Monday, January 31, 2022

Banning books on the rise, could limit students’ exposure to great literature

Beware book banning is on the rise. In Wyoming, a county prosecutor’s office considered charges against library employees for stocking books like “Sex Is a Funny Word” and “This Book Is Gay,” reported The New York Times.

In Oklahoma, a bill was introduced in the State Senate that would prohibit public school libraries from keeping books on hand that focus on sexual activity, sexual identity or gender identity.

In Tennessee, the McMinn County Board of Education voted to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” from an eighth-grade module on the Holocaust because of nudity and curse words.

Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. The American Library Association said in a preliminary report that it received an “unprecedented” 330 reports of book challenges, each of which can include multiple books, last fall.

Librarians say that just the threat of having to defend against charges is enough to get many educators to censor themselves by not stocking the books to begin with. Even just the public spectacle of an accusation can be enough.

“It will certainly have a chilling effect,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s office for intellectual freedom. “You live in a community where you’ve been for 28 years, and all of a sudden you might be charged with the crime of pandering obscenity. And you’d hoped to stay in that community forever.”

She said that aggressively policing books for inappropriate content and banning titles could limit students’ exposure to great literature, including towering canonical works.

“If you focus on five passages, you’ve got obscenity,” Ms. Caldwell-Stone said. “If you broaden your view and read the work as a whole, you’ve got Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved.’”

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Police are solving only about 1 in 2 murders

Why are police only solving 1 in 2 murders? Many scholars and police department officials say murders are becoming more difficult to investigate, while some victims’ families say police spend too much energy on things other than solving crimes, reports The Marshall Project.

Philip Cook, a public policy researcher at the University of Chicago Urban Labs, has been studying clearance rates since the 1970s. He cautioned that fewer clearances than in the 1960s and ‘70s may not necessarily be a bad thing. “It also could be that the standards for making an arrest have gone up and some of the tricks they were using in 1965 are no longer available,” Cook said of law enforcement. Every story about a person convicted of murder on shoddy evidence and later exonerated was once counted as a “successful” homicide clearance.

Cook, and other experts, mostly pin the long, steady decline in clearance rates onto the kinds of homicides police are being asked to solve. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that over time, a growing proportion of killings are being committed by strangers and unknown assailants, as opposed to people the victim knew. The data also shows that unknown assailants are increasingly using firearms rather than knives, fists or other close-quarter weapons. As the social and physical distance between killers and victims increases, detectives say they have fewer leads to follow.

But the changes in the nature of homicides — which some criminologists call case mix — are not destiny. Some cities routinely solve two or three times more homicides than others, even after accounting for case mix. Within departments, some detectives solve many more homicides than others.

“That variation tells us something important,” said Charles Wellford, emeritus professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland-College Park. “It says that it's not inevitable that there will be low clearance rates.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Mangino appears on Court TV with Ahsley Willcott

Watch my interview with Ashley Willcott on Court TV examining the preliminary hearing for Darrell Brooks, Jr. who crashed his car into a Wisconsin Christmas parade.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Friday, January 28, 2022

Alabama carries out 2nd execution of the year and the day

 The 2nd Execution of 2022

Matthew Reeves offered no final words and only few movements as his execution was carried out on the evening January 27, 2022at Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama. Reeves as the second execution of 2020 and the second of the day.  An execution in Oklahoma was carried out earlier in the day, according

Reeves was pronounced dead around 9:24 p.m., according to Commissioner John Hamm. His execution began around 9:03 p.m., after a stay was lifted at 7:25 p.m. from the nation’s highest court.

Reeves had no final words, no final meal and no spiritual advisor present for his execution, which took place despite claims that he was intellectually disabled.

As the execution began, Reeves grimaced and rose his head slightly to look at the IV in his arm, before he laid his head back down. Around 9:09 p.m., he closed his eyes, though his abdomen continued moving.

Shortly after that time, a prison official performed a consciousness test which consisted of a hand wave over his face and an arm pinch.

Before 9:15 p.m., Reeves stopped moving.

After Reeves was pronounced dead, Hamm read a statement from the family of Willie Johnson to gathered media witnesses.

“After 26 years, justice has finally been served,” Hamm read from the family’s statement. “Our family can now have some closure.”

Reeves was executed for the murder of Willie Johnson, a man who picked up Reeves and other individuals on the side of the highway in Selma in November of 1996.

“After 26 years, justice has finally been served,” reads Commissioner John Hamm, on behalf of the family of Willie Johnson, following the execution of Matthew Reeves, which took place at

Johnson was later killed by a shotgun blast to the neck after being robbed of $360, according to case evidence.

At a party shortly after Johnson’s death, evidence showed that Reeves, who was 18 at the time, danced and mimicked his death with his blood still on his hands. A witness added that Reeves bragged about getting a “teardrop” tattoo to signify that he’d killed someone at the party.

Reeves’ intellectual disability was at the center of his case in the years since the murder and the reason why initially, his execution was stayed.

The execution was put on hold last week by a federal judge in Alabama, a decision upheld this week by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But the state, represented by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, who ultimately struck it down.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett noted she would deny the state’s petition, while Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Stephen Breyer dissented in the case.

