Wednesday, July 7, 2010

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WA - Convicted rapist released from state commitment

Original Article (Listen)


By Jennifer Sullivan

[name withheld], who 20 years ago became one of the first men sent to the state's sexual-predator treatment program, was released Wednesday from the state's Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. In court on Tuesday, Monday, prosecutors did not oppose [name withheld]'s release from the island facility after three state Department of Social and Health Services experts determined that he was not likely to re-offend.

[name withheld], 69, became the second patient at the Special Commitment Center in 1991 after a King County jury found him to be a sexually violent predator. He was committed just before he was to be released from prison after serving time for his sixth rape conviction in 31 years.
- It's good he is being released, but if he would've received treatment while in prison, then the state would not have wasted a ton of money to house and treat this person, after punishing him again for the same crime.  But, the injustice system is not about common sense, now is it.

In his nearly two decades at the Special Commitment Center, [name withheld] became one of its best-known residents after he challenged the constitutionality of Washington's civil commitment law, which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court upheld the sex-predator-commitment process, ruling it was like forced commitment for the mentally ill.

When the state's sexually violent predator civil commitment law was enacted in 1990 offenders were granted regular trials to determine whether they needed to remain at the facility, Donohoe said. In anticipation of [name withheld]'s trial, three psychological experts examined [name withheld] and all concluded that he no longer posed a threat to likely re-offend, prosecutors said.

A handful of men have previously been released from the Special Commitment Center.

Prosecutors agreed to a conditional release so that [name withheld]'s behavior in the community could be monitored. As part of his conditions, [name withheld] has agreed to not commit new crimes against women, contact victims, use drugs or alcohol, not possess weapons or pornography or visit adult entertainment businesses, according to a court filing.

[name withheld] will reside in Tacoma, prosecutors said.

UK - Solicitor James Baird Murray says we lock up too many criminals

Original Article (Listen)


By Helen Orrell

SENIOR solicitor and defence lawyer James Baird Murray says unnecessary new laws do nothing to deter criminals or prevent them reoffending in the future.

Mr Baird Murray, who started out as an articled clerk with Colchester law firm Ellison & Co in 1954 and celebrated his 75th birthday with colleagues at Fisher Jones Greenwood, recently, said: “I think a lot of it has been led by the politicians."

I don’t think Mr Average spends his time worrying about whether we ought to have another section to the Public Order Act."

I think it should be left to the judges to sort it out.”

Mr Baird Murray worked for the Crown Prosecution Service in its infancy in the Eighties and Nineties before becoming a defence solicitor in 2002.

He said judges and magistrates were no longer able to use their discretion.

More and more often sentencing is done by prescription,” he said. “Many magistrates are given no discretion at all."

Even crown court judges are obliged to put people on the Sex Offenders’ Register or extended licences for the rest of their lives."

We do see, unfortunately, because of the guidelines, people being set up to fail."

There are a few judges around who will use their discretion. They are seen as mavericks, but I don’t think they are."

They are able to see from their experience how it is that you can set someone up to fail."

Asbos, or sentences like that, are a way of getting people locked up."

That’s why there are twice as many people in prison these days, because we appear to have an insatiable appetite to lock each other up, which has been allowed to grow and should have been snuffed out ages ago."

It’s a perfectly understandable and reasonable sensation, ‘I want payback on this’, but too often revenge is represented as justice.”

He claimed police targeted known offenders in Colchester to the extent of “prodding“ them into reoffending.

Mr Baird Murray said: “I can understand the police need to target certain people and I don’t see anything the matter with recognising that does happen."

I’m afraid it’s just a fact of life.However, I think the police could be guilty of prodding people in a way that’s inevitably going to lead to them doing something silly, which they would not have done had they not been so prodded.”

Mr Baird Murray, said he felt the Government needed to do more to reform sentencing.

He said: “It’s difficult. How can a Government stand up and say we are now going to spend a large amount of money on making people better behaved by giving them the support they need – can you imagine the reaction?"

Obviously if they don’t do that, they need to spend money on bigger prisons, which goes back to this insatiable appetite for locking people up."

I think a lot more needs to be done and the probation service is thoroughly overworked at the moment. Morale there is very low."

The regulation we suffer in our profession is overwhelming and there always has been too much red tape.”

Mr Baird Murray, who has practised in north-east Essex for most of his working life, said he believed more also needed to be done to tackle Colchester’s late night drinking culture.

He continued: “It has been, until very recently, a pleasant town to live in. It has in recent years suffered the same fate as many towns of similar size."

We all know why – it’s just horrid at night. If you take a stroll up the High Street in the evening at this time of year, you have to step over puddles of vomit and blood. It can be absolutely dreadful."

I see it not in the flesh, but looking at the CCTV in court."

It’s partly to do with a burgeoning population who were not born and brought up here and sadly know no better."

Underneath it all there is the Colchester that has still got a thriving arts and academic scenes, and there is no lack of that to turn to if you want.”

DC - Mortality Rates in Local Jails Continue to Decline

Original Article (Listen)


WASHINGTON - Mortality rates in local jails declined over the period from 2000 through 2007, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. A total of 8,110 jail inmates died in custody of local jails over the study period, during which the mortality rate declined from 152 deaths per 100,000 jail inmates in 2000 to 141 per 100,000 in 2007.

During any given year of the eight-year study, more than 80 percent of the approximately 3,000 jail jurisdictions nationwide had no deaths in their custody. During the entire eight-year study period, more than four in 10 jails (42 percent) had no deaths. Among jails reporting at least one death during the entire study period, the majority (83 percent) reported only one death.

Suicide was the single leading cause of death in local jails, accounting for 29 percent of all jail deaths. Between 2000 and 2007, the suicide rate declined from 48 to 36 per 100,000, continuing a longer decline from 129 per 100,000 in 1983.

Deaths from any illness-related cause accounted for more than half (53 percent) of all deaths in local jails. Heart disease was the single leading illness-related cause of death, accounting for 22 percent of all deaths in local jails. Deaths from AIDS-related causes accounted for five percent of all deaths in jails.

During the eight-year period, the largest jails (those with an average daily population of 1,000 inmates or more) held 49 percent of the total jail population and accounted for 52 percent of all deaths in jails. The smallest jails (those with an average daily population of fewer than 50 inmates) held four percent of the jail population and accounted for seven percent of jail deaths.

Smaller jails had the highest mortality rates largely due to suicide. In jails holding an average of fewer than 50 inmates, the mortality rate of 284 per 100,000 inmates was almost twice the national average (145 per 100,000). Suicide rates were highest in smallest jails (169 per 100,000) and lowest in the 50 largest jails (27 per 100,000).

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of jail deaths occurred within two days of admission; more than one-third (38 percent) within the first seven days; and more than half (56 percent) within 30 days.

Suicide rates in jails were more than three times higher than in the general population. Between 2000 and 2006, when comparable data were available, suicide was the only cause of death that occurred at a higher rate in local jails than in the general population (47 per 100,000 vs. 13 per 100,000), after adjusting for differences associated with age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin.

BJS collected these data on deaths in local jails in response to the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA) (P.L. 106-297). DICRA required the collection of individual-level records of deaths occurring in jails, in state prisons and during the process of arrest. BJS collects data on deaths in local jails and in state prisons through its Deaths in Custody Reporting Program and on arrest-related deaths through its Arrest-Related Deaths collection.

The report, Mortality in Local Jails (PDF), 2000-2007 (NCJ 222988), was written by BJS statistician Margaret Noonan. Following publication, the report can be found at

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics' statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at