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I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Could this be an answer to recidivism


State seeks to give real 2nd chance to inmates
Training, counseling offer key to new life

By Rex W. Huppke
Tribune staff reporter

November 27, 2005

SHERIDAN, Ill. -- Dontae Jones grew up in love with the streets, hooked on the adrenaline rush of slinging drugs on Uptown corners, dodging cops and growing the stack of bills stuffed in his hip pocket.

Now he sits through hours of drug and behavioral counseling and learns the mundane ins and outs of manufacturing metal springs, part of a grand experiment behind the concertina wire-topped fence of the medium-security Sheridan Correctional Center.

A prison tucked amid the farms and miles-long fields of central Illinois seems an unlikely place for a street hustler to find freedom. But Jones, serving the fourth prison term of his 28 years, has this to say: "I've spent so many years in a prison that's been self-imposed. This is the first time I'm actually free. I'm finding my way out."

Unlike most prisons, Sheridan immerses its 900 inmates in an environment tightly focused on education, beating addictions and learning the skills needed to find and keep a job. From sunup to sundown, inmates are engaged. Classes and counseling sessions are mandatory, and there's no such thing as a day off.

Once prisoners are released, they continue to receive counseling and job placement assistance in the Chicago communities they return to, a sizable departure from the traditional monitoring by a parole agent.

State officials hope the program will become a national model for prison reform.

Once a shuttered state penitentiary, Sheridan reopened last year as a laboratory designed to cut back on a statistic plaguing America's prisons: Two-thirds of the more than 600,000 ex-convicts released this year will be re-arrested within three years, and about half will return to prison for a new crime or parole violation.

"They're going to get out," Warden Michael Rothwell says of the thousands of inmates leaving Illinois prisons this year, more than 20,000 of whom will return to Chicago. "The question becomes: What do we do with them? Do we do nothing? Or do we do something to help them?"

Only in recent years has the nation's political climate allowed for questions like Rothwell's to be taken seriously. Since the 1970s, the country's tough-on-crime attitude has led to the widespread removal of prison treatment and educational programs, spurred by the belief that only hard time teaches criminals to straighten up.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been a driving force behind the Sheridan initiative, which was launched last year with a nearly $30 million annual budget. It was one of the strongest indicators yet that states, strapped by the $60 billion annual cost of overflowing prisons, were ready to change their philosophy on incarceration.

Experts agree the program, which opened in January, is too young to evaluate fully. But so far, about 13 percent of parolees released from Sheridan have returned to prison, compared with 25 percent of inmates from other state facilities--a nearly 50 percent reduction in recidivism.

`It's incredibly promising'

"We have a long way to go," said Deanne Benos, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. "But it's incredibly promising."

Inmates at Sheridan live in what's called a "therapeutic community," which revolves around accepting responsibility for bad decisions and altering the mindset of men whose drug or alcohol problems have led them into criminal lifestyles.

Rather than lock them down, Sheridan requires inmates to start the day early with a meeting in their housing unit, followed by three hours of group sessions ranging from anger management to overcoming drug or alcohol abuse. In the afternoon, they spend another three hours either taking classes or working on vocational skills that will help them find work upon release.

All the inmates at the facility volunteered for the program, and there's a waiting list at other prisons for men who hope to transfer. The enthusiasm is not because life at Sheridan is easy.

Inmates must have both feet on the floor when seated, wear their shirts tucked in and greet others with "good morning" or "good afternoon." If someone doesn't want to attend classes or group sessions, they're sent back to a regular facility.

"We are continually holding people accountable for their actions," Rothwell said. "We teach responsibility."

On a recent afternoon, Jones is standing in front of a broad steel machine that bends wire into taut springs. A textbook titled "Machine Tool Technology" sits open on a nearby chair.

He and several other inmates are learning this trade. It's a Chicago-area industry with an aging workforce in need of new employees. They all hope for steady work once they get out.

The building echoes with the sounds of pounding hammers, buzzing circular saws and the whir of drill presses. Several inmates kneel atop two wooden sheds, learning roofing skills, while others sweat inside the sheds as they run electrical wiring or hone carpentry techniques.

"We're teaching them practical skills--skills they can actually use to find work once they're out," the warden said. "This is not just work to keep them occupied."

Since 2000, Jones has been out of prison only about 11 months. He says his previous stays behind bars did nothing but teach him to be a better criminal.

"This is the first time I've had a chance to look at me," Jones said, carefully punching specifications into the spring machine's computer. "Most people are the way they are because it's all they know. I think a person, given the right circumstances, can succeed."

The Safer Foundation in Chicago handles Sheridan's job readiness program and helps ex-offenders find jobs once they get out. In October, according to the Corrections Department, 48 percent of Sheridan's work-eligible parolees had jobs, compared with 38 percent of parolees from other institutions.

Still, many questions surround the Sheridan experiment. How can the program be expanded to affect more than a sliver of the state's prison population? If inmates are required to go through such a program, rather than volunteering for it, can it still be effective?

There are also economic issues.

$28,151 per year

The cost of keeping an inmate at Sheridan is $28,151 per year. Housing the same inmate at another medium-security state facility would cost $17,429. Sheridan proponents say widespread application of the program would require more money upfront, but they say the investment would pay off by reducing crime and recidivism.

"Over the long term," Benos said, "we believe this investment will ultimately save money for the state and allow the state to invest more money on the prevention side."

Some worry too much money is being spent on a small population of inmates, taking funds away from systemwide prison programs.

Sheridan houses only a fraction of the state's prisoners, said Buddy Maupin, regional director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, the union that represents corrections officers in Illinois. "There are another 42,000 inmates at facilities across the state that don't have any programming to speak of."

Others say the aftercare component of the program--in which ex-offenders receive counseling and support once released into the community--isn't working the way it should.

Rashad Walker went through Sheridan this year and was convinced the program was just what he needed to turn his life around. But when he got out, the help he'd been promised wasn't there.

He moved back in with his father on the South Side. After a couple months, Walker said, he'd been unable to get into drug treatment or find a job.

"It started getting real rough for me, it started getting real frustrating," he said. "I knew that in just a matter of days I was going to relapse and start using again. I didn't know what else to do."

So he got on a bus and went to his brother's home in Madison, Wis., violating his parole. He was eventually caught and returned to a regular prison in Illinois. He was released again Aug. 22, this time without parole restrictions, and lives with his brother in Madison and has a steady job.

Falling through the cracks

"I'd say the in-prison component is working pretty well," said Jodina Hicks, vice president of public policy and community partnerships for the Safer Foundation. "But the community aspect still has a lot of bumps to manage."

Benos acknowledges some Sheridan parolees like Walker have fallen through the cracks.

"We are experiencing growing pains," she said. "There's no silver bullet for solving all crime or reforming the entire prison system in one shot."

Maurice Jefferson, who grew up on the West Side and went to prison four times on drug-related charges, believes the Sheridan program, or something like it, is exactly what's needed to keep people like him from committing another crime.

"My other times in prison, you had no treatment at all," said Jefferson, 38. "It was just about doing time. I'd try to go straight when I got out, last a few months, then go back to doing my thing. When I left Sheridan, I felt like I really had a chance."

The program helped him beat his crack cocaine addiction. When he got out in January, he moved into a transitional housing center in south suburban Alsip, started doing some work as a plumber and then found a steady job as an inventory clerk, all while staying clean and reconnecting with his family.

