Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Clear Grits: Texas Tough

As I focus elsewhere today, let me share a few links with y'all that have been backing up on my to-blog list:

Deaf man could be next Texas exoneree
The next Dallas-based exoneree could turn out to be a deaf man convicted of sexual assault whose "confession came during 18 hours of questioning and included admissions to fictitious crimes made up by investigators to test his credibility." A fingerprint found at the crime scene matches another man convicted of sexually assaulting a child.

Texas Tough
I briefly got to meet Robert Perkinson last week, the author of the new book "Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire," who was in Austin for an Open Society Institute event. He was gracious enough to send me home with a signed copy, which I promise to review here later,  but in the meantime Ben Philpott at The Texas Tribune recorded an interview with him.

Dallas Jail Limbo
Dallas County Jail has had problems losing inmates in the past for months at a time, so it's unsurprising if disappointing to learn from the Dallas News that the county's criminal justice director found "423 felony cases [which] currently have no future court dates assigned" - in other words which are simply sitting in limbo with the court taking no action.

Houston DNA cases overwhelming crime lab, again
Houston PD generally lacks sufficient crime lab capacity for the volume of cases they handle despite millions spent on upgrades, with the backlog in DNA cases alone growing by 75 per day.

Juveniles incarcerated as adults
Going back to when we worked together at the Texas ACLU, I've learned over the years that when Alison Brock, a staffer in state Rep. Sylvester Turner's office, begins honing in on a problem, you're usually about 2 years from the public realizing there's a massive crisis. We spoke recently and Alison was concerned about juveniles incarcerated in adult facilities. Maybe the rest of us should be, too.

Pay at the Pump?
I recently (re-)suggested Texas switch to pay at the pump insurance, and after Bethany Anderson at Frontburner asked some 'how would it work' questions, I found this (somewhat dated) paper on the subject for anyone interested.

Racing to the bottom
Dave Mann at the Texas Observer fears Texas' underfunded mental health system is about to get worse as the result of next year's budget crisis. Of course, if mental health isn't funded on the outside, one can expect to pay for it more frequently in the prisons and jails.

Limiting license plate readers
Having recently discussed license plate readers I was glad a reader pointed out this story on new limitations governing their use by police in the UK.

Clear Grits
Has anybody hear ever heard of the Canadian "Clear Grits" party? It was apparently a populist farmers reform movement from the 19th Century in what's today Ontario. I found it by checking out search terms that brought people here. According to Wikipedia, "The Clear Grits advocated universal male suffrage, representation by population, democratic institutions, reductions in government expenditure, abolition of the Clergy Reserves, voluntarism, and free trade with the United States. Clear Grits from Upper Canada shared many ideas with Thomas Jefferson." Who'da thunk? One can never collect enough Grits references! :)


Paul UK said...

This is from my earlier comments on uninsured motorists which you may find of interest.

Hello from this side of the pond, while in theory having minimum liability covered by a gas tax is a great idea. It falls short on one count, the totally inadequate levels of cover provided by the State minimum liability (I believe in Texas it is USD $25000)hardly enough to cover medical bills, let alone long term care for the seriously injured. If you want to be radical, may I suggest you look to my sisters new homeland New Zealand. New Zealand operates the accident compensation corporation which is a no fault scheme for all accidents and victims of crime, that includes motor accidents, injuries at the workplace, medical accidents, sports injuries and also can cover New Zealanders overseas. It is very well liked in New Zealand. First it speeds up claims process taking the stress out of the claims process. It is cheaper and avoids the adversarial process. Here is their website.


Anonymous said...

Avoids the adversarial process? This ain't France.


Michael said...

The article about Stephen Brodie, the deaf inmate who served 18 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, is outrageous. It names the attorneys who helped him win his legal battles, and it names the detective who fought for his exoneration. But NOWHERE does it name the greasy bags of dog excrement who got the brilliant idea of poaching a crime on a defenseless deaf man. Someone needs to identify these feckless thugs, purchase every available billboard space in the Metroplex, and let the entire population of the area know that these punks are scum and don't deserve their shields. Better yet, put them in prison for eighteen years, for the crimes they DID commit.

The Team said...

Hey Mike, Project: Not Guilty names names. We promise you as soon as we learn the identities of all parties involved we will publish them on the PNG 'Cases' page. Open records request are underway as we scan the web and seek interviews with family and friends of Mr. Brodie. *Upon his release, we will be yelling the names of all parties from the courthouse steps and rooftops. Will you come yell with us?

Chances are that these low-life scumbags have been promoted, retired, and/or aspired to become judges themselves. They will claim to have little or no memory of the event and hope that it all goes away. Well folks that aint happening (yes to the spellcheckers we said aint) their names will be listed right next to 'their' victim(s) along with any and all statements, police incident reports, mugs-shots, show-up, and photo line up information.

One thing to remember is that it takes a group effort for each and every wrongful conviction. False arrest(s) are initiated by bad cops, turned over to rogue detectives, signed off on by bad/lazy supervisors, false charges are brought by rogue/lazy Assistant District Attorneys in 'Intake', and incompetent/lazy Criminal Defense Attorneys/Lawyers/Public Defenders play along for a check in lieu of investigating. Ultimately rogue/lazy Judges allow evidence such as confessions obtained via ‘marathon interrogations’. Judges seal the deal by conducting business in chambers (aka - Plea Bargaining with the innocent) and the taxpayer picks up the entire tab including the ‘settlements’ that Grits has reported on in past Post(s). Don't forget about the role that jurors play in the game of 'let's get it done so we can all go home' as they resort to tag-teaming anyone not voting along with the majority that believes police don't lie. Thanks.