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December 12, 2005

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The amount of rights that have been taken from the people in the name of the drug war is simply astounding. The police have an immense amount of power at their disposal to find out what is in your pocket. But at least it's been worth it as drugs are now virtually impossible to find.

Thanks for the post Sebastian. This case represents the kind of ground swell the blogosphere can initiate. This one definitely does not pass the smell test. One would think that these days, whenever the 'these days' era began, "you're in a heap of trouble, boy" justice can officially be declared dead. And yes, Kermit, most of our government sponsored (funded) 'war ons' appear to be destined to fail - poverty, drugs, teen pregnancy.

I hadn't heard anything about this, so thanks for blogging about it, Seb. Prentiss is about an hour and a half from my hometown, and the war on drugs is largely waged on blacks and, to a lesser extent, on poor whites. At least three people I went to high school with have been sentenced for various crimes and the general rule is that they are those who aren't very well connected. Also, the statistics for Mississipi are here. Note the emphasis on crack cocaine and the de-emphasis of meth, despite the fact that it is a huge problem in Mississippi. A further measure of the uneven enforcement is the fact that Tennessee, in 2004, seized 889 meth labs, and Arkansas (with a similar total population), seized 564, and in Missouri seized 1049 (down from 2, 857!), yet in Mississippi in the same year, only 170 were seized.

It is also worth noting that Balko is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, demonstrating that there are some natural areas of alliance between liberals and libertarians. Unfortunately, a number of conservative blogs that have picked this up seem intent on complaining about support for commuting Tookie Williams' death sentence rather than try to mobilize opinion about Cory Maye. Sebastian is to be commended for not succumbing to it (the lead-in mentioning it is just great example of grabbing the reader's attention imho)

I agree with Sebastian in many ways here. I honestly don't have a moral problem with the death penalty, or with torture. I don't think that a day has gone by for months without me reading something in the newspaper which would cause me to unhesitatingly sentence somebody to death, if I were a dictator.

The problem is that 90% of those people I'd happily put to death are in positions of power.

I don't have any moral qualms about the death penalty as a concept. It may make me seem callous or monstrous to some, but I don't think there is anything wrong with some vicious murderers being punished by losing their own lives. That said, it is important to realize the extreme nature of the punishment. It must only be employed when you are as certain as is humanly possible that it is deserved. Certain cases ought to be looked at very carefully.

I can sympathize, while disagreeing with, SH on this -- I'm in a very similar philosophical position, which leads me to what I understand is a very different political position.

I'm not categorically opposed to the death penalty, largely because when I think of being wrongfully convicted, I think that I would rather be executed than imprisoned for life.

However, in the legal regime in which our current death penalty exists, the safeguards around the death penalty are so stringent that pretty much any defendant who had competent representation will not be sentenced to death. When you know that a defendant is under sentence of death in America, you may not be certain that he is guity of the crime charged, but you can be far more certain that, innocent or guilty, he was poorly represented.

So Cory Mayes looks as though he's been the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice; I don't think that makes him all that unusual among those under sentence of death.

What's truly amazing is that this case ever made it to jury. If there was ever an encyclopedia entry for justified self-defense against illegal entry, this case ought to be the example.

And whether the guy actually had a "trace" amount of drugs on him: completely irrelevant.

And what Slart said.

I am against the death penalty because of the possiblility of wrongful conviction. Wrongful execution is a risk that I do not believe a society should accept. However, as a cost cutting measure, maybe those imprisoned for life could request the death penalty. I would not be against that. Would that then be assisted suicide?

On another related note,if everyone were forced to be represented by court appointed lawyers I would bet that a lot of the people clamoring for harsher punishments for crimes would change their tune real quick.

While I agree that there are people who richly deserve the death penalty and crimes for which death is a just response, I no longer support the death penalty. The reason is simple but sad. I nolonger trust our government to make even a good faith effort to insure that only the guilty are executed.

I think I started leaning away from the death penalty for more pedestrian reasons: it costs far more to even try to kill someone than it does to keep them in prison for life. You couldn't call that objection, though.

I'm against the death penalty, philosophically. However, I can imagine being convinced that I'm wrong on that one, and I haven't really spent a lot of time working out the details in my mind, because several other things seem to me much, much clearer:

(a) In our current legal system, in which incompetent representation for people who can't afford their own lawyers is an obvious reality, we can have no confidence whatsoever that people who are sentenced are actually guilty. The philosophical arguments would kick in only if we had such confidence; in its absence, it seems to me obvious that the death penalty is wrong.

