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Steve Russell on Bright Line Laws and Executive Discretion

August 16th, 2013 No comments

I got the passage below by Steve Russell from a listserv we’re both on,and I liked it so much that I asked his permission to post it here. In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), a policeman saw two men near a store Read more…

Categories: Constitution, crime, law Tags:

Justice versus Mercy

August 5th, 2013 No comments

I see that Obamacare is a great example of the divide between the masculine idea of “follow the rules” and the feminine idea of “get the right result”, Justice versus Mercy, Playing Dodgeball versus Playing House, Let ‘em Learn versus Keep them Safe. Conservatives look at the botched bill and say, “Tough— repeal it if you don’t like it” and Liberals say, “Hey, it’s the spirit of the thing that counts and you should let us change it to what we ought to have thought about earlier.”

Categories: crime, law, morality Tags:

A Trayvon-Zimmerman Miscellany

July 20th, 2013 1 comment

I’ll use this post to list interesting things about the Zimmerman-TrayvonMartin case as they come up, so it will grow over time.

July 20a. Some people say that the standard should be reduced from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of evidence” or something. Wikipedia has a nice Legal Burden of Proof article with:

2.1.1 Reasonable suspicion
2.1.2 Reasonable to believe
2.1.3 Probable cause for arrest
2.1.4 Some credible evidence
2.1.5 Substantial evidence
2.1.6 Preponderance of the evidence
2.1.7 Clear and convincing evidence
2.1.8 Beyond reasonable doubt

Maybe relaxing the burden is a good idea. Read more…

Categories: crime, law, race Tags:

Would Zimmerman Have Been Convicted if He Were Black? — Black-on-Nonblack Killings Claiming Self Defense

July 16th, 2013 No comments

Over at Legal Insurrection, I skimmed the comment thread on ‘The “what if Trayvon were white” logical fallacy’ and did a bit of googling, and found some black kills hispanic or black kills white self-defense cases.

http://www.news-press.com/article/20100916/CRIME/9160375/Fort-Myers-killing-suspect-likely-off-hook (Black man shoots out of his window and kills a hispanic teenager. Charges dropped. ) Read more…

Categories: crime, race Tags:

Murray’s Cops and Progressives

July 15th, 2013 No comments

Charles Murray has an excellent long essay, “Simple Justice” from about 2005 that is useful for thinking about attitudes towards the Zimmerman case and to self-defense and threat and intimidation statutes generally. He distinguishes between Progressives and Cops. Progressives dislike self-defense, retribution, and punishment generally and who do not like to differentiate people into those who follow rules and those who break them. Read more…

Fixing the FISA Court and Search Warrants Generally

July 12th, 2013 No comments

At the law lunch yesterday we were discussing the special FISA Court which has to approve certain kinds of search warrants for electronic communications, including the famous one which let the NSA see who is making phone calls to who. One topic that came up was court composition. The court is made up of ten or so federal district judges selected by the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court for 7-year terms, and no judge can serve two terms. The police or NSA go to one judge on it and ask for a warrant. Appeals are made to a special 3-judge appeals court, also appointed by the Chief Justice. Further appeals can be made to the U.S. Supreme Court, I imagine.

Problem 1. Currently almost all of the judges were created judges by Republican presidents, and this looks bad when they are also chosen by a conservative Chief Justice. Read more…

Categories: crime, judges, law, law. politics Tags:

Open Carry Laws

July 9th, 2013 No comments

temp

Wikipedia’s Open Carry article explains something I’ve been wondering about: what about “nonconcealed carry” for guns?

Categories: crime, law Tags:

Attitudes towards Murderers

December 16th, 2009 No comments

From the December 7 HT (I need to update this to add the newspaper comments, which is what’s really the point):

Blade Reed, 14, sentenced to 30 years in home invasion, attack”

Physical and sexual abuse as a toddler followed by emotional
trauma, foster care placements and then adoption into a
dysfunctional family marked Blade Reed’s first 14 years.

The teen will now spend the next 14 behind bars for his part in a
brutal attack against elderly neighbors last year that left 84-year-
old Richard “Dude” Voland dead and his wife of almost six
decades shot and stabbed. A judge sentenced him today to 30
years in jail, of which he will serve half; he gets credit for nine
months spent in jail since his arrest. …

The Reed brothers rode their bicycles a mile or so to the Volands’
Helmsburg home in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2008,
intending to steal beer. The two took along a .25 caliber handgun
stolen from another neighbor. They knocked on the door and
asked to use the phone. When Bennie Reed pointed his gun at
Dude Voland and said “no one needs to get hurt,” the 50-year
National Rifle Association member drew his own weapon. Reed
tried to knock it from the man’s hand, and a bullet fired from the
gun hit him in the arm. The teen then fired back, and a bullet from
the stolen gun struck the man in the head.

Bennie Reed then shot Mary Voland in the stomach with her
husband’s handgun after she came out of the bedroom and
provided medical care to her husband and also to Reed.

