Friday, March 30, 2012

Killed at Home: White Plains, NY Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shoot Dead Black Veteran, 68

Democracy Now | 29 March 2012

(start the video at 11:00)

As the Trayvon Martin case draws national attention, we look at another fatal shooting of an African-American male that has received far less scrutiny. Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old African-American Marine veteran, was fatally shot in November by White Plains, NY, police who responded to a false alarm from his medical alert pendant. The officers broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. Audio of the entire incident was recorded by the medical alert device in Chamberlain’s apartment. We’re joined by family attorneys and Chamberlain’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., who struggles through tears to recount his father’s final moments, including the way police officers mocked his father’s past as a marine. "For them to look at my father that way, (with) no regard for his life, every morning I think about it," he says.


Randolph McLaughlin, attorney for the family of Kenneth Chamberlain. He is a longtime civil rights attorney. He teaches at Pace Law School.

Mayo Bartlett, attorney for family of Kenneth Chamberlain. He is the former chief of the Bias Crimes Unit of the Westchester County District Attorney’s office and the former chair of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission.

Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., son of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Police money laundry traps drug criminals

Mark Colvin | PM | 26 March 2012

MARK COLVIN: The Australian illegal drug trade is now measured not in millions or even hundreds of millions but in billions of dollars. That's one result of a high-level secret operation run by federal law enforcement centred on the Australian Crime Commission.

It was called Operation Dayu, and it involved the commission setting up a money laundry to be used as a honey trap for organised crime. Before, the Australian Institute of Criminology estimated that about $390 million a year were going overseas to pay for illegal drugs. As a result of Operation Dayu that estimate is now between $4 billion and$12 billion a year.

The story is told in a new book, 'The Sting', by Melbourne Age journalist, Nick McKenzie. Full disclosure, he's also a graduate of this program. I asked Nick McKenzie about the money laundry.

NICK MCKENZIE: Well it operated in Australia, and the book's very careful about not giving too much away, there's a whole raft of important law enforcement laws which prohibit giving operational details away.

But very broadly it operated the way a money laundry would operate. It was a service where a criminal who wants to move their money off-shore without drawing any adverse attention can go there and know that in 24 hours their money's going to be sitting with Mr X in Hong Kong, Macau or Vietnam, wherever it may be. Of course, the real background story is, all the while these investigators were watching the money.

MARK COLVIN: So it involved the Government, the Australian Crime Commission, setting up what was effectively an illegal operation, letting people do illegal things for a while so as to watch them?

NICK MCKENZIE: Indeed, but of course …

MARK COLVIN: That's an incredibly grey area.

NICK MCKENZIE: … it's not foreign to law enforcement. And many years ago, pioneered by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the drug enforcement agency in the United States, but taken up by law enforcement a couple of decades ago in Australia, is the idea of a controlled operation where the police allow the committing of a crime to catch criminals or detect, normally, a larger piece of criminality.

It's controversial, but police defend it by saying, 'well how else do we get to those at the top of the tree?'

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Op-Ed: Shooting Of Black Teen Reveals 'Blindness'

Talk of the Nation | NPR News | 19 March 2012

Read The Op-Eds

Jonathan Capehart's "Under 'suspicion': The Killing of Trayvon Martin" in The Washington Post

Leonard Pitts' "Tragic teen shooting raises old fears, questions" in The Miami Herald

Three weeks after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, no arrests have been made in what critics are calling a case of racial profiling. Columnist Leonard Pitts says the incident exposes society's "blindness" to African-Americans.


And now, the "Opinion Page." The death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old shot and killed by a crime-watch volunteer in Florida, prompted Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post to recall "the conversation" - what his mother told him on his first day at a predominantly white school. It prompted Leonard Pitts Jr., of the Miami Herald, to cite Ralph Ellison and the "Invisible Man." Both writers join us in just a moment. We'd like to hear from African-American men in this segment, about the conversations you remember.