(b) The horrible state of our prisons confounds the question of the death penalty for the guilty (as I said above, I don't think there's a question whether we should be executing the innocent.) I do not have a problem with prisons being spartan and unpleasant, in some non-torture, non-temperatures that no one could stand to live in, etc. way. Prisons are there in part to punish people, and I am fine with punishing the guilty.

What bothers me is that they are unpleasant in ways that are not connected to the state's infliction of punishment. They are lawless, which means that you can get raped or killed there, but also that you can get drugs in prison -- undercutting what one might have thought of as a good side effect of incarceration, namely forced withdrawal from addictive drugs. They are inhumane. And they might as well have been designed to maximize the odds that a given prisoner will violate the law again, by giving him the chance to form new gang ties, etc., while minimizing any possibility of his using a prison sentence to turn his life around.

And that's just nuts.

And it complicates discussion of the death penalty, since life in prison is the normal alternative. If that alternative were not itself all screwed up, things might be clearer.

Here's what happens when you read posts before the coffee is brewed: I read Sebastian's title to be "Transvestites of the Death Penalty and the Drug War". Now that would have been a topic!

On the death penalty, I've softened on it over the years. I'm actually leaning toward Bill O'Reilly's solution of hard labor for life in lieu of death.

I should also say: I think the best way to think about the death penalty is not to ask: does a person convicted of (e.g.) a horrific murder have any grounds for complaint? Can he, with a straight face, say: hey, you shouldn't kill people? (No, he can't.)

It's: is this something we, as a nation, want to be in the business of doing? -- It's like torture in this respect. My opposition to torture has nothing whatsoever to do with whether Osama bin Laden could protest, and everything to do with the effects on us as a nation.

(I have found, when teaching this, that a good way to get this point across, when one of my students cites 'an eye for an eye', is to ask whether that student would support having the government employ people to rape rapists. Generally, students' immediate reaction is: no, that would be horrible. Why? I ask. Does the rapist have grounds for complaint? Aren't we just doing to him what he did to someone else? Yes, the students reply, but the point is that raping someone, however guilty, is WRONG. And paying someone to be the official raper of rapists would be a horrible thing to do to that person.

Right, I say. Now consider that this is exactly the same argument that motivates opponents of the death penalty (those who oppose it in general, not just because we can't seem to prevent innocent people from being sentenced.) It's not about thinking that we should be nice to murderers, or that they deserve better from us, or something. It's about thinking that it is wrong for the state to be in the business of killing people. And you might think that killing people is not analogous to raping them in some way, but recognize that this, not 'be nice to Jeffrey Dahmer', is what people are arguing.

Hilzoy -- it's not exactly the ssme thing but I see with some regularity, people expressing satisfaction that some particular criminal has been convicted and will be sent to prison where he will likely be raped. (Particularly I see this when the criminal is a child molestor, but not only then.) So this seems to me a point against the notion that we would never think of rape as an appropriate instrument of punishment for a rapist.

Not meaning to bog down the philosophical and moral discussion here with strategy, I have to deplore the fact that Stanley "Tookie" Williams is the cause celebré against the death penalty, and not Cory Maye. This speaks to the complete incompetence of anti-death penalty activists. Cory Maye may have been found guilty by the court, but I dare say nearly everyone would believe he has committed no crime were they familiar with the case.

It's my understanding that support for the death penalty is eroding in the U.S. which is promising. But it's not going to happen fast enough when Williams is the poster boy. Heck, I wonder if he isn't setting progress back.

Thanks, Sebastian, for bringing this case to our attention - I had already read Radley Balko's blogposts on the case of Cory Maye - but the more light shone on this incident ("travesty of justice" doesn't begin to describe my feelings about it) the better.
However much as I agree with you (110%), I find it odd that you don't mention the racial subtext to this case: the raid took place in a small town in Mississippi; Cory Maye is black; his "victim" (and, AFAICT, all the police involved) was white, as was the entire jury that convicted and sentenced him to death. Oh, and his attorney, well-intentioned as she may have been, had never, IIRC, defended in a capital case.
Now I know that there are many "conservatives" out there (blogging or not) who bristle at any suggestion of the "race card" or the notion that there may be ANY vestiges of racial prejudice left in this country (even/especially in its law-enforcement sector) - but in reading the accounts of the Cory Maye case, I was struck by the idea that you could replace the "2000s" in the reports with the "1950s" and the context would look entirely appropriate: Jim Crow justice in the small-town South. That, IMO, is just plain sad.
I am, myself, fairly indifferent as regards the capital punishment, but reading about cases like Cory Maye's is enough to push me firmly into the "anti" camp. That this man should lose his life for, essentially, defending his family, is an outrage: I can only applaud those who bring to light.

