is how Fox characterized Herzog, who regaled investigators with details of multiple, vicious killings committed with his friend Wesley Shermantine back when they were caught in 1999.  Here is one recent development:

A bag of remains returned by sheriff’s deputies to the mother of one victim was later determined by a forensic anthropologist to contain commingled fragments of at least two other people, one believed to be a long-missing child.

The only tiny silver lining on this fat cloud of horror?  Herzog killed himself last year when Shermantine, who is still on California’s death row, started telling police where to find more of the bodies.  Of course, until Herzog’s death he was using our tax dollars to litigate for himself, the type of litigation that we are required to pay for.  Meanwhile, investigating his murders is something the prosecutor’s office has to hold a bake sale to underwrite.

Prioritizing expenses is the least noticed part of the criminal justice system.  Vicious killers can wake up in the morning and demand a hearing on any frivolous thing, and they are provided with attorneys and court dates and endless bites at the apple to challenge the most absurd non-issues relating to their cases.  This is the world defense attorneys and the ACLU have built.  Meanwhile, their victims have to lobby to have the murder sites excavated so they can have something to bury — a bone or a tooth.

David Mills, “advocate for social justice”

Thanks, George Soros.  Thanks, Eric Holder.  Thanks, David Mills and the rest of the warped Law Professoriate, who can detect teardrops sparkling in the eyes of serial killers while mocking the mothers of murdered girls.  Thanks, especially, ACLU.  And thanks, voters of California.

The horror show you make is the horror show you now have to live with.

 

Al Sharpton: Why Doesn’t The Media Remember His “Whore” Moment?

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Don’t get me wrong: it’s always nice to see this disturbed hate-clown get even a little piece of what he deserves:

But Sharpton’s distaff comments about gays are not quite the right focus for the current scandal over Rush Linbaugh calling women s***s, Bill Maher calling women c***s, NPR comic Marc Maron wishing violent rape on Michelle Bachmann, or various other public figures and human rights activists dropping b-bombs and other slurs on women (note: by “various other public figures and human rights activists,” I mean every gay male political activist I’ve ever known, several well-placed professional lesbians, Salon’s entire “sex-positive” girl-staff, and the earth-shoe-wearing-man-heroes of the liberal Left).

Too few of the writers objecting to Sharpton’s play-doh-like transformation into cultural decency arbiter on MSNBC are recalling his really relevant slurs — the ones against the Central Park Jogger.

Sharpton and his sidekick Alton Maddox assembled and egged on protesters who called the jogger a “whore” and called her attorney “bitch,” “white devil,” “witch,” and “slut.”  He announced that he didn’t believe that she was actually raped or beaten into a coma.  Sickeningly, he demanded that she be examined by a psychiatrist and accused her boyfriend of being “the real” rapist.  He tried to incite violence against her, nearly succeeding, just as he threatened violence against the Pagones family after orchestrating Tawana Brawley’s false rape accusation against Steve Pagones.  Thanks to the racial hatred stirred up by Sharpton, the Jogger, who had been left for dead by her attackers and also left with brain injuries, was forced to arrive and leave the courthouse under heavy security.

Of course, there were no consequences for Sharpton . . .

Are commentators now worried about bringing up these subjects because of the subsequent vacating of the sentences of the Central Park’s Jogger’s assailants?  They shouldn’t worry: the acquittals were false.

As of today, Townhall’s Larry Elder is the only journalist who has mentioned the lynch-mob hatred Sharpton whipped up against the Jogger and, by extension, other white victims of interracial rape.  Elder writes:

In 1989, a young white woman, dubbed the “Central Park jogger,” was monstrously raped and nearly beaten to death. Sharpton insisted — despite the defendants’ confessions — that her black attacker-suspects were innocent, modern-day Scottsboro Boys trapped in “a fit of racial hysteria.” Sharpton charged that the jogger’s boyfriend did it and organized protests outside the courthouse, chanting, “The boyfriend did it!” and denouncing the victim as a “whore!”

Sharpton appealed for a psychiatrist to examine the victim, generously saying: “It doesn’t even have to be a black psychiatrist. … We’re not endorsing the damage to the girl — if there was this damage.”

Elder feels the need to note that the defendants in the Jogger case had their sentences vacated in 2002, but he didn’t look closely enough:

(The convictions of the accused were eventually vacated, despite their taped confessions, after another man — whose DNA matched — confessed to the rape in 2002.)

The vacating of those sentences was a travesty, orchestrated by activists, an aged and compromised Robert Morgenthau, and a cowardly judge, all of whom knew that the youths’ confessions were limited to information that was not in any way contradicted by the later revelation that the sole DNA found at the crime scene belonged to serial rapist/killer Matias Reyes.  None of the defendants’ confessions indicated that they had ejaculated at the scene of the crime: they had only admitted that another man committed the rape as they helped restrain and torture the young woman.

Reyes himself admitted the crime only after the statute of limitations reportedly ran out — which should never have happened.  He was already serving 33 to life, with the strong likelihood of no release for the serial rapist murderer, whose crime “signature” included offering victims “their eyes or their life” and stabbing them around the eyes to enhance the terror of his attacks.  Already convicted for vicious crimes including the rape/torture/murder of a pregnant woman in front of her children, Reyes’ subsequent “confession” that he was the sole assailant should never have been believed — nor did police and prosecutors involved in the case believe it.

”He is a complete lunatic,” said Michael Sheehan, a former homicide investigator whose work helped prosecute Mr. Reyes for the murder of Lourdes Gonzalez.

Ann Coulter documented the entire sordid saga of the vacating of the sentences in her book Demonic and was hysterically persecuted for doing so.  Prosecutor Linda Fairstein was accused of a wide variety of sins for speaking the truth about the evidence in the case: the few others defending the convictions were also tarred, but not in the personal, racial way reserved for Fairstein, the victim, and later, Ann Coulter.  The Village Voice stooped to new racial lows by insinuating guilt on the part of the victim, who implicated nobody as she remembered nothing of the attack, and sleazily accusing Fairstein of “Ash-blonde Ambition.”

Others who should have spoken out about the travesty of wrongful acquittal remained silent, doubtlessly out of fear of the racial cudgel.

Coulter courageously spoke out:

On April 19, 1989, a 28-year-old investment banker went for a run through Central Park, whereupon she was attacked by a violent mob, savagely beaten, raped and left for dead. By the time the police found her at 1:30 a.m. that night, she was beaten so badly, she had lost three-fourths of her blood and the police couldn’t tell if she was male or female. The homicide unit of the Manhattan D.A.’s office initially took the case because not one of her doctors believed she would be alive in the morning.Confessions were obtained in accordance with the law, with the defendants’ parents present at all police interrogations. All but one of the confessions was videotaped. After a six-week hearing solely on the admissibility of the confessions, a judge ruled them lawful.At the trials, evidence was ruled on by the judge and tested in court. Witnesses were presented for both sides and subjected to cross-examination.One witness, for example, an acquaintance of one of the defendants, testified that when she talked to him in jail after the arrests, he told her that he hadn’t raped the jogger, he “only held her legs down while (another defendant) f–ked her.” (That’s enough for a rape conviction.
In the opposite of a “rush to judgment,” two multi-ethnic juries deliberated for 10 days and 11 days, respectively, before unanimously finding the defendants guilty of most crimes charged — though innocent of others. The convictions were later upheld on appeal.The only way liberals could get those convictions overturned was to change venues from a courtroom to a newsroom. So that’s what they did.The convictions were vacated based not on a new trial or on new evidence, but solely on the “confession” of Matias Reyes.Coincidentally, this serial rapist and murderer had nothing to lose by confessing to the rape — and much to gain by claiming that he had acted alone, including a highly desirable prison transfer.As with the tribunals during the French Revolution, the show trials were based on a lie, to wit, that Reyes’ confession constituted “new evidence” that might have led to a different verdict at trial.In fact, Reyes’ admission that he had raped the jogger changed nothing about the evidence presented in the actual trials. It was always known that others had participated in the attack on the jogger. It was always known that none of the defendants’ DNA — a primitive science back in 1989 — was found on the jogger.This is why prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer said in her summation to the jury: “Others who were not caught raped her and got away.”The only new information Reyes provided was that he was one of those who “got away.”But 13 years later, the show trial was re-litigated in the backrooms of law offices and newsrooms by a remarkably undiverse group of Irish and Jewish, college-educated New Yorkers. They lied about the evidence in order to vindicate a mob and destroy trust in the judicial system.

The sentence vacating was orchestrated and exploited by Innocence Project activists who felt no compunction about subjecting a brutalized rape victim to injustice and even more unnecessary suffering.  It also greased Sharpton’s re-entry into power society — all on the back of an innocent rape victim.

(Guy in the middle is Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  Because hanging out with people who try to get mobs to attack a rape victim is so . . . educational.)

Now the Innocence Project  is codifying its lies about the Jogger’s assailants in their false science of “wrongful conviction causes” and shilling state-by-state legislation based on the same.

