of the Day
- November 13, 2009
some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local
newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage
of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood
activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible
issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular
point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From LA Times
Governor to submit plan to reduce prison crowding
November 12, 2009 | 5:47 pm
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tonight will give federal judges a road map to reducing state prison overcrowding that involves waiving some state laws so sentencing regulations can be changed and new private prisons built.
But the governor also will disavow those solutions as illegal, said Oscar Hidalgo, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
An initial plan that Schwarzenegger submitted was rejected three weeks ago by the three judges, who threatened him with contempt of court for failing to meet their demand for a proposal to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 prisoners over two years.
With his new proposal, the governor appears to be trying to avoid open defiance of the judges without giving the impression that he is contradicting his opposition to their efforts in an appeal now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The new plan, which the governor says would reduce the prison population by 42,000 by December 2011, will heed the judges' Oct. 21 order to identify state laws that they would need to suspend to meet their goal.
Yet Schwarzenegger also is expected to tell the judges he does not believe it would be legal for them to waive those laws. He contends that it is improper for the federal courts to intrude into the state's affairs.
U.S. District Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton and U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt are overseeing two long-running inmate lawsuits on medical and mental health care for inmates. They have ruled that overcrowding has led to care so poor that it violates the Constitution, and in August they ordered Schwarzenegger to provide a blueprint for easing the crowding.
Hidalgo said the state believes the new plan will meet the judges' requirements and the governor will attempt to win passage of some provisions of his plan in the Legislature, so the judges will not have to suspend any state laws.
U.S. moves to seize property housing an Islamic center
November 12, 2009 | 4:16 pm
Federal authorities moved today to seize a Northern California property housing an Islamic center, alleging that the foundation that owns the land has engaged in illegal financial activities with the Iranian government.
Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, filed a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of property owned by the Alavi Foundation in Carmichael, near Sacramento, and in four other states.
The Carmichael property is home to the nonprofit Qoba Foundation, which says on its website that it is an Islamic organization "caring for spiritual needs of the community with a range of religious programs."
It also performs Islamic marriages and burial services, and provides certification of conversion to Islam as well as family counseling for the Islamic community of greater Sacramento, the website says.
The Qoba Foundation is not named in the complaint.
The U.S. attorney also is seeking forfeiture of the Alavi Foundation's interest in a 36-story office tower at 650 Fifth Ave. in midtown Manhattan.
The filing in New York federal court "alleges that the Alavi Foundation has been providing numerous services to the Iranian government and transferring funds from 650 Fifth Avenue Company to Bank Melli, a bank wholly owned and controlled by the government of Iran," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The filing also seeks forfeiture of the foundation's holdings in Maryland, Texas and Virginia.
The properties can be seized under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, according to federal prosecutors, as property involved in and the proceeds of money-laundering offenses.
Agents seize 1,300 pounds of marijuana at Ontario home
November 12, 2009 | 1:58 pm
San Bernardino County narcotics agents seized 1,300 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $1 million and arrested four men during a raid at an Ontario home used by a Mexican drug cartel, authorities said.
Agents from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department arrested four men Wednesday morning at the home in the 1600 block of G Street. Police identified them as Eduardo Flores, 46, of Bell Gardens; Carlos Rodriguez, 29, of Los Angeles; Aurelio Lizarraga, 34, of Rialto; and Saul Ochoa, 35, of Corona.
They were booked at the West Valley Detention Center and face drug charges, authorities said.
During the raid, agents discovered about 1,200 pounds of marijuana inside two vehicles that were parked at the home. Another 100 pounds were found inside the home, along with scales, packaging materials and documentation that indicated narcotic sales, authorities said.
Investigators said they seized a total of 1,300 pounds of marijuana in 211 packages. Investigators said that the marijuana was grown in Mexico and was to be distributed across the U.S.
“Mexican drug cartels are clearly transporting drugs across our southern border and we are working diligently to keep them out of our county,” Sheriff Rod Hoops said in a press statement.
17 are arrested in Santa Barbara-based drug probe
November 12, 2009 | 4:32 pm
An investigation that started with the search for a dead man's body in an illegal marijuana garden near Santa Barbara has, after six months, resulted in the arrests of 17 people on drug charges, authorities said.
The missing man, Jesus Omar Villa of Fresno, is presumed dead, although authorities have yet to find his body.
During the investigation, Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies learned that several suspects had planned to destroy evidence of Villa's death by setting a brushfire at the marijuana garden he allegedly tended in the Santa Barbara foothills. That fire was never set, however, and cadaver-sniffing dogs failed to find Villa's body at the Los Padres National Forest site off West Camino Cielo Road.
The arrests were made in several counties, beginning in September. In one raid in Glendale, a 15-year-old boy allegedly rammed his vehicle into several police cars.
In all, authorities confiscated more than two pounds of cocaine, 327 pounds of marijuana, 11 guns and $39,000 in cash.
All of those arrested were described as Mexican nationals. Their U.S. citizenship status remains unclear, according to Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department spokesman Drew Sugars.
Slaying suspect broke through back window as police kept watch in front, sources say
November 12, 2009 | 1:32 pm
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating how a woman who had filed a domestic abuse report was slain in her Mid-City apartment late Wednesday night as officers were watching it while on the lookout for the suspect.
According to LAPD sources, the chain of events began when the unidentified woman went to the Wilshire Division police station to report that she was a victim of domestic abuse.
Officers who specialize in domestic violence talked to the woman and, at some point, drove her back to her home near Cochran Avenue and Pico Boulevard. Law enforcement sources said the officers went into the apartment with the woman to make sure the suspect was not there. They thoroughly checked the apartment and then went to their car.
The officers decided to keep watch on the street, worried that the suspect might come to cause trouble, sources said. Police believe the man sneaked into the apartment through a small back window, sources said, possibly scaling the roof to get there. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named because LAPD policy does not allow public comments on open cases.
The officers heard the woman's screams, ran into the apartment and saw a man stabbing the woman. They opened fire, fatally wounding the attacker.
He and the woman were taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where they later died.
LAPD Capt. Eric Davis said at a news conference this afternoon at the Wilshire Division station that the officers went beyond the call of duty in their attempts to protect the woman.
“The fact is, we're talking about a horrible tragedy — domestic violence. And in this instance, domestic violence has reared its ugly head in the worst form and we have the tragic murder,” Davis said.
