CrimProf Blog

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

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

States Combat Meth Manufacturers Through Internet Registries

With the number of seized meth labs continuing to increase in some regions across the country, several states are fighting back by creating Internet registries for methamphetamine manufacturers.

Tennessee brought the nation’s first such registry online in 2005, and it now carries information on almost 400 convicted meth manufacturers, according to the State Bureau of Investigations. The registry is posted on a publicly accessible Web site and was established in response to complaints from residents and from landlords whose property had been damaged or destroyed by meth production.

In Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich recently signed a law creating a convicted meth manufacturer registry. State Senator William R. Haine said the Illinois meth registry will primarily be used to help law enforcement by reducing the time and expense of searching through conviction records rather than to inform the public about meth manufacturers in the area.

At least four states: Georgia, Oklahoma, Washington, and West Virginia, have bills pending that would create a meth-maker registry. An Oregon bill would require the state to alert residents, through an Internet registry or other means, when a convicted meth maker is released from prison into their area. Montana has included meth makers in its sexual and violent offender registry since 2003. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 10, 2006 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 9, 2006

CrimProf Spotlight: Patricia Hassett

Hassett This week, the CrimProf Blog spotlights Patricia Hassett of Syracuse University College of Law:

  Formerly a prosecuting attorney and a municipal government attorney, Professor Hassett served with the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct in England, advising on the education and professional conduct of persons providing legal services. She has also served as a consultant to the English Home Office on a project to improve the quality of bail decisions. Professor Hassett writes in the field of artificial intelligence and the law and has constructed a prototype of an expert system that makes bail recommendations. Professor Hassett has also organized the Technology and Legal Practice Conference for practicing lawyers. She teaches courses in constitutional criminal procedure, artificial intelligence and law, and criminal law.

June 9, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 8, 2006

"Broken Windows" Strategy Helps Lower Crime in Denver

In the Westwood neighborhood, where the Denver is testing a "broken windows" strategy that cracks down on crimes of disorder, criminal offenses have declined by 25 percent in the first five months of this year. Two police units called Special Crime Attack Teams (SCAT), each with five officers,have been blanketing the Westwood area in addition to regular patrols.

Over all, Criminal offenses in Denver dropped by 7.4 percent for the first five months of this year compared with the first five months of last year according to data released on Wednesday. Police have also logged more arrests in the first five months of this year than they did at that point last year. If the trend holds up, it will be the first time in seven years that arrests haven't declined in Denver.

"The people who should get the real credit are the cops on the street," Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said. "They have learned some new systems and done a great job."

More. . .  [Mark Godsey]

June 8, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Home Invasions on the Rise in Some US Regions

According to USA Today, Home invasions robberies are increasing in the West and Southwest.

In Houston, home-invasion robberies increased 25% last year to 448. Police Chief Harold Hurtt says the victims often are either drug dealers whose stashes are targeted or small-business owners known to carry home cash.

In Sacramento, home-invasion robberies are up 37% to 63 in the first five months of this year over the same period last year. "What happens, when one person does a certain type of crime and is successful, it filters through the criminal world," says Sacramento Sgt. Terrell Marshall. "That's what we're seeing with this home-invasion thing. When they get incarcerated, they're actually being educated on which crimes work and which crimes don't work.

In Hidalgo County, Texas, the sheriff's office created a special unit to investigate home-invasion robberies. Sheriff Guadalupe Trevino says criminals in the Rio Grande Valley county near the Mexican border often dress like SWAT officers and stage assaults on homes "where they believe drugs or drug money is being stashed.  Sometimes they act on flawed information, which puts an innocent citizen in the line of fire." More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 8, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Vera Institute of Justice Releases "Confronting Confinement" Report

On June 8, after a year-long inquiry, The Vera Institute of Justice's Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons released Confronting Confinement, a report on violence and abuse in U.S. jails and prisons; the broad impact of those problems on public safety and public health; and how correctional facilities nationwide can become safer and more effective.

