CrimProf Blog

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

Friday, June 13, 2008

Juvenile courts unsure how to deal with dangerous teens incompetent for trial

The 17-year-old with a slash of a scar between his eyebrows frustrates Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Thomas F. O'Malley. The teen leveled a silver handgun, robbing a woman gardening in her yard and drivers delivering milk and chips, police say. Others, like the man pumping gas, he threatened with a pipe. But in the detention center, without a weapon or adults urging him on, he was prey. The other kids were taking his food.

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June 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Scheck speaks, raises funds for Innocence Project

Bscheck Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said in a speech last night that West Virginia – and dozens of other states – were ready for bipartisan criminal justice reforms to prevent future wrongful convictions. Scheck spoke at an Innocence Project fundraiser in Charleston last night and this afternoon at a West Virginia lawyers’ conference.

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June 12, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Despite Concerns Local police departments look to increase use of Taser

While the investigation continues into the death of drug suspect Tony Curtis Bradway hours after Town of Southampton police shocked him with a Taser, Long Island and the New York Police Department are following a national trend that could one day make the electric weapon as common as the baton.

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June 12, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Killer put to death in Texas' 1st execution in 9 months

311xinlinegallery A remorseful convicted killer was executed Wednesday night for the rape and slaying of a woman in Dallas 17 years ago, the first Texas prisoner in nearly nine months put to death in the nation's most active capital punishment state. Karl Eugene Chamberlain, with a big smile on his face, addressed relatives of his victim, staring directly at the son, parents and brother of Felecia Prechtl as they stood just a few feet away, looking through a glass window.

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June 12, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Plea Bargaining's Survival: Financial Crimes Plea Bargaining, a Continued Triumph in a Post-Enron World

This article examines the war on financial crimes that began after the collapse of Enron in 2001. Although many believed that the reforms implemented following this scandal led to greater prosecutorial focus on financial crimes and longer prison sentences, an analysis of data from 1995 through 2006 reveals that little has actually changed. The statistics demonstrate that the government's focus on financial crimes has not increased and prison sentences for fraud have remained stagnant. How could this be the case? It is this author's hypothesis that although prosecutors could have chosen to use new statutes and amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines passed in the wake of Enron to increase prosecutions and sentences, they did not. Instead, prosecutors are using their new tools to encourage defendants to accept plea agreements that include sentences similar to those offered before 2001, while simultaneously threatening to use these same powers to secure astounding sentences if defendants force a trial. The result is that the promises of post-Enron reforms aimed at financial criminals were hollow and served only to reinforce plea bargaining's triumph. [Lucian Emery Dervan]

Continue Reading "Plea Bargaining's Survival: Financial Crimes Plea Bargaining, a Continued Triumph in a Post-Enron World"

June 11, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio lethal injection executions unconstitutional, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge rules

Ohio's lethal injection process is unconstitutional because it could cause pain and the state mandates that an inmate's death be painless, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge ruled Tuesday. He ordered the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to stop using the drugs that paralyze muscles and stop the heart and simply administer a lethal dose of an anesthetic.

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June 11, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US: Improve Prison Conditions at Guantanamo

More than two-thirds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, including many cleared for release or transfer, are being housed in inhumane conditions that are reportedly having a damaging effect on their mental health, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

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June 11, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pittsburgh shows slight drop in major crimes in '07

Crime in Pittsburgh dropped in most major categories last year, mirroring nationwide declines in both violent and property offenses, according to FBI statistics released this week.The FBI's preliminary Uniform Crime Report shows 3,455 violent crimes -- murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- reported in Pittsburgh last year, a slight decrease of about 0.52 percent, down from 3,473 in 2006. Violent crime nationwide dropped 1.4 percent. Property crime -- burglary, theft and car theft -- fell by 8.6 percent in the city and 2.1 percent nationwide.

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June 11, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Court Rules Lethal Injection Protocol Violates State Statute

From  "Ohio must stop using a common combination of three chemicals to execute condemned inmates because they may produce excruciating pain, a state court judge there ruled Tuesday.

"Then, in what legal experts said was a first, the judge instead ordered the state to start using a single large dose of barbiturate, common in animal euthanasia."  Read the rest of the article here.  [Mike Mannheimer]

June 11, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

OK'd for transfer, but going nowhere

1offend0610 Mike Meyer says that in his 13 years locked inside Minnesota Sex Offender Program facilities, he's gained insight into why he molested 36 children and young adults, and how to stop himself from doing it again. "When I was offending I felt like I was a freak -- like I couldn't talk to anybody," said Meyer, 38. Now he recognizes secrecy as "a big red flag."Meyer completed all the required phases of treatment in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program four years ago and has an 18-page Predischarge Plan listing his strategies for not reoffending. But he remains locked up.

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June 10, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Alternative courts gain ground for petty criminals

Cities and counties increasingly are creating innovative community courts to deal with the growing number of habitual petty criminals that police call "frequent fliers."Criminals who are arrested repeatedly for crimes such as public drunkenness, trespassing and panhandling are crowding jails and sapping police resources, officials say. The cost of handling small-time criminals who cycle in and out of jail is becoming a more pressing problem for communities as budgets tighten and jail populations swell.

