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November 30, 2009

More details on the Huckabee clemency grant that aided suspected cop killer

PS Ruckman here at Pardon Power and CNN in this new story are adding details to what we now know about the form of clemency granted to Maurice Clemmons, the chief suspect in the fatal shooting of four police officers in Washington state.  Here is some of the new CNN coverage:

Nearly 10 years ago, Maurice Clemmons pledged to make a fresh start. "I come from a very good Christian family and I was raised much better than my actions speak," Clemmons said in a clemency application brief to then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000.  "I'm still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought upon my family's name."

Clemmons was 27.  He'd spent the past 11 years in an Arkansas prison, convicted of offenses including robbery, burglary, theft and taking a gun to school.  He was facing a 95-year sentence.

A decade later, Clemmons is the subject of an intense manhunt in Washington state, suspected in the deaths of four Lakewood, Washington, police officers who were shot to death Sunday as they met in a coffee shop before starting their shifts.  Authorities have said Clemmons is believed to have entered the Forza Coffee Company and opened fire on the officers with no warning....

In 2000, Clemmons told Huckabee that the crimes occurred when he was 16, had just moved to Arkansas from Seattle and had fallen in with the wrong crowd.  "Where once stood a young 16-year-old misguided fool ... now stands a 27-year-old man, who has learned through the 'school of hard knocks' to appreciate and respect the rights of others," his petition to Huckabee said.

Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence in 2000, citing his young age at the time of sentencing, making him eligible for parole.  It was granted in July 2000, after he told Arkansas parole officials that he "just wants the opportunity" and "is not the same person he was when he came in," the documents said....

In his 2000 brief to Huckabee, Clemmons said his mother had died while he had been in prison, providing him with further motivation to turn his life around. "I have never done anything good for God, but I've prayed for him to grant me in his compassion the grace to make a start," he said. "Now, I'm humbly appealing to you for a brand new start."

But after receiving a second chance, Clemmons was apparently unable to stay on the right side of the law, according to documents and authorities in Arkansas and Washington. Arkansas parole board documents show that he was back in prison by September 2001.  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that he was arrested for aggravated robbery and theft and taken back to prison on a parole violation.  The paper said he was not served with the new arrest warrants for the robbery and theft charges until he was paroled three years later in 2004.  His attorney argued that the charges should be dismissed because too much time had passed, and prosecutors complied.

Huckabee went on to become a 2008 Republican presidential candidate and has not ruled out a second try for the White House in 2012.  In a statement Sunday night, his office said Clemmons' commutation was based on the recommendation of the parole board that determined that he met the conditions for early release.

"He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him," the statement said.  "Should he be found responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state."

Clemmons is believed to have moved to Washington in 2004.  The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that he was recently charged in the assault of a police officer and rape of a child.  County court records posted online show that he spent several months in jail and was released on $150,000 bail Tuesday, days before the shootings.

As these details highlight, this high-profile story could not only impact public and political opinions on clemency grants, but also public and judicial opinions on whether violent juvenile offenders generally should or even constitutionally must be given the opportunity for parole when sentenced to very long prison terms.  Though I doubt the Justices' views in the juve LWOP cases of Graham and Sullivan will be unduly influenced by a single tragic offense, I think many juve offenders who have turned their lives around while in prison will be cursing Maurice Clemmons for some time to come.

November 30, 2009 at 03:44 PM | Permalink

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"Though I doubt the Justices' views in the juve LWOP cases of Graham and Sullivan will be unduly influenced by a single tragic offense, I think many juve offenders who have turned their lives around while in prison will be cursing Maurice Clemmons for some time to come."

But that's just the point, isn't it? The point is that no one has a crystal ball. I readily grant that there are probably lots of violent criminals who have "learned their lesson" and could be released back into society safely (putting aside the separate issue of whether they simply deserve to rot in prison). The problem is determining who gets out and who doesn't. Thus, the question has to be how we are going to allocate the risk. Are we going to risk juvie offenders who may have been redeemed, or are we going to risk innocent members of society? States with juvie LWOP have simply decided that for certain crimes, they simply are not willing to risk innocent members of society. That decision, I think, is eminently reasonable.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 30, 2009 4:16:41 PM

Doug --

-- "I think many juve offenders who have turned their lives around while in prison will be cursing Maurice Clemmons for some time to come."

And juve offenders who have NOT turned their lives around while in prison -- but falsely claim they have, as Clemmons did -- will also be cursing him for some time to come. Better not to have the cruel light of reality thrown upon them.

