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Friday, February 28, 2014

Gunplay at the Safe And Sound Senior Citizen Social Club

     In October 2011, officers with a state law enforcement agency in Indiana called the Excise Police, stormed a private club in downtown Gary. The officers forced their way into the Safe And Sound Senior Citizen Social Club where they seized a craps table, cases of beer, and a stash of liquor. (There must not be much crime in Gary, Indiana.)

     At the time of the raid, thirteen members, ages 50 to 87, were in the club. A local prosecutor, in fulfilling his duty to preserve the peace and dignity of the city, charged the club owner with serving alcohol without a license (oh my) and promoting professional gambling. (We certainly don't want the good folks of Indiana gambling. Oh wait, that would mean shutting down the state lottery.) The club owner pleaded guilty and paid a fine.

     At 11:30 on the night of February 12, 2014, the Safe And Sound Senior Citizen Social Club was raided again, this time by an armed robber. A 23-year-old Chicago man named Kendell Reed slipped into the private club through an exit door seconds after a patron left the building through the same doorway. Because the exit door locked behind him, and the front entrance was secure, Reed's accomplice was locked out of the building and missed out on the mayhem.

     Inside the club, Reed announced the robbery and ordered everyone at gunpoint to get down on the floor. For some reason, instead of collecting the loot, Reed opened fire on the patrons. He wounded four club members between the ages 43 and 76. As the robber reloaded his gun, one of the patrons, himself armed, returned fire. The club member's bullet entered but did not kill the robber. It did, however, bring an end to the gunfire.

     Responding officers with the Gary Police Department had to gain entry to the club by blasting the front door lock with a shotgun. Officers found Kendell Reed hiding and bleeding in the restroom.

     Reed and three of the people he shot were treated at Gary Methodist Hospital. The fourth man Reed shot had to be airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center. All of the people wounded that night are expected to survive their injuries. Following his medical treatment, the authorities put Mr. Reed behind bars.

     Perhaps they need to change the name of this club. "Safe and Sound" just doesn't apply.




Criminal Justice Quote: Small Town Police Chief Arrested For Child Pornography

     The police chief of Mount Pleasant, New York was arrested Thursday, January 23, 2014 on charges of possession of child pornography….Brian Fanelli, 54, was arrested at his home in upstate Mahopac after a months-long investigation by federal officials….The chief allegedly used a peer-to-peer file sharing program to download more than 120 images and videos of child pornography….

     As police executed a search warrant at his home, Fanelli voluntarily told investigators that he began viewing child pornography about one year ago….He said he had first started collecting the child porn as research for a sexual abuse awareness program he taught to elementary and middle-school students. But he said he later continued downloading it for personal interest….

     Fanelli had worked for the police department in Mount Pleasant, a town about 30 miles north of New York City, since November 1981….He has been suspended as chief, a position he took in November 2013….

Leigh Remizowski and Pamela Brown, "Police Chief of New York Town Arrested on Child Pornography Charges," CNN, January 24, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: America's Top Law Enforcement Official Wants Ex-Felons to Vote

     Attorney General Eric Holder is calling on all states to allow felons to vote after they finish their prison terms. Right now, 11 states, mostly in the south and midwest, permanently ban felons from voting in elections. Massachusetts and New Hampshire restore voting rights to felons after they serve their sentences….

     Holder said the voting restrictions have a disproportionate impact on minorities. Nearly 38 percent of those affected are black….

"Should Convicted Felons be Allowed to Vote?" CBS News, February 12, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Cops Kill Innocent Man As His Wife Looks On

      A disturbing video of a police incident in an Oklahoma parking lot shows a man who  had committed no crime dying after being roughed up and violently restrained by four cops--all while his grief-stricken wife watched in horror. The man, 44-year-old Luis Rodriguez, died in a Moore, Oklahoma movie theater parking lot. Police were responding to a reported domestic disturbance. Rodriguez's wife admitted to slapping the couple's 19-year-old daughter in the face over a disagreement about the girl's behavior. Rodriguez, however, was not involved and had not done anything wrong….

     But when police arrived, they wanted to question Rodriguez. According to the Moore Police Department, Rodriguez was not cooperative, and cops were forced to handcuff and restrain him. [Pursuant to today's highly militarized, hair-trigger form of policing, you have to be very careful around cops. There are many ways they can kill you.]

     Cell phone video shows the immediate aftermath of the restraining process. Several cops can be seen pinning Rodriguez face-down on the ground. One officer kneels on his back while others hold his arms. He does not move or speak at this point, and it's unclear whether he is still alive. The officers seem unaware that anything is wrong, however, and continue to keep him pinned….

     The footage was shot by Mrs. Rodriquez…."You killed my husband!" she shouts, and then begins to cry….

Robby Soave, "Horror: Cops Tackle, Beat, Pepper-Spray, Pin, Suffocate, Kill Innocent Man," The Daily Caller, February 25, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Mindless in Clarksville, Tennessee

     A senior at Northeast High School in Clarksville, Tennessee has been suspended for ten days and faces a multitude of additional punishments including criminal charges because school officials found a knife belonging to his father inside his father's car. The student is David Duren-Sanner….
     Duren-Sanner has sworn he knew nothing about the knife. The boy's father noted that the knife could have easily been wedged between two seats. The incident occurred on Thursday, February 20, 2014….The car the student drove was randomly chosen for a search….The blade on the knife is no longer than three inches. Consequently, school officials consider the knife a dangerous weapon. [Perhaps, but not nearly as dangerous as brain-dead school administrators.]….
Eric Owens, "Student Suspended, Criminally Charged For Fishing Knife Left in Father's Car," The Daily Caller, February 25, 2014 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Whackademia Quote: College Kid Charged With Knockout Game Assault

     A Massachusetts college sophomore is under arrest for a string of vicious, totally random, "knockout game"-style attacks against three fellow students. Dillon Destefano walked up to three people he didn't know and sucker-punched them in the face….Police say the incidents occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday, February 2 at or near Endicott College, a small private school in a small New England town about 25 miles north of Boston. The victims were walking home.

     Destefano, 19, is a resident of New Jersey. As a freshman he was on the roster of the men's hockey team. Two of Destefano's alleged victims suffered major injuries….The sophomore has pleaded not guilty to the aggravated assault and battery charges against him….

     Destefano, who has been diagnosed with Crohn's disease, had a previous brush with fame about a decade ago when he met hockey great Wayne Gretzky for a portion of a televised Make-a-Wish Foundation Special on ESPN….Destefano was nine-years-old at the time….

Eric Owens, "Make-A-Wish Winner Charged For Brutal "Knockout Game" Attacks," The Daily Caller, February 8, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Happy Birthday Kid

     Police in Filer, Idaho are being criticized for shooting and killing a dog during a birthday party celebration for the owner's 9-year-old son. Neighbors complained that Rick Clubb's dogs were unleashed and on the loose, and police were called to the scene. When officer Tarek Hassani arrived at the Clubb home, he found two of the dogs on the front lawn. They barked at him as he approached the property. He kicked at the dogs, drew his gun and shot one of them dead.

     Clubb was enraged when he learned what had happened. Officer Hassani claims the dog had tried to bite him and put his safety in danger--and it was Clubb's fault for not leasing them. Clubb countered that his dog never would have hurt the officer….

     A dashboard camera captured the incident on video. It's not clear the dog actually tried to bite Hassani, nor is it clear that the dogs were actually obstructing the officer's path to the house, as he claimed….

Robby Soave, "Idaho Policeman Kills Dog at Kid's Birthday Party," The Daily Caller, February 11, 2014 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Thief Gives Police Stolen Child Porn Videos From Burglarized House

     Police in Jaen, Spain arrested a pedophile after a burglar who broke into the suspect's home handed over his collection of child pornography….The burglar anonymously called the police [December 2013] and said he left the pornography in a car, along with a note giving the alleged pedophile's address…."I have had the misfortune to come into possession of these tapes and feel obliged to hand them over and let you do your job, so that you can lock this creep up for life," wrote the burglar….

     Police said they identified the suspected pedophile as a trainer for a…soccer team and he allegedly recorded himself sexually abusing children around the age of ten. At least one of his victims--a girl now sixteen--said she had been abused since the time she was ten….

"Pedophile Arrested After Burglar Finds Child Pornography," UPI, December 19, 2013 

Criminal Justice Quote: Baseball Thugs Sentenced

     Two California men were sentenced to prison on February 20, 2014 for their roles in the severe beating of a San Francisco Giants fan after a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. Marvin Norwood, 33, and Louie Sanchez, 31, were sentenced to four years and eight years respectively….

     Now brain-damaged as a result of the beating, the victim is disabled and unable to care for himself…Norwood pleaded guilty to felony assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. Sanchez pleaded guilty to felony mayhem. In exchange for their guilty pleas, other felony charges were dropped against the defendants. Both men are from Rialto, California….

Michael Martinez, "Dad of Severely Beaten Giants Fan Calls Two Sentenced men 'Cretins'," CNN, February 20, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Death Penalty Moratorium in Washington State

     Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday, February 11. 2014, announced a moratorium on the death penalty in the state, saying the use of capital punishment was inconsistent and unequal. The Democrat said his decision came after months of research on current cases, discussions with prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and family members of homicide victims. He also said he toured death row and the execution chambers at Walla Walla State Penitentiary….

     The moratorium does not commute the sentences of those on death row or issue any pardons. But Inslee will grant reprieves so no one will be executed. Since the state's current capital laws were put in place in 1981, 32 defendants have been sentenced to die. Of those, 18 had their sentences converted to life in prison. One was set free. The state's last execution was in September 2010, when Cal Brown was injected for the 1991 murder of a Seattle area woman. Nine men currently reside on death row in Walla Walla….

