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Rape is Wrong

English: Stylized handcuffs. Português: Algema...

English: Stylized handcuffs. Português: Algemas estilizadas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Rape is Wrong

 

 

If you go down the page you will see a article from the Huffington Post in which an attorney suggests, I suppose the best way to put it, is that in the current case of the Missouri teen, that she was to blame. This makes me very angry. Bizarrely enough, I think you shouldn’t take advantage of 14 year old girls.

 

I think that it is obvious that rape is wrong but it apparently in many people’s minds carries a lot of caveats. Apparently that caveated definition always begins with the phrase: “What did she expect…”, which I have been hearing now for a good thirty years. This is often followed, in no particular order – when she dressed like that, – when she got into the car with him, – when she drank that much, – when she flirted like that, – when she went to his apartment at two in the morning, etc. You can probably think of a few I missed.

 

Raping women is wrong. Let me throw a little radical thought your way. Rape is a crime. It is not punishment for women’s misbehavior. It is a crime for which the perpetrator should go to prison. It is not a crime of passion, it is an assertion of power by a male without character or breeding.

 

And let me add these little thoughts –

 

A gentleman does not have sex with an unconscious woman.

 

A gentleman does not get a woman drunk to avoid getting her consent.

 

A gentleman realizes that no matter how a lady is dressed, how late it is, how drunk she is, that his duty is to protect and honor, all the time, every time.

 

James Pilant

 

Joseph DiBenedetto: ‘I’m Not Saying She Deserved To Be Raped, But…’

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/joseph-dibenedetto-rape-missouri-teen_n_4118899.html

 

“What did she expect to happen at one in the morning after sneaking out?” attorney Joseph DiBenedetto said on Shephard Smith Reports. “I’m not saying — assuming that these facts are accurate and this did happen — I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but knowing the facts as we do here including what the prosecutor has set forth, this case is going nowhere and it’s going nowhere quick.”

 

Shep Smith immediately jumped in and refuted his claims.

 

“What you’ve done, Joseph, is taken an alleged victim of rape and turned her into a liar and a crime committer,” he said. “That’s a far jump from a 1,000 miles away.”

 

via Joseph DiBenedetto: ‘I’m Not Saying She Deserved To Be Raped, But…’.

From around the web.

From the web site, Rape in the Military.

http://rapecultureinthemilitary.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/rape-in-the-military/

I call this an epidemic in our military because the numbers are staggering. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women in the military are sexually assaulted. (McDonough) A March 26 report by the Institute of Medicine said sexual assault and rape have “been occurring at high rates throughout U.S. armed forces, including the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters.” (Maze) The DOD (Department of Defense) estimated that last year around 19,000 service members are sexually assaulted each year. Thousands of our brave soldiers are being assaulted by their fellow brothers and sisters. The psychological damage of being betrayed by someone you are supposed to trust with your life has to be incredibly scarring.

 

The military even has a term for those who are suffering from the effects of sexual assault; it is called MST (Military Sexual Trauma). The military has reports done every year, and they have a division SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office) that handles policies and training around sexual assault crimes. So why are the numbers so high? “Only a small fraction of the incidents, 3,192 in 2011, are reported, and a mere 10 percent of those cases proceed to trial — hardly enough to create meaningful deterrence to criminal behavior and establish accountability.”(NYT Editorial)

 

Smart on Crime

Smart on Crime

Oregon Prosecutors Vie For Reduced Drug Sentences | ThinkProgress

Increasingly, conservatives who have historically followed a “tough on crime” mantra are embracing a “smart on crime” approach that reallocates resources to move away from over-criminalization and towards more efficient, effective criminal laws. Earlier this month, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed two laws that embrace alternatives to incarceration to nonviolent drug and property offenders, and eliminate jail time for juveniles who merely misbehave. And ten bipartisan members of Congress have formed a committee devoted to over-criminalization.

Oregon Prosecutors Vie For Reduced Drug Sentences | ThinkProgress

A few years ago, it was not clear whether or not America’s preoccupation with long prison sentences for even minor crimes would even be possible of change. But now, there is a definite away from such policies as “three strikes,” etc. It is one of the most historically important changes in the history of criminal justice in the United States.

Over the past forty years, we went from a nation that relied much more heavily on rehabilitation to a nation with the highest incarceration in the world. That high incarceration emasculated state budgets causing cuts in all kinds of traditional services and made it impossible for states to deal with long term problems like deteriorating infrastructure.

I am delighted that these policies are changing. The freed up human potential and the enormous sums of money available because of these changes will make American a better place to live.

James Pilant

 

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Live in Prison Everywhere?