As the boys were leaving the house, without beer and wearing
bloody clothes, Bennie Reed told his brother to cut the woman’s
throat since she had witnessed her husband’s shooting. The
then-13-year-old admitted he sawed back and forth on the
woman’s neck with a kitchen knife.

This afternoon, he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and
robbery resulting in serious injury. …

During a previous hearing back in November, Brown Circuit Judge
Judith Stewart determined that despite an agreement between the
prosecutor and defense attorney that Blade Reed should spend the
time until his 18th birthday not in prison but at the Indiana School
for Boys with other offenders his age, the law does not allow that
placement. So Reed will be incarcerated with other youthful
violent offenders in a special housing unit at Wabash Valley
Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Carlisle.

Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver said justice was served.
“This plea was justice. He committed an adult crime and he has
received adult consequences,” Oliver said in a written statement.
“Blade Reed pled guilty to what he agreed with his brother to do
that night, which was to commit an armed robbery. He received
the maximum disposition for his attack on Mrs. Voland.”

Cited among aggravating circumstances at the sentencing hearing
was the recognition that the boys played on Richard Voland’s
kindness to gain entry to his home that night. Oliver listed three
mitigating circumstances: the boy’s age, that he didn’t intend for
anyone to get hurt and his accepting responsibility for his
actions….

This is the front line of the Culture Wars. We have Tim Bayly and
we have Dawn Johnsen, to name two of our citizens with national
(if specialized) reputations. Massachusetts and Idaho are safe
territory for each side, but not Bloomington.

A

joke:

Two social workers were walking through a rough part of the town
in the evening. They heard moans and muted cries for help from a
back lane. Upon investigation, they found a semi-conscious man
in a pool of blood.”Help me-I’ve been mugged and viciously
beaten” he pleaded. The two social workers turned and walked
away. One remarked to her colleague:”You know the person that
did this really needs help”.

Categories: crime Tags:

Obscenity in Monroe County

April 23rd, 2009 No comments

The HT tells us that obscenity can indeed be successfully prosecuted in Monroe County.

A man initially charged with felony bestiality for participating in and videotaping a sexual encounter that also involved an unconscious woman and the man’s male Doberman pinscher has pleaded guilty to a less serious charge.

He received a one-year suspended jail sentence.

Under terms of a plea agreement, 41-year-old Thomas Meador pleaded guilty to an amended charge of activity related to obscene performance, a misdemeanor. Two other misdemeanors — sexual battery and maintaining a common nuisance for having a marijuana plant in his East First Street house — were dismissed.

Here’s the penalty:

Meador had to give up his two pet dogs as part of the resolution of the case against him. He also must participate in counseling and complete 80 hours of community service work during the next year.

It’s noteworthy that the woman involved was being filmed involuntarily. Not much of a crime, apparently.

According to police reports, the woman depicted in the video that police confiscated from Meador after a house-sitter discovered it features a 30-year-old female acquaintance of Meador who was unaware she was being filmed.

The term “obscene performance” is defined by law as something that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find appeals to the prurient interest in sex, or depicts sexual conduct in a “patently offensive way.” It also must lack any “literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

Are There Any Law Professors Who Do Pro-Death Penalty Scholarship?

March 31st, 2009 No comments

Orin Kerr asks:

Who are the legal scholars who write on the death penalty on a regular or semi-regular basis but who do not write from the perspective of opposition to the death penalty? Stuart Banner might be one: I’ve only skimmed his book on the death penalty, but it struck me as largely neutral in tone. Are there others? I realize that most legal scholars who write on the death penalty are against it; I’m just curious about who the outliers are….

Paul Cassell):
In my pro-con book of the deasth penalty [mentioned above], I had a hard time tracking down pro-death penalty scholars from the legal academy. We ended up using Louis P. Pojman,a professor of philosophy at the U.S. Military Academy for one of the pieces.
3.30.2009 5:59pm

OrinKerr:
Thanks, Paul.

Yes, I’m reminded of the panel at the AALS mid-year meeting 2 years ago on how you could bring a diversity of different views of the death penalty to enrich the debate. The panel was made up only of death penalty critics, who had their own different takes on how to oppose the death penalty (using statistics, history, etc.).

Criminalizing Fossil Collecting on Federal Lands—Carelessly

March 31st, 2009 No comments

The American Spectator has a good article on the shockingly bad Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 just passed with little public attention under special parliamentary procedures in Congress that, for example, bypassed the Ag and Judiciary committees. Among other things, it seems it makes fossil collecting on federal lands a crime.

House leaders skipped entirely the jurisdiction of two relevant committees: Agriculture, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Forest Service, which is actually a part of the Department of Agriculture; and Judiciary, which has jurisdiction over bills that create or make changes to the nation’s federal crimes.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., was so upset he became one of four Democrats to vote against the bill of his own leadership. And serious reservations were also expressed by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — that notorious Blue Dog (Not!) John Conyers, D-Mich. And none other than the American Civil Liberties Union signed a bipartisan letter protesting the criminal penalties in the bill’s provisions regarding “paleontological resources preservation.”