I have no problem with the death penalty in general, but the death penalty in this case strikes me as very troublesome.

The death penalty is troublesome? What about the conviction?

Why in the world are we talking about whether the death penalty is appropriate in this case. Why is Maye guilty of anything at all?

And so what if the police announced themselves before breaking in? What law of science prevents any intruder from claiming to be police?

And by the way, is anyone surprised that Maye is black, Jones was white, and the jury was white? Perhaps there are some other issues worth discussing here.

JayC, I failed to mention it because it was after midnight when I wrote post and it the racial issue isn't what makes this an injustice (at least not directly). But insofar as it is important Maye is black and Jones was the white son of the police chief (both facts contributing to the conviction in my estimation). It is not known at this time, however that all of the jurors were white. See here.

As far as drug policy goes, white people have been inappropriately charged with and convicted of murder in similar situations. While race colors many issues (especially in Mississippi and pun only half-intended) but I think the no-knock and limited announce policies of many police departments is the real culprit here. They aren't appropriate techniques for the drug war. (This estimation is no doubt colored by my belief that the drug war is on balance not worth it, so obviously the seriously questionable parts won't be worth it.)

Bernard Yomtov, I believe that the conviction in general is deeply suspect. This leads to the interesting idea that if innocent, I would rather be sentenced to death than sentenced to life in prison. The chances of someone noticing the errors in my case are much greater if sentenced to death. But even if Maye were found to have some degree of culpability (manslaughter, reckless indifference, whatever lowe degree of homicide they have in Mississippi) he is certainly not culpable to the level of capital punishment.

the racial issue isn't what makes this an injustice (at least not directly)....As far as drug policy goes, white people have been inappropriately charged with and convicted of murder in similar situations.

If you have a death penalty case at hand, I'd love to know the citation. Thanks.

Right, SH: thanks: I had read a number of Balko's posts about the Cory Maye case, but NOT this one. The meme of the "all-white jury" has been a constant in all the blogosphere accounts I have read so far (MANY bloggers have picked up on the story, and all seem to have linked to The Agitator as the source). I guess it is an unavoidable problem in the nature of the Internet: information and discussion on virtually any issue or incident can get around to more people more completely, and faster, than ever before: but ther is still no guarantee that the info will be correct!
And FWIW, I agree that the current "accepted" procedures in this country's misguided "War on Drugs" are principally to blame for situations like Cory Maye's: it's just that the racial aspect is magnified in this particular case.

I predict that the USA PATRIOT act will be used in a drug case within two years. The drug war has steadily eroded civil liberties to an extraordinary extent, and will continue to do so as long as politicians can use it to whip up hysteria for votes (and to distract voters from their shenanigans) and police departments can use it to build up their budgets. The problem is that the real destructiveness of drug abuse is greatly exacerbated by their illegality, and the illegality is ensured by the puritanical streak that runs through USAmerican culture.

While against the death penalty in all cases, I have to note that I too was roused from my bed at night by a plainclothed police officer in a mistaken drug raid. I too lived in a bad neighborhood.

I did not, however, shoot the man, and the notion would not have ever entered my mind, even if I had owned a gun.

I don't understand the obsession that seems pervasive south of y=the Canadian border that any stranger entering your home deserves a death sentence in the form of a bullet. Even if they're there to rip off your stuff, killing them seems somewhat extreme.

They might be there to rape your daughter?

Or they might be there to tell you you've won the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes.

What doubleplusungood said.

I predict that the USA PATRIOT act will be used in a drug case within two years.

It already is

Even if they're there to rip off your stuff, killing them seems somewhat extreme.

Breaking into your house is an inherently physically threatening act in a way something like pickpocketing and shoplifting aren't.

Even if they're there to rip off your stuff, killing them seems somewhat extreme.

I'm more or less pro-choice in this regard: if people break into your home in the dead of night, I support the right to choose to place largeish-diameter holes in them so as to avoid the possibility of them placing largeish-diameter holes in you and your family.

But it being a matter of choice, I wouldn't make such reaction compulsory.

They might be there to rape your daughter?

This ties in with Amanda's latest post in an interesting way.

RE: Amanda's post

Yes being raped in your home at night is a low frequency event (thank God).

However, I suspect the frequency of rape in the limited subset of times when someone has forced his way into your house at night is much higher. It is much like the fact that while it is statistically improbable that you will be killed by a bullet, it is much more probable that you will be killed by a bullet if someone is shooting in your direction. The worry about that is enough to cause many people to support gun control, so I wouldn't be too hard on the people who use the worry about rape after their house has been broken into as a reason to want to have a gun.

