Thursday, January 26, 2017

Treating criminal justice 'like a business,' and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention:

Violent crime remains low
FBI crime data is out for the first half of 2016. See the full report. After reaching historic lows, violent crime ticked up each of the last two years, mostly concentrated in a handful of cities. Meanwhile, property crime continued to decline. Bottom line, the "American carnage" theme is politicized horse hockey, an analysis from Vox found.

Kelly: Treat criminal-justice policy like a business
UT-Austin Prof. William Kelly says if you want government to behave like a business, apply cost-benefit analyses to criminal justice policy. I've been meaning to review Kelly's new book, The Future of Crime and Punishment, which is sitting on a shelf in front of me, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe soon.

Dallas pension debacle devolves
Talks have broken down between the city of Dallas and the police/firefighters pension fund. Recriminations, lawsuits, are forthcoming. Dallas can't cover the shortfall without gutting all other aspects of city government. Pensioners could stop receiving checks in a little more than a year if the status quo remains. What a catastrophic mess.

CLEAT makes specious attack on DA
CLEAT has been attacking the Tarrant County DA over releasing video of a police shooting, but the DA appears to have been in the right. Which, for CLEAT, is no reason not to attack her. Makes for better press than the pension fights, after all.

Money grubbing motives shouldn't stop transparency
Court records are public but 95 counties don't want them put online, mainly because they couldn't then overcharge $1 per page for copies. This is not a valid reason not to do it.

I love my new job
This week, more than 2,500 Just Liberty supporters emailed their state senators to support abolition of the Driver Responsibility surcharge. Now, go here to send messages to Texas House members asking them to repeal this misbegotten law.

Junk science watch
Voice analysis is another "shaky" forensic discipline.

Guilty plea problem
The national Innocence Project has a new website focused on the problem of innocent people pleading guilty, exploring examples, causes and solutions.


Anonymous said...

CLEAT only represents a small number of officers in Texas, claiming "over 21 thousand" which is less than you will find in two major cities/surrounding counties. Why give them more attention than need be to legitimize their boycotts?

Dallas is in for a rude awakening, both the city and their public safety employees, unless they get very proactive, very quickly to make a deal. That doesn't mean cutting all pension benefits away, nor does it mean maintaining the status quo, as the legislature is keen to make an example of those that don't work together on their own.

Anonymous said...

CLEAT is wrong. Many LEOs held their tongues when the allegations came out in that case, but when the video was released, a majority of LEOs came out against the officer for his numerous failings in that incident.

As for criminal records, if I can walk into a courthouse and look at a public criminal file, then the records should be accessible online. This is a much more accurate representation of what actually occurred in court than what the databanks often store. One of the reasons I suspect is driving this issue are counties that fail to accurately report criminal dispositions to DPS and NCIC. Yes, that's still a problem.

Anonymous said...

CLEAT is a toothless organization. About as beneficial as the Texas Highway Patrol Museum scam.

Anonymous said...

"Violent crime...mostly concentrated in a handful of cities..." Would one of those cities be Chicago? I'm sick of hearing that, can't we give Chicago a pass?