At first, he said he still felt the pull of the streets, but the skills he picked up at Sheridan helped him resist temptation.

"It can be difficult, but if you make your meetings and stay around the right people, those thoughts fade away," Jefferson said. "This whole experience is something new to me."


Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Commutation Dilemma

The Christian Science Monitor -

from the November 29, 2005 edition -

Death row: Does personal reform count?
A clemency request in California revives the debate over rehabilitation's role.

By Daniel B. Wood | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

LOS ANGELES - Exactly 229 death-row inmates have been granted clemency since the United States reinstated capital punishment in 1976, and the list of reasons is short. The 16 governors who have given such pardons cited just three reasons: lingering doubt about guilt, a governor's own philosophical opposition to the death penalty, and mental disability of the accused.

Starkly absent from the list - notable because of a high-profile clemency request now pending in California - is character reform of the guilty. As in the 2000 Texas case of convicted murderer Karla Faye Tucker, who experienced a death-row religious conversion and became a model inmate, the case of Stanley "Tookie" Williams is reviving the debate over rehabilitation and its role in the US penal system.

Mr. Williams, cofounder of the notorious L.A. street gang the Crips and a four-time murderer, has been in prison since 1981. Since then, he has become an antigang crusader whose work earned him several Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

His appeal for clemency on the claim of personal redemption poses a personal, political, and philosophical dilemma for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who must decide before Dec. 13 whether Williams will live or die. Like governors before him, notably George W. Bush of Texas, who proclaimed one such decision "the most agonizing part of being governor," Mr. Schwarzenegger is finding that clemency cases can ignite intense passions - and often leave large blocs of voters feeling aggrieved, no matter how the decision comes down.

A high-profile clemency decision also immediately confronts Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D). He has denied such petitions from 11 other death-row prisoners, but activists working on behalf of Robin Lovitt say the fact that DNA evidence in his case was improperly destroyed - and might have exonerated him - is enough to merit a commutation to a life sentence. If the execution proceeds as scheduled Wednesday, Mr. Lovitt would become the 1,000th person to die under death-penalty laws since 1976.

Grants of clemency have declined in the past 25 years, with about 1,000 death-row inmates having sought it and 229 receiving it. Of those, 167 came from one governor in one act in 2000: former Gov. George Ryan of Illinois, who called the death-penalty system in his state "arbitrary and capricious and therefore immoral." His action has since been excoriated by victims' families and lawmakers, even as it is lauded by death-penalty opponents.

"We as a country have been dramatically changing our notions about clemency and the death penalty in the past half decade," says Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment and analyzes death-penalty trends. After two decades of meting out death sentences at a steady rate of about 300 a year, the nation has seen that number fall by one-third since 2000.

Much of that shift can be attributed to advances in DNA testing and other technology, which have exposed shortcomings in the legal proceedings that put people on death row, say Mr. Dieter and others.

The decision awaiting Schwarzenegger is complex since Williams has aimed to both cast doubt on his conviction and persuade the governor that he has become a changed man behind bars.

"This is a terribly difficult decision - not just because of all the competing considerations, from the political to the spiritual - but because there are no clear guidelines given to governors," says Robert Batey, professor of criminal law at Stetson University College of Law in DeLand, Fla.

Laws differ in the 38 states with clemency provisions. Some require boards or commissions to make recommendations or to act in tandem with the governor. In other states the governor alone decides, with no legal, ethical, or moral criteria spelled out for guidance.

"Governors ... can decide not only whether a person is redeemed or not, [but] they can decide [inmates] have changed and put them to death anyway," says Professor Batey. "In the case of Mr. Schwarzenegger, it's up to him to create his own reasons."

The origin of clemency in the US predates the Constitution and was considered a necessary corrective to the severity of the criminal-justice system of the day. It has been revisited and sharpened regularly ever since. "Clemency is an act of grace," wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in 1833, and Oliver Wendell Holmes said in 1927: "[It] is part of the Constitutional scheme. When granted it is the determination of the ultimate authority that the public welfare be better served by inflicting less than what the judgment fixed."

Exactly how to define and weigh the public welfare is Schwarzenegger's prerogative, experts say. Beyond the consideration of Williams's personal fate, the governor must weigh the consequences, symbolic and otherwise, to others.

"If he goes ahead and puts to death a man who has clearly shown he has turned himself around, [and] is not the man he once was, what does that say to all other prisoners who are similarly incarcerated and are trying to reform themselves - that personal reform doesn't matter?" asks Jan Handzlik, a member of Williams's defense team.

Similarly, what message does a commuted death sentence send to prosecutors and law-enforcement officers, who daily work to fulfill the requirements of the legal system to obtain proper prosecutions? Or to victims' families and other convicts?

"It sends the worst signal to the criminal element if you commute someone," says Michael Paranzino, who runs a nonpartisan research group dedicated to crime victims and their families. "What are other criminals supposed to think ... that if you suddenly write poetry, say all the right things, and find a champion on the outside that you get a 'get out of jail free' card?"

Because of all this, "clemency is a very lonely decision," says Margaret Love, former head of the pardon office in the US Justice Department. "It is a question of how to blend mercy with justice, the human and the legal in light of all circumstances before you, with life on the line."
States' clemency rules

• Thirty-three states give their governors exclusive, unconditional power to grant pardons or reduce prison sentences.

• Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, and Texas have stripped their governors of the power to pardon and instead established clemency boards, whose members are appointed by the governor.

• In nine states, the governor can only consider clemency recommendations issued by a clemency board.

• In Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah, the governor sits as a member of a pardoning board, making clemency decisions in cooperation with board members.


Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links | Copyright © 2005 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Cameras at the Supreme Court?

Why keep cameras out of the court?
We can watch Paris having sex, but we can't see our Supreme Court justices deliberate. Weird
Steve Chapman

November 27, 2005

Anyone who's seen the film "Fantastic Four" has wondered what it would be like to have the supernatural power of Jessica Alba's character to become invisible. At least one person actually knows the answer: Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.

One day, he's on national TV for hours on end, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The next, he's vanished from sight. Unless you make a trip to Washington and attend an oral argument, you may never get a glimpse of Roberts doing the job the nation has entrusted to him.

So you're well-advised to see Samuel Alito Jr. when he appears before that same committee for his confirmation hearings in January. It could be your sole opportunity to watch him in action, addressing the momentous legal issues of our time.

After that, assuming he's confirmed, Alito will vanish behind the impenetrable walls of the court.

This is a weird country: We can watch Paris Hilton having sex, but we can't see our justices deliberating.

Unless, of course, the court admits cameras, something it has so far stoutly resisted. That could happen one of two ways: a decision by the court or a decision by Congress. And there are flickers of hope on both fronts.

The first came when Roberts, under questioning by senators, said he was willing to consider allowing live TV and radio coverage of Supreme Court sessions. That was a change from the attitude of his predecessor, William Rehnquist, who barred the doors for fear that public visibility would harm the court's "mystique and moral authority."

The second is a bill introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) to require the court to open up to cameras. Co-sponsor Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said, "I think this is the year to make this law."

It's a basic axiom of democracy that government institutions should be subject to the scrutiny of the citizenry. So our courts are open to anyone who wants to see what goes on inside.

As the Supreme Court once said, "A trial is a public event. What transpires in the courtroom is public property."

But when it comes to the Supreme Court itself, the average American generally can't claim that property--since attending in person is the only way to exercise the right of access.