-- It struck me that Clemmons' clemency petition was almost word-for-word what you see in such documents, i.e., that what the prisoner did was "stupid" as opposed to immoral; that he's a "new man" notwithstanding the lack of evidence to prove any such thing; and the reliably earnest, if phony, promise to sin no more.

I wonder if these clemency petitions are on a word processer somewhere, and all you have to do is change the name.

-- I agree that this episode will, at the minimum, affect the atmospherics of the Graham and Sullivan cases. I also agree that the Clemmons matter should not UNDULY influence those decisions, bearing in mind, however, that the question in those cases is whether juve LWOP is EVER justified under the Eighth Amendment. As to that question, even a single case can have legitimate relevance.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 30, 2009 4:23:54 PM

federalist. It would be an "eminently reasonable" decision if the policy was in fact implemented by "eminently reasonable" judges.

Alas, it isn't. And that's not reasonable.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 30, 2009 5:21:27 PM

The only way to ensure we don't have stories like this is to keep every offender in prison for life without parole, no matter what the initial crime. And the only way to ensure we will be safe in our world is to stay in a locked and padded room. We always know when we have a false negative like this case, but we will never know how many false positives we have -- lives that are wasted in prison that needn't have been. Nor will we ever know how many children's lives are mangled because their parents were needlessly locked up. It just isn't as simple as guilty lives versus innocent lives. Innocent lives get ruined both ways. There is no risk-free justice, only risk-free injustice.

Posted by: Linda | Nov 30, 2009 7:49:24 PM

123D.

This palaver is irresponsible, criminal lover, self-dealing rent seeking lawyer masking ideology.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2009 8:13:52 PM

"The point is that no one has a crystal ball."

Federalist: Really? So you disagree that foreseeability should be the basis of duty?

With his record, the criminal came with a written guaranty of future murder, as in 100%.

The lawyer claims the productive party can predict the rare accident, with odds similar to those of a winning lottery ticket, as in 1 in 1000. Do you oppose negligence torts? If you do, this would be a breakthrough for the victim of the lawyer criminal cult indoctrination, a bit of reality in this Twilight Zone lawyer blog.

Or was that a misstatement that you retract?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2009 8:20:06 PM

Linda --

Yes, yes, and the only way to ensure not "mangling" any innocent lives is to empty the prisons, because for sure there's SOMEONE in there who shouldn't be.

Right?

This form of argument might work in the ninth grade, but not much beyond that.

The truth of the matter is that we have to make judgments and choices, and that life is full of unhappy trade-off's. As federalist correctly points out, the only realistic question is who should bear the risk of error -- the criminal or the unsuspecting future victim. To me, this is not a particularly difficult question.

In the present context, the decision to release Clemmons before he had served even 12% of his sentence ranged from foolish to scandalous. Either way, someone should have to pay the price for it other than the four innocent people who got their heads blown off.

What would you say to their kids? "Gee, sorry about that, but you wouldn't want to lock everybody up forever, would you? You got a bad break. That's life. Grow up and get over it."

The self-proclaimed voice of compassion is a selective thing indeed.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 30, 2009 8:22:59 PM

All criminal lovers in this sorry chain of incompetence caused by criminal loving, the racist devaluation of the killer's prior victims' race, and the need to appear virtuous (hypocrisy), should lose their jobs. Their employers should be sued by the estates of the murder victims. All self-dealt immunities must be canceled by the court as being self-dealt, against public policy, and harmful to the employer's ability to function.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2009 8:47:20 PM

"And the only way to ensure we will be safe in our world is to stay in a locked and padded room."

True enough, but I also look both ways before I cross the street. There are some risks worth taking; there are others that are not. Releasing violent criminals onto our streets after short sentences is nuts. But to dress it up in terms of "thoughtfulness" is morally bankrupt (and yes, Doug, I am directing that at you). Society has a right to decide "enough is enough" for violent juvie offenders and basically ruin their lives by incarcerating them for life. Why? Not because anyone particularly enjoys locking a kid up for the rest of his life, but because putting innocent members of our society in the ground or in hospital emergency rooms is not such an enjoyable experience either.

