Recidivism & Gun Crime Article from Philadelphia Paper


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MartinBrody
October 10, 2006, 09:14 PM
Aside from the whole "gun crime" terminology, I think this is a well thought out piece.

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/15720669.htm

TAKING AIM AT RECIDIVISTS
SAVVY THUGS FRUSTRATE CRIME-FIGHTERS
By DANA DiFILIPPO
difilid@phillynews.com 215-854-5934

KHALIL SLIGHT was just 12 when he logged his first criminal arrest, for an assault.

His first gun arrest came eight months later, and by his 18th birthday he'd racked up 13 arrests.

Now 23, he's in prison awaiting trial for allegedly shooting a passing bicyclist while trading gunfire with another hood on a South Philadelphia street last spring.

For an unemployed high-school dropout who was still living with his mother when he was incarcerated, Slight has made quite a name for himself in cop circles and the community as a trigger-happy street tough with a talent for beating the system. Slight has 25 arrests on his record - including three attempted-murder charges and 11 arrests involving gun crimes.

And how many convictions does Slight have?

Two.

That's all. Two.

"He has a history of possessing guns and shooting at people, but apparently you get credit for bad aim," said Philadelphia Police Detective Bob Conn, who has arrested Slight several times.

To police and prosecutors, Slight epitomizes one of the biggest frustrations associated with Philly's violent-crime wave: He seems to have found the revolving door out of the justice system.

Slight, and hundreds of alleged repeat lawbreakers like him, continue to commit gun crime after gun crime - not necessarily the big ones that make the headlines, but ones that can turn serious, and ones that terrify neighborhoods. Yet in some cases, they spend relatively little time behind bars.

Why?

Because witnesses are too scared or crooked to come forward. Because cops and prosecutors are overworked by the smaller crimes that they commit. And because bail and sentencing guidelines can be inconsistent, experts say. However, some ideas are circulating in Philly to get these repeat gun offenders off the streets.

And there's a growing belief that stopping alleged offenders such as Slight is more important than catching other thugs.

Authorities say that a small group of lawbreakers commits two-thirds of the city's crime, and police suspect that repeat offenders are arrested only once for every 10 crimes they commit.

And slippery thugs like Slight typically commit progressively more serious crimes, experts say.

"There are a lot of Khalil Slights out there," said Detective Bill Urban, Conn's partner. "You go to any [police] district, and the same names pop up over and over again."

Conn agreed: "It's a small group of people doing a large amount of crime. If one witness would come to court and we could get the conviction, that defendant would be in jail - and off the streets. It's important we catch these crimes on a lower level so they don't escalate. Because they do escalate."

Holes in the system

Mention Khalil Slight's name to almost any cop in South Philadelphia, and nods of recognition and frustrated frowns follow.

"He's a bad dude," Conn said.

But go to his neighborhood - stripes of narrow streets crowded with rowhouses, where Slight has lived for years - and any feeling of familiarity evaporates.

"Nope, never heard of him," said one neighbor, averting her eyes from the Stillman Street rowhouse Slight's family has owned since 1992.

Indeed, getting citizens to cooperate in cracking cases and securing convictions "is our single biggest obstacle," Conn said. "We solve 80 percent of our shootings but only make arrests in 30 percent."

"For some witnesses, there is a level of intimidation," Conn said. "But a lot of times, our victims have worse [criminal] records than our defendants, so they don't want to cooperate."

Without witnesses, many cases crumble, leaving offenders free to return to the streets and resume their wayward ways. About three-fourths of Slight's arrests were dismissed or prosecution was withdrawn for "lack of evidence," typically prosecutorial parlance for no-show witnesses.

Such reluctance to cooperate with authorities is deeply rooted in many poor inner-city neighborhoods, where distrust in police is rampant and "street cred" demands that victims seek justice personally, said Elijah Anderson, a University of Pennsylvania sociologist and author of the 1999 book "Code of the Street."

Such vigilantism is an inevitable catalyst for more gun violence, experts agree.