John Bacon, "Washington Governor Suspends Death Penalty," USA Today, February 11, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: Three Red Necks Kicked Out of the University of Mississippi

     A University of Mississippi fraternity chapter was suspended on February 21, 2014 and three freshman members kicked out because of their suspected involvement in hanging a noose on the statue of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll in the all-white college. Sigma Phi Epsilon said it indefinitely suspended the Alpha Chapter, which voted to expel all three men and give their names to investigators.

     Cops on Sunday, February 26, 2014, found a noose tied around the Meredith statue's neck, along with an old Georgia flag bearing a since-eliminated Confederate battle emblem. When Meredith tried to enter Ole Miss in the fall of 1962, Mississippi's governor tried to stop him. That led to violence on the Oxford campus….

"Mississippi Fraternity Chapter Suspended Amid Statue Noose," NBC News, February 22, 2014 

Writing Quote: Most Writing is Rewriting

It took me six years to finish my novel Legs. I wrote it eight times and seven times it was no good. Six times it was especially no good. The seventh time out it was pretty good, though it was way too long. My son was six years old and so was my novel and they were both the same height. [There is rewriting and there is excessive rewriting. Writing a book eight times is ridiculous.]

William Kennedy in The Writer's Mentor, Ian Jackman, editor, 2004 

Criminal Justice Quote: Minister Farrakhan on American Criminal Justice

     In a fiery speech Sunday, February 16, 2014 delivered to 18,000 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Minister Louis Farrakhan blasted the judicial system in the U.S. as being biased against African Americans, calling upon the community to set up their own courts….Farrakhan spoke for nearly three hours, reiterating the Nation of Islam's view that the U.S. is a land headed for destruction because it has disobeyed the word of God.

     Farrakhan suggested that African Americans rely on the Quran and Bible to help them set up their own legal system that would be more fair to African Americans….Farrakhan railed against Christian pastors who endorse gay marriage, which he said contradicts the teachings of Christianity and Islam….Noting that the Nation of Islam started in Detroit in 1930, Farrakhan said: "I want Detroit to know we're back to stay. This is a great city." [One could argue that in Detroit blacks already have their own court system.]….

"Farrakhan: African Americans Deserve Their Own Courts," USA Today, February 22, 2014 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Security Officers Found Dead on the Ship Maersk Alabama

     Traces of narcotics and hypodermic needles found with bodies of two American security officers on the container ship Maersk Alabama suggested the deaths resulted from drug overdoses….Seychelles police identified the bodies found on February 18, 2014 as Jeffery Reynolds and Mark Kennedy, both 44. They worked for the Trident Group, a Virginia-based maritime security services firm. Trident Group President Tom Rothrauff said both were former Navy SEALs….

     Police said an autopsy would be carried out early next week [February 24]. But the Seychelles government official, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said the presence of drug traces and paraphernalia "would suggest that their deaths were a result of drug overdose."…

     The 500-foot Maersk Alabama was the target of an attempted hijacking in the pirate-infested waters off East Africa in 2009--an incident that inspired the 2013 film "Captain Phillips."…Police said the ship arrived on February 16, 2014 in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, with a 24-man crew….The bodies were found by a colleague who had gone to check in on one of the men in a cabin at 4:30 AM….

Khushbu Shah, "Official: Drugs, Needles Found With Dead Officers on Maersk," CNN, February 21, 2014

  

Criminal Justice Quote: Traffic Laws Don't Apply to Politicians

     After unveiling a plan to curtail the number of traffic deaths in New York City, an SUV hauling Mayor Bill de Blasio was videotaped speeding through the streets of the city and running stop signs….Mayor de Blasio was riding in the front seat of the vehicle which was traveling at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, and up to 60 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone….The SUV also cut through a stop sign at a Queens intersection….

     Those infractions would seem minor if they hadn't come just two days after a big traffic safety initiative announced by de Blasio. "We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard," he said on February 18, 2014 while announcing "Vision Zero," which is based on a plan first developed in Sweden in the 1990s.

     The plan would implement a number of changes with the goal of eliminating all traffic-related deaths. Those changes would include lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25, widening traffic lanes and installing cameras that track speeding and issue tickets. The size of the Highway Patrol department will also be increased. [These people are taking the fun out of driving.]

     One controversial part of the "Vision Zero" plan would target speeding cab drivers by pausing their meters if they were driving too fast….

Chuck Ross, "Anti-Speeding New York Mayor Caught Speeding After Announcing Big Traffic Initiative," The Daily Caller, February 20, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Dr. Jay Smith: The Prince of Darkness

     Dr. Jay Smith, principal of the Upper Merion High School in Merion, Pennsylvania, had acquired the nickname "Prince of Darkness" on account of his eccentric behavior. In June 1979, the body of Susan Reiner, a teacher at Upper Merion, was found naked in her car, and she was later discovered to have taken out huge life insurance policies benefiting one of Smith's accomplices, Bill Bradfield, who was also on the staff of the school.

     In 1981, Bradfield was arrested and convicted of theft by deception. Two years later a prosecutor charged him with the Reiner murder that led to his conviction. Meanwhile Jay Smith had been in prison on other indictments and when he was released in 1986, faced charges arising out of the death of Susan Reiner. A jury found him guilty and he was sent back to prison for murder. Thus a man who was already known to be involved in drugs, swindling and Satanism also achieved star billing as a killer.

Brian Lane, Chronicle of 20th Century Murder, 1995

Writing Quote: Tell a Story

The object of most of your writing is to tell a story, whether it's fictional or not. The story will have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and in telling the story, you are moving the reader along, maintaining interest and attention from page to page. To facilitate this, the writer has at her disposal an array of devices--species of writing like narrative, exposition, dialogue, background. Each stage of the process... has its own particular challenges.

Ian Jackman, The Writer's Mentor, 2004 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bruce Allen Santee's Facebook Solicitation of a Police Woman's Murder

     At two in the morning on Sunday, February 16, 2014, Bruce Allen Santee II, a small time professional wrestler who performs under the name "The Marquee," was riding in a car driven by his girlfriend in Pinellas Park, Florida, a town of 50,000 in the Tampa Bar area. After his girlfriend was pulled over by a female police officer for failure to yield, Santee and the officer exchanged angry words.

     Not long after the traffic stop, the 35-year-old wrestler wrote about this minor incident on his Facebook page. He not only insulted the police officer by name, he offered a reward of $100 for her murder.

     A police officer with another agency saw Santee's Facebook solicitation and reported it to the Pinellas Park Police Department.

     The next day, a Pinellas County prosecutor charged Mr. Santee with the felony offense of issuing a written threat to kill. At three-thirty that afternoon, Santee turned himself in to the police. He apologized to detectives and blamed the threat on anger and alcohol intoxication. Officers booked him into the Pinellas County Jail. That night, Santee posted his $10,000 bond and went home.

     "The Marquee's" father, a professional wrestler named Bruce OG Santee, posted a message about his son's arrest on Facebook. It read: "For all the friends and fans that know my son: The best thing we can do is support him in a politically correct way. I thought we had a first amendment in this country. I guess not so much anymore. I do not condone what he wrote on Facebook but how in the hell can you take a comment like that seriously when they are intoxicated, and finally who would kill anybody for a 100 dollars? REALLY I REST MY CASE!!!"

     The First Amendment does not protect one against yelling "bomb" on an airplane (even in jest), shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, or threatening the life of a police officer. While the younger Mr. Santee didn't actually intend to have the police officer murdered, there are murderous nuts out there who wouldn't care if he meant it or not. This was reckless behavior, and a crime. Moreover, drunkenness and stupidity are not criminal defenses. And in this case, neither is the First Amendment. I rest my case. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Union Goon Squads

     Intimidation, assaults and property damage, including setting a crane on fire, were part of an alleged campaign by a Philadelphia-area ironworkers union to coerce building contractors into hiring them over non-union competition, federal prosecutors said on February 18, 2014 as they arrested ten of the union's agents and members.

     The federal charges against the men include racketeering and arson, and targeted properties included a Toys R Us store in suburban Philadelphia and a Quaker meetinghouse in the tony Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia….

    In a 49-page grand jury indictment, prosecutors said the defendants helped create "goon" squads to carry out the assaults and property destruction against non-union contractors in an attempt to force them to hire Ironworkers Local 401's members. One goon squad referred to itself as T.H.U.Gs, short for The Helpful Union Guys….

"Ironworkers Face Racketeering, Arson Charges," The Associated Press, February 19, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Nude and Dangerous

The California Highway Patrol says a naked woman has been arrested after allegedly driving her car into her fiancee….The CHP says the 22-year-old Hesperia [California] woman, who'd been drinking, and her 30-year-old fiancee were naked in a parked Honda Civic in Phelan when for some reason he got out and she took the wheel. The man then walked in front of the car and was hit as it moved forward. The woman braked but lost control and the car hit a fence and two trees before stopping. The man was thrown from the hood and had major injuries. The woman had minor injuries and was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving….

"Naked Woman Arrested After Driving Car Into Fiancee," Associated Press, January 25, 2013 

Criminal Justice Quote: Taking Down Jaywalkers

     Members of the University of Texas-Austin community are outraged that cops arrested an unnamed jogger who ignored police orders because she was wearing earbuds and couldn't hear them. The arrest happened at an intersection near the UT campus. Cops had been camped out at the intersection, issuing dozens of citations to people for jaywalking. [The war on crime is never ending.]…

     The officers chased the woman down and grabbed her arm from behind. Not knowing what was happening, the woman pulled away from the officer. This meant she was resisting, and the woman soon found herself sitting on the ground in handcuffs. [Another criminal taken off the streets.]….

