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US Corrections Infographic, GA Stays Execution of Mentally Disabled Killer…and More


Pew Center on the States has an AWESOME infographic
on the American corrections system pictured above (go to the PEW website to view the graphic in an even larger size).


Warren Hill found out, just two hours before he was to be put to death, that his execution was stayed—not because of his mental disability, but to figure out if changes made to the state’s lethal injection procedures are in violation of GA law.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Bill Rankin has the story. Here’s a clip:

For more than a decade, Hill’s lawyers have sought to halt the execution on grounds the 52-year-old is mentally disabled. But Monday, with less than two hours to spare, the state high court unanimously granted the stay to determine whether a recent change to Georgia’s lethal-injection protocol violates state law. The court agreed to hear Hill’s appeal of a Fulton County judge’s decision issued earlier in the day.

Separately, by a 6-1 vote, the court declined to hear Hill’s appeal challenging the state’s standard to determine whether an inmate is mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution. Justice Robert Benham, the lone dissenter, said he would not allow the execution because Hill has been found to have a mental disability.

Hill is on death row for the 1990 bludgeoning death of a fellow inmate at a southwest Georgia prison. At the time, he was serving a life sentence for killing his 18-year-old girlfriend in 1985.

Hill’s case attracted the attention of national and state advocacy groups for the developmentally disabled, who had asked for Hill to be allowed to serve the rest of his life in prison without parole. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, had made a similar plea for mercy.


Greg Ousley—now 33—killed his parents at age 14, was tried as an adult, and is currently serving out two 30-year sentences. Ousley was a troubled teen, living in a discordant home not unlike other youths who commit parricide. Nineteen years later, he has had time to develop and mature, and both corrections officials and all but one family member deem him fit to reenter society. Is a man who murdered his parents in middle school ready to be released?

Scott Anderson has a beautifully written story for the NY Times Magazine. Here are a few clips:

His former work supervisor, Cindy Estes, was more explicit. “This kid has jumped through every hoop the state has put in front of him,” she told me. “He deserves to come out. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by keeping him in there for another 10 years.”


…He set out on a painful journey of self-examination, trying to understand what he had done and why. One of the crueler paradoxes of his situation is that if he had been remanded into Indiana’s juvenile justice system, Greg would have received help in this process; Indiana places an emphasis on youthful offenders’ undergoing intensive behavioral and psychological therapy as a way for them to understand their actions and, it’s hoped, correct their course in the future.

But Greg entered an adult system where whatever psychological counseling existed was primarily geared toward helping an inmate cope with his incarceration, not examining how he got there in the first place. Going it alone, Greg began putting his thoughts to paper. His first effort, a 40-page handwritten essay begun when he was 19, took him 15 months to write and was titled, “Why I Killed My Parents.”


Strong or not, Greg’s case is a telling one in the national debate over just what is accomplished by sentencing juveniles to long prison sentences. In the case of juvenile parricide, there is an added paradox. Because it is among the most target-specific of crimes, criminologists believe that an abused juvenile who killed a parent is likely to be at low risk of future criminality if he gets treatment and has a strong social support system when he is released. Certainly society might recoil at the notion that a child who murders his parents should be “let off” by a juvenile detention that might end at 18 or 21, but attached to this is the question of when the thirst for punishment becomes counterproductive to all concerned. After all, Greg Ousley, like 95 percent of other prison inmates, is going to come out some day, and is it better for society that he do so when he’s in his 30s and still has the potential of patching together a somewhat-normal life, or not until his 40s when his options will be far more limited?

In addition, NY Times Rachel Nolan has a Q & A with Scott Anderson (the author of the above referenced article). Here’s a small clip:

[Rachel:] What do we know about the experience of juvenile offenders after they’ve served lengthy prison terms? Are recidivism rates higher or lower than for others?

