CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Saturday, June 3, 2006

Breaking the Addiction to Prison: a Texas Policy Primer Event

On Tuesday, June 13, The Texas Public Policy Foundation will host the "Breaking the Addiction to Prison" luncheon. The luncheon panelists will address the effectiveness of alternatives such as drug courts, inpatient and outpatient treatment for substance abuse and mental illness, victim restitution contracts, and mandatory job training.

The Texas Legislative Budget Board has estimated the state will need another 14,000 prison beds by 2010 -- resulting in $1.24 billion in construction costs alone. With nearly half of the state’s prison population consisting of nonviolent drug and property offenders, this program will explore other alternatives for reforming offenders and restoring victims. [Mark Godsey]

June 3, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Too Short For Jail

Richard Thompson was saved from prison by his height. He is five-foot-one. When he was sentenced for a sex offense, a Nebraska judge said she didn't think Thompson would survive in prison -- partly because of his mental ability, and partly because he's short. Instead of jail term, she gave Thompson 10 years of what's called "intensive probation." The sentence prompted a Nebraska woman to start a petition drive demanding the judge's resignation. [Mark Godsey]

June 3, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Friday, June 2, 2006

CrimProf Spotlight: Professor Deborah A. Ramirez

Deborah_a_ramirezThis week, the CrimProf Blog spotlights Professor Deborah A. Ramirez of Northeastern University School of Law.

"Professor Ramirez writes and lectures about racial profiling, community policing multiracial identity, race and criminal justice, jury selection, disenfranchisement of ethnic groups from jury service, and the historical role and function of the jury. Over the past several years, she has worked as a consultant to the US Department of Justice on issues of racial profiling and data collection. With Department of Justice funding, she, along with Northeastern University colleagues in the College of Criminal Justice, authored a resource guide on racial profiling data collection systems that has been disseminated nationally to state and local law enforcement organizations.

In 2003, Professor Ramirez was selected as a senior fellow by the Soros Foundation to write a Promising Practices Guide for developing partnerships between the Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities and law enforcement in Los Angeles, Dearborn (Michigan) and Boston. Professor Ramirez is executive director of the Partnering for Prevention and Community Safety Initiative, which seeks to develop the best practices for building and strengthening these partnerships.

Prior to joining the Northeastern faculty in 1989, Professor Ramirez was an associate with the Boston law firm of Hale and Dorr and an assistant US attorney in Boston, where she was assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Task Force Unit. In that position, she was in charge of numerous investigations, trials and appeals. Professor Ramirez teaches Criminal Justice, Advanced Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Professional Responsibility and a variety of seminars."

June 2, 2006 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Fighting to Save the Fading Right to Counsel

2004 American Bar Association Report states:

[T]housands of persons are processed in America's courts every year either with no lawyer at all or with a lawyer who does not have the time, resources, or in some cases the inclination to provide effective representation. All too often, defendants plead guilty, even if they are innocent, without really understanding their legal rights or what is occurring. The fundamental right to a lawyer that Americans assume applies to everyone accused of criminal conduct effectively does not exists in practice for countless people across the United States.

In states such as Montana, Mississippi, and Alabama, there are reports of indigent clients spending from 5 to 13 months in prison before recieving a single contact from an attorney.  Once a defendant finally meets with an attorney, the report states that many plead guilty within minutes or hours of the first meeting. For example, in Quitman County, Mississippi, 42% of the indigent defense cases were resolved by a guilty plea on the first day the part-time contract defender met the client.

While many turn a blind eye to the deprivation of counsel in such cases, New Orleans Judge Arthur L. Hunter Jr. has decided to fight for the Right to Counsel by granting petitions to free prisoners facing serious charges without counsel.

(Source: "Gideon's Silence", Loyola LA CrimProf Alexandra Natapoff) Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 1, 2006 in Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Increased Struggle to Find Housing of Paroled Sex Offenders

California Corrections Officials are struggling as never before to find housing for a steady stream of high-risk sex offenders after they are released from prison. In one county, officials have had to resort to housing a handful of sex offenders in a state parole office.

The housing challenge grew tougher this year due to the signing of a new law preventing convicted child molesters classified as high-risk from living within half a mile of any kindergarten through high school, public or private, while they are on parole.  More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 1, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

National Crime Victim Law Institute Hosts Fifth Annual Conference

Lewis & Clark Law School’s National Crime Victim Law Institute sponsors its fifth conference exclusively for civil rights lawyers who defend the rights of crime victims in the criminal process. The conference, titled “The Power of One, the Strength of Many: Advancing Victims’ Rights,” is scheduled for June 16 and 17 in Portland, Oregon.

“Crime victim law is still an emerging area of law,” said Executive Director Doug Beloof. “But with the passage of the Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, victim law is becoming more and more part of the fabric of the criminal justice system and attorneys, judges, and advocates need to be aware of it.”

Established in 2000, the National Crime Victim Law Institute is the only national organization working to assert victims’ rights in criminal trial and appellate courts. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 1, 2006 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

FBI will Use DNA Database to Identify Missing Persons

According to USA Today, the FBI plans to use its national DNA database system to help identify not only criminals, but also missing persons and tens of thousands of unidentified bodies held by local coroners and medical examiners.

