New LA Weekly Bob Olmsted Profile…LA’s Foster Care-Involved Teen Moms Passing on Abuse…Shocking LWOP Sentences…and SCOTUS Looks at Warrantless Search CaseNovember 15th, 2013 by Taylor Walker
ON SHERIFF-CHALLENGER BOB OLMSTED AND THE SHERIFF SHOWDOWN
LA Weekly’s Gene Maddaus, one of LA’s best political writers, has an excellent profile on LA County Sheriff contender Bob Olmsted. Maddaus explains all the complexities of Olmsted’s situation—the new guy, the whistleblower, the long-shot, and arguably the only viable opponent—and the impending “palace bloodbath,” as Maddaus once termed it.
Here are some clips (but we urge you to read the piece in its entirety):
On a recent Monday, Olmsted has an appointment at the Jonathan Club, the downtown refuge for the city’s most fortunate. He’s addressing about 30 men — mostly retirees — who belong to a service organization called the Vikings…
It’s all new to Olmsted…and he’s still trying to get the hang of it. As the Vikings dig into their pork chops, he tries to tell his story in a way that will connect.
“Have you ever had to go outside your organization to accomplish goodness?” he asks.
Apparently no one has.
“That’s a hard thing to do,” he continues. “I lost about three days of sleep before I decided to go to the feds.”
Battered by scandals, for the first time ever Baca faces serious competition. His former undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, announced his candidacy over the summer. Olmsted also is in the hunt, as are two lesser-known candidates, Lou Vince and Patrick Gomez.
Looked at individually, none of these candidates should be able to win. But one of them will have to, unless someone else joins the race.
Baca is still the favorite, if only by default. Inside the department and out, there is a growing sentiment that his time has come and gone.
There is one wild card — a possible additional candidate who could provide another alternative to Baca and Tanaka. Over the summer, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell announced that he would not be a candidate. McDonnell, who served on the jails commission and was once an LAPD assistant chief, was widely seen as the most serious threat to Baca. Though he has no political background, he does have the credentials.
McDonnell’s supporters are urging him to reconsider, and the filing deadline is not until March. If he were to change his mind, that would shake up the race…
But for now, Olmsted is the only halfway viable contender who is untarnished by scandal. In other words — as unlikely as it seems — he just might be the next sheriff.
Thomas, Olmsted’s strategist, says the campaign will have to make a strong case that Baca and Tanaka have both failed, and neither should be given four more years.
“The real challenge for us is going to be to make sure that voters and the media understand that Paul Tanaka and Lee Baca are one and the same,” Thomas says. “They’ve created the mess together.”
As Olmsted puts it: “I don’t have a hole to dig myself out of.”
(Great illustration, by the way.)
NOTE: On Thursday, KCRW’s Warren Olney, on his show Which Way, LA?, talked with Gene Maddaus and SoCal ACLU’s legal director Peter Eliasberg…about Bob Olmsted and his “dark horse” sheriff’s race.
THE INTERGENERATIONAL CHILD WELFARE CYCLE
In LA County, kids with teen mothers involved with the child welfare system experienced a rate of abuse and neglect, themselves, two to three times higher than kids born to teen moms with no DCFS-involvement, according to a new report funded by the Hilton Foundation and authored by USC professor Emily Putnam-Hornstein and other researchers.
The alarming statistics point beyond themselves to the need for trauma-informed policies and intervention in the foster care system, schools, and the juvenile justice system—not just in LA County, but in California and across the nation.
Foster care journalist/advocate Daniel Heimpel, has more on the report and its implications regarding the foster care system in his publication, The Chronicle of Social Change. Here are some clips:
Putnam-Hornstein identified 24,767 teen mothers ages 15-19, who had a child during 2006 or 2007 in Los Angeles County. They then traced the child maltreatment histories of those mothers back to their tenth birthdays, while tracking the instances of child maltreatment for their children up to age five.
…For babies born to teen moms who were victims of alleged abuse or neglect while they were children, 30.7 percent went on to be alleged victims of abuse themselves, while nearly 12 percent were victims of substantiated abuse or neglect.
When accounting for mothers who had been victims of substantiated abuse or neglect the numbers shoot up further, with almost 40 percent of their children linked to reported maltreatment while 18 percent suffered substantiated maltreatment.
Amy Lemley, policy director of the John Burton Foundation, was tapped by the Hilton Foundation to present a series of policy recommendations to complement the release of the research. Among Lemley’s six bullets was a call to increase child care for pregnant and parenting foster youth.
“According to the report, the rates of substantiated abuse and neglect among children born to teen mothers with a history of reported or substantiated maltreatment were a full two to three times higher than the rates of children whose teen mothers had no history of involvement with Child Protective Services,” Lemley wrote in the short memo circulated at the convening. ”This dramatic effect highlights the need to provide intensive support services to parenting dependents… One such support is access to affordable high-quality child care.”
LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR PETTY THEFT AND OTHER UNDESERVING CRIMES
The ACLU has a new report out identifying 3,278 people in federal prison (and nine states) serving life without parole for non-violent offenses. Because of three-strike rules, penalty enhancements, and other mandatory minimum-triggering laws, people are spending the rest of their lives in prison for non-violent drug and property crimes.
The NY Times’ Nicholas D. Kristof, in his biweekly op-ed column, says mass incarceration is a “monstrous injustice,” and points out some preposterous examples of LWOP for non-violent offenses. Here’s a clip:
So you’re a judge, and Sharanda P. Jones comes before you for sentencing for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.
She’s a 32-year-old mom with a 9-year-old daughter and no prior arrests, but she has been caught up in a drug sweep that has led to 105 arrests in her Texas town. Everyone arrested is black.
There are no drugs found on Jones, but her supposed co-conspirators testify against her in exchange for reduced sentences. The whole case is dubious, but she has been convicted. What’s your sentence?
You have little choice. Given the presumptions of the case, she gets a mandatory minimum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Jump to today and already Jones has spent 14 years in prison and is expected to die behind bars — for a first offense…
Judges and prison officials are rebelling at the injustice of our justice system. Here’s what Judge James R. Spencer, a federal district judge, said when sentencing a former F.B.I. informant to life without parole for selling crack cocaine to support his own addiction: “A life sentence for what you have done in this case is ridiculous; it is a travesty.”
But federal law on mandatory minimums left Judge Spencer no leeway. He added: “I don’t agree with it, either. And I want the world and the record to be clear on that. This is just silly.”
US SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON COMPLICATED WARRANTLESS SEARCH CASE
On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard arguments on whether law enforcement officers have the right to search a house without a warrant when two people disagree about letting officers in, after the person refusing the search leaves the house. Normally, when two people disagree about a search without a warrant, the objecting occupant has the final say. But what happens when that person is arrested and no longer at the residence in question?
The Associated Press’ Mark Sherman has more on the case and hearing. Here’s a clip:
The court took up the case of Walter Fernandez, who is serving a 14-year prison term on robbery and guns charges. Police found a shotgun, ammunition and a knife when they searched the Los Angeles apartment Fernandez shared with his girlfriend, Roxanne Rojas.
Fernandez told police they could not enter his apartment. But about an hour after his arrest, officers returned to the apartment and persuaded Rojas to let them in.
When Rojas first answered the door for police, she was crying and holding her 2-month-old baby. She had a fresh bump on her nose, and blood on her hands and shirt. She said she had been in a fight.
At that point Fernandez appeared and ordered the police to get out, telling them he knew his constitutional rights. The police believed the couple had just been in a fight and removed Fernandez from the apartment in handcuffs. An officer noticed a tattoo on Fernandez’ shaved head that matched the description of a robbery suspect. Fernandez soon was arrested.
When officers went back to the apartment, they had sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant, California Deputy Attorney General Louis Karlin told the court. But, “Rojas had the authority, as the sole present tenant, to call the shots…and to consent to a search,” Karlin said.
Would that be so even if Fernandez had stepped out to make a quick trip to the drugstore, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked.
Yes, Karlin said, a departure for any reason, dramatically changes the situation.
Justice Samuel Alito seemed angry in his questioning of Fisher. “You have a woman who has been beaten up. She’s got bruises. She’s standing on the doorstep of her house. And she says to the police: I’d like you to come into the house and see evidence of what my husband has been doing to me. And you say she can’t do that…It’s her house, but she can’t invite the police in?” Alito said.
In response, Fisher said Rojas and Fernandez both have rights in that situation. “And what the Constitution says is that searches of homes presumably have to be done under warrant,” he said.
There are likely going to be very interesting arguments on both sides of the case. (We’ll be tracking the proceedings as they unfold.) The NY Times has an interesting editorial that comes down strongly on the side of Fernandez. Here’s a small clip:
A tenant’s right to object to a warrantless search should not depend on whether he can permanently stand guard at his front door. If the police have probable cause to make an arrest, they will almost surely have the basis for a warrant as well. Warrants can be issued in a matter of minutes, and, in the meantime, the police can secure the home if they are concerned that evidence may be destroyed.
The state contends that obtaining consent is “simpler, faster and less burdensome” than getting a warrant. But that is precisely the point. By forcing the government to get a judge’s approval before intruding into a private home, the warrant requirement ensures oversight of law enforcement and informs citizens that the search has been authorized by a neutral arbiter.