“This Court should have left the matter there, rather than enable Reeves’s execution by lethal injection to go forward,” wrote Kagan.

“Four judges on two courts have decided—after extensive record development, briefing, and argument—that Matthew Reeves’s execution should not proceed as scheduled tonight. The law demands that we give their conclusions deference... But the Court today disregards the well-supported findings made below, consigning Reeves to a method of execution he would not have chosen if properly,” Kagan wrote.

Reeves has cognitive limitations and has the same reading ability as an elementary-school child, Kagan added, citing one expert who testified that Reeves’s “reading comprehension was at the 1st grade level.”

After news that the AG’s Office had appealed to SCOTUS, attorneys for Reeves filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in response.

“The application [by the State of Alabama] barely acknowledges the Court of Appeals’ opinion and is little more than a restatement of the issues already raised and rejected by each court to have considered them,” Reeves’ lawyers wrote in the brief.

Reeves’ lawyers argued he was not competent enough to follow the paperwork handed out to death row inmates in 2018 that allowed them to change their execution method. Reeves’ intellectual disability should disqualify him from being executed, the attorneys argued, as the state did not allow him to choose an untried and less “torturous” method of execution.

That new method of execution mentioned by the attorneys is nitrogen hypoxia, which was approved in 2018 by legislators. Inmates of Alabama’s death row had a chance to sign a form stating which method they would prefer that same year, but Reeves’ lawyers argued he was not allowed able to do so as an intellectually disabled poor reader.

His lawyers added that assistance should’ve been provided under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Reeves’ execution it was the second one of the day - and this year - in the U.S., after the state of Oklahoma executed Donald Grant around 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

To read more CLICK HERE

Oklahoma carries our first execution of 2022

 The 1st Execution of 2022

Donald Grant an Oklahoma death row inmate who had requested execution by firing squad was executed by lethal injection on January 27, 2022, according to CNN.

The execution of Grant "was carried out with zero complications" at 10:16 a.m., state Attorney General John O'Connor said in a statement.

In October 2021 the state resumed executions by lethal injection, after a lengthy hiatus following a botched execution in 2014.

Grant and another death row inmate, Gilbert Postelle, had asked a federal judge to intervene and allow their executions by firing squad rather than lethal injection. The judge denied the preliminary injunction.

Grant's lawyers appealed to the US Supreme Court for a stay, but Justice Brett Kavanaugh denied the application.

Grant was sentenced to death for the 2001 murders of Brenda McElyea and Felecia Suzette Smith, according to court documents filed to the Supreme Court by the Oklahoma attorney general.

"Justice is now served for Brenda McElyea, Felecia Suzette Smith, and the people of Oklahoma," the attorney general said in a statement.

Postelle is scheduled to be executed on February 17.

In their initial petition to the court, lawyers for the two inmates had sought an injunction to stop Oklahoma from using lethal injection to administer the death penalty. Attorneys for the inmates had asked for the executions to be delayed pending a late February trial on the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol.

Testimony submitted by the plaintiffs in court filings from a "board-certified anesthesiologist and a board-certified pain medicine specialist" alleged that execution by firing squad -- not Oklahoma's process of lethal injection -- is appropriate because "firing squad will reliably cause a death that will be quick and virtually painless."

On November 30, 2021, Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 against recommending clemency for Grant. CNN affiliate KOCO reported that during the hearing, Grant's lawyers argued that although their client admitted to a 2001 double murder, he shouldn't be executed because he "is severely mentally ill."

To read more CLICK HERE

Lack of police training oversight is problematic

The lack of oversight of police training is becoming more problematic, reports the Washington Post, as the national push for police reform boosts the opportunities that ex-officers, ex-soldiers and others see in providing in-service education. 

The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training is the closest thing in the United States to a national regulatory group for police training. But its national certification program has certified only about 5 to 10 percent of the law enforcement industry’s available training courses, chief executive Mike Becar said. 

The founder of Street Cop Training — whose programs are accepted by the state of New Jersey — left policing less than a year before his township settled an excessive-force lawsuit against him. Texas and Montana have certified training that is offered by Richard Mack, a former sheriff who has built a reputation pushing back against gun-safety laws and mask requirements and markets himself as “the constitutional sheriff.” This November, a hacked membership list for the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government group that participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, showed that 65 members had worked as law enforcement trainers.

“Because of all the police reform that’s been in the news, a lot of them are seeing where they can make a dollar by offering some kind of training,” Becar said.

The U.S. Justice Department issues tens of millions of dollars in grants annually that police departments can use for training, but the agency leaves it up to regional and local governments to determine what that training should be. Experts say it is inevitable that at least some federal money ends up funding training that emphasizes violence over de-escalation and demonizes social-justice groups. The department declined to comment.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

What happened in Venango County, PA? Murder or self-defense

Tony Norman writes in the Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette:

Let’s take a look at another “mysterious” killing that took place in nearby Venango County in early December.

