Archive for the ‘Homeless and poor’ Category

Painter arrested for not having a sign?

October 12, 2009

Maybe that’s why they were arresting him because it is kind of ignorant to be a painter without a sign. So, what have I been preaching? The judges are finally speaking out. 52,560 victimless “crime” arrests, aka, “quality of life” misdemeanors over the last four years in Miami are dismissed by the court. Here is the story:

Miami house painter Alexis Marichal was driving his work truck when police pulled him over, placed him under arrest and sent him to jail for a night.
His crime: not having a business sign on the side of the vehicle.
In court later, the judge dismissed the charge after Marichal proved he had purchased the sign and was a legitimate painter.

“I told [the police officer] that I’m not a delinquent, that I’m a hard-working man,” said Marichal, 34. “I told him, `How many people and kids are being raped and how many women are beaten, and I’m being arrested?’ ”

Some high-ranking judges and county commissioners are asking the same thing.

With criminal-justice resources being squeezed more every day, the county is studying whether to decriminalize 18 minor infractions like the one that netted Marichal. They include selling flowers by the side of the road, drinking beer near a liquor store and being in a park after hours — all seemingly minor misdeeds, yet all on the books as crimes punishable by jail time.

Judges say the county ordinances clog court dockets and jail cells with little benefit, but police argue they are important for preventing more serious crime. A report is due to the County Commission this month.

“We’re being forced to operate almost like a factory,” Miami-Dade Chief County Judge Samuel Slom told a County Commission committee. “We are handling cases that have no business being in a criminal courthouse.”

Since 2005, police in Miami-Dade County have charged 52,560 people with such “quality of life” misdemeanors. All were processed through the county’s overtaxed court system — where the vast majority saw their charges dismissed.

Records from 2005 to early August 2009 show that more than 40,000 cases of commercial vehicle sign violations, drinking within 100 feet of a liquor store and roadside vending were filed. Yet about 93 percent of the charges were dismissed by a judge or dropped by prosecutors, and only about 7 percent resulted in convictions or withholds of adjudication. Amazing.

Local media defends victimless crime enforcement

October 7, 2009

Mr. Lyons of the Sarasota Herald Tribune basically said you shouldn’t run from Leos. I’ve said that over and over and over. There is no reason that you should run from Leos, but having that said, I have to disagree with Mr. Lyons about a couple of issues. First, he is branding me as a “death penalty for not having a bike light” guy. He’s right. I want to see the police dash cam video and audio, if the guy on the bike was on the sidewalk, the police had no reason to question him or detain him for not having a light. If he was in the road, it’s different. Second, the guy is dead, man. Maybe the taser didn’t cause his death, but he probably would still be alive if he didn’t have this police encounter and shocked by the taser. Mark Lipinski, Attorney at Law, in Bradenton, has made a living over the last 25 years, by suing the Bradenton Police Department. He has had clients brutalized by other agencies but the BPD is at the top of the list with problem after problem. Mr. Lyons, let’s not shrug this case off, so fast. First, let’s see the dash cam video/audio and then let’s hear from the witnesses. This is the kind of stuff that happens when LeAs concentrate on victimless crimes. No victim, no crime. They killed a guy who didn’t hurt a victim or steal property or destroy someones property.

15 years for shoplifting while hungry

October 5, 2009

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — A Bartow homeless man with a long criminal record received a 15-year sentence for stealing a box of cereal and a can of evaporated milk.

Mark Anthony Griffin was sentenced as a “prison release re-offender,” which stiffens penalties for defendants convicted within three years of prison release.

Griffin has more than 50 prior convictions — most on minor charges like trespassing, disorderly intoxication and petit theft.

He rejected a plea deal that would’ve given him 3 years in prison and 2 years of probation.

At the Sept. 25 sentencing, Griffin’s brother said his record came from a long history of alcohol abuse.

While out of jail awaiting trial in the cereal case, Griffin picked up four additional charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Um, Ok, maybe this judge just got tired of seeing this homeless guy over, and over, and over again. So, he sentences him to 15 years in State prison for a multitude of victimless crimes that have been committed over many years.  Maybe this judge figures that he won’t see the guy again in his courtroom  until after the judge retires. But, judge, the State prisons are at capacity. They can’t take any more non-violent offenders. So, maybe all of us in Florida should try something different.

