Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ohio Supreme Court justice apologizes for Facebook post boasting of sexual prowess

An Ohio Supreme Court justice who is running as a Democrat for governor has created a firestorm in a Facebook post asserting he was “sooooo disappointed by this national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago,” reported the ABA Journal.
Justice Bill O’Neill wrote the post Friday, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Dayton Daily News report. “Now that the dogs of war are calling for the head of Senator Al Franken, I believe it is time to speak up on behalf of all heterosexual males,” he said.
He went on to say he has been “sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females” during the last 50 years. One woman was “a gorgeous blonde” with whom he made love in the hayloft of her parents’ barn, and another was a “drop dead gorgeous red head,” he said.
O’Neill confirmed that he wrote the post. It was shortened from a previous version with more identifying information about two women he mentioned.
Then on Saturday, O’Neill offered this apology: “If I offended anyone, particularly the wonderful women in my life, I apologize. But if I have helped elevate the discussion on the serious issues of sexual assault, as opposed to personal indiscretions, to a new level … I make no apologies.”
He later deleted the Saturday apology and apologized a second time on Sunday. He wrote: “There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to admit you were wrong. It is Sunday morning and I am preparing to go to church and get right with God. But first I have to get right with my family, my friends, and the thousands of strangers who have been hurt by my insensitive remarks. I am sorry. I have damaged the national debate on the very real subject of sexual harassment, abuse and unfortunately rape. It is not a laughing matter. It wasn’t when I prosecuted sexual misconduct for the state of Ohio, and it is not now.”
To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Today marks the anniversary of the most infamous crime of the 20th Century

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the greatest murder mystery of the 20th Century, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.
The nation's 35th president was born in Brookline, Mass., a Boston suburb on May 29, 1917. This year marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.  He was the first president born in the 20th Century.
Today, national park rangers will lay a wreath outside Kennedy's childhood home, and a 21-gun salute will follow. The observances are being held at what is now known as the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site.
The murder of Kennedy’s alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, only hours after Kennedy’s death has left the investigation unresolved. On the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, a clear majority of Americans (61%) believe others besides Oswald were involved in Kennedy’s assassination according to a Gallup Poll at the time.
Earlier this fall, President Trump agreed to the much ballyhooed release of documents regarding Kennedy’s assassination. In the end, according to CNN, what was supposed to be the final release of government secrets about the 1963 killing of President John F. Kennedy wasn't quite the blockbuster splash that the President had been promising.
To learn more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The 'good guy with a gun' theory is a myth

Army veteran Charles Clymer wrote for NBC that the 'good guy with a gun' theory is a myth.  Here is an excerpt:
 Our nation’s love of firearms, combined with our history of arrogance and hyper-masculinity, has produced a culture in which millions of (particularly younger) white men now believe they could, at any time, be the only thing standing between good and evil. A quick search on YouTube will provide countless videos of these would-be superheroes strolling down city streets with powerful rifles on display, begging for law enforcement to challenge their constitutional rights.
This is not simply an issue of Second Amendment rights, however. The world is a dangerous place, and these would-be crime stoppers claim that a good guy with a gun must be ready and willing to stop a bad guy with a gun. As evidence, they point to high-profile stories like the recent Texas shooting at First Baptist Church, in which a good Samaritan with a gun chased and ultimately wounded the shooter as he left the church. He did not prevent the massacre, but maybe he could have, if he had only gotten there earlier — at least, that’s what these people argue.
The problem with this narrative (besides a lack of research or data suggesting more guns does indeed prevent violence broadly) is that killing another human being, even a “bad” one, is not easy. This is not “Call of Duty”: Despite the damage that modern weaponry can inflict, there is a reason that soldiers and law enforcement officers receive thousands of hours of training in firearms and tactics. This training is physical, mechanical and, most importantly, psychological, because in order to efficiently and effectively kill other human beings in high-stress situations, one must be conditioned to negotiate that stress.
I should know, because I went through it. As an U.S. Army infantryman, I spent thousands of hours, beginning in basic training and continuing throughout my service, becoming comfortable with killing and learning how to do so in a responsible manner. The psychological strength required to act quickly and effectively in a mass shooting comes from the kind of monotonous training that over several years builds up muscle memory. It is tedious and often boring, and that’s the point: it enables soldiers to respond in stressful situations as though it’s second nature.
To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, November 20, 2017

Drug company wants lethal injection drugs back

A major pharmaceutical company demanded in a letter a month ago that the State of Nebraska return any lethal injection drugs it might have that were manufactured by the company or its affiliate, reported the Omaha World-Herald.
Pfizer adopted a policy in 2016 banning the use of its products in an execution as a “misuse” of drugs intended to save lives.
“Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve. Consistent with these values, Pfizer strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment,” stated the Oct. 4 letter, signed by Robert Jones, a public relations director at Pfizer.
Officials with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and the office of Gov. Pete Ricketts declined to say Thursday if the state had obtained any Pfizer drugs.
“We are not disclosing the identity of the supplier at this time,” said Corrections spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith.
But Smith said the state spent $10,500 on the four lethal injection drugs purchased last month.
This comes two years after Nebraska spent $54,000 on similar drugs that it never received.
To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why would an innocent person plead guilty?