Hotheads who used to settle battles with their fists now brandish guns instead, veteran law-enforcement authorities say. Eighty percent of the city's recent murderers used guns to kill, police department data show.

"Seventy to 80 percent of our shootings are not drug-related; they're territorial fights or just something stupid like: 'He looked at me wrong,' " Conn said.

But the revolving door for repeat gun offenders has plenty of other reasons for spinning, according to police, prosecutors, judges and criminologists.

Cases get tossed out for faulty searches or incomplete evidence. Judges frustrated with frequent postponements occasionally dismiss cases to alleviate backlogs. Witnesses or officers who get sick or die could halt a case. Witness-credibility problems could prompt prosecutors to drop cases.

And fierce family loyalties can thwart some cases.

When an 8-year-old boy was shot on Sigel Street in South Philadelphia in August, the victim's family originally gave authorities a false name and declined to cooperate, Conn said. The shooters were two brothers trading gunfire, and their innocent-bystander victim was their young cousin, who was playing nearby, he added.

Some observers also blame bail and sentencing issues.

A defendant sentenced to more than two years typically must serve that time in a state prison. This prompts some judges to set shorter sentences than they might otherwise, theorizing that rehabilitation is more likely if inmates remain close to their families, prosecutors and law-enforcement experts say.

In Slight's case, his sole convictions - both for drugs - resulted in probation and a three-to-12-month prison sentence, according to court records.

The changing demographic of violent offenders also affects sentencing, experts say.

City police are arresting more juveniles for gun crimes, with almost 15 percent of all firearms-violation charges through July involving teens under age 18, statistics show. That's up almost 3 percentage points from the year before, the data indicates.

Juveniles typically encounter more-lenient sentencing than adults charged with similar crimes, experts say.

A few ideas

State Rep. Harold James has a plan that might have kept Khalil Slight's gun holstered.

The lawmaker introduced a bill - part of a 96-proposal gun-control package legislators debated during the past two weeks in Harrisburg - that would require a minimum bail of $50,000 for anyone who shows or uses a gun while committing a crime.

The bill is being studied in committee, and James said he'll push for passage by the end of the year.

"We are in a state of emergency, we are in a state of war, with these gun crimes," said James, D-South Philadelphia. "Our police are arresting the same people over and over again. We need to stop these retaliation and revenge shootings."

James has experienced the epidemic of gun violence from all angles.

When he was 14, his buddy gave him a stolen gun, his ticket to acceptability with a local gang. After a week, James passed it on to another friend, but when the gun eventually was seized by police, James got probation for his role in the gun hand-down.

Years later, when James became a Philadelphia cop, he learned how it felt to be a shooting victim. Responding to a robbery in Point Breeze in 1979, James was shot in the arm by a thug with a stolen gun.

"I'm not for mandatory sentencing, because I think judges should have discretion," James said. "But we need to raise the bail so people don't use their time before trial to terrorize more citizens. [Raising bail in gun cases] can save some lives and serious injury."

Other proposals that could have affected cases like Slight's were shot down by lawmakers last week. The proposals included limiting handgun purchases to one a month to slow the illegal gun trade, and returning more local control to municipalities to enact tighter firearms restrictions. Measures still being considered include hiring more cops, expanding funding for programs aimed at reducing juvenile recidivism rates, and toughening career-criminal laws.

One judicial leader said high bail could help but isn't a cure-all.

"Bail is supposed to be reasonable, and it is to ensure a defendant's reappearance in court," said President Judge C. Darnell Jones II of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. "[Raising bail for gun offenders] is a visceral reaction that is wholly understandable and in many instances justified, but the guidelines for setting bail are dependent upon a number of factors, against the backdrop of a presumption of innocence."

Instead, Jones said, a zero-tolerance attitude must be adopted for gun offenders.

"I think the answer is incarceration, incarceration, incarceration, when it comes to gun crimes," Jones said.

Speedier trials also would give a habitual offender less time to commit more crimes between arrest and possible conviction, Jones added.

Prosecuting gun crimes on a federal level has helped the city lock up some habitual offenders, said Robert Reed, deputy chief of the U.S. attorney's office's criminal division.