Odd, I took Amanda's post to imply that my wife ought to divorce me so as to decrease her chances of getting raped:

But blah blah you should know by now that most women are raped by someone they know. Which, if you think about it, means that having a man around to protect you from raped probably escalates the chances of it happening, but no one is actually going to caution women not to have male friends and family about her.

Now, if there are some actual statistics to back up this conclusion, I take it all back, and wonder why women are insane enough to allow men near them at all.

I took Amanda's post to imply that my wife ought to divorce me

Then you clearly didn't read the full post (it was long, I know), as she expelicitly says she does not believe this.

Now, if there are some actual statistics to back up this conclusion, I take it all back

Take all what back? Statistics showing that women are raped more frequently by acquaintances than by strangers are hardly in short supply -- are you doubting their existence, or just complaining that Amanda does not supply any in this post?

Now, if there are some actual statistics to back up this conclusion

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Slarti: some of us have the odd belief that not all men are rapists, and that if we think very, very hard, we can come up with something resembling an informed opinion about whether some particular man is likely to be helpful or harmful, rape-wise.

;)

Then you clearly didn't read the full post (it was long, I know), as she expelicitly says she does not believe this.

No, she concludes exactly that: that the risk of rape is increased, but acceptable as a tradeoff, around men:

It's assumed to be worth the risk of rape for women to date and socialize with men. It's assumed to be worth the risk of domestic violence for women to get into relationships. I think that both these are true--you have to suck it up and take those risks or else live a shadow of the life you want. But what we as a society don't deem worth the much smaller risk of rape is women doing things like going about without male protection, because society doesn't see any benefits to that.

-

Statistics showing that women are raped more frequently by acquaintances than by strangers are hardly in short supply -- are you doubting their existence, or just complaining that Amanda does not supply any in this post?

Now it is you that's failing to understand: the statistic that a woman is more likely to be raped by someone she knows does not imply that a woman will be less likely to be raped if she simply chooses to, say, divorce. It may very well be true, but it's not something that automatically follows.

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Asked, and not delivered. See above.

Slarti: some of us have the odd belief that not all men are rapists, and that if we think very, very hard, we can come up with something resembling an informed opinion about whether some particular man is likely to be helpful or harmful, rape-wise.

Thanks for the benefit of the doubt, hilzoy. But just to be safe, it's better to avoid us all. Otherwise, it's one a them there tradeoffs.

8)

And once again none of this really speaks to the case of your house being broken into. Let us posit (and I believe it is true) that not only are rapes fairly infrequent, but that stranger rapes are even more infrequent. Even given that, I'm nearly certain that they are dramatically more likely when you look at the subset of people who have had their occupied houses broken into in the middle of the night. And by "dramatically more" I mean much more than your chances of heart attack increase if you take Vioxx. Likewise, your chance of being murdered may be pretty low if taken in a vacuum--especially since very few people find themselves in a vacuum. But your chance of being murdered if you are in the subset of people who have had their occupied homes broken into at night is dramatically greater.

FWIW: "In 1994, women separated from their spouses had a victimization rate 1 1/2 times higher than separated men, divorced men, or divorced women. Source: "Sex Differences in Violent Victimization", 1994, U.S. Department of Justice, September, 1997."

I think people are watching too much TV. Or believing too much TV.

My home has been broken into three time, and mistakenly raided by the police once. In none of those cases was it necessary to kill people, and I'd argue that most people's chances of being hurt by an intruder as tiny. Certainly not high enouigh to shoot an intruder.

As per the "rape your daughter" theory, I'd suggest that if shooting intruders on the faint chance that they are there to hurt you or a loved one, rather than simply steal some stuff and leave, is an effective deterrent, then one need only compare the rape statistics between Canada, where we have about 500 licensed handguns, and the US, which has what, millions?

A home invasion at night is a wildly unpredictable and dangerous situation, and certainly SH is right - the percentage of home invasions that include rape is a more relevant stat here, not the total percentage of women who are the victim of rape.

Presuming, of course, that you believe the possibility that "they might be there to rape your daughter" is enough reason for you to shoot and kill someone without knowing for sure what they want. I imagine for d-p-u it isn't. For lots of people, it is. And, even in the least permissive castle doctrine states, the law sides with the latter - someone breaks into your house at night, and corners you in your bedroom, with no clear escape route, you can shoot 'em.

Of course, I'm in DC, and couldn't keep a gun in the house even if I wanted to.

Also speaking from a Canuckistani POV, the potential usefulness of having a gun in your house to thwart an instance of the numerically small occasions of violent intrusions are far outweighed by the potential of inadvertent tragedy.

You are far better off spending your money on secure locks, etc.

