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August 18, 2011

California seeking death for inmate murder by murderer already serving life

As I have said before on this blog, I think the hardest cases for those categorically opposed to the death penalty involve murders by persons already serving a life sentence for murder.  As detailed in this local news report, California prosecutors have just decided to pursue a death sentence in just such a case.  The piece is headlined "San Jose man charged with killing fellow inmate now facing death penalty," and begins this way:

A San Jose man already serving a life sentence for murdering a homeless man in Willow Glen may now face the death penalty after being charged with another killing. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against Frank Souza, 31, who has been charged with murdering fellow San Quentin inmate Edward Schaefer, the man who killed a Novato girl with his motorcycle, the Marin County District Attorney said Wednesday.

Souza, 31, who is serving a sentence of 60 years to life for the murder of John Carl Riggins in 2007, is eligible for capital punishment because he is charged with two special circumstances: having a prior murder conviction, and "lying in wait" to ambush Schaefer.

Prosecutors notified Souza's lawyer this week that they planned to pursue the death penalty. Souza's defense attorney, Gerald Schwartzbach, said the death penalty decision is "irrational and fiscally irresponsible."

"One, he's never going to be released," Schwartzbach said. "Two, a capital trial, and the preparation for a capital trial, is enormously more expansive, consumes a great deal more time, money and resources. Even if the prosecution were successful and obtained the death verdict, Mr. Souza would likely be on death row -- if the death penalty were to survive as a penalty -- 20 to 25 years."

District Attorney Ed Berberian said there is still the possibility of parole in Souza's prior murder case, or some unforeseen development in the courts. "It's never easy to seek the death penalty on anyone, but he is someone who has killed before," Berberian said. "He's responsible, clearly, for the deaths of two individuals, and I just cannot find that there are mitigating circumstances."

Souza is accused of stabbing Schaefer seven times in a prison yard on July 26, 2010. The attack occurred less than two weeks after Schaefer started his prison sentence for killing 9-year-old Melody Osheroff and maiming her father in a Novato crosswalk during a drunken ride in 2009. "All I got to say is, 9-year-old girl," Souza said after Schaefer's slaying, according to grand jury testimony by a prison Officer William Eberly.

Schaefer, who was convicted of murder, manslaughter and other charges, was not eligible for the death penalty. Schaefer had just arrived at San Quentin from Marin County on July 16 with a 24-years-to-life sentence for second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, according to prison officials. Schaefer was attacked in the prison's reception center yard and stabbed in the neck and chest with a "bone crusher," a piece of metal fashioned out of bunk bed parts or other objects and shaped like a knife, according to previous news reports.

August 18, 2011 at 05:59 PM | Permalink

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Given that this man is already serving what is almost certain to turn out to be a life sentence, anything less than the DP for his most recent escapade is a freebie.

Oh, sure, he'll get restricted canteen privileges, and less time in the play yard, but for any practical purpose it's a freebie and everyone knows it.

I'll be waiting for the pro-Souza crowd to explain why a freebie for murder marks "evolving standards of decency." What it actually marks is indecent lassitude.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 18, 2011 6:24:04 PM

"Two, a capital trial, and the preparation for a capital trial, is enormously more expansive, consumes a great deal more time, money and resources."

Death is so obviously the correct sentence for an otherwise judgment-proof repeat murderer that states should be allowed to have mandatory sentencing in this limited circumstance. If we didn't need a penalty phase, it wouldn't be significantly more expensive.

The Supreme Court left that possibility open when it otherwise banned mandatory capital sentencing, but unfortunately it went the wrong way when finally confronted squarely with the question in Sumner v. Shuman.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 18, 2011 7:25:42 PM

"I'll be waiting for the pro-Souza crowd to explain why a freebie for murder marks "evolving standards of decency." What it actually marks is indecent lassitude."

What it marks is a recognition that state-sponsored killing is not the answer. He did a terrible thing and now someone is dead because of him. Everybody, myself included, wishes that the victim was still alive. Everybody, myself included, feels sympathy for the victim's family, friends and loved ones. Killing Souza is not going to fix things. It's not going to make things any better than they are now. What you're asking for is bare retribution in response to what Souza has done. That's because you think bare retribution is a good thing. I think we should be better than that, and I think you're wrong. If I had God's home phone number, He could settle this debate for us right now. The Almighty is unfortunately unlisted.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Aug 18, 2011 7:29:49 PM

TDPS --

Two questions: If we do not execute this guy, and just keep him in jail where he is already, is that not a freebie for murder? And does a just and decent society allow freebies for murder?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 18, 2011 10:32:07 PM

@TDPS
"It's not going to make things any better than they are now."
It may keep him from killing again.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Aug 18, 2011 11:07:50 PM

hmm sounds like schafer's family as well the his victims' family has major ground to sue the prison system

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 19, 2011 2:29:54 AM

I think rodsmith has it right. The NPR report on conditions at San Quentin is still available:
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92296114
(click on my name for link)
When you lock a man up, you need to take responsibility for the conditions he will co-habit. The conditions at San Quentin are unacceptable. In effect, the authorities responsible for San Quentin, and similar institutions seen in Florida for example, collude in the maintenance of warehouses totally unsuited to purpose. That is no background or environment in which to judge the rights or wrongs of the death penalty.

