From Mississippi

Monday, December 10th, 2007

I spent most of last week in Mississippi, working on a very cool new project related to the Cory Maye case. Details on the project itself forthcoming. I’ll also post some updates on Cory’s legal situation later in the week. For now, though, some rambling thoughts (and photos) from my trip:

This was my fifth trip to Mississippi, and backward as the state’s politics and criminal justice system may be, the place is growing on me. There’s a rustic, pastoral kind of beauty to Mississippi. I’ve made the drive from Prentiss to Jackson about a dozen times now, usually at dusk as I’m headed back to the hotel, and it’s a really pretty ride. Rolling, fence-lined pastures, still green in December, turn to hilly roads tunneled by tall, skinny pines shooting up from their shoulders; lots of lazy, grazing cattle, still gnawing on cud as the sun slips behind the hills; and loads of charming, deep-south imagery—the odd roadside barbecue joint; a massive catfish restaurant with an always-bustling parking lot; a crazy fundamentalist’s property with Bible verses and admonitions against smoking, drinking, and molesting babies tacked to the trees; and your occasional scraggly dog tethered to a tree or beat-up dog house, watching the lumber-hauling tractor trailers blow down the highway. And of course, the people are incredibly warm. I think every third word uttered down here is “sugar,” “hon,” or “baby.” As in, “More coffee for you, baby?” Or, “some pie, sugar?”

On Wednesday we visited Melissa Longino, grandmother of Ta’Corrianna, Cory Maye’s little girl. In a better world, she’d have been Cory’s mother-in-law. Melissa offered moving testimony at the September 2006 hearing. She recounted a deep affection for Cory, and detailed the way Cory doted on his daughter in their short 18 months together. She also talked about how he’s struggled to remain a part of his kids’ lives from prison. As she said at the hearing, Longino told us this week that Cory has never missed an important day when it comes to staying in touch with his kids. He calls both his children every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every birthday. His cards, she said, come three or four days early, just to be sure Mo (T’a’Corianna’s nickname) gets them in time. Each time Ta’Corianna visits her grandmother, Longino said, the first thing she does is tear through the house to look for the cards and letters her daddy sent her. “Did he write me?” she asks. And yes, Longino says, every time, there’s at least one (usually several) letter from Cory waiting for her. She is and always has been, Longino says, a “Daddy’s girl.”

On Thursday we talked to Dorothy Maye Funchess, Cory’s mother, and she relayed much of the same sentiment. Cory, she says, is better at remembering birthdays than she she is—not just his kids’, but those of everyone in the family. He tells her exactly what gifts to get the kids, and often knows before she does what they want for a birthday, or for Christmas. He calls in the fall to make sure they’re well-outfitted for school, and if Funchess is busy with work or occupied by her other grandkids, Cory enlists his sister to make sure his kids always get what they need. In fact, Funchess says, the first thing Cory said to her after he was sentenced to death was, “I love you mama. Please take good care of my kids.”

Unfortunately (but understandably), Chanteal Longino’s been seeing someone new for a couple of years, and is trying to move on with her life. She now lives in Covington, Louisiana. But her efforts to distance herself from what happened on December 26, 2001, though understandable, mean necessarily distancing Ta’Corrianna from that night as well. And it’s impossible to distance the little girl from the raid and its fallout without also taking her away from Cory. So Cory’s finding it more and more difficult to remain a part of his daughter’s life, despite his best efforts, and despite that he’s a better father from prison than many kids get in their own homes. Dorothy says Cory’s heartbroken over the increasing distance between he and Ta’Corrianna. As is she.

I don’t doubt that there are lots of convicted felons who struggle to stay parents to their kids from prison. But in Cory’s case, it’s particularly brutal. He’s in prison not because he was a poor father, or because he engaged in a life of crime that hurt or put his kids at risk. On the contrary. By all accounts he was loving, attentive father. He had no criminal record. Talk to Cory’s relatives, and they’ll tell you that their memories of him have him dressing his kids, bathing them, changing them, holding them, and brushing and braiding their hair. He cooked for them, and played with them. When construction jobs dried up and he couldn’t work, he became his daughter’s primary caretaker while, Chanteal worked nights at the chicken plant. He’s in prison precisely because he acted out of fear for his daughter’s safety. He thought someone was breaking into his home to harm the two of them. That that act has now put him in a position where he’s being slowly erased from his daughter’s life—from a jail cell where there’s little he can do about it—is a crushingly cruel twist of fate.