In 1994, women separated from their spouses had a victimization rate 1 1/2 times higher than separated men, divorced men, or divorced women.

What that has to say about the probability of being raped for married women as compared to the probability for being raped for divorced women, I have no idea.

What it said to me was women undergoing a divorce have a substantially higher chance of being raped.

You are far better off spending your money on secure locks, etc.

Home invasion artists can find a way in, unless you bar your windows, etc. For a while there was a gang operating here in Central Florida that was literally punching in through the exterior wall. See, there are quite a few homes here made of stucco over wood-frame. Mine is concrete-block, but if someone wanted to run a quick loot-and-scoot, even the alarm system wouldn't prevent that at, say, 3am. It does take a few minutes for the law to show, and minutes is all they need, depending on what they're after and how little they have to lose.

What it said to me was women undergoing a divorce have a substantially higher chance of being raped.

Which would be a great data point to use against anything at all that I might have had to say about that particular scenario, granted.

By the way, if my wife ever voiced the opinion that she'd be safer without me, I think I'd probably volunteer to leave. Without raping her, even.

Then you clearly didn't read the full post (it was long, I know), as she expelicitly says she does not believe this.

No, she concludes exactly that: that the risk of rape is increased, but acceptable as a tradeoff, around men

You said: "then my wife should divorce me". I said: "Amanda explicitly says she does not believe this". You come back with confirmation that Amanda does not believe your wife should divorce you.

Nevertheless, I think it's money better spent.

Unless, of course, you have statistics that say guns are more effective than, say, bars on windows.

Presuming, of course, that you believe the possibility that "they might be there to rape your daughter" is enough reason for you to shoot and kill someone without knowing for sure what they want. I imagine for d-p-u it isn't. For lots of people, it is.

And if someone starts shooting swarthy types in the street because they think that having reason to fear them as potential terrorists?

Being overly worried about the possibility of a crime to the point where deadly force is used merely on the chance that it is accurate could mean simply that you get too much of your information about crime from televisionland, and leads to things like shooting and killing Japanese exchange students who knock on your door by mistake. Or shooting police officers.

Hilzoy: It's about thinking that it is wrong for the state to be in the business of killing people.

But where does this line of argument end? Is it not horrible to lock people up for the rest of their lives? Is that something the State wants to be in the business of doing?

I haven't been able to be philosophically (as opposed to pragmatically) opposed to the death penalty. With people who commit some really shocking, how-could-anyone-do-that murders, I think execution if anything shows them a little more respect than lifetime incarceration.

You come back with confirmation that Amanda does not believe your wife should divorce you.

What Amanda believes is not relevant; what she's concluding from the statistics is. But let's expand my initial sentence just a tidge to put us all on the same page, ok?

I took Amanda's post to imply that my wife ought to divorce me if she wanted to lower her odds of being raped.

Spartikus: Also speaking from a Canuckistani POV, the potential usefulness of having a gun in your house to thwart an instance of the numerically small occasions of violent intrusions are far outweighed by the potential of inadvertent tragedy.

You are far better off spending your money on secure locks, etc.

This is purely for you and other Vancouverites, Spartikus. About twenty years or so ago, when I lived in the Downtown Eastside, my wife and I were watching TV one night when the unbolted door opened and a man walked in on us unexpectedly. As it turns out, he was visiting his girlfriend who lives in the same building, and had got off on the wrong floor.

If I had a gun and a similiar mentality to intruders as some displayed above, that night I would have shot and possibly killed Jim Green.

Amanda didn't bring up the act of divorce. She merely referred to the company of men in general.

A woman could pretty much eliminate the possibility of rape if she lived on a deserted island.

No, I don't have any statistics on that. Call it an educated guess.

Canadians obviously have no respect for the sacred space of home, as my Canadian roommate's example (some years back) showed:

Our neighbor mentioned to T. that T. should come over sometime & watch a ball game. One night, the TV-less T. thought "hey, I'll take him up on that," went next door where a group was gathered to watch the game, walked in, greeted everyone, & sat down to watch with them.

After a while of his usual, very vocal participation in the game-watching, T. notices that the others are rather quiet. It then sinks in that the guy who invited him is not, in fact, present, and that none of these people has any idea who T. is. (It was the inviting guy's roommate and his friends.)

--Okay, irrelevant, but a story I enjoy telling.

Kudo's for the post Sebastian. May I belatedly join the chorus and tell you that I'm glad you start posting again?

I agree with Hilzoy about the state not being in the business of killing. But apart from that it is a well known fact that innocents get convicted. In 2003 73% of Americans believed an innocent person has been executed under the death penalty in the last five years.