And abetting them are professors from every law school in the nation.  No legal academician, to date, has demonstrated a drop of intellectual integrity regarding this case or the entirely faked “statistics on wrongful confession,” “statistics” produced almost wholly from this single case.  Law professors collectively lack the spine — and ethics — to risk being targeted if they dare to question the Innocence Project’s increasingly wild statistical and causal claims.

Many people voiced compassion for the Jogger in 1989, but virtually nobody stood with her in the wake of this misogyny-drenched, manufactured, legal re-lynching.  This time, as we revisit Al Sharpton’s violent, prejudiced, hate-mongering, the real story should not be ignored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Times Lies About Another Cop-Killer: Sheriff Barrett Hill Was Murdered by Rob Will

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It’s Sunday.  That must mean the New York Times is lying about a murder case.  This time, reporter Brandy Grissom has slapped together an especially incredible whopper:

Appeal of Death Row Case Is More Than a Matter of Guilt or Innocence

Rob Will, Cop-Killer

The headline is the only factual part of the story.  Will’s latest appeal certainly is, as the headline writers put it, “more than a matter of guilt or innocence.”  It’s a demonstration of the lengths to which the New York Times and their hand-in-glove activists will go in order to mislead the public about our criminal justice system . . . particularly when the killer in question murdered a cop.

Deputy Sheriff Barrett Travis Hill

Robert Will killed Deputy Sheriff Barrett Travis Hill on December 4, 2000.  Hill was shot multiple times: his murder was gruesomely audible over police radio.  Chest, hand, face.  Will could have disabled the officer and fled, but once Barrett Hill was on the ground, he chose to kill him instead.  He then carjacked a woman, told her he killed a cop, forced her out at gunpoint, and fled.  He was caught with the murder weapon.

Ever since Robert Will was convicted, various attorneys have tried to pin the blame for DS Hill’s murder on Will’s criminal accomplice, Michael Rosario.  They’re not doing this because they care about Will, or care to capture Rosario: they do it because it’s the one argument they’ve got.  Every few years, advocates for Robert Will (paid for by us) produce additional “witnesses,” virtually all jailhouse snitches who (temporarily or transiently) claim that Rosario confessed to the crime, a claim Michael Rosario, of course, denies.  The real story of these witnesses is complicated, so the Times keeps their reporting on them very, very vague.  At different times, most of them actually refused to commit to testifying in court.  Nevertheless, the media myth keeps building, as in the Troy Davis case, that all of these “witnesses” were somehow blocked by court procedures from “telling the truth.”  Oddly, the Times story tells us nothing about Rosario’s current status or his response to the latest round of allegations against him: they work very hard to avoid looking too closely at him, because doing so wouldn’t suit their desired narrative.

With every “new witness,” an expensive legal game reboots.  In response, the state has repeatedly clarified the record by re-investigating and systematically ruling that each of these belated witnesses either had their chance to testify and refused, or that the defense themselves wouldn’t use them because they were hostile, or that they were, in fact, researched thoroughly despite allegations otherwise, or that they are so unbelievable that the court need not revisit the issue of Will’s guilt because they’ve come forward with unbelievable new stories.  Nevertheless, the games plays on, shifting only slightly over time.

Robert Will has had his day — his decade of days — in court.  The court has considered and rejected every new and unabashedly contradictory effort to invent or re-tread witnesses.  Robert Will himself is stuck with a particularly hard set of facts to transform into lies.  Yet this hasn’t slowed the liars, who call what they do “advocating” and sleep well at night because there are no consequences when defense attorneys make things up out of thin air . . . as admiring reporters pile on.

~~~

Also helping Will’s case is the theological realpolitik of death penalty reporting.  There are no atheists in Times’ newsrooms: they all believe deeply in the myth of their own infallibility.

For the Times, article of faith #1 is that being convicted of a crime means you’re the victim, doubly so if you have killed a police officer.  Dead cops whet their appetites.  The fact that Rosario — the supposed “real murderer” — is the son of a cop further whets appetites.  The Times mentions this twice in one article.  The editors didn’t have room to address the actual facts of the case, but readers certainly come away knowing that Michael Rosario’s dad once wore blue.

Now that Robert Will has burned through another round of habeas corpus, the Times is focusing its attention on sloppily retreading all of his previous failed appeals in an effort to promote their utterly risible default argument: that the system is stacked against him.  What really happened is that Robert Will lost his trial and was found guilty based on a very strong case, then lost multiple appeals based on a series of rejected claims about bias (policemen wearing their uniforms in the courtroom) and his pop-up alleged witnesses.  But everything old is new again in newsrooms and courtrooms.  Except evidence, of course.

The Times can’t explain away the facts, so they hide some of it and lie about the rest.  They hint at the discredited claim that Mr. Rosario shot the handcuffs off his colleague’s hands to free him.  They’re coy about it because they don’t want to acknowledge that this theory is a proven lie.  Here is the Times’ intentionally vague description:

At Mr. Will’s 2002 trial, his lawyers argued that after losing the other officer, Mr. Rosario found Deputy Hill and Mr. Will, shot the deputy, freed his friend and took off.

But there’s a problem: the handcuffs weren’t shot off anyone.  To say only that Mr. Rosario “freed his friend,” is to endorse a flimsy and laughable lie.  But who would know, unless they read the transcripts from all the appeals Will lost?

The whack-a-mole witnesses are grounds for a few more bald-faced deceptions.  Here is the Times, breaking all sorts of rules about objective reporting in their effort to make something out of the latest rejected “witness”:

Another key piece of testimony came from Mr. Will’s ex-girlfriend. At a 2011 hearing, she testified that Mr. Rosario had come to her apartment with blood on his pants and on one of his shoes. He told her that he had shot the deputy and then tried to shoot the handcuffs off Mr. Will.

This girlfriend has said, and not said, a lot of things over the years, while bouncing in and out of prison herself.  Not that you’d know this from reading the Times’ description of her latest version of events.  The girlfriend said nothing at all about this alleged conversation for years and just recently remembered it for a lawyer.  Now she says she did tell people, once, but that nobody asked her any follow-up questions, so she let the subject drop as her boyfriend got sent up for capital murder.  In a 2012 denial of one appeal, Judge Keith P. Ellison destroyed the girlfriend’s testimony, but the Times doesn’t mention that.  In 2012 and also in 2010, Judge Ellison similarly eviscerated the testimonies of the other belated, alleged, witnesses, along with all of the excuses Will’s lawyers made regarding admissibility of the same.  And, all the arguments about bias.  And, all the arguments about inadequate counsel.

The Times ignores all of this and insinuates that Judge Ellison is, instead, merely “agonized” over having to reaffirm Robert Will’s sentence.  Here is the Times’ summary of Judge Ellison’s decisions, which amounts to one quote plucked from an otherwise consistent repudiation of all of the claims Will’s lawyers have brought before the court over the years:

In his ruling denying a new trial, Judge Ellison said that the lack of physical evidence linking Mr. Will to the crime and the reports that Mr. Rosario had confessed gave him pause, but that he could not simply overturn the conviction. Judge Ellison wrote that Mr. Will had not presented enough evidence to show that Mr. Will’s claims of innocence and shoddy lawyering warranted a new trial. “The court laments the strict limitations placed upon it,” Judge Ellison wrote.

Here’s something Judge Ellison really wrote about that evidence, that the Times chose to ignore:

After hearing the gunshots, Deputy Kelly saw Will run from the area. As Deputy Kelly began looking for his partner, Will fled to a nearby apartment complex. Cassandra Simmons was dozing in her parked vehicle when Will opened her car door. Will ordered her outside and pulled at her arm. Ms. Simmons screamed as Will put a pistol to her neck. Will exclaimed that he had “just shot a policeman.” [Tr. Vol. 21 at 74]. Will stole Ms. Simmons’ car and drove away.

About a half hour later, searchers found the body of Deputy Hill approximately 470 feet from where Deputy Kelley had lost Rosario. The police conducted a thorough investigation of forensic evidence at the crime scene. The police recovered seven spent shell casings and two projectile fragments from the area near the body. Deputy Hill’s gun was in his holster, though it was not snapped shut. An investigator found Deputy Hill’s handcuffs on the ground, but later he could not remember whether they were in an opened or closed position. An autopsy revealed that Deputy Hill suffered gunshot wounds to the head, neck, chest, and wrist. Will’s blood was found on Deputy Hill’s shoe.

Will drove west after visiting his apartment. Will replaced the licence plates on Ms. Simmons’ car with ones that he stole from a parked vehicle. When the Washington County police took Will into custody around three-and-a-half hours later, he had a .40 caliber Sig Sauer pistol in his belt. Will’s handgun had three rounds left from a ten-bullet magazine. Will had a full gun magazine in his pocket. Will was bleeding from a wound on his left hand. The police found bloody gloves and bleached-out dark clothing in the car. Also, Will carried $2,300 cash in $100 bills. No gunshot residue was found on Will’s hands, though traces of gunshot residue were discovered in the paper bags the police placed over his hands. A later police search of the apartment of Will’s girlfriend turned up several guns and some stolen property.

The prosecution tied witness testimony and forensic evidence together into a coherent version of the events leading to Deputy Hill’s death.

~~~

Sins of omission + sins of commission = NYT reporting.