Cases prime for federal prosecution include repeat offenders with a violent history and those in crime-plagued areas, in which a defendant's cooperation could lead to more arrests, Reed said.

As part of the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods program, Reed's office reviews all city gun arrests and takes over especially serious cases. He wasn't sure why his office didn't take any of Slight's cases.

Federal prosecution typically results in stiffer prison sentences. Gun offenders with three prior violent-crime or felony drug convictions face a mandatory 15-year sentence under federal law, Reed said.

Since Project Safe Neighborhoods started in 2001, Reed's office has charged 1,423 gun offenders, of whom 1,291 have been convicted and received an average sentence of 9.6 years in prison without parole, Reed said. More than 160 of those convicts were charged under the career-criminal law, he added.

Still, Conn said, lawmakers and the criminal-justice system must go even further.

"The answer is tougher laws for mere possession of a gun," Conn said. "Because the first two or three times, you'll just get probation. That's a problem, because if you have a gun and you get into a fight, you're probably going to use it."

Such a law would have given authorities 11 chances to remove Khalil Slight from the streets, records show.

Judges also should issue bench warrants for witnesses who fail to show up in court to testify against defendants, Conn said. Such warrants would have ensured prosecution in more than a dozen cases against Slight that were dropped because of no-show witnesses, records show.

Unwilling witnesses occasionally are brought in on bench warrants, most commonly in homicide cases. But Jones said some witnesses may have reasonable excuses for failing to show up in court, such as child-care needs or unforgiving employers.

And ethical issues arise as well, Jones said.

"The witness could end up in custody while the defendant gets out on bail, and that's a travesty," he said.

That has happened before. A city man who witnessed a 2003 homicide outside a North Philadelphia bar was placed in custody in November 2004 to ensure his testimony in the suspect's trial. When the murder case was dropped, witness Korvel Odd remained, forgotten, in jail for two months and was freed only after sending a written plea to a public defender. Odd is suing the district attorney's office and the prosecutor who jailed him.

Jones and Conn emphasized the community's role in halting repeat gun offenders, saying that poor parenting had created corrupt kids with no sense of ethics because their misdeeds go unpunished at home.

"I can't fathom what I would do as a parent, would my child involve himself in that [criminal] conduct one time, let alone a second time - we wouldn't even get to a second time," said Jones, who has five grown children.

The ongoing curfew crackdown in South Philadelphia - home of the largest amount of the city's juvenile-on-juvenile crime - also is crucial, Conn added. More community-based preventative programs aimed at getting potential juvenile troublemakers off streets also would help, he said.

A city-funded reward program that offers cash for information leading to the recovery of illegal guns has paid out almost $100,000 in three years, said Officer Tasha Norman of the Gun Recovery and Reward Information Program. The program has fielded more than 850 calls since its inception, with officers recovering 252 guns, Norman said.

From bad to worse

To Ruth Donnelly, the remedy to skyrocketing murder rates is simple: Get the Khalil Slights of the world off the streets.

Ernest Odom was a repeat gun offender with Slight's talent for dodging hard jail time when he stabbed Donnelly's 19-year-old son to death in 2001. Odom had attacked Justin Donnelly on a city street because he didn't like the answer the teen and his friends gave when he asked if they'd seen his lost pit bull. Five months later, Odom fatally shot another man in a dispute over a parking space.

Odom had an extensive record before the slayings, including 12 prior arrests - mostly for assaults and gun offenses - that were dismissed primarily because witnesses failed to show for court, court documents show. He also served probation and several short jail terms in five other cases involving gun and drug crimes and probation violations.

Since his incarceration, his violent streak has continued, with arrests for stabbing fellow inmates and assaulting a prison guard, court records show.

Knowing that brutes like Odom can duck tough punishment keeps Donnelly studying passers-by with suspicion and fear, even though Odom eventually met justice. He's now serving two life sentences for killing Justin Donnelly and Khaaliq Jabbar Johnson.