This section, in the name of protecting fossils on federal lands, makes it a crime to “excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on Federal land” without special permission from the government. Penalties for violations include up to five years imprisonment, and “paleontological resources” are loosely defined as all “fossilized remains…that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth.”

“Paleontological resources” are defined so broadly and the offenses defined so loosely that many fossil lovers — from scientists to amateur rock collectors — became concerned that it would criminalize innocent error. After all, many common fossil rocks could be “of paleontological interest” and “provide information about the history of life on earth.” Tracie Bennitt, president of the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences, wrote that “we can visualize now a group of students unknowingly crossing over an invisible line and ending up handcuffed and prosecuted. An honest mistake is just that and should be treated accordingly.”

As word spread of these provisions, this association was later joined in this objection by CEI, NCPPR, and two groups that don’t normally sign on to letters with free-market organizations about lands bills — the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the ACLU! “We are concerned that the bill creates many new federal crimes using language that is so broad that the provisions could cover innocent human error,” the letter from the diverse coalitions stated. “Above all, we are concerned that a bill containing new federal crimes, fines and imprisonment, and forfeiture provisions may come to the House floor without first being marked up in the House Judiciary Committee.”

Categories: crime, law. politics, obama, science Tags:

A Drug-Prescribing Doctor

March 11th, 2009 No comments

Here’s an interesting comment thread about Dr Ratts of Bloomington, whom many people say gave out painkillers freely and supplied many of the local addicts. Eventually his license to prescribe such medications was revoked. I don’t know if anything more happened to him.

Categories: crime, g406, medicine, regulation Tags:

More on Phthalates

March 8th, 2009 No comments

Below is the law on enforcement of the phthalate regulation on selling products with phthalates in them (certification is another aspect). Phthalates are a chemical that softens plastics. There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that it causes damage in anyone but pregnant women (and that evidence is all from rats, I think), judging from what *proponents* of the regulation say. Opponents might even doubt that.

  1. Guidance on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters and Charities.

  2. National Resources Defense Council v. US Consumer Product Safety Commmission,

    08 Civ. 10507, SD NY, Gardephe. J.

  3. “The Case Against
    Phthalates in Children’s Toys”
    , Huffington Post, (March 24, 2008).

  4. Human Breast
    Milk Contamination with Phthalates and Alterations of Endogenous Reproductive
    Hormones in Infants Three Months of Age
    , Katharina M. Main et al. ,
    Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 114, Number 2, February 2006.


  5. WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF
    LEON EARL GRAY JR, PhD*

    SENIOR REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGIST AND TOXICOLOGIST
    U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
    BEFORE THE
    COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE
    SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, TRADE, AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
    UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (June 10, 2008).

  6. Time’s Toy
    Reporting Scares Parents

    Trevor Butterworth, December 13, 2006.


  7. Section 108: Products Containing Certain Phthalates,
    CPSC FAQ.

  8. Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food

  9. A National Review article that says pre-1985 children’s books are illegal because of lead in the ink.

  10. National Bankruptcy Day
    , happytobeathome.net, Jan 2nd, 2009.

Here are the ENFORCEMENT sections:

SEC. 19. [15 U.S.C. § 2068]
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to—
(1) sell, offer for sale, manufacture for sale, distribute in
commerce, or import into the United States any consumer product, or
other product or substance that is regulated under this Act or any
other Act enforced by the Commission, that is not in conformity with
an applicable consumer product safety rule under this Act, or any
similar rule, regulation, standard, or ban under any other Act
enforced by the Commission;

Meaning: You can’t sell a toy with phthalates in it.

SEC. 20. [15 U.S.C.§ 2069] {penalties increased; see 69 FR 68884}

(a) (1) Any person who knowingly violates section 19 [15 U.S.C. §
2068] of this Act shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed
$100,000, for each such violation….

(2) The second sentence of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not
apply to violations of paragraph (1) or (2) of section
19(a)—
(A) if the person who violated such paragraphs is not the manufacturer
or private labeler or a distributor of the products involved, and
(B) if such person did not have either (i) actual knowledge that his
distribution or sale of the product violated such paragraphs or (ii)
notice from the Commission that such distribution or sale would be a
violation of such paragraphs

Meaning: If you “knowingly” sell a toy with phthalates in it, you can
be fined up to $100,000. Paragraph (2) says, by implication, that you
can be fined even if you are a retailer who did not “have actual
knowledge” that you were violating the law. It’s unclear to me whether
you’re in trouble if you sell a toy with phthalates in it when you
didn’t know it had phthalates in it. I think you *are* in trouble,
from what I could tell from the FAQs. Someone who knows criminal law
would know, from the language here.