Here’s the opening lines of the Times article about Robert Will:

No one saw Rob Will shoot and kill Harris County Deputy Sheriff Barrett Hill in the still-black morning hours in a Houston bayou on Dec. 4, 2000. No physical evidence linked him to the murder.

Except the gun, and the fact that, as the judge points out, “Will’s blood was found on Deputy Hill’s shoe.”

The article ends with another particularly ugly dissimulation, this from one of those pathetic women who attach themselves to murderers.  She snapped at me that it was only one very teensy-weensy drop of Will’s blood on the dead deputy:

Dawn Bremer drives 90 miles from her Spring home to the state prison in Livingston to visit Mr. Will. She is among a cadre of advocates who believe [Rob Will] is innocent and fear he will be executed because of a legal technicality.

A legal technicality.  That’s what they call “losing your trial and ten years of appeals because you’re guilty as sin,” in Times argot.

Actually, the only technicality involved is the one that might save Will’s life.  If the courts allow for yet another expansion of activists’ ability to eternally retry settled cases, which is what is really at stake here, Will’s supporters might triumph over the facts of the case.  If that happens, it will be memorialized, not as a technicality slam-dunk, but as “proof of innocence.”  And the public will be instructed to believe, again, by the criminal fetishists embedded in the New York Times, that no conviction is legitimate.  More killers will go free, laughing, with their advocates, at the people who happen to believe that it matters when you kill a cop.

Robert Will is not innocent.  He has been convicted of murder.  His conviction has been upheld through ten years of appeals.  He is also not an innocent: he is a murderous gang-banger who attracts stupid or unhinged advocates with his “poetry” and scribblings as leader of the pseudo-revolutionary DRIVE movement (Death Row Inter-Communialist Vanguard Engagement).  He has his groupies and his poetry and scores of activist law students.  He has the criminal fetishists lobby of the Times, people who couldn’t locate a journalistic scruple if it bit them on the tush as they perched in the visitor’s room on death row, getting off on their own inflated roles in the fictions they’re creating.

Barrett Hill’s family have their memories of a good man who didn’t come home one day because he was brutally assassinated by a heartless thug.

~~~

If you want to read the real story of Robert Will’s appeals, you’ll have to do a little searching on the web: I can’t link them here.

Here, I think, is the 2010 Will vs. Quarterman (aka Will vs. Thaler):

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/texas/txsdce/4:2007cv01000/498690/44

And here is the 2012 decision:

http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/texas/txsdce/4:2007cv01000/498690/88/0.pdf?ts=1326894861

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Chances Instead of Three Strikes: Giovanni Ramirez and the Supreme Court

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Giovanni Ramirez has been arrested for inflicting permanent brain damage in the April near-death beating of Giants fan Bryan Stowe.  Some non-news regarding the arrest:

  • Ramirez is “at least” a three-time convict and a felon.
  • Ramirez is a convicted gun criminal.
  • Ramirez is a “documented gang member.”
  • Ramirez was not serving time at the time of the beating.  He was out on parole despite prior convictions for attempted robbery, robbery, and firing a weapon in a public place . . . at least.

Well, who could be surprised?  The headlines this week are about the Supreme Court decision forcing California to release 46,000 inmates on the grounds that their civil rights are violated by prison overcrowding.  Bad enough, but those 46,000 soon-to-be wrongfully freed offenders are only a fraction of the problem.  They, at least, ended up in prison for some portion of their sentences.

In addition to the 46,000, how many Giovanni Ramirezes are “wrongfully freed” by other means in California every year?  Why was Ramirez on parole, instead of being in prison?  Here’s another interesting, unasked question: did some prosecutor and/or judge allow him to plead down to “firing a weapon in a public place” in 2005 to make it easier to avoid applying California’s “three-strikes” law?  Did the prosecutor find some other excuse to avoid seeking three-strikes?  This type of thing happens every day.

In 2005, what were the real charges against Ramirez?  What sentences did he receive for attempted robbery in 1998 and robbery in 1999?  How much time did he serve, and how much time did he get off?

There’s no way to learn the answer to questions like this until somebody in Los Angeles unearths Ramirez’ entire criminal record, from arrests to final dispositions.  And reporters virtually never bother to do that.  The courts and the media collude to conceal basic information about criminal cases from the public.  Journalists don’t like risking their special access by embarrassing judges or prosecutors, so nobody asks the hard questions, such as this one:

Would Bryan Stow be at home playing with his children instead of hovering near death with profound brain damage if some L.A. judge had not granted Giovanni Ramirez an entirely unearned “third chance” in 2005?

When you start looking at complete criminal histories — pleas, dropped charges, nolle prosequi, et. al. — the justice system starts looking more and more like the hat check in a social club for unrepentant thugs.  I started this blog in 2009 when I learned of a judge in my old neighborhood who suffered no consequences (still hasn’t) for wrongfully releasing a serial offender who went on to kill a female cancer researcher.  Rather than spending her time in court examining the offender’s record and assigning the correct statutory punishment, the judge spent her time oohing and ahhing over a wedding dress website with the offender and praising him for “rehabilitating” himself so creatively.

The prosecutor also dropped the ball, but if judges don’t accept responsibility for what happens in their courtrooms, why bother calling them judges?

This terrible dereliction of duty went to the heart of the problem: the judge treated the predator like a victim and also as a sort of Oprah-esque hero of his own life.  She used our resources and her authority to inflate his self-esteem and her own sense of magnanimity, instead of punishing him and protecting us.  And an innocent woman died a horrible death because of it.

Unsurprisingly, the wedding dress website was a scam.  That tacky aside illustrates an important fact:

The only real rehabilitation is consequences.

Judicial rulings like this are frighteningly routine: judges on ego trips walk into courtrooms and see, in prisoners, a reward-rich private constituency. Grandstand on their behalf, and you win approval from all the places where approval matters to any ambitious judge: law faculty, the ABA, the academic research class, liberal activists, and huge swaths of the federal judiciary positioned between your bench and the Supreme Court.  Also, during administrations like this one, the Justice Department.

Not to mention the media, the DNC, and even certain conservatives — the previously convicted, the pro-pot libertarians, the ego-tripping Christians, and these people.

~~~

I see the Supreme Court decision as the culmination of seventeen years of radical opposition to California’s extremely successful and life-saving three-strikes law.  How successful?  You won’t find many people asking that question in the universities, or the press, but on his well-documented website, Mike Reynolds asserts that three-strikes has had a profound effect on public safety:

[A]n average of 1,000,000 serious or violent crimes are prevented every 5 years and 10,000 Californians spared from becoming murder victims since its passage in 1994.

Yet the public debate continues to revolve around myths of people being sent up for shoplifting cheese or a pizza slice.

The Myth of Jerry DeWayne Williams and his Pizza Slice

Thirteen Strikes and Still Not Out. . . Robert Ferguson is Not a Victim

~~~

Here, if you can stomach it, is a celebratory roadmap to the anti-three-strikes movement by Bill Boyarsky, who presents himself as a loner bemoaning what he (astonishingly) sees as the failure of the media to cover the “neglected evil” of racism in the criminal justice system and specifically California’s three-strikes law.  Now there’s something you never read about in the mainstream press.  Neglected, you know, like Boyarsky was neglected as he was forced to toil in barren fields like . . . the City Editor’s position at the L.A. Times, the Annenberg School for Communications, presiding officer on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, Northwestern University, and Berkeley.

Bill Boyarsky, courageous voice in the wilderness

It really is all about them.  Damn the cost to the rest of us.

Splitting (Other People’s) Hairs (Or Their Throats): David Oshinski, Amy Bach, Jimmy Carter, and Terry Gross Whitewash Wilbert Rideau’s Crimes

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This is Wilbert Rideau, Academy Award nominee, George Polk award winner, George Soros grant recipient, Jimmy Carter Center honoree, American Bar Association Silver Gavel winner, Grand Jury prize winner at Sundance, NPR commentator, journalist, Random House author, Terry Gross pal, friend of the famous and the rich . . . you get the picture.

Oh yeah, he also kidnapped three innocent people during a bank robbery in 1961, shot them all, and then stabbed the one young woman who couldn’t escape him after he “ran out of bullets,” as the second victim played dead and the third hid in a swamp.  He plunged a butcher knife into Julia Ferguson’s throat as she begged for her life.  Rideau later went on to claim that she wasn’t technically begging for her life, as part of Johnny Cochran’s successful 2005 bid to get him out of prison, but in this conveniently forgotten video, he tells a very different — and shocking — story about the crime.

When you read about people being released from death row, think of Rideau.  The real grounds for his release are typical — a gradual wearing-down of the justice system, manipulation of technicalities, re-trial after re-trial as victims and witnesses die or get forgotten — as, all the while, powerful activists and journalists make heroes out of the men who destroyed innocent people’s lives.

Rideau is unusual only because so many powerful and famous people decided to anoint him mascot status.  Terry Gross can’t stop aurally wriggling in his presence.  I tried to find a photograph of Julia Ferguson, but she has been entirely forgotten.

Random House, by the way, has been promoting Rideau’s book tour as an inspirational life story without mentioning his crimes.  Here is their warm and fuzzy description of their author.  The Jimmy Carter Center Facebook page, meanwhile, says that Rideau “has lived a more productive life in prison than most do outside.”  They write off the murder of Julia Ferguson as “a moment of panic during a botched bank robbery.”  Of course, it took more than “a moment” to hold up a bank at gunpoint, kidnap three people, drive them into the swamp, shoot them, chase them, catch one and slaughter her, but then again, that’s just former President Carter speaking up for justice from his human rights center again.

I don’t know anything about the author of this site, Billy Sinclair, but in addition the video he posts, he has a lot to say about the myths that reporters have invented, or swallowed whole, regarding Rideau.  As a fellow con and former colleague of Rideau, it’s especially interesting to read Sinclair’s take on Rideau’s self-aggrandizing tale of prison yard life — particularly because these stories are ostensibly what make the murderer so valuable to those of us who have, according to the Carter Center, wasted our lives by not bothering to kill anyone and then make up award-winning prison yard stories from behind bars.

I guess they don’t have video technology at the New York Times yet.  Nor New York University, where Rideau apologist David Oshinsky pens his prose.  I don’t know Jimmy Carter’s excuse, since he’s been on tv.  I guess one dead girl isn’t one too many dead girls too much to Carter.

Meanwhile, in the New York Times, NYU Professor David Oshinksy has just published a disturbingly dishonest review of murderer Wilbert Rideau’s book, In the Place of Justice.  The paper also ran a second worshipful review by Dwight Garner.  What’s striking about the two pieces (besides their redundancy — indicating the cult hero status of vicious killers like Rideau among denizens of the Times) is the lengths they go to in pretending to recreate Rideau’s brutal crime while leaving out or actually denying important facts.  If this is the new journalism — paying lip service to crimes before getting down to the main task of stroking the criminals — well, I’ll take the old journalism that simply denied the existence of the crime and the victims whole-cloth.

For it’s actually less degrading for victims and survivors to be ignored than to be forced to play bit parts in salacious spectacles like this one.  But beyond the little matter of human decency, the fact that Wilbert Rideau’s record is being increasingly whitewashed as time goes on speaks to the culpability of NPR, and the New York Times, and academic institutions like NYU that sponsor people like Oshinsky and Amy Bach, who calls the fatal injury to Julia Ferguson’s throat a “one inch cut.”  They’ve gone far beyond merely twisting the record to suit their purposes this time.  They’re publishing lies.

