September 23, 2006
"Cry Rape" is Now Available
A book written by Bill Leuders, entitled, CRY RAPE: The True Story of One Woman’s Harrowing Quest for Justice, is now available for purchase.
The book tells the story of a woman in Madison, WI, who was raped. Detectives investigating the crime, however, concluded that she was fabricating her allegations, and interrogated her until they got her to confess to having made up her allegations. They then charged her with obstructing an officer for having fabricated her claims. Ultimately, DNA testing proved that her allegations were true.
Barry Scheck, whom many of you know from the New York Innocence Project, had this to say about the book: "Cry Rape provides a chilling account of how tunnel vision van lead even well-meaning police officers into forming conclusions that are flat-out wrong, how powerful interrogation techniques can lead innocent people to confess to crimes they did not commit, and how DNA can correct mistakes for the lucky few." More Info. . . [Mark Godsey]
September 22, 2006
Weekly CrimProf Spotlight: Susan N. Herman
This week the CrimProf Blog spotlights Brooklyn Law School CrimProf Susan N. Herman.
Professor Herman is a widely regarded expert on the Supreme Court, particularly in the area of criminal procedure. She regularly speaks to judges and lawyers around the country on behalf of the Federal Judicial Center, bar associations, and CLE providers and appears in panel discussions on a range of issues at law schools and other venues. Among her many professional activities, she serves as General Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, and as a member of its National Board of Directors and Executive Committee.
Professor Herman has written a number of amicus briefs for U.S. Supreme Court cases in the area of criminal procedure and constitutional law, and is often quoted in the media on important Supreme Court cases. She is also the author of numerous law review articles, including recent articles in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (The USA Patriot Act and the Submajoritarian Fourth Amendment), in a Willamette symposium on federalism (Collapsing Spheres: Joint Terrorism Task Forces, Federalism and the War on Terror), and in numerous other law reviews, including Columbia, UCLA, and Iowa. Her book, The Sixth Amendment Right to Speedy and Public Trial, part of the Praeger Press series on the Constitution, is scheduled for publication in 2006. She has also written sections of books on criminal law and procedure, law and film,prisoners' rights, and civil rights and articles and essays for non-academic publications. Professor Herman’s seminar, Terrorism and Civil Liberties, is an outgrowth of her interest in post 9/11 constitutional issues, including both civil liberties issues and federalism issues. (See "Our New Federalism? National Authority and Local Autonomy in the War on Terror," 69 Bklyn. L. Rev. 1201 (2004) (symposium).
Prior to joining the faculty in 1980, she was a staff attorney and Associate Director of Prisoners' Legal Services of New York, and was the Pro Se Law Clerk to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Professor Herman has been named as Centennial Professor of Law.
September 21, 2006
CrimProfs Michael P. Scharf and Michael A. Newton Voice Their Concern With the Independence of the Hussein Tribunal
From washingtonpost.com: The Iraqi government ordered the chief judge in the genocide trial of Saddam Hussein to step down Tuesday because he said last week that Hussein was "not a dictator," prompting Case Western Reserve University School of Law CrimProf Michael P. Scharf and Vanderbilt University Law School CrimProf Michael A. Newton to voice concern that the dismissal could undermine the independence of the tribunal hearing the case.
"This raises alarm bells," said Scharf, who is also an adviser to the tribunal. "It looks like the government is trying to meddle with the tribunal. This will erode the tribunal's independence and legitimacy further in the eyes of the international community and the Iraqi people."
Michael A. Newton, who is another adviser to the tribunal, said the government's action violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the law that was supposed to grant the court independence.
"For the government to attempt to do this in some sense plays into the defendants' hands, strengthening the argument that the court is a function of politics and not of law," he said. "An equally serious concern is the degree of intensive preparation that this judge has done which will be very difficult to simulate with any rapidity." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
ABA Report Points Problems With Florida's Death Penalty System
From PalmBeachPost.com: The American Bar Association recently released a review of Florida's death penalty today, highlighting serious problems with the fairness and accuracy of execution in the Sunshine State.
In the 454-page report, a team of influential Florida lawyers — both supporters and opponents — recommended a panoply of changes and urged further study of racial disparity, finding the process is clearly not color-blind."It appears that those convicted of killing white victims are far more likely to receive a death sentence and be executed," according to the report.
