By Dr. Ray Kessler, who is, incidentally, a retired Prof. of Criminal Justice, former defense attorney and prosecutor is your host. I am also a part-time instructor in Criminal Justice at Richland College, an outstanding, 2-year institution in Dallas, TX.
Note that I do NOT select which ads run on the blog.
The media and black leadership focus on police killings of black males is certainly legitimate. However, what is too infrequently address is the horrendous black-on-black homicide rate. According the the NYT:
"In her timely new book, [Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America] Jill Leovy examines one of the most disturbing facts about life in America: that African-American males are, as she puts it, “just 6 percent of the country’s population but nearly 40 percent of those murdered.” . . .
"As Leovy sees it, the problem in a place like Watts is not only the high homicide rate, but the fact that so many people who commit murder are never punished. In the 13 years before the homicide that opens her book, she writes, “a suspect was arrested in 38 percent of the 2,677 killings involving black male victims in the city of Los Angeles.” This lack of accountability is the primary cause, she argues, of the high homicide rate in some African-American neighborhoods: “Where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death,” she writes, “homicide becomes endemic.” . . .Leovy’s relentless reporting has produced a book packed with valuable, hard-won insights — and it serves as a crucial, 366-page reminder that “black lives matter,” showing how the “system’s failure to catch killers effectively made black lives cheap.”
I am not an NRA member, but I support their support for the Second Amendment. Sports celebrity Bryan Gumbel has labeled the NRA as "pigs" in left-wing magazine interview. This is the kind of bigotry that threatens the Second Amendment, especially in a celebrity-obsessed country like the U.S. If the next generation of Americans buy into this bigotry say hello to left-wing authoritarianism full blown. You may recall Obama's remarks in the "Bittergate" scandal.
Body cams will also help convict those who assault and kill police officers. In this tragic traffic case video, the officer had not drawn his weapon and requested permission to frisk the suspects who responded with gunfire. RIP Officer Tyler Stewart. Perhaps police policies need to encourage/ require solo officers to pull their weapons (but not necessarily point them) when requesting permission to frisk.
The link also discusses other recent cases. At least one resulted in firing and criminal charges against an officer.
The quality of the video is not very good. From the video, it is not clear if what the suspect dropped while running was a handgun or not. However, the officer had a better view. Critics will complain that the man appears to be turning away from the officer when he is shot. The officer may have concluded that the suspect had a handgun from the results of the ongoing frisk from which the suspect fled. There was also a report that the suspect had threatened a woman with a handgun. Although the video itself is not conclusive, it shows the value of body cameras in helping draw conclusions. Kudos to the agency for releasing the video relatively quickly. This helps prevent conspiracy theories and people drawing wild conclusions.
Holt v. Hobbs, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an "Arkansas prison policy that prevents a Muslim prisoner from growing a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons." However, the Court did not rule as to longer beards which can cause security concerns in prisons.
The U.S. Supreme Court has taken a case involving the drug combination used in lethal injection capital punishment. Among other things, the prisoners argue that use of the drug itself causes pain and/or that it does not preclude pain during execution. Stay tuned.
I have a number of friends who are anarchists and others, like myself who do not believe it can work. We view is as "utopian." First, libertarianism is different from anarchy and objectivism. Mainstream libertarian theory assumes some minimal state will be necessary to protect individuals against rights violations by others. There are libertarianist exceptions but they are in a minority. I repeat, Ayn Rand's theory may not share that assumption, but it is not "libertarianism" it is, by its own words "Objectivism. See the National Libertarian Party Platform sec 1.6. If this isn't what libertarianism in the U.S. is about, at least from the activist perspective, I don't know what is.
The primary issue is crime control. Without formal police, courts and corrections institutions, crime, esp. rape, murder, assault, child abuse, sex offenses, etc. will run wild.