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2011 3:14:07 AM

This case is not straightforward for Prof. Berman. Drunk driver kills a child. Gets a slap on the wrist. Inmate is man and retributive enough to mete out the proper sentence to the drunk driver, death. Prof. Berman wants more severe punishment of drunk driving, which kills more people than murder does each year.

I have argued that LWOP is a license to kill, so I have conservative, pro-death penalty credibility on this point. I have a milder view of drunk driving than Prof. Berman, until it is repeated. I support the death penalty for drunk drivers as in 123D. I support leaving alone people causing no damage who had 2 beers at dinner and are driving home. Do not inject those people into the drunk driving government money making machine.

From an utilitarian point of view, should the repeat murderer get the death penalty, prison sanctions or actually a money reward for getting rid of a highly dangerous murderer? The answer is not clear to me because of the total failure of the lawyer to have prevented the murder of the little girl. The public has greatly benefited from the murder in this case. If it does not pay the murderer it will be unjustly enriched, if only by the savings on appellate advocacy on his behalf. I know that phrase comes from contract law, however, it applies. We pay government. It keeps us safe. That contract in law is fully formed even though government is not performing, nor is it responding to loud protestations (briefly did respond with mandatory sentencing guidelines, now discretionary).

What should have been done with the man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer/cannibal? A money reward taken from the fund used for death sentence appellate advocacy, and a certificate of thanks from a grateful public. Seriously, that murderer imparted a great benefit to the public and should be paid. Not the least was to deprive the lawyer of a gravy boat for the next several decades of appeals on behalf of Jeffrey Dahmer. Those appeals would have brought great opprobrium on the legal system that did nothing about his cannibalistic rampage over several decades.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 19, 2011 3:43:25 AM

DP Sucks: "The Almighty is unfortunately unlisted."

The Almighty spoke to Iraqi tribal culture members, and they wrote it down in the Bible. The Bible is the origin of retribution as a goal for the criminal law. It is religious in origin , and unlawful in this country, an improper motive of prosecution.

However God always has simple instructions about retribution. Leave no one and nothing alive. Kill everything down to the livestock.

God is totally pro-death penalty. In one case, he uses it in a horrible prank.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 19, 2011 4:09:21 AM

peter --

Why is it always the responsibility of someone other than the guy who actually did it?

But you can't pin it on prison conditions in any event: Those same conditions affect the whole San Quentin population, 99% of which nonetheless refrain from committing murder behind bars. Thus, overwhelmingly, what those conditions are associated with is non-murderous behavior. Why does this guy get to be the exception?

It certainly seems that you just don't believe that the actor is responsible for his acts. Only society is responsible for them, so only society gets punished while he gets "rehabilitation" and an apology because the rest of us previously failed to provide him with social services. Is that your view of it?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 19, 2011 7:22:20 AM

Bill - you are at it again. There seems, from what we read, that there is no possibility of mistake and that Souza is guilty, though a trial has yet to confirm that. I know nothing more about this than the words put up by Doug. But I also know that there could be a multitude of reasons that Souza might be dangerous, from outright insanity to pure evil. Either way, placing him in an environment where he has the opportunity to kill again, without the adequate protections and treatments that might minimize both the risks to others and the risks of his self-harm (by repeating his crime), IS the responsibility of society, as delegated to those responsible for his imprisonment of whatever length of time. That is how it works in a civilized society. All you want to do is wash your hands of responsibility and kill him, just as he killed others. You have no more concern for his victim than for the man himself.

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2011 8:57:10 AM

"Two questions: If we do not execute this guy, and just keep him in jail where he is already, is that not a freebie for murder? And does a just and decent society allow freebies for murder?"

No, it's not a freebie. The guy is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. The fact that his level of punishment isn't increased doesn't mean that he isn't serving a life sentence based on both of the murders he did. If somebody who's on death row with a set execution date kills a fellow inmate, is that one a freebie because his level of punishment isn't increased? I suppose you could torture him before putting him to death, or change the method of execution to burning at the state, but thankfully we're more civilized than that.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Aug 19, 2011 9:56:17 AM

"It may keep him from killing again."

So can a supermax facility, if it's run properly.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Aug 19, 2011 9:57:33 AM

Peter perfectly illustrates the dishonesty of the abolitionist position.

A man, already serving a life sentence for murder, kills again. But no, this is not his fault, rather it is the conditions at San Quentin prison that are responsible. Bill correctly states that the other inmates (and staff)at San Quentin cohabitate in the exact same conditions, yet few of them are committing murder. When made aware of this, Peter goes on to say: "Either way, placing him in an environment where he has the opportunity to kill again, without the adequate protections and treatments that might minimize both the risks to others and the risks of his self-harm (by repeating his crime), IS the responsibility of society, as delegated to those responsible for his imprisonment of whatever length of time."

With all due respect (and very little is "due"), the above sentence is a cynical joke. There are no specifics given of what constitutes "adequate protections and treatments" to prevent such an event from occurring again. The only "protections" that even approach being successful is the use of total isolation, which is completely counterproductive to the second part of his "solution" regarding "treatments." In addition, to believe that Peter would EVER seriously support such isolation does not pass the laugh test.