Neighbors described the victim as a friendly woman with a 3-year-old daughter who had moved in a few months ago.
A neighbor said she was walking about midnight Wednesday from her father's home on Pico Boulevard to her apartment on South Cochran Avenue when she heard screams. When she got closer, she saw two officers running upstairs to the apartment where the victim lived. The officers were screaming, “Open the door! Open the door!” the witness told The Times.
“They were trying so bad to get in because I think they were watching through the window what was going on,” the witness said.
Another neighbor said the woman had been planning a birthday party for her daughter. “I care a lot for that little girl,” she said.
About 111,000 illegal immigrants in state and local lockups, officials say
November 12, 2009 | 12:02 pm
More than 111,000 illegal immigrants are serving time in state and local prisons and jails in the U.S., Obama administration officials said today.
The figure is based on reports from 95 jurisdictions in 11 states participating in a national program, Secure Communities. The program, which began in October 2008, identified people who were charged with or convicted of murder, kidnapping, rape and burglary, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The federal government has struggled for years to identify imprisoned illegal immigrants, with an eye toward deporting them after they finish their sentences. Immigration officials say they have had difficulty collecting accurate information from such a diffuse system.
By providing links to federal fingerprint databases, the government is having more success identifying illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
“Secure Communities provides our local partners with an effective tool to identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens,” she said in a statement.
The Obama administration has made the removal of illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes a priority.
Ft. Hood shooting suspect charged with 13 counts of murder
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is charged in military court and could face the death penalty if convicted.
By Nicholas Riccardi
November 13, 2009
Reporting from Ft. Hood, Texas
Military officials on Thursday filed 13 charges of premeditated murder against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan for allegedly gunning down his fellow soldiers last week, setting the stage for the most high-profile court-martial in a generation.
The charges carry the potential of the death penalty, which the military is widely expected to seek but has not formally announced it is pursuing. Because the 39-year-old psychiatrist is still an active-duty soldier, military courts have jurisdiction in the case.
"It's quite possibly one of the most sensitive military justice matters that's ever come up," said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale University and is president of the National Institute of Military Justice. "All this makes for a probably history-making case."
Officials allege that Hasan, a devout Muslim who was due to deploy to Afghanistan, opened fire on unarmed soldiers who were filling out paperwork at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center here. Hasan is accused of fatally shooting 12 soldiers and one civilian before being shot by two civilian police officers.
On Thursday, Hasan remained confined at a military hospital, where authorities read the charges to him. Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the military's investigative branch, said that the government remained convinced that Hasan had acted alone.
In Washington, President Obama ordered a review to determine whether the government had missed signs that Hasan could turn violent.
Anti-terrorism investigators had monitored Hasan's e-mail exchanges with a virulently anti-American cleric in Yemen, and some of his fellow doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., had questioned his apparent sympathies for jihadists. But he was permitted to stay in the military and was sent to Ft. Hood this summer for eventual deployment.
John Brennan, assistant to the president for counter-terrorism and homeland security, will oversee the review. Congress is also investigating how the case was handled, and the Senate is scheduled to hold hearings next week.
Grey said that investigators were still poring through evidence, and noted that the crime scene spreads over several buildings and open areas and that some witnesses were still hospitalized.
"Let me reassure the American public: We are looking into every possible reason for this shooting and we are aggressively following every possible lead," Grey said.
Grey, who spoke during a brief news conference here and took no questions, said additional charges could later be filed against Hasan.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night that the military had already decided to seek the death penalty, citing an anonymous source. But military officials would not confirm that and said the decision would be made by the commanding general of the base, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, who received the formal charges Thursday morning.
There have been no military executions since 1961, though five people are on the military's death row at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas. Military law requires the president to formally approve any execution.
Analysts say that the dearth of executions is one indication that military courts can give defendants more protection than civilian courts.
A court-martial is called by a commanding officer -- often a general -- and presided over by a military judge. Its rules of evidence and discovery are similar to those in federal courts.
The jury will consist of at least 12 soldiers whose ranks must be greater than Hasan's, meaning jurors will probably be lieutenant colonels or above.
Analysts said that Hasan's case would be difficult to defend.
"This isn't something that was done in the dark of night and we're trying to reconstruct that behavior," said David Brahms, a military defense attorney and former brigadier general. "There are dozens of witnesses."
Under military law, premeditated murder does not require lengthy planning, only "the formation of a specific intent to kill and consideration of the act intended to bring death."
The defense's best bet is to argue that Hasan had mental problems that prevented him from making that consideration, said Geoffrey Corn, a former military prosecutor who teaches at the South Texas College of Law in Houston. "That's the only hope I think he's got," Corn said.
Hasan will be given a military lawyer, and he has also retained a private one, a former colonel who has said there has been such overwhelming publicity here against his client that the court-martial should be held elsewhere.
Analysts expect the military to agree to move the trial but said that anywhere it goes it will be an extraordinary event. Fidell said that not since Lt. William Calley was convicted in 1971 for the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War has a court-martial drawn the sort of attention that this one is expected to.
Analysts, however, said they were confident that a military jury could screen out the publicity and the pain that Hasan allegedly caused to their ranks.
"If anybody's able to listen to the evidence, weigh it and follow the instructions of a judge, I'm confident a military panel will be able to do that," Brahms said. "When they walk into the courtroom they take an oath to try to do it right."
Parents of 'balloon boy' to plead guilty
Richard and Mayumi Heene reach a plea deal to avoid her possible deportation, a defense attorney says. They are expected to be sentenced to probation on charges connected to the hoax.
By DeeDee Correll
November 13, 2009
Reporting from Denver
The Colorado parents who last month claimed their 6-year-old son floated away in a giant balloon -- a hoax that captivated a nationwide television audience -- will plead guilty to avoid the possible deportation of the mother, a Japanese citizen, a defense attorney said Thursday morning.
Richard Heene will plead guilty to one felony charge of attempting to influence a public official, and Mayumi Heene will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of making a false report to law enforcement, Richard Heene's attorney, David Lane, said in a statement.
Lane said that the pleas were part of a deal with prosecutors and that the Heenes would be sentenced to probation, although it's possible that Richard Heene also may serve 90 days in jail and his wife 60 days.