Peter Bernardo Spencer, 29, of Pittsburgh by way of Kingston, Jamaica, had accepted the invitation of a former co-worker, who happens to be white, to visit him at his cabin on Carls Road in Rockland Township, along the Allegheny River.

At some point between 1 a.m. and 2:26 a.m. on Dec. 12, Mr. Spencer was shot nine times. Four of his gun shot wounds were in his back. He was dead by the time Pa. state troopers arrived to find him face down in front of the cabin.

Four people were taken into custody, including an unidentified 25-year-old who admitted he shot Peter Spencer, but out of “self-defense.” After consultation with the Venango County DA’s office, all four were released pending an investigation.

Can anyone in Pittsburgh of any racial background imagine shooting someone nine times without spending quality time at Allegheny County Jail — maybe even until the trial? Even if only half the number of bullets were used, had it happened here bail would be stratospheric.

Now, imagine if Mr. Spencer, with his dreadlocks and Jamaican accent, had been the shooter and a 25-year-old from Mt. Lebanon had been the victim with four slugs in his back. Would there have been any chance he would still be walking around free more than a month after the event?

The Spencer family hired former Allegheny County Coroner Cyril Wecht to conduct a private autopsy because the Venango County Coroner’s Office has refused to release photos or copies of its official report or internal notes to the family or its investigators.

Dr. Wecht didn’t mince words when the Philadelphia Inquirer asked him to comment on the Venango County DA’s bizarre refusal to cooperate with the family. “My initial thought is that it’s absurd to talk about self-defense with nine gunshot wounds,” he said in what must have been the most deadpan tone he could muster.

Black Political Empowerment Project Chairman Tim Stevens, to his credit, was asking questions early on. B-PEP sent letters demanding an immediate investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Spencer’s death to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the Venango County DA’s office.

Now the case is slowly beginning to attract national interest, so it won’t be long until the Venango County DA’s office is under the same spotlight Jackie Johnson’s office in Georgia found itself under when it did nothing after Ahmaud Arbery was lynched.

The Spencer family has already called what happened to Peter Bernardo Spencer a “modern-day lynching.” Venango County is going to have to do more than hide behind procedural mumbo-jumbo to counter the charge. It needs to become transparent immediately or lose credibility.

If a Black man from the city visits a cabin in rural Pennsylvania, gets shot nine times and the shooter claims self-defense, the family of the victim is owed an explanation. Why are we hearing about Mr. Spencer’s past troubles with the law and nothing about the suspect or the others who were there that night? Drugs and weapons were found at the cabin, but six weeks later no one has been arrested.

Maybe this is simply how things are done in Venango County, but the rest of us aren’t obliged to pretend we’re still living in a time when a small town can bury its secrets. This is not a John Grisham novel.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Officers on the scene of George Floyd murder on trial in federal court

 Ever since the murder of George Floyd almost two years ago on a South Minneapolis street corner, the overwhelming focus of attention from the public and the legal system has been on the police officer who killed him, Derek Chauvin, reported the The New York Times.

Mr. Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder in a state trial last spring for kneeling on the neck of Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes. He also pleaded guilty to federal crimes of violating Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights.

But Mr. Chauvin wasn’t the only police officer there that day. Three others who were on the scene face a trial beginning Monday in a federal courthouse in downtown St. Paul, Minn., accused of willfully failing to intervene against Mr. Chauvin and help Mr. Floyd.

The case is an extraordinarily rare example of federal civil rights charges being filed against rank-and-file officers for not stopping the actions of a superior officer. Several experts say its outcome could have a greater impact on policing than even Mr. Chauvin’s convictions.

That is because the case is about a far more common aspect of police culture than Mr. Chauvin’s brutality: officers who do not intervene in the conduct of fellow officers.

Federal law requires police officers to intervene in the actions of other officers to stop constitutional violations, and courts have affirmed that obligation for decades. At the same time, police departments train officers to move against other officers to stop misconduct. But policing is highly hierarchical, and there is sometimes a stubborn culture of silence among officers when one of their own is accused of wrongdoing. 

 “That is far more common and insidious police misconduct than Chauvin’s extreme act of violence,” said Paul Butler, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a former federal prosecutor. “What these three defendants allegedly did and failed to do reflects police workplace culture that enables criminal acts committed by officers.”

If the three officers are convicted, “It would be an important step in dismantling the blue wall of silence when cops close ranks and refuse to intervene when they see another officer doing wrong,” Mr. Butler said.

Two of the officers on trial were rookies and on their first days on the job when Mr. Floyd, a Black man, was killed: Thomas Lane, 38, who was positioned on Mr. Floyd’s legs during the incident, and J. Alexander Kueng, 28, who was on Mr. Floyd’s back. The third officer, Tou Thao, 36, a veteran officer who was Mr. Chauvin’s partner and has a history of misconduct complaints, held back a crowd of bystanders who were growing distressed and angry over the murder they were witnessing in the fading daylight on Memorial Day 2020.

The term civil rights in this case does not involve race but the violation of Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights to be free of unreasonable seizure and to not be deprived of liberty without due process.