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June 10, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Current and Former ADAs Who Helped Convict Exonerated Men Reflect

Fry_james_05 In fewer than two years in office, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has become a star for who he is not — namely legendary DA Henry Wade. Watkins has embraced the help of the Innocence Project and has worked to free the wrongfully convicted, blaming the "conviction at all costs" mentality of his predecessors' administrations as a reason for the injustice.

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June 10, 2008 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

California Obscenity Prosecution Challenges Lawyers and Jurors

What violates community obscenity standards in the nation's reputed pornography capital? Federal prosecutors think they have a case.

Ira Isaacs readily admits he produced and sold movies depicting bestiality and sexual activity involving feces and urine. The judge warned potential jurors that the hours of fetish videos included violence against women, and many of them said they don't want to serve because watching would make them sick to their stomachs.

"It's the most extreme material that's ever been put on trial. I don't know of anything more disgusting," said Roger Jon Diamond — Isaacs' own defense attorney.

The case is the most visible effort of a new federal task force designed to crack down on smut in America. Isaacs, however, says his work is an extreme but constitutionally protected form of art.

"There's no question the stuff is disgusting," said Diamond, who has spent much of his career representing pornographers. "The question is should we throw people in jail for it?"

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June 10, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

French Judge Aids in San Francisco Homicide Investigation

A French judge has arrived in San Francisco to oversee an unusual probe into the death of a French citizen whose stabbing has puzzled police investigators for more than a year.

Police have said they are handling the June 2, 2007, death of 36-year-old Hugues de la Plaza as a possible homicide, although they have also angered his acquaintances by suggesting he killed himself. The chief medical examiner's office has been unable to determine what caused the 36-year-old sound engineer's death.

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June 10, 2008 in International, Law Enforcement, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYPD Advised to Expand Taser Program

The NYPD could prevent some police-related shootings from escalating into deadly confrontations like the Sean Bell case by giving cops Tasers, a new report says.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly hired the high-powered Rand Corp. to review weapons training six weeks after officers fired a combined 50 rounds at Bell and his pals in November 2006 in Queens.

A review of 455 police-involved shootings found 25 cases - including three fatalities - where Tasers might have prevented the gunplay, according to Rand's 114-page study released yesterday. The study did not review the Sean Bell shooting.

"If a Taser had been used, the situation would not have progressed to the point where guns were necessary," said Bernard Rostker, who directed the $350,000, 16-month review.

Continue reading article here. [Brooks Holland]

June 10, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Asking the Right Questions on the Crime Beat

20080606_102003_16583 Crime happens every day. And as crime reporters, we often spend our time running from one heartwrenching crime scene to another, scanning arrest report after arrest report, churning out well-intended stories that state the news, but that too often ignore the bigger picture of what all this crime says about who we are as a society, what we value and what we are becoming.

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June 9, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge’s ban on the use of the word ‘rape’ at trial reflects trend

422tory_bowen1_06082008_6r13dekd_em It’s the only way Tory Bowen knows to honestly describe what happened to her. She was raped.But a judge prohibited her from uttering the word “rape” in front of a jury. The term “sexual assault” also was taboo, and Bowen could not refer to herself as a victim or use the word “assailant” to describe the man who allegedly raped her.The defendant’s presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial trumps Bowen’s right of free speech, said the Lincoln, Neb., judge who issued the order.

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June 9, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Coming Home After a Reduced Sentence

Those Released Since Disparities in Cocaine Penalties Were Offset Find a Different World

Ph2008060701907 Days after her release from prison, Nerika Jenkins made a bold prediction: "I'll bounce right back into society." Although the world changed considerably over the 11 years of her imprisonment, she said, "I'm not afraid." She took vocational classes -- masonry, carpentry, painting, culinary arts, Microsoft Excel and horticulture -- while serving time in Philadelphia and Danbury, Conn. "I'm just ready to achieve my short-term goal, building a nursing home," she said. "They're always in need of places for the elderly."

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June 9, 2008 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cops Target L.A. Gangs' 'Shot Callers'

Los Angeles is the most gang-saturated city per capita in the world.

In the nine square miles that make up Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood alone, there are 65 different gangs and roughly 15,000 hardcore gang members. If you are a cop working the streets of Los Angeles, most of the calls you respond to are gang-related.

Gangs have been a problem in Los Angeles for generations now, but they weren't as lethal in the past. It used to be that gangs were more concerned about tagging and turf than committing crimes. Now gangs are more like criminal syndicates — like the mafia. And law enforcement is changing its techniques to break them up. [Mark Godsey]

Listen to "Cops Target L.A. Gangs' 'Shot Callers' "

June 8, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

In Philadelphia, 10,000 men's 'call to action' is cut short

Wazier El remembers the excitement that day in October, when nearly 10,000 men gathered in a stadium to send a message to drug dealers, gang members and gun-toting criminals: The violence must stop.

In a matter of days, the men vowed, they would patrol the streets of this city, where the homicide rate is among the highest in the nation.

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June 8, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)