SEC. 21. [15 U.S.C. § 2070]
(a) Violation of section 19 of this Act is punishable by—
(1) imprisonment for not more than 5 years for a knowing and willful
violation of that section;

Meaning: If you know a toy has phthalates and you sell it anyway,
you might go to jail for 5 years, if the U.S. Attorney doesn’t like
you. This applies even if you only sell one item, and you’re a
charity shop.

SEC. 24. [15 U.S.C. § 2073]

(a) IN GENERAL.–Any interested person (including any individual or
nonprofit, business, or other entity) may bring an action in any
United States district court for the district in which the defendant
is found or transacts business to enforce a consumer product safety
rule or an order under section 15 [15 U.S.C. § 2064], and to obtain
appropriate injunctive relief. Not less than thirty days prior to the
commencement of such action, such interested person shall give notice
by registered mail to the Commission, to the Attorney General, and to
the person against whom such action is directed. Such notice shall
state the nature of the alleged violation of any such standard or
order, the relief to be requested, and the court in which the action
will be brought. No separate suit shall be brought under this section
if at the time the suit is brought the same alleged violation is the
subject of a pending civil or criminal action by the United States
under this Act. In any action under
this section the court may in the interest of justice award the costs
of suit, including reasonable attorneys’ fees (determined in
accordance with section 11(f)) [15 U.S.C. §2060(f)] and reasonable
expert witnesses’ fees.

Meaning: Even if the U.S. Attorney doesn’t go after you because it
would be ridiculous to– in fact, ONLY if the case is too stupid for
them to prosecute— a predatory law firm could do it for profit,
because they get “attorneys’ fees”, which courts are very generous
about, judges being members of the lawyer class and more sympathetic
to them than to ordinary people, or, certainly, to companies.

Murder and Medicine

February 23rd, 2009 No comments

Comparing murder rates across 50-year times periods is misleading,
this blog post tells us:

As Lt. Col. Dave Grossman pointed out in his book On Killing, the
aggravated assault rate serves as a close proxy statistic for
attempted murders. And the aggravated assault rate has increased
dramatically since the 1950s even if the murder rate has not.
Criminologist Anthony Harris estimates today’s homicide rate would
triple if medical and rescue technologies had not improved since the
50s.

Grossman was kind enough to email me an excerpt from his new book On
Combat when I asked him for more detailed source citations for his
writing on this topic. He argues that in comparing today’s homicide
rate with the 1930s and before we ought to multiple today’s rate by
ten for a true comparison:

Since 1957, the U.S. per capita aggravated assault rate (which is,
essentially, the rate of attempted murder) has gone up nearly five-
fold, while the per capita murder rate has less than doubled. The
reason for this disparity is the vast progress in medical technology
since 1957, to include everything from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,
to the national 911 emergency telephone system, to medical technology
advances. Otherwise, murder would be going up at the same rate as
attempted murder.

In 2002, Anthony Harris and a team of scholars from the University
of Massachusetts and Harvard, published a landmark study in the
journal, Homicide Studies, which concluded that medical technology
advances since 1970 have prevented approximately three out of four
murders. That is, if we had 1970s level medical technology, the murder
rate would be three or four times higher than it is today.

Furthermore, it has been noted that a hypothetical wound that nine
out of ten times would have killed a soldier in World War II, would
have been survived nine out of ten times by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam.
This is due to the great leaps in battlefield evacuation and medical
care technology between 1940 and 1970–and we have made even greater
progress in the years since. Thus, it is probably a conservative
statement to say that if today we had 1930s level evacuation
notification and medical technology (no automobiles and telephones for
most people, and no antibiotics), then we would have ten times the
murder rate we currently do. That is, attempts to inflict bodily harm
upon one another would result in death ten times more often.

Categories: crime, history, research, statistics Tags:

Kennedy Family Scandals

February 6th, 2009 No comments

The Weekly Standard has an article listing many of the Kennedy family crimes and scandals. It’s weak on Teddy, Joe, and John Sr. scandals, though. What a family!

Categories: corruption, crime, Kennedy, politics Tags:

A List of Prominent Democrats in Trouble

January 21st, 2009 No comments
  1. Senator Dodd, Chairman of Senate Finance Committee, (preferential mortgage treatment)
  2. Tom Daschle, nominee for Secy. of HHS, tax evasion.
  3. Rep. Rangel, Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, Taxes.
  4. Blagojevich,Governor of Illinois, selling a Senate seat.
  5. Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, Obama Cabinet pick, grand jury investigation.
  6. Spitzer, Mayor of New York, hiring a prostitute.
  7. Larry Langford, Mayor of Birmingham (2008). Indicted for bribery.
  8. Marion Barry, former Mayor of Washington (2009)(current City Councilor). Failure to file income taxes (his cocaine conviction was a long time ago).
  9. Sam Adams, Mayor of Portland, Oregon (2009). Homosexual relations with a teenager.
  10. Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit Mayor (2008). Charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct stemming from a sex scandal and a whistle-blower lawsuit
  11. Sheila Dixon, Mayor of Baltimore (2009) indicted
    for perjury, theft, misconduct in office
    .