"You wonder how many other people are out there with records like that who just haven't seen justice yet," said Donnelly. "There needs to be a better way to track repeat offenders. There needs to be a lot of changes."

South Detectives' tip line is 215-685-1635. The Citizens Crime Commission tip line is 215-546-TIPS. The Gun Recovery and Reward Information Program hotline is 215-683-GUNS. Callers may remain anonymous.

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Helmetcase
October 10, 2006, 09:35 PM
Interesting article.

What I take away from it is that if we quit prosecuting so many petty crimes (attn DEA, this means you) and actually stuck violent crooks in jail for appreciable periods of time instead of flooding jails and courtrooms with petty distribution and possession convictions, we'd probably have a lot less reason to even care who has a gun in the first place.

Sounds like liberty to me.

Standing Wolf
October 10, 2006, 09:48 PM
Well, I guess that proves government needs to crack down on law-abiding American citizens who exercise our Second Amendment civil rights.

FTF
October 10, 2006, 10:21 PM
This sums up my views.

"I think the answer is incarceration, incarceration, incarceration, when it comes to gun crimes," Jones said.

If you commit a violent felony and use a firearm in the comission of... you go to jail and you STAY there. I don't care if we have to build more jails and fire judge after judge who throw probation for violent crime around like candy. I'm willing to pay extra taxes for that! Blaming 'everyone' doesn't work... lay the blame on the criminals and keep their punkasses in jail. The system is broken. How can you even have "career criminal laws"??? *** are they doing outside of jail if they are "career criminals" anyways?:cuss: :banghead: :fire:

ConstitutionCowboy
October 10, 2006, 10:29 PM
I didn't read the whole article, but I believe the gist of it is in the first third. I believe the article puts fourth the premise that the police are too busy with the small timers that keep getting released or are never convicted in the first place, to ever get a handle on the rampant crime. Well, the best approach to this is the way you approach a myriad of bills - large and small - that are over due, or simply stifling.

You pay off all the little ones first, then the number of bills you face may be down to only two or three. The two or three remaining will be the largest of course, but now you have more resources to apply to these two or three large bills, and you are no longer hassled with the little ones. That is how you get a handle on crime as well.

Round up these small timers, convict them, and keep them in jail! That will free up valuable policing and prosecution resources to go after the not so small criminal element. The infringement onto the big boys' "territory" by these small timers isn't simply tolerated, it is welcomed!

Do this, and before you know it, you might be able to walk down the street in any color hat you want!

OK. I've finished reading the article. They are calling for higher bail and more "gun control" laws(RKBA infringements), and they continue to place a lot of the blame for the lack of convictions upon witnesses that won't testify.

Well, seems if these guys were caught to begin with, there must be some evidence - and maybe a police officer witness - that should be enough to get a conviction! As for the bail, screw the bail! Just hold them! If they were dangerous enough to be taken off the streets(arrested) in the first place, they are dangerous enough to be kept off the streets! That will also make for fewer skippers, and most trials will also be held on time!

All the "gun control" laws(RKBA infringements) in the world won't do a damn thing to alleviate the problem, either. At the best, it will only crowd the system with people being arrested and charged for something that shouldn't be a crime to begin with, and all the criminals will still be out on the streets with their guns!

Yup. Use this "economics" approach, and it will work. We have prisons for a reason. It isn't to punish or rehabilitate ne'er-do-wells. It is to isolate them so that the rest of us might live in peace, and not have our rights infringed in an attempt - a failed attempt - to get a handle on crime.

Woody

"The Right of the People to move about freely in a secure manner shall not be infringed. Any manner of self defense shall not be restricted, regardless of the mode of travel or where you stop along the way, as it is the right so enumerated at both the beginning and end of any journey." B.E.Wood

Lonestar
October 10, 2006, 10:31 PM
Ummm Philly needs to enforce the 5 year federal rule on this guy now that he is an adult. Previously convicted felons are supposed to do 5 years if they are even in possession of a firearm. The DA in Philly is a waste. If they stopped wasting taxpayers money with radio ads on rap stations telling potential perp about the law and actually ENFORCE the law on these scumbags.