Race was rarely explicitly brought up in the murder trial of Mr. Chauvin, who is white, even as the case inspired the largest racial justice protests in generations and focused the nation’s attention on police brutality against Black people. In the federal trial, one of the defendants, Mr. Kueng, is African American, Mr. Thao is Asian American, and Mr. Lane is white.

Mr. Lane, who twice during the episode asked Mr. Chauvin if they should turn Mr. Floyd on his side, is charged with one count of failing to provide medical aid to Mr. Floyd, a duty that police officers have under the law. Mr. Kueng and Mr. Thao face the same charge, plus a count of failing to intervene with Mr. Chauvin’s use of force.

The case is “important because it centers the discussion on what do other people have a duty to do,” said Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor who is a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul, Minn. “To step up and not defer to wrongdoers. And that’s a central discussion in policing right now.”

Defense lawyers for Mr. Kueng and Mr. Lane, the two rookies, are expected to place the blame on Mr. Chauvin and argue that they were following the lead of their senior officer. Mr. Thao’s lawyer is likely to argue that his client was too busy dealing with the crowd to know what exactly was happening to Mr. Floyd, according to legal experts. All three still face charges in state court of aiding and abetting murder, in a trial scheduled for June.

To make their case, prosecutors will have to prove willfulness, a high standard under the law that implies some form of intent. In the past, federal prosecutors have been reluctant to bring these types of cases because of the difficulty proving willfulness.

“The basic idea is that the officer has to know he is doing something wrong,” said Rachel Harmon, a former prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division who now teaches at the University of Virginia School of Law. “Doing something with the intent to do something that the law forbids. He doesn’t have to be thinking specifically in constitutional terms.”

For decades, courts have recognized that police officers have a duty to intervene against other officers. Following the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, departments, including in Minneapolis, have trained recruits to move against fellow officers when they see misconduct.

But federal criminal cases — either against officers who used deadly force or those who stood by and watched — have been rare. Underscoring the difficulty of proving willfulness, the Justice Department has declined to bring charges in some of the highest-profile police killings in recent memory, including over the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

At the state level, officers have also rarely been held to account for standing by when another police officer uses unlawful, deadly force. In the case of the police murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago in 2014, the officer who shot him, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of murder. But three other officers were acquitted on charges of lying about the shooting to protect Mr. Van Dyke.

One of the extraordinary aspects of Mr. Chauvin’s state trial was the number of officers who took the witness stand to disavow the actions of their former colleague. “To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy,” said the Minneapolis police chief at the time, Medaria Arradondo, from the witness stand.

And outside the courtroom, law enforcement officials around the country cheered the convictions.

This time could be different. While prosecutors are expected to call officers to the stand to testify about the training the officers had on what to do when they see another officer using excessive force, the wider law enforcement community may have more sympathy for the three officers than they had for Mr. Chauvin, said lawyers who have been involved in legal cases against officers.

“Every cop out there is going to see themselves in their position,” said John Marti, a former federal prosecutor in Minnesota. “They are going to remember back to the day when they were a young officer and they had the old bulls running around probably using heavy-handed force. And they are going to remember that day and think to themselves, ‘There’s no way I would have stood up to my training officer.’”

Mr. Chauvin, for his part, will loom over the proceedings. When nearly 300 prospective jurors arrived at the federal courthouse here Thursday morning, one of the first things the judge told them is to disregard anything they heard about Mr. Chauvin’s crimes. 

“The crimes that Mr. Chauvin pleaded guilty to are totally separate to those at issue here,” said Judge Paul A. Magnuson, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

A jury of 18 people — 12 regulars and six alternates — was selected in one day last week, a sharp contrast to the nearly two weeks it took to pick a jury in Mr. Chauvin’s state murder trial. The panel in this case is overwhelmingly white, partly a reflection that in federal cases courts can call jurors from across the state, including from areas that are whiter and more conservative than the Minneapolis metro area.

Experts say it is only a remote possibility that Mr. Chauvin is called to testify, although in his plea agreement he acknowledged that he was “aided and abetted” by his fellow officers, and that he had never threatened them to “disregard or fail to comply” with department policies.

“You don’t want to have John Gotti cooperating against his soldiers,” Mr. Marti said. “You want his soldiers cooperating against John Gotti. You want to cooperate up, you don’t want to cooperate down.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, January 24, 2022

Mangino discusses Ghislaine Maxwell on Court TV

Watch my interview with Ashely Willcott on Court TV discussing the new developments in the Ghislaine Maxwell case.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Former president fights New York Attorney General subpoena

An empire under scrutiny. The New York State attorney general is currently conducting a civil investigation into former president Donald Trump’s business practices. Here’s what to know:

The origins of the inquiry. The investigation started after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress that Mr. Trump and his employees had manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.

The findings. Ms. James detailed in a recent filing what she said was a pattern by the Trump Organization to inflate the value of the company’s properties in documents filed with lenders, insurers and the Internal Revenue Service.

The potential impact. Because the investigation is civil, the attorney general cannot file criminal charges and would have to sue Mr. Trump. Ms. James could seek financial penalties and try to shut down certain aspects of Mr. Trump’s business.