  12. Bernie Madoff (2008).
  13. William Jefferson (D-La). Racketeering, soliciting bribes, money laundering
  14. Attorney-General nominee Eric Holder (2008). (Marc Rich pardon, Puerto Rican terrorist pardon, testimony under oath that he’d not heard of Rich when in fact his office had litigated against a Rich company in 1995, while Rich was on the 10 Most Wanted list)
  15. Treasury nominee: Geithner (2008). Cheating on taxes.

An earlier post said this:

A WSJ op-ed made me realize that the list of post-election scandals has gotten amazingingly long. What good timing luck the Democrats have had!

We might include the Acorn, Minnesota recount, and Ohio plumber-disclosure small-fry Democratss.

Name That Party is a website that looks at new stories about politicians in trouble with attention to whether their party affiliation is mentioned (yes, if Republican) or not (if Democratic).

There are some Reublicans too, but fewer and less prominent (Senator Stevens being the exception):

  1. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) 2008 False statements on Senate disclosure forms
  2. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) 2008 Extortion, wire fraud, money laundering
  3. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) 2007 Bathroom homosexual solicitation
  4. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) 2007. Trading political favors for gifts. Convicted, sentenced to 2.5 years in prison
  5. Don Young (R-Alaska) 2008. “Under investigation”. Four separate federal investigations: a $10 million earmark for a road in Florida, assistance to convicted VECO executive Bill Allen, ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, financial relationship with indicted businessman Dennis Troha.
  6. Vito J. Fossella (R-NY) (2008). Drunk driving, adultery.
  7. Joseph L. Bruno former New York Senate Majority Leader for New York: indicted for mail fraud, January 2009.

Looking at just what has been revealed about Rep. Rangel so far, he seems to have done far worse than Senator Stevens.

Categories: corruption, crime, democrats, law, liberals Tags:

Criminal Congressmen

January 14th, 2009 No comments
Categories: corruption, crime, politics Tags:

The Government’s Policing Arrogance

January 12th, 2009 No comments

Peter Hitchens at the Daily Mail has an illuminating story of how we modern Americans and British allow the political police to boss us around in our daily lives: ‘It’s not debatable,’ they bawled. My chilling encounter with Britain’s jack-booted paramilitary police. He describes encountering a squad of riot police brusquely guarding a 300-person demonstration in London, sweeping aside ordinary citizens in much the same way as you might imagine an earl’s minions sweeping aside the commoners as he rode down the streets. We take this sort of thing for granted nowadays, though. I often read stories of abusive behavior by the U.S. Secret Service, for example, and of course at airports the police (tho not called that) make us take off our shoes for them. Mr. Hitchens did not get beaten up or arrested. What he writes about is chilling precisely because it is routine, the kind of thing we take for granted.

How can this be? My theory is fairly simple. In a liberal state, the police are weak on crime because it is officially regarded as a social disease, not really the fault of the criminals. But they are tough on individuals who tackle crime themselves, because they threaten the state monopoly of law-enforcement (worse, their methods, if generally allowed, would be more popular than the feeble methods of the state police); and they are tough on street protest because they represent a state which regards itself as good, and so sees all protestors as automatically malignant. How do you think totalitarianism would establish itself in a once-free country? What do you think it would look like? I think it would look like this. Fortunately, it is still debatable.

Categories: britain, civil rights, crime, freedom, police Tags:

"Torture" in Germany

December 11th, 2008 No comments

In October 2002 (from the WSJ):

“Deputy Police Chief Daschner fears that Jakob’s life may be in danger. In a memorandum, he writes: “We need to ascertain without delay where the boy is being held. While respecting the principle of proportionality, the police have an obligation to take all measures in their power to save the child’s life.”…

n the interrogation room, Ennigkeit tells Gäfgen that a “special officer” is on his way. If Gäfgen does not tell Ennigkeit where the boy is, the “special officer” will “make him feel pain that he will not forget.” On Gäfgen’s own account, the formula is still more menacing: the officer “will make you feel pain like you have never felt before.” “Nobody can help you here,” Ennigkeit tells him, according to Gäfgen’s testimony. “We can do whatever we want with you.” On Gäfgen’s account, moreover, Ennigkeit already begins to rough him up: shaking him so violently that his head bangs against the wall and hitting him in the chest hard enough to leave a bruise over his collarbone….

In June 2005, the child-murderer and law student Magnus Gäfgen lodged a complaint against Germany with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In his complaint, Gäfgen accused Germany of having violated his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and, more specifically, of having violated the prohibition on torture contained in Article 3 of the Convention.

On June 30, 2008, the European Court of Human Rights rejected Gäfgen’s complaint and cleared Germany of the charge of tolerating torture.”

Also in October 2002, interrogators at Guantanamo Bay asked for permission to use similar methods on al Qaeda terrorist Mohammed al-Qahtani. The Pentagon said no.

Now that Barack Obama has won the presidency, perhaps it is time for American interrogators to revise their practices to bring them into line with European ones.