     Four cops eventually escorted the woman to a police car. When she realized she was going to be put in the car, she began screaming that she hadn't done anything wrong. [Silly woman, what does that have to do with anything?] A spokesperson for the police department said the woman was arrested for failure to identify and a traffic signal violation….

Robby Soave, "Cops Arrest Jogging Woman Because She Couldn't Hear Them," The Daily Caller, February 21, 2014


Writing Quote: The Power of the Eye-Catching True Crime Headline

     There is nothing like a good murder story to sell newspapers. And a good story needs an eye-catching headline. The Victorians mastered this art and nowhere was the genre better demonstrated than during the 1870s in the Illustrated Police News. This was a popular, high-circulation newspaper and a forerunner of the modern tabloids.

     The paper reported various types of criminal happenings and bizarre events with arresting headlines and, in an age before press photographs, used graphic artists' illustrations. Headlines contained two essential elements to connect with readers' interests. First was a reference to the nature of the crime and, all importantly, where it had taken place. This was usually preceded by an adjective to stimulate interest and convey a sense of outrage. Thus, in 1873, a "Dreadful Child Murder at Hull" was reported and, in 1876, a "Frightful Wife Murder in Bristol."

Robin Odell, The Mammoth Book of Bizarre Crimes, 2010

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Mass Murder in a Native American Tribal Office

     Four people were killed and two others injured on February 20, 2014 in a gun and knife attack at a Native American tribal office in Alturas, California….Sherrie Rhoades, 44, was attending a tribal eviction meeting at the Cedarville Rancheria tribal office around 3:30 PM when she opened fire….

     When Rhoades ran out of ammunition she grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen and attacked another person…A person at the meeting ran out of the building covered in blood and went to the Alturas police station to alert officers….Police said they found Rhoades outside the building, running with a knife in her hand. She was taken into custody.

     The deceased victims were identified as a 19-year-old woman, a 45-year-old woman, a 30-year-old man and a 50-year-old man. Rhoades, a former tribal leader, was at the hearing because she was facing eviction…The shootings happened in Modoc County, which is in northern California on the Oregon border….[The victims were the shooter's relatives.]

Dana Ford and Carma Hassan, "Suspect in Custody After 4 Killed in Gun and Knife Attack at California Tribal Office," CNN, February 21, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Government's Unrelenting Assault on Free Speech

     The Obama administration is planning to send what critics characterize as government spies into the newsrooms of the nation's media outlets. This unprecedented assault on Americans' First Amendment freedoms is part of the…war against the few pockets of media resistance the president has encountered at Fox News and in the world of talk radio. Sending federal bureaucrats to meddle in newsroom affairs by conducting an alleged "study" will chill news coverage and make government-licensed broadcast media think twice about airing stories that place the Obama administration in a bad light.

     To this end the Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN. Although the FCC is a regulatory body, not a research organization, it plans to send researchers to question reporters, editors, and station owners abut how they decide which stories to run.

     The FCC intends to discover "the process by which stories are selected," how often stations cover "critical information needs," the media outlets' "perceived station bias," and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations." [Wow, this is right out of the old communist era playbook.]…

Matthew Vadum, "Obama's News Police," FrontPage Magazine, February 21, 2014  

Criminal Justice Quote: Waiting in Walmart Checkout Line Can Be Fatal

….A checkout line fight at a Walmart store in Chandler, Arizona Sunday afternoon February 9, 2014, escalated into gunfire that left one man dead….The 36-year-old man was shot just after 4 PM and died later at a hospital….The shooter fled the scene. The episode was caught on the store's surveillance cameras. Police said a 25-year-old Chandler resident was being questioned as the possible gunman….

"Checkout Line Fight Turns Deadly at Arizona Walmart," UPI, February 17, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Officer Mistakes Video Game Controller For Gun

     A Georgia family is in shock following the death of their 17-year-old son, who was accidentally killed by a police officer who believed the video game controller he was holding was a gun….Christopher Roupe of Euharlee, Georgia heard a knock at the door of the family's home on the night of February 14, 2014. Upon opening the door, he was immediately shot by a female police officer….The officer broke down in tears upon realizing her mistake….She had been making a probation-related visit to the home. She though Roupe was holding a gun….

     Roupe had plans to enlist in the Marines after finishing high school. He was involved in the ROTC program at the school….

Robby Soave, "Horror! Cop Instantly Shoots, Kills Teen Who Answered Door Holding Video Game Controller," The Daily Caller, February 19, 2014


Criminal Justice Quote: Native American Activists Accused of Killing Black Civil Rights Leader at Wounded Knee in 1973

     The FBI says a black civil rights activist was killed during the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, and it suspects militant members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) are responsible. Documents recently released by the FBI to a Buffalo, New York lawyer shed new light on the 40-year-old case of Ray Robinson, an activist and follower of Martin Luther King, Jr.

     The father of three from Bogue Chitto, Alabama, traveled to South Dakota in 1973 to stand alongside Native Americans in their fight against social injustice. He never returned and his body was never found….

"FBI Accuses American Indian Movement of Killing Black Civil Rights Activist in 1973 South Dakota Uprising," Associated Press, February 19, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Limiting Solitary Confinement

     New York State has agreed to sweeping reforms intended to curtail the widespread use of solitary confinement, including prohibiting its use in disciplining prisoners under 18. In doing so, New York becomes the largest prison system in the United States to prohibit the use of disciplinary confinement for minors, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented the three prisoners whose lawsuit led to the agreement cited in court papers filed on February 19, 2014.

     State correction officials will also be prohibited from imposing solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure for inmates who are pregnant, and the punishment will be limited to 30 days for those who are developmentally disabled. [That's about half the prison population.]…

     The agreement imposes "sentencing guidelines" for all prisoners, specifying the length of solitary confinement allowed for different infractions and, for the first time in all cases, a maximum length that such sentences may run….

     Several states, including Colorado, Mississippi and Washington, are looking into how to reduce the use of solitary confinement….

Benjamin Weiser, "New York State in Deal to Limit Solitary Confinement," The New York Times, February 19, 2014

     

Criminal Justice Quote: A Restaurant Kitchen Sink: The Hillbilly Restroom

     The district manager of a West Virginia Pizza Hut was fired after video of him urinating in a restaurant sink emerged, prompting the location's shut down. Though the incident took place after the store was closed, it's inexplicable, unacceptable and flat out disgusting. On top of that, it's a health code violation….

     In a statement, Pizza Hut was deeply apologetic for the vile actions of the former employee…."We apologize to our customers of Kermit, West Virginia."… Still, the chain insisted that the ex-manager did not tamper with any food….[Did he wash his hands after using the kitchen sink as a toilet?]

Julian Kimble, "West Virginia Pizza Hut Shut Down After Manager is Caught Urinating in Sink," USA Today, February 19, 2014


Criminal Justice Quote: Local Cops Refuse to Cooperate With Federal Employee Background Checks

     Law enforcement agencies in more than 450 jurisdictions, including D.C. police, do not cooperate with investigators conducting security-clearance probes for federal employees, according to a congressional report to be released Tuesday, February 11, 2014. The report…said the millions of records kept by non-cooperative law enforcement agencies could provide vital clues to investigators on the front lines of a system that is facing unprecedented scrutiny. It proposes legislative changes to address lapses identified in the wake of last year's mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard by a Defense Department contract worker….

     Other major agencies that do not cooperate in security-clearance probes includes the police departments in New York, Los Angeles and Baltimore….The lack of cooperation from law enforcement agencies has stymied the federal security-clearance process for years. In 2009, the Justice Department successfully sued California for failing to disclose full criminal histories to background investigators….

Ernesto Londono, "Report Says Uncooperative Local Police Stymie Federal Background Security Checks," The Washington Post, February 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: 15-Year-Old Girl Pimped by Mom at Super Bowl

     ….Manhattan prosecutors indicated on Monday, February 3, 2014 they will seek felony charges against Yolanda Ostoloza, who was nabbed January 29 after her daughter agreed to take $200 to have sex with an undercover cop at the New York Hilton in Midtown….Ostoloza, 39, brought her daughter…to New York with a pimp "knowing full well" that the girl would be "engaging in an escorting, prostitution situation."….

     "We came up here to work and make money with a pimp," the bad mom allegedly told cops. "I knew it was for escorting and prostitution. I thought my daughter was just going to do the fetish stuff."…

Shayna Jacobs, "Florida Mom Accused of Pimping 15-Year-Old Daughter During Super Bowl Week Faces Jail Time," New York Daily News, February 4, 2014  

Criminal Justice Quote: The Dangers of Methamphetamine to the User and Society

     The number one drug that poses the greatest threat to our society is methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth. Meth is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It causes mood swings, anxiety, euphoria, depression, delusional thinking, paranoia, and even permanent psychological damage. Prolonged use of meth can cause damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs, which can ultimately lead to death.

     Meth--sold in powder, ice, and tablet forms--can contain dangerous ingredients, including battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel, and antifreeze….

Phil Chalmers, Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer, 2009 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Woman Jailed For Not Returning Rented Video 9 Years Ago

     A South Carolina woman has been arrested, charged, and thrown in jail after being accused of failing to return a video….Kayla Michelle Finley, 27, of Pickens, went to the Pickens County Jail on February 13, 2014 to report an unspecified crime--but instead was charged with one.

     The suspect spent a night in jail…after being accused of renting the romantic comedy "Monster-in-Law" starring Jennifer Lopez back in 2005. [Watching that movie should have been punishment enough.] But she allegedly failed to return it to Dalton Video, which has since closed.