Mr. Trump’s response. Mr. Trump has filed a lawsuit against Letitia James, the New York attorney general, seeking to halt the inquiry. The suit argues that the attorney general’s involvement in the inquiry was politically motivated.

Subpoena requests. The attorney general has subpoenaed Mr. Trump, and is also seeking to question Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, two of his children, as part of the inquiry. Eric Trump, another of Mr. Trump’s sons, was questioned in 2020.

As reported by The New York Times.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Former mayor takes on Philly DA over remarks

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter wrote recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer

District Attorney Larry Krasner’s recent remarks about whether we are experiencing a crime crisis are some of the worst, most ignorant, and most insulting comments I have ever heard spoken by an elected official.

At a Monday press briefing, Krasner told reporters: “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence.”

It takes a certain audacity of ignorance and white privilege to say that right now. As of Monday night, 521 people, souls, spirits have been vanquished, eliminated, murdered in our City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, the most since 1960. I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of white wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, many of them Black and brown, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney.

I’d like to ask Krasner: How many more Black and brown people, and others, would have to be gunned down in our streets daily to meet your definition of a “crisis”? How many more children and teens have to die in record numbers to capture your attention, and be considered a “crisis”? How many more moms, dads, spouses, and friends need to shed tears over the loss of a loved one for you to call it a “crisis”?

Words matter. Words impact, and trigger, and hurt. Words mean something from elected officials. Krasner should publicly apologize to the 521 families of dead victims and the thousands of those maimed by gun wounds this year. He has ignored the pain of the living and insulted the memory of the dead.

Krasner should also use his words to send a message to the shooters, murderers, and criminals of this city by committing to actually prosecute them, rather than coddle them, make excuses, reduce or drop charges. He should commit to locking them up for carrying illegal weapons or shooting people.

If Krasner does not have the fortitude or the guts to carry out those duties, he should resign and turn things over to someone who is not trying to sell Philadelphians on the false choice of having either public safety or police reform.

Philadelphians can have — and deserve — both.

I know it is possible because when I was mayor, we laid the foundation for this work.

In 2013, Philadelphia experienced the lowest number of homicides since 1968. We reduced the prison population by about 2,000 people. We reduced the number of police officer-involved shootings. The Philadelphia Police Department became accredited for the first time in history. We weren’t perfect. As mayor, I made plenty of mistakes — but I didn’t blame the press or Harrisburg. The people of Philadelphia knew that I cared about their safety and that I was working to stop abuses within the Police Department.

But under Krasner’s anti-police narrative, most of that work has been reversed. Krasner portrays himself as the Great White Hope for Philadelphia’s Black and brown communities, but if he actually cared about us, he’d understand that the homicide crisis is what is plaguing us the most.

As an older Black man from West Philly, I know that many Black people are not actually against the police. We’re just against the police who brutalize us. Many of us respect the police, appreciate the good work of so many who risk their lives every day to deal with some of the most dangerous and difficult people in this city in a professional and sensitive manner.

Growing up in West Philly in the 1960s and ‘70s, I saw the good and bad of police and community relations. But at the end of the day, there are only two things that really matter:

First: When something goes down, people call 911 and expect a professionally trained police officer to show up, treat them with dignity and respect, and handle the issue.

Second: People want to be able to safely walk down the street, have their children play outside or go to school, be able to go to the supermarket, or church, or synagogue, or mosque in safety and peace.

As someone who has lived the experience of a Black man in Philadelphia and worked at the highest level of city government, I see that police and judges are trying to keep Philadelphians safe, but Krasner is not. No matter what he says, this city is experiencing a crisis of violence and murder. If he can’t see that, he is unfit to serve the residents of Philadelphia.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, January 21, 2022

Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we discuss the 19-year-old girl working at Burger King who was gunned down in cold blood in New York City.

To listen to the show CLICK HERE 

Dent: Philadelphia had more murders than New York City a city five times larger

Former Congressman Charlie Dent writes at

To watch a local Philadelphia evening news broadcast a few days before Christmas was a thoroughly depressing experience — there was the carjacking of a US congresswoman at gunpoint in south Philadelphia, a dangerous high-speed chase through narrow city streets and a police officer who was shot twice in the shoulder while responding to a robbery. With two 20-something children and a niece living in Philadelphia, I closely monitor the latest developments. The fear is palpable, and many residents are much more alert to the lurking dangers throughout the city.

During the last six weeks of 2021, my son, who is a student at Temple University, was shaken down for money by three robbers at a north Philly gas station. My daughter, a fourth-year medical student at Thomas Jefferson University who spends a significant amount of time working at medical clinics serving indigent residents, was assaulted by a deranged woman within the shadow of City Hall. My niece, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, lives in a West Philly neighborhood where there have been numerous carjackings.

And that's just my family. Thankfully, all three are fine and going about their studies.

The same cannot be said of the 559 murder victims in Philadelphia last year. That's the most recorded murders in the city since it started keeping records in the 1960s. One such murder was of my son's fellow Temple classmate, Samuel Sean Collington, who was shot during an attempted carjacking after the Thanksgiving break. The suspect is a 17-year-old who was arrested and charged in August in connection with violent crime including armed robbery. He was released when the victim failed to appear for a pretrial hearing.

