Thursday, March 14, 2013

Odds and ends at the close of a busy day

I've been swamped today but here are a few odds and ends that, had time permitted, might have ended up in their own individual blog posts:

'New prison monitoring agency gains support'
At least in the Texas House, so says the Austin Statesman. I understand the bigger hurdles may lie in the Senate.

'A curious case of (alleged) police brutality'
Sickening. The photo is hard to look at. Who believes such injuries were sustained from an accidental fall?

McLennan DA vs. Waco PD: The backstory
A Waco-based blogger provides some open-records based backstory to McLennan County DA Abel Reyna's recent squabble with the Waco Police Department. Not a particularly neutral source but the fellow appears to have done his homework.

What's on the agenda?
The Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee and House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee put out the respective agendas today for their hearings on Tuesday, see here and here. Highlights on the senate side include Sen. Joan Huffman's pilot program for mental health diversion from the Harris County Jail and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's bill expanding jurisdiction of the Forensic Science Commission in the wake of a limiting AG's opinion. On the House side, Rep. Oscar Longoria's bill is up (discussed here on Grits) offering reduced charges for defendants who successfully complete probation if a judge approves. Rep. Allen Fletcher has a bill up that would permanently seal records related to orders for mobile location tracking devices, like those discussed in the SCOTUS case US v. Jones, that committee member Bryan Hughes hopes to unseal in his increasingly popular HB 1608.

High-tech prison reform touted at SXSW
Toward 'virtual incarceration.' Listen to the embedded podcast.

Location tracking and the 'right to quantitative privacy'
See a couple of excellent academic papers Grits read this week related to cell-phone location tracking and "The Right to Quantitative Privacy." The former explicates American Bar Association standards for law enforcement access to third-party records and describes the competing interests that judges and policy makers must balance regarding personal information held (mostly) by private companies. (It includes a good discussion of cell-tower dumps.) The latter argues that, "Recognizing a constitutional interest in quantitative privacy buttresses Fourth Amendment defenses against a surveillance state." See also recent news stories on federal and Texas state-level legislation related to location tracking by smart-phone apps and cell phones.

Electronic privacy blogs
Having been working lately on electronic privacy issues at the Lege, I've found several blogs that may interest folks concerned with those issues: Pogo was right: Privacy news from around the world, the Campaign for Digital Fourth Amendment Rights, and Law Across the Wire and In the Cloud. Check them out.


Anonymous said...

Read "Why Firing a Bad Cop Is Damn Near Impossible." Police unions will protect bad cops no matter what.

Anonymous said...

RE: Police brutality; after working 28 years In TDCJ I think I recognize an a** whooping when I see one. This is one!

Anonymous said...

Forming a monitoring agency to over see the prison system is an excellent idea. Is there abuse that needs to be exsposed and controled, sure there is. Could the medical care be better? You bet it could.

I don't know a whole lot about the security side of things but, I do know a great deal about the medical care. Is deliberate indifference by the medical providers the cause of some of the less than adequate medical care? Yes, that happens but, by far the biggest contributor is under funding. So, by all means investigate the level of medical care available in the prisons and when it is found that inadequate funding is the result of a good deal of the poor care then maybe, just maybe, proper funding will at last be put in place.