     The store owner, P. J. Dalton, had taken the matter to court nine years ago and gotten a judge to issue a warrant. The matter remained a cold case until…a records check performed at the jail turned up the summons….

"SC Woman Jailed After Failing to Return Video Rental," Fox8 Piedmont, February 15, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: It's No Crime to Kill The Person Robbing You

     The 76-year-old Lincolnville, South Carolina homeowner who shot and killed a suspected robber outside his home will not be charged….The suspect robber, 25-year-old Robert Joseph Deziel, was carrying a stun gun made to look like a cell phone during the incident. Charleston County deputies were called to the home…on February 9, 2014 just after 6 AM for a report of attempted armed robbery and shooting. The victim told police he was attacked by Deziel….

     "I just shot somebody who was trying to rob me," the victim told a 911 dispatcher. The solicitor's office says this was a case of self defense, and the 76-year-old homeowner was under attack and defended himself. "I shot about three times before I hit him because he had me on the ground trying to tase me. And I finally got one in him," the victim told the 911 dispatcher….

     The prosecutor says Denziel was wearing two sets of clothing, which deputies say indicated he was planning to rob the victim.

"Homeowner Who Fatally Shot Robbery Suspect Will Not Be Charged," WCSC, February 14, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Another Case Of Taser Madness

     Bay Area Rapid Transit police in February 2014 used a Taser on a harmless, unarmed man more than once, even as he was lying face-down and restrained on the floor of a passenger train. Horrified onlookers--who repeatedly asked the officers to stop tasering the man--recorded the incident on cell phone cameras. The unnamed black man was apparently intoxicated. Police claim that they approached him because he was harassing other passengers, although some of the eyewitnesses disputed that….

     The police asked the man to get off the train. When he refused, they Tasered him. A few minutes later, as the man was held against the floor, an officer Tasered him again--this time, for five long seconds. He was eventually dragged off the train and charged with public drunkenness and resisting arrest….

Robby Soave, "Brutality? Cops Taser Unarmed Man Twice While Holding HIm Against the Floor," The Daily Caller, February 13, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Rape Scandal in Missoula County, Montana

     ….The U.S. Department of Justice found Missoula County's prosecutors routinely discriminated against female victims, refusing legitimate cases, pushing sex crimes to the lowest of priorities and belittling women who came to them for help….The department began an investigation in 2012 into the county attorney's office, Missoula Police Department and the University of Montana's Office of Public Safety. Investigators interviewed more than 30 potential victims while reviewing policies and procedures for signs of gender bias and civil rights violations.

     The mother of a 5-year-old victim wanted to know why the boy who raped her daughter was only getting a slap on the wrist. She was stunned when the prosecutor reportedly told her, "boys will be boys"….Another woman claimed a prosecutor recited Bible verses to her, and other victims said they felt "judged" when they were grilled about their sexual histories….

Doyle Murphy, "'Boys Will Be Boys,' Montana Prosecutor Tells 5-Year-Old Rape Victim's Mom," New York Daily News, February 16, 2014   

Writers Quote: The Bad Boy Writer

     ….The literary bad boy lives today…in the mind of the writer. He is a legend only, a creature of folk memory. Which isn't to say that there aren't plenty of traditionally chaotic real-life writers out there, right now, staying the course, crashing about and appalling their spouses [Norman Mailer knifed one of his wives]. What's changed, for us, is that the media is no longer interested….

     In 2014 we have bad-boy chefs (Bourdain, Ramsay), bad-boy comedians (Russell Brand), bad-boy athletes (the demonic Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez)….And it's possible, I suppose, that some young wordslinger could come along and wring a new twist from the tired repertoire of writerly naughtiness--be a postmodern literary bad boy. But in the end, who cares? Drink, divorce, insanity, firearms: all beside the point. The work is what counts….[If you like bad boy writers, try Charles Bukowski. He was very bad but his writing is good.]

James Parker, "What's Become of the So-Called Literary Bad Boy?" The New York Times, February 18, 2014


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Celebrated Murder Cases, The Media, and the Presumption of Guilt

     Our lives and our hopes for the future both suffered a near-fatal arrow when our daughter, JonBenet, was murdered in our home during the night of December 25, 1996. The overwhelming grief stressed our basic will to live. The suspicions cast on us by an inexperienced police force and the United States media almost crushed our ability to live.

     What happened to us after JonBenet's death should not happen to anyone, but based on what we have seen and experienced through our ordeal, we are certain that the same thing has happened to other people in our society. Innocent people are unjustly suspected, publicly accused, arrested, prosecuted, jailed, and in some cases, executed. Our criminal justice system now operates on the presumption of guilt, and then challenges the defendant to prove his or her innocence. Some police officers are all too eager to have their work on the evening news. We lost our daughter to the worst imaginable monster in our society and then were persecuted by the police and the media because they knew "the parents are always guilty."

John and Patsy Ramsey, The Death of Innocence, 2000

Criminal Justice Quote: Florida Executes Juan Carlos Chavez

The father of a 9-year-old south Florida boy raped and murdered in 1995 says he hopes the killer's execution sends a strong signal to other would-be child molesters and abductors. [The message sent is this: in the U.S., after committing an atrocious murder, you can live almost 20 years on death row while a battery of attorneys fight to save your life.] Don Ryce's son Jimmy Ryce was kidnapped at gunpoint after getting off a school bus in September 1995….Juan Carlos Chavez, 46, was executed by lethal injection on February 12, 2014 at Florida State Prison….

Tamara Lush, "Florida Man Executed in Boy's Rape, Murder," February 13, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: How Does a Deaf Person Sign "Don"t Taser Me Bro?"

     Officers from the Hawthorne Police Department in [LA County] California twice tasered a man who was trying to sign to them that he was deaf….The officers then beat the deaf man until he was unconscious then charged him with assault. A federal complaint has since been filed against the police department for violating Jonathan Meister's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the complaint... the cops "shot taser darts into Mr. Meister, administered a number of painful electric shocks, struck him with their fists and feet, and forcibly took him to the ground….

     Meister was picking up a snowboard that a friend had loaned to him ahead of a skiing trip to Utah….The four officers questioned him outside his friend's house. He was dressed in snowboarding gear and was loading boxes into his car. Due to his disability, he did not hear their questions. One officer then grabbed his hand, and Meister attempted to signal to the officers that he was deaf. The officers, however, took his hand movements as "resistance"….

Grae Stafford, "Police Taser a Deaf Man Twice, Then Charge Him With Assault For Signing," The Daily Caller, February 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: Novels That Require a Dictionary

     I love words. Most writers love words….When a writer has given new life to words you've heard a million times or used words you don't use or ordinarily think of, but love, it's inspiring.

     I love reading novels that send me to the dictionary to look up words. Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections did this. So did Don DeLillo's Underworld. I pulled out the Webster's to look up crepuscular. "Of relating to, or resembling twilight: active during twilight, insects." I can never look at fireflies, now, without thinking of them as crepuscular. [Come on. Comments like this set off my crap detector. No wonder nobody reads "literary fiction."]

     Ann Patchett's Bel Canto yielded the word sangfroid: "self-possession or imperturbability esp. under strain." So I have sangfroid when I don't stress out if I'm late getting somewhere. [I avoid pretentious novelists who show off by using arcane words for simple things and ideas. This is bad writing.] 

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire, 2004 [Why didn't she call her book Pen in the State of Self-Sustaining Combustion?]

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Stupid Church Burglar

Authorities say it was a "selfie" that led detectives to a suspect in the burglary of a southern California church….Detectives found a phone at the Chula Vista crime scene, where a laptop, cash and watches were stolen. On the phone was a photo the suspect had apparently snapped of himself. Residents recognized the man in the photo, and police arrested 26-year-old Adam Howe on February 11, 2014. A search of his belongings uncovered the property believed to have been stolen from the Hilltop Tabernacle Church….

"'Selfie' Photo Leads to Arrest in California Church Burglary," Associated Press, February 14, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: America's Best and Brightest?

     Two math majors at Reed College in Portland, Oregon lost control of a massive snowball that rolled into a dormitory, knocking in part of a wall. There were no injuries…but it will cost $2,000 to $3,000 to repair the building. The incident happened February 8, 2014 after a rare trio of snowstorms in Portland.

     Students started building the giant snowball on a campus quad near the dorm. Urged by a crowd, the math majors tried to make the snowball as big as possible by rolling it down the sidewalk that goes past the dorm. But it got away….

"Snowball Slams Into College Dorm," Associated Press, February 15, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Chun Deng's Fraternity Hazing Death Ruled Homicide

     The death of a New York college student during a fraternity ritual in Pennsylvania has been ruled a homicide, the coroner's office said February 14, 2014. Baruch College freshman Chun Deng, 19, died in December 2013 of "closed head injuries..due to blunt force head trauma."…The college has said Deng died while participating in an unsanctioned fraternity pledging event and that it has a "zero tolerance policy regarding hazing."…

     More than 30 members of Pi Delta Psi were conducting a ritual outdoors for new pledges called the "glass ceiling."…The objective was for Deng, who was blindfolded and wearing a backpack filled with a 20-pound bag of sand, to navigate toward someone who was calling for him "while other fraternity brothers physically prevented that from happening."…Deng fell backward, struck his head and was unconscious and unresponsive….