Life imprisonment without parole is rather harsh too IMHO, and I was rather shocked to learn that the US has quite a number of children who are convicted to life imprisonment without a change to ever get out.

But regardless of the precise age at which they entered prison, all have faced the same conditions as the older adults with whom they live: gangs, sexual predators, extortion, and violence. They also confront special hardships inherent in their sentence. Although it may take time to fully register in a child´s mind, the sentence sends an unequivocal message to children that they are banished from society forever. Youth are told that they will die in prison and are left to wrestle with the anger and emotional turmoil of coming to grips with that fact. They are denied educational, vocational, and other programs to develop their minds and skills because access to those programs is typically restricted to prisoners who will someday be released, and for whom rehabilitation therefore remains a goal. Not surprisingly, child offenders sentenced to life without parole believe that U.S. society has thrown them away. As one young man told a researcher for this report, "Seems like. . .since we´re sentenced to life in prison, society says, 'Well, we locked them up, they are disposed of, removed."

"And if someone starts shooting swarthy types in the street because they think that having reason to fear them as potential terrorists?

Being overly worried about the possibility of a crime to the point where deadly force is used merely on the chance that it is accurate could mean simply that you get too much of your information about crime from televisionland, and leads to things like shooting and killing Japanese exchange students who knock on your door by mistake. Or shooting police officers."

The problem with this reductio is that it isn't very similar to the case where someone breaks in through your locked doors in the middle of the night. They aren't often non-criminal Japanese exchange students. I honestly don't have the slightest problem presuming that someone who broke into my house in the middle of the night isn't there just to tell me that I won the lottery.

And even if we presumed that law-abiding people shouldn't be shooting at intruders because they might be the police or might mean no very serious harm, these type of searches are still very dangerous to innocent people caught up in them. The police still expect that criminals might have guns, setting up a high pressure decision about whether or not Bob (criminal or perhaps accidental victim of an address number transposition) is reaching for a gun or his spectacles as he gropes around his nightstand amid the screaming.

The problem with this reductio is that it isn't very similar to the case where someone breaks in through your locked doors in the middle of the night. They aren't often non-criminal Japanese exchange students. I honestly don't have the slightest problem presuming that someone who broke into my house in the middle of the night isn't there just to tell me that I won the lottery.

I would argue that you, depending on neighborhood, have a far greater chance of being woken in the middle of teh night by a police officer than by a criminal. It would then behoove you to not shoot them, as you anticipate with your following paragraph.

As you say, being raided at night by the police puts you in great danger. So you are either saying that one should shoot the police if they raid your home unexpectedly, or that police should not have the right to raid your house in the middle of the night without calling first.

Having had that happen to me, and being of an anti-authoritarian bent, I tend to agree. Unfortunately, however, catching criminals unaware before they have had a chance to flush their drugs, load their guns, or hide their bombs probably requires that the police to raid at night and not knock first.

d-p-u,

Isn't there a difference between someone walking in calmly after opening an unlocked door at a time when the residents are awake and breaking in loudly and aggressively at 3 AM?

Perhaps the latter circumstance does not lend itself to calm reflection as to the best course of action.

I would argue that you, depending on neighborhood, have a far greater chance of being woken in the middle of teh night by a police officer than by a criminal.

Dunno about your country, but down here, police are supposed to have a warrant first. The courtesy of knocking, sadly, has gone by the wayside to some extent. I'm not so much worried about being woken up, though, as about having my door broken down.

So...can I ask exactly how the cops came to break in on you? Is this commonplace where you live?

And to answer a question upthread, window bars were much less deadly and readily at hand as firearms, for the purpose of subduing intruders, in eleven out of twelve clinical tests.

Plus, where I live, bars are not allowed (at least, not where the neighbors can see them). This may change if the crime rate pops up, though.

and breaking in loudly and aggressively at 3 AM?

If they're breaking in "loudly and aggressively" then they aren't very good criminals.

The successful use of a gun in thwarting a 3am home invasion requires a long line of things to happen:

1. You have to wake up.
2. You have to have the wits to realize what's going on.
3. You have to have the gun nearby.
4. If you are a responsible parent, you will have placed the gun in a secured place [ie. locked cabinet] or secured manner.
5. You are a better shot than the intruder.

The vast majority of property crime is crime of opportunity. An open window, an unlocked door, etc. I still say your money is better spent on a good deadbolt.

As for Jim Green, methinks those that love their guns would have loved it if you had in fact shot our draft-dodging former city councillor and recent mayoral candidate.

Slarti: Dunno about your country, but down here, police are supposed to have a warrant first.

Same here.