A spokeswoman for the Larimer County district attorney's office would not confirm the plea agreement -- which would be subject to a judge's approval -- but issued a statement announcing that criminal charges against the couple were filed Thursday.
Under the law, the charge against Richard Heene carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a fine of $500,000. The maximum penalty for Mayumi Heene's charge is six months in county jail and a fine of $750, according to prosecutors.
The Heenes, of Fort Collins, are amateur storm chasers who have appeared on the ABC show "Wife Swap" and allegedly staged the hoax to try to get their own reality television show.
They told authorities that their youngest son, Falcon, had sneaked into a helium balloon that lifted off accidentally from their backyard Oct. 15. The journey of the balloon -- a silvery craft reminiscent of a UFO or a package of Jiffy Pop popcorn -- was watched by millions of people on live television.
Some offered prayers for the boy's safe return, and flights in and out of Denver International Airport were rerouted. When the balloon landed in a field two hours later and was found to be empty, a search was launched for Falcon, who had presumably fallen to his death.
Falcon was later found hiding in the Heenes' garage.
Authorities' suspicions were raised a few hours after the incident, while the Heene family was interviewed on "Larry King Live." When Falcon was asked why he had stayed in hiding so long, he looked at his parents and said: "You had said that we did this for a show."
According to court papers, Mayumi Heene admitted to Larimer County sheriff's deputies several days later that the entire escapade was a publicity stunt.
Because of laws protecting spouses from testifying against each other, it's unlikely that she could be forced to serve as a witness against her husband, who stood "a good chance of acquittal" at trial, Lane said. But the family feared that she might be convicted and deported. "That was not an acceptable risk, thus these pleas," Lane said in a statement.
Lane criticized law enforcement officials for their "complete and utter disregard" for the Heenes' children.
"It is supremely ironic that law enforcement has expressed such grave concern over the welfare of the children, but it was ultimately the threat of taking the children's mother from the family and deporting her to Japan which fueled this deal," Lane said.
The Larimer County Sheriff's Department did not return calls seeking comment, but it issued a statement that Sheriff Jim Alderden was on "a well-deserved vacation."
More girls in India are refusing to become child brides.
Despite a 2006 law banning the age-old practice, most parents in rural India still want to marry off their daughters before the legal age of 18.
By Mark Magnier
November 13, 2009
Reporting from Mohammad Nagar Dhani, India
Her fate was all but sealed, the wedding bells ringing in her relatives' heads. Then the bride-to-be, a little girl playing in the dirt in this impoverished village, plucked up her courage and said, "I do not."
Roshan Bairwa, then 14, joined a growing number of girls defying the centuries-old tradition of child marriage in a country where nearly half of all women are married before their 18th birthday.
The British Raj tried to stamp it out. Mohandas Gandhi, himself a child groom, campaigned against it. The United Nations has condemned it. And in 2006, the Indian government explicitly banned it.
But child marriage remains pervasive in India, accounting for one-third of such unions worldwide and underscoring the contradictions and complexities of a society that produces cutting-edge engineers even as it clings to feudal traditions.
"These girls are very brave," said Sarita Singh, secretary of the Rajasthan state Department of Child and Women Development. "There are enormous social forces working against them."
Roshan, with quick eyes, a nose stud and purple flip-flops, doesn't consider herself particularly brave. All she knows is the dread she felt three years ago when her grandmother told her matter-of-factly that some people were coming to finalize her wedding arrangements in a ceremony known as a saadibiba , a traditional meeting of future in-laws.
"If I married, the doors would close," Roshan, now 17, said as she perched on a charpai , a string cot.
It wasn't that hard to convince her grandparents, who helped raise her after her father died when she was 3 and her mother abandoned her. But her aunt and uncle, who had found the boy groom in a village 30 miles away, were another matter.
Roshan said they viewed her early marriage as only proper, and also knew that it would mean one less mouth to feed. The battle lasted a good two weeks, with several meetings and much yelling. Eventually they were brought around by the promise that she might receive a government wedding subsidy if she waited until she was 18.
"I was scared when I thought about refusing, but very relieved after I did," Roshan, now in the 10th grade, said as a water buffalo bellowed nearby. "I want to study, which wouldn't happen if I married young."
Activists and social workers cite new momentum behind their effort to curtail the practice. They're organizing "wait till you're 18" parades, eliciting pledges, presenting puppet shows and lobbying holy men to stop officiating at underage marriages.
With the encouragement of Shiv Shiksha Samiti, a charity that promotes women's rights and social development, Roshan and 22 other girls meet and perform skits that encourage girls to safeguard their future. And when they hear about girls who are being pushed to marry, they lobby the parents to delay the wedding.
The group said eight child marriages in a 25-village radius have recently been shelved. Although that's a fraction of the 150 that went ahead, it's a big break with the past. Increasingly, those who resist are gaining notice.
A few months ago, Rekha Kalindi, a 14-year-old who lives in the northeastern state of Bihar, was invited to meet Pratibha Patil, India's first female president, after Rekha refused to be married.
"They become little agents of change, although the numbers are still shockingly high," said Sarah Crowe, spokeswoman for UNICEF in New Delhi.
The physical costs of underage marriage are enormous: Girls who have babies before they're 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than those in their 20s.
Then there's the emotional toll. At the Women's Hospital in Jaipur, in Rajasthan, a crowd of young women, a riot of red, orange and pink saris, gathers to see a doctor in a region where women's healthcare is limited.
"They're often not psychologically prepared to be mothers because they're children themselves," said Adarsh Bhargav, head of the gynecology department. "Many are irritated by their newborn's crying. There's no attachment."
The best way to raise marriage ages is education, activists said. But most girls in rural areas must travel some distance to attend middle school, and parents often hold them back, fearing that their daughters could be raped, sexually harassed or even just heckled, which can be enough for a groom's family to break off the engagement and ruin her reputation.
"Sexual purity is hugely valued," said Pinki Solanki, a consultant who did a report on girls who reject early marriage for the Vishakha Mehrangarh Foundation in Jodhpur. "As soon as menstruation starts, a girl's control over her own life drops off rapidly."
Child marriage in India dates back at least 2,000 years, said Sambodh Goswami, a historian at Jaipur's Sant Jayacharya Girls' College. Hindu teachings tout the virtues of marrying off daughters before their thoughts become impure. In Rajasthan, the Rajputs, members of a warrior caste, were said to marry off their pre-pubescent daughters to protect them from invaders, who were thought to be less inclined to abscond with married women.