Who talked to you about how to behave downtown? - 800-989-8255 is the phone number; email You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at, and click on TALK OF THE NATION. Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts is with us from his home in Maryland; Jonathan Capehart, from his office here in Washington. And let me begin with you, Jonathan Capehart. Remind us what your mother told you.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: It happened after we left the sort of sheltered environment of Hazlet, New Jersey, in sort of central New Jersey, and moved back up to Newark when my mom remarried. And the conversation that we had was just a series of rules for my own safety. At the time, I was 16. They were, don't run in public; don't run while carrying anything in your hand - the first one being, you know, lest anyone think you're suspicious; and the second one being, lest anyone think you stole something. And the third was, don't talk back to the police - lest you give them a reason to take you to jail, or worse.

CONAN: And were - that must have been a stark moment.

CAPEHART: Yes, it was because - you know - as kids, as children, you think that, you know, the world is open and welcoming and friendly because that's the way you've lived your life - at least, that's the way I lived my life. And to be told that no, there are limits on what you can do simply because of who you are - yes, it was a bit jarring.

Miami judge decides fatal stabbing was self-defense

David Ovalle | The Miami Herald | 21 March 2012

Judge Beth Bloom threw out the murder charge against a man who chased a car burglar for more than a block and then stabbed him, killing him.

As critics assail Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in the wake of the killing of an unarmed Miami Gardens teen in Sanford, a Miami-Dade judge on Wednesday cited the law in tossing out the case of a man who chased down a suspected burglar and stabbed him to death.

Greyston Garcia was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Pedro Roteta, 26, whom he chased for more than a block before stabbing the man.

The case illustrates the difficulty police and prosecutors statewide have experienced since the 2005 law eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat in the face of danger, putting the burden on a judge, not a jury, to decide whether the accused is immune from prosecution.

In Sanford, police have cited the Stand Your Ground law in their decision not to arrest a neighborhood watch volunteer in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17. A Seminole County grand jury will decide on whether the man who shot Trayvon, George Zimmerman, 28, should face homicide charges.

Miami police Sgt. Ervens Ford, who supervised the Garcia case, was floored when told Wednesday of the judge’s decision. Ford called the law and the decision by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beth Bloom a “travesty of justice.”

“How can it be Stand Your Ground?” said Ford, a longtime homicide investigator who on his off-day on Monday plans to attend a rally in the Trayvon case in Sanford with his two teenage sons. “It’s on [surveillance] video! You can see him stabbing the victim . . .”

Bloom granted Garcia, 25, immunity under the 2005 law after she decided that his testimony about self-defense was credible. The judge did not issue a written ruling, but is expected to do so in the next few days.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is likely to appeal the judge’s ruling. Garcia’s defense attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Trayvon Martin: the 911 calls

Much of the commentary in the Trayvon Martin case has centred on the lack of evidence to contradict the claims of the shooter Robert Zimmerman's claim of self-defence. See here for a summary of the case.

However, there are available a series of 911 calls, which provide a backdrop to the circumstances of the death:

The first is the crucial call from Zimmerman, the armed self-appointed Neighborwood Watch captain, in which he reports to the Police his suspicions about the black male he thinks is up to no good or is on drugs, who runs away and who Zimmerman follows, contrary to instructions given to him in the call.

The second is a call from a witness, who reports hearing cries for help and gun-shots, both of which appear to be recorded on the call.

A third records another witness hearing the calls of help and gun-shots, as well as making observations of a person apparently dead on the ground, hearing Zimmerman admit he shot the person, and seeing Police arrive on the scene. She later speaks about having earlier seen the two wrestling.

A Gun But No Shield

Simple Justice | 21 March 2012

The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black youth, by white, armed, "community watcher," George Zimmerman, raises many questions, from racist perceptions, such as looking "suspicious," to the efficacy of Florida's "stand your ground" law, permitting someone to kill rather than avoid killing.

