Thursday, February 04, 2016

Reforming use-of-force policies, incarcerating pregnant women because they're poor, and other stories

Let's share a few links with Grits readers, just to clear the browser tabs:

Charles Sebesta as Inspector Javert
Defrocked prosecutor Charles Sebesta is waging a legal battle to overturn the state bar's decision to disbar him, reported Brandi Grissom at the Dallas News. He was already retired so this legal campaign, which must be costing the guy a small fortune, is all about ego. It's like watching Inspector Javert drown himself in the Seine.

State invests $400K in defense support on DNA mixtures
The Houston Chronicle ran a feature on the review of DNA mixture cases going statewide through the Forensic Science Commission, which Grits has discussed at some length. That report included this notable news:
Signs posted in Texas prison libraries in December tell inmates in English and Spanish about the issue and provide a Harris County post office box to which inmates may write if they believe their cases included this kind of DNA evidence.

Bob Wicoff, head of the appellate division for the Harris County Public Defender's Office, said about five to seven letters arrive each day, but he anticipates the box eventually could receive hundreds.
Backed by a $400,000 grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Wicoff will spend the next several years steering the statewide effort for the defense bar, aided by volunteer lawyers and law students. He will train lawyers to understand the science and vet cases to see whether they meet the criteria.
Dueling use-of-force reform suggestions
Grits earlier mentioned that Campaign Zero, a project of the national Black Lives Matter movement, had begun targeting use of force policies as an avenue for reform. Now the Police Executive Research Forum has come out with its own set of more moderate reform proposals on the topic. As I wrote in an email to two of Grits' contributing writers, between those two sets of suggestions - plus the legion of law enforcement interests who will just say "no" to any reform proposals - new terms of debate over use of force policies are beginning to emerge. For the first time in my life, people don't just ask Sam Walker what to do and then stop the debate!

More conservatives push for asset forfeiture reform
The Institute for Policy Innovation, a conservative think tank which to my knowledge has never done much on criminal justice before, is hosting an event on asset forfeiture next week in Dallas in collaboration with the Right on Crime campaign. See a column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from their president on the topic.

Incarcerating poor pregnant women pretrial in Tarrant County
In the Star-Telegram, see a story about women taking prenatal classes in the Tarrant County Jail. Particularly disturbing, some of the 20 pregnant inmates in the Tarrant County Jail are "waiting to make bail," meaning a judge deemed they were eligible to be released but they didn't have enough money to pay a bail bondsman. So poor women stay incarcerated and county taxpayers pick up the tab for their prenatal education classes and healthcare instead of Medicaid. Does that make any sense?

Cornyn pushing federal sentencing reform
Grits doesn't track federal stuff much but can't help but notice that Sen. John Cornyn continues to expend political capital on criminal justice reform even as Texas' junior senator and active presidential candidate Ted Cruz opposes it. Bully for Cornyn, and good luck to him.


Unknown said...

First you deny them contraceptives, then you put them in jail.... smart!

"Women stopped using the most effective types of contraception and more babies were born on the government's tab after Texas cut off funding from Planned Parenthood clinics, a team of Texas researchers said Wednesday.

The number of claims for long-acting contraception plummeted by more than a third and births paid for by Medicaid rose 27 percent, the team at the University of Texas at Austin reported.

"This change is worrisome, since increased access to long-acting, reversible contraception methods is a priority of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and one study has indicated substantial unmet demand for long-acting, reversible contraception methods in Texas," they wrote in their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine."

Anonymous said...

I find this so ridiculous, the most effective contraceptive is restraint. Growing up I was taught that you don't have children until you want them and are able to take care and provide for them. Today our morals are so different and look at the problems created. Taxpayers are not responsible for raising your child, where is your family members? What was the crimes for which these women are incarcerated?

P.S. We the people must stop anchor babies that are not American Nationals.

Anonymous said...

At least they have to take parenting classes. It's the only education they will get about raising a family, and just maybe help them keep their next babies out of the system.