Rande Laboni, "Baruch College Fraternity 'Ritual' Death Ruled a Homicide, Coroner Says," CNN, February 14, 2014 (See my blog, "Another Hazing Death," December 15, 2013) 

Criminal Justice Quote: Female Serial Killers

…..Female serial killers are rare, so much that [profiler] Roy Hazelwood of the FBI is quoted as saying, "There is no such thing as a female serial killer." While they are rare, experts now agree that Hazelwood had it wrong, the crimes do take place. Female serial killers, unlike their male counterparts, generally pick people who are close to them, either physically or emotionally. Also the depictions of sex with the victim either before or after their death are quite rare with female killers.

     According to Psychology Today,  female serial killers' careers can last a lot longer than their male counterparts. They have an average of nine victims….The Psychology Today article suggests that female serial killers are actually a lot more common than people think….

     Extensive research is being done to understand the female serial killer. As time goes on some experts believe that the idea of a female serial killer will not be as rare as it once was. Right now the most prolific female killers are the ones who kill family members or their own young, although there was a very prolific serial killer in Japan who killed babies and told the parents that the baby was still-born….

Rachel Woodruff, "Craigslist Accused Killer Murdered at Least 22," Liberty Voice, February 16, 2014 

Writing Quote: Negative Book Reviews

     …..The publishing industry, we hear, is in trouble. So why would a sensible writer tell people not to buy a book? If the novel, as we also hear, is moribund or dead, why drive another nail into its sad little coffin? And lately there seems to be a cultural moratorium on saying something "bad" about anyone or anything, unless you're a politician, in which case that's your job.

     …..There was a time when I wrote negative reviews….Sadly, it's easier to be witty when one is being unkind. Friends would say, "Oh, I just adored your hilarious essay on that celebrity's memoir about her fabulous million-dollar-face-lift." And what would they say when I praised a book? Nothing.

     Even so, I stopped. I began returning books I didn't like to editors. [You returned them?]….But in the last year or so, I've found myself again writing negative reviews--as if, after quitting for three decades, I'd suddenly resumed smoking, or something else I'd forsworn. Once more, it's a question of what gets under my skin, and of trying to understand why. I've begun to think, if something bothers me that much, life is too short not to say so….

Francine Prose, "Do We Really Need Negative Book Reviews?" The New York Times, February 11, 2014 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Another Girl Scout Heist

     A 15-year-old boy has been arrested by Fort Lauderdale police on charges of stealing a Girl Scout's cellphone while she was selling cookies outside a grocery store. Police said Thursday, February 13, 2014 they identified the ninth-grader from previous police encounters by viewing the Winn-Dixie store's video surveillance. The Samsung Galaxy S3 phone was stolen from the girl during a cookie sale Sunday night, February 9. Police said one person distracted the group while his accomplice took the phone that was lying on a table….

     In 2008, thieves in Palm Beach County stole $168 from a Girl Scout selling cookies outside a supermarket…

"Boy, 15, Arrested in Theft of Florida Girl Scout's Phone," CBS News, February 13, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Valentine's Day Jail-Break

An Arizona jail inmate who escaped by climbing two walls and crawling through a razor wire fence to meet his sweetheart on Valentine's Day, is back in custody….That inmate, Joseph Andrew Dekenipp, was arrested in the town of Coolidge, Arizona a few hours after he escaped from the Penal County Detention Center….He would undergo treatment for serious cuts he got from the razor wire….The 40-year-old Dekenipp was arrested without incident after he arrived at a saloon and grill where he was to meet his girlfriend. He has been in jail since his arrest January 10, 2014 on suspicion of vehicle theft, trafficking in stolen property, unlawful flight, and driving on a suspended license….

"Arizona Inmate Makes Valentine's Escape Through Razor Wire, Caught Trying to Meet Girlfriend," February 15, 2014  

Criminal Justice Quote: Writing to O.J.

     I have been accused of the crime of murder, a double murder. The State of California charged me on June 17, 9994 with the deaths of my former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and arrested me later that same day. Since the day of my arrest I have had to defend myself not only in court but in the eyes of the public and the news media. In this book I am speaking publicly for the first time since my arrest, for two reasons.

     First and foremost, I want to respond to the more than 300,000 people who wrote to me. I want to thank you, I want to tell you those letters were a godsend. People wrote not only in the United States but from all over the world. Their letters started coming right after my arrest. Most were supportive, most of them gave me hope--all of the made me feel still part of the world. I first heard about my mail when a female deputy sheriff, on my second day in jail, said, "We've got a problem. We've got too many letters for you." They had received more letters for me in one day than they had for all the other prisoners, some 6,000 prisoners, at the Los Angeles County Jail. [These letters were written before the Simpson murder trial.]

O.J. Simpson, I Want to Tell You, 1994


Criminal Justice Quote: Heroin Chic

     Popular folklore has it that people who do dope don't eat. That stereotype of the reed-thin drug addict is partially a matter of economics, and partially ideology. Yes, if you're a junkie living on the street, you're not likely to make eating your first priority. But for the rest of the heroin-using population, food consumption has more to do with metaphor. Some embrace the image of the junkie as vampire, a creature of the midnight, cut off from normal human needs, requiring only heroin. But just as many junkies maintain their weight….

     The attenuated, fashionable body of "heroin chic" ads may be what you have in mind when you start doing dope but in reality long term use can make you bloated in odd places….

     The frightening thin dope users I've known were either people with some kind of eating disorder that was articulated though heroin, or those who are unable to keep food down on dope.

Ann Marlowe, How To Stop Time: Heroin A to Z, 1999

Criminal Justice Quote: Eat Your Heart Out, Mike Tyson

Authorities say a Rochester, New York man bit off part of his brother's ear after they began fighting during a Super Bowl party….Police say 27-year-old Sean Fallon-Nebbia was hosting the party on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at his apartment. A roommate told police the brothers had been drinking before they started roughhousing after the game, and the tussle turned violent. Police say Fallon-Nebbia bit off part of 26-year-old Frank Fallon-Nebbia's right ear and punched him several times in the face, knocking him out….The older brother is being held in Monroe County Jail on $15,000 bail after pleading not guilty to first-degree assault, a felony….

"Cops: NY Man Bites Brother's Ear Off During Party," Associated Press, February 4, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Why Teens Kill

There are many reasons why teens kill….If I were to narrow it down to the top three reasons, the order would be as follows:

1. Abusive families and bullying
2. Violent entertainment and pornography
3. Anger, depression, and suicide

Phil Chalmers, Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer, 2009 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Prostitution Raids in China

     A state television expose on prostitution in China's "sex capital" and an ensuing, much-publicized police crackdown has drawn criticism from members of the public who have expressed sympathy for the sex workers. [These critics] suggest that authorities target other kinds of wrongdoing.

     Coverage of the weekend raid [February 8 and 9, 2014] by 6,500 officers in the southern city of Dongguan--filled with images of handcuffed women with their heads bowed--spurred many people to post comments online that were more critical of China's Central Television broadcaster's reporting and the crackdown than the prostitution it uncovered….

     Some online users suggested the women ended up in the sex business because they had sick parents or siblings to support, and called for authorities to offer more care to them during the crackdown. Others said police manpower would be better used rooting out corruption among public officials and other crimes. Some voices called for China's now entrenched sex trade to be made legal and to end the discrimination against sex workers….

Louise Watt, "China Cracks Down On Its 'Sex Capital'," Associated Press, February 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: An Unique Way to Avoid a Traffic Ticket

Authorities say a New Mexico woman called in a fake report of a gunman near a convenience store in an effort to avoid a traffic ticket. Roswell police say 22-year-old Savana Jimenez called 911 on Sunday morning, January 26, 2014 hoping the officer who pulled her and her friends over would get dispatched to the fake crime she reported. Authorities say Jimenez called 911 while the officer was checking her driver's information. She later admitted making up the story. Jimenez was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.

"Police: New Mexico Woman Placed Fake 911 Call to Get Out of Traffic Stop," Fox News, January 28, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Shakespeare on Crime Prevention

     Taking inspiration from Shakespeare, a Boulder, Colorado city councilman has suggested "banishing" chronic scofflaws creating a nuisance in parks around the city's municipal buildings. Councilman Macon Cowles said in an email to his colleagues that the idea came to him while "my mind wandered," and he wondered what The Bard had to say about crime and social misbehavior.

     Quoting extensively from Romeo and Juliet, Cowles makes the argument that banishing people from Boulder for the same amount of time they might be incarcerated for minor crimes would not only save taxpayers money, but might be more effective at preventing future crimes. [With all due respect to Mr. Shakespeare and Councilman Cowles, crime isn't prevented, it's just moved from one place to another.]…

     Boulder police have issued 646 citations in the area in the past two years for infractions ranging from urinating in the bushes and brawling to failure to appear for court and contempt of court. According to a city staff memo, 11 percent of the defendants were responsible for 34 percent of the citations and arrests….

Greg Campbell, "Colorado City Consideres 'Banishing' People Who Make Trouble," The Daily Caller, February 11, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Legal Definition of Death

     Andrew Lyons shot a man in the head in September 1973 and left him brain-dead. When Lyon's attorneys found out the victim's family had donated his heart for transplantation, they tried to use this in Lyon's defense: If the heart was still beating at the time of surgery, they maintained, then how could it be that Lyons had killed him the day before? They tried to convince the jury that, technically speaking, Andrew Lyons hadn't murdered the man, the organ surgeon had….

     The judge would have none of it….In the end, Lyons was convicted of murder. Based on the outcome of the case, California passed legislation making brain death the legal definition of death. Other states quickly followed suit….

Mary Roach, Stiff, 2003 

Criminal Justice Quote: Death by Face-Lift

     A woman who advertised "vampire face-lifts" and other cosmetic procedures she wasn't licensed to perform was arrested after a suspicious death at a southern California beauty salon….Licensed message therapist Sandra Gonzales, 45, remained jailed on $10,000 bail Thursday, February 13, 2014 on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance. She was under investigation by homicide detectives with assistance from the California Medical Board and the Los Angeles County coroner's office….

