Monday, April 10, 2006

Prosecutorial discretion

Mr. Steven Wells just posted a good article pointing out the structural bias of appeals, one reason why the state is always full of good case law. This can be a problem, particularly when judges (AKA former prosecutors) won't do anything to protect your client's rights unless you can point out a case on point an all four facts. Ruling by analogy to suppress a stop? Nope, hey, that case occurred near a river, and this case was near the ocean ... BIG difference!

Did you hear what happened in Duke? No matter how heinous the crime, police make mistakes, witnesses may lie. I never assume someone is lying, but my experience has led me to not jump to a hanging because in many instances, all the facts are not in. Yes, I'm talking about prejudging thrice admonished (by the most conservative appeals court in the land) Nancy Grace, who said recently: You know what, Kevin? I`m so glad they didn`t miss a lacrosse game over a little thing like gang rape! Go ahead..

I'm glad that Grace didn't live in Durham, after all, I don't think that she should go to jail for arson, she added during her show:
GRACE: To clinical psychologist Dr. Patricia Saunders, Dr. Saunders, in an earlier sound bite, we heard one of the administrators say -- or it may have been the defense attorney -- say, "What if these boys were your sons?"

What if this girl -- I mean, of course, I wouldn`t be happy if she was a stripper if I was her mother, but forget about that. What if this girl was your girl? You know, I`d burn the place down, for Pete`s sake.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cops behaving badly

Good thing David Feige is following this horrible situation where some cops in South Florida are simply out of control. It looks pretty widespread too.

These ugly activities by these cops are a disgrace to not only all the other cops who aren't dirty, but to the citizens that they are sworn to serve. Unfortunately, those of us who work with cops know that some of them routinely lie, making us wonder if any of them are ever telling the truth. It is really disheartening, but it reminds me why I need to do my job.

Who can police the police? Well, the public defenders of course!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Mentally ill in prison

I just watched the Frontline episode "The New Asylums" looked inside Ohio's prison mental health treatment. I had seen it before, it is always an eye-opening program, even to me, and I have fairly extensive experience with the mentally ill in several different criminal justice systems.

Jail is becoming the place to hold the mentally ill. Judges know that, there are no alternatives, so although they may not like it, they feel like they have no option. But many jails, even if they are the 'best' of the worst options, they are not suitable at all. Many corrections officers are not trained or suitable to handle these sorts of inmates, nor are the police that must see them on the streets.

It is ridiculous that, as in Ohio, even when people get stabilized through aggressive treatment, when they get out in the community they have to be hyper aggressive and vigalent to get and maintain treatment. These are people who have serious mental health problems, yet they are not supported in the community, meaning that many of the 500,000 mentally ill people in the nations prisons will be coming right back.

What about Florida, according to Frontline:

14.9 percent of Florida's 71,616 inmates in custody were in counseling, and 10.8 percent were receiving psychotropic medications as of 2000. Among the state's 106 correctional facilities, 88 provided counseling, 88 distributed psychotropic medications, and one provided 24-hour mental health care.

That means 18 facilities do not provide counseling or distribute meds. The ideal answer would be not lock up people who need treatment. But if we aren't going to do that, then we must improve treatment in prison.