Saturday, November 15, 2014

Roundup: Police misconduct, jails and taxes, and the vicissitudes of 'Right on Crime'

Here are a few items which didn't make it into individual posts this week but merit Grits readers' attention:

TDCJ has confiscated 1,400 weapons in 2014
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confiscated 1,400 weapons from inmates so far in 2014, reported the Houston Chronicle. In 2013, the total was about 1,700. The problem is exacerbated by understaffing.

County jails and local property taxes
County jails drive county property tax increases and pit Big-Government Conservatives with the small-government variety, which is why the debate over jail expansion in Johnson County has been so divisive.

Ruh Roh
The feds are auditing outgoing Dallas DA Craig Watkins' asset forfeiture funds.

Bicyclist's helmet cam captured deputy's misconduct
Civil litigation in Dallas over a trumped up arrest by DCSO (for which the officer was ultimately suspended for 38 days) was made possible by the bicyclist's helmet cam.

ISD cop asked to smell woman's feet, underwear at traffic stop
Here's one of the creepier examples of police misconduct I've recently run across. What are ISD cops doing making traffic stops, anyway?

Corrupt Hidalgo Sheriff's commander sentenced
Former Deputy Commander Jose Padilla was convicted of taking bribes and allegedly dispatched deputies to scare off rivals of the Gulf Cartel, a role that earned him an eponymous narcocorrido. He was sentenced to 38 months in federal prison.

Stingrays on drones, in your town
Local police departments are using IMSI catchers (fake cell phone towers with the trade name "Stingrays"), and the US Marshals Service has attached a version of an IMSI catcher called a "dirtbox" to drones, gobbling up millions of people's metadata to hunt for fugitives.

Will Illinois go 'Right on Crime'?
The new Republican governor in Illinois thinks their prison system is "broken," holding that the state hasn't “properly staffed and invested in our correction system” and imprisons too many “non-violent offenders” while failing to provide them with “ways to get back into society and become productive citizens.”

Were elections death knell for bipartisanship on criminal justice in D.C.?
Federal sentencing reform may be stalled by the elevation of Chuck Grassley to chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Slate reported. A depressing development; maybe the Right on Crime folks can help win him over. I don't care if he votes against it, but the fear is he'll refuse to give the bill a vote.

Progressive policing model
Every city council member in the state should read this article on improvements to policing practices in Milwaukee. I was particularly impressed with the idea of having cops visit folks during the reentry process to offer assistance with housing, employment, etc.. That's truly "smart on crime." We lock a lot of folks up but release a ton of them too. Every year Texas releases almost twice as many prisoners as TDCJ housed en toto when Ann Richards was in office. You can't lock folks up forever and, to solidify crime reductions in the long term, those leaving prison must abstain from new offenses.


Anonymous said...

The link "made possible by the bicyclist's helmet cam" is currently pointing to a story with the title, "US government planes collecting phone data, report claims".

capt coors said...

County jails and local property taxes. The story is from the city of Burleson’s newspaper located in Johnson County, not Burleson County

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks Cap. Coors, my error. Corrected.

Arce said...

bike cam video is at

Anonymous said...

I think Rauner, the newly elected Illinois gov, wants to privatize prisons and parole in Illinois. He's been careful what he says so far, but the prisons are already understaffed and the health care is abysmal. Rauner does not want to keep the tax level we have; how are any improvements to be made? Rauner believes business plans and the profit motive makes for good government; he's made that clear.

Anonymous said...

Re: School cop smells lady's feet and takes her panties

This may seem unkind, but...My observation is that "School Resource Officers" are not usually the creme-de-la-creme in law enforcement. It seems to be the final resting place of rent-a-cops and other wannabes who would like to spend their days hanging out at the local high school, driving around in a cool cop car, ogling at young girls.

Anonymous said...

Alleged bicyclist was actually a motorcycle operator.