"The Rajput kingdom is long gone," said Francesca Barolo, a manager with Mamta, a New Delhi-based charity focused on healthcare for women and children. "But child marriages continue."
Economics is a factor. Children who leave school to marry potentially start earning immediately. The groom's family also reaps a windfall from the dowry, by tradition paid by the girl's family and among life's biggest expenses.
Child marriage is often defended on the basis of tradition, but ultimately it's about male domination, some activists argue.
"There's a real view that women are someone's property," said Barolo, and some mothers-in-law compare their selection of a bride to the buying and selling of cattle.
Those trying to change this system can find themselves under attack, one reason activists tend to cite the damage to girls' health and future earnings rather than combat the practice head-on. In 1992, Bhanwari Devi, a village woman working for a nonprofit group, was gang-raped after she tried to prevent a child marriage. The accused men were acquitted on the grounds that "upper caste men, including a Brahmin, would not rape a woman of a lower caste," according to the court ruling. The decision has been appealed.
The 2006 law sets the legal age for marriage as 18 for women and 21 for men, explicitly prohibits child marriage, provides for punishment of adults who arrange them and for annulment of such unions. But the law has had limited effect, women's rights groups say.
It has, however, spurred evasive tactics. Families that used to marry their children en masse on Akha teej , an auspicious date in April or May, now wed them as soon as possible to avoid attracting notice. Counterfeit birth certificates, which cost about $3, are in hot demand. And wedding parties tend to be hidden behind compound walls.
"It's driving things underground," said Ratna Gaikwad, Mamta's program manager in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
Unclear laws don't help. Although getting married to a minor is unlawful, remaining married to one, by some interpretations, is not. And raping a wife is not considered a crime if she is older than 15.
On the enforcement front, activists charge that local police are often corrupt, tend to share elders' social values and frequently feel that chasing down child brides is beneath them.
"The cops usually inform the family in advance they're going to raid," said Kathmana, who uses only one name, with the charity Shiv Shiksha Samiti. "So the family shifts the wedding by a day or two."
A few miles from Roshan's village, 45-year-old farmer Ramdev is pleased, having recently married off his daughter, Manisha. She's 8, now the wife of a 10-year-old. It will be a few years before she moves into her husband's house, a ceremony called the gauna , but her parents have already restricted her movement and limited her playtime.
"I know the government says we should marry at 18," Ramdev, who uses one name, said as a camel pulled a cart slowly past their dirt house. "But even at 12 or 15, it's difficult to keep a girl's honor. And by 18, if unmarried, they get crazy thoughts."
Back in Mohammad Nagar Dhani, Roshan belts out a song with three so-far-unmarried friends. "I want my rights, the right to be a child, to dance, sing and be healthy," they croon in a one-room "girls' center" built by Shiv Shiksha Samiti and decorated with posters touting the merits of delaying marriage.
Roshan's brave stance, combined with her good grades and hopes of becoming a teacher, has led even some among the village's old guard to concede that she may be on to something, especially if she eventually finds work that earns more than farming.
"I think what she's doing is right. She'll have more opportunity than we ever did," said village elder Rameshwar Berwa, wearing a multicolored turban. "That said, I disagree with their challenging us. If I'd even thought of such a thing as a kid, I'd have been whacked like you wouldn't believe."
5 Gitmo 9/11 detainees to be tried in N.Y., source says
From the Associated Press
3:28 AM PST, November 13, 2009
WASHINGTON — Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be sent to New York to face trial in a civilian federal court, an Obama administration official said today.
The official said Atty. Gen. Eric Holder plans to announce the decision later in the morning.
The official is not authorized to discuss the decision before the announcement, so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Bringing such notorious suspects to U.S. soil to face trial is a key step in President Obama's plan to close the terror suspect detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama initially planned to close the detention center by Jan. 22, but the administration is no longer expected to meet that deadline.
The New York case may also force the court system to confront a host of difficult legal issues surrounding counter-terrorism programs begun after the 2001 attacks, including the harsh interrogation techniques once used on some of the suspects while in CIA custody. The most severe method -- waterboarding, or simulated drowning -- was used on Mohammed 183 times in 2003, before the practice was banned.
Holder will also announce that a major suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, will face justice before a military commission, as will a handful of other detainees to be identified at the same announcement, the official said.
It was not immediately clear where commission-bound detainees like al-Nashiri might be sent, but a military brig in South Carolina has been high on the list of considered sites.
The actual transfer of the detainees from Guantanamo to New York isn't expected to happen for many more weeks because formal charges have not been filed against most of them.
The attorney general has decided the case of the five Sept. 11 suspects should be handled by prosecutors working in the Southern District of New York, which has held a number of major terrorism trials in recent decades at a courthouse in lower Manhattan, just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
Holder had been considering other possible trial locations, including Virginia, Washington, D.C., and a different courthouse in New York City. Those districts could all end up conducting trials of other Guantanamo detainees sent to federal court later on.
The attorney general's decision in these cases comes just before a Monday deadline for the government to decide how to proceed against 10 detainees facing military commissions.
In the military system, the five Sept. 11 suspects had faced the death penalty, but the official would not say if the Justice Department would also seek capital punishment against the men once they are in the federal system.
The administration has already sent one Guantanamo detainee, Ahmed Ghailani, to New York to face trial, but chose not to seek death in that case.
At the last major trial of Al Qaeda suspects held at that courthouse in 2001, prosecutors did seek death for some of the defendants.
Mohammed already has an outstanding terror indictment against him in New York, for an unsuccessful plot called "Bojinka" to simultaneously take down multiple airliners over the Pacific Ocean in the 1990s.
Some members of Congress have fought any effort to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial in the United States, saying it would be too dangerous for nearby civilians. The Obama administration has defended the planned trials, saying many terrorists have been safely tried, convicted, and imprisoned in the United States, including the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef.