The review also called for two independent commissions to investigate wrongful convictions and innocence claims.Florida leads the nation in Death Row exonerations, 22 of them since the penalty was reinstated in 1973. During the same time, Florida executed 60 Death Row inmates. "Over one exoneration for every three executions," according to the report
The ABA report, two years in the making, was highly critical of the cloaked process of clemency, a procedure under which convicts can ask for forgiveness or mercy from the governor and his Cabinet members. They have the power to commute death sentences to life in prison. In the Sunshine State, the governor can deny clemency at any time, for any reason, without any hearing. Clemency has not been granted to an inmate sentenced to death in 23 years. Yet, its full and proper use is essential to guaranteeing fairness in the death penalty, according to ABA findings.
Summit Will Focus On the Effects of Putting Teens in Adult Prisons
From USATODAY.com: Get-tough laws that have put more teenagers in adult prisons since the early '90s conflict with a wave of new research suggesting how children can be set straight and society protected at the same time.
At a two-day summit in Washington, leading researchers will meet with juvenile justice decision-makers — directors of state juvenile justice systems, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys — to discuss how the new evidence should affect treatment of teen offenders.
For example, Shay Bilchik, president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America say there's new firm evidence that teens prosecuted as adults are much more likely to commit crimes when they get out than comparable young people tried as juveniles. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
September 20, 2006
Experts Criticize Maryland's Lethal Injection Administrators
From Baltimoresun.com: In the most detailed public assessment of the people who perform Maryland's executions, two doctors offered a blistering critique in federal court yesterday of the men and women assigned to carry out the state's lethal injection procedures, describing them as poorly trained and unqualified for their jobs.
Testifying in a lawsuit filed by death row inmate Vernon L. Evans Jr., the physicians criticized execution team members' understanding of intravenous systems and of signs that an inmate being put to death might be conscious, and one doctor concluded that some don't comprehend their individual responsibilities on the night of an execution.
Asked by an attorney for the state whether he found it "reassuring" that team members practice monthly and then weekly as a scheduled execution approaches, Dr. Mark J.S. Heath responded, "Not with this group of people, I don't. The totality of all their knowledge is grossly inadequate," Heath, an anesthesiologist and assistant professor at Columbia University, testified. "Them spending time together ... is likely to lead them further astray into other areas of misconception."
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Denver Expands Successful Broken Window Plan
From Rocky mountain News.com: Denver police plan to expand the successful "Broken Windows" strategy into the city's northeast police districts. The expansion, which will take in police districts 2 and 5, is scheduled for a formal announcement today. Further details of the plan were not available Tuesday.
Broken Windows is an umbrella term used by famed criminologist George Kelling, which originally stood for increased attention to even minor offenses - like broken windows - but now includes a kind of integrated approach to law enforcement. Kelling advocates extensive use of timely crime statistics, weekly discussion among top commanders about what is happening in their districts and what they're doing about it, and creative use of resources.
Police Cmdr. Rudy Sandoval tried out the tactic in Westwood, reassigning special crime attack teams to traffic duty, graffiti patrols and zeroing in on other violations in a single neighborhood to see if it would reduce crime.
Statistics suggest that it did. Sandoval said crime in Westwood dropped 25.9 percent in the first six months of this year compared with last year, if drug offenses are not counted. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Shaun Martin Comments on Prosecution's Desperate Efforts in Felix Case
From SignOnSanDiego.com: University of San Diego CrimProf Shaun Martin recently commented the Prosecution's recent seemingly desperate decisions in the Francisco Javier Arellano Félix case to get people to testify.
The Prosecution charged one potential witness, who was going to be deported back to Mexico, with the felony of making a false statement to a government agent – lying about his name to the Coast Guard.
Mexican officials extradited his oldest brother, Francisco Rafael, on Saturday to face charges from a 26-year-old case. He was scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
Federal prosecutors are also asking for the extradition of another brother, Benjamín, who is in custody in Mexico and was indicted in the same case as the oldest brother.
Drug Enforcement Agency Officials said that Francisco Javier Arellano Félix the leader of one of Mexico's biggest drug cartels. Arellano took over his family's cartel after one of his brothers was killed and another was arrested. They say the ring smuggled tons of cocaine and other drugs into the United States over the past decades, corrupted officials, and is behind murders on both sides of the border.
Martin beieves this recent move indicates the case isn't coming into focus quite yet. “They may feel they have a strong case against Arellano Félix, but what's happening with these other players tends to suggest a somewhat desperate effort to get these people to testify against Arellano Félix,” he said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Reader's Corner: "Reflective Glass" by William G. Hathorn
"Reflective Glass" is a new book by death row inmate G. Wilford Hathorn. The book is a collection of fifteen essays that deal with life on Texas' death row from a prisoner's perspective. The essays describe many aspects of death row life: the pain of losing friends through execution, the medical treatment of prisoners, the monotony of living in a tiny cell, and the interaction with guards. More from Death Penalty Information Center. . . [Michele Berry]
Gambling with the Truth in Florida Solve 'em?
