Crime and punishment roundup

  • “Authorities noted in the complaint he lived ‘9 houses’ away from the site of a residence where drug transactions were occurring…” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt on $626,000 Missouri civil asset forfeiture seizure]
  • As Loyola lawprof Dane Ciolino points out, Louisiana “victims’ rights” bill seems meant to hobble public defenders’ witness investigations without holding law enforcement and D.A.s to same standards [Kira Lerner, The Appeal, earlier here, here, here, and here]
  • A “truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing” culminates in conviction of fantasist who made up child abuse charges against prominent figures [Dan Rivers, ITV]
  • The May 19 story on Dallas’s nonprosecution policy for lower-level offenses (“shoplifters’ holiday”) resulted in a discussion in comments of the similar policy of Suffolk County, Mass. (Boston) district attorney Rachael Rollins. Rollins’s policy has since come in for considerable controversy: “A Globe review of Rollins’s record reveals that, not only is the Suffolk DA dropping more cases than before, but some of the cases don’t seem “low-level” at all, involving serious bodily injury, major thefts, and career criminals.” [Andrea Estes and Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe, July 6]. [h/t reader Hugo C., who writes: “Two cases stood out to me: (a) an assailant who put an attorney in the hospital with long-term brain damage got no prison time, and (b) a criminal caught breaking into a warehouse with a crowbar (and found to be in possession of 39 stolen credit cars) was turned loose.”]
  • Electronic ankle monitors that not only report location, but also capture and report back audio of the wearer’s surroundings, raise difficult privacy issues [Kira Lerner, The Appeal via Chaz Arnett]
  • Alexandra Natapoff discusses her recent book Punishment without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal [Cato event video with Jonathan Blanks; related Cato podcast]


  • Lawyer out walking dog, is assaulted by a guy in his 20s for no reason and is seriously hurt and no jail time? What kind of sick joke is that? One of the attributes of a free society is that it is a safe one, and another is that justice will be done.

    Here it appears that the DA chose “social justice” over actual justice, and it is sickening. In my view, society has no right to demand that the victim’s loved ones simply accept this result. It has the power to do so–but not the right.

    And what of the next person this miscreant harms?

    • In effect, DA Rollins acquitted him by reason of insanity, a decision normally left to juries.

      If juries applied criminal insanity law literally, they would have to acquit nearly all violent criminals. Fortunately for public safety, jury nullification works here in favor of the prosecution.

  • As long as there is prosecutorial discretion, there is no rule of law. The British system ameliorates by allowing private prosecution.

    • Apart from partisanship, corruption, or laziness, another reason not to prosecute is that there really is not enough admissible evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Once a defendant is acquitted, the double-jeopardy doctrine protects him even if more evidence comes in that would prove his guilt.

      Perhaps England can tolerate the risks of premature private prosecutions, because they abolished the “double Jeopardy” doctrine for many serious crimes in 2003.

  • reminds me of those “a good start” jokes…

  • Controversy over Suffolk (Boston) DA Rachael Rollins continues:

    Rollins accused her critics of racially-motivated falsification, eg hiding that her White predecessor had planned to offer the same easy deal to the dog-walker’s assailant. The Globe allowed their reporters to defend themselves.

  • More news about DA Rollins (Boston MA)

    An increasingly visible and aggressive “homeless” culture (in San Francisco fashion) has been spreading from “Methadone mile” (southeast of the Boston Medical Center) into gentrified streets of the South End. The decay started in 2014 before DA Rollins’s time, when Mayor Walsh suddenly closed the treatment facilities on Long Island (Boston Harbor) without any planning for replacement facilities. The decay has accelerated on her watch, however. A recent police crackdown was prompted by an assault and robbery on a corrections officer (in civilian clothes) on his way to work in the area. South End residents and the Mayor have cheered the police action, but DA Rollins has condemned it.

    Homeless advocates accused the police of dumping a homeless man out of his wheelchair and throwing it into a garbage truck. I find the police version more credible– that they did not dump anyone out of a wheelchair, but disposed of some abandoned wheelchairs stained with “bodily substances” and blood.