~~~

In the Place of Justice is not, as reasonable people might assume, a title that refers to what happened when activists got Rideau out of prison on a fourth try in 2005 — despite his undisputed kidnapping/murder of a young bank teller and shooting of two other victims in 1961.

No, it’s Rideau’s opinion of having to be locked up for such a triviality in the first place.

The murderer’s view is shared by scores of journalists and academicians who consider the skin color of Rideau’s victims (they were white) to be more significant than Rideau’s decision to shoot them (scores of minority murderers of other minorities do not receive such breathless adoration).  David Oshinski is only the latest in a long line of apologists who shamelessly rewrite history in order to advocate certain murderers’ side — an act that used to accurately be called racism, when it was just as wrongfully committed for the other side, but is now labeled “justice” when committed on behalf of vicious killers like Rideau.  Devaluing some people’s lives is justice, you see; devaluing others’ is injustice: that is where we are now.

We should have the integrity to acknowledge that, because it is preventing us from valuing all lives.

So the history prof (perhaps knee-deep in student essays that skim, not plumb, facts) must have decided this time that enough time has passed without the victims being heard from to pretend that the facts of Rideau’s crime were genuinely in doubt again.  Of course, the surviving victims weren’t given taxpayer-subsidized NPR gigs to flog and manipulate the airways for decades, either.  Oshinski’s description of the crime, laid in the fertile manure tilled by NPR and other activists, is as dishonest a performance as I’ve seen in print in a long time:

The details of his crime would be contested for decadesThere is agreement that Rideau robbed a bank at closing time, kidnapping the male manager and two female tellers. Rideau claimed he was about to release them when one of the women bolted out of the car and the manager tried to overpower him. Rideau opened fire, hitting all three as they fled. When one of the women rose to her feet, he writes, “I grabbed the knife, stabbed her and ran to the car.”  The surviving victims told a different story, insisting that Rideau had used his weapons at close range and that the woman he killed had begged for her life. [bold added]

Remember: passive language reeks cover-up of someone’s pain, and the killer’s culpability.

“There is agreement.”  And, “He was about to release them.”  “Opened fire, hitting all three.”  “The surviving victims told a different story.”  Distance, lie, distance, minimalization, misrepresentation.  In Oshinski’s version, the only fact we know is that Rideau robbed a bank and kidnapped three people: the rest is disputed, the professor claims.  Are there no standards in academia anymore?  Doesn’t this man have colleagues courageous enough to measure his words against the actual record?  You know, fact-check the historians representing their fine institution?

Of course the scores of activists who swarmed to Rideau’s cause were deeply invested in using whatever means possible to advance the idea that the details were contested.

That is, if by contested one means: self-satisfied people standing around cocktail parties one-upping each other at denying the victims’ suffering in an endless game of burnish-the-progressive-credentials.  But facts denied here aren’t really in dispute.  And the real story of Rideau’s release is very different from what Oshinski claims.

Let’s be clear about what Oshinski is playing at here: he is pretending that all that really matters — to the historical record as well as in the courts — is whether Rideau managed to shoot the people he was torturing when they were close to him or a little less close.  For good measure, he casts doubt on whether a dying girl begged for her life.  How nice.

I’ll be a little more direct in my review of his review : such agitprop denial of other people’s suffering is a moral obscenity.  For the New York Times to publish it is shameless.

For, of course, Rideau “told a different story” from the people he killed and tried to kill (except when he didn’t).  That story was rejected repeatedly until one jury committed nullification in 2005 because they believed that the history of racial discrimination was more important than Rideau’s actions in taking one life and trying to end two others.  So be it — that’s on their souls — and another blot on the jury system.  But the fact of what Rideau actually did to his victims was not contested.  Now it has been rewritten by two different men in the Times last week, the latest stage in the long rewriting on the victims’ backs.

Journalism as human rights violation.  Journalism as denial.  How much denial?  When a vehemently pro-criminal reporter like Adam Liptak bothers to report a less glowing story about the killer you’re whitewashing, you know you’re knee-deep in it.  Here is Liptak, writing in 2005:

Mr. Rideau has never denied that he robbed a Gulf National Bank branch in Lake Charles on Feb. 16, 1961, that he kidnapped three white employees of the bank or that he shot them on a gravel lane near a bayou on the edge of town. Two of the employees survived, one by jumping into the swamp, the other by feigning death. But Mr. Rideau caught and killed Julia Ferguson, a teller, stabbing in her in the heart.  The two sides at the trial last week agreed on those basic facts.

So what is not in dispute is that the shot victims tried to hide from Rideau, that he hunted them down and slaughtered the one he caught by stabbing her through the heart (heart? throat?).  Oshinski looks at this and natters on about “close range” versus distance.  How dehumanizing.  Does he have a daughter with a beating heart, I wonder?

Julia Ferguson’s parents did, at one time.

~~~

Liptak, of course, betrays far less interest in Ferguson’s heart than in the ways the legal system granted Rideau endless opportunities for appeal, and the superness of Rideau’s journalistic talents, but at least he gives the D.A. his say:

Rick Bryant, the Calcasieu Parish district attorney, said the jury had ignored the evidence.  “The verdict makes no sense,” he said yesterday. “It’s a subtle jury-nullification type of thing. The jury basically said, there is still a conviction and he’s done a lot of time.”

Of course, the victims and other witnesses lacked the vast resources heaped on Rideau all these decades.  One victim was dead, the other too ill to testify.  That gives people like Oshinski more leverage to cover up the crimes committed against them.  Here is Liptak’s recounting of Rideau’s defense.  It’s not much of defense, really, and it’s a stark injustice that anyone fell for it, insomuch as it really mattered to the jurors at all:

Mr. Rideau said his initial plan was to lock up the employees at the bank and take a bus out of town with the $14,000 he had stolen. When that was foiled by an ill-timed phone call from the bank’s main branch, he said, he came up with a second plan. He would drive the employees far out of town in a teller’s car and escape as they walked back. But they jumped from the car before he could accomplish that, and he started shooting.  “If I had intended to kill those people, eliminate witnesses, I would have done it right there in the bank,” Mr. Rideau testified on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “It never entered my mind that I was going to hurt anybody.”

How dare those people try to save their own lives, rather than submit to murder by a future famous prison journalist.

Mr. Bryant said the prosecution had been at a disadvantage throughout the trial.  “It’s very difficult to try a case that’s 44 years old,” he said. “We had 13 witnesses who were unavailable, including the two eyewitnesses, and we had to present them by reading transcripts.” One of the survivors of the crime died in 1988, and the other was too ill to attend the trial.

You won’t read about it in the Times or from the pen of any of Rideau’s admirers at NYU, but his former prison co-editor punches more holes in Rideau’s claims of non-premeditated murder in one blog post about the suitcase he brought with him to rob the bank than the collective talent of our nation’s courts, universities and newspapers can fend off in the millions of dollars and thousands hours they have poured into his defense [“WILBERT RIDEAU’S UNEXPLAINED SUITCASE “].

And the lamented blogger crimgirl does a far better job of explaining why Rideau actually got out of prison in 2005 than all the ex-presidents and all the law school professors you can squeeze onto all the pages of all the news that’s fit to print.  I don’t know anything about “crimgirl,” and she doesn’t seem to be blogging anymore, which is a shame:

[A]fter the [1961] confession, Rideau was found guilty by a southern all-white, all-male jury. It’s probable the jurors were racist, corn-fed Klanners; however, this doesn’t negate the fact that Rideau committed the crimes. The verdict was eventually overturned because the confession’s broadcast had tainted the jury pool. In the years to come, two more trials and two more guilty verdicts were overturned on the grounds of racial bias and other jury selection violations. In 2005, a fourth trial took place. The prosecution said he murdered a woman in cold blood, and should spend life in prison. Rideau argued that he killed her, but he didn’t murder her.A racially mixed jury was selected in Lake Charles, LA. To ensure jury nullification, Johnny “Chewbacca” Cochran was hired to lead the defense team. Cochran played up the strengths of their case:

  • In prison Wilbert Rideau had published an award-winning prison-bashing magazine, co-authored a Criminal Justice textbook, shared an Academy Award nomination for an anti-prison documentary, become a sought-after lecturer, and gained many high-profile supporters who fought for his freedom.
  • Racist officials were racist.
  • Thirteen prosecution witnesses were now dead.
  • In a major victory for the defense, the judge only allowed the jury to consider verdicts that would have been available in 1961: Premeditated murder (life without parole) or manslaughter (21 years). If they had gone by 2005 law, he would have almost certainly been sentenced to life without parole, the sentence for killing someone in the commission of a felony.

