Data help decide police priorities
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association wanted to know what people thought about public safety, so it did something interesting: It asked. The organization, which represents police across the state, recently commissioned a statewide poll conducted by the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute.
The Daily Herald Media Editorial Board recently met with WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer to discuss the results. One discovery: Wisconsin is narrowly divided between wanting stricter gun laws and wanting to keep the rules we have — 47 percent want stricter laws; 43 percent want them kept the same. (The poll did not test specific gun control policies.) The respondents also value law enforcement (no surprise) and might be somewhat skeptical about consolidation of government services, with only 28 percent of the public calling that a top priority.
It's always interesting to ask members of the public how they see things, and we appreciate that the WPPA would go to the trouble. It's too common for professional organizations to make assumptions about how people feel without actually investigating.
Here are a few points that stood out to us:
• Consolidation still holds promise. The data showing that the public isn't keen on merging police departments are not surprising. People are protective of their police services, and in some communities, it can be a key part of people's sense of identity.
But this survey result is far from a reason not to seek ways to collaborate, partner and even merge with other departments. In addition to 28 percent who called it a top priority, 48 percent of respondents said it was a moderate priority. Only 20 percent called consolidation a low priority.
Local history shows that people quickly come to identify a merged police department as their own, too. People in Weston or Schofield today clearly identify the Everest Metro Police Department as their community's force. It's probably best not to read too much into this particular data point, in other words. Given the facts, the public will be capable of warming up to a merger if one makes sense.
• Community policing costs money. Community policing, a system by which specific officers are assigned to neighborhoods and become known there by walking a beat and being part of the community, is an increasingly popular model for dealing with crime in dense areas. Some have suggested that it could be a key part of combating blight and crime in central Wausau. The problem, Palmer said, is one of money.
“You need to have the staff to do (community policing),” he said. In most departments, “officers need to cover more ground in a shorter period of time, and that requires being in a car.”
• New drunken driving laws also can be expensive. As a representative of law enforcement interests, Palmer was quite hesitant to support the change in Wisconsin of first-offense drunken driving to a crime, on the grounds that it would be a costly addition for police without a corresponding increase in resources. As this legislative proposal moves forward, this will be an area to watch. Will lawmakers be willing to put their money where their mouths are?
2 teens charged with threatening victim in Ohio rape case
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A day after two high school football players were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl, authorities arrested two Ohio girls suspected of making social media threats against the accuser.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the girls arrested Monday posted threatening Facebook and Twitter comments on Sunday, the day the players were convicted in Steubenville.
The rape case brought international attention to the small city of 18,000 and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the Steubenville High School football team.
Steubenville police Capt. Joel Walker said the Jefferson County girls, ages 15 and 16, were being held in juvenile detention.
The older girl was charged with aggravated menacing for a tweet that threatened homicide and said "you ripped my family apart," according to the attorney general's office. A Facebook posting from the younger girl threatened the accuser with bodily harm, leading to a menacing charge, the office said.
"These arrests, I hope, will end the harassment of the victim," DeWine said. "We are simply not going to tolerate this. Enough is enough."
The guilty verdict was barely an hour old Sunday when DeWine said he was continuing his investigation and would consider charges against anyone who failed to speak up after the attack last August. That group could include other teens, parents, school officials and coaches for the high school's beloved football team, which has won nine state championships.
A grand jury will meet in mid-April to consider evidence gathered by investigators from dozens of interviews, including with the football program's 27 coaches, which include junior high, freshman and volunteer coaches.
Text messages introduced at trial suggested the head coach was aware of the rape allegation early on. Reno Saccoccia "took care of it," defendant Trent Mays said in one text introduced by prosecutors.
DeWine said coaches are among officials required by state law to report suspected child abuse. Saccoccia has not commented.
Steubenville city manager Cathy Davison said residents want to see justice done, and the city will be better off going forward because of the wider investigation.
Steubenville schools Superintendent Mike McVey released a statement Monday reiterating his position that the district was waiting until the trial ended to take action. He declined to address the grand jury investigation.
It's unclear what could happen to the school's sports programs if coaches were charged. Sanctions against teams or programs typically involve violations of rules related to playing, such as improper recruiting of student-athletes or playing ineligible athletes, said Tim Stried, spokesman for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond were charged with penetrating the West Virginia girl with their fingers, first in the back seat of a moving car after a mostly underage drinking party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house.
Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison for the rapes. Mays was ordered to serve an additional year for photographing the underage girl naked.
They can be held until they turn 21.
Special Judge Thomas Lipps recommended the boys be assigned to Lighthouse Youth Center-Paint Creek in Chillicothe which he said has a strong program for treating juvenile sex offenders.
3 Ohio teens plead in 'bored' beating case
NORTH COLLEGE HILL, Ohio -- Three of the six teenagers charged with the brutal beating of a man simply because they were bored pleaded guilty Monday in Hamilton County Juvenile Court, officials said.