The fact that Zimmerman was roaming around with a gun, whether in search of something suspicious or just to fulfill some macho fantasy, is a problem that goes well beyond this instance. While the focus is usually on police officers who use needless force, as its more likely to be a cop than a Zimmerman who does the damage, the dark side of the legal carry crowd can't be ignored.

When Joel Rosenberg was alive, he would be the first to argue that men and women who were lawfully allowed to carry handguns, properly trained, would provide an extra hedge against crime and a calming influence on violence. If a perp feared that the person he was about to attack was armed and ready to act, he would be less inclined to take a chance. On the other hand, if a legal gun carrier happened upon a person's life being threatened, and there was no cop in sight, his gun could prove the difference between life and death. All good things.

What nobody really wanted to talk about was the Zimmerman effect. That there were people who had nothing in their background that precluded their obtaining a carry permit, who superficially appeared sufficiently sane to be allowed to possess deadly force, and relished the opportunity to do so. When Joel described the carry crowd, they were all good, solid people, more like inchoate heros than potential killers. As the t-shirt Joel sold for his licensing business said, reluctant participants.

Not every person who carries a gun is quite so modest. When they also carry a shield, there are other implications worth considering. They are trained. They are supervised. They are subject to certain scrutiny, both before they pull the trigger as well as the moment they do. This is not to say it always works out as planned, but that systems exist to theoretically keep a close watch on the use of deadly force by police.

Children sue over arrest flaw

Nick Ralston | SMH | March 25, 2012

Class action ... Musa Konneh was the first to sign up to legal action against the NSW government over the database errors. Photo: Ben Rushton

TWENTY-ONE children wrongfully arrested because of a computer error have joined a class action against the NSW government.

The move comes after the government failed to deliver on a promise made last June to fix the problem with the Department of Justice computer system, which police use when making arrests. Solicitors involved in the class action said that since then at least 11 children had been wrongfully arrested because of out-of-date information on the system.

Vavaa Mawuli, a senior solicitor with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre who is co-ordinating the action, said young people continued to be wrongfully detained, despite the class action. The Department of Justice's computer system, known as JusticeLink, did not fully sync with the police computer database. This meant police did not immediately have access to changes in a person's court records after they had appeared before a magistrate and had their bail conditions varied or dropped.

A police source said it was frustrating for officers, who were acting in good faith on the information that was available to them.

Last June, Musa Konneh became the first young person to join the class action seeking compensation over his wrongful detention.

Mr Konneh was arrested, strip-searched and spent a night in jail because the police computer database failed to recognise that all charges against him had been dismissed in the Children's Court four days earlier.

The Sun-Herald can reveal 30 young people have complained to the solicitors involved in the class action about being wrongfully arrested because of the system error, which dates back to 2005. Of the 30, 21 have instructed them that they want to be part of the action.

The law firm Maurice Blackburn, which is involved in the class action, said it believed the number involved could grow to as many as 200.

A young person involved in the class action was arrested at his Caringbah flat at 11.30pm on a Thursday in 2010 because he had not been home when police called at 8pm. But the then 17-year-old's bail conditions had been altered by a magistrate a month earlier, and his curfew had been extended to 9pm - a condition he had complied with. The teenager was taken to a juvenile justice centre, detained overnight and then taken and held in a cell at Parramatta Children's Court until the matter was thrown out by a magistrate.

Last June, the Minister for Police, Mike Gallacher, said the problem needed to be fixed urgently and that he did not believe it would be an issue in a year's time.

A spokeswoman for the minister yesterday said the government was seeking a response from the NSW Police Force and the Department of Justice. NSW Police said new safeguards had been put in place and it was working to fix the problem with the support of the government.

Last financial year, police were forced to pay more than $5 million to compensate people it had falsely imprisoned and assaulted. It was a $1 million increase on the previous year.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

25 minutes and 46 seconds missing in a nasty night to remember

Ilya Gridneff | SMH | March 21, 2012

The curtain still hasn't come down on 29-year-old John Tanner's night out at Sydney Opera House eight months ago ... and it all hinges on a "missing" 25 minutes and 46 seconds.

