Tag: criminal justice

Chris Brown Update

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Apparently his trial has been delayed pending the appeal of the conviction of his bodyguard (and star witness). In the meantime, Brown remains in custody, facing charges in two jurisdictions. As a general practice, if you are on probation, and get arrested, you sit in jail until the cases are resolved.

Just a reminder that American justice does not play!

Chris Brown — Examiner

More Shootings…More Debates

gun control

So I awoke this morning to hear of two more shooting tragedies. One in a school in Roswell, New Mexico, and the other north of me in Florida.

Let me be abundantly clear. My husband and I own firearms.

Am I a sharpshooter? Furthest thing from it.

Can I handle a weapon in an emergency and hit a target? Better believe it.

Do I have an understanding and healthy respect for the power of a gun? Absolutely. 

Should everyone own (and carry) a gun? Not if you will not be responsible as well as ready to take a life…because if you point a gun, you better be ready to fire.  And accept the consequences of firing. 

Of late, I have been involved in some heated debates over gun possession. There seems to be a viewpoint that every man, woman and possibly teen should be able to possess a gun with little to no restrictions. 

roswell

In the first case of Roswell, New Mexico, a 12 year old boy brought a sawed off shotgun to school, and shot two students. No one seems to know why. A courageous teacher got right in front of the boy, and convinced him to put down the gun.

So how does a 12 year old in New Mexico get a sawed off?

Not thinking that he got it at the local gun shop…it probably came from the parents’ gun cabinet.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, there was some discussion about letting personnel carry guns into schools, or having armed security in the hallways. So if the teachers had guns (which some folks are proponents of), would the situation have ended as it did?

I submit to you that there would have been a lot more death and bloodshed.

movie theatre shooting

In contrast, let’s look at the shooting in Wesley Chapel, Florida. The shooter, Curtis Reeves, is a retired police officer. He flipped out because the victim was texting in a movie theater.

Have we all been annoyed by that? Sure.

Do we feel the need to start a fight, then shoot someone? No.

I can script where this will go. His defense attorney has already claimed self defense at the bond hearing. The judge wasn’t having it and is holding him no bond until trial. Then what? Stand your ground. Again. Even though witnesses claim that the victim threw popcorn at the defendant, the defendant will claim he was in fear for his life (even though he started it), and that’s why he shot the victim Chad Oulson in the chest. I doubt this motion will be granted, especially in light of what the witnesses saw, and the woman that has come forward to say this defendant also harassed her during a movie because she was texting.

In all honesty, I will concede that gun control laws would not have changed the outcome of this situation, unless the defendant was found to be mentally ill at some point. He’s a former police officer, so he would fall into the category of someone who should be able to carry.

But looking at the extreme version of this. If the victim had a gun, then what? Shoutout at the movie theater? And what about people caught in the crossfire?

Too bad so sad?

All I’m saying is let’s be reasonable. If you need a permit to fish, a license to drive, and have to register to vote, why shouldn’t there be greater accountability for the ownership of something that, by its very design, is meant to kill? Why do we need to live in a society in which everyone needs to be strapped? 

There HAS to be a middle ground, between gun ownership, upholding the Constitution, and keeping citizens safe.  Let’s constructively talk about ideas, and respect that not everyone feels the same way about firearms.  

Please keep the victims in your thoughts and prayers….especially the 3 year old who does not have a dad anymore because he died for texting her.

oulson and daughter

Food for thought.

As always, I am up for a good debate.  

M.

Detention or Jail? New Choices for Disruptive Students

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The school to prison pipeline. You may have never heard of it, but it is a growing issue.  Across the nation, students are being arrested for minor offenses.  Offenses that twenty years ago, would have gotten the student sent home, given detention, or at worst, suspended. Now, students are getting criminal records for misdemeanor charges such as loitering, trespass, and disorderly conduct — which boils down to fighting, staying on school grounds after hours, or being disruptive in class.

Last week, the country’s 6th largest school district, located in Broward County, Florida, took a large step in a new direction.  The superintendent of Broward County schools came together with the state attorney’s office, the police department, and the NAACP to empower school principals to decide when and how students would be arrested.  In the past, it was the school resource officer who made these determinations. The NAACP became involved, because they noted that a large amount of those arrested were students of color…and their peers were receiving warnings instead.

The new policy states that for non-violent charges like trespassing, harassment, incidents related to alcohol, possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, school officials are to work it out in house without an arrest. Options for punishment, in addition to traditional means, include participation in a week-long counseling program. No student would be arrested for a first time non-violent misdemeanor, but repeat offenses will receive an escalation in punishment. After a fifth incident, students are referred to law enforcement. The police will still handle felonies or serious threats.

This school to prison pipeline issue may be occurring as a result on our shifting society. In years past, there was a parent or relative that would be available to take a child from school.  Schools were more engaged with the family and the community. Now, with many parents working more than one job to make ends meet, or are the head of a single parent household, it is easier for the school to call the police than for the parent to leave work.  Some parents may be short on patience, and hope that an encounter with the criminal justice system will “scare them straight”.  Other parents may have deeper issues preventing them from being a role model and disciplinarian. On the other side, many schools and teachers are overworked as well as underfunded.  “Zero tolerance”, rather than taking the time to work with the child, is perceived as easier when resources are stretched thin.  Lastly, many beneficial after school programs, including organized sports, arts/crafts, and meals programs, have been cut in an attempt to save money.  These programs are instrumental in keeping kids on the right track, keeping them busy with positive activities. In these days of recessions and budget cuts, lawmakers need to be mindful of the trickle-down effect the lack of programming has, including an increase in criminal activity.

The key problem lays in the fact that very rarely does the criminal justice system help a child.  That initial contact often lays the groundwork for repeated criminal conduct, due the child being exposed to more experienced teens. Additionally, the child now develops a criminal record, which becomes a problem when applying for jobs, as well as financial aid for college.

The bottom line is, it takes a village to raise a child. As a prosecutor, I handled juvenile cases early in my career. The majority of the kids I saw were not bad kids.  It was the usual mischief that kids have gotten into from the beginning of time.  But putting kids in the system without addressing the underlying issues that caused the behavior is a formula for disaster.  Broward County has already seen a decrease in arrests as a result of this program, with positive feedback being given all around.  I hope that other school districts take their rightful place as a safe haven for learning, rather than a route to prison.

Published on theLaw.tv November 12, 2013.  http://news.thelaw.tv/2013/11/12/detention-or-jail-new-choices-for-disruptive-students/

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