The View at Gitmo
We like to think of ourselves as a great nation, a compassionate country that puts human rights at the forefront of everything we do. Then, how in the world can we defend what the United States continues to do at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba?
The American prison for enemy combatants was established in January 2002 by then President George W. Bush as a place to park detainees that were connected with the radical Muslim movement waging war against America. A total of 779 prisoners have been sent to Gitmo and today – eleven years later – we still hold 166 of them. No charges have been filed against most of these men. Years ago about half of them were cleared for return to their home countries (or a willing third-party country) yet they still sit at Gitmo. [click to continue…]
Kahan: One Man’s Fight Against Glorifying Murderers
Do you collect anything? My dear Aunt Isabel used to collect little spoons that she proudly displayed in a wall cabinet. Grandma collected tea cups. I began a collection of beautiful hand bells.
Well, some people collect items that are much more macabre – items that have a connection to notorious serial killers.
How macabre? Would you believe these collectors buy serial killer’s autographed photos, artwork and handwritten letters sent to people outside prison walls? Even an envelope bearing a handwritten return address commands a pretty penny. The murderer’s fingernail clippings , dirty socks or any other object that can be authenticated as genuine ranks a place of honor on some people’s mantle.
But those are not the most shocking serial killer items up for sale on the internet. [click to continue…]
Can Laws Really Regulate Teen Sex?
If an adult has sexual relations with a 14 year old that’s bad, right?
Okay, well what if that “adult” has just turned 18 and has a younger teen as a love interest? Would their actions be as serious a crime as, say, a 40-year-old with a young teen?
The law says yes. The law calls it statutory rape when anyone who has reached adulthood has sex with a person under the age of 16. (In a few states it is age 15) It doesn’t matter if it is an older person is male or female or if the younger person is a girl or boy. It is illegal and often punishable by a hefty prison sentence.
The case that brings this issue to the forefront is playing out now in Sebastian, Florida. [click to continue…]
Judges CAN Right Judicial Wrongs
We often hear people associated with the criminal justice system complain about how it works – or fails to work. Prosecutors, defense attorneys, police and social workers all cite specifics that they believe tip the scales of fairness.
Very rarely – if ever – do we hear from a judge. The ethics of their profession mandate they remain mum about public policy issues while on the bench.
Even after they retire the public rarely gets the benefit of their insight. I think that is a shame. Who better to help teach the public about how politician’s laws – sometimes crafted and passed with headlines in mind – actually affect citizens?
This is a story about not one — but two — judges from different states that came together to pro-actively help a woman they believed had been given a raw deal at sentencing. Their actions speak volumes about our justice system and proves there really is no such thing as a one-size-fits all sentencing. [click to continue…]
U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jon Hamma
Note: See UPDATES to this story below.
By the time you read this I earnestly hope that ex-Marine Lance Corporal Jon Hammar is a free man. I hope that our State Department has stepped up to help this military hero in his time of need.
I hope that politicians in his parent’s home state of Florida have tossed their weight around enough to end the madness that has enveloped young Hammar’s life.
I’m not optimistic.
For almost four months 23 year old Hammar has been held in a notoriously dangerous prison in Matamoros, Mexico on a [click to continue…]
Marijuana Legalized First – Other Street Drugs Later?
I’m going to make a bold prediction. America’s War on Drugs is now officially over.
Oh, no one in Washington is going to make any sort of announcement to confirm this but take it from me – our four-decades-old drug war strategy is now formally kaput. To be entirely honest, it has been sputtering along for years now accomplishing little and costing us upward of a trillion dollars.
Citizens in two states – Washington and Colorado sealed the deal. They voted that marijuana should be legalized, no prescription or medical excuse needed. And not only is recreational pot smoking by adults legal in those two places now, medicinal use of marijuana is already the will of the people in 18 other states and the District of Columbia.
Sure looks like a trend to me. [click to continue…]
Do Prisoners Deserve More Rights Than Law Abiders?
Recently, I wrote about the sometimes deadly lack of air conditioning for prisoners during our blisteringly hot summers. Despite several inmate deaths in cell blocks with temperatures as high as 130 degrees, I got a raft of reader e-mails taking me to task for being too soft on convicts.
This week, I turn the tables to announce my absolute, unequivocal opposition to a pro-prisoner court order you may find positively shocking. I know I did.
The prisoner at the center of the controversy is Michelle Kosilek. But up until 1993 this person was known as Robert Kosilek. In 1990, Robert’s wife, Cheryl, already distressed over his drinking came home to find him dressed up in her clothes. A fight ensued and the trial court found Robert was guilty of strangling Cheryl with a wire and abandoning her naked body in the family car outside a local mall. [click to continue…]
Temps in Cell Blocks Can Reach 130 Degrees!
~Thousands of inmates across the country held in inhumane conditions~
If you are reading this anywhere in America you know firsthand that this summer has been a record-breaking sizzler. We could be living though the hottest summer season ever.
Think about what you’ve done to keep cool. You’ve turned on your air conditioner or (if you don’t have one) maybe you’ve gone to the movies to cool off. You probably drink lots of ice cold beverages or jump into a swimming pool or cool shower. Perhaps, like my friend Lester, you drench a kitchen towel, twist it into a U-shape and plop it in the freezer to hang around your neck when working outside.
Well, imagine you couldn’t do any of those things. Imagine you were isolated in a 10 foot by 12 foot space with no windows to open up to catch a cooling breeze. You had no fan, no relief and no escape. [click to continue…]
Death By Lethal Injection
When I saw the headlines my stomach lurched. The State of Georgia has issued an execution warrant for a retarded man? Oh, Good Grief, I thought, has America come to this? Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling more than a decade ago banning the execution of retarded citizens Georgia was going to go ahead and send Warren Lee Hill, Jr. to the death chamber anyway?
Multiple news stories told me plans to execute Mr. Hill were moving forward because he couldn’t prove he was mentally retarded, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Why would the state of Georgia put that kind of caveat on retardation, I wondered. How could they possibly want to put to death a man who didn’t have the capacity to know right from wrong? [click to continue…]