Peter, try honesty.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 10:10:19 AM

MikeinCT stated: "[DP] may keep him from killing again."

The Death Penalty Sucks stated: "So can a supermax facility, if it's run properly."

Wrong. It can make it more difficult but as someone who has worked in such a facility, it far from guarantees an inmate will not kill again.

And your use of "if it's run properly" is a weaseler. It is an excuse for the countless murders that have occurred under Supermax conditions. "Well, they just were not run properly," will be the response.

In the real world, these prisons are run by people. They make mistakes, confuse policy, get complacent. Truly innocent people will die.

And let's get beyond your front. Like Peter, you are probably no advocate of supermaxes either. It is a cynical stance put forth in support of your DP abolishment position that will be abandoned the very minute abolishment occurs.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 10:24:34 AM

Tar - it is obvious from your comments you have no conception of what constitutes a humane yet secure prison environment, or how its works for the safety of those within it, whether inmate or official personnel. I suggest you do some research before pouring scorn on others. Don't look to San Quinten or the like to find examples though.
You are right about total isolation - it is not generally an answer to the problem, merely an opportunity for assessment and treatment. Sorry so much effort is required.

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2011 10:33:38 AM

TDPS --

"No, it's not a freebie."

Yes it is.

"The guy is going to spend the rest of his life in prison."

He was going to do that anyway, which is what makes this one a freebie.

"The fact that his level of punishment isn't increased doesn't mean that he isn't serving a life sentence based on both of the murders he did."

Since an inmate has only one life, there is no additional punishment whatever in serving a life sentence "based on" both murders. You can't help knowing this. And under your logic, it would be OK if he committed 10 or 20 more murders, since his no-real-effect sentences would be "based on" the 10 or 20 murders.

Sheesh.

It doesn't make a particle of difference what they're "based on." The only relevant question is whether they inflict any additional punishment, and the answer is no.

"If somebody who's on death row with a set execution date kills a fellow inmate, is that one a freebie because his level of punishment isn't increased?"

The difference -- which, again, you couldn't possibly help knowing -- is that an inmate serving life CAN get additional punishment if the death penalty is available, but an inmate already sentenced to death CANNOT get additional punishment no matter what the state of the law is, since law is incapable of creating two lifetimes.

"I suppose you could torture him before putting him to death, or change the method of execution to burning at the state, but thankfully we're more civilized than that."

And who on this thread is talking about torture? No one. That's just a red herring to avoid the fact your fancy dance fails to avoid: Without the DP being available to an inmate already serving life, his second (or subsequent) murder is in fact a freebie.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 19, 2011 10:40:45 AM

TarlsQtr and peter --

Every adult understands (and abolitionists pointedly insist) that the judicial system is capbable of error. What abolitionists fail to understand (or, far more likely, simply refuse to admit) is that the prison system ALSO is capable of error, and always will be as long as human beings are running it.

That being the case, there simply is no set of prison conditions we can create that will entirely pretermit the possiblity of repeat murders by inmates.

The only way to prevent this possibility is to impose and carry out a death sentence. Indeed, given the certainty of errors in prison security, to fail to carry out a death sentence on someone who has already killed is a virtual guarantee that, as in this case, another innocent person will at some point be murdered.

And this outcome -- preventable murder, to put it for what it is -- is what what we are told we MUST tolerate -- told, that is, by those holding themselves out as compassionate.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 19, 2011 10:58:13 AM

Bill - apart from the obvious fact that Souza was not deterred from killing again, in spite of knowing the likelihood he would face the death penalty and a "life" on death row (always assuming he is sane and can comprehend that), the death penalty is now supposed to represent a further level of "punishment". You need to sort out your argument. What you really mean is that if we copy Souza's own solution to his grouse with the world, and kill him, society has a cop-out on the trouble of managing his remaining life. Sounds great doesn't it? Except that choosing the very act we condemn, the taking of another man's life, is neither moral nor necessary. Worse, it perpetuates a system that endangers the lives of those where certainty of guilt is far less certain. All for the avoidance of responsibility.

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2011 11:01:37 AM

Peter stated: "Tar - it is obvious from your comments you have no conception of what constitutes a humane yet secure prison environment, or how its works for the safety of those within it, whether inmate or official personnel. I suggest you do some research before pouring scorn on others. Don't look to San Quinten or the like to find examples though."

No conception? I lived it for about 12 years as a civilian employee (not security) for the NYS Department of Corrections as well as doing prison accreditation work. During that time, I have worked in and audited all security classifications, including supermax, camps, max, medium, PC, etc. I suspect my "research" is far and away above any that you may have done.

My "scorn" is evident because you do nothing but pass judgment (on the system, not killers) with no specific answers. You state that I "...have no conception of what constitutes a humane yet secure prison environment, or how its works for the safety of those within it...," while never telling us what YOUR "concept" of a "humane yet secure prison environment" is.

That is because it is far easier to criticize than it is to provide a workable solution.

Peter states: "You are right about total isolation - it is not generally an answer to the problem, merely an opportunity for assessment and treatment."