You can call it Florida Solve 'em--it's the latest card game. Trumps and jokers are just as likely to score, and it's all about solving crime. Crime Stoppers in Florida has printed 5,000 decks of playing cards with pictures and information regarding 52 of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office 280 unsolved homicide victims. Hoping that the reward money offered (up to $1000) will be incentive enough for inmates to provide tips, the cards will be passed out to county jail inmates in efforts to solve crime. The families of the victims widely support the effort. (More on Florida's plan.) And of course solving crimes is always a positive, but is baiting a bunch of snitches really a good thing? More on the "snitch" debate. . . [Michele Berry]
Nebraska: KKK-Trooper Probed by Crime Commission
From KETV.com: The Lincoln Police Department will investigate Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers' request that a former state trooper lose his law enforcement certificate. Chambers had filed a complaint with the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice against former trooper Robert Henderson. The police department was tapped to act for the state crime commission in conducting the investigation. Henderson was fired in March for "conduct unbecoming an officer" after an investigation revealed he was a member of the Knights Party, a group with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Henderson appealed his dismissal, saying among other reasons that the firing violated his First Amendment rights. Last month, an arbitrator ordered Henderson's reinstatement and payment of back wages. The state is appealing the decision. More. . . [Michele Berry]
September 19, 2006
Report Results: Maryland Spends Far More on Incarcerating Substance Abusers than Treating Them
washingtonpost.com: The Justice and Policy Institute, D.C.-based think tank, report found that Maryland has made "slow progress" in diverting nonviolent offenders from jail and prison. For each dollar spent to put them behind bars, the state provided just 26 cents through its Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration to treat drug-dependent adults referred by the criminal justice system, the report estimated.
"We can afford to treat people," said the report's author, Kevin Pranis. "The resources are being misspent."
But Pranis credited Maryland with attempting to move away from a "war on drugs" mentality. The number of people admitted to drug treatment through court referral rose 28 percent between 2000 and 2004, while the number of people sentenced to prison for drug offenses fell by 7 percent.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Inconsistent Inmate Tracking Systems Lead to Confusion and Mistakes
From washingtonpost.com: The disconnect between two branches of the criminal justice system, the courts and the prisons, highlights a fragmented method of tracking inmates in the DC region.
Although many cities and counties across the country -- particularly those with large immigrant populations -- have used computerized criminal databases for decades that seamlessly share information between courts and jails, the system in DC area jurisdictions, for the most part, remains disjointed, officials say.
Across the region, officials say they recognize the need to make their court and jail data compatible within each jurisdiction. But for now, most use safeguards that are inconsistent from one area to the next. Some fingerprint all inmates; some don't. Others type in a slew of aliases, while others shun names for numbers.
The incompatibilities have led to a number of mistakes. For example, accused killed Christopher T. Broady was allowed to walk out of the Prince William County jail in a moment of confusion between court and jail officials. Months earlier, inmate Fernando Cruz, confined two months too long because of a miscommunication in name filing. Rest of article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Upcoming Conference to Discuss CrimProf George P. Fletcher's New Book
On November 5 and 6, 2006, The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, the Jacob Burns Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, and the Cardozo Law Review will present a conference on CrimProf George P. Fletcher's forthcoming book, The Grammar of Criminal Law, American, European, International.
Like Rethinking Criminal Law -- Fletcher's groundbreaking work of 1978 -- The Grammar of Criminal Law examines crime and punishment from a philosophical and comparative law point of view.
Accordingly, the conference will feature commentary from philosophers, lawyers, and legal scholars from around the world. The papers will be published in a symposium edition of The Cardozo Law Review.
CrimProf Fletcher received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1960 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago in 1964. He was Professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1969 to 1983, and joined the Columbia Law School faculty in 1983.
He has taught or lectured at Hebrew University, Harvard, Yale, Frankfurt, Budapest, Brussels, Toronto, and Hamburg. He is associated with the Hartman Center in Jerusalem and the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg.
