Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CourtWatch Endorses Mizeur

From Steve J. Gewirtz of Charles Village Court Watch:

While I was actively doing a court watch, the one thing that I consistently noticed was that most violent crime had an addiction to illegal drugs at its root.  For example, when John Wagner murdered Stephen Pitcairn, Wagner and most of his apartment mates including Lavelva Merritt had spent the morning high on drugs and alcohol, and the robbery that led to the murder clearly was an effort to get money for drugs.  Police Commissioner Batts, having worked previously in California where a lot of gangs started, has made the point that gangs are at the root of our increase in murders this year, and those gangs exist largely to run drug operations.
When the 18th amendment to the U.S. constitution instituted prohibition of alcohol in the roaring 20s, it provided for concurrent enforcement by the states and the federal government. All but one of the then 48 states adopted prohibition.  The one that did not is our state -- Maryland.  Thus, enforcement of prohibition in Maryland came only from the federal government, and the Baltimore Sun named Maryland "the free state."  As we know, prohibition was a colossal failure that led to a lot of violence (think of Al Capone) and was repealed by the 21st amendment.  We should have learned something from prohibition, namely that trying to ban something that a lot of people want is not possible and that resulting black markets are accompanied by fights over territory in which to sell the something.  When prohibition was repealed, the violent crime subsided.
Today, our country jails more than 2 million people, many for violations of the prohibition of drugs.  We incarcerate people at the highest per capita rate in the world.  Yet people who want drugs still can get them.  In addition, every study shows that the rate of use of illegal drugs is the same for whites as for blacks, but blacks are charged with and jailed for drug crimes far more than whites.
At the same time, far more people die from legal drugs, namely tobacco and alcohol, than from all illegal drugs combined.
For these reasons, it has long been my view that most recreational drugs should be decriminalized.  Get rid of the black markets and we can get rid of much of the violence.  The war on drugs has been a colossal failure.  At the same time, I do believe in cracking down on violent criminals, especially multiple offenders, but if drugs were legal under appropriate safeguards,  there would be a lot less violent crime.  We would save much of the money now spent on prisons.  We also would be able to make drug treatment truly available on demand for anyone who needs it.  Many addicts would need to try more than one program to find one that works for them.
A good place to start is to end the prohibition of marijuana.  Two states so far, Colorado and Washington, have legalized the possession of small amounts, and both states plan to raise money by taxing the sale of marijuana.  There are problems to work through, especially since marijuana is still illegal under federal law.  For example, I understand that banks in Colorado will not accept deposits from marijuana dealers, and I suspect that this is because under federal law, knowingly accepting a deposit from a marijuana dealer constitutes the federal crime of money laundering.  Also, we need to plan for vigorous enforcement of laws against driving under the influence of marijuana -- think of the horrendous accident some years ago in Chase, Maryland because a train operator who was high on pot failed to begin to stop for a signal until it was too late. The first time I tried marijuana, I bicycled afterwards from one dorm to another, and I found myself coming up suddenly on stop signs.  Therefore, when the accident in Chase occurred, I knew exactly how it had come about.
Fortunately, marijuana is generally not an addictive drug. Addiction can be hard to break.  For years, I consumed huge amounts of caffeine, and it took numerous tries to break my addiction.  But I never had to worry about getting busted for buying a fix, and my addiction did not interfere with a career.
While we think about reducing crime, let me mention another issue. I have tutored a few students at the Waverly Library (before it was closed for renovation).  I can recall tutoring a fifth and a sixth grader in math and noticing that they would add two one digit numbers by counting on their fingers.  As far as I can tell, nothing is done for such students by the school system, and the ones I encountered at least were going for tutoring.  My guess is that when students get too far behind and see no future for themselves, that becomes the signal to join a gang and to get involved with drugs. We need to break this cycle.
In the gubernatorial race, one candidate so far has come out for legalization of marijuana, namely Delegate Heather Mizeur.  She would create a legal market for marijuana, would tax it, and would use the money to fund prekindergarten education.  This would be an excellent first step in reducing crime centered around the drug trade and in giving our children a jump on getting the education they need to feel that they have a future.  Kids from middle and upper class homes reach kindergarten already knowing the letters of the alphabet, but too many kids from poverty begin learning the letters in kindergarten.  She has also spoken of the need to end the system that sends too many kids into the court system rather than into college and careers.  I expect that we will see more details on what she plans to do, and I hope that other candidates will also discuss the issue.
As you may guess from what I have written above, I am supporting Heather Mazeur and her running mate Delman Coates for governor and lieutenant governor.  Heather will be speaking at a meeting at 7:30 p.m. next Monday, December 16 of the Old Goucher Community Association at Lovely Lane Methodist Church at 2200 St. Paul St. in Baltimore.  I hope that people will attend and will hear a really dynamic and inspirational speaker.  One of the things I most like about her and her running mate is that I expect them to do more than any recent governor to inspire all of us to do more to make our communities and our city and state a much better place.  They believe in government, as do I, but government cannot do everything.  We all need to contribute our time.
To learn more about Heather, go to her web site: If you are interested in meeting two members of the cast of The Wire, she has a fundraiser next Tuesday, December 17, and you can click on EVENTS to get details.