Actually, it is the ONLY current answer to providing a prison environment that even approaches (but never achieves)being "safe." Neither you, nor your ilk, have anything in the way of solutions, only platitudes.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 11:24:33 AM

@TDPS
"So can a supermax facility, if it's run properly."
As Tar has pointed out, that is a cop out. And it's not very comforting considering that there have been several murders committed in and ordered from ADX Florence, the highest security prison in the country.
Better yet, let's follow that to it's conclusion. 'Don't worry, this multiple murderer won't kill again so long as the guards never make a mistake of any kind for the next 40 years'. No prison is perfect, the likes of Thomas Silverstein prove that.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Aug 19, 2011 11:38:19 AM

Peter stated: "...society has a cop-out on the trouble of managing his remaining life."

I agree that we should have no "cop-out." Thus, perhaps YOU should take the responsibility for watching, teaching, counseling, feeding, providing recreation, and medical care for Mr. Souza.

But that will not happen. Instead, you will indeed "cop-out" and allow someone else that probably has a lot less education and makes a lot less money than you do it just like you "cop-out" of proposing any workable solution that is not the DP or isolation.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 11:39:25 AM

peter --

"Except that choosing the very act we condemn..."

I do not blanketly condemn killing because it is sometimes just. I condemn murder, you bet, and I wish you would too, instead of dismissing it. The DP is not murder, and doesn't become murder just because you stomp your foot.

"...the taking of another man's life, is neither moral nor necessary."

It's perfectly moral according to the majority in this country. And it's the majority that gets to decide, in matters of public policy, what is moral. You might not like this, but you are not the king. Democracy means something.

As for necessity: Souza just finished proving that dispatching him from this world is the only certain way to stop him. How many more murders are you prepared to tolerate from this man?

"Worse, it perpetuates a system that endangers the lives of those where certainty of guilt is far less certain."

This concern would be legitimate if it weren't mostly fictional. The actual evidence accepted by neutral parties is that we have not executed an innocent person for at least 50 years. And no, you can't make Todd Willingham innocent by stomping your foot either.

Footstomping doesn't count. Winning your case counts (although I concede that footstomping is easier and has the virtue of actually having been done).

"All for the avoidance of responsibility."

I have as much responsibility for Souza's behavior as Santa Claus. The person responsible for Souza's behavior is Souza.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 19, 2011 11:52:32 AM

Tar - As someone who has worked in prison accreditation work, I agree you should have the ability and experience to determine whether standards of security, care and rehabilitation are meeting current expectations and needs for the welfare of all inmates, no matter what their category. Either those current expectations are too low, and the needs ill-defined, or your attitude to accreditation leaves something to be desired. I suspect you know full well what standards should apply, but accept something less because you place the burden of behavior on the inmate (ie the most vulnerable and least capable of responsibility) rather than on the service that should be provided to support them. Your unwillingness or refusal to condemn places and practices as exampled by San Quinten is very telling.
Whether that is entirely a result of your own attitudes to penal detention, or a lack of high expectation from "the public" may be open to question, but either way, it shows the depths to which there is an avoidance of responsibility for humane detention in the US. As a person who has had responsibility for prison accreditation you will well understand the need for judgmental analysis. Whether you were expert enough to direct those prisons on how best to meet accreditation standards, I of course do not know. I do know that it would take far more time and space than this blog allows for either of us to present a meaningful blueprint for improvement based on best practice international standards. Expert as you are, I'm sure you could trace one.

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2011 1:06:15 PM

tar - it would be instructive to see a copy of the code to which you conducted accreditation of prisons. As a matter of interest I have found one for an authority in Australia, which is certainly instructive. I wonder how your compares?
See http://www.custodialinspector.wa.gov.au/download.cfm?DownloadFile=1B54606E-E7F2-2F96-3BE700790648A21B
(click on my name for the pdf)

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2011 1:22:37 PM

Peter stated: "Either those current expectations are too low, and the needs ill-defined, or your attitude to accreditation leaves something to be desired."

You provide a false choice. It is also a possibility that GENERALLY SPEAKING, prison conditions are adequate. Birds fly. Dogs bark. Fat people eat. Killers kill. They will often do it regardless of how "humane" and "secure" (two goals that you claim to desire but are in complete conflict according to your worldview)we make the conditions.

I have never been in San Quentin and have no idea about the conditions there other than some biased media reports. That said, I can speak relatively certainly that the conditions at SQ are far less than optimal. However, having to sleep on a cot in the gym does not make one a killer. The conditions of even our worst prisons afford a better standard of living than the poor who have committed no crime just about anywhere in the world. Guess what? Most of the people of Calcutta are not using a shank to stab others in the back and chest.

Peter states: "I suspect you know full well what standards should apply, but accept something less because you place the burden of behavior on the inmate (ie the most vulnerable and least capable of responsibility) rather than on the service that should be provided to support them."

Your comment in the parentheses says it all. Sure, Souza is a victim, all vulnerable and childlike. What a joke.

You tend to make a lot of assumptions. When a facility's security needs to be improved, I note the specifics (something you refuse to do)in an attempt to minimize the possibility of a security problem. At most, "the system" made it a little easier for him to carry it out. If possible, the system should correct it. Souza chose to kill though. He is ultimately responsible.

Peter stated: "Your unwillingness or refusal to condemn places and practices as exampled by San Quinten is very telling."