To believe Cory was guilty of capital murder, you have to believe that he knowingly and intentionally killed Ron Jones, and that he did so with the knowledge that Jones was a police officer. You have to believe that this man, who had no criminal record, and who’s “crime” was no more than a burnt roach in his apartment, knowingly decided to take on a team of raiding police officers; laid in wait for them to kick open his bedroom door; deliberately chose to engage in gunfire in the room where his daughter was laying; decided to fire just three rounds; shot and killed a police officer; then surrendered with bullets still left in his gun. Almost nothing about that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense even if you don’t know Cory. And it certainly doesn’t make sense if you talk to anyone who knows him.

This isn’t a dangerous, unrepentant cop killer who needs to be separated from society. The far more plausible explanation is that this is a guy who had just moved away from home; who was wary of his neighbor (who actually was involved in the drug trade, and by all appearances was the reason for the raid); who was scared; and who did what he thought he had to do to protect himself and his daughter.

Below, some photos, culled from my several trips to Mississippi. Post resumes after.

When we visited yesterday, Dorothy had just spoken with Cory on the phone. When she told him we were coming, Cory asked her to make sure we were well fed with southern cooking. So she fixed us up a feast of Cory’s favorites: barbecue chicken, smothered cabbage, cornbread, shrimp stir-fry, and rice with gravy. I was full for a day-and-a-half.Dorothy then gave us a tour of her home, the house where Cory grew up. It’s a single-story, humble but well-kept ranch house. There’s a light woods to the back, and a bright green cattle pasture across the street to the front. The property is surrounded by long fences, sad old barns and abandoned properties, and winding gravel roads. The backyard is home to two ponies and three dogs, including one scraggly, war-torn mutt that had just given birth to a litter of six fluffy black puppies. The house has two bedrooms, a living room, and a bright, red and green kitchen. An aging, cast-iron wood-burner warms the place during Mississippi’s short and mild winters.

Dorothy then showed me the woods behind the house where Cory shot at rabbits and raccoons while growing up; the stove and grill where he learned to cook; and the pictures of Cory growing up that she keeps on the wall. Dorothy had initially kept Cory’s childhood room intact, “hoping against hope,” she says, that he’d be home from prison in short time to sleep in his bed again. But she eventually had to pack up Cory’s things and put them away. When Cory Jr. would visit, he’d immediately go back to his daddy’s old room, see Cory’s bed and his belongings, and start to cry. Dorothy keeps some shoes and old clothes in the room now. She says she didn’t want to move Cory’s things, but she also didn’t want her grandson associating visits to her home with tears, sadness, and missing his daddy.I received a letter from Cory last week. He’s trying to settle in to his new surroundings. He’s now at Unit 32 at Parchman Penitentiary, the hardest-knock wing of one of the hardest-knock prisons in the country. It’s the highest-security wing in the prison, save for Death Row. When it comes to living conditions, it’s likely worse. Lately, Unit 32 has had problems with rioting. There have been three inmate murders in the last two years. In a 2005 complaint, the ACLU described Unit 32 like this:

…profound isolation and unrelieved idleness; pervasive filth and stench; malfunctioning plumbing and constant exposure to human excrement … grossly inadequate medical, mental health and dental care; the routine use by security staff of excessive force; and the constant pandemonium, night and day, of severely mentally ill prisoners screaming, raving and hallucinating in nearby cells.”

This is Cory’s home, now.

Even after his death sentence was tossed in the fall of 2006, Cory requested to remain on Death Row. He was isolated there. He could stay in his cell and read and watch TV. When I asked him about Death Row in September 2006, he actually said he had no complaints (though Bob Evans, Cory’s chief counsel, says he rarely complains about much of anything). He didn’t need to fear for his safety there—about getting beaten or raped. Cory’s a shy, gentle guy. It’s hard to see him thriving in the general population of a high-security prison unit. So he remained on Death Row until last month, when he received his new sentence, life without parole. He’ll now need to learn to live in the general population, with Mississippi’s worst of the worst.