It's only natural to feel bad for Joe Sullivan, just as it was probably natural to feel bad for some Chinese 17 year-old conscript killed in the liberation Korea. But there isnt a serious argument that we should have let Chinese aggression stand because of the slaughter of blameless Chinese conscripts(i'm speaking here of soldiers who fought according to the laws of war). Here, at least, Joe Sullivan is blameworthy.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 30, 2009 8:59:50 PM

This is the type of teenager who gets life without parole. All you criminal lovers boohooing about LWOP must take responsibility for the carnage that will ensue. The vile criminal lovers on the Supreme Court are too stupid to get the point of this fruit of the criminal lovers running the criminal law. There is full moral justification for the families to bring street justice to criminal lover Huckabee and all other criminal lovers in this sorry chain of incompetence. Beat his criminal lover ass, since there is no recourse in torts for negligent clemency. The vile criminal lover has granted itself a self-dealt immunity, and a good beating is the only recourse.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2009 9:14:26 PM

It is possible to goof up a risk assessment and put the wrong person or probation, parole or clemency. When that happens you try to avoid making the same mistake in the future. The Arkansas parole board goofed on the risk assessment for both clemency and parole and someone in Washington goofed on the risk assessment for pretrial release.

Posted by: John Neff | Nov 30, 2009 9:23:57 PM

John Neff --

Some searching inquiry into how these "goofs," as you quite gently call them, came about, and whether the standards for decision contributed, certainly must be worthwhile.

But even if the standards for release decisions are tightened, there will still be error, because human beings will still be running things. The question, then, is who should bear the risk of error, and the answer is those who have been adjudicated guilty rather than everyone else.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 30, 2009 10:15:34 PM

The notion that people are advocating for clemency for violent criminals is a straw man that Bill Otis continuously, repeatedly, builds. The issue is not whether to grant clemency to violent offenders such as Clemmons. The issue is whether a particular class of offenders - nonviolent offenders - are worthy of considering for clemency. THe Bill Otis's of the world purposefully conflate the two issues. There are separate questions: whether certain non-violent (at some point, we can all agree on the definition of the term "nonviolent") offenders deserve clemency is a question separate from the question of whether violent offenders should be considered for clemency.

This horrific crime is the result of religion - right wing religious ideology. It is not the result of advocacy for clemency as a proper check on the criminal justice system. Huckabee released Clemmons because of Clemmons' self-proclaimed religious conversion. It is the Christian religious establishment that is at fault here; it is not the fault of those seeking to hold public officials to their duty to review petitions for clemency.

Posted by: John | Nov 30, 2009 10:39:56 PM

The criminal lover incompetents officials must bear the price of their carelessness in negligent clemency tort actions. Entire neighborhoods should be able to sue for the fall in property values, and for all injuries after these criminals return home. The official may avoid this liability by having the criminal move into a halfway house within 500 feet of his own residence.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2009 10:42:34 PM

Yes Bill, there will still be error. Error in the jury, error in the conviction, error in the sentence. The problem with positions like yours and federalist is that it denies the reality of the word "luck" and therefore denies the reality of "bad luck". Shit happens despite everyone's best intentions. There isn't always someone else to blame but the criminal himself.

What if the only person to blame was Clemmons himself. Not his parents not the system not Huckabee not anyone. Just Clemmons. Is that a reality you can accept?

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 30, 2009 10:53:55 PM

I look at this story and some others and think that people mess up a lot of progress that need and should be made. Some people do change, but now so many are going to look past the so many that deserve another chance. I will pray for the families of the lives this man took. No one should have to endure such tragedy.

Posted by: Jumeka | Nov 30, 2009 10:55:39 PM

John

If you look at the distribution of prison inmates by year of admission to prison the majority were admitted within the past three years and most of the recent admits are recidivists sentenced for a mixture of assaults, rapes, property, drug and public order offenses. We don't have that many new criminals we keep re-incarcerating our old criminals. The recent admits don't ask for clemency (they know they will be released before their request is processed) the ones that do are serving long sentences for violent crimes.

There are lifers that have been rehabilitated that would be good risks for clemency but because of the political costs of granting clemency few of them are released. Even though the risk of a horrific outcome from granting clemency is small the consequences for both the victim(s) and governor can be severe. It is not even possible under the present political climate to release a terminally ill lifer to a nursing home (compassion is not the reason cost control is).

It is possible to slowly reduce (a few percent a year) the population of a prison by reducing recidivism. Granting clemency to violent criminals serving long sentences will make little difference in the prison population because too few of them are good risks.

Bill I do not think it is practical to avoid taking risks when a prisoner is released. It would be great if they were to take responsibility for their bad behavior but one of the reasons we have a criminal justice system is they don't.