Would You Stop?

Tevin, Traqwan
Sometimes ye olde Stop n' Frisk is used correctly: two 19-year-olds, Tevin Graham and Traqwan Pipkins, were apprehended avec handgun following a robbery* in Belair-Edison.
Prior to these two, the police have only communicated one other arrest since last Thursday. Have they not arrested anyone since last Thursday, or are these guys being singled out?

And while the Tavon White impregnations were something, there is the hint of even worse jail scandals in the wind: O'Malley has announced that most highly esteemed bwana and jefe of the jails, Gary "I will be hitting the ball with great intensity" Maynard, has "stepped down." Entirely voluntarily, we're sure. To spend time with his family. Coincidentally, the legislature is to issue recommendations for reform of the Detention Center tomorrow,* and the WaPo has gotten its paws on said recommendations. To make a long story short, they involve reducing the entire jail to rubble.
   TIL the jail in Baltimore is the only jail run by the state, which I vaguely remember is due to some sort of federal do-it-yourself-or-I-will-do-it-for-you-and-cut-off-your-allowance order based on a previous series of fuckups, but I am too tired to Google that right now.

Tyrone West
Prosecutors claim that Tyrone West's death in custody on July 18 was due to “cardiac arrhythmia due to cardiac conduction system abnormality complicated by dehydration during police restraint.”A related protest is scheduled for tomorrow at 5* at City Hall.

And surely totally completely unrelated to the in-custody deaths of Anthony Anderson and Tyrone West, which were most assuredly handled in superlatively lawful and appropriate ways, the BPD has announced it will change the way it deals with in-custody deaths“Our focus and our goal is to be transparent, whether we do things well or whether we don’t do things well,” said Commissioner Anthony Batts.  So starting tomorrow requests for public information will no longer delayed for years and cost a thousand million dollars, right?  Even the FOP is calling BS on this unrestrained fart-in-your-face of a claim:
  1. You claim to be open & transparent. So why a secret commission? And who was even interviewed? Glad you have faith in us.
  2. Your own detectives completed their criminal investigation. The SAO and OCME completed theirs as well. Why a commission?
  3. @BalimorePolice So how much death investigation experience do your so called "experts" on the Anderson commission have?

... and let's not let the quick and painful deaths of a few distract us from the slow, painful deaths of many: the owner of the delicious and expensive Black Olive restaurant is skeptical of the Harbor Point developers' assurances of safety. "If there is a need to stop the project because [chromium] levels are so high they are dangerous, would you stop?"

Nascent socialist David Simon will be hosting a $50-a-head signing of his cookbook TREME: Stores and Recipes from The Heart of New Orleans at Johnny's restaurant in Roland Park this Sunday at 2. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fred and George, Jill and Jose

Life in prison for Jose Morales.*

A man with a gun tried to rape a 13-year-old in the 2700 block of East Madison Street after midnight.*

Jill Carter plans to introduce legislation to overhaul the laws that govern police internal investigations.

The WaPo reported on the sneaky "malware" means the Feds use to spy on people, such as embedding a virus-like program in somebody's email that allows spying through a laptop camera without making the 'record' light come on.
Fred and George

A 7-11 clerk was shot in the County, in the 8600 block of Pleasant Plains Road.

A man was robbed and stabbed in Dundalk.

In AAC, Fred and George were arrested for selling drugs to an undercover officer.

Felicia "Snoop" Pearson is all alone eating a rack of ribs and drinking a Mai Tai, so I guess she's not in jail any more.