Cory’s still isolated for now, which he says is common for newcomers to gen-pop at Parchman. He just enrolled in a GED program. And he’s hoping to land a job in the prison kitchen, so he’ll be able to cook again. In spite of the circumstances, the letter seemed upbeat. Dorothy said he told her he’s disappointed that the guards won’t let him wash his own clothes, as he’d grown accustomed to doing on Death Row. In Unit 32, he says, his clothes come back from the laundry dirtier than they were when he sent them away.

I’m back in Virginia now, from what was a pretty emotionally draining trip. I’ve other stories to work on until the next hearing or development in Cory’s case. For Cory, Dorothy, Melissa, T’corrianna, Little Cory and everyone else affected by Cory’s incarceration, there’s no plane to board that’ll drop them into another life. They wake, eat, breathe, and, when they can, sleep (when they can) with this stuff—with the continuing fallout from that raid six years ago.

The family of Ron Jones won’t ever get away from it, either. I’m sure that as the anniversary of the raid approaches, as the holidays near, the Jones family’s pain will again grow starker and harsher and harder to handle. We also visited the memorial to Jones in front of the Prentiss city hall while we were in Mississippi last week. The afternoon was sunny, but brisk and windy. Jones’ polished, stone slab memorial rises from the sidewalk like a headstone, framed by the entrance to the building that houses the mayor’s office and the police and fire departments. Strongly as I’ve advocated for Cory’s innocence, there is of course no mistaking the tragedy of Jones’ death, too. That, incidentally, is always something Cory always emphasizes and expresses his sorrow for in his letters. Still today, he refers to Jones as “Mister Ron,” a term of respect and affection. I sat near Jones’ parents both days of the 2006 hearing in Poplarville. Their pain was obvious. I’m sure this has all been agonizing for them, as will the coming years, particularly if things go as I and Cory’s supporters hope they will. There were two tragedies, here. That’s unfortunate. What’s even more unfortunate is that one of them can be undone, at least partially, but not without making things worse for the people still hurting from the other one.

Much of my trip centered around the people affected by Cory’s incarceration. But there was a moment of pronounced solemnity while standing front of Jones’ memorial. Downtown Prentiss isn’t a terribly busy place. All was quiet while we stood there—only wind lapping at the U.S. and Mississippi flags ten feet or so above the memorial. My thoughts drifted to a particular part of the hearing last fall when Jones’ death was recounted in testimony. I saw Jones’ mother’s head fall, her eyes close tight, and her thumb and forefinger pinch at the bridge of her nose.

If there’s something particularly cruel about Cory’s act in defense of his daughter that night leading to him now being increasingly separated from her, there’s also unfortunate irony in Jones’ death. My reporting indicates that Jones was a one of the few police officers trusted and respected by nearly everyone in Prentiss, black and white. Over and over, blacks in Jefferson Davis County have told me of Jones, “He was a friend,” or, “He was one of the good ones.” I should add, here, that I think Jones took some shortcuts that night. And those shortcuts are in part to blame for what happened. But after talking to lots of people in Prentiss and Jeff Davis County, I’m also convinced Jones was a good guy doing what he thought was good police work. There was nothing malevolent about him. In an area of the country where black people are particularly wary of white cops, Jones was respected—nearly beloved. Bob Evans says that knowing what he knows of Jones, had it been any other officer killed that night, he believes Jones would have been an advocate for Cory Maye.

One of the people I spoke to during my visit two years ago is Linda Shoemaker, who runs the Prentiss tobacco shop. Shoemaker’s a white woman, middle-aged, and was described by many to me as the town’s unofficial historian. She knows everything that happens—judging from my time there, likely because nearly everyone in town stops by her shop to buy tobacco. Shoemaker knew Ron Jones well, for most of his life, and was quite fond of him. But she’s also one of the few white people in the area who doesn’t believe Cory ought to be in prison. I still have a quote from her in my notes from two years ago. “If somebody every broke in on me and my grandbabies…” She then paused. Her eyes filled with tears and she glanced upward. “Forgive me for saying this, Ron,” she said. “You know I love you. But if anybody broke in on me and my grandbabies at night, I’d have done the same thing Cory Maye did.”

You have one man taken from his family, in the prime of his life. You have another man, also taken from his family, now losing the prime of his life. You have a son taken from his mother and father. And you have a loving father being taken from his son and daughter.