Authorities say that a small group of lawbreakers commits two-thirds of the city's crime, and police suspect that repeat offenders are arrested only once for every 10 crimes they commit.

And slippery thugs like Slight typically commit progressively more serious crimes, experts say.

Follow these bad eggs around, pick them up for jaywalking, ohh your packing an illegal firearm and your a convict felon..enforce the law and bye bye..

Meanwhile someone convicted of some white collor felony will do 5 years in the pokey for possession of a firearm, but these hoodlums still walk the streets.

geekWithA.45
October 10, 2006, 10:45 PM
Aside from the obsession with "gun crime", the article's not too bad.

A few things pricked up my ears:

Hotheads who used to settle battles with their fists now brandish guns instead, veteran law-enforcement authorities say. Eighty percent of the city's recent murderers used guns to kill, police department data show.

Statement B, 80% of murders are committed with guns, does not _actually_ support, or have anything to do with statement A, the assertion that people swap assault with a deadly weapon for simple assault & battery.


This one too:

"The answer is tougher laws for mere possession of a gun," Conn said. "Because the first two or three times, you'll just get probation. That's a problem, because if you have a gun and you get into a fight, you're probably going to use it."

There is a phenomena such that since the authorities are majorly inneffective at prosecuting actual bad guys for the serious crimes they actually commit, they try to first criminalize, and then felonize simple things so that they _can_ get them on _something_, and therefore get them off the street.

In the case of mere gun posession, this has the effect of splashing all over the honest guy, at first placing him at risk, and then eventually marginalizing him. It also creates an environment of fear and uncertainty in a context of selective enforcement and prosecution.

This dynamic has become a monster for us, and is perhaps the driving force behind the observed phenomena of "felony creep".

Finally, although I hate to blame the victim, I'd like to point out that a lot of these streets are hellish, because the residents have effectively surrendered them.

To heck with marching on city hall demanding that the police take back your streets for you.

They're doing their bit.

You do yours.

Show up in court and testify.

MartinBrody
October 10, 2006, 10:46 PM
I think this sums up the problem...

Slight has 25 arrests on his record - including three attempted-murder charges and 11 arrests involving gun crimes.

And how many convictions does Slight have?

Two.

That's all. Two.

Why can't the criminal justice system more successfully prosecute a person who is clearly a problem? The article suggests that lack of evidence (witness testimony) is the reason. Any suggestions? I don't think legislation will solve it, this sounds like a DA & police effectiveness issue.

geekWithA.45
October 10, 2006, 10:55 PM
I think witness testimony is actually a huge issue for these folks.

The threat of retaliation is real and imminent, either directly by the perp, or his friend/brother/fellow gangbanger who lives two doors down.

A lot of people run the calculus, figure it ain't worth it to send him to jail for the very few years he'll actually serve, and basically play "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil", rather than ask for more trouble than one isolated person can handle.

This represents a vicious cycle that results in a fundamental breakdown of the social order, neither society nor the individual can make good on their mutual contract.

Unfortunately, the only answers I have to this are personal courage, backed up by community cohesion, which is something you have to build one household and street at a time.

One unarmed guy can't do much in terms of protecting himself. An armed guy can do more, but he has to sleep sometime, and the stress of constantly looking over your shoulder can wear you down. An armed guy, walking down the street, on good terms with his neighbors, who he knows to be equally well armed AND are also watching his back for their mutual benefit's a different story. Such a man might be more willing to testify, for himself, and his neighborhood if he knew his neighbors understood the risks he took in so doing, and they shared it with him.

But building that...well, that's the rub. Healing a wounded, fractured community, if "community" could even be said to exist is a daunting task.

Sadly, some things might just be too broken to fix, especially when communities look to anyone other than themselves for deliverance.

PythonFan
October 10, 2006, 11:37 PM
His name is Khalil, ship him to Gitmo under the partriot act.:neener:

Standing Wolf
October 11, 2006, 04:58 AM
Sadly, some things might just be too broken to fix, especially when communities look to anyone other than themselves for deliverance.