The Comedian said...

10:51, Those women didn't get pregnant by themselves. The five words men most love to hear, "You are NOT the father".

P.S. Take a refresher course on subject-verb agreement.

Unknown said...

@10:51 -

------------Do you find it ridiculous that "the number of claims for long-acting contraception plummeted by more than a third and births paid for by Medicaid rose 27 percent?"
----------- Do you find it ridiculous that the women we are talking about belong to a different culture, a different educational level, a different upbringing than yours (perhaps?) -
------------Do you find the services offered by Planned Parenthood ridiculous?

Well, I find your self-righteousness misguided and tragic, fueled by ignorance and bigotry, lack of real education in sociology, psychology, political science, fiscal responsibility, and even lack of real morality. You don't even understand the idea that a democracy has an implied social contract which makes the State responsible for educating the most disenfranchised. Yours is the same mentality that brough us "Say No to Drugs". Say no to drugs did not work, did it? - "Say no to sex" doesn't work either, without additional education, support, and guidance. Planned parenthood has worked for many years and has prevented thousands of unwanted pregnancies as it provides education and counseling to poor women with nowhere else to go.

The idea that "because 'MY' parents taught me this and that, 'THEY' should have the same info and behave the same way 'I' do" is at best asinine. It is a classic example of distorted and illogical thinking which, because it is accompanied by a sense of moral superiority and a judgmental attitude, is also tragic and very dangerous. You will not make a good role model, nor a good citizen, nor a good Christian (if you claim to be one).

Your sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, and holier-than-thou attitude is a tragic display of a sense of smug moral superiority -- but it has no substance. More tragic is the fact that your ignorance does not allow you to understand the fallacy of your argument.

Of course sexual restraint is the best form of contraceptive! Your premise is correct. What is not correct is your conclusion that everybody "should" know this and "should" follow with appropriate behavior, and if they don't, they must receive no education, no help, and no empathy or sympathy from society. Yes, it would be nice if people, knowing that smoking is unhealthy, would not smoke; if knowing that drugs are deadly, would not do drugs; and knowing that unprotected sex causes pregnancies, would abstain. But the reality is: it does not work that way. People will err: it is not about "knowing" only. Human behavior is bio-psycho-socially-economically-generationally-spiritually based. It is complex, and not reducible to: "my father taught me this and that, why don't they behave like I do?"

I will continue below.

Unknown said...

Continues from above @10:51:

With your type of mentality, we should not pay for lung cancer education or treatment (they smoked!); nor for heart attacks resulting from obesity (they ate too much!). We should close Planned Parenthood, education classes, moral and health support to women! Way to go boy!

Unfortunately, you are not alone in your way of thinking. You represent the Texas morons who would vote for Trump, or a tea bagger, or Cruz.

When these pregnant women end up in prison, often for minor transgressions, unable to make bail, they will be subject to more abuse by morons like you or worse, by some moronic or sadistic guard or sheriff who will take great pleasure in "setting them straight" because they think just like you do and do not see the complexity of a social tragedy that has its roots, among other things, in generational poverty, a culture which we helped create (remember slavery?) and continue creating (starving wages, good-ol-boys networks, corruption, the media glorifying sex symbols, etc.), and yes, moral lassitude generated by psychosocial-economical-historical factors which have been analyzed, understood, and not addressed because people like you would rather fund the consequences (more poor kids, more drugs, more poverty, more crimes) than fund preventive measures (better education, better wages, more programs, less incarceration, a better bail system, no debtor prisons, etc. etc.)

Way to go! I don't find all this ridiculous/ I find it tragic!

George said...

@ Dallas,

Bravo!!! Certainly couldn't have said it better myself. Perhaps you were a tiny bit harsh with the commenter but you told it like it is, and totally without reserve. I don't know if we agree on every viewpoint but you gained my respect with this comment that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Rubbers are cheaper than having your nails done.