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Incarceration rate by age

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Take a look at this:

Incarceration Rate by Age

A clear pattern: in the incarceration steadily rises for older Americans. Why are older Americans so much more likely to be incarcerated?

Answer here. From the link:

. . .  The US started phasing out gasoline lead in 1975, which means that children born after 1975 were exposed to steadily less lead. And the effect was cumulative: the later they were born, the less lead they were exposed to and the less crime they committed when they grew up. However, children born before 1975 were unaffected by all this. They were born in a high-lead era, and since all that matters is exposure during early childhood, the damage had already been done.

In 2013, this means that the statistics show a reduction in crime rates in adults under the age of 40, and the younger the cohort the lower the crime rate. Unsurprisingly, this also means they’re incarcerated at lower rates. The chart above shows this fairly dramatically.

But it also shows that incarceration rates have stayed steady or increased for older men. Those over the age of 40 had their lives ruined by lead when they were children, and the effect was permanent. They’re still committing crimes and being sent to prison at the same rate as ever. It’s hard to explain both these trends—lower prison rates for kids, higher prison rates for the middle-aged—without taking lead into account. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2014 at 11:05 am

Posted in Daily life, Law, Science

Maybe eye-witness testimony should simply not be allowed

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We don’t allow polygraph results in a trial—and polygraphs must be more reliable than this:

Written by LeisureGuy

16 September 2014 at 2:15 pm

Ferguson prosecutor determined that Darren Wilson will walk

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Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post:

What happened in Ferguson, Mo., last month was a tragedy. What’s on course to happen there next month will be a farce.

October is when a grand jury is expected to decide whether to indict the white police officer, Darren Wilson, who killed an unarmed black teenager by firing at least six bullets into him. It’s a good bet the grand jurors won’t charge him, because all signs indicate that the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, doesn’t want them to.

The latest evidence that the fix is in came this week from The Post’s Kimberly Kindy and Carol Leonnig, who discovered that McCulloch’s office has declined so far to recommend any charges to the grand jury. Instead, McCulloch’s prosecutors handling the case are taking the highly unusual course of dumping all evidence on the jurors and leaving them to make sense of it.

McCulloch’s office claims that this is a way to give more authority to the grand jurors, but it looks more like a way to avoid charging Wilson at all — and to use the grand jury as cover for the outrage that will ensue. It is often said that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if a prosecutor asks it to. But the opposite is also true. A grand jury is less likely to deliver an indictment — even a much deserved one — if a prosecutor doesn’t ask for it.

One might give McCulloch the benefit of the doubt, if not for his background. His father was a police officer killed in a shootout with a black suspect, and several of his family members are, or were, police officers. His 23-year record on the job reveals scant interest in prosecuting such cases. During his tenure, there have been at least a dozen fatal shootings by police in his jurisdiction (the roughly 90 municipalities in the county other than St. Louis itself), and probably many more than that, but McCulloch’s office has not prosecuted a single police shooting in all those years. At least four times he presented evidence to a grand jury but — wouldn’t you know it? — didn’t get an indictment.

One of the four: A 2000 case in which a grand jury declined to indict two police officers who had shot two unarmed black men 21 times while they sat in their car behind a Jack in the Box fast-food restaurant. It was a botched drug arrest, and one of the two men killed hadn’t even been a suspect. McCulloch at the time said he agreed with the grand jury’s decision, dismissing complaints of the handling of the case by saying the dead men “were bums.” He refused to release surveillance tapes of the shooting. When those tapes were later released as part of a federal probe, it was discovered that, contrary to what police alleged, the car had not moved before the police began shooting.

McCulloch apparently hasn’t learned from that. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2014 at 9:45 am

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

Unbalanced justice: Prosecutor lets Ray Rice off the hook, goes after single mom

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In The Intercept Andrew Jones notes some oddities in a prosecutor’s view of the criminal-justice system:

From time to time, the American public gets a glaring reminder that the elite play by their own set of rules. A county prosecutor in New Jersey, James McClain, is offering up a prime example: After going easy on NFL player Ray Rice for violently attacking his girlfriend, he’s throwing the book at a single mother of two for having the wrong paperwork on her gun.

The mother, Shaneen Allen, spent 40 days in jail and faces a minimum three-and-a-half year prison sentence. The 28-year-old was arrested last October for not knowing that her legal gun permit in Pennsylvania is not recognized in New Jersey. Allen was pulled over for a traffic stop and could have never mentioned the gun. But Allen was forthright in telling the officer about her weapon. Allen figured she had nothing to hide. She had no criminal record and only purchased the gun to protect her family after being robbed twice in the past.

It seems rational to conclude that her honesty would lead to a quick resolution of the matter and no long-term damage to Allen and her children’s lives. Instead, she was arrested and charged with a felony.

McClain, of Atlantic County, had a chance to end Allen’s nightmare, to show the sort of mercy he showed to Rice on far more violent charges. Allen was eligible for a diversion program for first time offenders, as The Washington Post’s Radley Balko has reported. New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program says that it is “generally” for first-time offenders, with “opportunities for alternatives to the traditional criminal justice process of ordinary prosecution.” But McClain chose not to allow Allen into the program.