Posted by: John Neff | Nov 30, 2009 11:41:24 PM

Huckabee: Unlikely to run.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/1109/Mike_Huckabee_on_rather_he_will_run_in_2012.html?showall

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2009 11:55:50 PM

Daniel: As to blame, the long chain of incompetents and criminal lovers had control of the body of Clemmons. They are fully responsible for the murders, as if they pulled the trigger, by their irresponsible release of this mentally ill, ultra-violent predator. Furthermore, they overcame very loud protests against release, from people that knew him best. This list of protesters included lawyers, clinicians, victims.

There should be a statute allowing the tort of negligent clemency.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2009 11:59:58 PM

That Huckabee is deflecting responsibilities to all other agencies goes to his lack of character and responsibility.

He should have shared the responsibility. Had he not commutted, none of the following irresponsible actions would have occurred.

Both as a character issue, as well as one of political wisdom (yeah I know), he should have said the buck stopped with me. I made a mistake and innocent people have died because of it.

He would be joining a very large club, involving all parole boards and the executive branches they serve.

There are 3 constants for violent offenders:

1) They can stay the same, a bad result.

2) They can become worse, an even worse outcome.

3) They can improve, which ranges from still bad to a saint.

Everyone in criminal justice, as well as all of us with any world experience, knows that reality every time early release is a consideration.

This is one of tens of thousands of cases, whereby innocents were murdered because parole and probation decisions benefitted the guilty criminal and the innocent paid the ultimate price.

As horrendous as these four murders were, this type of benign neglect and active irresposnibility lead to such outcomes much more often that we would like to realize.

This is a well known, constantly repeated story. We just like to forget it in between the headlines.

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 1, 2009 7:13:27 AM

The sad truth is that we cannot protect all the innocent victims. If we tried, we could protect more of them, but at a cost. We have statistical models that tell us with greater-than-chance accuracy who will commit violent crimes based on parentage, performance at school, marital status, gender, and criminal associations -- in other words, social status (not moral choice). We could identify those folks even before they commit any crimes. And, we could keep people in prison, not based on their culpability, but on their dangerousness (the statistical likelihood of reoffense). There is no end to this side of the argument, either. Releasing someone "early" is no more problematic than basing their sentence on their culpability rather than their dangerousness. So, if we really want to protect ourselves from crime, we would have to lock up the dangerous, not just the guilty. We don't use foreseeability of danger as the exclusive measure of sentencing. So it would be very difficult to argue that clemency grants ought to be exclusively determined by foreseeability of danger either. Of course, we could adopt a system of incarceration based on foreseeability. But it wouldn't be based on moral fault -- or redemption. Trials would be unnecessary; all we would really need would be statistical instruments. And moral fault would be irrelevant -- it wouldn't be Clemmons that was to blame, but the statistical modeling that led to his release. In my view, that's not justice, but a Brave New World of centralized social control.

Posted by: Linda | Dec 1, 2009 9:20:37 AM

Supremacy Clause should be pleased to know that Clemmons is now indeed 123D.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/01/AR2009120100319.html?hpid=artslot

Posted by: Buffalo Bill | Dec 1, 2009 11:06:18 AM

John's right about Bill's straw men and right again with this observation:

"...whether certain non-violent ... offenders deserve clemency is a question separate from the question of whether violent offenders should be considered for clemency."

Problem is that folks who cash in on these situations use flamethrowers, not scalples.

Niceties about the nature of the petitioner's offense are likely to get lost in the mix of political timidity on one hand and demagogic thunder on the other.

If the arch-felon and ex-con Martha Stewart were to rob a liquor store tomorrow, officials who signed off on her "lenient" five-month sentence would have some explaining to do.

So I'm guessing it's going to be somewhat more difficult in the near future for even the most deserving inmates to catch a break.

