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February 17, 2011

In Toledo to talk about Ohio sentencing policies and practices


I am pleased and honored to be in Toledo tonight and tomorrow to participate in a terrific symposium sponsored by the University of Toledo Law Review titled "Ohio’s Sentencing Policies and Practices, Costs and Consequences." This webpage provides some backstory:

Ohio has more than 50,000 inmates confined in more than thirty penal institutions.  The average cost per inmate year is more than $25,000.  Even in robust economic times asking whether the budgetary impact is bearable would be worthwhile.  In times of economic distress and unprecedented scarcity of fiscal resources, it is imperative to ask whether Ohio’s taxpayers can continue indefinitely to bear the costs and consequences of incarceration of so many inmates — especially those who have committed non-violent offenses and are demonstrably low-risk.  The 2011 Toledo Law Review Symposium will address this and related questions, including what alternatives may exist to provide safety to Ohio’s citizens while making more resources available for other crucial public needs.

A bunch of folks have worked to put together an amazing program with all sorts of amazing speakers, and I expect to learn a lot throughout the day.  Indeed, I have already learned a lot from this terrific and timely sentencing reform resource list assembled by the Toledo folks.

Some recent and older related posts:

February 17, 2011 at 10:48 PM | Permalink


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Say hello to my friend, Prof. John Barrett, while you are visiting Univ. of Toledo Law School. He is a Harvard Law School grad too.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Feb 17, 2011 11:07:34 PM

They should review the cases of some inmates and see if their offenses are not that bad maybe they can lower the number of period that they will stay in the penal institution. This way the budget will be lessen. And also hasten the process of litigation so that they can have final judgment for a short period of time.

Posted by: Brad Fallon | Feb 18, 2011 12:07:30 AM

The resources, participants, and agenda are uniformly pro-criminal, and aggressively anti-victim. $25,000 is the same cost as welfare after release, since most of these gang bangers are better off not going to work. The cost may prevent 100 times that amount in damages from the 100's of crimes prevented each year per inmate. Because over 90% of the adjudicated charges are plea barained, most recorded charges are fictitious, and inmates classified as non-violent may be ultra-violent. No one is advocating strict liability in torts when these racially biased pro-criminal, left wing lawyers loose vicious criminals on dark skinned people's neighborhoods.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 18, 2011 6:49:21 AM

One would think that lawyers would enjoy a small dose of controversy and intellectual debate. This symposium is a straight, uninterrupted exercise in propaganda for only one side. And why does the lawyer support, protect, and immunize the criminal? Each generates massive government make work. The victim generates nothing and may rot.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 18, 2011 6:55:47 AM

Prof. Klingele, a panelist with Prof. Berman, obtained a certificate in Medieval Studies, and was an excellent student in law school. As a collateral fun conversation, I hope Prof. Berman will take this opportunity to ask her if she knows the Scholasticist meaning of the word, reason, and its relationship to the modern legal term, reasonable. No lawyer in the US knows this, not even Harvard educated lawyers with PhD's in Medieval law history. Yet every studious 10 th Grade World History or freshman Western Civ 101 student does.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 18, 2011 7:38:47 AM

Evidently S.C. believes all charges brought by the police are in fact true and all "facts" in the police report are sacred. We can therefore do away with trials altogether.

Unfortunately, some judges and the law itself agrees when it comes to uncharged or unconvicted conduct. This is the stuff of Egypt's secret police and infiltrators.

Posted by: George | Feb 18, 2011 11:52:24 AM

George --

"Evidently S.C. believes all charges brought by the police are in fact true and all "facts" in the police report are sacred. We can therefore do away with trials altogether."

Have you been reading a different site? The SC who posts on this one has made it clear from the getgo that he distrusts (and that's putting it mildly), all lawyers, prosecutors very much included. And, as we all know, the police are merely prosecutors' tentacles.

