As may have already seen, for some incomprehensible reason, all the fireworks at the Port of San Diego, originally scheduled in a multi-site show billed as the BIG BAY BOOM, “one of the largest fireworks shows in the US,” turned into the BIG BAY….Pfffttttt! when all the goodies went off simultaneously Wednesday night, producing a giganzoid fireball, followed by a few whimpers of light….and then nothing.
Dennis Romero at LA Weekly has an amusing take on the big fireworks FAIL.
And the BBB people put this out about 11:25 pm:
Approximately 5 minutes before the show was to start, a signal was sent to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction. There were a number of preliminary test signals sent hours and minutes leading up to the show. All these signals tested properly according to Garden State Fireworks, the fireworks company that provides the show.
The Garden State Fireworks team will be working throughout the night to determine what technical problem caused the entire show to be launched in about 15 seconds.
We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties.
NOTE: @BenBaller, who took the very cool photo at the top of the post, when not going to prematurely exploding fireworks shows, is a part of a company that purveys “high-end jewelry for the Hip Hop community.”
THE MOTHER OF A MURDER VICTIM TALKS ABOUT JUVENILE LWOP
Doug Berman at Sentencing, Law & Policy, in a follow-up to last week’s Miller decision regarding juvenile LWOP, has several interesting posts that relate to the issue.
The first one, posted on Tuesday, July 3, is a letter from the mother of a murder victim who explains why she isn’t for juvenile life sentences. Here’s a clip from her compassionate but very painful letter:
I certainly never imagined that I would become a passionate advocate against life imprisonment without parole for juvenile offenders. I had never confronted the issue until November 18, 1986, the day my world was forever changed when my 26-year-old daughter Cathy, then pregnant with her second child, was killed by two teenage boys.
This tragedy set me on an unlikely path that led me to discover that even youths who commit the worst crimes have the capacity to grow into mature, redeemed adults. I know this because I watched my daughter’s killer, Gary, become such an adult.
I spent the years following Cathy’s death studying to become a grief counselor. I became involved in a restorative justice program, Bridges to Life, that allows convicts and crime victims to open a dialogue and work toward reconciliation. In 2000, I opened myself up to this dialogue with Gary.
When I met Gary, I found that he was a very different person from the boy who once committed a horrible act. He was a remorseful grown man desperately seeking forgiveness and a chance to make up for the hurt he caused. My decision to forgive Gary does not mean that what happened is OK. It can never be OK, and Gary knows that as well as I do. But keeping him in prison for a longer period would not bring my daughter back….
Read the rest. There’s a lot more.
BIG BAD AUSTRALIA’S VIEW ON MURDER AND LIFE IN PRISON
This second story, posted on July 4, features Berman linking to a local Australian media outlet as a way of illustrating the stark difference between Australia’s attitude toward life imprisonment and ours. And remember, Australia’s not exactly a shrinking violet as a country or as a citizenry. Here’s the opening:
A Supreme Court judge has criticised the Northern Territory sentencing regime as “unjust and unfair”. Justice Dean Mildren made the comment after sentencing Darren Jason Halfpenny to 20 years in jail for the contract killing of a man in Katherine.
Justice Mildren said he was required to impose a minimum 20 year prison term because of the mandatory sentencing regime in the Territory. “It is unjust and unfair, and contrary to the public interest, that prisoners who plead guilty … and are remorseful … are left in a situation where their earlier release is left in the hands of the executive (government),” he said.
Russell Golflam of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory agrees. “Mandatory sentencing is, in principle, obnoxious,” he said. Mr Golflam says judges should be given the power to do the job that they’re paid to do; impose appropriate penalties according to the circumstances of the case. “Parliament and governments should not take that job away from judges,” he said. He is calling for the Sentencing Act to be amended.
Justice Mildren recommended that Halfpenny be released on parole after 14 years because he will testify against his co-accused in the murder…
And here’s Berman’s compare and contrast experiment:
— in Australia, a sentencing judge is bemoaning as “unjust and unfair” a legislative requirement to impose a 20-year prison term with parole on an adult who intentionally committed a brutal contract murder. This kind of homicide in the US would clearly qualify as first-degree murder in just about every US state and in most would make the defendant eligible for the death penalty. The defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate would likely prompt most US prosecutors to take the death penalty off the table but likely still would make a (perhaps mandatory) LWOP sentence still possible (even probably) for the premeditated and henious crime.
— in the United States, four Justices of our Supreme Court in Miller have bemoaned the majority’s ruling that the US Constitutional prohibits a legislative requirement to impos a life prison term without parole on a 14-year-old who unexpectedly had a role in the another’s lethal shooting of a store clerk during an intentional robbery. This kind of homicide in Australia, I suspect based on this somewhat dated report on homicide sentencing patterns, would likely result in the offender getting a prison sentence of just over 10 years with the possibility of parole a few years soon.
NEW ORLEANS’ MURDER PROBLEM
Thursday NPR’s Morning Edition has an interesting but troubling story about how New Orleans is now the nation’s murder capital but that its citizens are unsure how to combat the rash of killings, and whom to trust to help. Here’s a clip:
New Orleans now has the highest per capita murder rate in the country. Most of the killings are concentrated in the city’s poorest neighborhoods — places like Central City, just a few blocks north of the stately mansions that line St. Charles Avenue.
The city’s mayor is launching a new program aimed at cracking what he describes as a deeply rooted culture of violence. But victims complain that a failed criminal justice system has left the streets to vigilante justice, with innocent residents caught in the crossfire.
“Many of our political figures and police officers are in the news themselves. That stigmatizes a community,” Jackson says. She says people are often reluctant to cooperate because they see that city officials and police officers are often in trouble.
“We try to encourage folks,” she says. “We still have to do what’s right, in spite of living in a corrupt city.”
The Justice Department has found a long-standing pattern of corruption and unconstitutional behavior by the New Orleans Police Department. The result of that culture, Jackson says, is a vigilante justice system on the streets.
“Folks feel like, ‘It’s easier for me and my family to look for the perpetrator, to figure out what has happened, and get our own justice, and we’ll be at peace,’ ” Jackson says. “But that’s not the answer, either.”
Photo courtesy of @BenBaller