[Scott:] I don’t know what the overall recidivism rate for juveniles convicted as adults is, but for parent-killers like Greg in general (whether placed in juvie or tried as adults), almost all studies show that the recidivism rate is extremely low (although again it’s hard to state much with absolute confidence due to the low numbers of people who commit parricide). This undoubtedly has to do with the target-specific nature of their crime. I did see a study where they compared 10 parricidal juveniles with 10 who killed other family members and 10 who killed strangers. Those in the first group had the least prior history of delinquency and the lowest recidivism rate (as I recall, just 1 of the 10 engaged in later criminality), while those in the last group — who killed strangers — had the highest.

NY Times also has a photocopy of the essay Ousley wrote at age 19 titled: “Why I Killed My Parents,” along with a page written in a notebook a few days before he committed parricide in which he states, “This weekend I’m going to kill my parents.” Be sure to take a look at the post. It’s worth reading.


In an attempt to deal with an outrageous backlog of fingerprint analysis throughout the 21 stations, LAPD officials have decided to implement a new system of 10 cases per station, per month. (This isn’t the first time the issue of LAPD evidence backlog has come up, either. We’ve noted in previous years the excess of rape kits waiting to be analyzed and problems within the fingerprint analysis dept.)

The LA Times’ Joel Rubin has the story. Here’s a clip:

The LAPD’s beleaguered Latent Print Unit has failed to analyze fingerprints from about 2,200 burglaries, auto thefts and other property-related crimes, according to department figures. Detectives wait on average between two and three months to get print results back from the lab, LAPD officials said. In some cases, the delay can last more than a year and, in older cases in which the detectives have not pressed for analysis, prints are ignored altogether because the unit cannot keep up with the constant inflow of cases.

“In a perfect world, we’d get results back in a day or two,” said Michael Brausam, a detective in the LAPD’s Central Division. “The longer you leave these criminals out on the street, they’re likely going to be committing more crimes. And, if you do get a match on prints months later, it can be much harder to prove your case.”

And the prospect of the situation improving is bleak because of the city’s ongoing hiring freeze.

Since the freeze in 2009, the fingerprint unit has lost 27 of its 97 analysts. Over the next five years, 20% of the unit is expected to retire, officials said. Additionally, furloughs that are part of the city’s attempt to close a budget shortfall have exacerbated the problem, as have the neck and back injuries that analysts commonly suffer from long hours hunched over desks staring at prints through magnifying glasses.

Meanwhile, the demands on the unit continue unabated. Last year, detectives requested fingerprints to be collected at 19,000 crime scenes, and the pace so far this year is the same. As a result, LAPD officials have decided on a rationing plan that they hope will bring the workload in line with the unit’s capabilities.


  • Its difficult to make sense of the figures from LAPD on their shortage of finger print analysts and backlog of crime scene prints.

    We need further explanation of the figures and greater understanding of the use of fingerprints. As it stands, we are left with a very ambiguous sense of crisis at LAPD crime lab fingerprint analysis.

    If LAPD is pulling prints from 19,000 crime scenes per year and they currently have 2,200 unanalyzed cases – that would indicate a backlog of approximately only 5 weeks of prints.

    5 weeks, 2 to 3 months, up to a year or more – this reader needs clarification from LAPD to comprehend the situation.

    Rationing the crime lab resources on a per station basis is the easiest method to calculate, but may not be the most efficient use of scarce resources.

    The criminals do not target based on a station boundary map, nor do they pay attention to jurisdictional boundary lines between local law enforcement agencies.

    If we really have a critical backlog of crime scene prints, then maybe its time to outsource.

    We can have initial stage analysis sent to India or China or Vietnam or Romania, etc.

    Those prints which match a custody or intended as evidence for prosecution will undergo a second top to bottom analysis at the local lab by a certified analyst.

  • There is absolutely no reason for a crime lab fingerprint analyst to be hunched over a desk with a magnifying glass.

    Unless the LAPD is operating their lab circa 1930.

    If so, its time for a few upgrades to comply with CAL-OSHA rules on avoiding work-related muscular degeneration.

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