Slarti: So...can I ask exactly how the cops came to break in on you? Is this commonplace where you live?

No, it was years ago, and a resident of the house next door, which was identical to ours, was dealing dope out of the basement, we think. The police just had the wrong house.

They did discover an ancient mummified joint in the back of a bedroom drawer, and said they didn't care, they were looking for bales.

And as I've said, I've been broken into three times in my life, twice when I was alseep in the house. They just grabbed what was around and took off. Junkies, probably. A nuisance, but nothing more.

Bernard: Isn't there a difference between someone walking in calmly after opening an unlocked door at a time when the residents are awake and breaking in loudly and aggressively at 3 AM?

Perhaps the latter circumstance does not lend itself to calm reflection as to the best course of action.

An excellent reason to not have lethal weapons in the house. Avoids the trial and sentencing when you shoot and kill a police officer.

As for Jim Green, methinks those that love their guns would have loved it if you had in fact shot our draft-dodging former city councillor and recent mayoral candidate.

Indeed, although those who know him know that being shot would probably just get him mad.

Unfortunately, however, catching criminals unaware before they have had a chance to flush their drugs, load their guns, or hide their bombs probably requires that the police to raid at night and not knock first.

Okay, to this I can speak, a little bit.

In America, you don't need a warrant if there exist "exigent circumstances." One classic example being the officer who gets a domestic disturbance report, knocks, and hears someone yell "Help, he's killing me!" The officer can enter without a warrant.

There's been a push by some to have drug cases defined as "exigent circumstances" for the reasons that DPU outlines. The courts have generally refused:

A mere possibility that evidence will be destroyed . . . is not enough. Otherwise the requirement of a warrant would have little meaning in the investigation of drug crimes.
United States v. Salgado, 807 F.2d 603, 609 (7th Cir. 1986) (quoted in United States v. Santa, 236 F.3d 662, 670-71 (11th Cir. 2000)). (Talk about your War on Christmas!)

Now, I haven't researched the knock issue as opposed to the warrant issue, but similar arguments should apply. (I looked up those cases back when I was clerking at the Miss. supreme ct. and someone was trying to abolish the 4th Amendment in drug cases.)

Why are warrants an issue? Surely the police officer in question would have been shot with or without a warrant?

It's not just the warrant: you're supposed to identify yourself as police. Probably this could be used by people doing a quick break-and-enter, but in the case of Maye it wasn't.

Would self-identification have kept everyone alive? I have no idea.

Funnily enough, the headline story in today's Vancouver Province is about the VPD's - that beleaguered police force of "North America's property-crime capital" - new anti-theft campaign. They don't recommend packing heat.

D-p-u and Spartikus,

Please reread my comments. I am discussing the Maye case, not the wisdom or utility of having a gun in the house.

As to whether people who break in loudly and aggressively are "good criminals" or not, I fail to see the relevance of the issue. There are many inept criminals in the world. Only a small percentage, as I understand it, have passed their exams and been duly certified. Most are amateurs, especially those who break into occupied homes.

As to whether people who break in loudly and aggressively are "good criminals" or not, I fail to see the relevance of the issue. There are many inept criminals in the world. Only a small percentage, as I understand it, have passed their exams and been duly certified. Most are amateurs, especially those who break into occupied homes.

I think that the point being made was that you are less likely to have thieves loudly breaking into the house late at night than you are police.

Assuming that this is true, then you need to do a cost/benefit analysis on whether it's a good bet to shoot them, taking into consideration the odds on whether or not criminals loudly breaking into your house are likely to cause you or your loved ones harm. In the event that the intruder is actually a criminal, then you, then you need to alspo consider the risk that that you either miss or that there are more than one of them. In these cases your odds of not being hurt as a reaction to shooting at the intruders seems fairly low, especially if the intruders are similarily armed.

As shooting a police officer in the United States seems to have a high negative value, and that the odds of shooting a cop when firing at late-night intruders are fairly substantial, and that you may be killed even if the intruders are criminals, then I would argue that shooting at intruders is a poor bet.

Please reread my comments. I am discussing the Maye case, not the wisdom or utility of having a gun in the house.

Your comment indicated that people are not able to make calm judgement in the case of being awoken late at night by a loud intrusion. My point was that if this was the case, then having access to dangerous weapons in that state of mind would not be a good thing.

That to me seems a fair comment, even if you consider it not relevant to the point you were making.

As to whether people who break in loudly and aggressively are "good criminals" or not, I fail to see the relevance of the issue.

It's not particularily relevant to the specific case, no.

