Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 regarding the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling overturning Jordan Brown's juvenile adjudication of delinquency for the 1st degree murder of Kenzie Houk an her unborn child.
To watch the interview CLICK HERE
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Watch my interview on Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling overturning Jordan Brown's juvenile adjudication of delinquency for the 1st degree murder of Kenzie Houk an her unborn child.
To watch the interview CLICK HERE
To watch the interview CLICK HERE
The 14th Execution of 2018
Ohio carried out its first execution of the year this morning, using a mixture of three drugs to execute Robert Van Hook for the 1985 murder of a Cincinnati man after the two met at a nightclub, reported WKSU and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Van Hook broke into sobs before he was put to death July 18, 2018.
"I'm no good," he said from under the straps that held him to the lethal injection table.
He recited a Norse prayer used in a 1999 Antonio Banderas film and sang to himself before going quiet.
He gasped and wheezed briefly after the drug cocktail was injected into his veins, then died.
Van Hook's execution took place 33 years after he stabbed a man to death in a Cincinnati apartment. He nearly disemboweled the 25-year-old victim, David Self, after the two met at a Downtown Cincinnati gay bar.
Van Hook was the first killer from Hamilton County to be executed in seven years.
Along with prison personnel, 10 people and four members of the press traveled to Lucasville to witness the execution.
It was silent in the witness rooms when Van Hook entered the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. In a white shirt and black track pants, he glanced at those watching before climbing onto the injection table using a small metal stool.
The Associated Press’s Andrew Welsh-Huggins witnessed the execution of Van Hook, who wished peace to the family of his victim, David Self, and recited a Norse prayer as he was put to death.
“There were no signs of obvious distress," Welsh-Huggins said. "His chest rose and fell rapidly, but it was not the extreme up and down high rising and falling that we have seen in the past. He wheezed several times for about a minute, and he sort of puffed his lips in and out and then he went still.”
Van Hook arrived at Lucasville Tuesday morning and spent much of the day talking to his family, friends and attorneys, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith, who provided a timeline of his final 24 hours.
She said prison officials noted he was in good spirits, sometimes laughing and that his conversations were "upbeat."
One of his many visitors was Joe D'Ambrosio who spent 20 years on death row in Ohio for a 1998 Cuyahoga County homicide. He was freed in 2012 after his case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Van Hook received communion Tuesday night as well.
His final dinner: Three double cheeseburgers, three orders of french fries, a whole strawberry cheesecake with whipped cream, a large vanilla milkshake, and grapefruit juice.
He had a restless night only sleeping for about an hour. He mostly stayed in his bed singing and listening to music.
Wednesday morning, he refused breakfast but asked to finish the leftover cheesecake. He was witnessed performing a Buddhist chant with a friend.
About an hour before he was taken to the death chamber, he appeared to be meditating.To read more CLICK HERE
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The 13th Execution of 2018
Texas executed Christopher Young on July 17, 2018 for murdering a store owner during a robbery in 2004, despite calls from some relatives of the victim that his life be spared, reported Reuters.
Young, 34, was put to death by lethal injection at the state’s death chamber in the city of Huntsville for the murder of Hasmukh Patel at his convenience store in San Antonio, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
Young became the 13th U.S. inmate put to death this year, and the 553rd in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state. Prior to Young’s lethal injection, Texas had carried out seven executions so far this year.
Lawyers for Young, who is African-American, filed a last-minute appeal to halt his execution, arguing that race was a factor in the decision this month by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to deny a request to halt the execution.
A U.S. district court judge and an appeals court on Tuesday rejected the petition to spare his life.
Young’s lawyers had noted that the board had recommended clemency in a similar case earlier this year that involved a white death row inmate.
Those arguing for clemency, which was backed by the murder victim’s son, Mitesh Patel, wanted his sentence commuted to life in prison.
In his final statement, Young said: “I want to make sure the Patel family knows I love them like they love me. Make sure the kids in the world know I’m being executed and those kids I’ve been mentoring keep this fight going,” according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Texas contended that Young deserved to die for the killing, which came shortly after he had sexually assaulted and carjacked a woman.
“Young provides no direct evidence that any member of the board acted with racial animus,” Texas said in a legal filing.
Young was the 1,478th person executed in the United States since 1976, the 553rd person executed in Texas, and the 1,303rd person executed by lethal injection.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Matthew T. Mangino
The Youngstown Vindicator
July 15, 2018
When crime rises, the first inclination of lawmakers is punishment. Longer sentences, mandatory minimums and extended periods of supervision all add to the cost of the criminal justice system with little impact on the rate of recidivism.
For politicians, that’s a tough sale to the public. Trying to convince taxpayers that it’s more prudent and cost effective to invest in rehabilitation rather than punishment can cost a lawmaker his job.
Ohio is in a position to proceed with meaningful sentence reform without waiting on politicians to act. A bipartisan coalition of community, law enforcement, faith and business leaders has proposed a ballot measure for November to reduce penalties for nonviolent drug offenders.
Supporters of the “Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation” amendment submitted 730,031 signatures recently to the various county election boards. The Ohio Secretary of State has until July 24 to certify or reject signatures. To qualify for the ballot, 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio registered voters are needed.
The reform initiative comes at a time when Ohio is in the midst of one of the nation’s most lethal periods of drug abuse. Ohio’s drug overdose deaths rose 39 percent – the third-largest increase nationwide – between mid-2016 and mid-2017, according to figures released earlier this year by the federal government.