Have you asked me to condemn it? Where?

Sure, SQ and California DOCS needs to clean up its act and correct a major problem. I have no problem saying it. What IS telling is your refusal to condemn the actual MURDERER and instead support him as "the most vulnerable and least capable of responsibility."

Which begs the question, if Souza is indeed "the most vulnerable and least capable of responsibility," then you must support NO punishment whatsoever for him, correct?

Peter stated: "Whether that is entirely a result of your own attitudes to penal detention, or a lack of high expectation from "the public" may be open to question, but either way, it shows the depths to which there is an avoidance of responsibility for humane detention in the US."

Again, you never get around to defining what constitutes "humane detention" or provide even a rough sketch of how to get there. This is because you HAVE no answers, only criticism as an outsider who thinks "Prison Break" is real.

Peter stated: "As a person who has had responsibility for prison accreditation you will well understand the need for judgmental analysis."

Analysis without solutions is useless. Give me the better option.

Peter stated: "I do know that it would take far more time and space than this blog allows for either of us to present a meaningful blueprint for improvement based on best practice international standards. Expert as you are, I'm sure you could trace one."

OK, international standards sounds great to me. I choose Columbia, China, Poland, and Mexico to model after. One from almost every continent. You in? Our prison system does a better job than just about everyone out there (yes, including Europe).

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 2:10:09 PM

Peter,

LOL OK, please provide the specific Aussie codes that US prisons in general do not meet. And also note that these "codes" are standards set but often not lived up to. The document you linked to portrays a rosy picture just like ours do. You do not have to meet anywhere near all of them to be "accredited."

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 2:15:04 PM

Wait. This cannot be! Not in Australia, where "international standards" are observed in their prison utopia.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/bashed-prison-guard-dies-in-hospital/2007/01/26/1169594474388.html#

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 2:18:59 PM

@TarlsQtr:

I do not understand why you think it's a worthwhile exercise and use of your time to try to get Peter to engage your points and provide specifics, rather than bromides and platitudes. He's a critic. He has no responsibility for arriving at solutions; he either can't think of any or thinks it unworthy of his time to try to do so. He just criticizes. I'm sure you know the old joke about doing the same thing and expecting different results; I don't know why you expect more or different from him.

Posted by: guest | Aug 19, 2011 2:36:23 PM

guest --

I don't speak for TarlsQtr, but he is one sharp dude and, it seems clear, enjoys meticulously deconstructing Platitudes from On High.

He's got more energy for it than I do, but you have to like the show. By the time he's finished, what's left is the rubble bouncing.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 19, 2011 4:40:23 PM

Tar - as Bill says, you provide a show. What you don't do, "sharp dude that you are" is answer the charge that poor prison conditions and totally inadequate management provide a ripe environment for people like Souza to commit further crime. Is that the purpose of prison? The feeble response that San Quentin and others "need to clean up their act" is no substitute for the condemnation of a prison system that Victorian England would have been ashamed of. The sneer that I regard Souza as some kind of victim is hardly worth a response. What I have said is that in a prison environment, he becomes the responsibility of the authority, since he no longer has any of his own. If you cannot accept that, then my suggestion is that you were totally unsuited to any post of accreditation of prisons, or that the code by which US prisons are accredited is lacking by international standards. Like many Americans, you bristle at any suggestion that International practice and standards have anything to do with you or US policy. Of course, when the boot is on the other foot, then the world must bow to your greater knowledge and wisdom.
So, the Australian standards you have viewed seem vaguely familiar and in line with those you have worked to? Instructive that you regard them as window dressing, not to be taken seriously. As Bill will readily confirm, perfection is rarely achievable, but that doesn't excuse the trying. Of course, you haven't shown us the US code.
I think we get the picture by now Mr Tar. And it pretty much confirms my assertion .... responsibility is too hot to handle when it comes to admitting error or malpractice. Pass it along the line, and hope no-one makes a fuss. Great advert for US justice.

Posted by: peter | Aug 19, 2011 5:44:12 PM

"Wrong. It can make it more difficult but as someone who has worked in such a facility, it far from guarantees an inmate will not kill again.

And your use of "if it's run properly" is a weaseler. It is an excuse for the countless murders that have occurred under Supermax conditions. "Well, they just were not run properly," will be the response."

There never would have been a murder in Florence if it had been run properly.

"And let's get beyond your front. Like Peter, you are probably no advocate of supermaxes either. It is a cynical stance put forth in support of your DP abolishment position that will be abandoned the very minute abolishment occurs."

I'm all in favor of supermax facilities. They're the best place for extremely dangerous people to live out their days. I don't want the people in Florence to be in a normal prison.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Aug 19, 2011 5:47:17 PM

"And who on this thread is talking about torture? No one. That's just a red herring to avoid the fact your fancy dance fails to avoid: Without the DP being available to an inmate already serving life, his second (or subsequent) murder is in fact a freebie."

Red herring my ass, Otis, you knew what I meant.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Aug 19, 2011 5:48:33 PM

Sucks --

Actually, I have no idea what you mean except to the extent you make yourself clear. You choose your words, not me.

That said, I would never accuse your ass of being a red herring.