Anarchists have a number of answers. First, they say the current system is the source, causation of crime. There are no biological or evolutionary bases for crime. I agree that much of the human environment is criminogenic. However that is not the whole story. There is much evidence that aggression, distrust and dislike of people who are "different" in certain respects, and other negative tendencies are factors inherent in human nature and are products of our evolution.
Sexuality which is easily mixed with aggression will not disappear. Sociobiological factors are factors in causation. For an overview see. Check any recent graduate or undergraduate textbook on criminology. There is much evidence supporting sociobiology. Second they say "the people" will set up conflict resolution and other mechanisms that will deal with crime until it disappears. "The people" in a large, racially, ethnically and religiously divided society will not agree and this lack of consistency and ethnocentrism/tribalism will result in Balkanized justice with outsiders facing injustice. The most likely result is that the strong will enslave the weak. IMHO, it just won't work.
However read this anarchist explanation and see if you are convinced.
As you probably know, the Supreme Court has finally taken on a gay marriage rights case. How each Justice can be expected to vote is fairly predictable. However, it is always possible that the Court will dodge the central issue of a constitutional right for gays to marry and merely hold that even states which prohibit gay marriage must recognize such marriages that take place legally in other states. We probably won't get a decision until mid-June.
Because the lower courts are split on the issue, the U.S. Supreme has tentatively agreed to decide on the standard for excessive force when it is used against a pretrial detainee (as opposed to an arrestee or person subjected to a stop and frisk).
As you may or may not know, in response to the problem of excessive use of force by police, Pres. Obama has created a "President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing." Hearings have started. See the link to sign up for e-mail updates. As noted in post below, at least one witness called for the abolition of broken windows policing. Expect increased pushes for "Community Oriented Policing." This already has a government website (see link).
"If campaign money is a threat to judicial impartiality, but the First
Amendment is understood to treat political money as speech, how far can states
go to regulate it? The Supreme Court is no stranger to the abiding controversy
over money in politics, and takes that up again this week in a Florida judicial
election case." The Supreme Court will be asked to determine if the usual rules of Citizens United and other cases apply, or should government be able to apply additional restrictions when it is judges being elected? Given that the government interest in arguably stronger than the case for regular office seekers, a good case can be make to uphold the rules.
In a move that is rare for officers accused of using excessive force, the Albuquerque, NM D.A. directly filed murder charges against two officers. As allowed by law, he bypassed the grand jury and filed the charges directly. This is just the latest development in the continuing sage of excessive force allegations against Albuq. police. It appears that the protests have had an effect. Prosecutors are loathe to charge cops with crimes as they are dependent on the police. A more recent event, adds a new troubling dimension to the use of force issues. Albuq. police shot and killed a man firing on officers. The man was wearing body armor. Let's hope body armor doesn't become a standard part of suspect's wardrobes.
A man on work-release was elected to the Va. House of Delegates. Acording to the NY Times (italics supplied):
". . Mr. Morrissey — embroiled in a scandal involving sexual relations with a minor — appears undaunted. After resigning his seat in disgrace last month, Mr. Morrissey, a former Democrat, ran in the special election as an independent, handily beating challengers from both parties. He won nearly 43 percent of the vote on Tuesday, in a largely minority district that twists through various counties near Richmond.
He was sworn in late Wednesday morning, shortly before the State Legislature began its 2015 session. . . .
Mr. Morrissey, 57, pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor to avoid related felony charges after law enforcement officials accused him of having sex with the 17-year-old receptionist at his law firm and carrying nude pictures of her on his cellphone. . . .
The lawmaker — whose record has included being involved in a courthouse brawl and bringing an unloaded AK-47 assault rifle to the floor of the House of Delegates to make a point about gun control — denied the charges and said that the receptionist’s phone had been hacked by a spurned female suitor.. . . .
As part of his plea, Mr. Morrissey was sentenced to 12 months in jail with six months suspended and a work-release arrangement that allowed him to practice law and to run for office. With his curfew, though, he learned of his victory from the confines of Henrico County Jail East. He did not respond to an email on Wednesday.