The point that SC makes is that this Toledo conference seems to have been pretty one-sided, and so far as I have seen, no one has refuted him on that.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 18, 2011 1:52:23 PM

What about the symposium, specifically, is one-sided? Here's a quote from the materials:

The third segment will examine options for reform. Are there feasible and fiscally responsible alternatives that we can implement while keeping our communities safe? What have other states and governmental entities tried, and how well have they worked. What other options might work, and how well, and at what reduction in costs? This panel will include the Council of State Governments presenting their recommendations based on their recent thorough review of the sources of Ohio’s prison overcrowding. It will also include perspectives from civil-rights advocates, prosecutors, and crime-victims groups.

Doesn't sound particularly "one-sided" to me. I think in SC's view, "one-sided" is any conference that doesn't include the side of killing all the lawyers. So yes, Bill, no one has refuted him on that.

Posted by: SRS | Feb 18, 2011 5:09:41 PM

SRS --

"Doesn't sound particularly 'one-sided' to me."

Least surprising assessment of the week.

Whether a presentation is one-sided depends on what gets said, not on how one of several segments gets described in advance by those writing the promo.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 18, 2011 7:05:38 PM

So, you already know what was said? I didn't realize you were there, sorry.

Posted by: SRS | Feb 18, 2011 7:11:57 PM

SRS --

You need to read what I actually wrote, both yesterday and today.

As a refresher, I wrote yesterday: "The point that SC makes is that this Toledo conference seems to have been pretty one-sided, and so far as I have seen, no one has refuted him on that."

You then attempted to refute SC's point by quoting, not a representative (or any) part of the conference transcript, but a small part of the materials PUT OUT IN ADVANCE.

In response, I said, "Whether a presentation is one-sided depends on what gets said, not on how one of several segments gets described in advance by those writing the promo."

If you disagree with that, you haven't said so, which is fine with me, since that's where I'm leaving it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 18, 2011 8:04:02 PM

I attended. The main focus of the event was finding cost-effective ways to reduce the prison population and recidivism while enhancing public safety. The first panel consisted of academics. There was certainly sentiment against the truth-in-sentencing aspect of current laws. The second panel was a mixed perspective from institutional actors assessing the criminal justice system in dollars and cents - legal counsel for Ohio DRC, a county commissioner, etc. Again, dollars and cents in terms of jail/prison admin and collateral consequences; issues like tough-on-crime/soft-on-crime seemed passe - the overwhelming feeling was that local governments and DRC cannot support the current regime. There was also a guest speaker from the conservative Buckeye Institute, advancing the "Right on Crime" agenda.

The third panel consisted of speakers who had new criminal justice models based on the success Texas had with both reducing incarceration, imposing strict, structured probation and parole oversight, and still reducing crime. The panel also consisted of the head of the Ohio prosecutor's association - who seemed amenable to many changes in Ohio's current system but opposed others, the head of Ohio ACLU, and a victim's rights advocate. The last panel were Ohio legislators - all Republican - who, although there was some disagreement, seemed in favor of pushing through a bill that would require, or enforce presumptions for prison alternatives for non-violent offenders, some changes in the way certain crimes are labeled as misdemeanors or varying degrees of felonies (thus causing a reduction in overall duration of sentences). Some version of good-time credits for prisoners was also brought in, although there was some disagreement over this. Plus, I think, there would be the use of a risk-assessment system in granting parole, probation.

It was one-sided in the sense that every speaker in that room wanted to reform Ohio's sentencing system, although to varying degrees. But an 8 billion dollar state budget hole has a way of producing a paradigm shift - it was quite interesting to see conservative Republicans up there, openly supporting criminal justice alternatives that would normally label them to be soft on crime.

Oh, and Prof. Berman was entertaining as always. "There are some prosecutors out there who are known to be soft - and I say, God bless them!"

Posted by: Attendee | Feb 18, 2011 8:23:28 PM

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Posted by: Coach | Feb 18, 2011 9:02:35 PM

Bill, either you're being deliberately obtuse or you're really missing the point.

"As a refresher, I wrote yesterday: 'The point that SC makes is that this Toledo conference seems to have been pretty one-sided, and so far as I have seen, no one has refuted him on that.'"

"Seems to have been" implies that the conference took place in the past - yet SC was writing before it happened. It would be difficult to rebut his point of view, since it apparently came from the future, after the conference had been completed. I quoted from the materials because, at that point, that's all that was available.