     Hamilet Suarez, 36, was getting cosmetic injections on February 12, 2014 at Areli's Barber Shop and Beauty Salon where Gonzales rents a room when she went into cardiac arrest….Paramedics arrived and took her to a hospital, where she was later declared dead…..

     Investigators at the salon found medical equipment and controlled substances used for cosmetic procedures that Gonzales was advertising but not licensed to perform….They included "butt augmentation," "lip augmentation," and "vampire face-lifts," where a gel-like substance derived from the patient's own blood is injected to reduce wrinkles….

"'Vampire Face-Lifts' Provider Arrested After Suspicious Death," ABC News, February 14, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Redundant Writer

For some writers, once is not enough. They don't beat a dead horse; they beat a totally dead horse. They use modifiers that say the same thing as the words they modify. For them, every fact is a true fact. They don't expedite; they speedily expedite. They don't smell a stench; they smell a malodorous stench. In other words, they're redundant. Or as they might put it, superfluously redundant. [This is meaningfully profound advice.]

Patricia T. O'Conner, Words Fail Me, 1999

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: E-Cigarettes in Jails

     As city governments and schools across the country move to ban or restrict the use of electronic cigarettes, one place increasingly welcomes the devices: the rural county jail. Though traditional cigarettes are prohibited from most prisons and jails because of fire hazards and secondhand smoke, a growing number of sheriffs say they are selling e-cigarettes to inmates to help control the mood swings of those in need of a smoke, as well as address budget shortfalls, which in some jails have meant that guards are earning little more than fast-food workers.

     The trend stands in contrast to restrictions on e-cigarettes approved in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and other big cities. Country jails in a least seven states have permitted the sale of a limited selection of flavors of e-cigarettes to inmates They have quickly become one of the most sought-after items in jail commissaries. And although federal prisons ban e-cigarettes, the inmate market has so much potential that Chinese and American manufacturers now produce "jail-safe" versions made of plastic instead of metal.

Timothy Williams, The New York Times, January 23, 2014

CJ Quote: Child Killer Escapee Back in U.S. Custody

     [On January 24, 2014], nearly six years after he escaped from prison, one of the U.S. Marshals Services's 15 Most Wanted fugitives has been extradited from Mexico and returned to that same prison….Convicted child killer Edward Salas was serving time for murder when he escaped from the Curry County Detention Center in Clovis, New Mexico. At the time of his escape, Salas was serving a life sentence….

     In 2005 Salas, with two of his brothers and two other people, planned to murder a teen named Ruben Perez in his home, reportedly in retaliation for an argument at Clovis High School. Instead, they killed the teen's brother, Carlos Perez, who was sleeping in the same bedroom.

Leslie Holland, "Child Killer Who Escaped Prison in 2008 Extradited to U.S.," CNN, January 25, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: The Problem With Public Education

The problem with public school is not overcrowding in the classroom. The problem is not teacher unions. The problem is not underfunding or lack of computer equipment. The problem is your damn kids. Which, of course, means the problem is you….

P.J. O'Rourke, The Baby Boom, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Another Crime Lab Scandal

      Officials are investigating a crime lab chemist based in Pensacola, Florida, saying he allegedly swapped prescription drugs pain pills seized as evidence with over-the-counter medication. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesperson on February 1, 2014 said officials are now looking into 2,600 cases handled by the chemist since 2006.

     The investigation started when the State Attorney's Office and police asked for assistance into inquiries of missing prescription pills from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office. They discovered the drugs had been replaced with the over-the-counter medication.

     FDLE teams will be deployed to all agencies impacted in order to inspect evidence handled by the chemist. Members will work to confirm cases that have been potentially compromised….No charges have been filed yet, but officials said they anticipate an arrest. The suspect has been removed from his job.

"Florida Reopens Drug Cases After Chemist Allegedly Caught Swapping Evidence," ABC News Radio, February 2, 2014


Criminal Justice Quote: Cannabis Poisoning in Britain

     A young mother of three died after she was poisoned by the cannabis she smoked to help her get to sleep. Gemma Moss, 31, was killed by the level of the drug in her blood….The regular churchgoer, who was found dead in her bedroom, is thought to be the first women in Britain known to have died directly from cannabis poisoning.

     Her death was caused by cannabis toxicity, and a corner recorded a verdict of death by cannabis abuse. According to inquest testimony, Miss Moss smoked half a joint a night to help her sleep….She had been a frequent user but stopped for two years before her death in October 2013. Her family said she started using the drug again to help her sleep after becoming depressed when she split up with her boyfriend….

Luke Salkeld, "Devout Christian Mother of Three, 31, Becomes First Woman in Britain to Die From Cannabis Poisoning," MailOnline, January 30, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: NYC Truck Thief Crashes and Kills Bystander

     A stolen box truck collided with a NYC bus in the West Village early Wednesday morning, February 12, 2014, sending both vehicles careening onto the sidewalk where they smashed into a building….One person was killed and four others injured, one critically….

     The driver of the stolen truck survived and was being treated at Bellevue Hospital where he was in custody and being questioned by police….The site of the accident was a tangle of twisted metal, wood and concrete. Scaffolding erected outside the building collapsed around the two vehicles as they plowed onto the sidewalk at around 5:30 AM….

Marc Santora, The New York Times, February 12, 2014 

Writing Quote: Reader's Digest

[According to writer Jefferson D. Bates]: "While it's long been a popular sport among the literary intelligentsia to put down the Digest, I'll unhesitatingly take the other side. If you want to find examples of clear, tightly edited prose, you'll look a long way to hunt down anything better than you can encounter in any issue of the much maligned Reader's Digest.

In Ian Jackman, editor, The Writer's Mentor, 2004 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Writing Quote: William Noble on Style

     When I speak of good, clean prose, of grammatically correct phrasing, I'm talking about writing that has no redundancies and no awkward, self-conscious parts. You're carried forward by the lilt of the writer's style where words and phrases have purpose, and where the music of words will create a harmony of word sounds. In simple writer-editor language, writing such as this "works."

     But remember, it's style you're really considering, and you don't want to get bogged down in a maze of rules and procedures. Your individuality makes itself known through your style, and sometimes the techniques that don't work for one writer might work for another.

William Noble, Noble's Book of Writing Blunders, 2006

Criminal Justice Quote: Al Capone's Mansion

     The home of the most notorious gangsters in American history could be yours--provided you can meet the asking price of more than $8 million….The Miami Beach waterfront home of Al Capone is back on the market, approximately six months after it was purchased for $7.4 million.

     Capone bought the home for $40,000 in 1928 after being forced to leave his former stomping grounds of Chicago and Los Angeles. He is said to have plotted the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre, in which seven members of a rival Chicago gang were murdered after being lured into an ambush disguised as a liquor [delivery at a Chicago gangster's garage].

     Capone spent his final years at the Palm Island mansion after serving eight years in federal prison for tax evasion. He died in 1947….After extensive restoration work, the house was put back on the market in 2011….

"Make an Offer: Al Capone's Miami Mansion Goes on the Market," Fox News, February 9, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quotes: Traffic Laws Are For Civilians, Not Cops

The fallout from her traffic stop of a speeding police officer is continuing for Florida Highway Patrol officer Donna Jane Watts as she pursues a federal lawsuit claiming she was harassed because of her actions. Watts says in the lawsuit that after stopping the officer in October 2011, her private driver's license information was accessed more than 200 times by at least 88 law enforcement officers from 25 different agencies. She says she received threatening and prank phone calls and other forms of harassment….The Miami Police Department eventually fired the speeding officer, who was clocked at 120 mph.

Curt Anderson, "Florida Trooper Who Stopped Cop Sues After Harassment," Associated Press, February 11, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Gun Control Activist Busted For Taking a Gun to an Elementary School

     A Buffalo, New York community activist who is well known locally for pushing for a highly restrictive 2013 gun control law has been arrested for--wait for it--carrying a gun illegally at a public elementary school. The arrested gun control advocate, Dwayne Ferguson, caused quite a scene at Harvey Austin Elementary School….At about 4:15 PM on Thursday, February 6, 2014, police acted on a pair of anonymous 911 tips. A battalion of cops quickly swarmed the school. The brigade included over a dozen squad cars, the SWAT team and K9 units. The Erie County Sheriff's Air One helicopter and what appears to be an armored vehicle also turned up.

     The school was immediately placed on lockdown. Parts of two streets were closed….Ferguson, 52, was at Harvey Elementary because he works as a mentor in an after-school program for disadvantaged students. He said he frequently carries a pistol. He has a license but the license does not matter under the strict law Ferguson helped pass….

Eric Owens, "Gun Stun: Gun Control Activist Swears He Forgot He Was Carrying Gun While Visiting School," The Daily Caller, February 10, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: New York Cockfighting Ring Busted

     More than 70 people were taken into custody and upwards of 3,000 birds rescued Sunday, February 9, 2014 after investigators cracked down on a savage cockfighting ring that stretched from an underground rooster coop in Brooklyn to a breeding farm upstate….Nine people were arrested on felony charges amid "Operation Angry Birds"--the largest cockfighting crackdown in state history….

     State investigators and other officials said they carried out three dramatic raids….They busted a bloody cockfighting event in Queens, rounding up 65 fighting birds and 70 people--including bettors and spectators--and charging six of them with felony prohibition of animal fighting….

     At the same time, investigators arrested the 74-year-old proprietor of a Brooklyn pet shop where officials said roosters were stuffed inside metal cages showing "all the physical hallmarks of having been bred, trained and altered for fighting."

