Tuesday, August 01, 2006

News of the Day 8-1-06

Via Reuters today, we find a cite of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story that a MO doctor who oversaw "dozens of Missouri executions" has been sued more than 20 times, banned from 2 state hospitals, and publicly reprimanded by the state Board of Healing Arts. Although the MO Attorney General knew of the reprimand, the state DOC continued to use his services and initially tried to keep his ID secret in a court appeal by a death row inmate claiming cruelty of drug executions. Turns out the doctor is dyslexic and tends to get the numbers on the dosages mixed up. Not sure if the case will prevent the guy's execution, but look for it to be cited again and again by those who believe the death penalty cannot be faithfully executed. So to speak . . . . An NPR report features efforts by the TX Attorney General to get LA to issue warrants for felons who took off to TX during Hurricane Katrina, claiming TX took in hundreds. As we also hear reports of hurricane season again taking off, this should probably be done sooner than later, but I'm foreseeing difficulties . . . . In CA, a federal judge has ordered Gov. Schwarzenegger to ask the state legislature for funds to hire hundreds of mental health workers for the state's prison system. This comes after other federal courts have issued orders involving inmate safety, employee discipline, and inmate health care as well as reforms of the state juvenile justice system. Early estimates are for 500-600 new employees in a state with well-known funding problems. As an aside, we keep hearing rumors that CA may be considering starting a sentencing commission to help to deal with these problems and could be looking for a director. Before you apply, you might want to check out the tenure of the latest DOC secretaries there, as well as their pharmaceutical bills. . . . KS authorities are finding that the state, particularly its I-70/I35 corridors, now sees increased drug trafficking. Last year the Kansas Highway Patrol seized more that 14,000 pounds of marijuana and 1360 pounds of cocaine, along with 94 pounds of meth, 74 pounds of heroin, and $1.4 million in cash. (Now you know what all those weigh stations in Kansas are for.) One police chief said the highways bring traffickers the same way they bring other businesses: "The people who distribute drugs are businessmen, and a lot of the decisions they make are business decisions, just like Lowe's or any other corporation." Can hardly wait for their commercials (feel free to leave suggestions for slogans in the comments below) . . . . An Associated Press analysis found that the 6th Circuit US Court of Appeals blamed ineffective counsel in 13 of 21 (61% of) death sentences it overturned in OH since 1981. Defense counsel say it's easier to blame them than prosecutors, and one judge believes that the emphasis on the problem encourages defense attorneys to be incompetent in order to be more successful on appeal, or something like that. . . . A nice article in the Janesville (WI) Gazette on the effective use of a drug court in La Crosse, explaining the effort while making a subtle pitch for a similar entity in Rock County, where Janesville lies. What's interesting about the La Crosse effort is how the La Crosse Foundation picked up the lost federal funding when the original grant ran out. WI is schizophrenic regarding drug courts, with several counties doing very good work while Milwaukee County, the place with the most need, also has the most entrenched recalcitrance and resistance to innovation. La Crosse shows that the "we don't have the money" excuse can be overcome with imagination and dedication while enjoying a recidivism rate of only 12%.

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