Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Underenforcement" and "Executing the Innocent"

I wanted to quickly point out two important articles Grits readers should be aware of:

First, via Capital Defense Weekly, is an "open letter" to Antonin Scalia in the National Law Journal by Keith Hampton, a practicing Austin attorney and long-time lobbyist for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, entitled "Executing the Innocent." To Scalia, Hampton writes:
I think I am sorry that I read your concurring opinion this summer in Kansas v. Marsh, 548 U.S. (2006), in which you label all who are concerned that innocent people have been executed as "sanctimonious" and ignorant, and suggest that everyone with such a concern is merely part of an "abolition lobby." That's a pretty breezy generalization, and it is as wrong as your proposition that there has never been "a single case-not one-in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit." You are either blind, or you aren't looking very hard.
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, CrimProf blog informs us that one of Grits' favorite legal thinkers, Alexandra "Sasha" Natapoff, a law prof at Loyola (CA), has a new article out in the Fordham Law Review entitled "Underenforcement."

Natapoff offers an unusual but compelling hypothesis: that underenforcement is "not necessarily an alternative to overenforcement, but is often its corollary." That's fascinating to me, the idea that underenforcement isn't an either/or matter, but actually exists symbiotically within a flawed system alongside selective overenforcement. The United States, says Natapoff, has promulgated numerous "underenforcement zones" that "are not necessarily geographic: Underenforcement may characterize a discrete institution or the treatment of a particular group."

I'm going to print out "Underenforcement" to read more fully later - it's a little long but looks quite interesting. Keith's article by comparison is a relatively short read. Both merit readers' attention.


Anonymous said...

I live in an underenforcement zone. Unless the problem interests the police -- drugs, money, or blood -- don't bother calling them. They will only tell you why they are not going to respond, and then they'll warn you not to take the law into your own hands or they will be coming for you.

Anonymous said...

The high prison population in Texas is due to UNDERENFORCEMENT of the Constitution and Laws upon the "select group" employed in Law Enforcement.

Cops and Prosecutors, along with Judges that go along with their every whim, are free of any enforcement of any law. For them - there is a lot of upside to make arrest and secure convictions and no downside for arresting and convicting the innocence. And so they do.
"UNDERENFORCMENT" IS is what I have complained about for YEARS. Just didn't use that term.

elvez1975 said...

Keith Hampton's letter to Scalia is great. But I doubt he'll be arguing any cases before the Supremes any time soon. Well, at least as long as Scalia is sitting.