Yet McClain granted leniency to Rice, even though New Jersey law says violent offenders should “generally be rejected” from the intervention program in which he was allowed to enroll. “The decision was correct,” McClain’s office said on Tuesday, after a second video surfaced showing the running back striking his romantic partner.

So despite punching and dragging his wife on camera, and despite being generally inappropriate for a diversion program under the advice of state law, Rice was allowed to avoid jail time, aside from being booked and released the same night. And despite being charged with a non-violent offense and being especially appropriate for diversion under state law, Allen spent more than five weeks behind bars and faces felony charges.

I called McClain’s office two weeks ago, days before TMZ obtained the second video, to hear from them about the double standard for Allen and Rice. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2014 at 8:56 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Food for thought: No US Border Patrol has ever been convicted for any killing

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Even though some seem out-and-out murder. Read Andrew Becker’s article “Did he need killing?” at the Center for Investigative Journalism:

EAGLE PASS, Texas – Juan Mendez Jr. thought his life was looking up. At 18, he already had a young son. Another child was on the way.

“Mom, my baby tomorrow is getting her crib,” he boasted to his mother.

His girlfriend, Cristina Pina Rodriguez, overheard what he’d said and laughed. “Oh, Juan. Yeah, right.” She didn’t believe him. He didn’t have any money. He hadn’t had a job in months.

That moment wasn’t long after the high school dropout had walked free from jail here in remote Maverick County, along the U.S.-Mexico border and one of the state’s poorest counties. He’d been locked up for three and a half months, arrested on an outstanding warrant and facing burglary charges. A local district judge had sentenced him to eight years’ probation, a light sentence because it was his first conviction as an adult.

While in jail, Mendez promised in letters to his girlfriend that he would change the hard-partying ways that landed him behind bars. But first, he had to get money for the crib.

Around 7 a.m. Oct. 5, 2010, Mendez woke up his 15-year-old U.S.-born second cousin, Jesse Cazares, who had slept at the Mendez family home. Cazares was supposed to be living with the Mendez family as he was enrolled in high school in Eagle Pass. But he actually spent much of his time across the Rio Grande in the turbulent Mexican border town of Piedras Negras.

On a cool and overcast Tuesday morning nearly four years ago, Mendez dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, jeans and white Nike Shox. In the last few months, he’d put on weight, ballooning to 190 pounds on a 5-foot-8½-inch frame. He had straight black hair, brown eyes, a mustache and a goatee.

Mendez said goodbye to his younger brother Gerardo, who knew they were going to help smuggle marijuana. He’d heard his brother and cousin talking about it the day before, but he didn’t tell anyone.

Mendez hugged and kissed his brother. “If I don’t come back,” he said.

Gerardo did not know what his brother meant on that morning. But the comment, and the hug and kiss goodbye, were prescient. Within hours, Mendez would have a violent confrontation with a U.S. Border Patrol agent, leaving one of them dead.

With Mendez driving, he and his cousin got into in a white utility truck – a 1988 Ford F-350 two-door single cab with blue upholstery and bench seats – registered to a trucking company in San Angelo, more than 200 miles away. The truck had crossed into the United States from Mexico the day before at 2:16 p.m.

Mendez and Cazares fueled up at one gas station and grabbed breakfast at another before they made their way to the northern edge of Eagle Pass. There, they had problems with the truck’s battery, or pretended to, perhaps to stall for time. While driving, Mendez talked on the phone a couple of times.

Mendez then steered down into a grassy valley on the Rio Grande. Once there, five men ran out of the brush and tossed 10 tightly wrapped bundles of marijuana – weighing 320 pounds and valued at $256,000 – into the bed of the truck. The men swept away their tracks with some brush and ran back toward Mexico.

Around 8:30 a.m., Border Patrol Agent Hector Nunez was scanning the banks of the Rio Grande when he saw the white utility truck appear on the screen in front of him. . .

Continue reading.

All eyes are on Gil Kerlikowski. He has little time to make a change, and it needs to be a clear change.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 September 2014 at 12:56 pm

Interesting shift: Prosecutor drops criminal charges because of global warming

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Check out this Democracy Now! program. Their blurb:

Two climate activists were set to go on trial in Massachusetts on Monday for blocking the shipment of 40,000 tons of coal to the Brayton Point power plant, a 51-year-old facility that is one of the region’s largest contributors to greenhouse gases. But in a surprise move, a local prosecutor dropped the criminal charges and reduced three other charges to civil offenses, calling climate change one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. We are joined by the activists, Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, and the prosecutor, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter. Days after they were to square off in court, the three now say they plan to march together in the upcoming People’s Climate March in New York City.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 September 2014 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Global warming, Law

Hah! The NFL did get a copy of the video—3 months ago

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I think they got caught—not only in lying, but in condoning domestic violence if they can possibly cover it up.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 September 2014 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law

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