Thank this war. The goddamned drug war. It is so incredibly senseless and stupid. And it’ll continue to claim and ruin lives, because too few politicians have the backbone to stand up and say after 30 years, $500 billion, a horrifyingly high prison population, and countless dead innocents, cops, kids, nonviolent offenders, decimated neighborhoods, wasted lives, corrupted cops, and eviscerations of the core freedoms this country was allegedly founded upon, the shit isn’t working. It’ll never work. It never has. It’s a testament to the facade of truth that is politics that no leaders from the two majors parties have in thirty years been able to say this. That maybe, just maybe, we’re doing it wrong. Maybe, just maybe, kicking down doors in the middle of the night and storming in with guns in order to stop people from getting high….isn’t such a good idea. Maybe, just maybe, the idea getting tips from racist, illiterate, drug-addicted informants about which doors, if you kick them down, will lead to drugs? Well maybe that isn’t such a sound policy, either. We can’t even get one of the leading candidates for president to say that. The safe position is always to advocate for more money, more government power, more militarism—and less freedom, less common sense, and less worry about collateral damage. Sensibility, honesty, or compassion? Too risky.

Incidentally, the whole no-knock, door-kicking, middle-of-the-night-storming stuff wasn’t the result of trial-and-error police tactics. It wasn’t suggested to policymakers by academic criminologists with years of experience studying best practice police tactics, either. It wasn’t even something police were particularly interested in at the time. If you read the book Smoke and Mirrors, journalist Dan Baum’s terrific history of the drug war, the sad fact of the matter is, the “no-knock raid” was a concept dreamed up in the late 1960s by political strategists working for the Nixon campaign.

That’s right. This map comes courtesy of a bunch of political hacks who knew very little about actual police procedures or criminal justice. But they did know a little something about winning elections. The no-knock raid was one of several get-tough-on-crime policies they thought would win over white suburban voters. They wanted to implement it in Washington D.C., the one urban area over which Congress had the power to directly implement criminal justice policy. What tougher crime policy could there be than to let narcotics cops bust down the doors of suspected drug users and distributors? These were voters who’d mostly only seen D.C. on TV, but they were voters Nixonians (correctly) anticipated were fed up with seeing evening news reports of black people rioting in the streets, and hippies smoking dope on the National Mall.

The plan worked. Nixon won, and his crime platform and appeal to the “silent majority” had a lot to do with it. By 1972, he’d initiated the modern “war on drugs.” Wars of course mean combat. And so door-busting narcotics raids took off 1970s, then exploded in the 1980s with the rise of SWAT teams.

I’m not a huge fan of conservative political theorist Richard Weaver. But he was certainly right about one thing: Ideas have consequences. The door-bashing drug raid—an untested, unstudied, get-tough-on-crime political tactic dreamed up not by guys in badges but by party animals in tailored suits—has had some very real consequences. One of those consequences can be seen in the memorial outside the Prentiss, Mississippi city hall, which marks the too-early death of good cop. T’a’Corianna Longino and Cory Maye, Jr. are also consequences of that idea dreamed up three decades before they were born. Just two more black kids who, if the state of Mississippi has its way, will spend the rest of their lives without a father. In this case, that’s despite the fact that they have a father who loves them, and desperately wants to be a part of their lives.

I’ll leave you with the message from the Thanksgiving card Cory sent to Ta’Corianna this year. A bit of context: Cory had hoped to see his daughter last month, when he was allowed out of Parchman for his re-sentencing hearing. Unfortunately, Ta’Corianna’s aunt got lost on the way to the courthouse. The hearing was over and Cory had been moved back to Parchman by the time they figured out where they were, and how to get to the courthouse. Cory writes:

Ta’Corianna,

Hi baby! I know we didn’t get a chance to see each other while I was down for court. Hope you’re doing well, cause I think of you each day. You’re always within my heart & prayers. You & I have a lot of thinks to talk about & time to make up for.

We’ll be together soon if it’s the Lord’s Will. He’s been protecting us & making sure we stay strong for one another. So I’m sure he’ll send me home to you one day. Just try not to worry.

I know it’s been hard at times, but just try to do what I do. I look at your pictures & think happy thoughts, where all of this will be behind us. We’ll be fishing at the lake. Yeah, daddy’s going to take his little girl fishing at the lake. We’ll have a picnic, and we’ll talk until the sun goes down. Maybe we’ll have some ice cream, too. If we can keep it from melting.