I also see that you whistle past everything in my rejoinder except for the one throwaway line. But believing in second chances (for commenters, not killers), I'll repeat the 80% of my post you evaded and hope for your response (starting with your first line):

"No, it's not a freebie."

Yes it is.

"The guy is going to spend the rest of his life in prison."

He was going to do that anyway, which is what makes this one a freebie.

"The fact that his level of punishment isn't increased doesn't mean that he isn't serving a life sentence based on both of the murders he did."

Since an inmate has only one life, there is no additional punishment at all in serving a life sentence "based on" both murders. You can't help knowing this. And under your logic, it would be OK if he committed 10 or 20 more murders, since his no-real-effect sentences would be "based on" the 10 or 20 murders.

Sheesh.

It doesn't make a particle of difference what they're "based on." The only relevant question is whether they inflict any additional punishment, and the answer is no.

"If somebody who's on death row with a set execution date kills a fellow inmate, is that one a freebie because his level of punishment isn't increased?"

The difference -- which, again, you couldn't possibly help knowing -- is that an inmate serving life CAN get additional punishment if the death penalty is available, but an inmate already sentenced to death CANNOT get additional punishment no matter what the state of the law is, since law is incapable of creating two lifetimes.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 19, 2011 6:22:27 PM

Guest,

It is a case of you are correct and I know you are correct but I just can never help myself. It may or may not also make me "insane." :-)

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 8:29:43 PM

Peter stated: "What you don't do, "sharp dude that you are" is answer the charge that poor prison conditions and totally inadequate management provide a ripe environment for people like Souza to commit further crime. Is that the purpose of prison?"

No, but SQ is not indicative of prisons in America nor do I just accept the premise that SQ is as bad as you make it out to be. I have never been there. Have you?

Peter stated: "The feeble response that San Quentin and others "need to clean up their act" is no substitute for the condemnation of a prison system that Victorian England would have been ashamed of."

Hogwash. You prove only that you know less about the prison system of Victorian England than you do ours.

Peter stated: "The sneer that I regard Souza as some kind of victim is hardly worth a response. What I have said is that in a prison environment, he becomes the responsibility of the authority, since he no longer has any of his own."

That is an unvarnished lie on your part. You stated: "(ie the most vulnerable and least capable of responsibility)."

Peter stated: "Like many Americans, you bristle at any suggestion that International practice and standards have anything to do with you or US policy. Of course, when the boot is on the other foot, then the world must bow to your greater knowledge and wisdom."

Really? Can you provide one example where I have stated that "the world must bow to [my/the US) greater knowledge and wisdom?" You will not answer because you cannot. Another fib...

Peter stated: "So, the Australian standards you have viewed seem vaguely familiar and in line with those you have worked to?"

Correct.

You stated: "Instructive that you regard them as window dressing, not to be taken seriously. As Bill will readily confirm, perfection is rarely achievable, but that doesn't excuse the trying. Of course, you haven't shown us the US code."

A)Please cite exactly where I stated or implied they were "window dressing."

B) I would never and have never claimed that 100% compliance should not be the aim of any prison.

C) You found the Aussie standards. Find ours. You can look up ACA Accreditation as well as I can.

D) Your statement shows that you have not seen our standards and proves one of my original assertions, that you do not know what you are talking about.

Peter stated: "I think we get the picture by now Mr Tar. And it pretty much confirms my assertion .... responsibility is too hot to handle when it comes to admitting error or malpractice."

Hogwash. Please show what action or action not taken by the prison administration directly caused this murder by Souza.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 8:53:16 PM

TDPS states: "There never would have been a murder in Florence if it had been run properly."

Great. I can use the same logic used by you. We should keep the DP because if the system is "run properly" then no innocent will ever be convicted or executed.

If your logic regarding the prison system is so airtight, then it must be equally airtight regarding the DP system. Thanks for proving that the DP is an acceptable form of punishment.

TDPS states: "I'm all in favor of supermax facilities. They're the best place for extremely dangerous people to live out their days. I don't want the people in Florence to be in a normal prison."

Then my apologies even if I am still skeptical and you still have the problem that 90% of your ilk disagree with you on this topic. Good luck convincing them.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 19, 2011 11:37:42 PM

Tar - "Please cite exactly where I stated or implied they were "window dressing.""
No problem -
"The document you linked to portrays a rosy picture just like ours do. You do not have to meet anywhere near all of them to be "accredited.""

Even outside of the context of our exchanges, the inference is clear. You see the "code" as a buffer between the expectations of the outside world and the reality of prison life. The only time most people get to peer inside and test compliance is through investigations such as those conducted by NPR or the BBC, or by video released on YouTube etc (a point explicitly made in the Australian code).... and then your response is that these must be "biased media reports". The role of those charged with holding prisons to account with regard to accreditation codes therefore becomes somewhat crucial. Someone who professes to positively accredit a prison on the basis that "You do not have to meet anywhere near all of them", hardly inspires confidence.

"Please show what action or action not taken by the prison administration directly caused this murder by Souza." - No doubt Souza'a attorney, or an official report (that should be required in an incident of this kind), will reveal this in good time. Meanwhile, we can legitimately ask the question - why was Souza, a convicted murderer, permitted to skulk, unsupervised and unsearched, around a prison reception area and "ambush" his victim with a "knife" made with bedparts? Is the prison authority in your code not not accountable for this?