Now we have a report from someone who was there (thanks, Attendee), so you may now cut his post apart to demonstrate how it was one-sided.

Have fun with that; I'm off to enjoy the weekend.

Posted by: SRS | Feb 18, 2011 9:08:53 PM

SRS --

"Now we have a report from someone who was there (thanks, Attendee), so you may now cut his post apart to demonstrate how it was one-sided."

I have no need to cut it apart, since it's quite candid in acknowledging that virtually the whole ball of wax was tilted toward the early release, reduce-prison-sentences side of the ledger.

Maybe you don't think a singular tilt is one-sided. How odd.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 18, 2011 10:00:43 PM

George: I do not expect you to know my positions by heart. I have no problem repeating them, and deepening their analysis to any level you please.

I do not support the prosecution. I am claiming the entire lawyer profession is in utter failure, without exception.

1) Methods and Doctrines of the Prosecution. This utter failure is caused by its atavistic doctrines plagiarized from Scholasticism, a philosophy given up even by the very slow Catholic Church. To be behind the church is really saying something. Prosecutors hold supernatural doctrines, and their task is to prove each element of a crime took place, and that each element took place with intent. This is plagiarized nearly word for word from the assessment of mortal sin (violation of a Commandment). This is totally unlawful in our secular nation. It is also invalid because it is supernatural and scientifically, logically, and policy wise unproven. I do oppose trials not because I want to violate the rights of the innocent defendant to offer evidence. I oppose trials because they come from the disputation method of arriving at an answer of Scholasticism. There are no reliability statistics (repeatability) let alone validation of the trial as a methodology. Indeed, in a natural experiment there one exoneration for every 5 death sentences. If the error rate in the death penalty is indeed 20%, that is appalling. The 20% coincidentally is the remaining uncertainty left over after people have come to a verdict with a beyond a reasonable doubt burden of proof. So the error rate is not a coincidental or random fraction.

2) Laziness. They prosecute only one of 10 FBI Index felonies. 90% of major crimes go unanswered. When they prosecute, they make plea agreements in over 90% of cases. The adjudicated charge may be a fictitious non-violent one, when the criminal is a vicious, heartless butcher.

3) They are at will employees. They may be fired for no cause, losing their pension if not vested. So the political hack at the head of the office can tell a moral prosecutor to drop a case, and if refused, just fire the conscientious prosecutor. Did anyone here know prosecutors are not part of civil service and have zero job protection?

4) They look out only for themselves. So they spend $2 million to prosecute Martha Stewart on a $40,000 insider beef, and do nothing about the illegal alien gangs beheading people that disrespected them. They want to get into the newspaper, and move up a ladder. They go after socially inadequate child porn downloaders, leaving the producers of child porn in foreign criminal syndicates completely unmolested.

5) They will destroy any judge who tries to learn facts of the case independently.

6) The police are agents of the prosecutor, so all their failures, corruptions, racism, idiocies are the responsibility of the prosecutor. These doughnut chomping fools are allergic to any hard work. If some new officer, not yet acculturated into their lazy ass way of life gets enthusiastic about crime fighting, they will crush the person, and drive them out. They are terrible.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 18, 2011 10:23:16 PM

Attendee: No one made the above points about the utter failure of the lawyer in control of our government, allowing 23 million Index felonies every year. No one said the $25,000 cost of imprisonment may prevent $2.5 million a year in massive damages caused by the criminal committing dozens of crimes a year, and dropping real estate values to nil. No one said, each criminal is like a natural disaster. No one proposed that all released prisoners be placed in half way houses on the street where the participants live, not in minority neighborhoods as will happen.

The fix was in, with Republican running dogs and victim betrayers paraded to persuade judges and legislators this pro-criminal movement is a settled consensus.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 18, 2011 10:29:01 PM

SRS: Please, look at the sponsors, the participants, the resources. Although I oppose future forecasting, even you can predict the outcome of such a homogeneous conference. Not much point to attending, because all talking points are in the Democrat platform, to grow government.