Take care and stay sweet. I love you more than life and words can say. Happy Thanksgiving!

Love always,

Cory J. Maye.
Daddy.

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74 Responses to “From Mississippi”

  1. #1 |  Alex | 

    Whiskey, I’m not going to get into this, so this will be my last post. Desoxyn is not normally prescribed to children (” Methamphetamine helps some children with ADHD.”) I’m sure it was been used with children is some extreme cases, but I have some familiarity with LD children, and I personally have never heard of it. A Desoxyn pill is 5mg, which is next to nothing for recreational use.

    Pointing out that illegal drugs can be used for good is ultimately pointless and childish. The drug epidemic isn’t about some someone sprinkling some cocaine on their gum before pulling their tooth, or getting shot and administering a heroin injection, or using extremely low doses of methamphetamine to treat serious mental health problems. “No, most drugs are not bad. Drugs are not good or bad.” This is the kind of relativistic nonsense that turns people off even if it isn’t representative of most people against the drug war.

    It is the position of The Agitator and most libertarians (myself included) that the drug war, especially in its current incarnation, is bad for many reasons, none of which are that smoking meth is a great idea. Tragedies like Cory Maye are excellent at making this point because everyone knows someone like Cory, a good guy who enjoys a joint every now and then. If everything about this story was the same except a couple grams of ice were found, reasonable people would instinctively know that there’s something wrong with him, even if you can cite a legitimate use for meth.

  2. #2 |  Rick | 

    Les your arguments are less supported by the report than Roach’s.

    You have three groups; White, Black, and Hispanic. Populations approximately average 40%, 40%, 20% nationally. Granted the ratios vary from place to place and you can’t say anything about a particular prison based on averaging data like this, but from my reading, this is what is implied.

    Population A mostly victimizes only population A.
    Population B victimizes B as well as A.
    Population C victimizes C as well as A.

    Knowing the ratio of the populations and assuming all other factors are roughly equal, population A will be victimized more than B or C.

    Therefore Roach’s assumption that Whites are raped more than Blacks or Hispanics is a reasonable assumption. By how much? You can’t know without specific data. Given the general assertions about proportions it must be significant.

    However, reports that do not sight numbers in statistical references are either for summary purposes or are trying to slant the statical evidence. In either case they are not worthy as support for an argument.

  3. #3 |  Rick | 

    Putting it simply, the constitution, as read my most reasonably intelligent people, prohibits the government from doing the things necessary to create prohibitions against any vice.

    Yet its done all the time, because if you look very closely, in between the lines, squint your eyes. It says it’s ok to ignore the constitution if your intentions are good.

    Uh, what road is paved with good intentions?

  4. #4 |  Roach | 

    To the last three commenters, thanks. “You’re a bad person for saying something” is not an argument. I think you all raise some good points. I think the math point is spot on, though the national percentages in the general population are more like 70 White 15 Black and 15 Hispanic, though jail populations are closer to 45 Black 30 White and 25 Hispanic.

    I hate using anecdotal data, but sometimes that’s all you got. I got interested in this issue when I read probably the saddest thing I ever read in my life, “The Punk Who Wouldn’t Shut Up.” The racial angle is not primary to this debate, other than I think inattention to this issue is a combination of a) general disregard for the rights of prisoners and b) the uncomfortable racaial politis of this issue. Earlier, I didn’t think it would be too controversial to say: lots of people that sell drugs are bad people for other reasons and that’s why it’s not the absolute end of the world for them to go to jail, even if one also acknowledges that as a general matter prohibition is more costly than beneficial. We needn’t romanticize dealers or their likely prospects if prohibition goes away. The question of “who is punished” and “are these good people” does matter to most people, and things like demeanor, attitude, dress, ambition, education, and all the rest go into that heuristic.

    Finally, it’s very different for me and most everyone when you’re dealing with strangers and people you know. There is no black lawyer (or any lawyer) that I really worry about as far as crime (though interestingly a redneck lawyer wanted to throw down one time in Beaumont). But on the street, I worry in general about young men, and then things like clothing, demeanor, “fit” and, yes, race go into the mix. I worry about young men more than old, men more than women, and black more than white. Are these unreasonable tools to use? There’s no reason to use these short-hand indicators when you’re dealing with someone you already know, but on the street people don’t walk around with their SAT scores and rap sheets stapled to their foreheads for a more thorough examination. We can only use what we see and what we already know about the facts given to us.