Philadelphia had more murders in 2021 than New York City -- a city over five times larger than the City of Brotherly Love. One would think such a sobering, horrifying reality would cause local elected officials to respond forcefully to a carnage of this magnitude. Instead, liberal Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner responded in December, saying while gun violence had risen, other violent crime had not -- or to quote him directly: "We don't have a crisis of lawlessness. We don't have a crisis of crime. We don't have a crisis of violence."

And though Krasner later said that "message conveyed through media sound bites is not at all what I meant" and that he did not mean to diminish the pain of the families who had been victims of gun violence, it was too late.

He had offended virtually everyone who possesses functional eyes and ears. One such person so appalled by this monumentally tone-deaf statement was former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, an effective Democratic leader with a strong record on public safety who presided over the city during a period of relative prosperity.

In a scathing op-ed, Nutter excoriated Krasner with lines like these: "audacity of ignorance and white privilege...I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of White wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, many of them Black and brown, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney." Nutter added, "he [Krasner] has ignored the pain of the living and insulted the memory of the dead."

The Nutter-Krasner battle reflects a growing rift within the Democratic Party over public safety. A vocal element within the Democratic Party that advocated for defunding the police in 2020 has run into resistance from sensible Democrats who reject Krasner and other DAs of his ilk around the country.

It's about time. With Democrats in a defensive position for the upcoming congressional 2022 midterm election, crime and urban lawlessness will be used as a wedge issue by the GOP against them, just as they did with success in 2020.

 To be fair, homicide rates have surged nationally, including in areas where Republicans have governing responsibilities. Further, the January 6 insurrection -- and the Republicans who have attempted to whitewash what happened on that terrible day -- has tarnished the GOP's image as the tough on crime party of law enforcement.

Nevertheless, Democrats will remain more vulnerable on the issue given their overwhelming control of big cities throughout the country where liberal district attorneys and social justice Democrats have an outsized voice and influence.

The bottom line is that elected officials in major urban centers must address the homicide wave occurring on their watch. Indulging those extreme voices who argue for defunding the police and making law enforcement out as villains must end. It's time to get serious about what is happening on the streets.

Democratic mayors, councilmen and district attorneys have the power to course correct if they have the courage and political will to do so. If they don't, Democrats will pay a price at the polls across the country as voters, who too often see horrifying local news segments full of upsetting criminal activity, will reject the party they believe bears responsibility for the decline in public safety. 

Politicians who can speak effectively to the menacing crime problem will do so by advancing public safety measures to refund the police, end no cash bail, raise penalties for smash and grab robberies, deploy more police in high crime areas, reinstate community policing, expand crime victim services and enforce quality of life crimes.

Above all, the mission of law enforcement and the men and women who serve must be supported by local elected officials.

In too many communities across America, police officers don't believe they have, or can count on, support from their elected leaders, which is damaging morale and depleting police forces. And this is only compounded by police forces facing backlogs, as they struggle to solve the number of open cases they currently have on their dockets.

The political costs of a rise in violent crime, like homicide, will be born most heavily by House Democrats in competitive districts. Rep. Abigail Spanberger told her House Democratic colleagues shortly after the 2020 midterm election in which she narrowly won re-election that "defund the police" rhetoric nearly cost her the Virginia seat she holds.

What's worse than the political costs are the impacts on the lives of our fellow citizens who fear for their safety in their homes and neighborhoods. Crime drives residents who can afford to leave their homes, leaving behind more vulnerable people with more limited incomes. Poverty becomes more pervasive as disinvestment saps the strength of those left behind.

To get a real feel for the plight of people impacted by violent crime, attend a neighborhood crime watch or civic association meeting where elderly homeowners will provide an unvarnished assessment of conditions on the street. Trust me, they won't hold back.

It's long past time to hear these good people out, address their concerns and help them reclaim their neighborhoods. They deserve to live free from fear and rightfully expect their government to help.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Utah has bipartisan support for abolishing the death penalty

 A push to repeal the death penalty in Utah, once a bedrock of conservative support for capital punishment, has garnered unlikely bipartisan support, writes David Dudley for The Crime Report.

Utah Rep. Lowry Snow, a Republican, voted twice against bids to repeal the death penalty in Utah in the past. Now, he’s the chief sponsor of HB 147, which seeks to prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty for aggravated murder committed after May 4, 2022.

Instead, the current draft of the bill includes a possible sentence of 45 years-to-life for aggravated murder.

He’s partnered with Sharon Wright Weeks, who started as a forceful advocate of the death penalty after her sister was killed—but has since shifted position.

Their combined efforts could result in a repeal during this year’s Utah legislative session, which runs Jan. 18 to March 4, 2022.

With support from two groups who are often in opposition to one another, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Libertas Institute, as well as a growing number of state and municipal officials, Weeks and Snow said they feel like they’ve got a fighting chance.

And they’re not alone.

Losing Faith in the Justice System

Weeks’ 24-year-old sister, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15-month-old niece, Erica, were brutally murdered in American Fork, Utah in 1984.