This is a propaganda exercise, with superficial diversity, such as having some Republicans. However, no one participated that wants to crush the criminal. So the implication is a false one of consensus. This is lying by omission, and left wing bad faith. Why would lawyers not want a little controversy just to avoid boredom? Because this is not a conference but an irresponsible, unfair, misleading propaganda exercise to loose vicious predators on dark skinned neighborhoods, similar to the racism of placing toxic waste dumps. Once loosed, these criminals generate massive increases in government make work jobs by their destructiveness. All the people running the show are feminists, Democrats, advocates of big government.

Not much to debate with liars and deniers. You do not debate Holocaust deniers, 9/11 truthers, vaccine resisters. I would support direct action by groups of crime victims and families of crimes victims against these lying left wing adversaries of safety. Just go in this biased victim hating conference, and beat their asses. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 19, 2011 9:19:55 AM

The specious perception of balance is that two opposing views are presented with an equal amount of time, as if to say that this reflects reality. If opposing views in reality are in equipoise, then a symposium should largely reflect the equality of interests. If, however, the majority by and large should favor a distinct position, the views uttered at said symposium should reflect such views.

In terms of representative politicians, the symposium reflected the views of the prevailing majority (Republicans in the state legislature). The Republicans had differing views of how far reform should go, but when prominent Ohio Republicans like Bill Seitz and Tim Grendell both favor criminal justice reform, it is neither surprising nor negligent for a symposium to reflect such views. The situation was explained in a succinct, matter-of-fact manner - the State can hardly afford a new prison. In a medium security facility, the ratio is 2 guards for every 240 inmates. The amount of violent incidents involving 6 or more inmates in such a facility is four times what it was earlier in the decade. This is an extremely unsafe position with respect to both guards and inmates. Ohio is faced with the option of dealing with a mega lawsuit a la California, a tinderbox that will combust into a riot a la Lucasville... or release inmates and lower the amount of prisoners who enter the system.

Posted by: Attendee | Feb 20, 2011 5:50:38 PM

"This is an extremely unsafe position with respect to both guards and inmates."

So let's street them into minority neighborhoods, like dumping toxic waste by a Mafia owned trash company. Let the little girls skipping rope on the sidewalk bear the cost, as the driveby comes around the corner blasting.

The views of the symposium may be totally fatuous, ridiculous, and horrendous. But let's not be uncivil by pointing out any facts of crime. For example, for $25,000 a year, prevent $2.5 million in damages by each criminal on the hoof. These participants have personal economic vested interests. As the crime rate goes up in inner city areas close to work downtown, the most desirable residential locations drop to zero in value. That forces working people to live in the suburbs increasing the value of the homes of lawyers. Economic conflict of interest is a synonym for "stealing" by middle class, smart people. The bias of this symposium is therefore in bad faith. That also makes debate pointless. Violent self-help by crime victims and by their families against these supporters of criminality has full moral, intellectual and policy support.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 20, 2011 6:41:44 PM

It's actually better for me that more criminals remain locked up. It provides more case work. More employment for prison staff and guards as well.

This is not snark, but Supremacy Claus, where do you actually derive the figure that a freed inmate will generate 2.5 million in damages? Is this average based on the released prisoner population as a whole, or among those who re-offend?

I agree that the symposium provided viewpoints on the collateral costs of the current system, but did not discuss the collateral costs of releasing inmates and estimated economic damages that would accompany it.

Posted by: Attendee | Feb 21, 2011 7:43:21 AM

Attendee: "It provides more case work." And you coincidentally happen to be the sole one saying, the symposium may be biased, and the only one here following the simple fourth grade word math problem.

In terms of costs. Forget the costs of child abuse, placement of children, after the criminal beats them and uses them as sex dolls. Forget the health costs of injuries during his dozens of violent crimes a year. Forget the discouragement of education and commerce in the area by fear of crime. Forget the added security costs to goods, services, and products in local stores and service providers. (See high prices in ghetto supermarkets, low in rich areas.)Forget the cost of maintaining thousands of parasites on welfare, people with slick street smarts, and better social skills than everyone here (around $25,000 a year for welfare or disability, so we save no real money).