Daquan Cain, Lamont Champion and Antonio Hendrix, all 14, admitted to one count each of felonious assault in exchange for juvenile prosecutors dropping the aggravated riot charge and a serious youthful offender stipulation that would have sentenced them under a blend of juvenile and adult guidelines, said North College Hill Police Chief Gary Foust.
The teens will be sentenced in April and May by Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter.
They could be placed on probation or incarcerated from a minimum of one year or until they turn 21.
Foust said he hopes the judge locks the boys up.
"We certainly would like to see some sort of incarceration," he said.
When asked if he was disappointed the serious youthful offender stipulation and riot charge were dropped, the chief responded:
"We certainly did our part in facilitating the charges. Certainly it is up to the discretion of the prosectutor and state whether charges are amended or not," he said. "Ultimately, I guess, where justice prevails is if the judge has a chance to review all the facts of the case and then issues a sentence based on those facts."
The three other teens charged in the case will either plead guilty in the coming weeks or continue fighting the charges by asking to go to a pre-trial: Tyree Mizzell, 13, Michael E. James, 15 and Terrell Mizzell 13.
In the meantime, all the teens remain on house arrest and attend North College Hill schools.
The youth, who all were charged with felonious assault and aggravated riot in the Aug. 11 attack on Pat Mahaney, 45, in North College Hill, are being tried separately in juvenile court, Hunter decided on Feb. 19.
The boys' families and lawyers have said they will not give interviews.
The case drew national attention to North College Hill, a western Hamilton County suburb of about 10,000 residents. Mahaney was walking home from the store with a six-pack of beer on a Saturday night, looking forward to watching a ball game, when the six teenagers jumped him from behind and brutally beat him, police have said.
The boys told investigators they attacked Mahaney because they were "bored" and "looking for something to do," a police report shows.
Mahaney, an unemployed factory worker, was hospitalized for four days. He suffered so many internal injuries doctors had to insert a tube down his throat to remove all the blood from his stomach.
Outrage set in once details of the incident became public.
In the weeks following the attack, fundraisers were held for Mahaney and dueling rallies took place. Some reached out to at-risk youth. One was organized by a white supremacist group convinced Mahaney was targeted by the teens because he is white and they are black.
Police officials repeatedly have said the attack was not a hate crime.
Mahaney has only given one media interview about his ordeal. In August he told The Enquirer he was stunned by how young his alleged attackers were.
"I didn't think kids could do something like this," he said at the time. "They should be punished."
Pearl murder suspect caught in Pakistan
Staff and wire reports
More than a decade after four terrorists were imprisoned for the murder of Daniel Pearl, another suspect has been arrested in the gruesome death of the American journalist four months after 9/11.
Pakistani paramilitary forces have arrested militant leader Qari Abdul Hayee, popularly known as Asadullah. He was captured during a raid on Sunday in Karachi and is apparently being questioned about his possible role in the kidnapping and beheading of Pearl in the winter of 2002, said two paramilitary officials.
Pearl, a former reporter with The Berkshire Eagle and North Adams Transcript, was working for the Wall Street Journal in Pakistan in January 2002, when he was abducted. A month later a video of his execution by Islamic terrorists was delivered to the U.S. consulate in Karachi.
In June 2002, four men were convicted in a Pakistani court of being the masterminds behind Pearl's death. Seven others charged in the case were tried and sentenced in absentia, two of them later killed in encounters with police.
The latest suspect in Pearl's murder, Qari Abdul Hayee, is a former leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group in southern Sindh province. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a radical Sunni Muslim militant group that has carried out many attacks in Pakistan, especially against minority Shiite Muslims.
In the latest attack, a pair of suicide bombers struck a court complex in the northwestern city of Peshawar. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
One of the attackers was shot to death, but the other detonated his explosives in a packed courtroom, killing four people and wounding more than 40 in the attack.
The attack came as the Pakistani Taliban withdrew their offer of holding peace talks with the government, saying that the authorities were not serious about following through with negotiations.
US defence contractor accused of passing on nuclear secrets
Ex-army officer Benjamin Pierce Bishop charged with communicating national defence information to Chinese woman
A US defence contractor in Hawaii has been arrested on charges of passing national military secrets, including classified information about nuclear weapons, to a Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, authorities have said.
Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a former US army officer who works as a civilian employee of a defence contractor at US Pacific Command in Oahu, was arrested on Friday and made his first appearance in federal court on Monday, said the US attorney's office for the District of Hawaii.
He is charged with one count of willfully communicating national defence information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to national defence. If convicted Bishop faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Bishop met the woman – a 27-year-old Chinese national referred to as Person 1 – in Hawaii during a conference on international military defence issues, according to the affidavit.
He had allegedly been involved in a romantic relationship since June 2011 with the woman, who was living in the US on a visa and had no security clearance.
From May 2011 until December 2012 he allegedly passed national defence secrets to her including classified information about nuclear weapons and the planned deployment of US strategic nuclear systems.