Given the size of the viewers' gallery, only a tiny fraction of the 296 million Americans can do that on any particular day. For most people, the court is only slightly more accessible than the vaults at Ft. Knox.

Why this should be so is a mystery. It's not as though we lack experience with TV cameras in the courtroom. All 50 states now allow them to cover at least some judicial proceedings, and in the early 1990s, some federal courts tried them in a three-year pilot project. Afterward, a study by the Federal Judicial Center reported that the presence of cameras "did not disrupt court proceedings, affect participants in the proceedings, or interfere with the administration of justice."

There are plausible fears the electronic eye could intimidate witnesses or jurors, and thus get in the way of a fair trial. Those fears, however, apply only at the trial level. In the U.S. Supreme Court, there are no witnesses or jurors--only attorneys making arguments and justices interrogating them.

Some judges fear that the public's eyeballs would be seared by gazing directly upon these interactions. As U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Edward Becker said in 2000, "The oral argument process is very intense, rigorous. ... The problem with televising arguments is that they can be edited, and if the public sees me giving a rough time to one lawyer, they think I'm biased."

But that same alleged peril exists with the audiotapes the Supreme Court sometimes makes available immediately after hearing important cases. If any justice has gotten a reputation for bias from that exposure--or a reputation for anything--it's news to me.

What TV coverage would do is give citizens a chance to personally observe one of their most important government institutions and, in the process, gain a richer understanding of how it works. That approach works very well when it comes to confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees. I'm betting it would work just as well in the post-confirmation phase.



Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Clemency for Founder of Crips

Gov. to Consider Clemency for Killer
By Eric Malnic
Times Staff Writer

November 26, 2005

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold a private hearing at his Sacramento office Dec. 8 to consider whether to grant clemency to convicted murderer Stanley Tookie Williams, co-founder of the Crips street gang.

Margita Thompson, the governor's press secretary, said Schwarzenegger's decision to hold the private meeting with lawyers representing Williams and the families of his victims did not indicate which way he was leaning on whether to commute Williams' sentence from death to life in prison without possibility of parole.

"The governor reviewed the material in the case this week," Thompson said late Friday. "He decided the best route is a private clemency hearing, so he can hear directly from counsel."

Prosecutors are urging that Williams be executed by lethal injection as scheduled on Dec. 13 for the killings of four people during robberies in 1979. Williams' lawyers say he should be granted clemency because of his work as an anti-gang activist during his incarceration on death row.

Last weekend, a peaceful multiracial crowd including religious leaders and rapper Snoop Dogg jammed a street outside San Quentin Prison to urge that Williams' life be spared. His lawyers have also submitted what they said were signatures of 32,000 people supporting Williams' petition for clemency.

Williams, 51, has denied he committed the murders and has asked the California Supreme Court to reopen his case, contending that he was wrongly tied to the crimes through shoddy forensics. The court has not ruled on his petition.

The governor decides clemency requests on a case-by-case basis and is not required to hold either public or private hearings on an inmate's request, Thompson said.

She said that after thorough study of the materials presented to him, the governor rejected the only two previous requests he had received from death row inmates seeking clemency.

Last year, Schwarzenegger denied a hearing of any kind for convicted murderer Kevin Cooper. But Cooper's execution was later stayed by a federal appeals court.

In January, the governor referred the clemency request of murderer Donald Beardslee to the California Board of Parole Hearings and decided against clemency on the recommendation of the board.

Thompson said that under state law, Beardslee's case had to be referred to a public hearing by the board because Beardslee had been convicted of felonies twice previously.

Williams had been convicted of a felony once previously, so the governor had the option of a private hearing, a public hearing or no hearing at all, Thompson said. She said he decided that a private hearing was most appropriate.

On Wednesday, Williams' attorneys asked the state Supreme Court to grant them access to a broad array of trial evidence in an effort to show that Williams' conviction in the four murders had been unconstitutional.

"Discovery must be granted to avoid an egregious miscarriage of justice," Pasadena attorney Verna Wafeld wrote in her request.

She is seeking information under a 2003 California law enacted in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart corruption scandal. She said she was looking for ballistic and crime scene evidence, witness records and medical evidence that might show that Williams was forcibly drugged while in jail awaiting trial.

In response to an earlier defense motion, Deputy Atty. Gen. Lisa J. Brault said Williams had been provided with appropriate material through the court discovery process.

Prosecutors are required to turn over anything that might help a defendant prove his innocence.

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

Monday, November 21, 2005

Denver looks to Broken Windows Theory for help

Rocky Mountain News
Denver cops may go under crime analyst's microscope

By Lou Kilzer, Rocky Mountain News
November 21, 2005

The man widely credited with bringing down crime in New York City and its subways is headed west to diagnose Denver's ailing police department.

George Kelling says only a signature on a contract remains to be penned before he and his group of criminologists begin their study.

If Kelling and Mayor John Hickenlooper sign on the bottom line - and on Friday that seemed almost assured - Denver police may be in for a wild ride.

The mayor wants Kelling, a professor at Rutgers University and a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, to analyze city crime, police strategies and police organization.

That's a big order, but one not new to Kelling.

Two decades ago, he lead a revolution in how police should go about their business - coining a phrase "broken windows" as a metaphor for what was wrong in American law enforcement.

Let broken windows - or small crimes - go unrepaired, and criminals believe there is no property owner. They take over. Fix those windows and the criminals can be contained.

Kelling's ideas have since won deep respect in certain communities, but nagging skepticism in others.

He advocates overthrowing much of the top-down, bureaucratic, rule-saturated command structure that evolved in U.S. police departments over the past century.

Instead, he says patrol officers and their immediate supervisors should take more ownership of their precincts. He says that detectives and special squads at headquarters often should give way to decentralized commands where more localized police get to know their communities' needs.

The goal is to tackle crime - starting with those broken windows.

Three months after a controversy erupted over Denver's plunging arrest rates, this much is clear today: The sharpest drops are precisely in those "quality of life" crimes that Kelling says must be attacked.

"Take care of minor crime," he says, "and major crime can be prevented."

A bureaucratic straitjacket

Kelling talks of a time in the late 1970s when he and his wife were walking in New York's Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

Small-time dope dealers were openly doing their business while nearby cops stood by, ignoring them.

Kelling says a bureaucratic straitjacket told the officers that dope dealing was the responsibility of narcotics officers, not street cops.

Police, Kelling felt, had to change their priorities and organization.

In Kelling's view, order is king. If citizens feel there is order in the environment, fear abates and people take possession of their sidewalks.

Evidence of disorder - aggressive panhandlers, drunks and loitering youths - begets fear and avoidance of ownership. That's fertile ground for crime.

Robert Kiley, New York's transportation chief under then-Mayor David Dinkins, adopted some of Kelling's notions and applied them to the city's subways.

Police had mostly surrendered to graffiti-taggers in the New York subways. But using some of Kelling's ideas, authorities refused to put tagged cars into service and aggressively fought the taggers. It took five years, but the graffiti disappeared.

By then, Kiley asked Kelling for help on other subway problems.

What was born was called Operation Enforcement - targeting those who made subway commuting sometimes a frightening experience.

That's where Kelling fell on the outs with some homeless advocates and civil libertarians. They argued that the plan discriminated against certain groups and denied them free speech. In 1990, a court ruled in their favor.

That decision was eventually overturned, and police strongly enforced quality of life issues in the subways.

They even put emphasis on toll cheaters - those who jumped the turnstiles to avoid paying.