Categories: crime, law Tags:

Child Services, the Prosecutor, and the Bloomington Planned Parenthood Case

December 9th, 2008 No comments

From the IDS:

The Indiana Department of Child Services will take no legal action against the employee who was suspended from Bloomington’s Planned Parenthood on Wednesday.

The employee was suspended without pay after an online video was released of her advising a woman posing as a 13-year-old girl to cross state lines to get an abortion without parental consent. When the woman posing as a 13-year-old girl said the man who got her pregnant was 31 years old, she agreed not to report what would, if it were true, be statutory rape.

Steve Vaughn, director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, said child services does not plan to do anything to the employee because there was not an actual minor involved in the incident.

…The county prosecutor’s office could also file charges, but no one from the office could be reached for comment by press time.

Maybe this is just jurisdictional. I am wondering whether this case is different from, say, a pedophile who is caught by someone posing to be a 13-year-old on the Internet.

Categories: abortion, crime Tags:

Vice in the Netherlands

December 8th, 2008 No comments

“Amsterdam to close many brothels, marijuana cafes”

Amsterdam unveiled plans Saturday to close brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes in its ancient city center as part of a major effort to drive organized crime out of the tourist haven.

The city is targeting businesses that “generate criminality,” including gambling parlors, and the so-called “coffee shops” where marijuana is sold openly. Also targeted are peep shows, massage parlors and souvenir shops used by drug dealers for money-laundering.

“I think that the new reality will be more in line with our image as a tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals” said Lodewijk Asscher, a city council member and one of the main proponents of the plan.

Categories: crime, social regulation Tags:

Loony Indictments

December 2nd, 2008 No comments

We must expect county prosecutors to go insane (literally) once in a while. What is more depressing is that a lunatic could get a grand jury to indict. See this story on the indictment of VP Cheney and AG Gonzalez, among others.

Five of the indictments – against two district judges, two special prosecutors and the district clerk – were dismissed because Guerra was the alleged victim, witness and prosecutor. The indictments accused the five of abusing their power by being involved in a previous investigation of Guerra.

Categories: crime, law Tags:

The Value of Human Life in Pennsylvania

November 20th, 2008 No comments

It seems economist Rafael Robb has gotten 5 to 10 years in prison for killing his wife. He gave a talk here a couple of years ago, and did seem a tough guy– is he the one who was an Israeli paratrooper? In any case, I expect he will be a model prisoner and be out after 5 years. As an economist, I can see then that the value put on a human life by the Pennsylvania state government is a 5-year prison term.

He admitted he “just lost it” during an argument that erupted at the couple’s Upper Merion Township home in December 2006. Ellen Robb had been planning to end their 16-year marriage, and her husband feared he would see less of their daughter and possibly suffer financially if they divorced.

I wonder if Professor Robb has gained financially, overall? He has lost 5 years of salary completely, plus a hard-to-estimate reduction in future salary. He will lose his tenure at Penn, but he can get a job somewhere else– he’s a good economist, and he can keep publishing while in prison– indeed, he will have more time for research, and he’s a theorist, so lack of RA’s, computers, etc. won’t hamper him. He has gained alimony he would have had to pay– say, 20% of income for a 30-year period. He has also gained his half of the household assets– perhaps 6 times his annual income.

Categories: crime, law, universities Tags:

Ratio Variables in Regressions

June 24th, 2008 No comments

I was reading Gibbs and Firebaugh (Criminology, 1990) on ratio variables in regressions. Suppose you regress Arrests/Crime on Crimes/population using city-by-city data, and in fact there is no causal connection. Will they be negative correlated anyway, since CRIMES is in both variables?

No, so long as all relevant control variables are in the regression. Here is a way to see it. Suppose we regress 1/Crime on Crimes/Population. Suppose too, that Crime and Crimes/Population are uncorrelated— that bigger cities do not have a higher crime rate. Then 1/Crime and Crimes/Population will be uncorrelated.

If, of course, bigger cities do have higher crime rates, then 1/Crime and Crimes/Population will be correlated, but if we suspect that to be true, then in our original regression we should have regressed Arrests/Crime on not only Crimes/Population but on the control variable Crimes.

There is some issue of measurement error– of false correlation arising if Crime has measurement error. Then we are regressing Arrests/(Crime+Error) on (Crime+Error)/Population. I think if we use (Crime +Error) as a control variable that will fix the problem, though.

Categories: crime, statistics Tags:

Crime in England and the USA

May 11th, 2008 No comments

The International Crime Victims Survey‘s conclusion is that England and Wales (Scotland has separate data– with higher crime, I think) has higher crime rates than the US even for violent crime. Murder (not covered by the survey) is the only exception. From Table 1, section 9.1, the 2004 and 2005 numbers for England and the US are, per person per year:

Car theft: 1.8, 1.1

Burglary (home):3.5, 2.5

Robbery (face to face): 1.4, 0.6

Theft of personal property: 6.3, 4.8

Assaults and threats (similar ratio for just assaults): 5.8, 4.3

Categories: crime Tags:

Illegal Immigrants Cause 6% of Crime , which Costs$24 Billion

April 30th, 2008 6 comments

David Wilson pointed out flaws in my earlier post on crime and illegal immigrants. My numbers were way off, but even when cut they support my ultimate conclusion: the cost of crime by illegal aliens wipes out the economic gains from them. And this is true even if it were to be the case, as Mr. Wilson suggests, illegal aliens have a lower propensity to commit crime—adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, etc. — than citizens do. (That’s because for the question of how much they harm the U.S. , one shouldn’t adjust: what matters is how much crime they commit in total, not how much crime they would commit if they were old and female.)

Note that even corrected, my estimates are still just a weblog estimate, not up to the standards for first draft for an academic working paper, though that doesn’t mean they aren’t the best available (somebody *should* do a serious study of this). What would be really useful would be a survey of a random sample of those imprisoned in state and federal prisons and jails.

My numbers were indeed way off. The big problem was my use of the SCAAP numbers for the number of illegal aliens in jail during the year. I compared that to the number of people in jail measured on one particular day. Since jails are for terms of less than one year, there will be a lot more people in and out during the year than are in jail during any one day.

My latest estimate is that 6.1% of crime is by illegal aliens, and it imposes a cost of 24 billion dollars per year. The reasoning is below. (The percentage is exactly the same as David Wilson’s but that is an odd coincidence; he includes jails and gets 6.1% as 131,000/ 2,135,335).

Here are some numbers on inmates of “prisons” (a term of art which means state and federal prisons, places where criminals serve sentences of one year or more, as opposed to jails, which are run by cities and counties for lesser offenders). K means “thousand”.

From the Justice Dept. source on prison data: Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/p06.htm, or http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pjim06.pdf Appendix Table 6: In prisons: 33K federal, 57K state noncitizens on June 30, 2006. Total: 90K. Table 12: Prisoners in custody: 181K federal, 1290K state. Total: 1471K. Fraction noncitizen: 90/1471= 6.1%.

If there are 10.5 million illegal aliens, then their imprisonment rate is 90/10500 = 0.85%. There are 308 thousand Hispanics in prison p06t07.csv out of a population of 44.3 million (Stat Abs. Table 6), about 0.69%. Thus, illegal aliens aren’t much different from hispanics in percentage imprisoned. That is surprising, since I would think the illegals would have fewer women and children to bring down the criminality rate. The overall US imprisonment rate is 1471/297000=.50%. The white (nonblack, nonHispanic) rate is .27% (= (478+49)/198000 ) and the black (nonhispanic) rate is 1.56% (=(534+28)/36000).

The prison data has some problems. It is not just for the 10 million or so illegal aliens, but for all noncitizens, which includes the 12 million or so legal aliens (people with green cards, tourists, etc.) (10.5 million illegal aliens from the Statistical Abstract: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0046.pdf The total population was 296,639,000, That’s about 3.4% illegals.) (Legal aliens in 2005: 20.7-10.5 million. Table 44 SA http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0044.pdf) Also, (1) some states don’t report, (2) some states report jails as well as prisons, and (3) some states report all foreign-born, not just illegal aliens.

Also, from GAO report number GAO-05-337R, ‘Information on Criminal Aliens Incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons and Local Jails’ which was released on May 9, 2005, criminal aliens incarcerated in federal prisons were 49K at year-end 2004, a lot more than the 33K above; and in fiscal year 2002-SCAAP reimbursed states for 77K criminal aliens. The 77K is compatible with the 57K above, since it’s 4 years apart and not just year-end (some people even with sentences of over a year will have left by year-end).

Anyway, if illegal aliens are 6.1% of crime (making the further assumption that the percentage in prisons is equal to the percentage of crime generally,including less serious crime), then if crime costs $400 billion per year, crime by illegal aliens costs 24 billion dollars per year. That is about equal to the June 20, 2007 CEA report Immigration’s Economic Impact, which says immigration has a net benefit of $30 billion per year, which includes both legal and illegal immigrants.

May 3: A survey of illegal immigrants who applied for amnesty around 1989 found that of working-age adults, just 57% were male and 12% worked in agriculture. 37% had 9 or more years of schooling, which is below the American average, but above the Mexican average (p. 884 of Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States
Gordon H. Hanson, Journal of Economic Literature,
Page 1. The Journal of Economic Literature Vol. 44, No. 4, December 2006)

Categories: crime, immigration Tags:

February 2nd, 2008 No comments

A Summertown Brothel. Who would have thought it just a half-mile from our house? An Oxford Times article says:

A BROTHEL in a quiet Oxford street was run so professionally it was
“like a restaurant”, a court heard today.

Mother-of-two Elaine Konopka, 39, admitted helping run the brothel in
Middle Way, Summertown….

“Konopka admitted working at the address on approximately ten occasions
over an 18-month period. She said she was responsible for answering
phones, making appointments and greeting customers.”

“She was not a part-time receptionist, she was a fill-in receptionist.
The brothel was open from 10am to 10pm seven days a week.

District judge Brian Loosley looked at the brothel’s menu, which had
services ranging from £50-£140, while considering the sentence.

Ordering her to carry out 60 hours’ unpaid community work and pay £100
costs, he said: “It is quite clear this was run almost like a
restaurant, with menus and various services being offered….

Neighbours tonight said they were pleased the brothel had been closed.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said she thought Konopka’s
sentence was too lenient.

She said: “I think it is disgusting she only got 60 hours’ community
service.

“It is so nice not having so many strange men going in there. It was
really unpleasant. It certainly attracted all sorts of men – not very
nice people at all.

“Some had children’s car seats in the back. You just felt upset for the
wives.”

January 30th, 2008 No comments

Wicked Judges. Oxford has a number of bad judges. Here is a Julian Hall story:

… a 58-year-old former teacher at the Cothill School in Oxfordshire was charged recently with abusing a number of boys in the 1970s. But the judge, Julian Hall, declared earlier this year that “this is the stalest case I have been asked to try” and threw it out.

“I think the best thing that should happen to people who behave in this way,” Hall told Oxford Crown Court, speaking of the former teacher, Jeremy Malim, “is that they should get a very brisk elbow in the ribs at the time or be rejected.”

And here’s more about Julian Hall:

Judge Hall, criticised last year for saying a 10-year-old rape victim dressed provocatively, gave a Berinsfield teenager three years’ probation for molesting a five-year-old girl.

The 17-year-old – who Judge Hall banned the Oxford Mail from naming – had also abused a seven-year-old boy….

Last year, Judge Hall sent Blackbird Leys window cleaner Keith Fenn to prison for just two years after he raped a 10-year-old.

He also told a 71-year-old man who sexually abused a six-year-old to compensate her with money for a new bike….

Judge Hall told lawyers in court: “At the moment, the defendant is probably not dangerous.”

The girl’s mother, who was sitting in the public gallery, shouted out: “Tell that to my daughter!”

Judge Hall told the teenager: “What you did was dreadful and it is the sort of behaviour which affects people rather badly and for a long time.

“You are going to have to attend courses to help you sort out your attitude to sex and children younger than you.”

He granted the teenager anonymity and said that he was too young to be identified publicly for his crimes.

And here’s a story about Charles Harris:

A JUDGE who likened growing cannabis to tomato plants criticised Oxford City Council as he dismissed an Antisocial Behaviour Order.

The city council had wanted Phillip Pledge thrown out of his home and banned from Blackbird Leys for two years after police seized £3,400- worth of cannabis from a flat in Evenlode Tower where he was temporarily living.

But Judge Charles Harris – who caused controversy last week during the Asbo hearing when he said it was no more offensive to neighbours to grow cannabis than tomato plants – threw out the case.

Judge Harris said at Oxford Crown Court: “Oxford City Council applied for the order because the defendant caused harassment, alarm or distress.

“I have considerable reservations. There is no evidence at all to show anyone had been caused alarm, had been harassed or could be distressed.

“It is not appropriate to seek orders with potentially very serious consequences without producing evidence to justify them.

“It is alleged the defendant was growing and selling cannabis in his flat. This is a criminal offence and he could have been tried in the criminal courts.

“For some reason the Crown Prosecution Service has not charged Mr Pledge, although the police have reason to justify charging him.

“It is not for the local housing authority in civil proceedings, via an Asbo, to provide a substitute for criminal proceedings.”

The court heard Mr Pledge was jailed in 1998 for possession of cannabis and fined in 2000 for cultivating it.

Mr Pledge, of Strawberry Path in Blackbird Leys, had been living in the flat temporarily due to an arson attack on his home.

The 38-year-old was in rent arrears of £1,479.64, but told Judge Harris he had arranged to pay that back. …

Judge Harris did not give leave for the council to appeal against his decision against an Asbo or to evict Mr Pledge.

Categories: crime, judges Tags:

January 11th, 2008 No comments

Illegal Immigrants and Crime. Steve Sailer has recent posts on that topic here and here, with sources. He doesn’t have much that’s new to me, but I’ll make a note of it. I have an earlier weblog post that can be searched for that has more on the topic, which needs to be investigated.

Categories: crime, immigration Tags:

November 30th, 2007 No comments

Immigrants and Crime: Switzerland.The Independent had an article a while back on discontent with immigration in Switzerland. Here are a couple of interesting facts from it:

* More than 20 per cent of the Swiss population, and 25 per cent of its workforce, is non-naturalised.

* At the end of 2006, 5,888 people were interned in Swiss prisons. 31 per cent were Swiss citizens – 69 per cent were foreigners or asylum-seekers.

I wish it said how many of those “interned” were there for immigration crimes. None of them, or most of them?

Categories: crime, immigration Tags: