US Supreme Court justices are appointed to the highest court in the land for life. There Is no mandatory retirement age. But I would suggest it is time for 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg to hang up her robe.
We should all take a moment to acknowledge her long and spectacular legal career. Ginsburg has been a true liberal champion for laws concerning women’s and voter’s rights, racial justice and she has long been a proponent of affirmative action programs in higher education.
But now as she enters her 23rd year on the US Supreme Court she has called into question her own impartiality…. [click to continue…]
Truth be told we do a pretty good job in this country keeping track of automobiles, doctors and teachers. We do a pretty lousy job keeping track of rogue police officers.
That’s right, there is no comprehensive national system for tracking bad seed officers who should find another line of work. The result? So-called “gypsy cops” who move from station house to station house and from state to state to find the next employer who will issue them a badge and a gun. [click to continue…]
Robert & Betty Were Married For 72 Years
I recently wrote about the plight of 94-year-old Betty Winstanley, who resides at the Masonic Village retirement home in Elizabethtown, PA. She doesn’t want to live there anymore. Now that her husband of 72 years is gone she longs to move to a care home closer to her two children in Maryland. The state of Pennsylvania won’t let her leave.
To the state Betty is case #1201 of 2014, just another old person the court has declared, “totally incapacitated.” Once someone is so labeled they get a court appointed guardian who, literally, takes over their life. Guardians decide all the ward’s finances, who can visit and for how long, when or if they can leave the home – everything. [click to continue…]
The Veteran’s Administration – Long Mired in Delays
So, the U.S. government has finally decided to help some 2,000 Air Force personnel exposed to Agent Orange residue left over in airplanes used during the Vietnam War. They are now eligible for disability, medical and survivor benefits.
“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald announced.
Really? Then why didn’t the VA take this step long ago? These new recipients flew in Fairchild C-123 aircraft from 1969 to 1986. That’s between 46 and 29 years ago! [click to continue…]
Time to Re-Think the Prison System
“We have embraced the idea that being mentally sick is a crime …”
It is way past time to overhaul the U.S. prison system.
I’m not talking about a little tweak here and there. I’m talking about throwing a massive metaphorical hand grenade into the entire system and starting over from scratch. We should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing the system to have morphed into what it has. [click to continue…]
Crime Stories on Top of List
Last year’s tally is now in and the news story that garnered the most searches on the internet was … (can I get a drum roll, please?) …. A crime story!
Before I get to the winner, may I just say that life as a crime and justice columnist is sometimes a lonely one. I don’t think there’s another writer in America who – week in and week out – concentrates only on issues surrounding our justice system.
I’m fascinated by the topic but, sometimes, I wonder how many of you readers are. Sure, I get mail from many of you, and I truly appreciate it, but now I have some real statistics to back up the idea that Americans are, indeed, interested in following crime and justice stories. [click to continue…]
Mr. and Mrs. Gavin Arvizo
I went to a wedding this past week-end and while you may not immediately recognize the name of the groom I’ll bet you know of him.
Despite a lifetime of obstacles, Gavin Arvizo — once at the center of a sensational child sex abuse scandal — has worked his way through to a triumphant life. At 13, Gavin accused Michael Jackson of molesting him and the superstar was arrested.
It seemed life was stacked against this kid from the very beginning.
As a youngster he lived in a one room apartment in East Los Angeles with two siblings and his parents. Poverty and domestic abuse was a way of life. [click to continue…]
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…]
A Confession is Just the Beginning
It is hard to believe or understand but people confess to committing crimes – sometimes horrible crimes – when they are completely innocent. It happens more often than you can imagine. False confessions can be traced to unjust interrogation techniques, poor legal advice or even the mental illness of the suspect.
That’s one reason detectives involved in the groundbreaking missing persons case of six year old Etan Patz are still hard at work even though 51 year old Pedro Hernandez has now confessed to killing the boy more than three decades ago. False confessions often come in to police around the anniversary of high profile, unsolved cases and Hernandez made his self-incriminating statements to police just days before the 33rd anniversary of Etan’s disappearance. [click to continue…]
Like a Free Four Day Get-Away?
What if your boss decided to reward you and your fellow workers with an all-expense paid get-away? Wouldn’t that be great? You could stay in a nice hotel, spend some quality time networking with your colleagues and in the evening you could enjoy cocktails, special entertainment and indulge in expensive dinners.
Think in these economic times your boss would spring for that? Yeah, not in a million years, right?
Well, if you pay federal income taxes you’ve already helped foot the bill for just such a bash. Sorry, you weren’t invited. This four day event was arranged by the General Services Administration and after learning the details I think someone there ought to be arrested for misappropriation of funds – more than 820 thousand dollars of our funds! [click to continue…]