Swamped under

September 10, 2009

Dr. Susan MacManus was commissioned to do a poll in our county. The poll asked various questions about what residents and voters felt about various topics. Obviously, the number one overriding issue was the economy and jobs. But was interesting to me is that crime was 3rd from the bottom at 3% and nearly 50% of respondents said that they absolutely did not favor a temporary tax increase for a new jail even though the current facility is at capacity.

During a recession as severe as this one, you might expect that violent crime would go through the roof. More people without money means more robbing, stealing, and gun play because people are frustrated over their situations. However, this isn’t happening. Overall crime in Charlotte County was down 27.4 percent. Its unemployment rate is 12.1 percent.

What is happening, however, is that our jail is filled with non-violent, victimless crime “offenders” who either can not extricate themselves from the “system” or have just said the heck with it at least I can get medical care and food here at the jail. We have turned our local jail into a debtor’s prison. Something the House of Burgesses did away with in 1619.

The system is not going to get any more money to build more jail space, so they have to deal with it.  This is what should be done.

What the State Attorney should do immediately is inform law enforcement that he will not prosecute <20 grams of marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia arrests. These are both minor misdemeanors and this would certainly lighten the load on the court and the jail.

Shoplifting prosecutions under $100 should be suspended and a seminar should be done with store managers to educate them how to deal with this issue internally.

Also something has to be done with the innumerable arrests for no or suspended DL’s. I haven’t got an answer for this yet, but the fine, suspend, arrest, fine, arrest for contempt, fine and no collections on these “crimes” is idiotic.

More work for less clerks

September 3, 2009

HERNANDO COUNTYTwo Hernando County men are facing charges after deputies said they rode their bicycles while drunk.

According to Bay News 9‘s partner paper, the St. Petersburg Times, Robert Steudl decided to ride a bicycle home from the Pickled Parrot bar early Tuesday morning after he decided he was too drunk to drive.

Deputies thought otherwise. Steudl was arrested for driving under the influence while on a bike, after deputies said they found him riding in the middle of a westbound lane on Spring Hill Drive. A car had to swerve to avoid hitting him, deputies said.

Three hours earlier, a second man was also arrested after a deputy noticed a line of cars driving very slowly on Forest Oaks Boulevard.

The deputy realized the cars were moving slowly because Oswaldo Davila was riding in the middle of the westbound lane with no lights or reflective equipment, the Times reports.

The arrest is Davila’s second for riding his bicycle while drunk.

Florida law considers a bicycle to be a motor vehicle.

You can be arrested for DUI in FL for riding a bicycle while intoxicated, but only if you are riding the bike on a road. If you are riding the bike on a sidewalk (which is legal in FL), you can’t be convicted of DUI. So if you are drunk, go ahead and ride your bike home, but ride on the sidewalk. If you see a pedestrian, stop until they walk past you because you do have to yield for peds.

You can also walk home if you are intoxicated because we don’t have a public intoxication law in FL. We have disorderly intoxication, so you have to be intoxicated and disorderly. As long as you are just weaving down the sidewalk, you shouldn’t get arrested, but make sure you have your fly zipped up and don’t urinate in the open because you can get arrested for that.

Vigilante judge admits to committing victimless crime

August 14, 2009

LA PLATA, Md. (AP) — A Charles County judge who acknowledged deflating a tire of a car parked in a restricted area near the courthouse has resigned as chief administrator of the Circuit Court.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Nalley is not resigning from the bench.

In a letter submitted Thursday to Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert Bell, Nalley made no reference to this week’s controversy over the tire deflation.

Nalley told 9NEWS NOW that he let out the air because leaving notes for illegal parkers is not effective.

La Plata Police Chief Cassin Gittings says an investigation into the tire deflation was continuing.

The owner of the car says a sheriff’s deputy told her Monday that Nalley was deflating her tire and she moved her car.

This judge needs to read up a little on 21st Century inventions like the Tow Truck.  If I was in charge of a sentence for this judge, I would make him put a porta-potty in his front yard for two months, so the homeless have some place to urinate.