"However, in the legal regime in which our current death penalty exists, the safeguards around the death penalty are so stringent that pretty much any defendant who had competent representation will not be sentenced to death. "

Wasn't a defense lawyer sleeping during a trial ruled insufficient grounds for overturning a conviction and death sentence?Now, this was in Texas, but that's technically still part of the USA, so I'll use it.

And also, again IIRC, Scalia once commented that innocence was not grounds for suspending a death sentence. Which words I sincerely hope that he hears Satan say, just before stuffing his soul into an infernal pocket, and taking it to H*ll.

Wasn't a defense lawyer sleeping during a trial ruled insufficient grounds for overturning a conviction and death sentence?Now, this was in Texas, but that's technically still part of the USA, so I'll use it.

Yes. Talk about "defining deviancy down." And one of the judges who so ruled was Edith Jones, a conservative favorite for the Supreme Court.

Good post, Sebastian.

Wasn't a defense lawyer sleeping during a trial ruled insufficient grounds for overturning a conviction and death sentence?

N.b. that the 5th Circuit en banc reversed Jones on that, btw.

As for Scalia on innocence, I can't lay hands on my Montaigne, but he reports judges with the same attitude in "Of Experience." That's an originalist for you: the mistakes of past centuries, carefully preserved and handed down.

In the unlikely event that anyone's curious, here's Montaigne on what happened when, some accused murderers having been convicted & the death penalty agreed upon by the judges, word comes from another court that different men have confessed to the crime:

[The judges] deliberate whether because of this they should interrupt and defer the execution of the sentence passed upon the first accused. They consider the novelty of the case and the precedent it would set in suspending the execution of sentences; that the sentence has been passed according to law, and that the judges have no right to change their minds. In short, these poor devils are sacrificed to the forms of justice.... How many condemnations I have seen more criminal than the crime!

Whether or not to execute Tookie Williams is ... wait, he's recently dead. Never mind.

The interesting thing about the Williams case is that the "rehabilitative" function of incarceration seems to have worked. But now we've lost the evidence. A win-win situation for the media/internet death penalty and/or lockemupthrowawaythekey salivators (not referring to the victims' families) and tough guys, none of whom show up here, which puts a crimp in my argumentative skill levels, by which I mean it raises them.

Of course, Williams may have changed his ways BECAUSE of the death penalty, but that would only be an argument for imposing the death penalty for all crimes and then NOT carrying it out, given the success of its rehabilitative qualities.

The Cory Maye case, given what we know, is absurd. A jail sentence would have no rehabilitative aspects given that he has nothing to rehabilitate from. The death penalty would of course require a death penalty for the justice system.

Maybe he could be imprisoned, learn how to use and sell drugs, have some nasty sex, and get a great course in embitterment, and then be released. He could then be gunned down by the police in his own home for good cause.

Result: Death penalty tough guys win. (the ones on T.V. as opposed to actual tough guys) Tough guy anti-criminal, anti-drug advocates win. Prison conditions continue to be ignored.

Perhaps Maye can get the NRA on his side. Some vicious anti-government advertising would do. Wayne Lapierre hitting the airwaves letting us know that wasting a cop coming through the door is something we should aspire to would enliven all kinds of cross fertilizing debates. Or is that too rich even for his bloodless blood? The coward.

Oh, that's right, the squirrel-eating guitarist Ted Nugent from Michigan doesn't like drugs either.

Never mind.

Let me restate Cobb: “Every man's death diminishes me, but for Tookie, more so than most.”

For the Christians, Matthew 25:

[37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
[38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
[39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
[40] And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

And from the antichrist:

“All in all, punishment hardens and renders people more insensible; it concentrates; it increases the feeling of estrangement; it strengthens the power of resistance.”

“But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!”

And Nietzsche’s bit about the strength of a state or society being proportional to its ability to withstand crime.

Home invasion artists can find a way in, unless you bar your windows, etc.

And someone who's entering your house bound and determined to rape you/your wife/your dog is almost certainly going to succeed irrespective of the defenses you employ. [I'm always put in mind of a kitschy musical called SWAT rapists!; no idea why.] The simple fact is that at most economic levels (and with present technology) offense will beat defense almost every time, assuming a reasonable amount of dedication on both sides. That's the problem with the "Ruthless Psychopath" scenario; a madman like that isn't going to be deterred by a gun, and he's a hell of a lot more likely to kill you than you are he, even if you're both armed, for the simple fact that he is a madman.

There are plenty of exceptions to this rule, of course, but my personal observations have been that the people who most ardently cling to the romanticized notion of killing an interloper in self-defense are the ones who are least likely to actually do anything effective in such a time of crisis. Chalk it up to yet another example of the societal deterioration caused by crappy Hollywood movies.

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Whatnot


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