"When police in New York took on fare beaters, some stations found one in 10 had warrants or were carrying drugs or weapons," Kelling says. Enforcing the small crime led to arrests for a larger one.

It paid off in the subways. Crime dropped and citizens felt safer.

When Rudy Giuliani became New York's mayor in 1993, "he bought into broken windows in a big way," Kelling says.

Soon, New York's crime rate overall plummeted.

Fixing crime on the street

Broken windows enforcement goes hand-in-hand with decentralized policing, Kelling says.

Empowering street cops in the battle against crime is the only way that it can all work.

Kelling likens a typical police department to a rubber band. It can be stretched and twisted, but eventually it snaps back into place. And that place is top-down management where the priority is to chase "serious crime" in a quasi-military manner.

Kelling wants to distribute policing authority away from headquarters.

"Community policing doesn't mean feel-good policing," Kelling says, it means strict quality of life enforcement issues as well as major crimes.

Kelling says that a typical patrol officer spends well over half his time uninvolved in answering calls. That's the nature of the business.

If properly led, officers could use this slack time to play both community referee and mediator.

Instead, strict rules from headquarters - in an attempt to prevent corruption or mistakes - often make a patrolman hesitate.

Kelling has written that "these measures - referred to by at least one of their advocates as 'management by terror' - have also created an ethos throughout the department of 'staying out of trouble.' The surest way to stay out of trouble, of course, is to do nothing."

That echoes what many Denver cops have told the Rocky Mountain News in the past three months. Often, they say, their daily mission is to answer 911 calls. They are cautious about so-called "discretionary enforcement" - the kinds of law work that bring officers and citizens together in ambiguous situations. In other words, the kinds of situations that can result in a citizen complaint.

Root causes not addressed

Civil libertarians have challenged Kelling's theories, pointing to what they see as root causes of crime - racism, social injustice and poverty - areas that the broken windows philosophy largely ignores.

Kelling does not dispute root causes, but he insists that "we don't have to hold our hands and wait" for root causes to be sutured.

David Thacher, a University of Michigan associate professor, has written that "social science has not been kind to the broken windows theory," according to the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

According to Thacher, some studies have "concluded that the relationship between disorder and serious crime is modest, and even that relationship is largely an artifact of more fundamental social forces."

And then there is the sharp drop in New York crime, where homicides dropped from about 2,200 a year in the early 1990s to under 500.

The rest of the country also saw dramatic drops in serious crime during the same period, although not at the same pace as New York.

Kelling says parts of his theories were widely adopted across the nation. Still, he agrees that many factors were at work to bring crime down in the '90s.

Police began seeing they weren't merely responding to incidents, but to problems, and they began working more closely with neighborhood groups, including the clergy.

And as violent felons were released from prisons, parole officers and others exerted more control, reducing recidivism. The '90s also were the first decade of widely distributed computing. Cops began making better use of statistics.

And, of course, Kelling says, many jurisdictions adopted aspects of broken windows.

Joseph Sandoval, chairman of the criminal justice and criminology department at Metropolitan State College of Denver, says that he once might have been more skeptical of Kelling's theories. But no longer.

"Broken windows has its place," he says. "Small peccadilloes can advance to some greater offenses. An atmosphere is created that allows folks to test the edge of tolerance."

George Kelling

• Age: 70

• Occupation: Professor in the School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University; fellow in Program of Criminal Justice Policy and Manage- ment, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; adjunct fellow, Manhattan Institute; principal, Hanover Justice Group.

• Education: Bachelor's degree, philosophy, St. Olaf College, Minnesota, 1956; doctorate, social welfare, University of Wisconsin, 1973.

• Work history: Probation officer, Minneapolis, 1959-1960; assistant superintendent of detention, Milwaukee County, Wis., 1962-1964; various other child welfare and academic posts, 1965 to present; has authored more than 60 publications.

• Residence: Kelling and his wife live in New Hampshire. They have two children and five grandchildren.

Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Surveillance Cameras for Quality of Life Crimes

This is a new use of the camera and should be watched for results. It would be an example of Broken Windows theory put into effect.

Voice you hear might be a camera
City to install talking monitors to curb crime

By John Fritze
Sun reporter

November 17, 2005

Vandals and litterbugs targeting Baltimore's neighborhoods will soon get a talking-to from an unlikely source - the city's newest breed of surveillance camera.

Five talking cameras - armed with motion detectors, a bright flash and a recorded warning - were approved by the city's Board of Estimates yesterday as part of an effort to curb quality-of-life crimes, especially illegal dumping.

The cameras, which cost about $5,000 apiece, are the latest in surveillance technology that cities across the country are using to deter everything from red-light runners to drug dealers. They will add to an already expansive network of monitoring equipment in Baltimore.

Officials might record any message they like - a collective admonishment from nearby residents or a personal threat from Mayor Martin O'Malley. But for now, the city is sticking to a default recording made at the factory.

"Stop," the solar-powered cameras will scold upon sensing motion. "This is a restricted area. It is illegal to dump trash or spray graffiti here. We have just taken your photograph. We will use this photograph to prosecute you. Leave the area now."

If the booming voice from on high - light poles, most likely - isn't enough to scare away offending litterers, the camera will snap a still photograph and save it to a storage card, which police could use to identify a suspect.

City officials would not say where, specifically, the cameras will be placed.

"It's quite startling," said Ken Anderson, president of California-based Q-Star Technology, which developed the camera. "It's generally going off in the middle of the night, [and] people generally aren't expecting it."

Anderson said about 150 cities use the cameras to control graffiti, loitering and illegal dumping. Cincinnati has installed 20 cameras, concentrated in residential areas and city parks.

"We're not looking to catch them, we're looking at it as a deterrent and it has served us well," said Linda Holterhoff, executive director of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, a nonprofit that launched the camera program about a year ago.

That's not to say the technology is problem-free. Residents of one Cincinnati neighborhood complained about the camera's loud volume until the city turned it down. Placement can be tricky, as vandals move around corners to escape the lens. Occasionally, the camera's wrath is misdirected.

"We have pictures of deer," Holterhoff said.

Baltimore's investment in the cameras - nearly $25,000 - is small compared with the 24-hour surveillance infrastructure in place in many high-crime neighborhoods and near potential terrorist targets. In addition to privately operated cameras around such institutions as downtown hospitals, roughly 175 police cameras record street-level activity, and the city is planning to deploy dozens more.

This year, a nondescript surveillance camera on Monument Street helped police investigate a homicide. Though it did not capture the shooting, the camera let police identify otherwise hard-to-find witnesses.

Other cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia, are increasingly relying on video cameras to investigate crime. But the surveillance has drawn criticism from privacy advocates who argue that cities should hire more police officers rather than shell out for cameras.

"It seems to be an atmosphere of, 'We will watch you no matter what, even if you're innocent,'" said Melissa Ngo, staff counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington.

Baltimore officials said they had success testing two of the cameras this summer. Elliot Schlanger, the city's chief information officer, said he began looking at the option after O'Malley brought up trash he had spotted as he was entering the city from New York.

"It's just another tool in our tool bag for fulfilling the mayor's goal of making Baltimore a safe and clean city," Schlanger said.

According to yesterday's Board of Estimates agenda, dummy cameras will occupy some of the sites - unlike police surveillance cameras, which Schlanger said are all recording. City officials said that the talking cameras would be rotated and that nothing will distinguish a phony from the real thing.

Both will reprimand their subjects. And that, supporters said, is usually enough to make a difference.