~~~

Let’s be very clear about what people like David Oshinski and Terry Gross (see below) did to the victims of this crime.  They made their killer into a civil rights hero — for killing them and for refusing to regret it.  That’s the version of “rehabilitation” actually operating here.  And it makes a mockery of any notion of real rehabilitation, or real remorse.  Wilbert Rideau was released from prison by biased jurors who ignored many undisputed facts because he had been turned into a cultural hero by academicians and journalists working as accessories to cover up the details of his victims’ suffering.  In other settings, this is called a war crime — an act of historical denial.

Here, it’s called punching your ticket for tenure.

If there is any doubt that Rideau was released because he does not regret destroying lives, read on:

Theodore M. Shaw, the director-counsel of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which also represented Mr. Rideau, said he found it hard to reconcile Mr. Rideau’s crime with the thoughtful and accomplished man he has become.  “I’ve never lost sight of the fact that when Wilbert was 19 he did something incredibly stupid and tragic,” Mr. Shaw said. “On the other hand, he’s not the man he was then. It’s a story of redemption.”  Mr. Shaw pointed to Mr. Rideau’s journalistic work as proof of his transformation. As editor of The Angolite, a prison newspaper, Mr. Rideau won the George Polk Award, one of journalism’s highest honors. “The Farm: Angola, U.S.A.,” a documentary he co-directed, was nominated for an Academy Award.

In other words, if Rideau had not kept protesting the alleged injustice of people not believing his story that his victims were lying, then he’d still be serving time for the lives he destroyed.  But because he’s never shown actual remorse, he’s a cultural hero and a free man.