Live in Prison Everywhere?

Why does Norway have a 21-year maximum prison sentence?

There are essentially five goals of sentencing: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, restoration, and rehabilitation. The last of these, rehabilitation, is probably one of the most controversial. In the U.S., for example, rehabilitation is considered a secondary goal, after retribution. Americans want their prisoners punished first and rehabilitated second.

This appeals to a societal sense of justice and fair play that has considerable cultural inertia in our country. Any talk of prioritizing rehabilitation ahead of retribution very typically generates complaints about how doing so will endanger public safety, ignore the needs of crime victims, and—most damning of all—coddle criminals.Never mind that certain forms of rehabilitation have been shown through research to reduce the risk of future offending, we want our pound of flesh first and foremost.

The same is not true the world over, though. Norway, by contrast, has a very progressive approach to sentencing that prioritizes rehabilitation as a primary strategy for reducing future criminal behavior. That doesn’t mean they don’t use prisons, it just means that the conditions of confinement are geared toward reducing the risk that an offender will return to a life of crime after release

Why does Norway have a 21-year maximum prison sentence?

As the author well notes, not everyone shares American’s passion for punishment. As I often tell my students, one of the reasons we should become familiar with other cultures is that any system that has functioned successfully over a long period of time has to have some good ideas, and every culture needs thought renewal and the occasional shake up to develop. This is one of those ideas that deserves examination.

James Pilant

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Religion is a Ethical Double Edged Sword

Religion is a Ethical Double Edged Sword

Religion is a double edged sword

Religion is a double edged sword

Faith-based prison programs: New study suggests religion may help criminals justify their crimes.

A new study in the academic journal Theoretical Criminology (hat tip to the Vancouver Sun) suggests that, far from causing offenders to repent of their sins, religious instruction might actually encourage crime. The authors surveyed 48 “hardcore street offenders” in and around Atlanta, in hopes of determining what effect, if any, religion has on their behavior. While the vast majority of those surveyed (45 out of 48 people) claimed to be religious, the authors found that the interviewees “seemed to go out of their way to reconcile their belief in God with their serious predatory offending. They frequently employed elaborate and creative rationalizations in the process and actively exploit religious doctrine to justify their crimes.”

First of all, many interviewees had only a vague notion of the central tenets of their faiths. Take, for example, an 18-year-old robber whose “street name” was Que:

Que: I believe in God and the Bible and stuff. I believe in Christmas, and uh, you know the commitments and what not.

Int: You mean the Commandments?

Que: Yeah that. I believe in that.

Int: Can you name any of them?

Que: Ahhh … well, I don’t know … like don’t steal, and uh, don’t cheat and shit like that. Uhmm … I can’t remember the rest.

Faith-based prison programs: New study suggests religion may help criminals justify their crimes.

Religion has not been a consistent force for morality. Savage wars, greed, theft and torture have all been favored by Christianity at various points in history. Other religions have similar checkered pasts. It is not surprising that prison preaching is not having the quite the effect expected.

It doesn’t help that the Bible is a complex work whose division into single verses complicates understanding. (I promise you that if you read the bible organized as paragraphs and books not verses, you will find that it is a much more consistent and eloquent document than when it is organized into brief comments – that get tossed like missiles by varying denominations and zealots of all stripes.)

It might do well to conduct studies to find out what religious systems are most effective in curbing recidivism.

I doubt that will happen. The results could be very dangerous. After all, what would people say if the Muslim Brotherhood was most effective in curbing later crime.

James Pilant

 

From around the web –

From the web site, Thoughtful Faith:

The United States keeps no official statistics on religious beliefs of inmates. The claim that atheists were under-represented in prisions was seemingly started, by Rod Swift, who wrote it on his website, and publicized the claim through the internet and sceptical magazines. He claims that he received an email from an employee of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Denise Golumbaski. According to this email, 0.2% of those surveyed specifically answered they were “atheist” and 19.8% give no answer. This compares with 0.5% of the US population at the time who identified as atheist, and 4 to 6% (according to Gallop) who gave no answer.

From the web site, The Penal System: (This is an interview with Pete Brook – it’s fascinating – you should read it!)

People have to care about each other. It’s just really bizarre in a country that has professed Christian ideals that when it comes to the prison system people don’t seem to love their neighbour, they seem to hate their neighbour. They seem to have an incredible amount of indifference towards the fortune of their neighbour. I mean I’m not a religious person I’m not saying that you should let these people out because of Christian ideals. It makes it easy when I’m chatting to my parents because they’re catholic and I’m like Jesus is all about visiting people in prison and stuff. But it’s a very easy line of argument to use when you’re dealing with conservatives. You should care because that’s what you talk about elsewhere.