"It's kind of a forced accountability," said Anderson, the camera's designer. "You tend to be more accountable if someone's watching."

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun |

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Important News About Pending Legislation

Both Sides State Cases on Death Penalty Bill
Supporters say it would stop lengthy delays between convictions and executions. Critics worry that it will erode fundamental liberties.
By Henry Weinstein
Times Staff Writer

November 16, 2005

After spending 24 years in prison for the murder of a Long Beach man, Thomas Goldstein was freed in 2004 when five federal judges ruled he had been wrongly convicted, largely on the word of an unreliable jailhouse informant.

However, if a bill set for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee today had been in effect then, Goldstein would not have been able to establish that his constitutional rights had been violated by prosecutorial misconduct.

Goldstein, 56, now works as a paralegal. He has gone to Washington twice in an effort to defeat the Senate bill — and companion legislation in the House — which he says "would deny review of many death penalty cases by the federal courts…. If this law was in effect when I was going through the system, I would still be in prison."

Mary Ann Hughes, whose son Christopher was killed 22 years ago in Chino Hills, also feels she has been abused by the government. But she says the proposed legislation is needed to remedy a legal system that is "grotesquely skewed" in favor of inmates appealing their sentences.

Last year, hours before Kevin Cooper was to be executed for murdering Hughes' 11-year-old and three other people in 1983, a federal appeals court granted him a stay so that DNA testing could be conducted. The tests indicated Cooper's guilt, and a federal judge denied all the claims in his habeas corpus petition. That ruling is now on appeal.

"I urge you to reform the … system so the profound abuses and manipulations that have allowed the murderer of our son to evade justice for over 22 years will finally be brought to an end," Hughes told a congressional subcommittee last week.

The Streamlined Procedures Act, say sponsors Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), is needed to stop the "endless delays" between convictions and executions in capital cases. Bogus and repetitive claims by inmates, supporters of the measure argue, only serve to prolong the agony of murder victims' families.

But the American Bar Assn., one of many groups opposing the legislation, says it would mandate "virtually unattainable procedural and other requirements to establish innocence. These requirements will prevent many innocent prisoners from reaching federal court."

The Streamlined Procedures Act would dramatically curtail writs of habeas corpus, the method used by inmates to assert illegal imprisonment.

The Judicial Conference of the United States, several former federal judges and FBI directors, and conservatives such as former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia have opposed the legislation, saying it could erode fundamental liberties.

"This is a very radical bill," said Ruth E. Friedman, an appellate lawyer who has tried numerous capital cases in Alabama and has advised the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts in efforts to improve the quality of death penalty representation in the South.

"It proposes to gut years of Supreme Court case law, most of it by the Rehnquist court," she told a House Judiciary subcommittee last week.

Forty-nine of the 50 state chief justices passed a resolution last summer opposing the legislation. California Chief Justice Ronald M. George led the effort, even though he is a death penalty proponent, because he said passage of the act would endanger fundamental fairness.

But its proponents have continued to press their case. In the Senate, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced an amended version of the bill, which he said cured some of the problems raised by the opposition.

However, opponents say that it retains many of the most egregious features and would continue to bar the door to many meritorious claims.

In order to enhance the prospects of changing the law, those backing the Streamlined Procedures Act have attached some of the most stringent provisions to several other bills, such as the Child Protection Act. That means it is possible there could be dramatic changes in habeas corpus without a full hearing on the issue.

On Tuesday, some critics expressed concern that the Republican leadership in Congress might use its muscle to include new limits on habeas petitions in legislation renewing the Patriot Act, which is intended to fight terrorism.

Portions of that law expire at year's end, and Congress is expected to act before Thanksgiving.

Democrats asserted Tuesday that they were being cut out of negotiations to reconcile Senate and House versions of the renewal bills, a charge Republicans denied.


Times staff writer Richard B. Schmitt in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

Friday, November 11, 2005

Judicature Society explands to research wrongful convictions

New Institute On Forensics, DNA, Wrongful Convictions
A new initiative to research issues at the intersection of science and law, including problems that have led to wrongful convictions, has been launched by the American Judicature Society. AJS is starting an Institute of Forensic Science and Public Policy, based in Greensboro, N.C. The society also has created a commission on the subject, headed by former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Dr. David Korn, vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges and former dean of Stanford Medical School.

DNA analysis will be a major focus of the new project. "The challenge today is to make certain that important evidence is tested promptly by well- qualified analysts," said AJS president Allan Sobel. "Unfortunately, today we have neither adequate facilities nor a sufficient number of analysis to effectively maximize the use of DNA evidence." Among other areas of focus for the institute: transferring knowledge from the scientific community to forensics experts and judges; ways to improve juror comprehension of scientific tesimony; improvement of crime labs; human memory and eyenewitness identification; and avoiding "tunnel vision" in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.
American Judicature Society

Double Jeopardy in the United Kingdom

Double jeopardy law ushered out
A legal principle which prevents people being tried for the same crime twice has been scrapped in England and Wales.

The ban on "double jeopardy", which has existed for around 800 years, took effect from Monday.

The Court of Appeal can now quash an acquittal and order a retrial when "new and compelling" evidence is produced.

Police plan to re-examine the case of 22-year-old Julie Hogg, who was murdered in a sex attack at her home in Billingham, Teesside, in November 1989.

Boyfriend Billy Dunlop was tried for the murder of the pizza delivery girl, but acquitted after the jury failed to reach a verdict on two separate occasions.

'Deliver justice'

The change will apply retrospectively, so someone could face a second trial if evidence such as DNA material, new witnesses or a confession came to light.

It is important the public should have full confidence in the ability of the criminal justice system to deliver justice
Home Office

A Home Office spokesman said: "It is important the public should have full confidence in the ability of the criminal justice system to deliver justice.

"This can be undermined if it is not possible to convict offenders for very serious crimes where there is strong and viable evidence of their guilt."

Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald expects no more than "a handful" of cases to be brought a year.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: "There has to be new evidence which was not available at the time of the original trial.

"Just because someone is reported to have confessed - in a book or a newspaper interview - does not necessarily mean that is evidence in a form we could use."

New charges

The National Crime Faculty believes there are 35 murder cases in which acquitted defendants could be re-investigated and new charges brought.

The reforms - which also allow hearsay evidence to be admissible in court - come under the new Criminal Justice act.

They apply to 30 serious crimes - including murder, rape, Class A drug offences and war crimes - but double jeopardy remains in force for lesser offences.

The Bar Council's former chairman Matthias Kelly QC said the law changes could "lead to prosecutions routinely seeking a second bite of the cherry, if a case flopped first time for good reason".

And civil liberties groups also condemned the move, fearing the law could be used to persecute people and lead to miscarriages of justice.

However, it will only be possible to retry an acquitted person once.

The Stephen Lawrence racist murder case is another episode where detectives hope new evidence could come to light.

Other cases could include Ronnie Knight, the ex-husband of EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor, and ex-Kray Twins associate Freddie Foreman.

Both have written books where they allegedly confess to involvement in murders.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Patriot Act

The link will only be active for 5 days (Today is November 11); after that you can access it via the UTA and/or Telecampus digital library

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Today's News

Friday, November 11, 2005

Legislators Debate Renewing Patriot Act Provisions That Worry Librarians and Others



Two controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act that library groups and civil libertarians have criticized as curtailing Americans' privacy and free-speech rights were picked apart by members of Congress on Thursday as they began hammering out an agreement on renewing provisions of the act that are set to expire this year.

