Monday, July 19, 2004

Do it... do it...

Supreme Court asked to end juvenile death penalty.

It's difficult for me to imagine why people are so focused on punishing juveniles. In today's Washington Post, there was an article about DC declaring a crime emergency, in response to the underage driver 'epidemic' in the city. It's so much easier to denounce juveniles when you read about their crimes. But what I've learned from working with juvenile delinquents this summer is that when you meet them as individuals, it's so much more difficult. You see their childhood, you meet the ones that have grown up in the system, the ones that have children that they truly want to raise well, but they're only kids themselves. I can't stand that there are people who don't know kids and don't care to know them, but wouldn't hesitate to send them away to prison in the blink of an eye. And to think that someone would want to EXECUTE children... it's just horrendous.

An eye for an eye leaves Mitt Romney blind.

ABA website on the juvenile death penalty. I didn't know that there really were juveniles on death row in this country.


C Dog said...

"Neill said Ramsey and other top city officials could do more by loosening restrictions on police chases. In general, officers are not permitted to chase stolen cars unless the drivers are fleeing a serious crime.

'All these bandits know that if they get a car, they are going to get away," Neill said. "They are more brazen.'"

C Dog has a solution: allow law abiding citizens to own firearms, then adopt Texas' law allowing one to use deadly force in limited instances to protect one's property. I'd be ripshit if some punk stole my car.

As to juvenile death penalty: We need to find one consistent age when a person is an "adult." I'd say, make it 18. Drink, serve in the military, vote, be sentenced to death, be able to rent vehicles, etc.

C Dog said...

Virginia state Sen. Janet D. Howell says she was surprised when a D.C. resident sent her an e-mail saying he won't be crossing the Potomac into Virginia anymore because of the open-carry law.

"He feels that the District of Columbia is a safer place to be," said Mrs. Howell, Fairfax County Democrat.

Crime statistics, however, indicate that Fairfax County is much safer than the District, even though the city has a fraction of the population of its southern neighbor.

From January through April this year, Fairfax County had four homicides while the District had 64. There were 189 robberies in Fairfax County compared with 1,214 robberies in the District, and 18 rapes compared with 100 rapes in the city.

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey declared a "crime emergency" yesterday, allowing him to temporarily suspend staffing guidelines negotiated with the police officers union.

WomanoftheLaw said...

I know that what you're getting at is that more guns will make the streets safer. I'm not a proponent of that idea, but I can see why you'd think it would be a good idea. Do you really think that guns are a deterrent to crime? I'm not sure that even if it did decrease crime that the cost-benefit analysis would work out on that one. Decreasing car thefts but increasing the numbers of homicides? And when a kid is taking off in your car, are you telling me that you're going to shoot at a child and a moving car, AND not hit anyone else in a crowded urban area? Also, I'm not a fan of advocating violence to solve problems.

C Dog said...

More guns, less crime is pretty much a fact—see John Lott’s research on the matter. Yes, I do believe guns are a deterrant to crime. No guns=safe working environment for criminals. When was the last time that someone attempted to rob a gun shop?

Note that I didn’t say that one would actually have to shoot the car thief (nor did I say that cars would be protectable property—that, arguably, would not be a reasonable use of force to protect one’s property). However, I’d be willing to bet that such a law would act as a deterrant to future thefts.

And, besides, as it currently stands, one can use reasonable non-deadly force to protect property in every state in the union. It appears, then, that the vast majority of Americans are, to a limited degree, advocates of violence to solve problems.

WomanoftheLaw said...

I'll look at your little man John Lott's research later. But right now, I'll say that I have my doubts about the ability of guns to solve crime. For instance, in some countries, police officers don't even carry guns. So is there more crime in these countries?