Take only real estate prices. Say an active criminal affects only a square block. This block happens to be downtown, within walking distance of downtown skyscrapers. It should be the most valuable residential property in the area, with the highest values, rents, etc. Instead, it is unlivable, and much of it is abandoned, as in Detroit and many other cities. It has zero value often. But say, the value is suppressed 30%, not 100%. A square block with four 5 story apartment buildings has 300 units. Say the price of each unit is $200,000 instead of $300,000. The streets are dangerous. The schools are dangerous. The playgrounds are filled with released addicts. Ordinary people such as poor immigrants have to run a gauntlet of being threatened and roughed up to go anywhere. That crime price penalty is worth $30,000,000, not $3 million as I conservatively estimated in savings by keeping the criminal in stir for $30,000 a year. What $30,000 investment will return $30,000,000 year after year, guaranteed, with no loss of capital. In reality those units have zero value and are unsellable. The real cost is 300 times $300,000 or $90,000,000

Maybe we should pay off the lawyer as one might a protection racket. Give him an extra $100,000 a year to not release criminals, and make $30 million in added real estate value.

Each released career criminal is a mini Katrina.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 21, 2011 10:12:08 AM

We have a low crime rate from the sentencing guidelines. Wholesale release of criminals is a ghoulish human experiment, turning our cities into Fallujahs. At least do it in a limited areas and measure the costs within a year or two. Prove in a small jurisdiction that the idea is effective and safe. It is nearly impossible to get into prison today. Only one in 10 major crimes results in jail time, mostly by being repetitive. The non-violent adjudicated charges are fictional from plea bargains, and quite misleading to decision makers. When you release a non-violent inmate, you release a slick criminal who bargained and obtained a non-violent charge on the record. All the criminals in jail are busy criminals. None is safe to release.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 21, 2011 10:25:06 AM

Attendee --

"The specious perception of balance is that two opposing views are presented with an equal amount of time, as if to say that this reflects reality. If opposing views in reality are in equipoise, then a symposium should largely reflect the equality of interests. If, however, the majority by and large should favor a distinct position, the views uttered at said symposium should reflect such views."

Should future symposia on the death penalty then contain a 2-1 majority in favor of capital punishment? That's the size of majority favoring it.

I have attended a number of academic symposia on the DP, and every one of them had, to the contrary, an abolitionist majority, sometimes by a small margin and sometimes by a large one.

More broadly, of the academic symposia I have attended, all of them had a pro-defense majority and a pro-prosecution minority. If I'm missing something, please let me know.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 21, 2011 1:52:59 PM

@Bill Otis. Probably. Small sample in academia to work with, however. No one actually brought up doing anything about the death penalty, however. It's not in the proposed Senate Bill (seeing as how they want a chance of getting this thing passed).

The criticism wasn't directed at you personally, I've always been troubled with the notion of balance means a fair portrayal presenting two opposing sides with roughly 50 percent content per side. Content should reflect prevailing views or a certifiable reality.

Here, in light of the fact that Senate Bill 10 is sponsored by a Republican, has support of a Republican governor, the Republican Ohio Supreme Court Chief, the Ohio ACLU (and I don't think I'm going out on a limb in believing that this bill will attract much Democratic support), it doesn't seem proper for the symposium to reflect such views predominantly.

As you can see from the article, the head of the Ohio Prosecutor's Association had "concerns" (which is not the same thing as outright opposing the matter). He was at the symposium. Legislator Grendell has voiced some concerns as well. He was at the symposium.


Posted by: Attendee | Feb 22, 2011 12:34:16 AM

Edit: I meant "doesn't seem IMproper"

Posted by: Attendee | Feb 22, 2011 12:37:21 AM

If you have a convention of Holocaust deniers, there is nothing to debate. Their beliefs are in bad faith, and require an ass kicking.

The lawyer meetings are a bit more like those of flat earthers. They are not entirely in bad faith, but mostly idiotic, with a rent seeking motive (suspicious for bad faith). And facts may have an influence. See how the horizon curves. See how the shadow of the earth on the moon is curved. See how astronauts in space take pictures of a ball. See how travelers come from the other side and do not fall off when they travel around the earth.

How much time should round earthers get at a flat earth meeting? Quite a bit, unless, again, there is bad faith, and no one is interested in the facts. No one wants to jeopardize a rent seeking scheme.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 22, 2011 6:59:07 AM

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