The legislators are members of the conference committee responsible for reconciling Senate and House of Representatives versions of a bill renewing various Patriot Act provisions.

The two provisions that are attracting committee members' attention are Section 215, known as the library provision, and Section 505, which concerns national-security letters. Together, the provisions broadened the Federal Bureau of Investigation's ability to order that businesses and organizations turn over a variety of documents, such as telephone logs and library records. In addition, those who receive such orders are not allowed to reveal to anyone -- not even their lawyers -- that they received the orders.

Thursday's meeting of the conference committee was taken up by members' opening speeches about the Patriot Act. It is unclear whether the committee will meet next week and openly debate the act.

But the opening speeches set the stage for a dispute about what restrictions, if any, should be placed on the government's ability to demand records concerning American citizens. Some members of Congress who expressed concern about the government's abusing its authority cited an extensive article that appeared in The Washington Post on Sunday. It claimed that the government has issued more than 30,000 national-security letters annually since the Patriot Act became law four years ago.

"For those who say there have been no abuses today, I'd like to remind them that the very act of surveilling citizens who aren't even suspected of wrongdoing is an abuse in itself," said Rep. John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat. "The pendulum must now swing back, and checks and balances must be reinserted into criminal and intelligence investigations."

And Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said Congress should demand more "checks and guidelines" before the government is allowed to issue additional national-security letters under the act. He also expressed concern about the government's storing of sensitive personal data about Americans that has been gleaned through national-security letters.

Among those defending the controversial provisions of the Patriot Act were two Republicans, Sen. Pat Roberts, of Kansas, who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. They said they were troubled that calls to strengthen Americans' civil liberties by limiting the reach of the Patriot Act could undermine the government's ability to nab terrorists.

"Vigorous oversight by congressional committees has uncovered no instances of abuse," said Mr. Roberts.

The conference-committee meeting came on the heels of a letter that five senators sent Thursday to the U.S. attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales. The senators demanded that Mr. Gonzales reveal how many national-security letters the government has issued since the Patriot Act became law. That information, including how many colleges have received national-security letters, is now classified.

"As Congress debates legislation that would reauthorize and revise the Patriot Act, the American people are entitled to this information," the letter reads. It was signed by Larry E. Craig, an Idaho Republican; Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat; Russell D. Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat; Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat; and John E. Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican.

National-security letters have received a lot of attention since August, when a Connecticut library group -- represented by the American Civil Liberties Union -- sued the government after receiving such a document. That case and another case that questions the constitutionality of national-security letters issued under the Patriot Act are now pending in a federal appeals court.

Librarians and civil libertarians say they prefer the Senate version of the Patriot Act legislation over the House's since the Senate bill, they say, contains more protections for ordinary Americans. The Senate bill, for example, stipulates that before the government can issue an order for records under the library provision it must provide facts showing that the individual whose records are sought is connected to a terrorist suspect.

Still, critics say that even the Senate bill does not go far enough. It would, for example, still prevent someone who receives an order for records from talking about it.

Copyright © 2005 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

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Muslim Headdress Ban Upheld

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Some facts about grand jury

Friday, November 04, 2005

How often we forget the role of defense

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

McMartin Preschooler not admits he lied

McMartin Pre-Schooler: 'I Lied'
A long-delayed apology from one of the accusers in the notorious McMartin Pre-School molestation case
By Kyle Zirpolo, as told to Debbie Nathan

October 30, 2005

My mother divorced my father when I was 2 and she met my stepfather, who was a police officer in Manhattan Beach. They had five children after me. In addition, my stepfather has three older children. In the combined family, I'm the only one of the nine children he didn't father. I always remember wanting him to love me. I was always trying excessively hard to please him. I would do anything for him.

My stepbrothers and stepsisters and a half-brother and half-sister went to McMartin. So did I. I only remember being happy there. I never had any bad feelings about the school—no bad auras or vibes or anything. Even to this day, talking about it or seeing pictures or artwork that I did at McMartin never brings any bad feelings. All my memories are positive.

The thing I remember about the case was how it took over the whole city and consumed our whole family. My parents would ask questions: "Did the teachers ever do things to you?" They talked about Ray Buckey, whom I had never met. I don't even have any recollection of him attending the school when I was going there.

The first time I went to CII [Children's Institute International, now known as Children's Institute, Inc., a respected century-old L.A. County child welfare organization where approximately 400 former McMartin children were interviewed and given genital exams, and where many were diagnosed as abuse victims], we drove there, our whole family. I remember waiting … for hours while my brothers and sisters were being interviewed. I don't remember how many days or if it was just one day, but my memory tells me it was weeks, it seemed so long. It was an ordeal. I remember thinking to myself, "I'm not going to get out of here unless I tell them what they want to hear."

We were examined by a doctor. I took my clothes off and lay down on the table. They checked my butt, my penis. There was a room with a lot of toys and stuffed animals and dolls. The dolls were pasty white and had hair where the private parts were. They wanted us to take off their clothes. It was just really weird.

I remember them asking extremely uncomfortable questions about whether Ray touched me and about all the teachers and what they did—and I remember telling them nothing happened to me. I remember them almost giggling and laughing, saying, "Oh, we know these things happened to you. Why don't you just go ahead and tell us? Use these dolls if you're scared."

Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn't like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted. I know the types of language they used on me: things like I was smart, or I could help the other kids who were scared.

I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do. And I thought they wanted me to help protect my little brother and sister who went to McMartin.

Later my parents asked if the teachers took pictures and played games with us. Games like "Naked Movie Star." I remember my mom asking me. She would ask if they sang the song, and I didn't know what she was talking about, so she would sing something like, "Who you are, you're a naked movie star." I'm pretty sure that's the first time I ever heard that: from my mom. After she asked me a hundred times, I probably said yeah, I did play that game.

My parents were very encouraging when I said that things happened. It was almost like saying things happened was going to help get these people in jail and stop them from what they were trying to do to kids. Also, there were so many kids saying all these things happened that you didn't want to be the one who said nothing did. You wouldn't be believed if you said that.

I remember feeling like they didn't pick just anybody—they picked me because I had a good memory of what they wanted, and they could rely on me to do a good job. I don't think they thought I was telling the truth, just that I was telling the same stories consistently, doing what needed to be done to get these teachers judged guilty. I felt special. Important.

It always seemed like I was thinking. I would listen to what my parents would say if they were talking, or to what someone else would say if we were being questioned at the police station or anywhere. And I would repeat things. Or if it wasn't a story I'd heard, I would think of something in my head. I would try to think of the worst thing possible that would be harmful to a child. I remember once I said that if you had a cut, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it, the McMartin teachers would put on dirt, then put the Band-Aid over the dirt. That was just something in my head that was bad. I just thought of it and told [the investigators].

I think I got the satanic details by picturing our church. We went to American Martyrs, which was a huge Catholic church. Every Sunday we had to go, and Mass would last an hour, hour and a half. None of us wanted to go: It was kicking and screaming all the way there. Sitting, standing, sitting, standing. What I would do was picture the altar, pews and stained-glass windows, and if [investigators] said, "Describe an altar," I would describe the one in our church. Or instead of, "There was a priest in a green suit"—someone who was real—I would say, "A man dressed in red as a cult member." From going to church you know that God is good, and the devil is bad and has horns and is about evil and red and blood. I'd just throw a twist in there with Satan and devil-worshipping.