His enjoyment of the Vivid Live festival took an ugly turn when he says he was sick in a public area after having a glass of wine and wedges last June.

John Tanner and David Rook outside the Rose Bay police station. Photo: Simon Alekna

He says he wasn't intoxicated but unwell, yet three security guards bundled him out and attacked him at 11pm.

His 41-year-old partner David Rook collected him and they drove to Rose Bay police station, 500 metres from their home, to report the alleged assault.

"At first police started to write down our details but then they started giving each other knowing glances and put their pads away," said Mr Rook, who believes that, because he has a stammer and is gay, he was not taken seriously.

The force's new weapon of choice

Anna Patty, Lisa Davies | SMH | March 24, 2012

"It is almost like having your spinal cord severed" .... Lyn Shumack, psychologist. Photo: Craig Abraham

Tasers should not be used in place of communication skills. Anna Patty and Lisa Davies report.

The grainy black and white CCTV footage shows a young Brazilian man running from police before he is shocked by a Taser - a small snapshot of what led to his death.

As it was replayed over and again on internet and television broadcasts, it encouraged viewers to form their own opinions about the rights and wrongs of Taser use.

Reports about the trivial circumstances of 21-year-old Roberto Laudisio Curti's alleged crime - snatching a mere packet of biscuits from a convenience store - and the recent death of both his parents, who were taken by cancer, his youth and promise, made just one thing clear. This was a tragic waste of life.

But questions remain unanswered about whether the Taser was inappropriately used and whether it directly caused the young man's death.

Did he fall and hit his head? Did he have a heart attack? Did multiple firings of the Taser's 50,000 volt-charged pellets kill him? A coronial inquest will soon tell.

The circumstances in which the young police officers drew and fired their Tasers, in the knowledge that each move and sound they made would be captured on a small video camera attached to their Taser, is still unknown. This will be the subject of a investigation to be overseen by the NSW Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour.

At the height of an emotionally-charged debate over the use of Taser guns, Mr Barbour is completing the most comprehensive review of Taser use in Australia, analysing how the device was used more than 1600 times in NSW from October 2008 to November 2010.

During that period, fewer than 30 official complaints were made.

''There are a number of examples publicly discussed already where police have believed that the Taser use was appropriate and where we and magistrates or courts have said we don't think it was appropriate in those circumstances,'' Mr Barbour said. After an earlier review in 2008, he recommended a two-year moratorium before Tasers were widely circulated to allow for the development of protocols, taking into account lessons learned from overseas.

''Unfortunately the government at the time decided they wouldn't follow that course and decisions were made in quick succession to make more Tasers available and to roll them out to all general duties officers,'' Mr Barbour said. ''More than 15,000 police are trained in the use of Tasers in NSW and we have more than 1100 Tasers in use - the most anywhere in the country.''

In response to the overseas experience, Mr Barbour warned of a trend known as ''mission creep'', where police use Tasers in low-risk situations to gain compliance. One woman in the US was shocked by a Taser after refusing to follow a police order to get out of bed.

''We don't want to see police lose the skill to effectively communicate in situations to de-escalate rather than simply resorting to options they have around use of force like capsicum spray and Tasers,'' Mr Barbour said.

Trayvon Martin's death: the story so far

Karen McVeigh | The Guardian | 20 March 2012

In February, an unarmed black teenager was killed by George Zimmerman, who claims he acted in self defence. Three weeks on, Zimmerman is still free, and questions remain unanswered

The basic facts

On a rainy night in February, Trayvon Martin was returning to his father's girlfriend's house in Sanford, Florida, after a trip to the local 7-Eleven before the NBA all-star game. He carried a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea for his little brother.

As he walked home, the unarmed 17-year-old spoke to his girlfriend in Miami via a hands-free earpiece on his cellphone he often used. He was spotted by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighbourhood watch volunteer, who was patrolling the gated community, the Retreat at Twin Lakes, in his vehicle.