Fletcher was the recipient of the German Wissenschaftenspreis in 1995. He deliverd the Storrs Lectures at Yale in 2001. In 2004, Fletcher was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. [Mark Godsey]
This Guy Must Not Be a CrimProf
CrimProfs do it better. For example, you'd never see CrimProf Godsey react this way if one of his students cell phones rang during class...or would you? Check out this 30 second video. [Michele Berry, thanks to TaxProf Blog]
The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat
After entering a guilty plea, Maurice Clarett--the former Ohio State Buckeye football player who led his team to a National Championship as a freshman in 2002--was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison and five years of probation for carrying a concealed weapon and aggravated robbery outside a bar early on New Year's Day 2006. More. . . [Michele Berry]
Oregon Lawyers Represent Guantanamo Detainees
From WorldLink.com: PORTLAND - Government public defenders in Portland representing seven detainees at Guantanamo Bay say two weeks of interviews in Pakistan and Afghanistan indicate that at least some are noncombatants or victims of mistaken identity." [Case in point: Falsey accused Muslim Canadian citizen deported to Syria and tortured on mistaken information from Canadian government].
"Steven Wax, who heads the public defender office in Portland, said that despite government claims the detainees are among “the worst of the worst” and were armed or captured on the battlefield, some opposed the Taliban and worked with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “There are bad guys in Guantanamo,” Wax said, but added that 450 have been denied habeas corpus, a tenet of Western law that places the burden on the government to justify a detention." Full Story. . . [Michele Berry]
The Thought Behind the Stats
- New York: one crime per 37.38 residents.
- San Jose, Calif.: one crime per 34.46 residents.
- Los Angeles: one crime per 25.97 residents.
- San Diego: one crime per 24.09 residents.
- Chicago: one crime per 21.9 residents.
- Philadelphia: one crime per 17.96 residents.
- Houston: one crime per 14.17 residents.
- San Antonio: one crime per 14.12 residents.
- Phoenix: one crime per 14.10 residents.
- Dallas: one crime per 11.79 residents.
Blue Bayou has a good point about city rankings of any sort. [The FBI's statistics includes the following disclaimer]:
Each year when Crime in the United States is published, many entities--news media, tourism agencies, and other groups with an interest in crime in our Nation--use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.
"It goes on from there to discuss why these rankings are flawed. But people like lists, and so the list is there. But here's one obvious problem: what constitutes a city is different in different parts of the country. In Washington, the city ends at the boundaries of the District of Columbia, and doesn't include some intensely crime-ridden areas just outside. Or some incredibly safe areas. In Houston, the city stretches on for miles, including what would be remote suburbs on the east coast. In Dallas, the city itself is smaller--though the "metro area"--(I can't make myself use that horrifying word, "metroplex," though I will note that Dallas uses the name of a Transformer's character to describe itself...) is larger than Houston's, so I'd guess that it includes lots of poor and crime-ridden areas but relatively fewer safer areas." More. . . [Michele Berry]
September 18, 2006
WA Law Makes Schools Aware of Convicted Juvenile Sex Offenders
From seattlepi.com: A new Washington State law that went into effect Sept. 1 makes school officials aware if children in their classrooms have been convicted of sex crimes. The new law requires sheriff's offices to notify principals when a juvenile sex offender or convicted kidnapper wants to enroll, but schools may not give parents information about other people's children. So only school employees will be notified.
Some juvenile justice advocates worry that this law is unnecessary because state prison statistics show that juvenile sex offenders are much less likely to commit new crimes than anyone convicted of other felonies. Advocates also fear that juvenile criminal histories could turn teachers against those students or be used to pressure them to move if school districts don't develop clear policies on how to handle the information.
"Not doing it well can cause huge problems for keeping young offenders in school. And staying in school is key to rehabilitation," said Kim Ambrose, a former juvenile criminal defense lawyer and supervising attorney at the University of Washington's Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
FBI Report: Violent Crime Was on the Rise in 2005
From FBI.gov: According to the FBI's annual report, violent crime was on the rise throughout 2005.
- Although violent crime totals grew over 2004, they have dropped 3.4 percent since 2001 and 17.6 percent since 1996;
- Burglaries—up 0.5 percent—were the only property crimes to rise in 2005;
- Murders were up 3.4 percent and arrests of juveniles for murder were up nearly 20 percent over 2004;
- Forcible rape decreased 1.2 percent, the only violent crime category to fall;
- Property crime victims lost an estimated $16.5 billion last year;
- Of the 14.1 million arrests made by law enforcement in 2005, drug violations accounted for more than any other offense.
- According to the Crime Clock 2005, a violent crime took place every 22.7 seconds and a property crime every 3.1 seconds in this country.
Rest of Report. . . [Mark Godsey]