I remember going in our van with all my brothers and sisters and driving to airports and houses and being asked if we had been [abused in] these places. I remember telling people [that the McMartin teachers] took us to Harry's Meat Market, and describing what I thought the market was like. I had never been in there before, and I was fairly certain I was going to get in trouble for what I was saying because it probably was not accurate. I imagined someone would say, "They don't have that kind of freezer there." And they did say that. But then someone said, "Well, they could have changed it." It was like anything and everything I said would be believed.

The lawyers had all my stories written down and knew exactly what I had said before. So I knew I would have to say those exact things again and not have anything be different, otherwise they would know I was lying. I put a lot of pressure on myself. At night in bed, I would think hard about things I had said in the past and try to repeat only the things I knew I'd said before.

I remember describing going to an airport and Ray taking us somewhere on an airplane. Then I realized the parents would have known the kids were gone from the school. I felt I'd screwed up and my lie had been caught—I was busted! I was so upset with myself! I remember breaking down and crying. I felt everyone knew I was lying. But my parents said, "You're doing fine. Don't worry." And everyone was saying how proud they were of me, not to worry.

I'm not saying nothing happened to anyone else at the McMartin Pre-School. I can't say that—I can only speak for myself. Maybe some things did happen. Maybe some kids made up stories about things that didn't really happen, and eventually started believing they were telling the truth. Maybe some got scared that the teachers would get their families because they were lying. But I never forgot I was lying.

My stepdad was a police officer who had guns in the house. I remember when all of this was coming down, he was put on a leave of absence from work because he was being investigated for supposedly threatening the McMartin family. He was cleared of that accusation—apparently it wasn't true. But being only 9 years old at the time, I thought my dad was saying he would kill the McMartins. So in my mind, I figured no one from the school was going to dare mess with him because he would have hurt them first. That made me feel secure. It could be a reason I never mixed up reality and fantasy and always knew I was lying.

But the lying really bothered me. One particular night stands out in my mind. I was maybe 10 years old and I tried to tell my mom that nothing had happened. I lay on the bed crying hysterically—I wanted to get it off my chest, to tell her the truth. My mother kept asking me to please tell her what was the matter. I said she would never believe me. She persisted: "I promise I'll believe you! I love you so much! Tell me what's bothering you!" This went on for a long time: I told her she wouldn't believe me, and she kept assuring me she would. I remember finally telling her, "Nothing happened! Nothing ever happened to me at that school."

She didn't believe me.

We had a highly dysfunctional family. We argued and fought all the time. My mother has always blamed anything negative on the idea that we went to that preschool and were molested. To this day, she believes these things went on. Because if they didn't, how can she explain all the family's problems? To this day, I can't open up with her about my personal problems. She's always asking me why I never do. That one night skewed our relationship.

Once the case was over, it was just over, in the past. The defendants were set free and that was it. The kids' parents never asked, "Why were they innocent? Why were they unable to find evidence to convict these people?"

My family has not seen the movies or read the books questioning the prosecution. It's like skeletons in a closet that you just don't want to take back out. I'm the only one who ever brings the topic up and who admits nothing ever happened to me. I've said I lied about everything, but I've never gotten a real response from my mother and stepfather. It seems really strange, seeing their reaction to the fact that nothing happened to me. If I had gone my whole life thinking my child was molested, I would be elated to find out that he or she wasn't. I'd like to think learning that your child was not molested would supersede anything. After all, all you have is your next day. It would be a shame to live the rest of your life thinking molestation had happened when you could think it didn't.

McMartin is something negative in my life and I'm trying to make it a positive. I've got two little kids I love dearly—they've changed the priorities in my life. My goal is to raise them as best as I can and try to lead by example. I want to be totally honest with them, to say, "This is something that happened to me. I did something dishonest, then at some point I was able to be honest about it." I want my children to be able to come to me like I wish I could have with my parents.

I'm a supermarket manager, and the thing I like best about my job is the interactions I get to have with customers' kids. I love talking and listening to them. I've been told I would be perfect for opening a children's day care. That's very ironic. I would love to look at the defendants from the McMartin Pre-School and tell them, "I'm sorry."


How and Why Kyle Came Forward

By Debbie Nathan

I first heard from Kyle Zirpolo via e-mail early this summer. He contacted me because I appear in the documentary film "Capturing the Friedmans," which he had just seen.

Members of the Friedman family were accused of mass child molestation in Long Island, N.Y., in the 1980s. Research I did years ago suggested that many or all of the allegations were false, and in the film I talk about this. I also discuss the McMartin case. I looked into it, while coauthoring "Satan's Silence," a book about the national panic over sex abuse in day-care centers and schools in the 1980s.

Zirpolo found my website and wrote that he was chilled by the film's depiction of the Friedman family being destroyed by children's false accusations: "It was basically the same as the McMartins. I did that. I feel very ashamed."

Nothing he told police and prosecutors about being abused was true, he added. He had regretted it for years. Now he wanted to apologize to the defendants in person. I told Zirpolo I wanted to hear his story. I also offered to put him in touch with the McMartin defendants.

Some are dead, including Virginia McMartin and her daughter Peggy McMartin Buckey. Ray Buckey and his sister, Peggy Ann, as well as a former McMartin teacher, Babette Spitler, declined to meet with Zirpolo. They've always staunchly proclaimed their innocence, and say they don't need apologies from former students, who were children and couldn't help themselves. Peggy Ann has said that they would rather hear from the police, social workers, therapists, prosecutors, doctors and parents who fueled the case.

Zirpolo says his mother and stepfather divorced years ago. I couldn't reach his stepfather, and when I contacted his mother for comment, she declined. Zirpolo says she "doesn't agree" with his decision to tell his story. As for his stepfather, all Zirpolo will say is that he's very ill.


How Kyle's Story Snowballed

James M. Wood, a research psychologist at the University of Texas at El Paso, has studied the McMartin interviews done by Children's Institute International. Giving children dolls and puppets during a forensic interview encourages them to pretend and fantasize instead of sticking to facts, Wood says. When an interviewer refuses to take "no" for an answer, this implies that another response is required—even if it's not true. Saying that a defendant such as Ray Buckey is being followed by undercover police implies that the accused is dangerous and that the children should help lock him up. And, says Wood, telling children that "everyone's talking" about the crime "creates conformity pressures that are highly improper."

A few years ago, Wood did an experiment in which children were questioned using McMartin interviewing techniques. After two or three minutes, most of the kids started to make up bizarre stories. According to Maggie Bruck, a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins University and a researcher of children's memory and suggestibility, Wood's experiment and others have led to a consensus among psychologists. They agree now that CII's methods in the McMartin case were inappropriate.

CII Senior Vice President Steve Ambrose says his organization is "not in the business of promoting false allegations and never has been. McMartin was the first case of its type. [Experts have] learned a great amount [since then] about how to interview children about sexual abuse in ways that meet the needs of the criminal justice system. This remains very difficult. But we're more sensitive now about making sure that the way we interview kids will stand up in court and that what we say will not be taken out of context."

The following is a condensed transcript of a March 10, 1984, CII interview with Kyle Sapp, now known as Kyle Zirpolo. Sapp was interviewed by two CII staffers.—D.N.

Kyle: Mr. Ray [Ray Buckey] didn't work there when I was in there.

Interviewer 1: What do you mean?

Kyle: Yeah, he didn't go there.