Mr. Morrissey’s victory, said his law partner, Paul Goldman, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, was secured by minority voters who had trust in the lawmaker and did not know the other candidates. “Joe was very well known for being attentive to the community,” Mr. Goldman said. “We all have issues with the other stuff, but when it comes down to a vote people want to know who is going to stand up for their interests.”
The system is not going to get better until voters get their heads out of their butts and stop voting for the person who seems to be the most effective vote-buyer in spite of the candidates obvious ethical and legal violations. Is this a problem in all districts or just in poor minority districts?
New York's Rikers Island jail is a constant disaster. Like NYPD, scandals bring short-lived reforms and the problems re-emerge. According to the NY Times, city investigators found that numerous high-risk individuals were employed. Some used political connections. The problem is not going to get better as long as this persists. Heaven forbid that the pay and qualifications should be raised.
"In a review of 153 applications of people the Correction Department recently hired, city investigators found that more than one-third had problems that either should have disqualified them or needed further scrutiny. Ten had been arrested more than once, and 12 had previously been rejected by the New York Police Department, six of them for “psychological reasons”, among other issues. Additionally, 79 had relatives or friends who were current or former inmates, a potential security threat, officials said.
The investigation found hiring practices to be in disarray: There was no screening for gang affiliation; most of the application process was not computerized; and employment screeners did not monitor phone calls between inmates and applicants.
Not even the deputy commissioner who oversaw hiring could explain how the evaluation system worked.
The findings underscore the profound dysfunction at Rikers Island and help explain how a culture of violence and corruption has come to flourish in the city jails.
'With legislatures convening across the country, lawmakers are moving quickly to respond to one of the biggest stories of the past year, the police killings of unarmed residents in Missouri, New York and elsewhere." For more details see this AP article.
As noted below, it looks like open carry of handguns will be approved in Texas. Should a license of some type (e.g. usual concealed carry license) be required. Most states allow some form of open carry of a handgun. Some require a license. However, even where no license is required, some type of people are excluded (e.g. minors). Oklahoma recently allowed licensed open carry. See this chart from Wikipedia. Arguably criminals are more likely to carry concealed. But once it becomes commonplace will criminals (who couldn't get a concealed permit or one of any kind if it were required) start open carry? If you're a drug dealer, gang member, criminal with lots of enemies or cash, wouldn't you want competitors and those who might try to rip you off to know you are armed? I don't know exactly where I stand on this. Any thoughts.?
New Pa. state law makes it easier to challenge city ordinances. It appears many municipalities were ignored existing law on such ordinances. Congrats to Pa. Legislature! Legal challenges to the new law have already started.
D.C.'s new mayor publicly stated that she hates guns and would like to ban all handguns in D.C. Thank God for the Second Amendment. Federal courts have ordered D.C. to comply with the Second Amendment. Looks for stalling and insincere efforts to abide by the supreme law of the land in D.C.
Nationwide protests over allegations of excessive use of force seem to be paying off in at least one respect. Police use of body cameras is growing. In addition, new uses and markets are popping up. The basic rationales for body cams of deterrence and more reliable fact-finding apply to other jobs. Prison and jail personnel are obvious candidates. Every cell extraction should involve body cams. Some places are already doing this. Security guards and automobile repossessors are two additional examples. It may be that people who view themselves as high-risk potential victims will start wearing them (e.g. women who have been stalked, harassed and threatened by exes). Like anything, this too has the potential to go over the top, but this looks like a very positive trend.
Although she was a long-shot, I voted for Wendy Davis for TX Guv for 2 reasons: 1. Republican domination of politics at the state level further fueled the forces of corruption, 2. She supported "open carry." One is still true, apparently 2. was just a ploy to get votes in a state where support for gun rights is very strong. Another disgusting pol. When are the 2 major parties going to give us some honest and ethical candidates?