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Report: Just 3% of Drug Defendants in Federal Cases Chose Trial Over Guilty Plea

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A tiny fraction of drug defendants in federal cases chose to go to trial instead of pleading guilty.

A new report from Human Rights Watch indicates that just 3% of defendants charged with drugs choose to go to trial, the Huffington Post reports.

The reason: The excessive penalties for drugs, according to the report.

“Prosecutors can say, ‘Take these 10 years or, if you get a trial and are convicted, you’re going to look at life,’” said Fellner, an attorney who specializes in criminal justice issues at Human Rights Watch. “That’s a pretty amazing power that unfortunately they are more than willing to wield.”

In effect, defendants feel forced to plead guilty in plea agreements to avoid lengthy prison sentence, whether they’re guilty or not.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

ATF Agent Blasts Handling of Botched ‘Fast and Furious’


Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

John Dodson said he’s barely hanging onto his job.

The ATF agent blew the whistle on the botched gun trafficking scheme, “Fast and Furious,” and is the author of “The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle And Expose Fast and Furious.”

Dodson said not enough people were held accountable.

“Nobody’s ever explained where this started from, who thought this was a good idea, and how no one’s been held accountable for it.”

For more on his story, click on the video above.

Case of the “Badly Beaten Bank Robber”

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

This wasn’t your typical bank robber. 

The young man with a busted lip, facial bruises and a swollen eye walked into a Houston Bank wearing no disguises. He pulled out a pistol and demanded money, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The robber escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash. 

Investigators have dubbed him the “Badly Beaten Bank Robber,” the Chronicle wrote.

Supreme Court Case Pits Protesters’ Rights to Be Heard Against Politicians

The Daily Astoria 
Editorial

Can political protests be restricted so that political leaders don’t have to listen?

This is one way of framing the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court when it considers this term whether Secret Service agents were right in ordering protesters to be removed from President George W. Bush’s sight and hearing during a 2004 visit to Jacksonville in southern Oregon.

The other main way to view the matter is whether the Secret Service has unquestionable discretion to ensure the president’s safety by keeping obvious opponents much farther away than they keep obvious supporters.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit – the second-highest level of federal court – was seriously split on this question in a decision released in February. A majority of the 28 judges ruled that a lawsuit can proceed against the agents who required protesters to be moved more than twice as far away from the president than supporters. The Obama administration, supporting the agents, asked Supreme Court justices to consider quashing the lawsuit.

To read more click here.

Justice Department Tackles Wrongful Convictions by Demanding More Investigative Scrutiny

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Justice Department officials are combating wrongful convictions by demanding that law enforcement agencies to a better job scrutinizing eyewitness accounts and police interviews, Medill News Service reports.

It’s impossible to know for sure how many people are wrongfully convicted, but more than 1,100 have been exonerated from 1989 to 2012, according to the National Registry of Exoneration.

The report, issued Tuesday, also calls for investigative reforms to prevent wrongful arrests, the news service wrote.

“At minimum, law enforcement agencies should record audio of all interviews involving major crimes,” the report reads.

Fugitive Drug Lord Complains That U.S. Is Causing ‘Infernal Nightmare’ for His Family

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A fugitive drug lord accused in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of DEA agent  Enrique Camarenais complaining that the U.S. is causing an “infernal nightmare” for his loved ones, McClatchy reports.

Rafael Caro Quintero, who was released from on Aug. 8 prison early on procedural grounds, is appealing to Mexico’s president for help.

Thing is, Quintero is a wanted man in Mexico. Mexico’s Supreme Court reinstated his conviction on Nov. 6.

Now the U.S. is offering a $5 million bounty for his arrest and conviction, McClatchy reported.

Quintero argues in a letter to President Enrique Pena Niet and other government officials that he has been punished enough.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


 

U.S. Senate to Vote Soon on Extending Ban on Guns That Evade Metal Detectors, X-Ray Machines

An ORDbot Quantum 3D printer

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The increasing use of 3-D printers has made it easier for people to make plastic weapons that can evade metal detectors and X-ray machines, the Associated Press reports.

The U.S. House responded by passing a bill that would renew the 25-year-old prohibition against plastic firearms by a decade.

After returning from a two-week Thanksgiving recess Monday, the Senate may vote on the bill that day.

But many gun groups are opposed.

“They’ve just spent all year trying to effectively destroy the gun lobby,” Mike Hammond, legislative counsel of the the conservative Gun Owners of America, said of Democrats. “So why in heaven’s name, given this intransigence, should we give them this Christmas present?”

Column: Santa’s Helper, a Giant Elf, a Cuban Inmate Uprising and the Salvation Army

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.
 
A note from Greg Stejskal: “Despite not having sold the screen rights & in an effort to make this story a Holiday classic, we’re running this story again. Happy Holidays!”

Greg Stejskal

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

This is a Christmas story, but it really began just before Thanksgiving in 1987, at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.

The Cuban inmates had rioted and had taken control of a sizeable portion of the penitentiary. The catalyst for the riots happened years before that in 1980.

The Mariel boatlift, a massive exodus of Cuban refugees from Cuba to the US, had among its refugees, convicted criminals. Fidel Castro had apparently thought the boatlift was an opportune time to decrease his prison over-crowding.

Upon arrival in the US those Cubans who were determined to be criminals were detained and placed in US penitentiaries with no clear plan as to what to do with them in the long term.

This uncertain future led predictably to unrest and ultimately to the prison riots.

When the inmates rioted and took control of part of the Atlanta Penitentiary, they also took some of the staff hostage.

The FBI was tasked with negotiating with the inmates and providing SWAT teams should it become necessary to retake control of the penitentiary by force and rescue the hostages.

SWAT teams from many of the large offices were called to respond to Atlanta. Our Detroit team was one of those teams.

So on a cold, rainy November night, an Air Force C-141, flying a circuit, landed at Detroit Metro Airport to pick up our team. Already on board were teams from Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We arrived in Atlanta early the next morning.

The Atlanta Penitentiary is a foreboding place. It was built in phases beginning in the late 1800s, into the first few decades of the 1900s.

It has 60-foot walls with watch towers on each corner. Upon our arrival we climbed to the top of one of the watch towers and looked down into the prison yard. It looked like a scene from a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” movie.

Inmates were walking around the yard, all carrying homemade weapons: long-knives, swords, etc., made from scrap metal and sharpened on some of the prison machine tools.

After seeing that scene, we all assumed we were going to be in Atlanta for awhile. We knew we would prevail if it came to having to use force. After all they had made the critical tactical mistake of bringing knives to a gun fight. But they had hostages and a large supply of non-perishable food in their control.

The next morning I was walking to the Penitentiary administration building for the shift change briefing when I saw a tent where free coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts were being served. It was the Salvation Army tent. The Salvation Army was there every day of the insurrection including Thanksgiving serving coffee, donuts, smiles and kind words. I’ve been on a lot of SWAT operations, but I had never been offered coffee, donuts or kind words from the neighborhood in which we were operating.

Read more »