Posted by: John K | Dec 1, 2009 11:17:21 AM

I think Governor Ehrlich's clemency program was a good model for a governor's approach.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 1, 2009 11:26:55 AM

News reports I've heard say that family members report bizarre psychotic like behavior by Clemmons in the past year or two. One huge fault our social system has in the US is the elimination of treatment for mental illness. We used to have it, before Regan. It was cut, cut further, and cut again. People don't stop to think things out, they are so easily led. The media is frothing at the mouth over this story. Never mind, all the young men, growing old, rotting in prison. Because ONE mentally ill man did this terrible thing, they will not mention the hundreds of thousands of inmates rotting in prison all their lives, many who did very little. I stated this on Anderson Cooper's blog, amongst all the "lock em all up and throw away the key" knee jerk stupid comments. My comment was deleted. I just wonder if it wouldn't be cost effective to provide mental health treatment to inmates as well as to the rest of society. I think that when somebody takes a gun, and uses it to coerce other people, it is a serious thing. But, what are the details? I think they maybe should be "observed" for a very long time, as well as have mental health treatment if they need it. In fact, combine the two things, long probations with the mental health treatment. Now I am afraid this will be a set back to Graham and Sullivan. Can our Supreme Court Judges ignore the news media's frothing at the mouth? (Which they do in order to dramatize their story and get better ratings.)

Posted by: DLJ | Dec 1, 2009 1:08:11 PM

John, absolutely correct in 1st Paragraph,"...whether certain non-violent ... offenders deserve clemency is a question separate from the question of whether violent offenders should be considered for clemency" not so much so in paragraph 2,"This horrific crime is the result of religion - right wing religious ideology" Don’t think so. On the one hand the "right" gets the paint beaten off of them for being "Tough on Crime” then when someone from the right shows a little compassion they get beaten up again.

John K is pretty much on point too. Got to watch out for those Martha types. Never know when one of them may go off.

Posted by: HadEnough | Dec 1, 2009 1:13:01 PM

"not so much so in paragraph 2,'This horrific crime is the result of religion - right wing religious ideology' Don’t think so. On the one hand the 'right' gets the paint beaten off of them for being 'Tough on Crime' then when someone from the right shows a little compassion they get beaten up again."

The point was overstated but had Clemmons not self-proclaimed a religious conversion but all other factors remained the same, would Huckabee have granted clemency? The religious right and left focus too much on religious conversion as evidence of a new found morality.

Posted by: John | Dec 1, 2009 1:58:56 PM

Linda --

"The sad truth is that we cannot protect all the innocent victims."

Is that what you would say face-to-face to the children of the cops Clemmons gunned down?

P.S. Assuming arguendo, as I do, that we cannot eliminate all risk and all error, we can sure do a better job than Huckabee did with Clemmons.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 1, 2009 6:29:17 PM

Daniel --

"What if the only person to blame was Clemmons himself. Not his parents not the system not Huckabee not anyone. Just Clemmons. Is that a reality you can accept?"

Can I ever. I have spent a lot of time here arguing, mostly to a stone wall, that adults of sound mind are responsible for their own lives and acts, and should be held accountable.

Of course so should their facilitators. Thus entereth Mr. Huckabee.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 1, 2009 6:35:05 PM

John --

"The notion that people are advocating for clemency for violent criminals is a straw man that Bill Otis continuously, repeatedly, builds. The issue is not whether to grant clemency to violent offenders such as Clemmons."

Complete and utter nonsense. The title Doug put on this thread is: "More details on the Huckabee clemency grant that aided suspected cop killer." Thus the issue is PRECISELY whether it was wise to grant clemency to violent offenders such as Clemmons.

Is Doug in cahoots with me? He'll be surprised to hear that!

"The issue is whether a particular class of offenders - nonviolent offenders - are worthy of considering for clemency. THe Bill Otis's of the world purposefully conflate the two issues."

Not really. It's the anonymous John's of the world who would like to persuade us sub silentio that the entire prison population consists of (1) innnocents convicted by thug prosecutors and brain-dead jurors, and (2) to use the now well-worn and somnambulent phrase, "first time, low-level, nonviolent offenders."

What this smiley-face view of the prison population shows, John, is that you've never visited an actual prison.

"This horrific crime is the result of religion - right wing religious ideology."

You lefties need to get your story straight. Some of your number are saying it was due to Huckabee's consideration of race and class.

Which is it?

Answer: Neither. As Daniel points out, the person principally to blame for the killings is the killer, Clemmons, as to whom there is no evidence whatever of religious motivation. Secondary blame goes to Huckabee, whose clemency enabled Clemmons to be out on the street to do this. (Not that you have expressed any discomfort whatever with these murders). Huckabee's attention to religion MIGHT have played SOME role in his appalling decision to released this guy, that's true. On the other hand, to try to be fair to Huckabee (admittedly a difficult mission), consideration of whether a clemency applicant has had a true change of heart is a legitimate factor.

