Sunday, February 21, 2016

A one-sided popularity contest, and other stories

Can't seem to clear my chest of this cold so let's at least clear my browser tabs. Here are a few items which deserve Grits readers' attention but may not make it into independent posts:

'Raped by the Deputy'
Check out a feature in something called The Establishment titled, "Raped by the Deputy: A Texas case, a U.S. problem," featuring an ugly case of a jail inmate in San Antonio who was allegedly raped in a transport van.

Body camera implementation
The Texas House Select Committee on Emerging Issues in Law Enforcement will hold a hearing March 21st related to implementation of body cameras among police officers and the grant system set up by the state to pay for them last session. RELATED: Check out this new analysis regarding police bodycam transparency issues.

Holding jail staff accountable for inmate checks
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has fired a supervisor and disciplined 17 other employees out of Amarillo for failing to perform inmate welfare checks on a cell where an inmate was severely beaten and killed. This is becoming a recurring theme: Jails and prisons in Texas are becoming slightly more likely to discipline or (rarely) fire employees for failing to perform their jobs and more likely to double check to see if written logs have been tampered with or falsified. It's still spotty and case by case - the norm is probably still to tolerate such behavior rather than regulate it, much less prosecute it. In Harris County, for example, the Sheriff responded to a scandal of failed oversight by slashing in half the number of compliance officers tasked with uncovering such failures. But for years one would never hear of jailers or prison guards fired or disciplined on these grounds. These days, the topic bubbles up with surprising frequency.

A one-sided popularity contest
Police unions' insensible attacks on Beyonce, including the Dallas Police Association's announcement that it may join a boycott on security work at her concerts, seem tone-deaf and misplaced. Reported CNN: "Joe Gamaldi, the vice president of the Houston Police Officers' Union in Texas, said the group wants more information before deciding whether to join the boycott." Gamaldi's smart to hesitate before jumping on that bandwagon. Especially in H-Town, she's more popular than they are. UPDATE: The Dallas union decided against a boycott.

A call to make polygraphs admissible evidence
In an era when Texas is making headlines for debunking junk science, a DPS official wants to expand use of lie-detector tests in court and allow them admitted as evidence. Here's an excerpt from a story out of Idaho:
Walt Goodson said he has been training law enforcement in polygraph examinations for about a decade.

Goodson is president of the American Polygraph Association and a longtime employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety. He said the tests should primarily be used by law enforcement for the benefit of investigations.

“I’m a big believer that if a polygraph is in wrong hands bad things can potentially happen with it,” he said. “It was designed as a law enforcement tool.”

Goodson said he would like to see polygraph exams admissible in court. The tests are not admissible in Texas.

“I think it’s a useful tool, I’ve never personally seen harm come to people from it,” Goodson said. “In the more than a decade that I’ve supervised the polygraph program in Texas … we’ve never once gotten a false confession.”
New Mexico voters to consider bail reform
Voters in New Mexico will decide in November whether to institute major bail reform which allows judges to hold dangerous offenders regardless of ability to pay, while defendants who are "neither a danger nor a flight risk couldn’t be detained before trial solely because of a financial inability to post a money or property bond." If they win, perhaps it will give momentum to Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire's promised push for bail reform in Texas in 2017.


The Comedian said...

Repeated scientific studies, other than those of the American Polygraph Association, have shown polygraphs to be unreliable with results akin to a coin toss. A good psychopath can beat a polygraph test with regularity since they easily lie without affecting any of the physiological measures employed in polygraphy.

Aldrich Ames, the notorious CIA counterintelligence officer who spied for the Soviet Union, passed two polygraph tests. How many times have we heard of a suspect failing a polygraph when tested by a LE appointed polygrapher only to have the same suspect pass when tested by a polygrapher for the defense? In numerous cases, suspects who have failed a polygraph were later cleared of the crime for which they were suspected.

I would also point out how numerous UFO abduction claimants have passed polygraph tests related to their abduction experiences. If polygraph results are valid and reliable, shouldn't the government be investigating these claims and protecting us from these alien assaults?

Polygraphers like Walt Goodson remind me of the old adage, “Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced”.

Anonymous said...

I think that Goodson should be required to provide a detailed analysis of how polygraph could ever pass the Daubert/Kelly analysis which courts are supposed to apply before admitting scientific evidence. There's no way that polygraph could satisfy the necessary criteria. And there's so much case law that already works against him. not least the United States Supreme Court decision in Scheffer.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child were dismissed against my client on the basis of a DPS administered polygraph. Only problem? Client was just as guilty as a person could be.

Seaamy said...