Mohammed and the four others -- Waleed bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali -- are accused of orchestrating the attacks that killed 2,973 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
Mohammed admitted to interrogators that he was the mastermind of the attacks -- he allegedly proposed the concept to Osama bin Laden as early as 1996, obtained funding for the attacks from bin Laden, oversaw the operation and trained the hijackers in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The charges against the others are:
-- Bin Attash, a Yemeni, allegedly ran an al-Qaida training camp in Logar, Afghanistan, where two of the 19 hijackers were trained. Bin Attash is believed to have been bin Laden's bodyguard. Authorities say bin Laden selected him as a hijacker, but he was prevented from participating when he was briefly detained in Yemen in early 2001.
-- Binalshibh, a Yemeni, allegedly helped find flight schools for the hijackers, helped them enter the United States and assisted with financing the operation. He allegedly was selected to be a hijacker and made a "martyr video" in preparation for the operation, but was unable to get a U.S. visa. He also is believed to be a lead operative for a foiled plot to crash aircraft into London's Heathrow Airport.
-- Ali allegedly helped nine of the hijackers travel to the United States and sent them $120,000 for expenses and flight training. He is believed to have served as a key lieutenant to Mohammed in Pakistan. He was born in Pakistan and raised in Kuwait.
-- Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, a Saudi, allegedly helped the hijackers with money, western clothing, traveler's checks and credit cards. Al-Hawsawi testified in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, saying he had seen Moussaoui at an al-Qaida guesthouse in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in early 2001, but was never introduced to him or conducted operations with him.
From the Daily News
Heroes from the Valley
Four honored by district attorney
By Sue Doyle, Staff Writer
11/12/2009 09:21:48 PM PST
GRANADA HILLS — A woman who jumped on top of an armed bank robber, two men who came to the aid of a wounded teacher and a young man who defended an elderly man against a road-rage driver were honored Thursday for their acts of bravery.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office recognized the four San Fernando Valley residents with a Courageous Citizen Award at a luncheon hosted by Kiwanis Club of Northridge for acting at considerable personal risk to save others.
Kathleen Khalid, an award recipient, felt a chill when she saw a man, wearing a wig and carrying a big bag, pedal his 10-speed bike up to a Wells Fargo bank branch in Van Nuys and walk inside.
It was July 26, 2008, and Khalid was sitting in her car outside the bank in the 6800 block of Van Nuys Boulevard while her 23-year-old son was cashing a check inside.
After seeing the strange-looking cyclist, motherly instinct told Khalid to get out of the car. When she heard a gunshot moments later, that same instinct sent her into the bank - even as dozens of other customers fled.
As she made it through the front door, Khalid saw the 6-foot wigged robber hunched over on the ground, struggling with a security guard who had been grazed by a bullet and pistol whipped. That's when the 5-foot-6-inch woman, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, made her move.
"I body slammed the bank robber to the ground," said the 48-year-old woman, who grabbed for the gun. "I kept thinking, `My son is in here."'
Then Khalid's son, Brendan Cribbs, rushed over and pulled the semi-automatic Uzi-style gun from the robber's hands. Other customers jumped in the fight to detain the robber.
The man pleaded guilty to the bank robbery and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. And the security guard recovered from his injury.
Ryan Bertrand, 37, a former U.S. Marine and certified emergency medical technician, and Jeff Beaudoin, 38, received the award for coming to the rescue of their North Hollywood neighbor after a man broke into her apartment in November 2007 and stabbed her multiple times during a robbery.
It was 5 a.m. on a Sunday when Bertrand heard a strange commotion coming from a nearby apartment in his complex. He dashed down the staircase toward the noise and unknowingly ran into the suspect making a getaway.
"I stopped him," Bertrand said. "He was real smooth and didn't give me any indication that anything was wrong."
Bertrand then found the woman, a schoolteacher, completely covered in blood. She had crawled onto her porch and collapsed. He pulled off his shirt to wipe away her blood and noticed stab wounds covering her body.
"There wasn't a whole lot I could do. I stopped some excessive bleeding," he said. "The biggest part I think I did was to console her. She was barely talking and barely breathing."
Police and an ambulance soon arrived and rushed the woman off to a hospital. The wounded woman survived.
Meanwhile, Beaudoin, also a resident at the complex, chased after the suspect, who managed to get away. But Beaudoin was able to point police in the right direction and they eventually found a blood-stained laptop that became a critical piece of evidence in his trial.
Authorities later arrested the assailant, who was convicted in May of premeditated attempted murder. He was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.
A fourth Valley resident was commended for stopping a man who was beating an elderly man.
Ronald Thompson, 24, of Reseda was on a bus when he saw a road-rage driver rear-end a car driven by an elderly man. The driver got out of his vehicle and punched the senior, who was still seated in his car.
Thompson yelled out to the bus driver to pull over. He got out of the bus and ran against oncoming traffic to put himself between the senior and the assailant, who was bigger than Thompson. The road-rage driver shouted a racial slur at Thompson, who is African-American, then returned to his car. The driver then turned his car around and drove up on a median to strike Thompson in the leg.
Thompson was slightly injured. The assailant was convicted in 2009 of assault with a deadly weapon, received 180 days in jail and is now banned for life from driving in California.
From the Washington Times
Friday, November 13, 2009
EDITORIAL: Running away from terrorism
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Fort Hood, Texas, massacre was the worst domestic terrorist incident since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but the government refuses to admit it. The latest act of denial is procedural. The accused shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, reportedly has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which does not provide for a charge related to terrorism. Officially, this was not a terror attack, but nonpolitical murder.
The primary distinguishing characteristic between murder and terrorism is motive. The Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." We know enough about Maj. Hasan's background, worldview and political orientation to make an informed judgment about his motives. He was a jihadist seeking martyrdom who was trying to take down as many "infidels" as he could in the process.
The massacre fits the definition of domestic terrorism under section 2331 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, and Section 1114 provides for a murder charge against "whoever kills or attempts to kill any officer or employee of the United States or of any agency in any branch of the United States Government (including any member of the uniformed services) while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties." Section 2332b stipulates that violations of Section 1114 that are "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct" bring the incident under the definition of the "Federal crime of terrorism."
There is ample legal support for bringing a terrorism charge if the government were so inclined. Instead, the current government has chosen to make this a regular court-martial. The message is clear: Failure to prevent terror attacks on its watch will be defined away.
Compared to other recent domestic incidents, the Fort Hood massacre was a terror act of historic proportions. According to the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database of more than 1,300 domestic incidents since 1970, the Fort Hood massacre ranks fourth in terms of fatalities behind the Sept. 11 attacks (taken collectively), the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 1999 Columbine massacre. It is the deadliest such attack by a lone gunman.
