Monday, July 3, 2017

It's Criminal

Living in the South you learn two things:  Anything often with the "t" sound is not a good thing.  This includes Sweet Tea,  Humidity and Tornado.  No wonder they have issues with me as both my names begin with a T.  I do feel more like Tornado when I pass through towns because you know I am coming but you wait until after I have blown through to assess the damage.   It is why when I am repeatedly asked by the yokels here, "Why did you come here?"  And my response, "To fuck you over" seems appropriate.

The other is the obsession with crime and the guardians of the gate, the Christian Soldiers that are in the position to keep one "safe."  This includes of course Police, Military and other Law Enforcement.  I don't think I have ever heard the word Firemen mentioned if so they are called "First Responders."  It borders on disturbing to amusing but then you realize it is they are one of the largest employers for many in the area as they lack education and in turn vision to do much else.

The news every day covers story after story regarding crime, be it shoplifting, to car break ins to shootings.  Dark camera shots, mug shots and other incidentals are repeated endlessly to ask the public to help solve the crimes.  This between the endless discussion on weather and traffic define the Nashville local News.   I actually witnessed one cut away when a story about Trump came on  via the national feed and immediately there was a cut away to some local story about crime.  This too explains the fake news as they actually don't have news here. 

Now when they do get themselves an education they go into law.  There are many law schools here and in turn they have contributed to the glut of Attorneys and the debt that accompanies it.   The South according to the U.S. News Report has highly "ranked" schools.  Note they don't disclose LSAT or Bar Exam results (you have to pay for that as the schools pay for said ranking)  but hey real reporting and researching is for FAKE NEWS.

And Jefferson Beauregard Sessions aka Forrest Trump is a proud Southern grad. Of course like many of his peers his B.A. was from a secular Methodist School and his J.D was from the University of Alabama.  And this is where I am sure he learned at the knee of the fine scholars that taught at the University at that time the value of equality and civil rights as evidenced by his racist past.

So when Forrest decided to re-invigorate the Drug Wars and get Tough on Crime part of his agenda, other than colluding with Russians, was to dissolve many of the practices and programs of his predecessors - all of them Black!! How dare they!  This included restoring Private Prisons, one who discreetly changed their name from CCA to CoreCivic whose headquarters are here in Tennessee.  Go figure. Irony that they are going through a scandal here with a scabies epidemic in the women's jails.  But they have had history of problems that led to the Obama Administration to no longer use said industry for federal prisoners.

The next was of course eliminating any of the sentencing recommendations and options about low level low risk drug use.  This includes ignoring pursuing federal crimes in those States that have legalized Marijuana for either commercial or medical use.    And then the big one the elimination of the Forensic Science unit that has been working on establishing a standard for protocol regarding the CSI side of criminal justice.

Radley Balko has written tirelessly about this subject and particularly endless problems in the South with regards to Prosecutorial Misconduct, Junk Science and in turn the exonerations that have resulted from the practice.

There have been endless stories across the Country over the years including  Ohio, Austin, Seattle   Oregon, etc  about Crime labs and their fraudulent practices leading to one head of said lab in Boston to be imprisoned herself.

This should lead any reasonable person to conclude that this is a problem, perhaps even an epidemic but in the Trump Dynasty we have Made America Great Again the 1950 edition.

The Justice Department is squandering progress in forensic science

The Washington Post
By Rush D. Holt and Jed S. Rakoff July 2 2017

Rush D. Holt is chief executive officer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Jed S. Rakoff is a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York who served ex officio on the National Commission on Forensic Science.

Imagine this: A cop pulls you over and arrests you because you match the description of someone wanted for a heinous crime. You are innocent, but after being charged and brought to trial, you watch as experts testify with “scientific certainty” that hair and footprints at the scene match your own, and you are led from the courtroom in shackles.

This may seem like a scene straight out of a TV melodrama, but this scenario happens in real life far too often. A number of forensic techniques — including hair- and footprint-matching, mark analysis, bloodstain-pattern analysis and others — lack scientific validity and reliability yet are used frequently in our nation’s courtrooms.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, no fewer than 490 people have been exonerated since 1989 after being convicted on the basis of false or misleading forensic techniques. Just last month, a Michigan man was freed from jail 41 years after his conviction after prosecutors agreed that evidence against him — based on an analysis of a single hair — didn’t meet FBI standards. Another Michigan man was released in May after 25 years in prison following a faulty conviction based on bullets matched to a gun.

During the past decade, thanks largely to a 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences, we have made important progress in ridding our nation’s courtrooms of such scenarios. But the Justice Department’s recent decision to not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science — the primary forum through which scientists, forensic lab technicians, lawyers and judges have worked together to guide the future of forensic science — threatens to stall and even reverse that progress.

The NAS report found that too few forensic disciplines, other than DNA analysis, have adequate scientific basis. The report also found that experts often overstate their claims in testimony, invoking unscientific terms like “scientific certainty” and claiming 100 percent accuracy.

The Justice Department is the responsible agency for prosecuting federal crimes and, in this role, makes frequent use of forensic techniques. It is therefore not appropriate for the Justice Department to be the evaluator of forensic practices. In the 2009 report, the NAS strongly recommended that to avoid a conflict of interest, an entity independent of the Justice Department should oversee forensic standards.

While the Justice Department did not fully embrace this recommendation, it went ahead and, in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, helped create the National Commission on Forensic Science. From 2013 until earlier this year, the commission provided a venue for all of the relevant stakeholders to discuss issues facing forensic labs and foundational science and to advance a path forward to strengthen forensic practices and research.

By building consensus among these diverse groups who all care deeply about the integrity of our justice system, the commission promoted important reforms, such as mandatory accreditation of crime labs used by the government and the immediate disclosure to defense counsels of a government forensic expert’s entire file relating to a defendant. Many of the commission’s recommendations have been adopted not only by the Justice Department but also by state and local crime labs. They have also resulted in changes both to prosecutorial practices and to codes of professional conduct for those working in forensic laboratories. With these improvements in providing justice, it is not time to pull back from the forensic commission.

More than 250 individuals and groups, including leading legal scholars and scientific organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recently submitted public comments to the Justice Department on how to proceed on forensic science. The overwhelming majority of comments urged the department to ensure that there be an independent and transparent oversight body for forensic science like the now-suspended commission.

For now, the Justice Department has taken the opposite view, that there is no conflict with having internal department evaluators oversee forensic science research that their prosecutors hope to use in the courtroom. We urge the attorney general and the department to take a thorough look at the many thoughtful comments from concerned citizens and quickly reconsider this approach. Forensic science requires conflict-free independent evaluation if it is to advance the truth. People’s lives and our society’s faith in the American justice system are at stake.

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