Monthly Archive: April 2023

Recidivism of Violent Women

Say “violent criminal” and most people will picture a man, for the obvious and valid reason that the rate of violent crime is much higher for men than women. But there are violent women as well. Today the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report, Recidivism of Females Released from State Prison, 2012–2017. The press release is here. Using a five-year follow-up period, the recidivism rate for violent women was somewhat lower than the corresponding rate for violent men, but still high — 55% versus 66% for men. Continue reading . . .

Racializing Crime

A little publicized 2021 public opinion survey by the Skeptic Research Center asked respondents to self identify as very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal or very liberal.  The researchers then asked “how many unarmed black men were killed by police in 2019?”  20.28% of very conservatives believed that between 1,000 and 10,000 or more black men were killed by police.  13% of conservatives believed this.  25.8% of moderates thought so, while 38.7% of liberals and 53.5% of very liberal agreed.  In 2019, twenty-five unarmed black men were killed by police. The same survey asked “what percentage of people killed by police were black.”  The responses ranged from 60.4% from very liberal to 37.8% from conservatives.  Even the very conservatives thought 44.5% of those killed by police were black.  The actual percent was 24.9%.   How could so many people from all political stripes have been this wrong?  The fact is that for decades the public has been fed a steady diet of lies by liberal politicians and the mainstream media characterizing the police as racially-obsessed bigots randomly slaughtering innocent black men.   In an article from today’s City Journal, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald painstakingly deconstructs this propaganda.

Continue reading . . .

The “True Threats” Doctrine

On Wednesday the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Counterman v. Colorado, No. 22-138 (transcript here, audio here).

The issue in this case involves how courts should determine what constitutes a “true threat.”  True threats are not protected by the First Amendment.  The question before the Court is whether a state may define speech to be a “true threat” if it would be regarded by a reasonable person as a true threat, or whether the First Amendment requires a state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the speaker subjectively intended the communication to be a threat.

In this case, Billy Raymond Counterman, was convicted of stalking and was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for sending thousands of private Facebook messages to a local singer/songwriter named C.W. C.W. found the private messages to be “weird” and “creepy” and did not respond to any of them. She blocked Counterman from her Facebook accounts, but he created new accounts and continued to message her. As time went on without response from C.W., Counterman’s messages became more angry and alarming, causing C.W. to become extremely fearful and scared. Counterman also alluded to making physical sightings of C.W. in public. Continue reading . . .

Forbidding Candid Speech About Crime

From an op-ed in the WSJ:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal bureaucracy with a vast jurisdiction, is testing a novel approach to crime and punishment. In a lawsuit against Townstone Financial, a small Chicago-area nonbank mortgage firm, the CFPB is signaling that it may attempt to punish anyone who complains about neighborhood crime.

The article is by John Berlau and Stone Washington of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The essence of the CFPB complaint is that candid speech about high crime areas discourages people from those areas from applying for mortgage loans, with a disparate impact by race. Continue reading . . .

Grasping at Statistical Straws

Graph of California Recidivism Rates

Cal. 3-Year Recidivism Rates for Cohorts Released in 2-Year Periods 2003-2018

This graph shows data on recidivism from the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s most recent report. Each cohort released in a 2-year period is tracked for three years for arrests, convictions, and returns to prison. The blue line is convictions, which CDCR regards as its primary measure. This rate was 44.6% for the 2015-16 cohort. It rose to 47.6% for the 2016-17 cohort. Then for 2017-18 it fell back to where it was for 2015-16. CDCR’s Secretary is crowing that this represents confirmation that post-Prop. 57 “credit-earning opportunities … is [sic] having a positive impact to improve public safety.”

Seriously? Continue reading . . .

Chicago Criminals Celebrate New Progressive Mayor

On April 4, Chicago voters doubled down on woke criminal justice reform by electing Brandon Johnson as Mayor.  Out-of-control crime has been the city’s leading policy issue for several years, with most believing that former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s defeat was due to her failure to effectively address it.  Johnson’s recently-announced policies are even more anti-law enforcement than hers.  He is erasing the street gang database that has helped police identify violent offenders, calling it racist.  The Sun Times reports that instead of filling the hundreds of vacancies in the Chicago PD, Johnson is closing down police stations and wants to hire non-police “trained professionals” to respond to 911 calls.  He had vowed to address the root causes of crime (poverty, housing, education) rather than aggressively going after the criminals.  Last weekend, the criminals responded by shooting 35 people with 8 fatalities.  Two of the victims were shot when hundreds of teens took over the Millennium Park area, smashing windows and setting cars on fire.  The previous weekend 20 people were shot with three fatalities.  It looks like the open season in Chicago will continue.

Gaslighting the Public on Recividism

A story posted in the online edition of the Sacramento Bee reports that after California’s 2016 adoption of Proposition 57, “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act,” recidivism went down according to a report from state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The initiative allowed criminals convicted of so called non-violent crimes such as drug dealing, car theft, grand larceny and burglary to be released from prison early based upon their behavior while incarcerated.  The criminal’s prior convictions, even for murder or rape, were not required to be considered in the CDCR process to determine who was eligible and how much time off they would receive.  The Bee article notes that the measure was opposed by law enforcement organizations like the San Francisco Police Officers Association, Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the California District Attorneys Association, who warned that it would allow the release of dangerous violent offenders resulting in increased crime.  But in the three years after Proposition 57 passed, the CDCR reported that the conviction and return-to-prison rates for released inmates declined.

Continue reading . . .

Forfeiture Procedure

The U.S. Supreme Court today took up a case on forfeiture procedure for full briefing in the coming months and argument next fall.

The Question Presented in Culley v. Marshall, No. 22-585, as framed by the attorney for the petitioner, is:

In determining whether the Due Process Clause requires a state or local government to provide a post seizure probable cause hearing prior to a statutory judicial forfeiture proceeding and, if so, when such a hearing must take place, should district courts apply the “speedy trial” test employed in United States v. $8,850, 461 U.S. 555 (1983) and Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), as held by the Eleventh Circuit or the three-part due process analysis set forth in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976) as held by at least the Second, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits.

Counterman v. Colorado, No. 22-138, on anti-stalking laws and the First Amendment, will be argued Wednesday. CJLF’s amicus brief is here.

Expelled Tennessee Lawmaker Indicted For Assault in 2020

Justin Jones, the Tennessee legislator expelled last week for active participation in a protest (insurrection?) that shut down proceedings in the statehouse, was indicted for assaulting a motorist during a George Floyd protest in the summer of 2020.  Caroline Downey of National Review reports that Jones was caught on video blocking a street outside the state capitol and attacking the driver of a pickup with a traffic cone as he attempted to leave.  The video was shown to a Grand Jury, which indicted Jones for assault and reckless endangerment.  Jones claimed that his actions were “peaceful” and that the police and prosecutors were “pushing a false narrative portraying me as violent.”  The video clearly shows Jones’s carrying out the assault, but my favorite is the protester in the yellow shirt who does an NBA flop when the silver car he’s blocking touches him.  He would be ejected from a game for such a blatant fake.  It is terrifying to be caught in one of these road blocks and swarmed by protesters.