2012 Election Civil Rights Criminal Justice Innocence Obama Presidential Race

LA Times Questions Baca’s Immigrant Jailing Policy….The Un-Tapped 10 Percent of Voters (Felons)…& When Bad Science Produces Bad Evidence


Thursday’s LA Times has an unsigned editorial (likely written by the very smart Sandra Hernandez) that holds Sheriff Lee Baca’s feet to the metaphorical fire on the issue of jailing immigrants with ICE holds reportedly longer than the law—or the feds—require.

Here’s a clip (but you really need to read the whole thing):

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is once again confronting questions about problems in the nation’s largest jail system. The latest allegations center on whether deputies in his department routinely denied bail to people arrested for minor offenses — even after they were ordered released by a judge — solely because of pending immigration investigations.

The sheriff’s office denies that such a policy exists, although it acknowledges that the department holds immigrants under a federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities. Baca says that program requires him to hold someone suspected of being in the country illegally, if called upon to do so by federal immigration officials, while the arrestee’s immigration status is confirmed.

But Secure Communities only allows the sheriff to hold people for up to 48 hours; it does not provide him with a free pass to ignore individuals’ constitutional right to due process or grant him the authority to deny immigrants bail after the 48-hour clock has run out….

Read on, because there’s lots more—including the $26 mil per anum to do this excessive jailing in our already overcrowded system.


Obama and Romney are reaching out to the many specialized constituencies some of which could, under the right circumstances, push things one way or the other, especially in battle ground states. But, in this close race, there is one constituency that, according to Reuters, may amount to as much as 10 percent of likely voters. And yet its a demographic that both parties have kinda….well…avoided.

Of course, men and women with felony records are defined by many other aspects of their lives and selves than the simple fact of a felony conviction.

Still Thomas Ferraro writing for Reuters has a bunch of interesting points.

Here’s a big clip from the story:

Felons could account for up to 10 percent of the roughly 130 million Americans expected to vote in the November 6 election, more than enough to affect the razor-thin margins that could determine the outcome.

But as in years past, neither Democrats nor Republicans are doing much to reach out to them.

“Criminals are not a popular constituency,” says James Hamm, 64, who spent 17 years in prison in Arizona for a drug-related homicide and now heads an inmate advocacy group with his wife, a retired judge. “Politicians don’t want to say, ‘Hey, I have the backing of people who committed crimes.'”

Still, both presidential campaigns have reason to be attentive to the estimated 13.4 million felons who are eligible to vote.

Felons traditionally vote Democratic, says Christopher Uggen, a University of Minnesota sociologist, who co-authored a 2006 book, “Locked Out: Felony Disenfranchisement and American Democracy.”

Ferraro says that the Obama camp has quietly reached out to felons in that swing state of all swing states, Ohio, where there are an estimated 784,0000 felons, only around 52,000 of them in prison thus prohibited from voting. However, he offers no additional details about this reported outreach so it’s difficult to know what exactly we’re talking about here.

And yet, it bears noting that in 1976, Jimmy Carter took Ohio from Gerald Ford by just 11,116 votes….so….


The Crime Report’s Graham Cates interviews David Harris, author of “Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science

Both book and interview are worth our attention. Here’s a clip:

strong>On March 11, 2004, powerful bombs set by terrorists on four Madrid commuter trains killed 191 people and wounded 1,800. Two months later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer, after fingerprints found on a bag near the explosion site allegedly matched his.

Mayfield had not been to Spain. Nor had he been outside the U.S. for over a decade. But the FBI kept insisting the fingerprints were a “100 percent match”—until Spanish police tied another suspect to the fingerprints. And even after Mayfield was released two weeks later, the FBI continued to insist that their fingerprint-matching process was infallible.

It was a costly mistake. Mayfield eventually received a $2 million settlement from the U.S. government. But to David A. Harris, it also was—or should have been—a teachable moment. Harris, a professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, believes the FBI’s insistence on the accuracy of their analysis, even when the evidence failed to bear it out, reflects a law enforcement culture that relies too much on quasi-scientific forensic evidence—even while it resists the application of genuine advances in science-based investigative techniques…

Read on.

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