A new computer program planned for this fall will compare DNA taken from unidentified bodies to DNA submitted by family members of missing persons. The plan takes advantage of the fact that biological relatives sometimes have similar, though not identical, DNA profiles. [Mark Godsey]

May 31, 2006 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Number of Death Row Inmates Continue to Decline

According to the latest edition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Death Row USA, the number of people on the death row in the United States is continuing to decline, falling to 3,370 as of April 1, 2006. Texas and South Carolina have had the largest death row inmate decrease since January 1, 2006. California continues to have the nation's largest death row population, followed by Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. More. . .  [Mark Godsey]

May 31, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

City Ordinance Plans to Restrict Alley Use to Combat Crime

A Minneapolis City Ordinance Proposal plans to make miles and miles of Minneapolis alleys off-limits to strangers in an attempt to curtail crime. The proposal prohibits anyone from walking in an alley who doesn't live on that block, who isn't a guest of someone who does, or whose job does not require them to enter the alleys.

Counsel Members claim the Proposal is part of a continued effort to curb vandalism, theft, and drug sales that occur in alleys across the city. Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 31, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hit and Run Grannies

72-year-old Olga Rutterschmidt and 75-year-old Helen Golay are accused of befriending vulnerable men, insuring the men's lives for millions of dollars, and then cashing in after the men die in mysterious back alley hit-and-runs.  Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 30, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

All Charges Dropped Against A New Jersey Man Who Once Faced The Death Penalty

Prosecutors in New Jersey announced that they were dropping all charges against Larry Peterson who had been convicted of murder in 1989, saying they could no longer meet their burden of proof in his case. Peterson's conviction was overturned last year after DNA tests failed to match him with evidence from the scene of the crime.  Story. . .  [Mark Godsey]

May 30, 2006 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Terms Differ in Jail Releases

According to the Los Angeles Times, experts worry Los Angeles County Sheriff Baca's policy of having certain prisoners serve more time for the same crime may invite Equal Protection challenges.

Under its policy of selectively releasing criminals to ease jail overcrowding, the Sheriff's Department has routinely forced women, prostitutes arrested in Compton, and certain gang members to serve more time than others convicted of identical crimes. [Mark Godsey]

May 30, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Execution Stats for 2006

From DPIC:  With the execution of Jesus Aguilar in Texas on May 24, there have now been 20 executions in 2006:

  • 50% of the executions have been in Texas
  • 75% have been in the South
  • 75% of those executed were of minority race
  • 62% of the victims in the underlying murders were white.

At the current pace, there would be 48 executions in 2006, a decline from the 60 executions in 2005, though many executions have been stayed while courts consider the lethal injection process.
(source: DPIC statistics, May 25, 2006).  See Executions and DPIC's Execution Database.

May 30, 2006 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, May 29, 2006

This Week's Top 5 Crim Papers

This week's top 5 crim papers, with number of recent downloads, are:

(1) 156 The Poverty of the Moral Stimulus
John Mikhail,
Georgetown University - Law Center,
Date posted to database: April 19, 2006
Last Revised: April 27, 2006
(2) 134 Killing in Good Conscience: Comments on Sunstein and Vermeule’s Lesser Evil Argument for Capital Punishment and other Human Rights Violations
Eric D. Blumenson,
Suffolk University - Law School,
Date posted to database: April 25, 2006
Last Revised: May 8, 2006
(3) 109 Muslim Profiles Post-9/11: Is Racial Profiling an Effective Counterterrorist Measure and Does it Violate the Right to be Free from Discrimination?
Bernard E. Harcourt,
University of Chicago - Law School,
Date posted to database: March 30, 2006
Last Revised: April 19, 2006
(4) 106 Internal Separation of Powers: Checking Today’s Most Dangerous Branch from Within
Neal Kumar Katyal,
Georgetown University Law Center,
Date posted to database: May 8, 2006
Last Revised: May 10, 2006
(5) 102 The New Forensics: Criminal Justice, False Certainty, and the Second Generation of Scientific Evidence
Erin Murphy,
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall),
Date posted to database: April 19, 2006
Last Revised: May 3, 2006

May 29, 2006 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Racial Profiling in Car Stops in MO

Blacks stopped 42% more than whites.  [Mark Godsey]

May 29, 2006 in Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FBI Dumping Gun Shot Residue Test as Junk Science

This could lead to many individuals convicted on the basis of such evidence to challenge their convictions post conviction.  Story....[Mark Godsey]

May 29, 2006 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

People Magazine of the Federal Judiciary

Stay up on the latest gossip on all your favorite federal judges.  Underneath Their Robes has it all, including the latest "hotties" list.

May 28, 2006 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

W&M CrimProf Marcus Honored

Marcus_award Paul Marcus, the Haynes Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School, has been named a recipient of the 2006 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. The award was presented during the College's commencement ceremony on May 14, 2006.

To perpetuate the memory of the life of Algernon Sydney Sullivan, the New York Southern Society has arranged to make awards to one man and one woman in William & Mary’s graduating class, and to one other person who has a close relationship with the college. In selection of recipients, nothing is considered except characteristics of heart, mind, and helpfulness to others.
Since joining the William & Mary law faculty in 1992, Marcus has received many awards for his commitment to scholarship and instruction, including the Law School’s John Marshall Award and the Walter L. Williams, Jr. Teaching Award.

“Today, we honor him for the spirit with which he gives of himself – especially to those in need,” William & Mary President Gene R. Nichol said.

For the past several years, Nichol said, Marcus has served as a mentor to middle-school and elementary-school students through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization – and was named the group’s 2004 Volunteer of the Year. Marcus has also founded a law and literature program at the Central Virginia Regional Jail where he and law students visit inmates once a month. Marcus currently volunteers his time to work with Habitat for Humanity and serves as co-reporter, with University of Oklahoma Associate Law Professor Mary Sue Backus '01, for the National Committee on the Right to Counsel, which is a massive effort to examine defendants rights in criminal cases across the country.

May 28, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)