Why the reluctance to link the ACA code?

Posted by: peter | Aug 20, 2011 3:03:15 AM

Peter stated: "Tar - "Please cite exactly where I stated or implied they were "window dressing.""
No problem -
"The document you linked to portrays a rosy picture just like ours do. You do not have to meet anywhere near all of them to be "accredited.""

In spite of your best efforts to portray my comments as such, in no way do they state or imply that the standards are "window dressing." They are the accepted gold standard that all prisons should aspire to. When they fail to meet these standards, they are expected correct the failures. That is far different than "window dressing", and is instead a reality based recognition that the world does not work at a 100% success rate.

Peter stated: "Even outside of the context of our exchanges, the inference is clear. You see the "code" as a buffer between the expectations of the outside world and the reality of prison life."

No, no such "inference" exists. It was completely a product of your imagination, an imagination that Walt Disney would kill for.

Peter stated: "The only time most people get to peer inside and test compliance is through investigations such as those conducted by NPR or the BBC, or by video released on YouTube etc (a point explicitly made in the Australian code).... and then your response is that these must be "biased media reports". "

That's because they are, by definition. A) The BBC/NPR et al. are only going to investigate the prisons where they can get an interesting story (ie, the bad ones). People ignorant of the system, like you, then extrapolate the "findings" to the ENTIRE system. B) The BBC/NPR want something people will watch. If they do go in and find little interesting content, are they going to bury the story or report it as is? No, they will find an angle. I could easily go in the best run prison in the world with a camera, find the right shots, search for the right people, and make it look like pure hell. It is the nature of the business.

The reality of the matter is that if you can overlook the necessary restrictions and nature of the people living there, the conditions inside most of our prisons meet or exceed those of where we send our children to college.

Peter stated: "The role of those charged with holding prisons to account with regard to accreditation codes therefore becomes somewhat crucial. Someone who professes to positively accredit a prison on the basis that "You do not have to meet anywhere near all of them", hardly inspires confidence."

I sure would like to know what would "inspire confidence" with you but you will not share it. You are the prototypical ankle-biter, whining like a child but never having to actually recommend a workable solution. Perfect prisons are only a possibility in your world. I will not apologize for not recommending the failure of an entire prison because I saw one of 20 teachers reading the newspaper instead of keeping the proper educational records.

Me: "Please show what action or action not taken by the prison administration directly caused this murder by Souza."

Peter replied:- No doubt Souza'a attorney, or an official report (that should be required in an incident of this kind), will reveal this in good time."

Thanks for proving, once again, that you are speaking out of complete and total ignorance. In other words, even though you admittedly CANNOT name one policy (or lack of) that directly caused this murder, you are willing to put it completely at the feet of the administration while completely exonerating the actual perpetrator as "the most vulnerable" and "least capable of responsibility." Even among the moonbats on this blog you are on the fringe.

Peter stated: "Meanwhile, we can legitimately ask the question - why was Souza, a convicted murderer, permitted to skulk, unsupervised and unsearched, around a prison reception area and "ambush" his victim with a "knife" made with bedparts?"

Yikes. The comment by "Guest" is looking better and better. OK, let's put this in perspective. If you cannot see how a prison yard, which may hold 1000+ inmates, could be supervised AND allow someone to stab another, you are a lost cause. If you cannot see how a conscientious officer that is searching 1000+ inmates could miss a weapon when inmates are willing to boof a 6 inch shank, then you are clueless. (BTW, boofing is, in an attempt to keep this clean, the act of using your anus like a purse which they will do with drugs, razor blades, even shanks).

Peter stated: "Is the prison authority in your code not not accountable for this?"

It depends on the details, which we do not have. However, I will tell you this. Security staff has 8 hours per day to think of ways to improve the system. Inmates have 24 hours per day to find ways to beat it. They often will regardless of the ACA accreditation standards, or those of the Aussies, French, Germany, Japan, or "Victorian England."

The idea that we can put 2000 violent people in the same vicinity and never have a murder is pure fantasy.

Peter stated: "Why the reluctance to link the ACA code?"

No reluctance at all. But YOU are the one claiming that the ACA standards are not up to snuff, thus it is your responsibility to show us. I have a bindered hard copy. You can do a search for ACA standards just as easily as I could, so why would I do your homework for you?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 20, 2011 10:04:29 AM

Tar - it would have been entertaining were the subject not so serious. For all your bluster, we end up at the same place - everything is rosy, the prison service has nothing to explain, you expect the odd murder to two to occur in institutions like San Quentin, you didn't mean what you said, and nothing needs to change. I'm sure everyone has been inspired by your frank evaluation of the situation. Maybe you practice the conversation every day in your professional capacity.
As for the American Correction Association site, it seems that it wishes to deter the public from looking too closely at how it works. In Firefox anyway, multiple warning messages are displayed against connection to any of the menu pages, including the one about Standards and Accreditation. Maybe as a member, you are able to log on and avoid such problems. The rest of us, apparently, risk total extermination if we connect. Since you are in favor of transparency I'm sure, perhaps you would have a word with those responsible. Meanwhile, we are still without access to the code. If anyone else would like to have a go, I have linked the index page from my name.