Zimmerman called 911 to report what he described as Martin's "suspicious behaviour", telling the operator he looked like he was "up to no good, on drugs or something". Zimmerman was warned by the operator not to follow the teenager. But he did, getting out of his vehicle and taking a 9mm handgun with him.

Martin's girlfriend, who has provided her account to the family's lawyer Benjamin Crump, says Martin told her a stranger was following him. She told him to run home. Then the man reappeared behind him, she said. She then heard Martin say: "What are you following me for?" and someone else saying "What are you doing around here?". She then heard pushing, she said, because Martin's head set fell. At 7.16pm, four minutes after the call began, the phone went dead.

What happens in the last moment of Martin's life went unwitnessed by anyone other than Zimmerman.

According to neighbours, there was an altercation between the two men – Zimmerman, weighing 250lbs and armed, and Martin, weighing 140lbs and unarmed.

Witnesses and 911 calls record one of the men in great distress crying out for help.

One woman anxiously says she can hear someone calling for help while in the background, a wailing voice pleads, "No! No!"

By the time police arrive on the scene, at 7.17pm, Martin lay fatally wounded by a gunshot to the chest.

Zimmerman has admitted to the killing but told police he fired in self-defence.

Three and a half weeks later, Zimmerman is still free.

The police chief has said that, because Zimmerman has made a statement of self-defence, and there is no evidence to dispute that, he has not been arrested.

On Monday, following a national outcry over the case, the US justice department announced that it would investigate the case, along with the FBI.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Legalization Debate Takes Off in Latin America

Ethan Nadelmann | The Huffington Post | Mar 10, 2012

Comments (336)

Something incredible is happening right now in Latin America.

After decades of being brutalized by the U.S. government's failed prohibitionist drug policies, Latin American leaders, including not just distinguished former presidents but also current presidents, are saying "enough is enough." They're demanding that the range of policy options be expanded to include alternatives that help reduce the crime, violence and corruption in their own countries -- and insisting that decriminalization and legal regulation of currently illicit drug markets be considered.

Guatemala's new president, Otto Perez Molina, is providing important leadership. As a political conservative and former general, he has credibility that others lack. When he started speaking out publicly last month about the need to consider new drug policy options including legalization, many observers thought it was just a ploy to secure greater economic and military aid from the United States. But he's demonstrated a commitment and engagement over the past month that have persuaded fellow presidents that he's serious about this. Within Guatemala, his initiative has been praised by diverse voices including prominent business leaders, Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian and the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Francisco Dall'Anese.

When it comes to crime, harsher punishment doesn't pay

Anna Patty | SMH | March 14, 2012

LENGTHENING prison terms will do nothing to reduce crime in NSW, one of the most comprehensive reports on the criminal justice system conducted in Australia shows.

The study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that increasing the risk of arrest and imprisonment were much more effective.

Another major reason for falls in crime in the past decade was an improved economy and employment levels, which provided strong disincentives to crime. A 10 per cent increase in household income was estimated to produce an 18.9 per cent reduction in property crime and a 14.6 per cent reduction in violent crime.

The bureau's director, Don Weatherburn, said the study suggested governments should focus more on strategies to increase the risk of arrest and less on increasing the severity of punishments.

The study looked at whether Australian taxpayers were getting value for the $11.5 billion they spend each year on law and order.

It reviewed changes in the risk of arrest, the likelihood of prison and the average prison term on trends in property and violent crime across all 153 local government areas in NSW between 1996 and 2008.

''Increasing the risk of arrest and the likelihood of going to prison produces modest reductions in property and violent crime,'' Dr Weatherburn said. ''But increasing the length of prison sentences exerts no effect at all.''