Other secrets included information on the US's ability to detect foreign governments' low- and medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as information on the deployment of US early warning radar systems in the Pacific Rim.
Bishop enjoyed top-secret security clearance since July 2002. A court-authorised search of his home in November found about a dozen individual documents, each with classification markings at the secret level, the affidavit said.
The case is being investigated by the FBI's Honolulu division and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in co-ordination with US Pacific Command and the US army.
Prison Rape Elimination Act Can Keep Children Out Of Adult Jails
by Liz Ryan, TakePart
Jonathan McClard was 16 years old when he was arrested and convicted as an adult for a shooting at a Jackson, Missouri, carwash that seriously injured its victim, Jeremy Voshage, 17.
McClard was initially incarcerated in an adult jail where he was beaten and was a witness to extreme violence and rape. The day that he received his 30-year sentence, the boy was moved to Bowling Green's Northeast Correctional Center, an adult prison.
For a couple of weeks, he was kept on a juvenile wing where he received education, but, his mother remembers, was cited for minor violations and placed into solitary confinement.
Jonathan McClard spent the last month of his life, through Christmas, in solitary confinement. He turned 17 on January 1, 2008.
Three days later, he was found hanging in his cell.
McClard had pleaded guilty. That he had committed a crime is not in question. What is at question is a correctional policy that condones housing juveniles in adult jails and prisons. The practice of incarcerating children with adult inmates is dangerous and cruel, serves no rehabilitative purpose, and could be stopped by the end of 2013.
This year, governors will need to certify that their states are in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
Passed unanimously by Congress in 2003, PREA restricts the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. The U.S. Department of Justice regulations state: “as a matter of policy, the Department supports strong limitations on the confinement of adults with juveniles.”
The regulations further ban the housing of youth in the general adult population, prohibit contact between youth and adults in common areas, ensure youth are constantly supervised by staff; and limit the use of isolation, which causes or exacerbates mental health problems for youth.
It is crucial that governors implement best practices being set under the PREA to fully protect youth in the justice system—by removing youth from adult jails and prisons and by accessing federal support to undertake new reforms.
Research shows that youth are not safe in adult jails and prisons and are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization.
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, youth under the age of 18 represented 21 percent of all substantiated victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in jails in 2005, and 13 percent in 2006—disproportionately high since only one percent of jail inmates are juveniles.
The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission found that “more than any other group of incarcerated persons, youth incarcerated with adults are probably at the highest risk for sexual abuse.”
Research also shows that youth are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility.
The policy of placing juveniles in adult facilities is putting thousands of young people at risk, but keeping youth safe in adult jails and prisons puts prison officials in an extremely difficult Catch 22.
On the one hand, if officials don't separate youth from adults, youth will have regular contact with adults, a situation that can result in serious physical and emotional harm to youth. On the other hand, when officials do separate youth from adults, the juveniles are often placed in isolation for long periods of time. This isolation equates to solitary confinement and can lead to depression, exacerbate already existing mental health issues, and put youth at risk of suicide. Essentially, any measure taken to accommodate juvenile offenders in adult facilities creates a no-win situation for jail and prison officials.
To more effectively keep youth safe, states and counties need to place youth, if they pose a risk to public safety, into juvenile detention or correctional facilities where they are more likely to receive developmentally appropriate services, educational programming and support by trained staff.
In addition, stakeholders representing every state in the nation weighed in to support the full implementation of PREA, including removing children from adult jails and prisons. Stakeholders included hundreds of directly affected youth, parents and families; dozens of state and local elected officials; juvenile and criminal justice professional associations; crime victims' and survivor groups; children's advocacy groups; civil and human rights groups; mental health advocates; and faith-based organizations.
All of the major national stakeholder associations that deal with juvenile or adult detention or corrections—such as American Correctional Association, Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, National Juvenile Detention Association, and the American Jail Association—have policies that strongly back this recommendation.
Further, opinion polling shows that the public strongly favors removing youth from adult jails and adult prisons. The most recent national poll, conducted by GBA Strategies and released in October, 2011, shows that the public rejects placement of youth in adult jails and prisons and strongly favors rehabilitation and treatment approaches, such as counseling, education, treatment, restitution and community service.
And, during the comment period prior to publishing its regulations, the U.S. Department of Justice received no comments opposing the recommendation.
Finally, the bipartisan architects of the PREA law—Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA)—believe that “youth should be fully protected from sexual abuse as was intended by Congress when it passed PREA. A critical component of this protection is the removal of all under 18 youth from adult jails and prisons."
Given the research, public opinion polling and positions of professional associations, some states have already initiated reforms to remove youth from adult jails and prisons.
To get started in removing youth from adult facilities, governors can access federal technical assistance, experts and funding from the National Center for Youth in Custody, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center, the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
With so many reasons to take this concrete action to help young people, we urge the governors in every state to fully protect children behind bars.