Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday Roundup

Here are a few late-morning tidbits that may interest readers:

Bullies with Badges
The Fort Worth Weekly says law enforcement in Johnson County just south of Forth Worth looks different than its urban neighbor. The Weekly described a "dangerously out-of-whack criminal justice system, including abusive jailers and overzealous patrol officers, backed by prosecutors willing to let people sit in jail for months without trial — and voters who seem willing to overlook all of that, as long as the system is 'tough on crime.'” Speaking of bullies, I Was The State points to a video making the rounds of an abusive cop from Missouri, declaring "This cop is representative of why all stops should be recorded and why we need more protections from traffic enforcement." I would add that most cops would never behave that way, but the minority who do can often rely on the majority's silence for cover.

Represent, Brother!
An inmate representing himself in court convinced the Fifth Circuit to reinstate his lawsuit against a Texas corrections officer who he alleged used racial taunts, beat him up and shocked him with a cattle prod. Wrote the Austin Statesman's Mike Ward, "The decision is raising eyebrows among lawyers and officials, not only because it is rare for the dismissal of such a case to be overturned, with a strongly worded hint in the decision that Payne's constitutional rights might have been violated, but also because the convict acted as his own attorney from the start."

Re-entry Focus Pays Off
The Fort Worth Star Telegram describes the "movement -- much of it faith-based -- to help Tarrant County ex-offenders stay away from those old habits."

Smart on Gang Crime
In Dallas, reports the New York Times, DA Craig Watkins is rolling back many of the anti-gang policies modeled on failed approaches in LA that overcriminalized small offenses. “'L.A. has this approach of being tough on crime,' said Craig Watkins, the district attorney in Dallas, where some Los Angeles-style tactics are being rolled back. 'But the result of that is overflowing prisons, high crime rates and increasing numbers of gang members. Now we want to be smart on crime.'”

'This could be the call I die on'
Jason pauses for a moment to remember three policemen from Odessa, Officers Jones, Gardner and Marquez, who were slain recently after they were ambushed responding to a 911 call. Keep their families in your prayers.

Red Light Cameras
Kuff has an update on cameras in Fort Bend County.

Graffiti: When it's art and when it's not

In Edmonton, Canada, the city's anti-graffiti program includes teaching kids the difference between invited and uninvited graffiti. "At one end of downtown, volunteers were taking down graffiti from dozens of walls. At the other, city teens were learning the finer points of putting it up." That's not far off from my own recent proposals for how to manage graffiti, following the lead of the Liberty Science Center: Teaching kids to "paint responsibly," since what they create is a "cultural asset."

El Paso Sheriff to Retire
El Paso Sheriff Leo Samaniego will retire after a 51-year career in law enforcement. I disagreed strongly with Samaniegos' use of local police for immigration enforcement, but anyone who spent a lifetime in public service like that deserves Grits' congratulations and best wishes for a happy retirement.

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