The state’s opioid crisis continued to explode in the first half of last year, with 5,232 Ohio overdose deaths recorded in the 12 months ending June 30, 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just across the border, Pennsylvania saw the largest increase in overdose deaths during that same period.
The escalation of drug deaths in Ohio was nearly three times the 14.4 percent increase in deaths nationally, which grew to about 67,000 across the U.S., according to government estimates.
In Columbus, Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz said that the more recent estimates are even more grim.
“Compare the first three quarters of 2017 to the first three quarters of 2016,” Ortiz told the Columbus Dispatch. “So, an actual comparison day by day – we’ve already seen a 57 percent increase.”
Fentanyl is what’s mostly spurring the additional deaths, officials said. The synthetic opiate has been cut into the heroin supply and, in some cases, replaced heroin that’s sold on the streets, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Fentanyl is more deadly because it’s about 50 percent stronger than heroin and is being altered to create a more potent fentanyl, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Ohio’s reform initiative is risky. It is a long-term investment when people are looking for an immediate fix. Money saved from those affected by the amendment would be diverted to substance-abuse programs and to crime victims’ services.
Under the drug treatment and rehabilitation amendment, possessing, obtaining or using a drug or drug paraphernalia would be a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine. First and second offenses within a two-year period could only be punished with probation. The amendment would not apply to drug dealers.
Convicted individuals could receive a half-day credit against their sentence for each day of rehabilitative work or programming, up to 25 percent of the total sentence.
An individual on probation for a felony would not be sent to prison for a non-violent violation of probation.
The question facing policy makers: Is public safety better served by incarcerating drug offenders, or would drug treatment and prevention programs be more efficient and effective at curbing drug abuse and promoting public safety?
According to the Justice Policy Institute, studies by the nation’s leading criminal justice research agencies have shown that drug treatment, in concert with other services and programs, is a more cost effective way to deal with drug offenders.
Ohio appears to be on the right track.
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 www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
To visit the column CLICK HERE
Monday, July 16, 2018
Scholars of lynching debate its definition, some even concluding that it is impossible to define, reported the High Country News. One commonly used, but still contested, definition from 1940 listed several necessary conditions: “There must be legal evidence that a person has been killed, and that he met his death illegally at the hands of a group acting under the pretext of service to justice, race, or tradition.” Because definitions are difficult and evidence elusive, the precise number of lynching victims remains unknown. But the death toll hovers somewhere around 5,000.
For many Westerners, the word “lynching” brings to mind the vigilantes and what came to be known as “frontier justice.” The terms play on the long-held mythologies of a violent frontier where the need for justice sometimes preceded an established legal system. In this telling, men banded together to fulfill community obligations, punishing those who transgressed the laws of property (e.g., they stole livestock) or person (e.g., they raped women). White men formed posses and delivered swift justice to the guilty. This storyline goes back to some of the earliest Western historians, such as Hubert Howe Bancroft, who found much to admire in these actions. In his two-volume “Popular Tribunals,” in 1887, Bancroft characterized the San Francisco Vigilance Committees as “virtuous, intelligent, and responsible citizens with coolness and deliberation arresting momentarily the operations of law for the salvation of society.” Lynchings were regarded as exercises of sovereignty, the will of the people — as American as the frontier from which the nation supposedly sprang. Not surprisingly, the reality was more complicated.
Sunday, July 15, 2018
The FBI examined 160 shootings between 2000 and 2013 and found that most of the violence ended when the assailant stopped shooting, committed suicide or fled, reported the Washington Post. Unarmed citizens successfully restrained shooters in 21 of those incidents, according to the FBI. Two attacks stopped when off-duty officers shot and killed the attackers. Five ended in much the way the attack at Louie’s did — when armed civilians, mostly security guards, exchanged fire with the shooters.
In the prominent recent examples, civilians have, as in Oklahoma City, successfully intervened in mass shootings. In November, Stephen Willeford, a former NRA instructor, shot a gunman who killed more than two dozen people inside a Sutherland Springs, Tex., church, hitting the attacker twice. The shooter fled and later shot himself in the head while under chase. And in June, a pastor and volunteer firefighter who had been through active-shooter training killed a carjacker who opened fire inside a Walmart store in Tumwater, Wash. In Oklahoma City two men shot and killed an active shooter outside a restaurant.
But interventions by “Good Samaritans” also have ended in tragedy.
In 2014, husband-and-wife attackers killed two Las Vegas police officersbefore going into a nearby Walmart and firing a shot in the air. Joseph Wilcox, 31, a civilian with a handgun and a concealed-carry permit, pulled his weapon to confront the male shooter, but the man’s wife shot Wilcox in the chest, killing him.
When Prince George’s County police detective Jacai Colson responded to a 2016 attack on a police station in his street clothes, another officer mistook him for a threat and shot him.
“The shot that struck and killed Detective Colson was deliberately aimed at him by another police officer,” the police chief said.
Ronal Serpas, former police chief in New Orleans and Nashville who lived near Tumwater when he was chief of the Washington State Patrol, said such situations raise life-or-death concerns for police officers.
“How is the officer going to discern who is the Good Samaritan and who is not?” Serpas said. “They don’t have placards on the front of their shirts that say ‘I’m the good guy’ or ‘I’m the bad guy.’ ”