Sunday, July 22, 2007

Odds and Ends: Didya hear the one about the field of pot growing behind the Dallas DEA headquarters? No punchline, that's a news item.

Here are a few stories that caught my attention in this week's news:

No room at the prison inn, now even at private jails
What regular Grits reader didn't know this was coming? Now even private prisons are out of space. Reported the Houston Chronicle today ("Private prison facilities running out of room," July 22):
"Essentially, the supply side is not keeping up with demand" ... The reasons are many, from more stringent immigration enforcement nationally to Texas laws forcing county lockups to house state jail felons and parolees who commit technical violations of their release terms.

See also this Houston Chronicle item ("Inmate transfer creates anxiety for town," July 22) about the impact moving 400 Harris County jail inmates to a private prison in rural Louisiana will have on families in both places.

Homegrown, in DEA's backyard
You can't make this up: During recent storms more than 300 marijuana plants were accidentally found growing a few hundred yards from the DEA and FBI buildings in Dallas, while more than 10,000 plants covering seven acres were discovered growing in Grand Prairie on utility company property where the city limit meets with Dallas. Somebody tell me how these guys are going to stop international drug smuggling cartels when they can't keep dope growers from operating within rock throwing distance of their parking lot?

Counting pennies adds up
In Cherokee County, the local paper is calculating how much new state pay raises will mean to the local economy, mostly thanks to the preponderance of local prison employees and the state hospital for the criminally insane in Rusk.

Innocence claim in Dallas won't receive DA Watkins' blessing
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has made national headlines allowing DNA testing to move forward in old cases and acting swiftly to get innocent people out of prison. But he won't back the claim of Ben Spencer, who can present no DNA evidence but whose attorneys found two people who say someone else confessed to the crime. There's a risk to ONLY letting "slam dunk" cases involving DNA justify an innocence claim - most cases, after all, have no DNA evidence from offenders to match, even in many violent crimes. It's Watkins right to force the claim to be justified through the adversarial system and let a judge make the call, but there are more innocent people convicted than DNA will ever exonerate, so the absence of DNA evidence shouldn't preclude DAs or the courts from considering the possibility defendants like Ben Spencer may be innocent.

Forged credentials hard to check
Bruce Schneier has "written about forged credentials before, and how hard a problem it is to solve. Here's another story illustrating the problem:
In an apparent violation of the law, a controverisal aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.

When faced with a badge, most people assume it's legitimate. And even if they wanted to verify the badge, there's no real way for them to do so."

Last Words
See the last statements of Texas offenders put to death so far in 2007.


JT Barrie said...

I keep saying: "When the police can show the uncanny ability to keep banned drugs out of any significantly large prison - where they have all the authority in the world - don't support giving them any more authority to violate the privacy of citizen taxpayers". Why open up schools to random searches until someone can show the ability to keep arbitrarily banned drugs out of prison. You're not going to "reform" the kid's drug habit if he can keep it going while still in prison.

Anonymous said...

you ask "Somebody tell me how these guys are going to stop international drug smuggling cartels when they can't keep dope growers from operating within rock throwing distance of their parking lot?

Why should they stop growers in the first place? Are there any murders, rapes, or other crimes connected to the existence of the pot fields? Leave the gardeners alone- let them contribute to the landscaping efforts around the DEA and FBI buildings. I love it!