Mr. Bryant, the prosecutor, said Mr. Rideau’s achievements were irrelevant. “Rideau’s actions were driven by greed,” Mr. Bryant said, referring to the robbery. “It’s not like he’s been some sort of civil rights pioneer. He’s a crook.”

~~~

But fast-forward five years, and now even these protestations have been cleansed from the record. Rideau is a civil rights pioneer, full stop.  All that’s left is people like Oshinski trying like heck to finish brushing even the slightest unpleasantry into the dustbin of history, insinuating that the victims’ families are the actually dangerous people based on crimes they didn’t in fact, ever commit against Rideau himself, and painting Rideau as a jailhouse saint — you know, like the ones in the movies Oshinski likes to cite:

An hour’s drive northwest from Baton Rouge sits the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the United States. On the site of a former slave plantation, it currently houses close to 5,000 inmates and covers more ground, at 18,000 acres, than the island of Manhattan. Surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River, its stunning physical isolation and distinctive antebellum feel have provided the backdrop for numerous feature films and documentaries, including “Dead Man Walking,” “Monster’s Ball” and “The Farm” . . . Slight of frame, weighing barely 120 pounds, Rideau seemed like easy prey. What spared him physically, he believes, was the respect he earned for repeatedly dodging the electric chair. And what saved him emotionally, he insists, were the books he devoured in his solitary death row cell. “Reading ultimately allowed me to feel empathy, to emerge from my cocoon of self-centeredness and appreciate the humanness of others. . . . It enabled me finally to appreciate the enormity of what I had done.”

No, there are no victims here, just professors and journalists and their convict-heroes reading, writing, carrying out mutually gratifying acts of affirmation:

[Rideau] saw prison life as a delicate negotiation. Convicts “possess the power of disobedience, rebellion, disruption, sabotage and violence,” he writes. “A peaceful maximum security prison owes its success to the consent of its prisoners, a consent that comes from mutual understanding and reasonable common-sense accommodations at almost every level of interaction” . . .  The new Angola owed much to Rideau’s skills as editor, gadfly and ombudsman. While in prison, he became a national celebrity, appearing on “Nightline” with Ted Koppel and winning journalism’s coveted George Polk Award. Rideau is hardly modest about it all . . . In 2005, the man Life magazine had featured as “The Most Rehabilitated Prisoner in America” was granted yet another trial.

Well, why should such an accomplished man be modest? Heck, why doesn’t Oshinski just go all the way and say that Rideau’s victims carelessly tripped into the bullets exiting his gun?   Maybe because Terry Gross’ tonsils would get in his way. Here is Gross’ version of her radio colleague and pen pal Rideau’s crimes:

Wilbert Rideau was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1961. At the age of 19, he’d robbed a bank. When he realized the police were on the way, he took three hostages. After one of the hostages got out of the car, he killed one hostage and shot the other two. He described this as an act of panic, not premeditated murder.  As an eighth-grade dropout from a poor family, he couldn’t afford a lawyer and didn’t understand his rights.

How . . . dishonest.  What’s especially creepy is the way Gross imagines the scene only from Rideau’s perspective: “[w]hen he realized the police were on the way, he took three hostages . . . After one of the hostages got out of the car, he killed one hostage.”   This is in no way an accurate description of the crime.  It apes Rideau’s claims that he did not intend the victims’ harm, nor that he intended to kidnap them, and it reduces the death scene to an actuarial nonentity.  Gross seems irked that she must even recount this little aside.

It takes a particularly cold and inhumane chewy-voiced NPR reporter to reduce the death scene to such cold prose.

But the death-scene is just a lagniappe, compared to the toe-curling pleasures that follow:

TERRY GROSS: Wilbert Rideau, welcome back to FRESH AIR. The other times we have spoken, you have been in the penitentiary, and it so great to talk to you knowing you are a free man. Thank you for the conversations and for the reports you did for us from prison. . . .

GROSS: Wilbert, we’ve spoken several times before while you were in prison. We spoke by phone. And the book really filled me in on the details of what you went through during your four trials and how many times you were treated unfairly.But before we talk about how unfairly you were treated, I just want to acknowledge that you really did commit manslaughter, and that Julia Ferguson was killed. You did create a lot of suffering. You’ve never denied the act, but you have said that you never intended to kill anyone. You wanted money. You bought a gun to rob a bank, thinking it was the only way to get a new life was to get money and get a way out of your life. In the middle of the robbery, the phone rang. One of the tellers picked it up and tipped off the caller there was trouble. Knowing the police were on the way, you took three hostages and fled. What did you think the hostages would accomplish for you? [bold added]

Would accomplish for him?  Accomplish?  Darn those hostages.  They just didn’t live up to their potential.

Mr. RIDEAU: I wasn’t thinking. That was the problem. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, understand, when people commit crimes, they’re expecting to get away. I mean, even in all the – it was desperation that drove me to do this, but even in my desperation, I mean, you don’t expect to get caught.

In other words, Wilbert Rideau feels less responsible for killing someone because he was certain he would not be held responsible for robbing a bank.  Had he known he would be held responsible for robbing a bank, he wouldn’t have done it, and nobody would have died.  Now there’s an idea.

If people expected to get caught, nobody would ever commit crimes.  And I didn’t know what I was thinking. I was just – all I knew was that everything had been shot to hell. Everything – you know, it was out of control. And I had no control, and I was scared to death, I mean, because I’m sure they were scared to death, too. But I didn’t have any – all I knew was just get out of that place in a hurry, and I hoped to be able to drop them off someplace and let them walk back. But it didn’t turn out that way.

GROSS: No, the police started chasing you. One of your victims jumped out of the car, and you say you panicked and just shot one of them.

Well, thanks for clearing that up, Terry.  How probing.  If only those lazy victims had worked harder to avoid the path of dear Wilbert’s bullets — but then, NPR wouldn’t have such a stimulating commentator for Gross to natter with.  If only the police hadn’t tried to stop an armed criminal who cruelly took three innocent people hostage, then Wilbur wouldn’t have had to shoot three people, then get out of his car and stab one of them for good measure.

If only the hostages and the police had accomplished more in the service of Wilbert Rideau.

There’s more, of course, of Gross simpering at the feet of Rideau, praising his prose quality, his special insights, his terrible suffering, the tragedy of people misunderstanding him.  There’s always more, once you get the pesky victims out of the way, stomp their throats out so they can’t utter a peep.

But what is strange, and ironic, and utterly unnoticed by Gross and Oshinski and all the other prisoner fetishists eagerly sweating their turn in the wings, is that when you read Wilbert Rideau’s work, what Rideau is actually saying is that he doesn’t want to be anywhere near any of the sick bastards he knew in prison, including the sick bastard that he was, and he certainly doesn’t want people like them walking the streets.  At the end of the day, his is a pro-incarceration argument:

GROSS: Give us a sense of what you faced when you left solitary confinement and joined the general population, and you were appalled by the barbarity that you witnessed. And I should say that the penitentiary at Angola had a reputation as being one of the most bloody prisons in the United States at that time.

Mr. RIDEAU: There was violence literally every day. You had people getting killed and gang wars. You had drug traffickers rampant. You had sexual violence…

GROSS: Sexual slavery.

Mr. RIDEAU: Enslavement of prisoners. Right, sexual slavery, as well. I mean, you know, if – guys would rape you, and you would – that was a process that redefined you not as a male, but as a female, and also as property. And whoever raped you owned you, and you had to serve him for – I mean, as long as you were in prison, unless you killed him or he gave you away or sold you or you got out of prison. And that’s the way it functioned.

GROSS: You wrote an article about sexual violence in prison that is one of your best-known articles. And I think that one won an award, didn’t it?

Mr. RIDEAU: It did, the George Polk Award, and it was also nominated for a National Magazine Award.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. So when you got into general population, you’re relatively short. What did you do to protect yourself as a small man entering general population? Yeah.

Mr. RIDEAU: Well, the first thing is I was looking for a weapon. In fact, when I went before the initial classification board, the chief of security told me that, you know, he asked if knew anybody. I said no. And he said, well, you’ve got to get you a weapon, and either that or go into a protective custody cell.  Well, I just spent all those years in a cell. I wasn’t going back to a cell, and I figured that, you know, I would try to make a life in the jungle. And the first thing I knew I had to do was get a weapon, and I looked around for people I knew, and I saw some of the guys who were on death row before who had already gotten off, and they told me, you know, I wouldn’t have to worry about that.  And that was a peculiarity due to the fact that I was on death row. Prosecutors and media had so – you know, they so demonize people on death row, you know, as being the worst of the worst, until not only do they kind of scare society about these guys, but they also scared the prisoners. It was kind of perverse, but it spared me that whole – I didn’t have to worry about that.

OK, let’s review: prisoners in Angola are violent rapists who prey on the weak, enslave each other, and routinely kill.  Yet Rideau survived unscathed because prosecutors “demonized” men on death row to such a degree that all these raping, killing monsters in the general population feared him despite his diminutive size.

While this story makes little sense, it is the type of thing that makes Terry Gross simper: “Mm-hmm.”  Which is the entire point, really.  The point of Rideau’s fame is that he gives people like Terry Gross the type of victimization they can revel in.  For, testifying about his victimization at the hands of other criminals is actually what Rideau is all about, little as that makes sense when you step back from it and remember Julie Ferguson.  Rideau says certain things happened to him; he complains of being victimized, and reporters and academicians eat it up uncritically because it feeds their fantasy life.

They don’t write purple prose about there being two sides to the story of any of Rideau’s stories. They don’t minimize his allegations of victimization in prison or reduce it to a few stingy lines written in teeth-gritting passing.  They give him awards for denouncing the suffering they’re simultaneously denying that his victims experienced at his hands.  This is a sickness, pure fetish, and it has passed for acceptable behavior for far too long.

Executing David Lee Powell: The Austin Statesman Hearts a Cop-Killer

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Media coverage of executions used to be shameless.  Reporters played advocate, inserting themselves and their inflamed sensibilities into the story, while victims’ families were ignored or accused of being “vengeful,” a crime apparently worse than murder itself.

Only victims’ families were thus demeaned: offenders, no matter the horror of their actual crimes, were depicted in only the most positive light.  They were deemed specially sensitive, or dignified, or talented, or at least pitiful, as if playing up to (or merely embodying) the reporter’s sensibilities magically erased the profound harm these men had visited on others.

Reporters filed bathetic stories detailing this killer’s last meal or that prisoner’s hobbies without mentioning the behavior that had placed the men on death row in the first place, unless, that is, extremely prurient details or a high body count made for interesting reading.

Victims were either ignored, or criticized, or their suffering was objectified.

Such overt expressions of contempt aimed at victims are no longer the status quo. But I don’t believe that what has replaced them in reporting is better.  Now, in the interest of allegedly telling “both sides of the story,” journalists dutifully mention the offender’s crime and say a few nice things about the victim’s life.  They let the victim’s family have their say — something that rarely happened in the past, though they’re often angling for the victims to say something angry, so they can make them sound “vengeful.”

Judith and Bruce Mills hold a picture of Officer Ralph Ablanedo

Then, “balance” accomplished, the reporters get back to the business of valorizing murderers.

David Lee Powell, who slaughtered Officer Ablanedo in 1978

This type of reporting depicts victims and killers as moral equals.  It denies that there is any difference between being an innocent murdered horribly by some sociopath thug or being the murdering sociopath thug (cleaned up for the cameras, of course, via years of taxpayer-subsidized advice from their lawyers).

When both victim and killer are presented as victims, then who, exactly, is the victimizer?

Obviously, the state, or “society,” or “all of us,” which is the reporter’s real point.

Ultimately, in journalism like this, the victim’s suffering, and the family’s expressions of pain, are merely put through the grinder in the service of the offender in a new way.  It’s just a different flavor of dehumanization.  And if this disturbing article and video and even more disturbing editorial in the Austin Statesman are any indication of what can be done to crime victims in the name of such moral leveling, family members of should probably just go back to refusing to speak to reporters at all.

David Lee Powell today, in the Austin Statesman’s Story Detailing His Good Qualities

In a long feature story this week, the Austin Statesman commits the act of moral equivalency in order to advocate against the execution of David Lee Powell.  I say “advocate” here because the reporters are clearly pleading Powell’s case.  How clearly?  The story is actually accompanied by an emotive video of Powell, his voice cracking and wavering, bestowing his jailhouse wisdom to the article’s reporters, who appear on the screen swaying like awed schoolboys to the rhythm of his words.

link to video through article here

The video is a perversion.  It’s porn, a pornographic display of Powell’s feigned remorse, which he utters in the carefully parsed syntax of legal dissembling.  In the video and on the page, the reporters allow Powell to explain away his failure to apologize to the family of his victim for nearly 30 years.  They don’t happen to mention that he spent those years denying responsibility throughout several appeals and re-trials, which is the real reason why he never previously expressed remorse, also why the remorse so exhibitionistically flashed here is unlikely to actually exist:

Saying he is horrified to have caused Ablanedo’s murder, Powell has tried to apologize to the officer’s family and to express regret for the pain he caused by “an act that was a betrayal of everything I believed in and aspired to be.”  “I had wanted to do it for decades,” Powell said of his December 2009 letter to Ablanedo’s family. “Although it was obviously too little too late, it seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like a small, tentative first step towards healing the tear in the social fabric that was caused” by the murder.

He “tried,” you know.  Just never got around to doing it until the appeals ran out.  It’s clear that Powell doesn’t feel remorse.  He doesn’t even really speak of remorse — instead, he starts rambling about being a victim of a justice system that “humbled” and “bruised” him.  Throughout this performance, the camera pans to the reporters, making them part of Powell’s jailhouse drama.  If their article is any measure of the interactions in that room, it’s an exciting role for them.

The video is clearly edited to convey Powell’s humanity and fragility, and yet it fails to achieve that goal.  Raw contempt shines through his lawyerly demurrals despite all the close-ups of his shaking hands and a soundtrack featuring his breathing sounds, amplified for effect.

Powell spends more time talking about SAT scores and high school grades than the officer’s murder.  So, for that matter, do the reporters.  According to the killer, he “scored the highest score that had ever been scored” on the SAT, and this should define him, not the officer’s murder.  In other words, doing well on the SAT should excuse the killing of a human being.

The rest of the article is the usual jumble of schlock, lies, and omissions.  Impressively, reporters, Chuck Lindell and Tony Plohetski completely paper over Powell’s long history of appeals, quite an accomplishment in a long article about the long time it has taken to execute Powell because of his long history of appeals.

The result is an awful lot like watching a fixed dog hump the air.

Not that any of this is actually funny. It’s grotesque.  It’s grotesque that the Austin Statesman would demean the victims by weighing Powell’s high school grades against the brutal murder of a young cop and father.  It’s grotesque that they pose the pseudo-metaphysical question: Has Powell’s Execution Lost Its Meaning? and then paddle around haplessly answering “yes” for five pages, yet pretend that what they are doing is reporting on Powell’s impending execution.

It’s grotesque that they ambush the victims and exploit their losses, both in the article and in a Statesman editorial which intentionally misrepresents statements by the victim’s family (the family did an amazing job responding to the media).

I had trouble embedding the Powell video in the blog today.  But please go to the newspaper’s website and take a look.  The editorial is here, and the interview with Bruce and Judy Mills, from which their quotes are ripped out of context, is here.

That the editors would behave this way really does speak to a mindset in which victims’ deaths are deemed less significant than their killers’ report cards, or the hobbies they take up on death row, or the fact that they have lots of pen pals . . . all arguments promoted by the fine journalists at the Austin Statesman.  If this is what happens when reporters imagine they are inserting “balance” into their death row reporting, I’ll take the bad old days when they just pointed fingers and screamed “vigilante” at people who had lost their loved ones to violence.  It was a less dirty fight that way.

Jordan Gibson, Jose Reyes, Wilson Gomez, Leonard Scroggins: “I didn’t want to be one of those cases where you find my remains three years from now.”

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You wouldn’t know it from the way many in the media cover crime, but recidivists with extremely violent records are still routinely cut loose from prison early, or allowed to stay free while awaiting trial.

Or allowed to attend high school with nobody knowing they’re sex offenders.

But wait, isn’t America supposed to be a police state, where people sometimes shockingly serve full sentences for their crimes?  Not in these cases:

Jordan Anthony Gibson, Atlanta, Georgia:

Gibson is currently a suspect in multiple rapes.  But even though he was caught in 2009 with items belonging to the rape victims, it took police a year to get back DNA results from the State Crime Lab positively tying him to two of the sex crimes.  This story says a lot about the state’s priorities, letting a suspected serial rapist’s DNA collect dust on a shelf for 13 months while some judge actually let the suspect walk free.  It also says a lot about the way the defense bar has convinced the judiciary to raise the bar way too high on evidence in criminal convictions: why isn’t being in possession of rape victims’ property enough to try someone for rape?  Why couldn’t he have been tried, or at least actually held under real supervision, on burglary or robbery charges until the DNA came back?  Don’t we have enough laws on the books to keep people like this off the streets for their other crimes.  of course, that would involve the courts actually displaying a commitment to treating crime like crime.

Part of the problem is the perception that crimes like burglary and robbery are now deemed too minor to even address.  And we know who to thank for that.  yet, somehow, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wants you to believe that we are far too harsh on criminals.  And so, you have a man now known to be a serial rapist, who could have been prosecuted for robbery and kept behind bars as the rape investigation continued, instead set free for a year as the crime lab didn’t bother to prioritize its work in a timely way.  Money problems?  Well, then, they should be using a case like this one to yell from the rooftops that they need more funds.  They don’t make waves like that, though.

Nor do Atlanta’s politically motivated “victim advocates” — many of them campus rape activists — who would rather berate all men for alleged sexist insensitivities than get their fingers dirty actually advocating for swift justice against a real rapist.  Oh, for the days when there were real feminists.  Here’s the serial rape story:

Police charged a man Friday for two of a string of rapes early last year along the Briarcliff Road corridor. DeKalb County Police investigators believe Jordon Anthony Gibson may be responsible for more sexual assaults, however.  Gibson, arrested Thursday, had been in police custody [that's an ankle monitor, not jail] for more than a year on related charges.  On April 11, 2009, Gibson, 19, was stopped for a traffic violation, and police found property from the rape victims inside his car, DeKalb County police spokesman Jason Gagnon said.  Police, at the time, charged him with several counts of robbery, but continued to consider him as a person of interest in the series of rapes, Gagnon said.  DNA samples were taken from Gibson at the time of his arrest, but they were returned only a few weeks ago, police said.  The GBI’s results showed Gibson to be a positive match in two of the rapes.

Umm, so why wasn’t he arrested weeks ago?  Why wasn’t he picked up the very same day that the DNA results were known?  What exactly does it take to remove a dangerous, DNA-identified rapist from the streets, especially when he’s facing a long prison sentence?  Why did the warrant take “weeks” after the DNA match?

“We had a strong feeling that he was our guy, just due to the fact that those sexual assaults discontinued the minute he was arrested,” Gagnon told the AJC. “However, we didn’t have the evidence.  After the robbery charges, Gibson was released on a $60,000 bond and given an ankle monitor.  “We wanted to keep up with him,” Gagnon said.  There were at least five more rape victims for whom Gibson’s DNA did not match.  “Sometimes DNA can possibly be tainted,” Gagnon said, in explaining why there were not more matches.  As far as waiting a year for DNA results, Gagnon said investigators were patient.  “We’re just glad it came,” he said.

Look, at some point, somebody in the system needs to stand up and say:

Waiting a year for DNA results in serial rapes with the main suspect out in the community is NOT acceptable.  Having a court system in which we can’t even push a robbery conviction to get a suspected rapist behind bars while we investigate his other crimes is NOT acceptable.  If the courts are so distracted and overwhelmed that they can’t process a case like this in less than 13 months; if the DA doesn’t feel it is a priority to get a guy like this off the streets ASAP, then we really don’t have justice.  We really don’t have courts; we really don’t have prosecutors who can say they’re representing the people.  We don’t have anybody bothering to prevent the next preventable rape.

I understand why a cop can’t say this.  What I don’t understand is why a judge won’t say it.  Somebody needs to be the person who has the courage to challenge this type of utter failure.

Somebody . . .  some politician, some DA, some well-paid victim activist, needs to speak up.