And from the web site, Prison Uncensored:

Our conservative government has also taken away funding for religious groups other than Christians in an effort to save money. Before the government looks at saving nickels and dimes in the prison system perhaps they should look at how much money is wasted by other government departments, maybe our Defense Minister could not waste billions of taxpayer dollars.

 

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Tom Cavanagh and Restorative Justice

Tom Cavanagh and Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice, Culture of Care in Schools, and Restorative Practices in Schools: Increased interest since Friday’s events

Interest in the work of restorative justice in schools has increased since the events of last Friday. Here is an outline of what I offer schools. Restorative Justice in Schools Educators and policymakers’ interest in Restorative Justice is growing as they learn that the results of zero tolerance policies are not working. In fact, the capacity of students and teachers to respond to wrongdoing and conflict in a nonviolent way is lacking. As a result, some schools have adopted restorative justice practices. However, these practices are generally used outside of the classroom. This training is unique in that it focuses on building the capacity of teachers and students to respond in a caring and peaceful way to wrongdoing and conflict in the classroom.

Restorative Justice, Culture of Care in Schools, and Restorative Practices in Schools: Increased interest since Friday’s events

I have taken an interest in the Restorative Justice movement. I am well aware that it is not a panacea for society’s problems in criminal justice but it seems to me like a useful tool for community maintenance and building.

Mr. Cavanagh provides a service that teaches schools how to use restorative justice. This is a very positive step. As he remarks above, the no-tolerance policies of the last few years have been disasters. I’m not going to mince words about no-tolerance. it removed judgment and intelligence in discipline to avoid controversy. It is the job of administrator in schools to deal with controversy. Tossing out thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of students, is a disaster for the country and for them.

The field of criminal justice is full of difficulties. It is full of controversy and ridiculous coverage by the media. We need new ways of thinking. It’s time.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, Restorative Justice Online:

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behaviour. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders.

Practices and programs reflecting restorative purposes will respond to crime by:

  1. identifying and taking steps to repair harm,
  2. involving all stakeholders, and
  3. transforming the traditional relationship between communities and their governments in responding to crime.

From the web site, Restorative Justice Online, there is a useful introductory tutorial on the subject.

From the web site, National Association of Youth Courts, we find a paper by Tracy M. Godwin. Here is an explanation of the paper’s purpose.

This paper provides a brief overview of restorative justice principles and addresses several key issues the focus group members identified that serve as a promising foundation from which teen courts can begin to move toward integrating more restorative justice-based practices within their programs. Key issues discussed include how youth courts can rethink the role of victims and the community within their programs, how youth courts can alter the way that their proceedings and practices are structured, and how youth courts can rethink and redefine sentencing options so that they are based on the restorative justice philosophy.

And finally, from the web site, And Yet It Moves:

And still the question remained… what exactly should I do about it? Obviously they lose the credit for the assignments, but what else? What is an appropriate punishment? This is where Restorative Justice provided an interesting and useful answer. My understanding of the process, limited to just my experience using it today, is that it centers around a series of questions that the transgressor tries to answer:

“What happened?”
“What were you thinking about at the time?”
“What have you thought about since?”
“Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?”
“What do you think you need to do to make things right?

What I like about this approach is that it puts the work of figuring out the situation and facing its full complexity on the transgressor. Instead of the authority figure giving a lecture or handing down a punishment that the student endures, they are forced to grind through the whole thing themselves. Of course, as they work on it I can set the bar higher if an answer isn’t satisfactory, and I did have to do that several times today.

For example, one student started out equivocating on the very first question, “What happened?” And instead of getting into an argument about it, I just said, “Well, some of the evidence I have indicates that you’ve done more than just use the posted solutions for ideas or reference.” I put the results of my diff on the table and then I let him try again at answering the question. So this is not a way that people get off the hook for what they’ve done.

 

 

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America’s Financial Sector, Infested with Criminals?

Charles Ferguson: How Financial Criminalization Crashed the Economy, and the Culprits Got Off Scot-Free

It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the American (and global) financial sector has become criminalized, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behavior that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident.

Charles Ferguson: How Financial Criminalization Crashed the Economy, and the Culprits Got Off Scot-Free

I agree with Charles Ferguson. I’ve been following our financial disasters over the last five years and they are in many ways criminal enterprises, not that the Obama Administration seems to care.

We live in a nation with two standards of justice, one for the little people and one for a privileged elite.

I do not think I need to tell you of the horrible effects of injustice. The criminals will break the law again. The criminals will gain in power. The criminals will become even richer.

