Prisons

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…]

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Time to Re-Think Laws on Teen Sex

by Diane Dimond on June 3, 2013

 

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…]

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Judges Act for Justice

by Diane Dimond on April 8, 2013

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…]

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Crime Rates Are Down – But Why?

by Diane Dimond on March 11, 2013

Down: Crimes like Murder, Rape and Burglary

If you follow the news you’ve heard that violent crime rates are down all across the country.

I know it is hard to believe after news of mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado and the current murder spree in Chicago but facts are facts. The instances of crime have been slowly and surely declining for the last two decades.

Back in 1994, a Gallup survey found that more than 50% of Americans cited crime as the nation’s biggest problem. In another Gallup survey conducted last year that number was down to just 2%. I keep wondering why? What caused the rate of murder, rape, armed robbery and other violence-inspired crimes to plummet so dramatically? Did we just get lucky or is there a specific reason (or reasons) for the improvement? [click to continue…]

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America Left This Marine Behind

by Diane Dimond on December 17, 2012

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…]

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America’s War on Drugs Sputters to an End

by Diane Dimond on November 19, 2012

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…]

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Prisoner’s Rights Run Amok

by Diane Dimond on September 17, 2012

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…]

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Cruel and Unusual Prisioner Punishment

by Diane Dimond on August 27, 2012

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…]

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Executing the Retarded?

by Diane Dimond on July 24, 2012

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…]

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But Not For All Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day to all the other Moms out there! Your children have likely bought you a nice card and a gift, maybe some flowers or perhaps they plan to take you out for a fancy meal to show you how much they love you. Sweet. And just the way it should be.

My mom is no longer here and this holiday is one that makes me sentimental and nostalgic.

But for tens of thousands of American mothers it is just another day behind bars. There are no flower or PajamaGram deliveries allowed in prison to mark this day.

It is hard to find current and trustworthy statistics about exactly how many women are incarcerated in the United States or how many of them are mothers. One of the causalities of our lousy economy is up-to-date research on such things, but I think it’s safe to say the number of female prisoners lies somewhere between Amnesty International’s figure of 148,000 and the American Civil Liberties Union’s tally which put the number of American women and girls in lockup at 200,000. A documentary released last year by the University of Pennsylvania put the number of incarcerated mothers in 2007 at 65,600. [click to continue…]

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