~~~

Because when nobody speaks up, this is what happens: Jose Reyes, Seattle, Washington

A convicted sex offender is accused of raping a special education student at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School. KING 5 [news] has learned some staff [k]new a sex offender was at the school, but parents and students did not.  Prosecutors say 18-year-old Jose Reyes convinced a 14-year-old freshman to go into a girls bathroom at Roosevelt to make out. But, he then forced himself on the student. Other students believe he was in some sort of relationship with the girl.  Few at Roosevelt knew about Reyes’ disturbing past:  In January of 2007, police say Reyes lured a 10-year-old-girl into a public library parking garage and asked her to take off her pants.  In April of 2007, he was charged with trying to lure an 11-year-old girl at a [G]reenwood park. And in May 2007, he tried the same thing with a five-year-old girl, asking her to sit on his lap in exchange for trading cards.

And those are the crimes he was caught committing.  Of course, if this were the New York Times reporting the story, they would probably describe Reyes as the victim of a vile Romeo and Juliet law and leave out the part about the five-year old.

When Reyes started school this year, certain teachers, staff and security were told that he is a Level 2 sex offender. State law dictates that no one else is required to be notified.  Many parents say that’s ridiculous. . . The Seattle School District says while Roosevelt was notified of Reyes’ sex offender status, the report did not give details about his past and that report never made it from police to the school district itself.

I wonder why Reyes was granted a Level 2 status, given that he was a recidivist who targeted extremely young victims.  Should his age matter, when he predated small children?  Were some of the charges dropped (like they are always dropped), and that is why he was free to rape a special ed. student?

Shouldn’t every sex crime be prosecuted?

~~~

And shouldn’t sex crime cases take less than, say, a decade to process?  Especially when the rapist spends that time walking free on the streets and then commits another sex assault?  Was this a DNA-delayed case?  Something else?  Wilson Gomez, Brandon Florida:

A Brandon man already facing rape charges from last year was arrested Saturday morning on similar charges, according to an arrest report.  Deputies arrested Wilson Gomez, 50, at his home at 202 Mason St., after, they say, he had sex with a woman who did not give her consent. He is charged with sexual battery, the report said.  Gomez was arrested in 2009 and charged with sexual battery using a deadly weapon or force causing injury in connection with a 2001 incident, jail records show. According to Hillsborough County court records, these charges are part of an ongoing case and he has not been convicted.  Gomez is held without bail at the Orient Road Jail.

It seems that when offenders know they’re going to jail, they often act out.  Why don’t judges see this?  Why do they keep letting dangerous predators go free to await trial?  Like, in the next case.

~~~

Leonard Earl Scroggins, San Diego, California:

Scroggins is a convicted recidivist sex offender (very) recently out on parole who was allowed to remain loose even after fondling a child a few days after getting out of prison.  Astonishingly, San Diego Deputy District Attorney Enrique Camarena feels that letting the two-time convict remain free after the sex offense against a child was a sign that the system is working, because Scroggins is now facing life in prison for removing his monitoring anklet and sexually assaulting four other females in a crime spree last week, including a 13-year old girl he stabbed and tried to kidnap at knife-point and another woman attacked with a knife.

That means the system is working?  Using women and children as prey because we’ve raised the bar so much on prosecuting anyone for anything that you practically have to kill a child to get put away?  That’s a solution?  What does the system look like when it’s  not working?