The Politics of News: David McKnight’s 'Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation of Power'

David Marr | The Monthly | February 2012

A frustrated politician: Rupert Murdoch in 1985. © Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis

Australian journalists have a sad history of going off to Washington to be ruined. They leave home the hope of the side but after a visit to the boiler room and a peek into the furnace they return enthralled by American ambitions and dream of becoming players in its games of power. Rupert Murdoch was one of these. Visiting Washington in 1972, the young tycoon fell under the spell of Richard Nixon and was never the same again.

The flip-flops ended. He had once sung Fidel Castro’s praises, cultivated crusty old Arthur Calwell and used his new national broadsheet, the Australian, to demand ‘Black Jack’ McEwan succeed the drowned Harold Holt. Crazy stuff. He had swung his UK titles behind Labour and his Australian papers behind the rising Gough Whitlam. Then he went to Washington and turned hard right. Nixon – and later Ronald Reagan, Murdoch’s enduring love – gave him the politics he’s pursued and the rhetoric he’s used ever since.

It’s been a long, colourful and often whacky ride, not least for News Corporation. Murdoch has freely spent its blood and treasure for the best part of 40 years on his political causes. “He was and still is a frustrated politician,” wrote John Menadue, who served both Whitlam and the News chief. “He can’t leave politics alone.”

Pat Robertson Says Marijuana Use Should be Legal

Jesse McKinley | The New York Times | March 7, 2012

Of the many roles Pat Robertson has assumed over his five-decade-long career as an evangelical leader — including presidential candidate and provocative voice of the right wing — his newest guise may perhaps surprise his followers the most: marijuana legalization advocate.

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in an interview on Wednesday. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

Mr. Robertson’s remarks echoed statements he made last week on “The 700 Club,” the signature program of his Christian Broadcasting Network, and other comments he made in 2010. While those earlier remarks were largely dismissed by his followers, Mr. Robertson has now apparently fully embraced the idea of legalizing marijuana, arguing that it is a way to bring down soaring rates of incarceration and reduce the social and financial costs.

“I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up,” he said.

Mr. Robertson’s remarks were hailed by pro-legalization groups, who called them a potentially important endorsement in their efforts to roll back marijuana penalties and prohibitions, which residents of Colorado and Washington will vote on this fall.

False arrest claim against police sparks self-defence laws debate

Louis Andrews | The Canberra Times | March 5, 2012

A Canberra man is suing police for unlawfully arresting him, manhandling him, spraying him with capsicum spray and leaving him languishing in a cell for 10 hours.

It's a case that's sparked political debate, with the Greens accusing Attorney-General Simon Corbell of tabling a bill ''based on a false premise''.

But the Attorney-General has rejected the charge, arguing the Greens have misunderstood the way self-defence laws operate.

Two police protection bills - one from government and one from the opposition - are on hold after the legal community raised fears legal rights could be stripped.

The issue will now come under scrutiny twice: in a Legislative Assembly committee and by a separate body of academics and law enforcement experts.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Danny Andrew Klobucar have filed papers in the ACT Supreme Court accusing the Australian Federal Police and the arresting officer of negligence.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Prisoner as a Human Being

Jon Stanhope | Right Now | 16 February 2012

This article is part of our February theme, which focuses on one of the great silences in the human rights conversation in Australia: Prisoners’ Rights. Read our Editorial for more on this theme.

In 2004 the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly enacted the Human Rights Act, the first Bill of Rights to be passed into law in Australia. In passing the Act, the ACT Government made an overt and very public commitment to the universality and inalienability of human rights.

In essence the Act provides that no one may be treated or punished in a cruel, inhumane or degrading way: that even the worst among us have human rights that should be respected even if we have been convicted of the most heinous crimes.

In 2009 the Alexander Maconochie Centre, the ACT’s first prison, became operational. The Government was motivated, when taking the decision to build the prison, by the opportunity to learn from the experience of other prisons in operation in Australia and to avoid the temptation, as politically enticing as it is, to employ the practice and language of retribution, punishment and demonisation.

