Monday, August 23, 2010

A Song for You: Roundup

Here are several items I've been meaning to mention before I leave town, compiled in a song-title themed roundup:

Sympathy for the Devil
Just because he's a drunken, lecherous asshole, says one of his former clerks, doesn't mean defrocked federal Judge Samuel Kent should be mistreated in prison.

Self Inflicted
Weird, tumultuous news from Dallas DA Craig Watkins recently: The Dallas DA's office inexplicably opposes a GPS-based alternative sentencing program for low level offenders which has saved the county hundreds of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, an appellate court said that county commissioners did indeed have the authority to hire their own legal counsel instead of using the DA's office for legal advice on civil matters, a move which subtly but significantly reduced the power of his office and opened the door for larger budget cuts which he's been adamantly fighting. Meanwhile, writes Tom McGregor at DallasBlog, "Watkins claims he’s “getting smart on crime,” but he’s not getting smart on paying his bills, which includes a monthly mortgage payment, his law license dues to the State Bar of Texas, advertising payments to the Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages, and income taxes." If his Republican opponent were running a stronger campaign, Watkins might be in trouble in the general election from all these self-inflicted wounds.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part
A shortage of state hospital beds is creating a backlog of mentally ill offenders in county jails awaiting competency restoration, as demonstrated in this compelling case study from Tanya Eiserer at the Dallas News. "The waiting time isn't likely to improve, as state officials have tentatively proposed cutting funding for state mental hospital beds by $44 million over two years."

Accentuate the Positive
In North Carolina, an audit found that everyone in the state's serology lab had been trained to leave out negative (i.e., exonerating) results from their forensic reports.

Valjean's Soliloquy (What Have I Done?)
A California appellate court compared a defendant sentenced under the state's three-strikes law to Jean Valjean, who in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables was sentenced to 19 years hard labor for stealing bread. Opines the LA Times, "L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, has opted to avoid pursuing third-strike convictions unless a suspect's third offense is serious or violent. That's an admirable stance but one that should be enshrined in state law, not left to the whim of individual county prosecutors." They add that the "central message of 'Les Miserables' still holds true for modern-day policymakers, prisoners and voters: Unjust laws demean those who make them more than those convicted under them."


Anonymous said...

Grits, didn't you pick up DA watkins from the airport and shuttle him around town a couple months back? Now you're dogging him for not paying his bills? Who's the troll now? gfy

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm not sure why you think giving Watkins a ride to the airport means I must forever refrain from criticizing him when we disagree. But thanks for reading so closely, troll, and for pumping up my daily traffic stats.

Anonymous said...

Dear troll grit,

You are a 2 faced hypocrite, you were probably riding watkins' nuts the whole time he rode in your crappy car and maybe you stopped by and showed him your crappy apartment? Now i bet if he knew you were talking shit about him, he wouldn't be your "friend" any longer.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Why do you come here every day to discuss my car and "apartment"? (FWIW, my wife and I have owned our home for 14 years and lived in the same house for 20.) It's a very strange obsession you exhibit, even for an cowardly, anonymous internet troll. Speaking of which, you clearly don't know the definition of that term.

I haven't said anything about Watkins on the blog that I wouldn't say to his face. In fact most of our conversation when I gave him a ride to the airport this spring was about why I thought he was mishandling the constable inquiries.

Like Rick Perry, John Whitmire, and everybody else, I praise Watkins when he deserves it and criticize him when I think he's gone astray. Sometimes I agree with this or that pol, sometimes I don't. "Hypocritical" is not a synonym for "independent."

Anonymous said...

Judge Samuel Kent deserves what he gets. He should have been sent to a Federal prison in Texas, instead of in Florida. That just shows that he still has friends in high places to get that favor.

Anonymous said...

Just like any other convicted prisoner, Kent should not get special treatment, but he also should not get mistreated in prison. For the life of me, I have never understood the 'piling on' of people that have been convicted and serving time, or those that have served their time. He's doing the time for the crime committed, and until we abolish the Constitution and re-implement slave labor in the prison system all prisoners should be treated with some level of human decency. It isn't because I want anyone to be 'soft' on crime, it is because everyone should be given the opportunity to change.

You can measure a society by how it treats its criminals, both locked up and free. So far, over the last 234 years, we are failing...

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be nice if there were laws stating that if you are running for re-election you have to abstain from trying cases, or presenting cases as a DA?

over the last 20 years, how many railroaded defendants have been reviewed and released? And of those, how many were done wrong during a person's campaign run?