A GOOD COP AND A BAD CONFESSION
This week This American Life with Ira Glass focuses on the issue of confessions.
Part 1 of the program is a must listen. It is about former DC police detective Jim Trainum, who tells reporter Saul Elbein, about how one of his first murder investigations went dreadfully wrong.
In 1994, Trainum and his colleagues became convinced that an 19-year old girl named Kim, had committed a horrible crime> Their suspicion seemed justified when, after hours of interrogation, she gradually confessed and seemed to have details of the crime that only someone involved could have known.
Or so Trainum thought.
In many ways Kim was lucky because, as there was no other hard evidence, eventually she went free—although by that time, Kim had lost custody of her kids, including a baby boy who was three weeks old when she was arrested. Moreover, her arrest for murder remained on her record, squelching job opportunities. Even when she tried to enroll in the military, she said, they turned her down.
Then by chance, after 10 years, Trainum was assigned to cold cases, and the old murder, which had never been solved, appeared on his radar, and he decided to revisit the case, which led him to view the video leading up to her taped confession. It was then he saw with a horrible clarity that he and his colleagues had carefully orchestrated a false confession, feeding Kim information, ignoring evidence pointing to her innocence—all without realizing what they were doing. All with the best of intentions.
Trainum said he always thought it was bad cops who ginned up false confessions. But there he was, a good cop, with good decent colleagues, who coerced an innocent woman into confessing and, in doing so, wrecked a big part of her life.
Now Jim Trainum has become an expert in false confessions and a strong advocate for videotaped interrogations, which 10 states mandate, California, unfortunately not among them.
It’s a step.
According the Innocence Project, in about 25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements,or made outright confessions, or pled guilty. About one third of those exonerees who confess are kids.
LASD LT. ARRESTED IN PROSTITUTION STING
Venusse Navid of the Whittier Daily News has the story. Here’s a clip:
A Los Angles County sheriff’s lieutenant and 20 other people were arrested Thursday during an undercover prostitution sting here, officials said.
Michael Strickland, 49, of Eastvale, a lieutenant at the sheriff’s Industry Station, was arrested Oct. 10 on suspicion of soliciting prostitution on the 23000 block of Sunnymead Boulevard, Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials said.
“(Strickland) was immediately relieved of duty with pay on Oct. 10,” LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “He had just been promoted to lieutenant about six months ago.”
Strickland is being paid while on leave because he has not been convicted, officials said.
“He has been assigned at home, and was stripped of all law enforcement duties, including his gun and badge,” Whitmore said.
AND….ANOTHER LASD DEPUTY IN TROUBLE—THIS ONE FIRES HIS GUN IN THE AIR TO SCARE OFF KIDS
In how many ways is this awful judgment? The ABC 7 story is too short to clip, so just read it.
IT’S TIME TO OPT FOR SMARTER, CHEAPER, BETTER ALTERNATIVES FOR THE MENTALLY ILL THAN JAIL…WRITES SAY THE LA TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD
We agree with Tuesday’s essay from the LA Times Editorial Board. Here’s a clip, but really you need to read the whole thing:
An estimated 15% of inmates held in Los Angeles County’s sprawling jail system require some kind of mental health care. Those detainees cost more to house, often remain longer and are more likely to wind up back in jail after being released than other inmates.
Until now, county officials have been reluctant to consider alternatives to detention for those inmates. But a new district attorney and a recently appointed assistant sheriff for custody are taking a second look at policies that could divert low-risk mentally ill inmates into local treatment programs. It’s a welcome development that could, if carried out carefully, save money and reduce jail crowding without making the streets more dangerous.
We understand it wouldn’t be easy. There are plenty of unanswered questions, including which inmates would be eligible for diversion….