That is quite the lesson for our children and the larger society. Don’t work. Don’t labor. Steal. That’s the way of American Investment banking.

James Pilant

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My Welcome to My New Students in Criminal Justice!

Welcome!

I want to welcome you to this class. I always consider these joint endeavors in which both you and I trying to learn something in a complicated and exciting field.

 

Studying criminal justice is illuminating. It is a difficult field for many reasons. It deals with subjects that may have personally affected us. It deals with injury and death, often with the most unseemly of human actions. It also deals with psychological problems of the most serious and disturbing kind.

 

Please be aware that much of what you have seen on television is rank nonsense to those educated in the field. On television and often in movies, the law is often interpreted incorrectly, serial killers are portrayed as geniuses moving effortless through the population killing at will, and forensic crime solving is portrayed as well funded and almost always successful in finding the perpetrator. We will learn better.

 

Criminal justice in America is executed through thousands of law enforcement agencies in a bewildering set of jurisdictions often governed by contradictory and controversial laws. That it works at all is surprising and that is that it has serious problems a given.

 

You are going to be the future of criminal justice. As professionals, you will advance to become decision and policy makers. The understanding you acquire now may very well change the lives of thousands in the course of your life time.

 

I salute your willingness to engage in this difficult area of study and a lifetime of service to society at large.

 

James Pilant

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Lessons from the Brooklyn Groper – Falsifying Crime Reports – Salon.com

This story talks about an obvious sexual assault with multiple witnesses and a video of the incident which the police have tried very hard to ignore.

They don’t want to investigate it because it will throw off their successful record of reduced rapes. The numbers are more than important than actually doing police work.

It is appalling: another police department manipulating crime data by falsifying their crime reports.  You would have thought the seriousness of that kind of manipulation in Puerto Rico would have caused other departments to become cautious but apparently not.

When crime reports are little more than a collection of self serving lies, the crime statistics they generate are meaningless nonsense.

But that nonsense has serious consequences.

It’s major factor in budget allocations. If there are few rapes reported than there is less money for that kind of enforcement and police will be diverted to other duties. The city may provide few rape kits and counseling for victims.

The media is, of course, influenced by this train of events. Salutory articles delineating the new wonderful statistics of falling numbers of rapes are published. The major and police are praised as conquering heroes. The only problem is that the rapists can operate with less impediment, their victims will multiply and the victims’ chances of any justice become more and more remote.

James Pilant

Lessons from the “Brooklyn Groper” – Violence Against Women – Salon.com

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Typical academic consideration of police lying (via Allcoppedout’s Blog)

Typical academic consideration of police lying (via Allcoppedout’s Blog)

Here we discuss police lying and the legal fictions that figure so much in the language and practice of criminal justice. I like this paragraph –

My own belief is we are scared of transparency, partly because all our cupboards hide skeletons. When the ‘red witch’ placed at the heart of the hacking scandal admitted she knew her organization had paid police officers, this was seen as a blunder and admission of ‘criminality’. This is not the right approach and seems to be putting people we want to tell the truth in the same position as the police officer having to ‘game’ in the legal system.

I agree we do not value the truth so much as we value playing some strange kind of game designed to elude responsibility and honor.

James Pilant

Police lying is not best described as a “dirty little secret.”‘ For instance, police lying is no “dirtier” than the prosecutor’s encouragement or conscious use of tailored testimony2 or knowing suppression of Brady material;3 it is no more hypocritical than the wink and nod of judges who regularly pass on incredible police testimony4 and no more insincere than the demagogic politicians who decry criminality in our communities, but will not legisl … Read More

via Allcoppedout’s Blog

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Control Fraud as White Collar Crime And William K. Black

 This is fascinating. Essentially William K. Black is modifying out concepts of White Collar Crime (The Lord knows it needs it!).

White collar crime is a concept still burdened by its original definition. These kinds of crimes are no longer centered on such things as embezzlement but on subverting entire nations.

Here Black explains what he means by the concept –

Here’s a fuller treatment by the author.

When Fragile becomes Friable: Endemic Control Fraud as a Cause of Economic Stagnation and Collapse

Individual “control frauds” cause greater losses than all other forms of property crime combined. They are financial super-predators. Control frauds are crimes led by the head of state or CEO that use the nation or company as a fraud vehicle. Waves of “control fraud” can cause economic collapses, damage and discredit key institutions vital to good political governance, and erode trust. The defining element of fraud is deceit – the criminal creates and then betrays trust. Fraud, therefore, is the strongest acid to eat away at trust. Endemic control fraud causes institutions and trust to become friable – to crumble – and produce economic stagnation.

Read More!

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