California Overcrowding Among the Worst
It’s easy to understand the intent behind the current move to reduce prison overcrowding but are we sure we’re doing it right?
In 2010, when President Obama signed The Fair Sentencing Act to reduce federal prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders he specifically targeted those who had been convicted of crack cocaine crimes. In the past, anyone in possession of crack — an inexpensive drug most often used in poor black communities — was routinely sentenced to harsher penalties than those who had dealt in the more expensive powder cocaine that was used almost exclusively by more affluent whites. [click to continue…]
Not Always Reliable
How many times have you heard someone say, “Believe me, I know it’s true. I saw it with my own eyes!” When someone passionately tells us they were an eyewitness to an event we are programmed to believe their story.
It happens in courtrooms all across the country every day. An eyewitness takes the stand, puts a hand on the bible and swears to tell the truth about what they saw. In sometimes vivid detail they tell their story, point the finger of blame at a defendant and proclaim they are 100% sure about the identification. This compelling, first-hand testimony sways juries and has resulted in countless convictions. Some include sentences of death.
So how trustworthy is an eye-witness, anyway? [click to continue…]
Blind Justice: Laws Apply To All Citizens
The law says dangerous or illegal actions have consequences. Countless U.S. citizens enter the justice system every year after authorities determine they did something that physically or emotionally harmed someone, financially cheated another person or exposed people to peril.
So why do government employees so often escape the punishment you or I would face in similar circumstances?
Case in point: In what very nearly looks like a case of federally sponsored child trafficking the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement put countless children at risk yet no one has been held accountable. Beginning in fall of 2011, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America began to flood across the Mexican border in search of a better life in America. We were not prepared. [click to continue…]
Kids in the Criminal System. Then What?
Everyone knows youngsters aren’t mentally or emotionally equipped to make good decisions. That’s why most parents watch their teenagers like a hawk.
But every year thousands of American kids get themselves in to serious trouble with the law. Some of these youngsters had no prior police record. Some who entered the criminal justice system were under the age of 10. In the most dire cases, teens have been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of ever being released.
Imagine your son (or in less frequent cases, your daughter), suddenly caught up in a crime that resulted in murder, manslaughter or rape — doomed to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, perhaps in solitary confinement to keep them away from prison violence. [click to continue…]
Suddenly, Agreement – But Have They Thought Things Through?
Seems like Washington is enjoying a rare political Kumbayah moment these days. Both Democrats and Republicans now agree that our justice system ran off the rails with overly burdensome, mandatory sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.
Convicts like Antwon Rogers of Cleveland Ohio who was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine — less than 5 ounces of the drug. But because Rogers had two previous drug convictions the mandatory federal three-strikes law kicked in and, at the age of 22, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. He’s been there more than 20 years.
Francis Hayden of Loretto, Kentucky also got life after his conviction for possessing more than 1,000 marijuana plants, growing on a farm he managed. Hayden also had two previous drug convictions and that third one sealed his fate.
If space permitted I could cite thousands of these over-sentenced, non-violent drug cases. [click to continue…]
This is What the Death Penalty Looks Like
If we, as a nation, are going to allow the execution of convicted murderers, rapists and traitors can’t we get our act together about how to take their lives?
Back in 2010, European countries began a movement to abolish the death penalty around the world.
European pharmaceutical companies began to refuse to sell any anesthetics to the U.S. that could be used to facilitate an execution. And that left our prisons, in the more than 30 states that carry out the death penalty, without easy access to the medications needed to kill the condemned. [click to continue…]
What We’ve Done So Far Hasn’t Worked
Here’s a riddle: How many knowledgeable people does it take to suggest a policy change before society adopts their sage advice?
Buried in all the recent news about ISIS, horrific weather lashing the United States, the violence of NFL players, and the like, came a hardly noticed news item about the idea of legalizing drugs.
Now, stay with me on this. It’s important.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy, an illustrious panel including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former US Secretary of State George Shultz, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, former presidents and prime ministers of nearly a dozen countries and others issued a detailed study about why it’s smart – for reasons both humanitarian and financial — to legalize marijuana and other drugs. [click to continue…]
Lee Boyd Malvo Self-Portrait
Lee Boyd Malvo, inmate No. 330873, incarcerated at the super-maximum Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Va., has a business plan to make himself some money. He either doesn’t know it is against the law or he doesn’t care.
You won’t learn about this story anywhere else. I was only able to piece it together after speaking to sources, correction officials in Virginia, exchanging emails with a woman in a foreign country and putting two and two together.
You may remember Malvo was half of a two-man killing squad that terrorized, robbed and killed people in about a dozen states back in 2002. When the pair were at the peak of their killing spree, the media incorrectly dubbed the then 17-year old Malvo and his 41-year-old accomplice, John Muhammad, “The Beltway Snipers” and the “D.C. Snipers.” [click to continue…]
U.S. Satellites See What’s Happening on Earth
Global Positioning Satellite systems can pinpoint our location no matter where we are in the world and precisely tell us where to turn to get to our destination. U.S. satellites monitor just about anything on earth — from the path of a forest fire to the route of a convoy of trucks. We know for a fact that the National Security Agency has had eyes and ears on just about every phone call and e-mail sent or received, worldwide.
So can someone please explain to me how we apparently missed the substantial exodus of migrants from Central America headed for our southern border? By all reports this mass migration — which has now resulted in a major humanitarian crisis – began last October. Yet the public is only just hearing about it now, after it has reached catastrophic proportions. [click to continue…]