I stand by what I say before. You can allege that it's a FACT that guns deter criminals but people say the same thing about capital punishment. I refuse to accept either of those "facts." I think that the choices people make in a day are more complex than that. Let's look at the fact that 14 year olds are being charged for murder in Maryland because they stole a car and then crashed while trying to evade police, resulting in the death of an individual - they're looking at adult charges, adult jail, or even the loss of their own life every time they crash those cars. Does that change their decision every time they do it? Why would a gun deter that then? And as a matter of fact, I had a conversation just yesterday with an individual who told me he's afraid of guns every time he goes out and does his thing in the streets. He is afraid of getting shot. But he still does his thing in the streets. So you're telling me MORE guns is going to set him straight?

No matter what numbers Academia wants to crunch, the fact of the matter is that many of the individuals that are making these choices couldn't care less about numbers. They have more basic and pressing problems.

C Dog said...

"For instance, in some countries, police officers don't even carry guns. So is there more crime in these countries?" Well, yes, actually. Let's take England, an industrialized country with the most restrictive gun laws. Their police officers do not carry guns. Not surprisingly, "England and Wales have the highest crime rate among the world's leading economies, according to a new report by the United Nations."

So what if some of the criminals fear being shot and still commit crimes; that just means either (1) they're not afraid enough (i.e., we need more guns), or (2) they're irrational.

As to the death penalty, things are a bit different. First, the DP is applied hardly at all, making it a weak deterrant to begin with. Second, people who commit murder--i.e., THE death penalty crime--are unlikely to be deterred by death. The DP, of course, would have no deterrant on less violent crimes, such as burglary, since burglary is not a DP eligible offense. For these lesser crimes (rape, robbery, assault and battery, etc.), one could quite plausibly assume that the possibility of an armed victim (i.e., a death sentence by a citizen) WOULD deter the criminal. With the actual chance of being caught and prosecuted being low, a potential death sentence from an armed citizen would alter the caluclation. For example, a criminal might be willing to take a chance that his carjacking will result in a five year prison sentence (e.g., that he'll actually get caught, prosecuted and sentenced), but would be unwilling to chance that his victim would be armed and resist.

For instance:

"In studies involving interviews of felons, one of the reasons the majority of burglars try to avoid occupied homes is the chance of getting shot. (Increasing the odds of arrest is another.) A study of Pennsylvania burglary inmates reported that many burglars refrain from late-night burglaries because it's hard to tell if anyone is home, several explaining "That's the way to get shot." (Rengert G. and Wasilchick J., Suburban Burglary: A Time and a Place for Everything, 1985, Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas.)

"By comparing criminal victimization surveys from Britain and the Netherlands (countries having low levels of gun ownership) with the U.S., Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck determined that if the U.S. were to have similar rates of "hot" burglaries as these other nations ["hot burglaries" are defined as burglaries occuring while the homeowner victim is present], there would be more than 450,000 additional burglaries per year where the victim was threatened or assaulted. (Britain and the Netherlands have a "hot" burglary rate near 45% versus just under 13% for the U.S., and in the U.S. a victim is threatened or attacked 30% of the time during a "hot" burglary.)

Source: Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York, 1997.

On the other hand, it is fairly well known that when most crimes in England were punishable by death, crimes continued. Crime, of course, is a complex subject matter that no one can fully explain. However, self-defense appears to be a basic natural right; when this is combined with the Second Amendment, there's really no reason that law abiding folks in DC should not have the opportunity to defend themselves in their homes. Worse, the people whom DC's gun policy affects most are the poor minorities who, due to economic circumstances, cannot live in the affluent areas of the city, where people have door men, alarm systems, private security, etc. The DC gun ban is stupid at best and racist at worst.

WomanoftheLaw said...

I don't disagree that the blanket ban on guns ends up being racist, but for different reasons. I appreciate that you are willing to put your logic and analytical skills to work on this issue. However, you will not convince me anytime soon that guns are the savior for minority communities. Your knowledge tells you one thing, my knowledge tells me another. I'd rather that people base decisions not on fear of violence or injury, but out of respect for individuals and because their daily needs are being met appropriately. So, you and I are looking for the same result and I can respect that you and I disagree on the way to get there.

What I'm trying to say is that while it's been fun, this is my goddamn blog so shutthefuckup already.