Multiple generations of so-called "welfare" have taught people to do nothing for themselves, but wait for government to solve their problems.

Government doesn't solve problems.

BobTheTomato
October 11, 2006, 08:18 AM
I can't wait to get my "Stop Snitchin" tee shirt......... :barf: :barf:

Like geekwitha45 said retaliation is a real fear in these cases. I think the key would be that when you do get a conviction especially on a repeat offender you need to lock them up and throw the key away. If the statistic is true about 2/3 of crime being caused by the same people this is a case of changing the system so that crime dosent pay.

hammer4nc
October 11, 2006, 08:29 AM
Government blames their inability to obtain criminal convictions on lack of witnesses. They attribute this solely to witness intimidation by the perps. As usual, they completely ignore the monumental PR problem they've created by criminalizing a wide range of victimless crimes. Fear of reprisals from accused suspects does not cause citizens to wear "no snitch" tee-shirts, and rap videos pushing the "no snitch" ethic. Lack of respect for the justice system does.
"I think the answer is incarceration, incarceration, incarceration, when it comes to gun crimes," Jones said.

Incaraceration rates are at record highs, can't build prisons fast enough, and they're overcrowded. As if we're not jailing like never before! This guy completely ignores this fact (as usual)!

Now we know why .gov, abetted by the ATF, relies so heavily on "felon in possession" federal charges. How many citizen witnesses do you need to make a FIP charge stick? Zero. How much local tax money do you need to build federal prisons? Zero (federal funds are manna from heaven; immune to deficit limits).

This is a classic case of an unstable system, unsustainable, in essence spiraling in flames toward the ground.

coat4gun
October 11, 2006, 08:51 AM
Personally, I see the unconstitutional "war on drugs" as one of the main causes of this problem. It causes prison overcrowding... it causes resentment of Government... it causes disrespect for police... it cost's Billions and it isn't working... and it never will work.

"Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced."
- Albert Einstein, "Ideas and Opinions", 1954

Manedwolf
October 11, 2006, 09:12 AM
"He has a history of possessing guns and shooting at people, but apparently you get credit for bad aim," said Philadelphia Police Detective Bob Conn, who has arrested Slight several times.

That's what's most broken about the system. Someone does a drive-by and misses, it's a relatively minor charge. They have to KILL someone before they're put away.

michaelbane
October 11, 2006, 09:59 AM
I know it's off topic, but I feel compelled to point something out in the article.

State Rep. Harold James...has experienced the epidemic of gun violence from all angles.

When he was 14, his buddy gave him a stolen gun, his ticket to acceptability with a local gang. After a week, James passed it on to another friend, but when the gun eventually was seized by police, James got probation for his role in the gun hand-down.

Years later, when James became a Philadelphia cop, he learned how it felt to be a shooting victim. Responding to a robbery in Point Breeze in 1979, James was shot in the arm by a thug with a stolen gun.

How do you get to be a cop and a state representative with a criminal record? I don't care if it's as a juvie. A criminal record is a criminal record, IMO.

svtruth
October 11, 2006, 10:19 AM
these guys for things you can't get convictions on? It sounds close to harrassment. Mr. Slight sounds like a BG, but if so arrest him for something that you can make stick.
Clogged courts are advanced as a reason for not getting convictions, but all those acquitals must be clogging the courts.

Lonestar
October 11, 2006, 11:38 AM
I know it's off topic, but I feel compelled to point something out in the article.


Quote:
State Rep. Harold James...has experienced the epidemic of gun violence from all angles.

When he was 14, his buddy gave him a stolen gun, his ticket to acceptability with a local gang. After a week, James passed it on to another friend, but when the gun eventually was seized by police, James got probation for his role in the gun hand-down.

Years later, when James became a Philadelphia cop, he learned how it felt to be a shooting victim. Responding to a robbery in Point Breeze in 1979, James was shot in the arm by a thug with a stolen gun.