According to the Commission, 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States on any given day. 750,000 men and women work in correctional facilities. The annual cost: more than 60 billion dollars. Yet within three years, 67 percent of former prisoners will be rearrested and 52 percent will be re-incarcerated. Policy makers at all levels of government and in both political parties joined the Commission to measure the effectiveness of the American approach to incarceration through the Confronting Confinement report.

The report focuses on four problem areas:

  1. Dangerous conditions of confinement: violence, poor health care, and inappropriate segregation
  2. The challenges facing labor and management
  3. Weak oversight of correctional facilities
  4. Serious flaws in the available data about violence and abuse.

In response to these problems, the Commission offers 30 pragmatic recommendations for reform, many of them based on good practices and exemplary leadership in particular correctional facilities around the country. Full Report [Mark Godsey]

June 8, 2006 in Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Expanding DNA Bank: Police Proficiency vs. Privacy

The nation's databank of DNA "fingerprints" is growing by more than 80,000 people every month, giving police an unprecedented crime-fighting tool while prompting warnings that the expansion threatens constitutional privacy protections.

With little public debate, state and federal rules for cataloging DNA have broadened in recent years to include not only violent felons, but also perpetrators of lesser crimes and people who have been arrested but not convicted.

Now some in law enforcement are calling for a national registry of every American's DNA profile against which police could instantly compare crime-scene specimens. Advocates say the system would dissuade many would-be criminals and help capture the rest. Opponents say that the growing use of DNA scans is making suspects out of many law-abiding Americans and turning the "innocent until proven guilty" maxim on its head. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 7, 2006 in Evidence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Laws Allow for Sex Offender GPS Tracking

According to USA Today, hundreds of convicted sex offenders will have to wear a two-piece electronic tracking device for the rest of their lives under a new Wisconsin law.

In May, Wisconsin joined a rapidly rising number of states using GPS to monitor convicted sex offenders. At least 23 states are doing so, according to a survey results from The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. Others have since begun or expanded GPS programs.

Congress may accelerate these states' efforts. The House and Senate have each passed sex offender bills this year that approve funding for GPS tracking and a currently drafting the final bill. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 7, 2006 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Crim Prof Bernard E. Harcourt Goes Public About the Language of the Gun

Harcourt_2 On Monday, June 5, 2006, University of Chicago Law School Crim Prof Bernard E. Harcourt discussed his new book, Language of the Gun, with Steve Edwards on the program "848" on Chicago Public Radio.

In Language of the Gun, Professor Harcourt recounts in-depth interviews with youths detained at an all-male correctional facility, exploring how they talk about guns and what meanings they ascribe to them in a broader attempt to understand some of the assumptions implicit in current handgun policies.

Professor Harcourt's scholarship focuses on issues of crime and punishment from an empirical and social theoretic perspective. His research intersects criminal law and procedure, police and punishment practices, political and social theory, and criminology. Click here to listen [Mark Godsey]

June 7, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Philippine Government Votes to Abolish the Death Penalty

On June 6, the Philippine Senate voted unanimously to abolish the death penalty.  Even senators who supported the death penalty voted for abolition.  Life without parole sentences or 40 years in prison will be substituted for execution, depending on the offense. 

On the same day, the Philippine House of Representatives voted 119-20 for a similar bill outlawing capital punishment.  The two bodies are expected to reconcile differences in their bills and President Arroyo is expected to sign the final version of legislation. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 6, 2006 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man in Prison for Mouse Stuffed Burrito Scam

A man who stuffed a dead mouse into his Taco Bell burrito in a botched extortion attempt was sentenced Friday to 16 to 30 months in prison. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 6, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gallup Poll: Increasing Number of Americans Favor Life Without Parole

A May 2006 Gallup Poll found that when given a choice between the sentencing options of life without parole and the death penalty, only 47% of respondents chose the death penalty, the lowest percentage in two decades. 48% favored life without parole for those convicted of murder.