The men who killed them, Ron and Dan Lafferty, were the brothers of Brenda’s husband, Allen. The Laffertys were members of a fundamentalist sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ron Lafferty said he received a message from God, ordering him to kill the woman and her daughter, along with three others.

Weeks told The Crime Report that she relived the pain of those horrific events throughout the trial that followed.

“But I felt a sense of relief when Dan Lafferty received two consecutive life sentences, and Ron Lafferty was sentenced to death,” she said.

In 1991, Ron Lafferty’s verdict was overturned by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. That was the beginning of a 30-year battle to see justice served, as Lafferty appealed numerous times, claiming that he wasn’t competent to stand trial.

Weeks said that she’s felt shackled to “them” ― the term she uses to refer to the Lafferty brothers ― while waiting for Ron Lafferty to be executed by the State of Utah.

“Every time he appealed, the media dragged out the details of my sister’s murder,” Weeks said. “And every time that happens, I have to live through the murders, and my family’s pain, again.”

Weeks said that she felt no sense of justice after Lafferty died in prison of natural causes in 2019.

“I don’t think the state does it on purpose,” she said. “Utah’s system is broken. And it needs to be replaced with something that works.”

‘That’s God’s Work’

Rep. Snow told The Crime Report that he met with Weeks in 2017. He didn’t know who she was.

“But as she told me her story, I was moved,” Snow said. “I’d never thought about that side of the story.”

As Snow looked into how many people were on death row in Utah, and the number of years that they’d spent there waiting to be executed, he said he realized that something had gone awry.

“I became even more suspicious when I learned that there were an increasing number of inmates on death row who were being exonerated,” he said.

“That’s when my thinking on the subject began to change. The promise of justice is made in good faith, but it was clearly failing in some cases.”

Snow said that, at the time, 18 people had been exonerated in Utah, including one for murder.

The idea that someone could sit on death row for an indefinite amount of time, and that some were executed despite being innocent, were deeply troubling to Snow.

“In some cases, we ask juries to impose the death sentence upon people,” he said.

“But sometimes there’s insufficient evidence. Sometimes there’s misconduct on the behalf of prosecutors or police.”

That a citizen can be deprived of the highest right society bestows upon its citizenry, the right of life, in such uncertain circumstances, Snow said, is unacceptable.

“Whether in the womb or in the world, I’m pro-life,” he said. “I don’t think we have the right to decide another person’s life in such imperfect circumstances. That’s God’s work. Only God gets to do that.”

Utah Fits the Profile

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, said that Utah fits the profile of a traditionally conservative state that may be ripe for a change.

Dunham cited a Gallup Poll released in November, which showed a decline in nationwide support for the death penalty.

“It also showed that the number of conservatives who no longer support capital punishment is increasing,” Dunham told The Crime Report.

“The poll shows that 27 percent of conservatives are now against capital punishment, a significant shift in support.”

One of the reasons for the shift, Dunham said, is that Americans are relatively uninformed about the death penalty.

“The more they learn,” he said, “the more they are against it. And this can inform policy decisions in various ways.”

The death penalty may not make sense fiscally, Dunham said, because “statistically speaking, inmates like Ron Lafferty are more likely to die while on death row than to be executed.”

According to a 2017 study done by Torin McFarland, each death penalty inmate costs approximately “$1.12 million (2015 USD) more than a general population inmate.”

There are seven men on death row in Utah right now. Collectively, they’ve served more than 200 years, costing tax-payers millions. That number increases exponentially “as appeals processes drag on, and the state pays costs associated with trial, prosecution and incarceration,” Dunham said.

The death penalty may not be a deterrent to violent crime. “Murder rates hold steady in states that have the death penalty,” Dunham said.

“Those states that have abolished the death penalty did not see increases in the murder rate. If the death penalty was a deterrent, we would see those rates trend upward, and above the national average.”

The homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 percent to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty, according to this study, which compares data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

Weeks’ experience is common amongst victims’ families, Dunham said.

“Weeks has been shackled to Ron Lafferty for 35 years,” Dunham said, “as he went through two trials and a number of appeals.”

By the time it reached the appellate, the trial was no longer about the murder, it was about Lafferty’s mental state.

“That can feel very demeaning to victims’ families,” Dunham said. “They’re reliving these crimes. They’re hanging on to anger, which fuels a need for vengeance. So, it’s bad for our emotional health as these cases drag on for years and decades.”

“I can’t say it will happen,” Dunham concluded, “but Utah definitely fits the profile of conservative states that have turned the corner on the death penalty.”

Who’s on Board?

Republican Sen. Dan McCay will sponsor the bill in the Utah Senate, where in 2016 a bid to repeal the death penalty (SB 189) was approved by a vote of 15-13. It ultimately failed in the House that year.

Abolishing the death penalty is gaining momentum in communities around Utah. At least four other county attorneys have publicly endorsed Snow’s bill.

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced in September that he will no longer seek the death penalty, according to a report by The Salt Lake Tribune, because the “costs far outweigh its benefits to the community as a whole.”