How do you get to be a cop and a state representative with a criminal record? I don't care if it's as a juvie. A criminal record is a criminal record, IMO.

Mike, I didn't notice that....funny thing is my friend who graduated with a Criminal Justice degree after serving in the first Persian Gulf war was turned down by the Philly Police department because he admitted he tried smoking pot ONCE! We told him not to mention it on the background check, but the guy is too honest.

Thefabulousfink
October 11, 2006, 12:43 PM
And Thats the LAST thing we need, an honest cop who admits to his mistakes.:rolleyes:

And how exactly does the mayor of Philly expect a gun ban to reduce crime when people caught with "illegal guns" get put back on the street?:banghead:

Keith Wheeler
October 11, 2006, 12:56 PM
How do you get to be a cop and a state representative with a criminal record? I don't care if it's as a juvie. A criminal record is a criminal record, IMO.

Ah, so someone makes one mistake and must pay for it the rest of their life?

The problem with this attitude is that it breeds an attitude where people hide their mistakes, and then the slightest something that happened 20 years ago becomes a reason for a witch-hunt. We see this all the time with our political leaders. If folks would be "we're all human, we all mistakes. did you learn from your mistake?" I think there'd be less "political scandal". I mean come on, this guy wanted to become a cop, he wanted to make things right. He took a bullet for being a cop, but you want him to be a second class citizen because he made a mistake as a teenager?

Geeze nobody here has ever every committed a crime. Nobody here has ever made a stupid choice when a teen.

If someone makes a mistake and then changes what's wrong with that?

Henry Bowman
October 11, 2006, 02:29 PM
In the case of mere gun posession, this has the effect of splashing all over the honest guy, at first placing him at risk, and then eventually marginalizing him. It also creates an environment of fear and uncertainty in a context of selective enforcement and prosecution.Well put.

Art Eatman
October 11, 2006, 02:42 PM
Minor point: 80% of Philadelphia's murders involve firearms. Nationwide, it's about one-third.

Art

michaelbane
October 12, 2006, 10:15 AM
Ah, so someone makes one mistake and must pay for it the rest of their life? ... I mean come on, this guy wanted to become a cop, he wanted to make things right. He took a bullet for being a cop, but you want him to be a second class citizen because he made a mistake as a teenager?

For some things, people should pay for the rest of their life. That's why criminal records exist. The fact I believe that in no way trivializes the sacrifice he made in the line of duty or his status as a human being.

garymc
October 13, 2006, 05:01 AM
Years ago I worked with cops a lot. It always aggravated me when I ran into a cop who would make arrests as he's paid to do and then say its the prosecutor's problem if there's no case. "I don't work for the prosecuting attorney's office." Then you have cops trying to make cases and take them to a prosecutor who boasts a 95% conviction rate. You get a rate like that by rejecting any case with any conceivable loophole. I remember "what if" being the description of a given prosecutor. You take a case in and its "what if the defense says this or that?" That's probably what turns the cops trying to do a good job into the "I don't work for the PA types." I saw a majority of crimes sliding over this kind of stuff. Then you have the volume of cases that are accepted that vastly outnumber what could ever be tried, so you get plea bargains for reduced charges and sentences. And for those of you whining about minor drug cases filling up the prison, that's not what I observed over 30 years. Anybody stupid enough to get past the above problems and get to actually plead their first case for a minor drug violation gets probation, treatment mandated, and a suspended execution of sentence - complete probation without problems and you have no conviction record. Actually, its a good sifter. Many of those people either go straight or at least get smart enough not to get caught again. For the ones who don't learn, the second time is real probation with no suspension and a record. For the ones who still can't straighten out, the third time often gets jail. This is what I've seen for penny anty stuff like minor drug violations, burglary (no weapons involved), simple theivery, bad checks, etc. Its a wonder there are any people in prison from this perspective, but that's the other thing I've seen for the 30 years, inadequate prison space. Judges afraid to send a 3 time convicted burglar up for fear of pushing a rapist out the other end of the prison. In the 70's and early 80's most state prison systems were under court order to reduce the overcrowding.

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