When asked whether the death penalty deters murder, 64% of those polled stated that it does not and only 34%  believe it does deter. 63% of those polled believe that an innocent person has been executed in the past 5 years, an increase over previous results. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 6, 2006 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 5, 2006

American Bar Association will Review the President's Legal Challenges

The board of governors of the American Bar Association voted unanimously Saturday to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office.

Meeting in New Orleans, the board of governors for the world's largest association of legal professionals approved the creation of an all-star legal panel with a number of members from both political parties. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 5, 2006 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Crim Prof Doug Beloof Speaks Out About the Illusion of Criminal Victim Rights

Beloof Under Oregon's victims' rights laws, crime victims are allowed to attended to attend court appearances and speak -- but not legally challenge sentences.

"What you have is what I would call illusory rights," said Doug Beloof, a Lewis and Clark Law School professor and national expert on victims' rights. "For every right, there must be a remedy. In Oregon, these rights have not yet come into conformity with the traditional American civil rights model because there is no enforcement in the appellate courts."

Beloof said victims should be able to go to court if they believe their rights are violated. That would bring Oregon in line with several other states and a federal law that went into effect last year.

More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 5, 2006 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Michigan Legislators get Tougher on Drunk Drivers

Michigan lawmakers are going on offense against the state's worst drunken drivers, pushing two measures aimed at cracking down on repeat or extremely drunk offenders.

One proposal seeks to abolish the practice of wiping convicted drunken drivers' records clean if 10 years have passed since their last offense. The second measure targets people caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or above and calls for offenders to undergo mandatory alcohol treatment and to use an in-car device called an ignition interlock that checks their body for alcohol every time they get behind the wheel for one year.

Both proposals are aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders in Michigan, estimated at one-third of the people annually convicted. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 5, 2006 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Eighth Amendment Controversy: When is Someone too Insane to Die?

According to the New York Times, Scott Panetti, a death row inmate in Texas, understands that the state says it intends to execute him for the murder of his wife's parents. But Mr. Panetti, 48, who represented himself in court despite a long and colorful history of mental illness, says he believes that the state's real reason is a different one. He says the state, in league with Satan, wants to kill him to keep him from preaching the Gospel.

That delusion has been documented by doctors and acknowledged by judges and prosecutors. It poses what experts call the next big question in death penalty law now that the Supreme Court has barred the execution of juvenile offenders and the mentally retarded: what makes someone too mentally ill to be executed?

Two decades ago, the United States Supreme Court in Ford v. Wainwright ruled that the Eighth Amendment prohibited the execution of the insane. Since then, lower courts have struggled to find a way to apply that principle in practice.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently said Mr. Panetti was sane enough to die based on the bare awareness of his impending execution and the stated reason for it. The full court will soon decide whether to hear the case.  More. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 4, 2006 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This Week's Top Five Crim Papers

Ssrn_17_1 This week's top 5 crim papers, with number of recent downloads, are:

(1) 162 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) 144 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) 133 Defending the Right to Self Representation: An Empirical Look at the Pro Se Felony Defendant
Erica J. Hashimoto,
University of Georgia - School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 17, 2006
Last Revised: June 1, 2006
(4) 115 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
(5) 113 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 31, 2006

June 4, 2006 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Crim Prof Mary Sigler Wins Award of Excellence

Mary Sigler, associate professor at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, won an Award of Excellence in this year's "Best of the Christian Press" competition for her article, Prison Rape and the Corruption of Character, which was published in Valparaiso University's Lent 2005 issue of The Cresset.

The award is sponsored by the Associated Church Press, the oldest religious press association in North America.  Nearly 200 publications, websites, news services, and individuals are ACP members, representing a combined circulation of several million.

A longer version of her article, By the Light of Virtue:  Prison Rape and the Corruption of Character, was published in the January 2006 issue of the Iowa Law Review. Both versions of the article argue that the public's failure to respect prisoners' rights reflects poorly on society.  Sigler teaches criminal law, jurisprudence, and constitutional law. [Mark Godsey]

June 4, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)