Yet the White House persistently and inexplicably refuses to call this terrorism. This evasion calls to mind the spring of 1994, when the State Department forbade the use of the term "genocide" to describe events then transpiring in Rwanda - in which almost 1 million people were killed - out of concern that use of the expression might obligate the United States to take some sort of action. Weeks later, the government finally came around and recognized that genocide was, in fact, taking place, by which time it was too late to do much about it.
Maj. Hasan's court-martial may reveal more about the terroristic nature of his bloody actions, but we doubt it. Any sensible defense strategy would downplay terrorism and emphasize the image currently popular on the left of Maj. Hasan as a victim of some kind of work-related stress that made him crack unexpectedly. But political correctness cannot long overpower reality or defeat common sense.
The Fort Hood massacre was a domestic terrorist attack by a jihadist radical. Fleeing from that fact places the country in greater danger and inspires other domestic terrorists to try to make the point more definitively.
From the New York Post
Fri., Nov. 13, 2009, 5:54 AM
Ft. Hood killer's title was 'Soldier of Allah'
By CHUCK BENNETT
Last Updated: 5:54 AM, November 13, 2009
Posted: 3:46 AM, November 13, 2009
The Army knew him as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, MD. But he gave himself another title -- "Soldier of Allah."
Hasan, the man responsible for the Fort Hood massacre that left 13 dead and 29 wounded, printed up business cards he ordered over the Internet that identified him as "SoA" -- a jihadi acronym for "Soldier of Allah."
The latest peek into the warped mind of the Army-trained psychiatrist came as the US Army Criminal Investigation Command charged him yesterday with 13 counts of premeditated murder.
If convicted, he faces a lethal injection.
A 14th murder charge is being weighed because victim Pvt. Francheska Velez, 21, was pregnant.
With every day that passes since last week's bloodbath, more revelations come to light indicating that Hasan, 39, likely embraced an extremely violent perversion of Islamic ideology.
Investigators found the box of the sinister-reading business cards in his apartment, according to ABCnews.com. The green and white cards, the colors of Islam, had his name with the title "Behavior Heatlh [sic] Mental Health and Life Skills" along with "SoA (SWT)."
SWT likely stands for Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala , or "Glory to God" in Arabic, according to terrorism investigators.
Witnesses reported Hasan began his 100-bullet rampage at the Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Processing Center with the Arabic shout of "Allahu Akbar!" or "God is great!"
Reporters yesterday were given a tour of Hasan's $325-a-month apartment in Killeen, Texas, where they a noticed a cache of prescription drugs, including the HIV medicine Combivir.
The HIV med, which health-care workers take after exposure to HIV from a blood splash or needle puncture, was dated from 2001, when Hasan was in medical school.
Also left in his apartment was an array of Jordanian and Israeli coins and an Indian-published book titled "Dreams and Interpretations."
Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, who first revealed that the FBI knew Hasan had communicated with al Qaeda associates, said Hasan, whose Army salary was $90,000 a year, may have also wired money to Pakistan.
"They are trying to follow up on it because they recognize that if there are communications -- phone or money transfers with somebody in Pakistan -- it just raises a whole other level of questions," Hoekstra told the Dallas Morning News.
He added that the latest bombshell came from sources "outside of the [intelligence] community."
Lawless regions of Pakistan are believed to be refuges for al Qaeda, and the country is facing a terrorism campaign by Islamist militants seeking to overthrow the government.
Investigators are looking to see whether Hasan supported Islamic charities overseas that may be fronts for terrorist organizations or was in contact with militant groups.
President Obama appointed a top aide for Homeland Security and counterterrorism, John Brennan, to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the intelligence gathered on Hasan before the attacks.
All intelligence agencies were ordered to preserve every scrap of documentation they collected on Hasan.
Brennan's report is due at the end of the month.
The FBI and Defense Department have faced withering criticism in the wake of the attacks for ignoring the warning signs that Hasan harbored deep sympathies for militant Islam.
The FBI intercepted 10 to 20 e-mails that Hasan, a native of Virginia, sent to Anwar Aulaqi, an al Qaeda propagandist in Yemen who had befriended three 9/11 hijackers.
Despite the chilling correspondence, the Joint Terrorism Task Force that stumbled upon the e-mails concluded that Hasan was merely doing research as a psychiatrist. The task force never opened an in-depth investigation.
This week, one investigator familiar with the e-mails said they were actually Hasan's attempt to seek advice for a "moral dilemma."
The investigator, however, said the task force feared US officials could be seen as biased against Muslims if they pursued the leads.
Beginning in early 2008, doctors at Water Reed Medical Center began voicing concerns about Hasan's increasingly erratic behavior as the Army-trained psychiatrist completed his fellowship in disaster and preventative psychology.
Both at Walter Reed and at the Pentagon-run Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, colleagues and supervisors called Hasan subpar and outright lazy.
More troubling were frequent outbursts that made it known he sympathized more with Muslim extremists, including suicide bombers, than with US troops.
Some of his supervisors met to question his sympathies -- wondering outright whether he'd ally himself with Muslims fighting US troops. They even wondered whether he'd be a security risk and wondered if it would be better if he was quickly discharged.
He was combative whenever the topic of the War on Terror or Islam arose, a near daily occurrence for a military facility coping with two wars, they said.
At Fort Hood, he openly talked with fellow Muslims about his aversion to participating in a war against Muslims.
He was then ordered to deploy to Afghanistan -- his worst fear.
Pentagon officials say he made no formal application for an early discharge or as a conscientious objector, although Hasan's family says he hired a lawyer in an attempt to get out.
From the Wall Street Journal
- NOVEMBER 13, 2009
Italy Says Terrorism Ring Is Broken
By STACY MEICHTRY
ROME -- Investigators have broken up an international terrorism ring in a series of raids in Europe, according to Italian officials.
Seventeen people were arrested in a sweep that targeted a terrorism group allegedly involved in raising funds to finance terrorist activity, Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told a news conference. He didn't provide details on the nature of the alleged operations.
Six of the arrests were made in Italy on charges of criminal association and falsifying documents, police said. Two other arrests were made in Austria in an operation coordinated between investigators in the U.K., France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Algeria, authorities said. None of the people arrested were charged with attempted terrorism.