     And early Sunday, February 9, 2014, investigators and other officials raided a farm in upstate Plattekill, New York, recovering as many as 3,000 birds….

Daniel Arkin, " 'Operation Angry Birds' Busts New York Cockfighting Ring," NBC News, February 10, 2014 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Retired Tennessee Lawyer Killed by Home Package Bomb

….Bewildered residents in rural Tennessee are grappling with fear and confusion as they try to understand why someone would send a bomb to a neighbor. Retired lawyer John Setzer, 74, died Monday February 10, 2014 after "an unknown package exploded," the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. Neighbors said the Lebanon, Tennessee blast was so powerful it blew out windows and damaged several rooms of the Setzer's house….On the Setzers' quiet rural street, neighbors were terrified about whether a bomb might arrive in their mailboxes….[If I were conducting the investigation, I would look for disgruntled men whose wives this attorney represented in divorce cases.]

Holly Yan and Dave Alsup, "Package Bomb Kills Retired Lawyer in Tennessee," CNN February 12, 2014  

Criminal Justice Quote: O.J. Simpson as Victim

     To be unjustly accused of something, for people to try to convict you of something you didn't do….If that happens, if they succeed, I could never see my kids again. I will never let my kids come in here [jail] and see me….I would rather have them feel that I was with their mother.

     My kids don't deserve what is happening. I feel like they're also being punished. I've got to keep it together for my kids. I know in my heart I've been a good person. I'm not ashamed of my life….

O.J. Simpson, I Want to Tell You, 1994 [Letter to a young fan before his 1995 trial for double murder. As it turned out, people who wanted to convict him blew the case and did not succeed.] 

Criminal Justice Quote: Woman Killed by Neighbor's Dogs

     ….Klonda Richey, 57, was found naked on the sidewalk in front of her Dayton, Ohio home on Friday morning, February 7, 2014, fatally mauled by two mixed-breed neighborhood dogs. When police officers arrived, they discovered that Richey's coat had been torn off, and they were forced to kill the two male dogs who charged them….

     Richey's next-door neighbors, Andrew Nason and Julie Custer, were taken into custody on February 7, 2014 and are being held on a charge of reckless homicide, pending the filing of formal charges….

Meredith Moss, "Dog Attack Victim was Animal Lover, Active Volunteer," WHIO, February 8, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Long Island's Heroin Epidemic

…..Heroin use has exploded in what is being described as an epidemic on New York's Long Island, where addiction counselors are seeing users as young as 12--many from middle-class suburban families. Several factors have contributed to this "perfect storm" of addiction according to experts--among them, proximity to major airports and transportation centers, and a statewide crackdown on prescription painkillers, that has the unintended effect of pushing more kids to cheaper and more accessible heroin.

     The trend appears to be national. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says U.S. drug poisoning deaths involving heroin went up 45 percent from 2006 to 2010. And the Drug Enforcement Administration says the amount of heroin seized each year in the southwest U.S. border increased 232 percent from 2008 to 2012.

     And the trend is bad for younger users. Among four age groups, "drug poisoning deaths involving heroin" increased only for the youngest group, ages 15 to 24, from 2008 to 2010. For all the other age groups, the number of deaths was steady or went down, the CDC says….

Ronni Berke and Poppy Harlow, "One Snapshot in a Tragic National Picture: Long Island Sees Exploding Heroin Use," CNN, February 8, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Grand Jury Doesn't Indict Man for Murder in the Killing of a Drug Raid Cop

     Henry Magee, a 28-year-old Texan who accidentally shot and killed a police officer during a no-knock raid on his home, will not be indicted on murder charges, according to a grand jury. Burleson County police raided Magee's home in December 2013 after receiving a tip from an informant that he was in possession of drugs. Five pounds of marijuana were found on the premises.

     Police did not knock before entering the home, and they executed the search before sunrise…Magee's lawyer told the grand jury that his client thought the police were burglars, and he fired his gun to protect his girlfriend, who was pregnant. The bullet struck and killed Deputy Adam Sowders….

Robby Soave, "Man Who Shot Cop During Raid Thought He Was Defending Pregnant Girlfriend From Robbers," The Daily Caller, February 10, 2014 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Tabloid Reporting in the JonBenet Ramsey Case

     We believe some prosecutors [in the JonBenet Ramsey case] thought their job was to "get the indictment," and tabloid media published unverified sensational accusations, first for profit and then in a desperate attempt to protect themselves from prosecution by us [John and Patsy Ramsey] for libel and slander, which only an indictment of us would stop.

     In mid-Novembver 1999, we held one of those tabloids accountable by filing a lawsuit against the Star in federal court in Atlanta for their blaring headline "JonBenet was killed by brother Burke," long after the police had officially and publicly cleared our son. The tabloids had figured out that "Burke sells," so they embarked on a smear campaign against a twelve-year-old child.

     On May 25, 1999, the Star had run a story with a front-page photograph of JonBenet and Burke and this headline. The article said that Burke was being looked at as the prime suspect. They told how JonBenet had wet her bed on Christmas night and crawled into bed with our son. Then Burke, they said, let loose his pent-up resentment of his sister and killed her. They cited the "fact" that Burke's Swiss army knife was found next to JonBenet's body, as evidence. 

     After that, the Star ran two other articles, one entitled, "Sad Twisted Life of JonBenet's Brother" on June 1, and the other, "What Burke Saw on the Night of JonBenet's Murder" on June 8. Obviously, these articles also subjected our son to public hatred, contempt, and ridicule. 

     Almost a month later, on June 22, after our attorney had written to the Star, the tabloid ran a small retraction, saying oops, our sources were wrong, and admitting that the district attorney's office had unequivocally stated that Burke was not a suspect in the murder. But they never said that the facts about him were untrue. 

     We as a society may let these tabloid organizations attack movie stars without retribution, but our children? I hope not. 

John and Patsy Ramsey, The Death of Innocence, 2000
    

Criminal Justice Quote: A New Hampshire Cop Beats Man With Flashlight

     A Salem, New Hampshire police officer was fired for beating a suspect bloody with a flashlight and then taunting him….Officer Joseph Freda is under investigation and could face up to five years in prison for his actions on October 2, 2013.

     Freda was engaged in a high-speed chase with a suspect, Thomas Templeton. After catching Templeton, Freda took out his flashlight and beat the 39-year-old until he was injured and bleeding. According to released documents, Freda then taunted Templeton, saying, "Yeah, I [bleep] hit you." He also stepped on Templeton's cuffed hands….So far Freda has been charged with two counts of simple assault….

Robby Soave, "Cops Beat Suspect with Flashlight, says 'Yeah, I [Bleep] Hit You," The Daily Caller, January 24, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Rape as Punishment in India

     Police in India say a young woman has been ganged raped on the orders of a village council because she fell in love with a man from a different religion. On January 23, 2014, 13 men were arrested in West Bengal state.

     A series of rapes in India over the past year has sparked widespread outrage over chronic sexual violence in India and government failures to protect women. The West Bengal case is particularly troubling because the alleged rape apparently was sanctioned by a council made up of village elders. Such councils are not legally binding in India, but they are seen as the will of the local community. Those who flout the councils risk being ostracized.

     The victim told police that the village council in Subalpur village ordered her to pay a fine for having an affair with the man. When her family said they were too poor to pay, the council ordered the gang rape.

Irish Times, January 23, 2014

Writing Quotes: Writing Acknowledgments

Authors write acknowledgments to acknowledge their debts, of course, to thank people who helped in some way. Ideally, your tone should be gracious but not queenly, grateful but not groveling. Humble dignity is what you should aim for. Acknowledgements also enable you to shamelessly drop names without seeming immodest. In this way, you let the reader know that while you, the author, did the real work, a great many important people stopped whatever they were doing to give you a hand.

Patricia T. O'Conner, Words Fail Me, 1999

Criminal Justice Quote: Lawyer Suicides

     Lawyers are killing themselves [according to] the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….Lawyers ranked fourth when the proportion of suicides in that profession is compared to suicides in all other occupations in the study population….They come right behind dentists, pharmacists, and physicians.

     Lawyers are also prone to depression, which the American Psychological Association identified as the most likely trigger for suicide. Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than non-lawyers.

     Prominent lawyers keep turning up dead….Kentucky has seen 15 known lawyer suicides since 2010….There was no clear explanation for the rash of suicides in Kentucky, two of which came days apart. "It's been primarily men," said Kentucky Bar Association Executive Director John Meyers. "To a large degree it's been trial attorneys. The men are primarily middle-aged."

Rosa Fores and Rose Marie Arce, "Why Are Lawyers Killing Themselves?" CNN, January 20, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Great Milwaukee Stradivarius Heist

     At twenty after ten on the night of January 27, 2014, violinist Frank Almond, the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Orchestra, walked toward his car in the parking lot outside Wisconsin Lutheran College's auditorium where he had just performed a chamber concert. As the 49-year-old musician neared his car, a man emerged out of the darkness and stunned him with a taser gun. Almond and his violin fell to the ground. The robber picked up the 300-year-old Stradivarius and jumped into a minivan driven by a woman.

     Almond's Lipinski Strad had been given to him on "permanent loan" in 2008 by an anonymous patron. As one of 650 of Antonio Stradivari's instruments still in existence, the stolen violin was valued at $5 million.

     Milwaukee detectives immediately began viewing surveillance camera footage in search of clues. FBI agents assigned to the bureau's art theft unit were dispatched to act as consultants in the case. Investigators notified authorities with Interpol in the event the thieves tried to sell the stolen violin in Europe. A $100,000 reward went up for any information leading to the recovery of the instrument.