The prison was the first in Australia to be built and operated in accordance with human rights legislation and principles. The fact it is named in honour of Alexander Maconochie, superintendent of the Norfolk Island penal colony from 1840 to 1844, a prison reformer unmatched in Australia before or since, was to be a constant reminder of the prison’s aims as a reforming institution, one which reflects a commitment to human rights and a belief in the possibility of rehabilitation and redemption.

The most recent Productivity Commission Report on Government Services, released on 31 January 2012 gives a first glimpse of some of the outcomes of the operational approach employed at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC).

It reveals that the percentage of eligible prisoners employed at the AMC was 92.3 percent against a national average of 76.1 percent; the number of AMC prisoners enrolled in education and training is 92.0 percent as opposed to 34.8 percent nationally; and AMC prisoners spend an average of 14.1 hours out of cells while nationally prisoners are out of cells for 11.4 hours a day. Prisoners at AMC may also receive visitors six days a week including up until 8 pm and the crude imprisonment rate in the ACT is 68 per 100,000 while nationally it is 169 per 100,000. It is not surprising that the cost per prisoner of providing corrective services in the ACT is also the highest in Australia.

Prisoners are perhaps the last discrete group of human beings who are, in a general way, publically vilified, dehumanised and demonised within Australia without fear of censure.

Broken Windows: the police and neighborhood safety

George L. Kelling | James Q. Wilson | The Atlantic | Mar 1, 1982

In the mid-1970s The State of New Jersey announced a "Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program," designed to improve the quality of community life in twenty-eight cities. As part of that program, the state provided money to help cities take police officers out of their patrol cars and assign them to walking beats. The governor and other state officials were enthusiastic about using foot patrol as a way of cutting crime, but many police chiefs were skeptical. Foot patrol, in their eyes, had been pretty much discredited. It reduced the mobility of the police, who thus had difficulty responding to citizen calls for service, and it weakened headquarters control over patrol officers.

Many police officers also disliked foot patrol, but for different reasons: it was hard work, it kept them outside on cold, rainy nights, and it reduced their chances for making a "good pinch." In some departments, assigning officers to foot patrol had been used as a form of punishment. And academic experts on policing doubted that foot patrol would have any impact on crime rates; it was, in the opinion of most, little more than a sop to public opinion. But since the state was paying for it, the local authorities were willing to go along.

Five years after the program started, the Police Foundation, in Washington, D.C., published an evaluation of the foot-patrol project. Based on its analysis of a carefully controlled experiment carried out chiefly in Newark, the foundation concluded, to the surprise of hardly anyone, that foot patrol had not reduced crime rates. But residents of the foot patrolled neighborhoods seemed to feel more secure than persons in other areas, tended to believe that crime had been reduced, and seemed to take fewer steps to protect themselves from crime (staying at home with the doors locked, for example). Moreover, citizens in the foot-patrol areas had a more favorable opinion of the police than did those living elsewhere. And officers walking beats had higher morale, greater job satisfaction, and a more favorable attitude toward citizens in their neighborhoods than did officers assigned to patrol cars.

High profile prosecutor faces accusations

Deborah Cornwall | ABC 730 | 12 March 2012

Gordon Wood's murder conviction over the death of his girlfriend Caroline Byrne was quashed by the NSW Appeal Court leading to questions being asked about other cases overseen by prosecutor Mark Tedeschi.

Watch video here

CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: The career of Australia's highest flying prosecutor is under attack after a scathing judgment from the New South Wales Appeal Court which threw out the murder conviction of Sydney man Gordon Wood over the 1995 death of his girlfriend, model Caroline Byrne. Criminal lawyers have called for a sweeping review of the cases overseen by Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi. He may face a formal complaint over his conduct after the appeal judges found he relied on fiction and dangerous reasoning in the Wood case. Reporter Deborah Cornwall has investigated other cases where the prosecutor has found himself accused.