Likewise, Utah County Commissioners voted 2-1 in October to pass a resolution urging state lawmakers to do away with the death penalty.

Another Utah Senator, Republican Don Ipson, said that, while he believes the death penalty as it stands is broken, he doesn’t want to “take tools out of the prosecutor’s toolbox.”

So, he will vote against the bill when it reaches the senate floor.

“We can’t continue to keep people on death row for 30-plus years, while they go through endless rounds of appeals,” said Ipson, who was Chair of the Utah House Committee of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice in 2016, when the last bid to repeal the death penalty stalled in the House.

Though he opposes the bill in favor of revising the death penalty, Ipson expects Snow to be well prepared.

“And it would be wise for everyone to listen to him before casting their vote,” Ipson said.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Pittsburgh considers policy that documents 'stop and frisk' encounters

 Pittsburgh City Council is considering a measure that would require city police to document why they are stopping and searching a pedestrian before they do so, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The measure, introduced Tuesday by Councilman Ricky Burgess, would require officers to use a body-worn camera or vehicle-mounted recording device to document their reasonable suspicion for initiating a “stop-and-frisk” of a pedestrian.

Stop-and-frisk refers to incidents where police stop, search or detain a pedestrian without a warrant.

“The police officers stop-and-frisk disproportionately African Americans,” Burgess said. “Close to 70% of those encounters are with Black people. It creates an atmosphere of intimidation.”

This legislation, he said, would reduce racial profiling in such stops, as officers would have to document a clear reason for initiating the stop.

If the stop-and-frisk does not result in an arrest, the officer would be required to provide the pedestrian with documentation explaining the reasonable suspicion that led to the stop. There will be exceptions to this requirement if “officer safety or confidential requirements” would prevent officers from sharing the information.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

SCOTUS adds three criminal cases to April docket

The Supreme Court on added three criminal cases to its docket, reported Jurist. Each of the three cases are likely to be argued in the court’s April argument session.

Vega v. Tekoh addresses whether an officer can be sued for failing to provide Miranda warnings. The Ninth Circuit issued a 5-4 decision, finding that officers can face civil penalties for failing to advise a suspect of their right to silence and legal counsel.

Nance v. Ward raises the issue of whether a prisoner can be executed by means that are not authorized by statute when the authorized means of execution, lethal injection, is potentially unconstitutional. Prisoner and petitioner Michael Nance has severely compromised veins and other underlying conditions that could make the injection immensely painful and risky. In such a challenge, the prisoner must choose an alternative method that is feasible and available. Lethal injection is the only method of execution authorized in the state of Georgia.

Finally, Shoop v. Twyford concerns the interplay of the All Writs Act and a habeas statute in determining whether a prisoner is entitled to hospital transport to receive a brain scan that the prisoner believes is relevant to their habeas case.

To read more CLICK HERE

Murder continues to spike nationwide


In 2020, murders in the United States spiked more than 27 percent — the largest percentage increase in at least six decades. Last year, murders went up again. 

From 1991 to 2014, America’s murder rate plummeted by more than half, reported The New York Times. Experts still don’t agree on why that happened. Among the many possibilities: mass incarceration, changes in policing, reduced exposure to lead and video games keeping more young men occupied.

But the murder rate last year was higher than at any point since 1996, based on data from large U.S. cities collected by the crime analyst Jeff Asher.

While experts are also divided on why murders spiked in 2020 and 2021, there are three broad explanations they typically point to:

The pandemic. Covid disrupted every aspect of life in the past two years. Social services and supports that help keep crime down vanished overnight. Schools could no longer keep unruly teens safe and distracted. A broader sense of disorder and chaos could have fueled a so-called moral holiday, in which people disregard laws and norms.

A weakness for this theory is timing: The murder spike took off in May and June 2020, months after Covid began to spread in the U.S. Other countries didn’t experience similar spikes during the pandemic.

But that doesn’t rule out the pandemic’s role. There could have been something specific to America’s pandemic response that led to more deadly violence, which could have taken months to emerge.

Changes in policing. The fallout from the 2020 racial justice protests and riots could have contributed to the murder spike. Police officers, scared of being caught in the next viral video, may have pulled back on proactive anti-violence practices. More of the public lost confidence in the police, possibly reducing the kind of cooperation needed to prevent murders. In extreme circumstances, the lack of confidence in the police could have led some people to take the law into their own hands — in acts of street or vigilante violence.

The timing supports this theory, with homicides rising unusually quickly shortly after George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing protests. Killings also spiked in 2015 and 2016, after protests over policing during those years.

More guns. Americans bought many more guns in 2020 and 2021 than they did in previous years. The guns purchased in 2020 also seemed to be used in crime more quickly than firearms bought in previous years. And Americans seemed more likely to carry guns illegally in 2020. In short: Americans had more guns, and were possibly more likely to carry and use them.

Research generally shows that where there are more guns, there is more gun violence.

These three factors could have also played into each other. The pandemic might have driven more people to violence, but the police might have been able to prevent at least some of that violence if they had remained proactive or had worked better with the public. Without so many guns, what violence did occur could have ended up less deadly.

To read more CLICK HERE