Professor Jenia I. Turner of SMU Law School wrote for the National Academy of Justice that the most recent data reported by the National Registry of Exonerations show that roughly 18 percent of recorded exonerations (343 out of 1,956) were the product of guilty pleas. Why do innocent people plead guilty? 
The NRE identified large plea discounts as a key factor driving false guilty pleas. Other analyses of plea based exonerations have similarly found that innocent defendants plead guilty to avoid the risk of harsher punishment after trial.
For instance in Pennsylvania the sentence guidelines consider two factors--the seriousness of the offense and the accused's prior record. A person with a criminal record and accused of a serious crime can expect a lengthy sentence.  A plea offer of a fraction of the expected guideline sentence could result in a plea--guilty or not.
Turner points out a plea offer of time served for detained defendants has also been found to lead innocent defendants to plead guilty. Misdemeanor defendants are frequently detained for the simple reason that they cannot afford to post bail, and they are commonly offered plea deals to “time served.” 
They are then subject to significant economic and familial pressures to plead guilty in order to be released from jail. A recent empirical study found that misdemeanor detainees “plead guilty at a 25 percent higher rate than similarly situated releasees.” The authors concluded that “[m]isdemeanor pretrial detention … seems especially likely to induce guilty pleas, including wrongful ones.” 
To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, November 18, 2017

GateHouse: Word of the demise of ‘the great American crime decline’ premature

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
November 17, 2017
The National Institute of Justice reported this week that homicides in America’s largest cities rose in 2015 and again in 2016, although not all cities experienced a significant increase and some cities even experienced a decline.
In 2016, the FBI Uniform Crime Report found that there were 17,250 homicides nationwide. That is an increase of 8.6 percent from 2015 on top of a 12.1 percent increase from 2014-2015.
That adds up to about a 21 percent increase in homicide over two years, which is the largest two-year increase in a quarter of a century.
The National Institute of Justice considered two explanations for the increase:
- The heroin and opioid epidemic
- The so-called “Ferguson effect,” named for the city outside of St. Louis where the police response to unrest has impacted policing nationwide.
The larger increases in drug-related homicides as compared to other types of homicide provided researchers with preliminary evidence that expansions in the illegal drug trade contributed to increase in homicide.
The current drug epidemic is disproportionately concentrated in the white population, and homicides have increased among whites as well as among African Americans and Hispanics. The report concluded that the drug epidemic may have had an especially strong influence on the rise in homicide rates among whites.
The second explanation put forth by researchers is the Ferguson effect, which resulted in “de-policing, compromised police legitimacy, or both.”
Surveys of police reveal widespread concerns about increased police-community tensions and reductions in proactive policing in the aftermath of widely publicized deadly encounters between the police and African Americans.
Increases in homicide followed decreases in arrests in Baltimore and Chicago, although it is not known whether the same was true in other cities.
Alienation from the police can result in a decreased willingness to call the police or to cooperate with them and, some studies suggest, an increase in criminal behavior.
The National Institute of Justice concedes that “current evidence that links de-policing to the homicide rise is mixed, at best,” and that it remains an “open research question.”
The homicide increase in the United States is relatively large, if not unprecedented, especially in several of the nation’s biggest cities. Because it arrived on the heels of a long-term crime drop, it is reasonable to ask whether the current homicide spike marks the end of what has been referred to by Professor Franklin E. Zimring of the UC Berkeley School of Law as the “the great American crime decline.”
Before we break into a panic, a review of the data seems to indicate the answer is no. The national homicide rate was more than 35 percent lower in 2016 than in 1995 and the homicide rate in big cities was about 46 percent lower. According to the National Institute of Justice, even at the elevated rates of increase in 2015 and 2016, it would take about five years for the national homicide rates to return to the levels of the early 1990s.
However, it is difficult to ignore the increase in homicides as well as the ongoing plight of minority members of our communities. For instance, the leading cause of death for young African American men is homicide, and it causes more deaths than the other top nine causes of death put together.
Professor David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said recently, ”[W]e’re debating these small changes and the national homicide rate had come down to between four and five per 100,000 and is now edging back up toward five. There are communities all over the country where especially young men of color are experiencing persistent homicide rates of over 500 per 100,000 year after year after year after year.”
-- Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pittsburgh real estate interventions decreased crime and increased values

A Pittsburgh-based nonprofit development organization reduced crime by up to 49 percent through a hybrid strategy of combining hot-spot policing and real estate intervention, according to The Crime Report.
But as crime rates decreased, demand for properties in the neighborhood increased, translating into housing prices appreciating by more than 120 percent between 2008 and 2012.
Identification of problematic properties—ones which were typically vacant, abandoned or owned by slumlords—was based on input from residents and ELDI staff members who live in the neighborhood. ELDI then acquired more than 200 of these units over the four year period, representing approximately three percent of the rental apartment units in the neighborhood.
Many high-rise housing projects were replaced with low-rise, townhouse-style mixed-income housing. Other initiatives focused on bringing businesses, shops, and restaurants back to the area.
To read more CLICK HERE