DEBORAH CORNWALL, REPORTER: For more than two decades, Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi has been the star performer at the most infamous murder trials in the country. From serial killer Ivan Milat and political assassin Phuong Ngo to the highly controversial case of baby killer Keli Lane.

POLICE OFFICER (May, 2003, police video): If something's happened to the child, now is the time to tell us.

KELI LANE, CONVICTED MURDERER: I don't know. Nothing happened. Nothing has happened to her.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: With so many scalps on his belt, it's hardly surprising Mark Tedeschi is a polarising figure, champion of crime victims and the prosecutor defence lawyers love to hate.

TIM ANDERSON, FORMER ANANDA MARGA MEMBER: It seems to me he's a zealot who wants to go for the win.

TONY BYRNE, FATHER OF CAROLINE BYRNE: Mr Tedeschi is a remarkable man.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: The murder conviction of Gordon Wood, one-time chauffeur to the late celebrity stockbroker Rene Rivkin was at the time one of his greatest triumphs.

JOURNALIST (Nov., 2008): ... be one the biggest wins you've had of your career, Mr Tedeschi?


DEBORAH CORNWALL: But two weeks ago, Tedeschi's brilliant career suddenly hit the wall. Three Appeal Court justices threw out the Wood conviction, ordering his release from jail immediately.

PETER MCCLELLAN, CHIEF JUSTICE, NSW COURT OF APPEAL: I have reviewed the whole of the evidence and have concluded that I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Gordon Wood murdered Caroline Byrne as charged.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: The appeal judges demolished the prosecution case in which Wood had been accused of hurling his girlfriend, model Caroline Byrne, to her death at The Gap, Sydney's most notorious suicide spot. But the most savage criticism was reserved for Mr Tedeschi, the judges accusing the prosecutor of failing his most basic obligations to put the case fairly to the jury. Instead, they said, Mr Tedeschi had tried to bolster the Crown case by resorting to fiction, impermissible reasoning and innuendo, including rumours Wood had been in a sexual relationship with Rivkin and a series of unsophisticated experiments which were used to convince the jury Caroline Byrne could not have committed suicide.

Anger after acid tripper off hook

Meagan Dillon   | The NT News | 12 March 2012

A TERRITORY magistrate has been accused of opening "Pandora's box" after dismissing an assault case because the man was on his first "acid" trip and wasn't responsible for his actions.

James Kidd, 22, had assault charges against him dismissed in Darwin Magistrates Court because he was incoherent and not criminally responsible.

Magistrate John Lowndes used a unique part of the NT Criminal Code to find Kidd did not "act with the necessary mental elements" to be held accountable for his crime.

"In order to be criminally responsible there needs to be a marriage between the physical elements and the mental elements," he said.

Dr Lowndes found that Kidd - who was on his first LSD trip and couldn't remember attacking June Moffatt in her front yard - was not in his right mind.

Ms Moffatt, 52, said she fears this will become a precedent for future offenders to escape prosecution.

"So let me get this straight! You can get off your face on any drug or drink and cause grief to any one without any worries of prosecution? What has happened to our justice system?"
Concerned citisen

"It's opened Pandora's box," she said. She said her attacker took the acid of his own free will and should have to take responsibility for what happened.

On November 26, 2010, Ms Moffatt was punched in the head at least three times before being picked up and thrown to the ground where she lost consciousness.

The violent attack was sparked by Ms Moffatt's threats to call police if Kidd did not leave the front yard of her Millner home. "He had enough wits about him to react when I said the word cops," she said.

Prosecutor Sam Burke said: "His behaviour went from extremely violent and agitated to confused, apologetic and scared.

"He hit her deliberately, in response to her words, hard, and it was undoubtedly intentional."

But Dr Lowndes said Kidd had to "foresee" the possible consequences of his conduct to be criminally responsible - but couldn't when experimenting with drugs for the first time.

He said Kidd would not have known the drugs would "predispose him to violent behaviour".

Ms Moffatt said she was "devastated' the charges were thrown out of court simply because her attacker was oblivious to his crime.