Posted by: peter | Aug 20, 2011 12:58:28 PM

Peter stated: "Tar - it would have been entertaining were the subject not so serious. For all your bluster, we end up at the same place - everything is rosy, the prison service has nothing to explain, you expect the odd murder to two to occur in institutions like San Quentin, you didn't mean what you said, and nothing needs to change."

Please cite EXACTLY where I stated or implied:

A) Everything is rosy.
B) The prison service has nothing to explain.
C) I expect the odd murder to (sic) two to occur in institutions like San Quentin. (I concede this point as common sense. If you put 2000 violent individuals together, you can usually expect some violence).
D) I didn't mean what I said.
E) Nothing needs to change.

Other than the one I readily concede, I never stated or implied any of them. They are all straw men positions created by you to hide the real scandals of this thread:

A) You are obviously ignorant of what generally occurs in a prison.
B) You are quick to criticize but have no specific solutions to any of the problems.
C) You believe that the murderer (Souza) is a victim in this outrage, calling him, "the most vulnerable and least capable of responsibility."
D) You have not/cannot/will not name one institution policy or accreditation standard that was broken and directly caused the murder.
E) You have lied at least two provable times on this thread, saying that I felt the standards were "window dressing" and denying that you see Souza as a victim, saying that "What I have said is that in a prison environment, he becomes the responsibility of the authority, since he no longer has any of his own." See C.

Peter stated: "As for the American Correction Association site, it seems that it wishes to deter the public from looking too closely at how it works. In Firefox anyway, multiple warning messages are displayed against connection to any of the menu pages, including the one about Standards and Accreditation. Maybe as a member, you are able to log on and avoid such problems."

Ah, yes. It is all a big conspiracy to keep you and "the public" from seeing the standards (rather than just an error of its website security certificate). Do you even read what you type? Doesn't your mom need her computer back?

Peter stated: "The rest of us, apparently, risk total extermination if we connect."

Sure. Try this website: http://zapatopi.net/afdb/

Peter stated: "Since you are in favor of transparency I'm sure, perhaps you would have a word with those responsible. Meanwhile, we are still without access to the code."

LOL As if I would have any idea who is "responsible?" Here is the "code" for you:
Username (case sensitive): KillInmates1000
Password (case sensitive): Conspiracy666

Do they not teach library or research skills in law school/college/high school/grade school?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 20, 2011 1:35:04 PM

Tar - I'm sure the theater has long emptied. Stick to the day job, or on reflection ....

Posted by: peter | Aug 20, 2011 3:46:23 PM

Peter,

Thanks for two things. A) Showing you are a man of no substance, just an ankle-biter. B) Showing me that "guest" is correct.

Lessons learned.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 20, 2011 5:40:43 PM

Tar - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...........

Posted by: peter | Aug 21, 2011 2:04:55 AM

"But believing in second chances (for commenters, not killers), I'll repeat the 80% of my post you evaded and hope for your response (starting with your first line):"

Sorry for not giving you the attention you deserved, Otis. The guy is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. That's not a freebie. If he was getting out and walking the streets in 10 years, then you could call it a freebie. That's not happening in this case, and this guy is going to be incarcerated and under the control of the state until the day he dies. You say that under my logic, he could kill 20 people on the inside and not putting him to death would be ok. First, if somebody is able to commit 20 murders on the inside, then there's something fundamentally wrong with the facility, and executing inmates isn't going to fix the problem. Second, as you already know, putting people to death is never ok with us.

You say, "The only relevant question is whether they inflict any additional punishment, and the answer is no." I think that line basically sums up your view of the world. You live, eat and breathe retribution. That's why you enjoy spending much of your retirement posting and blogging on the internet about the alleged virtues of capital punishment. I don't mean that as an insult, and I don't think you'll take it as one. That's just the way that I see you. If all of the murders in this country stopped tomorrow, I think the first thing you would do would probably be to start looking for some other class of criminals to start executing. As you already know, I see the world very differently.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Aug 21, 2011 12:43:54 PM

TDPS --

"You say, 'The only relevant question is whether they inflict any additional punishment, and the answer is no.' I think that line basically sums up your view of the world."

Neither I nor my view of the world is the subject here. The subject is what punishment should be given to a murderer already servng life who kills again in prison.

"The guy is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. That's not a freebie."

Since he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison anyway, a second, utterly redundant life sentence most certainly IS a freebie. There is no punishment in continuing exactly the life you had before. Do you really not understand that?

"You say that under my logic, he could kill 20 people on the inside and not putting him to death would be ok." And you very conspicuously don't deny it. Instead, you say simply that you don't approve of the DP at all.

But that too is not the question. The question is WHY it should not be approved when it is the only thing that actually provides punishment for a previously convicted killer already doing life. Simply to repeat your conclusion is not to provide a reason anyone else should adopt it.

Your guesses about my psychology are all well and good, but have nothing to do with answering the question posed by Doug's entry. I could guess about your psychology too, but that's just as irrelevant as your guessing about mine, in addition to being none of my business. I don't know you and to my knowledge we have never met, so my guesses would be ignorant in addition to being irrelevant.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 21, 2011 5:40:30 PM

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