Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pre-holiday link dump

Because I'm too lazy to write full posts about each of them, here's pre-holiday link dump of stories that deserve Grits readers attention. Give me your thoughts on any or all of them in the comments:

Juarez crime harms El Paso coffers
The City of El Paso can measure the harm from decreased international bridge traffic to and from its troubled sister city, Juarez, by watching the money dry up in its city coffers: income from tolls makes up 3-4% of the city budget. Juarez saw an astonishing twenty more murders over the weekend.

No more private Idaho
After the state of Idaho pulled its prisoners, the Geo Group (a private prison company) gave pink slips for Christmas to 75 employees at the Billy Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, which will close its doors in January. See the blog Texas Prison Bidness for more private prison stories.

Blaming the victim in Galveston
What should you tell your kids to do if "Three men pull up in an unmarked,windowless van, yell about you being a prostitute, and grab you, intending to stuff you into the van." If you're in Galveston, the answer, apparently, is supposed to be "go quietly." Otherwise, they might turn out to be cops and the child will be beaten and charged with resisting kidnapping arrest.

Most of the time justice
Former Bexar County DA Sam Milsap points to the cases of nine actually innocent Texans who've been exonerated off death row and says, "We cannot sanction a death penalty system that gets it right most of the time."

Profound confusion
Waco criminal defense lawyer Walter Reaves asks "How can someone convince themselves they are not guilty?"

Do you think the Lege will take his advice?
Mark Bennett, a Houston crimnal defense lawyer, thinks Texas' statute regulating online solicitation of a minor is unconstitutionally overbroad.

More police pork
There are more sources of law enforcement pork out there than I'd ever realized: TXDoT is giving police departments grants to pay for overtime on DWI enforcement.

Taping interrogations won't fix Miranda
Scott Greenfield, a New York lawyer and blogger, says assumptions behind the Miranda decision were deeply flawed, but cautions against embracing quick-fix refoms like recording interrogations that won't solve more fundamental problems.

Unsung heroes
There's a nice profile in the Temple Daily Telegram of the unsung heroes working at Central Texas Youth Services.

Shapiro: Texas sex offender registry strong enough
Texas probably won't bother to comply with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which is a federal statute requiring states to make their sex offender registration requirements harsher or lose certain federal grant funding. The money quote: "In Texas, not complying could cost about $700,000, while complying will cost millions more. That may make the decision simple, said Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, long an advocate of strong sex offender laws. 'Seven hundred thousand on the one hand vs. $20 million on the other hand? It's pretty easy to resolve,' she said. 'Our laws are strong, and we don't need to comply.'"

Don't taze me, bro
Amnesty International published a new report (pdf) on police use of Tasers.

Making the most of second chances
Finally, a feel good story: At Women in Crime Ink, Cynthia Hunt says there are legal and life lessons we could all learn from Marcus Dixon, a Dallas Cowboys backup defensive end who was freed last year from a Georgia prison where he was serving a mandatory 10-year sentence for what was essentially a statutory rape case from when he was 18. (The same law gave a ten year minimum for consensual oral sex among teens.) Public outcry and some fancy lawyering paid for with his adopted parents' life savings won Dixon's freedom and early release. After returning to school and finishing college as a 3-year captain and member of the Dean's list at Hampton University, he earned a spot on the Cowboys' squad this year as an undrafted free agent.


Anonymous said...

I just read the articles you linked to concerning the Galveston girl beaten by police. It is unbelievable. A child in her own yard when four men jump out of a van and try to grab her? She did what every parent hopes his or her child would do in that situation - scream and fight like hell. What a group of morons - looking for two grown white women and they attack a black child? And so what if she was wearing shorts - that makes her a prostitute? And, even if the police thought she was older and really beleived she was a prostitute, does it take four grown men to beat a woman into submission? I hope they get taken for everything they have - most especially their jobs. How is anyone supposed to trust the police when you hear stories like this?

Anonymous said...

As a Galveston resident I thank you so much for drawing attention to the terrible story of a 12-year child being grabbed out of her yard and beaten by the Galveston police.

The Galveston County DA's office, led by Kurt Sistrunk and his second in command Joel Bennet, disgraced themselves by filing charges against this 12-year old honor student and her father, who fought to defend her. When the same GPD department arrested this child's father for cocaine possession 2 days AFTER this inciden, the DA should have seen a likely retaliation scenario going on against the girl's family.

Instead, her father was forced into a plea bargain situation and carted off to jail for two years.

In Galveston, the narcotics squad did not turn in seized drugs and cash to their property room, and did not keep records of who had possession of these items. The officers who attacked this little girl were all members of the narcotics squad.

Anonymous said...

Hi - here is a link which details how the Galveston Police Department Narcotics Division held on to drugs and cash and didn't keep records of who had what:


Red Leatherman said...

I recently read about Dymond Milburn elsewhere and figured that the story would show up here as well.
When I first read about the incident I felt it was horribly believable but unsubstantiated, I wanted to believe that someone made it up. Then online Links to court documents started showing up. Like waking up from a nightmare only to find it wasn't just a dream.

Deb said...

The Amnesty Taser report is a long-awaited, very powerful report. A must read.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I watch too much television, but I thought that police had to witness the elements of the crime before they make an arrest for prostitution. If this story is accurate, how did these cops think that they were going to make a case of solicitation by snatching the child off the street with no apparent investigation or even the usual entrapment methods?

Is this how they arrest prostitutes in Galveston? It makes me wonder about the testimony given by Galveston cops in prostitution cases.

Anonymous said...

I agree Jerri. And then one wonders what the intentions of these cops actually were, and what prostitutes in Galveston are usually forced to endure ....

Anonymous said...

Regarding Galveston, there was no follow up on your blog regarding the emergency generators at the Galveston County Jail not working during Hurricane Ike. I remember you posted that TCJS was planning an inspection or look seee by Executive Director Munoz. Was there any enforcement action taken against GCSO?

Anonymous said...

Grits -

It's not being lazy to slack off a little from time to time. This is a busy time of year and you probably need a rest. I think everyone who reads Grits is grateful for the information you distribute and for the forum you provide for discussion of criminal justice issues. All good wishes to you and yours for a happy, peaceful holiday season. Thank you.