"An important ring has been dismantled," Mr. Maroni said. The conservative government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been under heavy public pressure to crack down on foreign terrorism. Mr. Maroni said the arrests on Thursday "confirmed that surveillance and constant operations on the terrorism front in Milan are very relevant."
It wasn't immediately clear why the suspects were not charged with attempted terrorism. Italy created tough laws aimed at combating international terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Charges of attempted terrorism, however, have proved difficult to prosecute in court. As a result, some anti-terror investigators have at times decided to arrest suspected terrorists on charges of criminal association, a charge traditionally used to combat the Mafia.
Italian police said the group raised about €1 million over a three-year period by carrying out muggings, burglaries and other thefts. The funds were sent to Algeria, police said, without disclosing details on how the money was used. The group also created fake identification documents that allowed members to travel between North Africa and Europe, police said.
Mr. Maroni said the group operated in cells that he described as "terrorist franchises," gathering funds for potential attacks outside of Italy. He didn't disclose the names of any people involved in the alleged terrorist ring.
From the White House
The Work of the Office: White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Posted by Joshua DuBois on November 12, 2009 at 02:15 PM EST
President Obama announced the creation of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships on the 17th day of the President's new Administration. Since then, our Office has been pretty busy! I thought it'd be helpful to give you a little context on what we've been up to.
- Our office is situated within the Domestic Policy Council . This placement allows our office to have close interaction with governmental leadership on issues of importance to nonprofit organizations, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the President's Budget.
- The President has tasked this office with focusing on four special priorities : involving faith-based and neighborhood groups in the economic recovery, promoting responsible fatherhood, fostering interfaith cooperation and building common ground to reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion, along with the White House Council on Women and Girls .
- The Office also coordinates the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships . This Advisory Council is a group of 25 leaders from both faith-based and non-sectarian organizations, each serving 1-year terms. The Advisory Council forms recommendations on how the Federal Government can more effectively partner with faith-based and neighborhood organizations.
- The White House Office also coordinates and works with 11 Centers and 1 Strategic Advisor placed in Departments throughout government to implement the President's priorities for this office. Each Center works to connect its own agency to local faith-based and neighborhood organizations. For example, our Center at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS ) connects local organizations and groups preparing to respond to disaster situations to the ongoing activities at DHS and FEMA. Our Center at the Department of Education works to connect that Department with local organizations to provide after-school programs. So each Center is an important link between the federal government and local neighborhood organizations.
Our Office has been active on numerous fronts, from coordinating President Obama's fatherhood initiative to working with the National Security Council on President Obama's ‘New Beginnings' speech given in Cairo, Egypt to Muslim communities around the world. We also engage faith-based and neighborhood organizations on a range of issues, from the upcoming 2010 Census through our office at the Department of Commerce to foreclosure counseling at the Department of Housing and Urban Development .
Our job is to make sure that the Federal Government is coming into responsible interaction with local nonprofit organizations. We look forward to working with you on these priorities!
From the Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Napolitano and ICE Assistant Secretary Morton Announce:
The Secure Communities Initiative Identified More Than 111,000 Criminal Aliens in Its First Year
Release Date: November 12, 2009
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton today announced that ICE's Secure Communities initiative—a partnership with local law enforcement agencies that uses biometrics to identify and remove criminal aliens—identified more than 111,000 criminal aliens in local custody during its first year.
Secure Communities provides our local partners with an effective tool to identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We will continue to expand these partnerships to provide a force multiplier for ICE's immigration enforcement efforts across the country.”
“Access to timely and accurate information about state and local arrests is critical to identifying dangerous criminal aliens,” said Morton. “By utilizing unique biometric information Secure Communities dramatically increases the accuracy of criminal alien identifications.”
The results announced today are the product of enhanced interoperability between DHS' US-VISIT and the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division criminal biometrics program—technology that streamlines information sharing to enhance public safety.
Secretary Napolitano and Assistant Secretary Morton also announced today that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department will be the next jurisdiction to participate in Secure Communities—joining 95 jurisdictions across 11 states that currently utilize Secure Communities.
Since its inception in October 2008, Secure Communities has identified more than 11,000 aliens charged or convicted with Level 1 crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping—1,900 of which have already been removed from the United States—and more than 100,000 aliens convicted of Level 2 and 3 crimes, including burglary and serious property crimes.
At today's announcement, Secretary Napolitano and Assistant Secretary Morton projected that Secure Communities will have a presence in every state by 2011 and be available to every law enforcement agency in the nation by 2013. Currently, DHS prioritizes the deployment of Secure Communities to jurisdictions with the highest volume of dangerous criminal aliens.
“Secure Communities is one of the programs that enhance our efforts to keep the peace in the largest urban area in Texas,” said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. “My department was the first local law enforcement agency in the country to adopt the program. Now, a year later, we continue to use it as a technological ‘safety net' to help identify inmates who, having been placed in my custody for allegedly committing a crime under state law, may also be illegal immigrants.”
Secure Communities operates jointly between DHS, the Department of Justice and participating law enforcement partners to automatically check the digital fingerprints of individuals arrested and booked at the local level against DHS' biometrics-based immigration records in addition to FBI databases—allowing ICE to take appropriate action to ensure that dangerous criminal aliens are not released back into communities.
For more information, visit www.ice.gov .
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"Secure Communities" - One Year Later
The first day Secure Communities was activated in Starr County, Texas a year ago today, local law enforcement arrested a man on assault charges. Because his fingerprints were submitted through Secure Communities technology, ICE was quickly able to determine that he was previously convicted of murder, was removed from the United States, and had re-entered the country illegally. In his multiple criminal exploits, DHS had encountered the man on five separate occasions – valuable information for local and federal officials alike.
Secure Communities was designed to facilitate access to timely and accurate information about state and local arrests to better identify criminal aliens and to prioritize those who are the most dangerous for removal from the United States. As Starr County and 94 other jurisdictions across the country have learned first hand, it does its job.
Today, during a press conference at ICE Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Secretary Napolitano noted that “ Secure Communities provides our local partners with an effective tool to identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety.” The program has significantly enhanced ICE's ability to identify criminal aliens. In one year, the initiative enabled ICE to identify more than 111,000 criminal aliens when they were arrested and booked by state or local law enforcement.