Interviewer 1: A long time ago some of the kids … said that there were some secrets from that school—some crummy things happened. And, um, we told 'em about our secret machine right here, and our puppets who are real smart guys like Mr. Snake Here's Pac-Man And, um, we told 'em how smart our puppets were and how they helped kids talk about some stuff sometimes and we've been playing detective … and maybe Pac-Man could talk for you, or Snake, so you wouldn't have to….What do you think?

Kyle: (nods).

Interviewer 1: We can talk about those secrets now, Pac-Man. And you can help Kyle … everybody's talking about it now…. You know what? We're going to tell you one of our special secrets 'cause we have a secret that we've been telling all the kids, and this one is—you're going to like this one, Pac-Man, 'cause Kyle's dad is a policeman…. We know that sometimes Mr. Ray was at that school. He wasn't a teacher then, but we know that he was at school. Do you remember that, Pac-Man?

Kyle: He didn't work there, but I know that when [another child] was there, it happened.

Interviewer 1: Well, you know what? We know that even before Kyle was there [Ray] was there. And we know that he was there when Kyle was there too.

Kyle: They said on TV that he did something.

Interviewer 1: We know this about Mr. Ray: That sitting outside Mr. Ray's house is a special policeman in a regular car. He doesn't wear a uniform or anything like that, but he, um, sits in a regular-looking car outside Mr. Ray's house…. He watches all the time, and if Mr. Ray goes out of his house, then the secret policeman follows him…. He'll be right behind him and he won't even know he's there….Think that's a good idea, Pac-Man?

Kyle: Uh-huh.

Interviewer 1: We got a mountain of dolls here. Here's a little girl. Easy to tell she's a girl. She has a bow, and her vagina's underneath…. Kids throw 'em, beat 'em up, and everything. You should've seen [another child] beating 'em up. Boy we had a good time—

Interviewer 2: Beating up Mr. Ray doll.

Interviewer 1: And, um, let's see. I wonder, Pac-Man, if you remember any of the games that you used to play at that school.

Kyle: Yeah.

Interviewer 1: Yeah? Like which ones do you remember?

Kyle: Like Mr. Ray—he would—he would get his camera, and then he—they would—they would—he would take their pants off, and—and then they would go in their pool and they—then he would take pictures.

Interviewer 2: Your mom and dad already know that game 'cause they heard it from other kids' moms and dads.

Interviewer 1: Did any other teachers play, Pac-Man?

Kyle: Yeah … they took pictures too.

Interviewer 1: Oh, boy. Gee, we're really figuring this out. What a big help you are. My goodness.

Kyle Zirpolo is a 30-year-old former McMartin Pre-School student who now manages a supermarket on California's central coast. Debbie Nathan is a writer in New York and coauthor, with appellate attorney Michael Snedeker, of "Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt." She also is a board member of the National Center for Reason and Justice, a nonprofit group that works to educate the public about people falsely charged with child abuse.

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Interesting linkage between inmates and technology

Video screens edge out face-to-face visits in jail

Judi Villa
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 31, 2005 12:00 AM

Angelina Mendibles squirmed in a plastic chair then turned and reached for her father. On a video screen in a stainless steel cubicle, Angelina's father, jailed for four months now, smiled back at her. The 1-year-old babbled into a phone.

This is visitation in Maricopa County's Fourth Avenue Jail, where handsets and video screens have replaced face-to-face contact. What's happening here could become the norm across the country in coming years as jails and prisons increasingly embrace video visitation as a smart management policy.

And, as technology continues to improve, such video encounters eventually could take place from the comfort of home, virtually revolutionizing visitation as we know it.

Families bemoan the loss of personal contact, even though touching and hand-holding was never allowed. But officials say it's not such a bad trade-off for more frequent visits, much shorter wait times and safer jails.

Because inmates hook up in their housing units, it cuts down on movement, reduces the number of assaults and eliminates opportunities for contraband to be smuggled into jails.

Video visitation also helps inmates maintain contact with their families, making them mellower behind bars and perhaps keeping them connected enough to ease their transition back home. That in turn could reduce recidivism.

"It's a good, good morale booster on both sides of the fence," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "You can't blame a family for some member of the family that ... ends up in jail. You shouldn't penalize the family who want to visit."

At Maricopa County's two newest jails, the Fourth Avenue and Lower Buckeye jails, and at the tents at the Estrella Jail, video is the only way to visit. It has reduced wait time for visits from several hours to mere minutes, as inmates no longer have to be escorted by detention officers to visiting areas with limited seating.

There are 126 booths for visitors, spread over the three facilities, and 280 for inmates. Each station costs up to $4,000 and is paid for from a one-fifth cent sales tax voters approved for jails in 1998 and extended for 20 more years in 2002.

The technology is slowly spreading in Maricopa County, with public defenders, probation officers and even some criminal attorneys getting access in their offices over the next six months.

The county also is working with ValueOptions, the Valley's public mental-health provider, to provide hookups for virtual psychiatric evaluations. And judges have expressed interest in electronic courtrooms.

The Arizona Department of Corrections uses video hookups at its Tucson and Alhambra prisons to connect visitors to inmates housed at facilities in other states.

And Pinal County expects to have the technology in its current jail by the end of the year. It will allow inmates to have 30 minutes of visitation daily instead of 20 to 30 minutes a week, said Terry Altman, chief deputy for detention at the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. Currently, more than 700 inmates share eight in-person visiting booths.

"Maintaining contact with the outside world is critically important while they're in here," Altman said. "Any opportunity we can have to allow the people who are incarcerated to maintain contact with their families is a plus. It allows them to feel they have some influence and some connection with their families."

Angelina's mother, Sonia Munoz, brings her from Tucson to visit her father every couple weeks. But the visits are difficult, Munoz said, because it's hard to keep Angelina's attention. Her father is watching Angelina grow up on TV, and Munoz misses the connection that comes with eye contact.

"It makes it a lot harder," Munoz said. "You kind of just want to have that physical contact, even if it's just a hug."

Still, she said, Angelina "can see him on the screen, and she does recognize him. . . . For him to see her, it's worth it. She's grown a lot, and he's missed it."

With more than 10,700 jail inmates in Maricopa County and an average of 12,000 visitors monthly, Arpaio said he'd like to see home-based visitation within the next year.

All that would be needed in the home is a Web cam, a microphone and a computer with a broadband Internet connection. If it happens, it would be the first program of its kind in the country to hook up private homes and jails, Arpaio said.

"It's the right thing to do," Arpaio said. "The kids can get on and talk to their father.

"This way you could see the 2-year-old baby. They talk to the family. It's nice to be able to relate to the family."

Alternatively, Arpaio is eyeing regional visitation centers where people could "visit" inmates while staying closer to home. Pinal County officials also are looking toward satellite visitation centers.

Manuel Rodriguez, 41, who is serving time for drug charges at the Fourth Avenue Jail, said at first video visitation seemed "awkward," but now he likes it. Visits are quicker, and he's not racking up friends' phone bills with collect calls from jail.

"You still get to see 'em," Rodriguez said. "They're right there in front of the screen."

But to Beverly Kelley, of Glendale, who visited her son, Kurt, at the jail, it wasn't the same.

"I would have rather seen him in person," Kelley said, but "it's better than nothing."

During their 30-minute visit, Kelley had to keep asking Kurt to look up so she could see his eyes. She was relieved to see he "looked good" after six months in jail, that he "doesn't look beat up. I worry about that."

Still, she said, the visit was "a little impersonal."

"I just want to hug him."