If you think it isn't, kindly explain why.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 1, 2009 7:04:40 PM

John K --

I was betting with myself that, somehow, you would bring the much put-upon Martha Stewart into this. So thank you!

Just one day -- one day -- I wish I could live the opulent life of multimillionaire celebrity Martha. Alas, it is not to be.

Of course one reason for this is that I don't do insider trading and then lie about it, but maybe that's just me.

"So I'm guessing it's going to be somewhat more difficult in the near future for even the most deserving inmates to catch a break."

And I'm guessing it's going to be somewhat more difficult in the near future for the least deserving inmates to catch a break. Thank goodness.

Indeed, as you acknowledge in a backhanded sort or way, this episode may introduce some sobriety into the system. And not a moment too soon (although quite a few moments too late for the four Washington cops).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 1, 2009 7:19:57 PM

"What this smiley-face view of the prison population shows, John, is that you've never visited an actual prison."

I've visited more prisons than you ever will. I've talked to more defendants, wardens, prison staff, prison doctors, and prison administrators than you ever will. I'll leave it at that.

I've seen both sides of the law - from the prosecutor's perspective as well as the defense perspective. I know that many of the defendants I've defended in my present career are irresponsible dirtbags. I also know that some were good people who were unjustly prosecuted. That's enough for me to have incentive to do my job in every case. Regardless of whether they're dirtbags or saints, they're still human beings entitled to a vigorous defense. Your problem is that you don't see the defendant as human; you see him as something less than human.

You connive, twist, and purposefully take statements out of context. See, e.g., "Is that what you would say face-to-face to the children of the cops Clemmons gunned down?"

Is that what you say to feel superior? She was stating a reality.

Clemmons should not have been released. His so-called religious faith contributed significantly to his clemency. The fact that Clemmons was released and committed this horrific crime does not in any way affect the argument that some non-violent offenders should be given clemency and that many should be given a pardon so that they could move on with their lives. Violent offenders accounted for less than 9% of the federal prison pupulation. (See below.) Yet it is only the violent offender on whom you focus.


"Federal prisons were estimated to hold 179,204 sentenced inmates in 2007. Of these, 15,647 were incarcerated for violent offenses, including 2,915 for homicide, 8,966 for robbery, and 3,939 for other violent crimes. In addition, 10,345 inmates were serving time for property crimes, including 504 for burglary, 7,834 for fraud, and 2,006 for other property offenses. A total of 95,446 were incarcerated for drug offenses. Also, 56,237 were incarcerated for public-order offenses, including 19,528 for immigration offenses and 24,435 for weapons offenses."

Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, and West, Heather C., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2007 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2008), NCJ224280, p. 22, Appendix Table 12.
http://www.ojp.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p07.pdf

Posted by: John | Dec 1, 2009 11:05:56 PM

John --

"I've visited more prisons than you ever will. I've talked to more defendants, wardens, prison staff, prison doctors, and prison administrators than you ever will. I'll leave it at that."

I won't. You belligerently assert something you couldn't possibly know, and provide no details suggesting that it even MIGHT be true. You don't even provide your name (although I provide mine). You appparently expect readers to accept on faith that you've visited more prisons than I have "or ever will." OK, hotshot, why don't you tell us who you are and identify the prisons you've visited?

"I also know that some were good people who were unjustly prosecuted."

You conspicuously do not claim they were factually innocent, I see. Nor do you provide any but your subjective assessment that they were "good people," whatever that means.

"That's enough for me to have incentive to do my job in every case. Regardless of whether they're dirtbags or saints, they're still human beings entitled to a vigorous defense."

When did I say differently?

"Your problem is that you don't see the defendant as human; you see him as something less than human."

And your problem is that you're an abject liar. I recently said EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE. In a November 10 post, I wrote this:

"When I was in the US Attorney's Office, my colleagues noticed, after a while, that I never showed emotion at the outcome of a case, even if it were a stiff sentence for which I had been pitching. Eventually, one of them asked me why I wasn't celebrating when the defendant got the unhappy fate he had earned.

My answer then is the same one I feel tonight: He's still a human being.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 10, 2009 7:45:33 PM" ###

Go look it up if you care to, John (or whoever you actually are).

When you want to attribute to your opponents beliefs they don't have, it would be wisest, particularly in the slick world of defense lawyering, to choose a strawman that can't be exposed with incontrovertible proof.

Should I wait for your apology?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 2, 2009 12:33:18 AM

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