Secure Communities, both the concept and the initiative, is made possible through partnerships among DHS components, the Department of Justice, and state and local law enforcement. Over the last year, these partnerships have enabled Secure Communities to enhance biometric information-sharing technology supporting the criminal booking processes across 11 states. This technology enables biometrics—fingerprints—collected during the booking process to be checked against FBI criminal history records and DHS immigration records. When ICE officials receive notification of an immigration record match, they can promptly determine if enforcement action is required and take appropriate action.
The Secretary's announcement today marked progress on one of the Department's top priorities—removing criminal aliens. Through this initiative, ICE has identified more than 11,200 criminal aliens charged with or convicted of the most dangerous and violent offenses, including murder, rape, kidnapping, and major drug offenses. All told, Secure Communities has identified more than 111,000 criminal aliens. This announcement is also testament to the power of collaboration among agencies. DHS's US-VISIT program , the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division , and all our state and local law enforcement partners are critical – we look forward to celebrating future anniversaries with them on this successful program.
John Morton is the Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
From the Department of Justice
Problem-Solving Courts: Alternatives for Communities and Offenders
November 12th, 2009
Posted by Tracy Russo
The following post appears courtesy of the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
You may have heard about problem-solving courts such as drug courts, which have been in use since the early 1990s and are intended to combine drug treatment and court monitoring to help offenders stay out of prison and avoid repeating their offenses.
Since the first drug court was launched in Dade County, Florida in 1989, at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in Miami, drug courts have received enormous public attention and acclaim. This is for good reason: drug courts are viewed by many scholars as one of the most successful criminal justice innovations in the last 25 years, and have attracted bipartisan support, along with millions of dollars from Congress.
Their success has inspired other innovation which you may be less familiar with. For example, another type of problem-solving court — community courts — are neighborhood-focused courts that attempt to harness the power of the justice system to address local problems, including drug possession, shoplifting, vandalism and assault.
Like drug courts, community courts link addicted offenders to judicially-monitored drug treatment. But they typically handle a broader caseload (for example, all misdemeanors in a given set of neighborhoods) and make use of a broader array of mandates, including job training and community restitution. Community courts strive to create new relationships with diverse stakeholders such as residents, merchants, churches and schools. They also test new and aggressive approaches to public safety rather than merely responding to crime after it has occurred.
The first community court in the U.S. was the Midtown Community Court, launched in 1993 in New York City by the Center for Court Innovation. Some three dozen community courts, inspired by the Midtown model Red Hook Community Justice Center, are currently in operation around the U.S. and a number of others are being planned.
Some evidence suggests community courts can achieve significant results with drug-addicted defendants. For example, in a research study conducted at the Midtown Community Court, re-arrest rates dropped sharply among individuals who completed more than 90 days of court-ordered drug treatment. Additionally, Midtown saw street prostitution drop 56 percent within 18 months of the court's opening and unlicensed vending was down 24 percent. At the end of 2007, Red Hook's police precinct was recognized as #1 in New York City for the largest reduction in major crime over the previous two-year period. The New York Police Department credited three things: their own tactics, the community, and the Justice Center.
Another positive result of the court is reflected in the opinion of the court by defendants and citizens. In a recent survey, 85 percent of Red Hook defendants felt that their case was handled fairly, and 93 percent felt that the judge treated them fairly. In Red Hook, approval ratings of courts increased from 13 percent just prior to opening to a 78 percent approval rating for the Justice Center in a recent community survey.
The Department of Justice will continue to support and pursue innovative methods to effectively fight crime and keep our neighborhoods safe. Community courts have proven a remarkably effective way to do just that, and are a perfect example of the successes possible when law enforcement agencies and community leaders work together.
More information about problem solving courts is available here and here .
From the DEA
November 12, 2009
DEA Special Agent Douglas S. Collier, M.A.
Public Information Officer
TEL: (973) 776-1143
DEA, OAG, and PDFNJ Unite 442 New Jersey Communities in
Operation Medicine Cabinet
NOV 12 -- NEW JERSEY—Gerard P. McAleer, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New Jersey Division and New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, announced today the launch of Operation Medicine Cabinet New Jersey. This initiative, created with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), has 442 communities participating, and is available for all New Jersey residents to properly dispose of their unused, unwanted and expired medicine. Operation Medicine Cabinet New Jersey is a statewide initiative that is the first of its kind in the nation. This statewide effort is being spearheaded by the DEA New Jersey Division, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and the PDFNJ, with partnership and support by many other local and statewide prevention and enforcement organizations. ( Please see attached list . )
Gerard P. McAleer stated, "We are very fortunate to have access to a vast array of pharmaceutical products and prescription drugs. Prescription drugs save lives, treat ailments and alleviate pain. However, when prescription drugs are abused they become dangerous and potentially deadly to the user. Operation Medicine Cabinet New Jersey is a statewide initiative to increase awareness and provide the public an opportunity to rid their homes of unused, unwanted and expired medicine lawfully and safely.”
"I am grateful for the cooperation of the hundreds of police departments in New Jersey for participating in this ground-breaking operation to reduce the availability of addictive prescription pain killers and other prescription and over-the-counter medicine that can be abused," Attorney General Milgram said. "Drugs that are stashed away in homes—often out-of-date and long forgotten—can be just as dangerous as those illegally peddled on our streets."
“Operation Medicine Cabinet was established for two main goals—awareness of the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter medicines and a call to action to New Jersey residents to dispose of their unused, unwanted and expired medicines in a safe manner,” explained Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of the PDFNJ.
“Forty seven percent of New Jersey parents of middle school students said they know a little or just about nothing about prescription drug abuse, according to the 2009 PDFNJ Parents Tracking Survey,” explained Joseph A. Miele, Chairman of the PDFNJ.
According to SAC McAleer and Director Valente, the 2007 study by the National Study of Drug-Use and Health, 70% of people who abuse prescription pain relievers say they got them from friends or relatives, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that upwards of 9 million people use prescription medication for non-medical uses. They noted that the 2007 Partnership for a PDFNJ Principals Survey found that half of the principals surveyed said that prescription drugs are abused more than twice that of ecstasy and cocaine by New Jersey middle school students.
New Jersey residents looking for information on their local collection site should visit www.operationmedicinecabinetnj.com . Local collection sites and contact information will be updated daily as new communities become part of this initiative.