The prosecutor in the case says he is not frustrated with the system even though Scroggins has a history of breaking the law and violating parole.  “Unfortunately we have to get to this point where the guy commits serious acts on consecutive days, to multiple victims to get to this point where he is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. But that’s a big punishment and I think as a society we have to wait until the time is right,” says Camarena.

“Society” has to “wait until” what???  Look, even though he was in Napa Valley, this guy wasn’t selling no wine before its time: he was kidnapping women and children at knife-point after the proud state of California cut him loose early for two previous sex crimes and failed to hold him accountable for attacking a child.  I don’t know if D.A. Camarena is some wanna-be pol using his current office to climb the political ladder, or some wanna-be defense attorney using taxpayers and victims to train for his future job by working for the prosecutor’s office (a not uncommon scenario), or if he is actually a decent law-and-order guy driven insane by the impossibility of bringing charges against anyone for anything these days.  But it is appalling to say that any woman or child should be sacrificed to “serious acts on consecutive days, to multiple victims” to get a bloody prosecution rolling.

Jesus wept.

I don’t quite know how to express this because it should not need to be expressed, but the system wasn’t working when Scroggins walked out of prison early for two rapes.  It wasn’t working when he attacked a child and got away with it in March.  It wasn’t working when he wasn’t punished for violating his parole — by molesting a child — and remained free on an ankle monitor.   It’s not working if you need a high-tide body count before the D.A. feels he can proceed with prosecuting a dangerous recidivist predatory child sex offender.  And if the D.A. reacts to these circumstances by making excuses instead of shouting from the rooftops, something is very, very broken.

Here are Scroggins’ prior offenses.  Or, at least, the ones that someone bothered to prosecute:

Department of Corrections documents show convicted sex offender Leonard Scroggins in and out of prison. Back in the mid-90′s he was sentenced to ten years for rape in Napa County. He served four and a half, but violated his parole twice; finally being released in 2003.  A couple of months later, Scroggins went back to prison after pleading guilty to a terrorist threat involving kidnapping and rape. He again violated parole, and was just released from prison this past March.

That’s two violent sex crimes, three parole violations.  Then came the un-prosecuted child molestation (please drop the “fondling” bit), which apparently led to the ankle monitor but no prison time.  Then the rampage this week, which relieved the District Attorney of actually having to take a stand by trying Scroggins on one child charge before he committed more sex crimes.

Look, I’m sympathetic to the difficulty of getting charges to stick in this joke of a justice system.  But can’t the D.A. so much as express mild disgust that his hands are so tied?  Isn’t that his job?

Meanwhile, as politicians fuss over expensive-yet-futile measures like requiring sex offenders to provide their e-mail addresses and instant messaging names to police, or creating yet another freeway alert system to warn of offenders who are “misbehaving” (their term) or absconded, the one sane voice in the California crime cacophony is that of Scroggin’s 13-year old victim.  She harbors no illusions about the stakes of the game:

Scroggins [put] a knife to the throat of a 13-year-old girl and tr[ied] to drag her into his car.  “He kept repeating in a low voice, ‘Get in the car or I will cut you,”‘ said Guadalupe Perez, an eighth-grader at National City Middle School.  The girl said she screamed and reached for the knife, cutting her finger, then elbowed the man and ran.  “If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said.  “I didn’t want to be one of those cases where you find my remains three years from now.”

“I didn’t want to be one of those cases where you find my remains three years from now.”  Shame on the rest of us.

Jeffrey Dwight Carr, Michael Ray Tackett: Violent Recidivists Wandering the Streets

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While investigative reporters and their academic mouthpieces busily crochet their latest screeds against the notion of putting criminals in prison, here’s a quick sampling of people who should have been behind bars, but weren’t.  Of course, this isn’t a criminological study, because we’re going to actually mention the crimes these men committed, instead of just breathlessly envisioning the endless possibilities of their next “re-entry” into society.

It looks like the last re-entries were easy to a fault.

Jeffery Dwight Carr, Orlando Florida:

Police in Central Florida say a registered sex offender cut off his electronic ankle monitor, kidnapped a woman and tried to have her cash a $1,000 check. Jeffery Dwight Carr has been charged with robbery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

Although his juvenile record is not available, Carr wasted no time racking up offenses the minute he turned 18: five auto theft convictions in two years.  How precocious of him.  He got a rolling slap on the wrist and just a few months behind bars, which is too bad, because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been free to commit that sexual assault of a minor in 2002.

Of course, people don’t serve time for every crime they commit, so once they’re popped for something, it makes a certain kind of criminal sense to keep committing more crimes, because you won’t actually serve more time for them.  Unless the state has a recidivism law.  And bothers to enforce it.  Which Florida does.  And didn’t.  Oh well.  He’s behind bars now, and the victim was very lucky to escape with her life.

~~~

Michael Ray Tackett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

You’d think we’ve lost enough police officers recently.  None were injured hauling Tackett back into custody last week for the brutal, armed 2007 rape of a real estate agent, thank God.  But why was he out on bond awaiting a 2009 charge for the brutal, armed rape of another real estate agent, when he has a criminal record of multiple rape charges, and a neighbor reported that this was Tackett’s second armed standoff with the police?

Michael Ray Tackett

Tackett was previously acquitted twice for raping women who were prostitutes, in 2003 and 2005.  Both women admitted to selling sex to him on different occasions but went to police when he became violent, pulled weapons, and raped them.  You would think that type of history would be enough to keep him in jail awaiting trial after he committed his 2009 rape — of a real estate agent he stalked and attacked in an empty house she was showing.  Yet after that terrifyingly violent crime, and despite his extremely scary record, Tackett told the court that he had a back problem that couldn’t be addressed in prison, so he’d need to await trial at home.   The judge actually bought the back pain story and decided Tackett was a good candidate for pre-trial bond.  You know, like Ted Bundy:

Dec. 16, 2009: A West Pittsburg man accused of luring a real estate agent to an empty Jefferson Township house and raping her June 11 is free on bond.  Michael R. Tackett, 38, had his bond reduced Thursday from $200,000 to $100,000 by Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge John C. Reed after his defense attorney Thomas W. Leslie called the initial amount excessive.  Assistant Mercer County District Attorney Ryan Bonner said Tackett testified Thursday that he required medical attention due to back surgery, and that he couldn’t get it through the Mercer County Jail. . . “Obviously, we were disappointed and alarmed that he bonded out,” said state police trooper Dan Sindlinger.  He said Tackett is potentially dangerous and may have a pattern of targeting real estate agents, and warned them not to show homes alone.

In other words, the judge decided that rather than using stuff like prison guards and bars to keep an eye on Tackett, he would place the burden for watching out for him directly on the real estate agents he was known to be stalking.  After all, lots of real estate agents are part-time ninjas trained in taking down potential serial killers, right?

Tackett was charged with rape in 2003 and 2005 in Lawrence County and acquitted both times, according to published reports. . .  Authorities said Tackett met the woman during a real estate open house. About a week and half later she was showing him a house on Seidle Road when police say he pinned her down, told her he had a gun and raped her repeatedly.  Tackett threatened to kill the woman. He ordered her to answer questions about her family, recited her address, and threatened to kill her and her family if she reported the incident, police said.

And now, the parade of technicalities begins:

Tackett used a fake name when he contacted the woman but she found a photo on the state’s Megan’s Law sex offender registry that looked similar to the man she said raped her, police said.  A Neshannock Township policeman saw the picture, which was not Tackett’s. He realized it looked like Tackett, with whom he’d dealt before.  The policeman showed the woman Tackett’s picture, and she confirmed it was him.  Leslie is trying to have that identification, and any subsequent courtroom identifications of Tackett suppressed in the case. He said showing the picture outside a lineup was “unduly suggestive.” A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6 on that motion.  In a later state police lineup, the woman said she was “100 percent sure” it was Tackett who raped her, police said.  She also identified Tackett’s car, and was able to point it out from a block away while driving through West Pittsburg with her husband, police said.

The details from the 2007 rape are also chilling:

[Tackett] had been sought by police in the rape of a real estate agent on May 24, 2007. State police said the agent had agreed to meet with Tackett to show him a home along Huson Road in Woodcock Township, Crawford County.  According to documents filed earlier this year in the office of District Judge Lincoln Zilhaver of Saegertown, Crawford County, the agent showed the house to Tackett, who had given her the false name of Randy Thompson, for about four hours, starting around 10:30 a.m.  Toward the end of the showing, Tackett asked to see the basement. Once in the basement, police said Tackett used a stun gun on the woman and raped her.  The woman provided a detailed description of her attacker, including his height and weight, that he wore glasses, had a tattoo and shaved his pubic area.  She also identified Tackett in a photo lineup. During the investigation, police searched Tackett’s wife’s car, which the woman also described to police as the vehicle used by her attacker.  That vehicle search turned up items including a copy of Real Estate magazine and a stun gun.

This sounds like a case where insane pro-offender evidence rules, in addition to judicial and juror leniency, slowed down police in their efforts to contain a suspected serial rapist and, possibly, serial killer.  Let’s hope the body count isn’t too high.  But of course, the real problem is that we just put too many people in jail, man.

Tomorrow: more violent recidivists wandering the streets . . .