     On Monday, February 3, 2014, Milwaukee detectives assigned to the high-profile case arrested two men and a woman. One of the men, 41-year-old Salah Salahadyn, had pleaded guilty in 2000 to possessing a $25,000 sculpture that had been stolen from a Milwaukee art gallery in 1995. The judge sentenced him to five years in prison.

     The second man taken into custody, a 36-year-old suspect who goes by the name Universal Knowledge Allah, has no criminal record. Both suspects were charged with robbery, an offense in Wisconsin that can bring up to 15 years in prison.

     Court Commissioner Katherine Kucharski set Salahadyn's bail at $10,000, an extremely low amount given the fact Salahadyn has a lengthy criminal history that includes bail jumping. The magistrate set Allah's bond at $500. (Good heavens, what's behind these ridiculously small bail amounts?)

     Charges against the suspected female get-a-way driver were dropped. The authorities have not released this woman's name.

     On Wednesday, February 5, two days after the arrests, Milwaukee chief of police Edward A. Flynn announced that one of the suspects had led detectives to the stolen Stradivarius. The violin was found in a suitcase in the attic of a house in Milwaukee. The stolen instrument had never left the city. (Perhaps the woman driver in the case was the one who cooperated with detectives in return for her dropped charges.) 

Criminal Justice Quotes: Pedophile Priests in Chicago: Pass the Trash and Cover-Up

     After a 13-year-old boy reported in 1979 that a priest raped and threatened him at gunpoint to keep quiet, the Archdiocese of Chicago assured the boy's parents that, although the cleric avoided prosecution, he would receive treatment and have no further contact with minors.

     But the Reverend William Cloutier, who already had been accused of molesting other children, was returned to the ministry a year later and went on to abuse again before he resigned in 1993, two years after the boy's parents filed a lawsuit. Officials took no action against Cloutier over his earlier transgressions because he "sounded repentant," according to internal archdiocese documents released January 21, 2014 that show how the archdiocese tried to contain a mounting scandal over child sexual abuse.

     For decades, those at the highest levels of the nation's third largest archdiocese moved accused priests from parish to parish while hiding the clerics' histories from the public.

The Associated Press, January 21, 2014 

Writing Quote: Fictional Characters as the Source of Story Ideas

     People wonder where writers get their ideas. Must they first experience what they write? Do they really rush wildly around looking for story ideas? Good writers look for "characters," because ideas grow as freely from characters as apples from trees. Every character grows not one but many fresh, unique, writable stories.

     Writers who want to write good stories or plays must know their characters better than they know themselves. Better--because most of the time we are unaware of the motivating forces within us. Strange but true, it is easier to create a living, three-dimensional character than an unreal, one-dimensional character.

Lajos Egri, The Art of Creative Writing, 1990 

Whackademia Quote: Ignore the Bright Students, Focus on the Rest

     It's no secret that when it comes to education, America gets a D-minus. In the most recent global tests--scored on a 1,000-point scale--the U.S. scored a 481 in math, 497 in science, and 498 in reading comprehension. In comparison, international averages were 494, 501, and 496, and the U.S. lags well behind the world's leaders, a list which includes some of the usual suspects like China, Japan and the Netherlands, but also has Latvia, Slovenia and Vietnam.

     Why is the world's largest economy so bad at teaching its children? One growing school of thought is the the U.S. education system, and its laudable quest to make sure the worst students reach minimal standards, is cheating its best pupils….

     For years, teachers have operated under the assumption that gifted children--the tiny group smarter than 99.99 percent of their peers--need and deserve less attention than the kids in remedial classes….Teachers more or less ignore gifted children, instead teaching to a one-size fits-all curriculum that caters to the lowest common denominator….

     A 2008 report found that the controversial No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 indeed helped low-achieving students to rise to meet a more rigorous course load, but shifted teacher's sights away from the gifted kids….

Chris Weller, "America Hates Its Gifted Kids," Newsweek, January 16, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Anti-Affluenza Defense Legislation

     [In December 2013], after a 16-year-old boy said to be suffering from "affluenza" was sentenced to rehabilitation instead of prison for killing four people and maiming two others in a drunk-driving crash, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto…introduced a bill…that would prohibit attorneys from invoking "affluenza" as a defense at trial or as a mitigating factor for sentencing.

     Gatto knows there is no universally agreed upon definitions for the term….[There is also no case law that establishes affluenza as a criminal defense.] In the bill, Gatto defines affluenza as "the notion that an affluent or overly permissive upbringing prevents a defendant from fully understanding the consequences of criminal actions." [What is and what is not a viable criminal defense should be left to the courts to hammer out. This politically feel-good legislation fixes a problem that doesn't exist, and usurps the discretion of judges and juries.]

Robin Abcarian, the Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2014    

Criminal Justice Quote: Smash and Grab Robbers Hit Jewelry Store in Mall

[On January 18, 2014] men with sledgehammers robbed a jewelry story at a crowded Memphis, Tennessee mall….Five or six suspects entered Reed's Jewelers at 8:00 PM Saturday and began smashing display cases with hammers….The gang took 65 Rolex watches, stuffing them into pillow cases and running out nearby mall exits. [Jewelry stores should not be located near mall exits.]

Associated Press, January, 18, 2014


Monday, February 10, 2014

Gordon Lasley Jr.: Double Murder in an Indian Settlement

     In February 2012, 23-year-old Gordon Lasley Jr., a resident of the 1,400-member Meskwaki Sac and Fox tribe settlement in central Iowa, was sentenced to five years probation following an assault conviction. A year later, the Native American punched a man in the face during a Iowa City bar fight. In that case, tribal police arrested Lasley for assault causing bodily injury.

     In addition to the above offenses, Gordon Lasley Jr. has an arrest history that includes public intoxication, criminal mischief, theft, trespassing, and various motor vehicle and driving violations. A drunkard with a mean streak, he is not your model citizen.

     Lasley's brother Tyler, at nine o'clock on the night of Wednesday, February 5, 2014, discovered the bodies of his parents in the basement of their small, rural Meskwaki settlement house. Gordon Lasley Sr, 60, and his 57-year-old wife Kim, had been hacked to death. The murder weapon, a bloody machete, lay on the living room couch. Tyler Lasley reported his gruesome discovery to the Meskwaki Nation Police Department.

     Shortly after the double-murder, Gordon Lasley Jr. told a family member that he had killed his parents. That night, police officers arrested the suspect in his mother's car. Lasley's clothes were blood-soaked, and he had cuts on his hands which had left bloodstains inside the vehicle.

     Meskawaki tribal police officers booked Lasley into the Tama County Jail. Charged with two counts of first-degree murder, a judge set his bail at $2 million. Because all crimes on Indian reservations and settlements are federal offenses, FBI agents are assisting in the double-murder investigation.


Criminal Justice Quote: Home Insurance Fraud Ring in South Florida

     Nearly two dozen people have been arrested in February 2014 after the state went after a major home insurance fraud ring operating in South Florida….Twenty-two people were charged in Operation Flames and Floods….The group set fires and created floods in a number of homes in the Miami area over the past seven years and made millions by filing fraudulent claims.

     The alleged ring leader of the group, Jorge Fausto Espinosa Sr., a public adjuster, reportedly received 20 to 30 percent of each fraudulent claim. Espinosa and his wife are facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors said the ring included crooked contractors who recruited greedy homeowners to make the fraudulent claims….

"Arrests Made in Home Insurance Fraud Ring," CBS News, February 4, 2014  

Criminal Justice Quote: The Era Before U.S. Criminalized Marijuana

     The first American law concerning marijuana, passed in the Virginia assembly in 1619, required every household to grow it. Hemp was deemed not only a valuable commodity, but also a strategic necessity. Its fibers were used to make sails and riggings, and its byproducts were turned into oakum for the caulking of wooden ships. Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and other colonies eventually allowed hemp to be used as legal tender to boost its production and relieve colonial shortages of currency. Although a number of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, later grew hemp on their estates, there is no evidence they were aware of its psychoactive properties. The domestic production of hemp flourished, especially in Kentucky, until the Civil War, when it was replaced by imports from Russia and by other domestic materials.

     In the latter half of the nineteenth century marijuana became a popular ingredient in patent medicines and was sold openly at pharmacies in one-ounce herbal packages and alcohol-based tinctures, as a cure for migraines, rheumatism, and insomnia. Dr. Brown's Sedative Tablets contained marijuana, as did Eli Lilly's One Day Cough Cure.

Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness, 2003 

Criminal Justice Quote: Crime in America

There will always be a great deal of crime in America. As the American crime novelist Raymond Chandler has written, "Crime isn't a symptom, it's a disease….We're a big, rough, rich, wild people, and crime is the price we pay for it…."

Thomas Plate, Crime Pays! 1975 

Criminal Justice Quote: Couple Murdered 5-Year-old Girl by Forcing Her to Drink 2 Liters of Water and Soda

     An east Tennessee couple is charged with murder in the death of the man's 5-year-old daughter after an autopsy revealed the girl died from being forced to drink more than 2 liters of grape soda and water….Alexis Linboom was brought in to the emergency room on January 1, 2012 by her father, Randall Vaughn, and his wife, Mary Vaughn….

     The girl was blue and not responding. She had severe brain damage. An investigation revealed the girl had been forced to drink the water and soda over one to two hours of punishment. The massive intake of fluid caused her brain to swell and herniate….The couple is being held at the Hawkins County Jail on a $500,000 bond each.

"Tennessee Couple Charged After Girl Dies From Drinking 2 Liters of Soda, Water," Fox News and Associated Press, February 6, 2014