Friday, June 04, 2010

Murderabilia or History?

Lots of interesting stories out there that I don't have time to write about but that may interest Grits readers:

Murderabilia or History?
Sen. John Cornyn and Houston Mayor Annise Parker want to ban "murderabilia," or the practice of selling items related to killers for profit. The timing is interesting, coinciding with the proposed sale of the cab Lee Harvey Oswald rode in after he killed John F. Kennedy. You tell me: Is that murderabilia, or history?

Is Special Treatment for Police Justified?
Katherine Scardino at Women in Crime Ink discusses whether police officers and veterans deserve special treatment in the justice system when they break the law. A rare indictment of a Dallas police officer adds a corollary to her observations: Crimes by police are more likely to be prosecuted when the witness is another cop.

No-Bill Rate No Big Deal
Harris County grand juries are no-billing slightly more cases, which some find scandalous, though when you consider how many cases brought to them prosecutors refuse or dismiss, the numbers seem de minimis.

Diverting Mentally Ill Works If You Identify Them
Bexar County's mental health diversion program is a bright spot in San Antonio's justice system, but not everybody in the jail is screened in a timely fashion for mental illness according to a notice of noncompliance this week from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Now We Get a Special Prosecutor?
Mike Hashimoto at the Dallas News can't believe all it took to get the DA to appoint a special prosecutor was this guy.

Drug Court Movement Praised
Doc Berman lets us know of some notable comments by US Attorney General Eric Holder on the drug court movement.

Sentenced to Shakespeare
In Massachussetts, a program that's been in operation for a decade sends youthful offenders to drama camp to perform Shakespeare.


Soronel Haetir said...

I could see giving vets a break long before current cops. Police officers are given so much authority that they need to be held to a strict rather than loose level of conduct.

JohnT said...


Selling or buying the cab strikes me as bad taste.

Bad taste cannot be outlawed, and will be with us forever.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

How often does this happen? It might be in poor taste to sell these items, but it is equally in poor taste to use the term murderabilia for PR purposes. I remember Kahan posting something about the word becoming part of the dictionary now because of his efforts and it appeared he was benefiting from it? Why not sell the items and use the money to supplement grants, so victim advocates can actually do their jobs.

R. Shackleford said...

I'm all for cutting vets some slack, but I see no reason to apply that same slack to leos. As Soronel said (and I have also said previously), cops should be held to a far higher set of standards than anyone else.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:54 asks "Why not sell the items and use the money to supplement grants, so victim advocates can actually do their jobs."

One reason is the state doesn't own them and Cornyn's proposed controls extend over private property and commerce.

The Oswald cab makes that point well: The cab belonged to the cab company - shouldn't they be able to sell it like they would any other fleet vehicle they owned? If yes, why can't the purchaser resell it? And if they do, why should the state get the proceeds just because the cab was made more valuable (in the marketplace) by a crime it's associated with?

A few years ago the State Fair in Dallas had an exhibit on Bonnie and Clyde that was among its most popular attractions that season. They even sold t-shirts, including one with a famous pic of Bonnie holding a gun. The show was filled with items Kahan would term "murderabilia" but which were treated as history by exhibitors and received that way by the public.

As you can tell, I'm in the "history" camp, and I agree with you that the term derives from Kahan's grandstanding, which I also find in poor taste.

Anonymous said...

Sure, if you are charged with a crime related to your profession, you should be held doubly accountable. A computer repairman should receive twice the sentence for downloading child porn from the internet. An auto mechanic should be penalized doubly for stealing or breaking into a car. Makes a lot of sense. Police have a job. That's all it is. A job. I'll bet an AC repairman, pest control technician or electrician completely unknown to you is in your home a lot more frequently than the police. Why not impose the same standard on them?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:36, the difference is the computer repairman downloading child porn actually will get prosecuted, while prosecutors and grand juries are loathe to indict police officers even for serious crimes. Usually at most felonies get charged with misdemeanor "official oppression" and in the worst case they just can't be a cop anymore. Much more typically, there are no charges at all and violations that would bring criminal charges for you or me are often handled through internal discipline.

en tarpi said...

If anything, policemen should face enhanced penalties for unlawful behavior... it should be a aggravating factor (like use of a deadly weapon) which should bump the penalty range up.

Vets should not get special treatment. They pledge to uphold the Constitution. If they suffer mental handicaps like PTSD they can use the same mental health defense as the regular crazy people. Vets get all kinds of other benefits without bending the rules of liberty and justice for all. Laws should apply to them the same as everyone else... except police, prosecutors, and judges which should be held to higher standards.

Anonymous said...

In my belief, any police officer that commits felony crimes should get twice the maximum sentence MANDATORY. We've seen far too much horse trading as far as cops/lawyers/judges are concerned. Look at Keller, she's still around and being investigated for will probably be convicted of something (we know it will be traded down to jaywalking or something though, don't we). The lege needs to start putting tougher laws on those that are supposed to DEFEND THE LAWS, but choose not to.

"With great power, comes great responsibility"

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the quality and professionalism of our law enforcement and military would skyrocket knowing that if they screw up sometime they would be imprisoned forever, which seems to be the desire here. Why not impose an increased penalty on anyone with legal training such as any formally educated person? Wait, I'm trying to recall what that sounds like...

Anonymous said...

How about this scenario...........

“Do you think the ehancement penalty or prosecution of the police officers stops the behavior?” Whitmire asked.

“No,” the prosecutor answered.

“Then why do it?” Whitmire asked.

Unknown said...

A computer repairman should receive twice the sentence for downloading child porn from the internet. An auto mechanic should be penalized doubly for stealing or breaking into a car.

Why? Neither especially makes sense to me. Why is child porn more harmful when a computer repairman looks at it? Are you thinking of someone downloading images to his customers' PCs as opposed to his own?