A call to make polygraphs admissible evidence

When my loved one was arrested for a murder he did not commit nearly 24 years ago they administered 3 lie detector tests while they had him in holding over a 3 day period. He passed ALL 3! They chose to completely disregard them. I can't help but, wonder if they would have been admissible if it would have made a difference in the long run and his conviction.

Anonymous said...

Polygraph is useless as hell. Seriously. This tool reminds me of Soviet-era tactics where the interpretation of the readings are solely in the eye of the person administering the test. The same can be done with a red light and a random switch. Why more resources are dumped into this junk science is anyone's guess. This is a perfect example where LE uses "science" ineffectively.

Anonymous said...

If anyone sees a Petition petitioning Whitmire & Co., to Reform the scammy bail system from the top down, please let the rest of Texas know about it. I hope it let's them all know that if they fail to reform it, they can expect to be tarred (room temperature) & (organic free ranged) feathered.

We all know good and well that no one is going to do squat, but at least we can talk about it in places none of them ever frequent.

Polygraphs exams are not issued to people that agree to take one. If they are (it's always with one hand cuffed to a chair) and always by individuals connected to law enforcement, therefore it's a - racket. When Suspects are removed from a cell and taken to the Desk and given his / her possessions (wallet) and told to pay up front (with no refund if you pass), that's a racket. The funky part is when the approved racket allows the tested to be provided a Reveal (with both hands cuffed), where an old fat balding white man says that the exam shows that he / she knows something about the case. If you are lucky, the Police Incident Report's Supplemental Information might say that Detectives asked the Suspect if he would take a Polygraph and that's it. In cases where it becomes obvious that they have the wrong person, the Suspect will spend the next 120 days +/- waiting for a test that never happens. Instead, he / she is introduced to the Plea Bargain. And, you'll never hear anyone call for the recording of all Polygraph Exams, other than this one because it's a racket ran by (former and current) law enforcement.

Get well Grits.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a 'lie detector', there is such a thing as a polygraph. So interwoven with junk science and bogus claims, that a quick web search will tell you just that. Dig a little deeper and learn about countermeasures. They should teach this in public schools so that people know how to protect themselves from potential accusations. How can anyone possibly support such an absurd idea of court admissibility?

Anonymous said...

Years ago I was partnered with one of our agency's polygraph experts. He advised me to never take a voluntary polygraph as the reliability of the exam - and the belief in your innocence by the police, the DA, etc. - was solely based on the quality of the polygraph examiner.

If he had a bad night, you were probably going to have a very, very bad day. :~(

He's Innocent said...

These things are used by LE and the Parole/Probation community to terrorize their "clients".

Any registered citizen still on paper must submit to these at least once per year, and pay for the privilege of it. Those who are on probation do not get to choose who they will pay for this absurd service. The Probation officer decides. They can send you to a hell fire and brimstone person on purpose to ensure a failure. Then, the next step of hell commences in being accused of more sexually oriented offenses.

All this serves to do is to instill a form of PTSD on the registrant and his family. I too live in fear of the damn thing for it can upend our lives yet again. My husband didn't hurt a single person, didn't actively search for any illicit photos. He was stupid and used Limewire for other, legal, videos. It's call 'cramming' for those of you who do not know.

I digress. My point being is that these things are yet another weapon that the LE community will use to bludgeon you into submission and/or a plea. All for the sake of "saving one more child" or "keeping the community safe". Bullshit. If I had the kind of money the last huge Powerball paid out, I'd spend a damn large amount of it finding a team of lawyers to get these damn things ruled junk science.

In my dreams....... especially in this damn state where cruel and unusual punishment is the usual.

texasjailbird said...

"Raped by the Deputy: A Texas case, a U.S. problem," is about much more than this recent ugly rape at Bexar County Jail. This strong piece addresses public atttudes toward sexual assault as well as the many ways inmates are vulnerable to staff violence.
One thing we've noted at Texas Jail Project is the underreporting of such attacks by people even after they are released. There are several reasons but one is related to how most jails respond to complaints of assault or harassment,
e.g. "Bexar County’s reporting of jail incidents suggests belief-defying odds. Inmates made 31 reports of staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct or sexual harassment in 2012, but jail officials named all 31 of the allegations “unsubstantiated” or “unfounded” and none resulted in charges."
In short, people in jail are usually accused of lying and their stories disregarded, but in this case, the videotape of the attack verified her story.
FYI: Criminal acts and attacks in jail are not covered by jail standards, and TCJS will not respond. Families and inmates are told to report those to the Texas Rangers, and most folks know they are seldom helpful and sometimes downright unfriendly.

Anonymous said...

Link update: