Sunday, August 31, 2014

Man charged with murder because police shot innocent bystander

The Orlando Police have charged Kody Roach with murder.  He was wielding a gun when police shot him and in the process the police shot and killed Maria Godinez an innocent bystander, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
Godinez, was struck by a stray shot from Officer Eduardo Sanguino's gun, and was fatally injured in the gunfire.
According to a newly released affidavit, in front of police Roach went for his waistband with his right hand, the affidavit says:
"In order to prevent an armed individual from causing harm to any members of the public or to any of the surrounding officers, Ofc. (sic) Sanguino discharges his firearm nine times striking Roach at least five times," it states.
As he fell, Roach dropped a .40 caliber Ruger handgun from his right hand, the affidavit states. Investigators would later determine the gun was not loaded, but had been reported stolen, and Roach was the prime suspect.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting. Sanguino and Angel are on administrative leave, as is common in police-involved shootings.
Roach now faces a charge of first-degree felony murder. When he fired, Sanguino had probable cause to believe Roach was committing attempted armed burglary and armed trespassing, investigators concluded.
"As a result of Roach's actions, an individual was killed therefore probable cause exist to further charge Roach with first degree felony murder," the new arrest affidavit states.
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

GateHouse:Violent crime was rampant not too long ago

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse News Service
August 29, 2014

George Santayana, the Spanish-American philosopher and novelist, once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As increasingly aggressive police tactics are exposed across the country, discontent grows.

Discontent shortens the memory. What was a crisis not so long ago seems less significant in the face of new concerns about heavy-handed, overreaching police conduct.

America would do well not to forget the early 1990s. In 1991, there were 9.8 murders per 100,000 people. In 2013, there was less than half that number, about 4.7 murders per 100,000. Nowhere has the decline in violent crime been so startling than in New York City. According to the New York Post, there were 2,272 victims of murder in the Big Apple in 1990 — in 2013, there were 335.

There are a number of theories why violent crime fell so dramatically. Some suggest that at the height of the surge in violent crime, crack cocaine dominated the streets. As crack fell out of vogue, violent crime fell as well.

There are those who suggest that higher incarceration rates, a robust economy, fewer young people, tougher sentencing laws even abortion have had an impact on violent crime rates. A factor that cannot be ignored is better policing. That includes training, tactics and firepower.

No one suggests that crime has plummeted due to the emergence of the “better angels of our nature.” Crime has been effectively suppressed by better, smarter — and at times a bit of heavy-handed — policing.

To forget the role policing has played in the decline of violent crime may condemn some neighborhoods and communities nationwide to a renewed cycle of violence and discord.

A sign that memories may be beginning to fade is evident when Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill asked for a hearing looking into the militarization of local police departments, after recent tensions between law enforcement and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

“We need to demilitarize this situation — this kind of response by the police has become the problem instead of the solution,” McCaskill said.

President Barack Obama weighed in, “I think one of the great things about the United States has been our ability to maintain a distinction between our military and domestic law enforcement.”

In New York City, the new mayor, Bill de Blasio, promised to end the controversial law enforcement tactic known as “stop and frisk.” The tactic was being used to take guns off of the streets and to crack down on fugitives. Those opposed to stop and frisk suggested that the tactic disproportionately targeted African-American men. Finally, the courts restricted its use.

However, the picture is not so rosy without stop and frisk. According to the Wall Street Journal, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 10, there have been 702 shooting incidents, compared with 621 for the same period last year — a 13 percent increase. Shootings are at their highest levels since 2012, according to the New York Police Department.

Finding the appropriate balance for police between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough is never easy. To ignore the success of the past — the anguish and pain that has been averted as the result of less victimization and the billions of dollars saved as result of less crime — would be foolish.

Can police tactics be improved? Certainly. Should we revel in the success of lower crime rates and walk away from tactics that have made neighborhoods safer? Certainly not.

New York City’s streets are safer now than ever, in no small part because of aggressive, data-driven policing. To retreat from that posture is not good for New York City or the rest of America.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was recently released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Cautionary Instruction: This week marks the 90th anniversary of the Leopold and Loeb case

Matthew T. Mangino
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Ipso Facto
August 29, 2014
Ninety years ago this this week, Clarence Darrow gave a 12-hour summation in the sentencing hearing for Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold.
The case known as Leopold and Loeb was heralded as the “trial of the century.” The case was not really a trial at all. Darrow had changed the young men’s pleas from not guilty to guilty and focused his efforts on preventing a death sentence.
On May 21, 1924, Leopold and Loeb rented a car and stocked it with tools to commit the “perfect crime.” Then they drove to a park near a local prep school to wait for the perfect victim. They found Bobby Franks.
The two wealthy University of Chicago students lured the 14-year-old Franks into the car. The two men murdered Franks for the thrill of the kill.
The next morning, a man on his way to work found Frank’s naked body, his face and genitals burned with acid, in a culvert in an isolated field outside of Chicago.
Darrow’s change of plea had turned the case on its head. Darrow, a graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, needed only a reduction from death by hanging to life in prison to win the case.
Darrow’s summation has been characterized as one of the greatest orations ever presented in opposition to the death penalty.
Darrow asked the judge, “Why did they kill little Bobby Franks? Not for money, not for spite; not for hate. They killed him as they might kill a spider or a fly, for the experience. They killed him because they were made that way.”
He continued to argue, “Kill them. Will that prevent other senseless boys or other vicious men or vicious women from killing? No!
Darrow pleaded, "If the state in which I live is not kinder, more humane, and more considerate than the mad act of these two boys, I am sorry I have lived so long."
He concluded “Your Honor, what excuse could you possibly have for putting these boys to death? You would have to turn your back on every precedent of the past. You would have to turn your back on the progress of the world. You would have to ignore all human sentiment and feeling …You would have to do all this if you would hang boys of eighteen and nineteen years of age who have come into this court and thrown themselves upon your mercy.”
Cook County Circuit Court Judge John R. Caverly was impressed. He imposed a sentence of life in prison for both men.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George, P.C. He is the former district attorney of Lawrence County and just completed a six year term on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. His weekly column on crime and punishment is syndicated by GateHouse New Service. You can read his musings on the criminal justice system at and follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewTMangino. His new book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010: The Crimes, Arrests, Trials, Appeals, Last Meals, Final Words and Executions of 46 Persons in the United States is now available from McFarland & Company publishers.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sex offenders being held in custody because of residency restrictions

Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York State are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of state residency restrictions, reported the New York Times.
The law, which has been in effect since 2005, restricts many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. Those unable to find such accommodations often end up in homeless shelters.
But in February, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which runs the prisons and parole system, said the 1,000-foot restriction also extended from homeless shelters, making most of them off limits because of the proximity of schools.
The new interpretation has had a profound effect in New York City, where only 14 of the 270 shelters under the auspices of the Department of Homeless Services have been deemed eligible to receive sex offenders. But with the 14 shelters often filled to capacity, the state has opted to keep certain categories of sex offenders in custody until appropriate housing is found.
About 70 of the 101 sex offenders being held are New York City residents, prison authorities said. Some have begun filing habeas corpus petitions in court, demanding to be released and claiming the state has no legal authority to hold them.
The onus of finding a suitable residence upon release is on the sex offender; the state authorities will consider any residence proposed, but will reject it if it is too close to a school or violates other post-release supervision conditions.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Locking more people up does not lead to safer communities

The latest information from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)— the leading crime and prison data sources for the country—shows that locking more people up does not lead to safer communities, wrote Marc Schindler is the Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute at The Crime Report.
The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) compared the UCR crime rate and the BJS incarceration rate from 2002 and 2012. The data reveals a nation divided.
The 2012 data was released in the summer and fall of 2013. Twenty four states experienced falling crime and incarceration rates, while twenty three states experienced rising incarceration rates and falling crime rates. Only three states experienced rises in both (including West Virginia, which coupled a 7 percent increase in crime with a 51 percent increase in its incarceration rate).
Some numbers stand out as signs that states can opt for smarter and safer justice policies:
  • Many states that saw falling incarceration rates saw large drops in crime: the ten states that decreased their incarceration rate by 10 percent or more saw crime drop at an average rate of 24.1 percent,
  • States that increased their incarceration rate saw much smaller drops in crime: the fifteen states that increased their incarceration rate by 10 percent or more saw, on average, only an accompanying, 12.8 percent drop in crime, much lower than the national average, 20.26 percent, decrease in crime for the same period.
The data shows that Virginia experienced a 25 percent drop in crime, and 2 percent drop in its incarceration rate.  Other Southern states saw a much bigger drop in incarceration, and a drop in crime.
JPI’s report Virginia’s Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective, and Unfair, as well as its follow up study, Billion Dollar Divide, recommends that states like Virginia follow the lead of these other Southern states, and reconsider and review their sentencing laws, practices and policies, reduce the collateral consequences of criminal convictions and introduce more effective public safety and drug policies. Such steps can and should be taken by the states whose incarceration rate has increased or only minimally declined over the past decade.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Policing is the difference in New York City

New York not only became safer than any large city in America, it did so while its population grew and its prison population fell, wrote Franklin E. Zimring, the Simon Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, in the  New York Post.
Some say that crime dropped nationwide, so New York isn’t unique. More criminals were locked up, or demographics changed. Some even credit the legalization of abortion or the introduction of unleaded gasoline.
Statistics illustrate that policing has been the difference in New York City. While the homicide rate dropped by half in the nine largest cities other than NYC between 1990 and 2009, it dropped by 82 percent here. Rapes dropped 77 percent in New York, compared with a median rate of 49 percent in those other cities.
New York showed larger declines in every major crime, though particularly in robbery, burglary and auto theft. While robberies dropped 49 percent in other major cities, they fell an astounding 84 percent here.
Consider: In 1990, there were 2,272 homicide victims in New York City. If that rate had remained unchanged, more than 2,400 would have been killed in 2013.
Instead, there were 335. For one year alone, 2,000 fewer homicides.
The only logical explanation for the New York difference, then, is how New York fought crime. The NYPD rapidly expanded the police force and targeted specific crimes in specific areas, like cleaning up outdoor drug markets.
The only logical explanation for the New York difference, then, is how New York fought crime. The NYPD rapidly expanded the police force and targeted specific crimes in specific areas, like cleaning up outdoor drug markets.
To be clear, this isn’t really “broken windows,” though that term gets much of the credit. The broken windows theory says you flood marginal neighborhoods with “order maintenance” enforcement, making sure it doesn’t slip into a chaotic spiral.
Instead, the NYPD targeted the hot spots where violence was highest. Rather than do sweeps for all low-level crimes, the department experimented with what arrests would be most effective in finding and removing serious offenders. “Zero tolerance” policing never existed in New York (or anywhere else) and would have been a disaster if it had.
Al Sharpton, who led a march on Saturday protesting the NYPD, blames the broken windows approach for the death of Eric Garner, subdued for selling loose cigarettes.
Is the Jack Maple theory to blame? No. Garner’s death is proactive policing done wrong, not right. Garner was already known to the officers and was not a public danger. He was a non-dangerous “dolphin,” and the police knew this.
The tragedy will be tried in the court, and it rightly led to Police Commission Bill Bratton ordering the retraining of all police on the use of force.
Broad slogans like “quality of life” and “order maintenance” that mischaracterize the strategic reason for police stops invite exactly the confusion that produce disasters like the Garner case.
But should this really lead to the elimination of the strategy that made the city safe? Done right, the benefits of intensive patrol and aggressive policing are real.
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Monday, August 25, 2014

Nearly a third of Americans have arrest record

According to, practically a third of Americans have an arrest record, which can create problems when looking for work and housing, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Most employers conduct criminal background checks on job applicants. With more police making more arrests, and with the Internet providing easy access to the criminal database, Americans are learning that the stigma of rap sheet is hard to shake.
In response to rising crime levels in the 1980s and 1990s police followed a zero tolerance approach for even minor infractions. Crime went down and more serious offenses were probably deterred, law enforcement authorities say. Now, the FBI criminal database contains some 77.7 million names amounting to one out of three adults. Thousands of new names are added daily, according to the WSJ.
A University of South Carolina study found that some 40 percent of men had been arrested by age 23. Among African Americans the rate was 49 percent, for Hispanics 44 percent, and for whites 38 percent. Almost 20 percent of women have also been arrested by the age of 23. Forty-seven percent of people arrested were not convicted, the WSJ reported.
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