    The differences in criminality across these different critera–as in violent criminality–are very real and not really a subject of debate, and a quick perusal of the NCVS or BJS data or various compilations takes minutes.

    This fact of life among citizens and cops is clearly a cost on harmless and law-abiding black men. I acknowledge that, and I acknowledge it’s regrettable. It’s not fair to them, and when these heuristics cross some invisible line from being shorthand to blindness to the opposite extreme, I believe that should be stopped, particularly by law enforcement. (Since stop, arrest, and conviction data all converge, it does not suggest “over policing” of minorities.) But I’m not going to let some vague commitment to willfully blind egalitarianism when it comes to crime endanger my life or the life of a loved one. It happens every day because people are afraid to “cause offense.” Usually this manifests itself silently; I avoid certain neighborhoods, situations, bars, clubs, streets, and people. That’s it. As Jesse Jackson famously observed, when he turns around late at night on the street and sees white teenagers, he feels safer than when the faces are black. Surely, he’s not racist (at least not against blacks).

    As for this discussion, it matters as follows. It’s undeniable the drug war hits black men hard. But it’s also been endogenous with a drop in violent crime. Since blacks are roughly 8-10X more violent–according to NCVS/BJS stats–then there is likely some effect of this wide net on the general crime rate, and this may on balance be preferable. Ideally it would be tuned better, with harsher penalties for those with pre-existing violent offenses, or firearms, or other proxies for violence. I don’t know what price we can put on the avoided rapes, assaults, robberies, and murders that incarcerated drug offenders have not committed. But it’s far from zero, it has something to do with the racial composition of the incarcerated, and I believe this at least as a fact should not be particularly controversial.

  5. #5 |  Les | 

    Roach, I owe you an apology. According to the Bureau of Prisons, 40% of the prison population is black and 56.4 is white, making a “skinny white boy” statistically more likely to be raped than a black guy. You were right and I was wrong. I won’t be so sure of myself in the future until I’ve wrapped my head around some solid numbers.

    Of course, I’ll continue to feel sure of myself in regards to the immorality and impracticality of the war on drugs. There just aren’t any numbers that can justify imprisoning people for merely engaging in free-trade with politically incorrect substances.

    Unless you have another link, that is.

  6. #6 |  _Jon | 

    Radley – your dialog unfolds like a clip from a show like 20/20 or 60 minutes. I hope one of them picks it up. Ironic that as liberal as their host networks are, they would never permit the section on how bad the drug war is to be vocalized.

    As for Roach’s comments – it appears this comment thread has been hijacked by someone who is taking advantage of your bandwidth to preach his position. I’ve skipped most comments that have his name attached. As this post of yours (Radley) gets linked wider, Roach’s opining may get as much visibility as yours. And even though disclaimers make it clear they are his opinions, do you really want his opinions associated with yours? Is giving him a voice like this on your site – right next to such a good update on Corey, really in your best interest? Please start deleting.

    Thanks for continuing to work on Corey’s situation.

  7. #7 |  Greg | 

    That damn well brings me to tears. If only the people that back an actual killer like Mumia would listen to Cory’s tale and take up his cause.

    Well done, Radley.

  8. #8 |  clarenancy | 

    Beautifully written.

    You do good work for a worthy cause.

  9. #9 |  kynna | 

    I’m with everyone else who thanks you for your excellent reporting on this case. You’ve really done an amazing job and you are once again proving that bloggers often do much better, more thorough work than the MSM.

    That being said, it’s also one of the most frustrating experiences ever to read your posts. What can I do from California to help a man in Mississippi? I can’t stand reading about him and not being able to do something.

    You may have done a post about what your readers could do to help and I missed it. If so, I apologize. But if you haven’t perhaps you could do one — especially at this time of year when we’re all looking for ways to help those less fortunate — and the comment section would hopefully become a clearing-house for other good ideas to help those imprisoned unjustly.

    Thanks again for all you do.

  10. #10 |  Don Meaker | 

    The reason why white guys in jail get raped is because they tend to be the dumb ones that get caught.

    If a smart white guy was to choose a life of crime he would become a banker, a lawyer, or a politician.

  11. #11 |  Zeb | 

    Alex, you miss my point entirely. Someone had implied that most illegal drugs “are bad”. It is a ridiculous notion that any drug is bad in and of itself. Of course abuse of powerful drugs like opiates, amphetamines or cocaine is not good for you. Many people seem to think that methamphetamine has no legitimate use, instantly addicts all users and works like demonic possession. We will never get anywhere with prohibitionists unless most people stop thinking that drugs are inherently evil and look at the reality of how they are and can be used.

  12. #12 |  junyo | 

    “Since stop, arrest, and conviction data all converge, it does not suggest “over policing” of minorities…Since blacks are roughly 8-10X more violent–according to NCVS/BJS stats-then there is likely some effect of this wide net on the general crime rate, and this may on balance be preferable.”

    That would assume that all laws on the books are equitably prosecuted; i.e. the same percentages are plea bargined, dropped or won/lost. “Over policing” could easily be covered by your criteria by simply choosing to take most cases from suspect pool X to trial, or by the trial process being inherently skewed against suspect pool X. One would also have to assume that no other demographic correlations existed among the suspect groups, which is (pure speculation) unlikely. Not having seen the numbers, I’d wonder if the same convergence wouldn’t occur across economic lines. One think you’d tend to get a higher percentage of any group on the wrong side of the economic curve when one chooses to create a highly lucrative industry by artificially restricting supply of a highly demanded commodity, which is effectively what drugs laws do. And after criminalizing that activity to throw an inordinate percentage of your law enforcement and judicial system at those laws, as well as creating massive personal/professional incentives for the people in those systems to focus on those crimes, would further skew the data. Can objective, cut and dry conclusions really be pulled from the data?

    Above and beyond anything else is the question of whether race is a valid criteria for assumption as to behavior/level of threat.
    “…on the street, I worry in general about young men, and then things like clothing, demeanor, “fit” and, yes, race go into the mix. I worry about young men more than old, men more than women, and black more than white. Are these unreasonable tools to use?”
    Yeah, they are. And old white woman can shoot you dead just as easily as a young black man. A killer can smile or be nicely dressed just as easily as they can frown or wear baggy pants or sweats. A young man in average shape can be out run by a middle aged man in great shape. Nobody thinks the threat is a threat until it’s too late, otherwise nobody would ever be victimized. General stats and trends do nothing to inform you of the threat that any particular individual represents to you. The smartest course of action would simple be to assume that everyone equals a threat until proven otherwise. The only time ranking or prioritizing threats is an issue is if you’re addressing multiple targets and you need to figure out which one to address first.

    More than that, despite the attempt to make racism look like a purely rational response to data, the simple fact is you’re making a collectivist argument that it’s okay to knowingly violate the rights of some portion of the citizenry as long as society’s okay with the over/under. As long as everybody feels good about the theoretical and unquantifiable “avoided rapes, assaults, robberies, and murders” then the “cost on harmless and law-abiding black men” while regrettable, is a price you’re willing to pay. How magnanimous.

  13. #13 |  M. Simon | 

    ADD/ADHD is treated with stimulants. Meth is a stimulant.

    The use of meth may be a form of self treatment. Something rather out of fashion these days. The medical cartel has locked up drugs and worst of all minds.

    Roach, here are a few links to get you started on the self medication aspects of drug taking:

    Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

    Heroin

    PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

  14. #14 |  Thomas | 

    “And old white woman can shoot you dead just as easily as a young black man.”

    But she’s not as likely to, is she?

    If you refuse to make the kind of generalizations Roach makes, then your options are as follows:

    1. Treat everyone as an equally potential threat (which means that you basically just cower in your house, since the old ladies in the walking club at the mall are clearly just as dangerous as the corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted dudes standing on the corner in a neighborhood where lots of similar people live); or

    2. Treat nobody as a potential threat, meaning that you go to an ATM in a sketchy neighborhood, taking no more precautions than you would in a mall.

  15. #15 |  Ryan Waxx | 

    Purest rhetoric.

    Every single ‘point’ the author makes could equally well be made about a vast array of other murders. Surely, it is the first time a person chose to hide from the police in his daughter’s room? I don’t think so. The first time a killer surrendured with bullets left in his gun? Please. The first crime in which the perp’s acts don’t make objective sense to a rational observer? Umm…
    And yet people… who obviously want to believe… shower this sloppy reasoning with unrestricted adulation. It never ceases to amaze me how people just turn off their skepticism like a light bulb when faced with something they want to believe.
    The man blasted a cop, and he darn well knew it was a cop when he pulled the trigger. He had a lot of indications, from people screaming ‘POLICE!’ to the markings on the cop himself in the well-lit room in which the murder took place. Clever lawyering can cast doubt on each item in isolation, but all together? No.
    Sure, prison conditions need improvement… for everyone, not just those chamioned by blogswarm groupthink. But that’s a seperate issue, and including it doesn’t change the fact that a jury of his peers… who saw more of the evidence than any of the commenters here ever will have… put him there.
    And when you get into the ‘OMG he changed his baby’s diaper’ part… Then it starts to get just embarrasingly sloppy on the misplaced sentiment. His victim will never change a baby’s diaper… guess why?

  16. #16 |  Radley Balko | 

    Ryan Waxx:

    It’s pretty clear you aren’t interested in discussion or debate. But I will correct you on a couple of things:

    The room wasn’t “well-lit.” It wasn’t even dimly lit. It was dark. There’s no dispute about this.

    Officer Jones’ clothing wasn’t plainly marked. I’ve seen what he was wearing. It was dark clothing, with a small police insignia on the sleeves and another on the back, which Cory wouldn’t have seen.

    Whether or not they were yelling “police!” is anyone’s guess. Only they and Maye know the truth about that.

  17. #17 |  Ryan Waxx | 

    > It’s pretty clear you aren’t interested in discussion or debate.

    And you are… as long as people agree with you?

    > The room wasn’t “well-lit.” It wasn’t even dimly lit. It was dark.

    Yeah, so all the news outlets got it wrong? Sure.

    > Officer Jones’ clothing wasn’t plainly marked.

    And since any reasonable person would agree with you, that is why the police department effected a change in uniform… oh, wait they didn’t? Another fine, lawyerly point.

    > Whether or not they were yelling “police!” is anyone’s guess.

    Anybody’s guess? Is that what we call police testimony nowadays?

    Fortunately, the jury did not believe that.

  18. #18 |  fishbane | 

    Radley,

    This is one of the most moving posts I’ve read in some time. You’re a rock star. The damage done to families in the name of preserving family values is beyond perverse, and the wisdom and compassion to all of the victims here you display and bring to life is incredibly moving.

    Thank you for pursuing this, for publicizing this, for simply being a dedicated, honest, wonderful person.

  19. #19 |  fishbane | 

    > Whether or not they were yelling “police!” is anyone’s guess.

    Anybody’s guess? Is that what we call police testimony nowadays?

    …Because police testimony is well known to be always factually correct and honest.

  20. #20 |  junyo | 

    Treat everyone as an equally potential threat (which means that you basically just cower in your house, since the old ladies in the walking club at the mall are clearly just as dangerous as the corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted dudes standing on the corner in a neighborhood where lots of similar people live)
    So you’re not arguing that the old lady doesn’t represent some level of threat. You’re arguing that:
    1. That individuals who are not male or black or “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” represents a level of threat that can be effectively disregarded.
    2. That in any given random interaction with a “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” black male, your being assaulted is more likely than not.
    3. That as a corrollary of item 2, every single young black man (or at least all “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” black males) represents a level of threat for which the proper response is to “cower in your house”.
    4. That it’s equitable to treat the individuals who are “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” black males as a threat, simply because of their appearance, even if they are not actually a threat.
    This is the crux of your point, correct?

  21. #21 |  Roach | 

    I notice from junyo’s last set of comments that many liberals live in desperate fear of ever having to make a generalization, as if we could get through life at all without engaging in some kind of information triage all the time. This is silly; people who make sensible generalizations thrive; those who don’t and don’t notice patterns perish. This goes back to ancient times.

    To his question, yes, the folks described who are young and male and black and dress like thugs are many many times more dangerous than people at random, little old ladies, or white men in general. Order of magnitude differences are involved.

    If these people as described are not in fact a threat, then it’s too bad, but the “indignity” they suffer is mostly to be watched more closely and for their neighorhoods to be avoided. These are inconveniences, and in a free society more restrictive things like restrictive covenants, racial discrimination, policies with disparate impact, and the like should be acknowledged as totally legitimate uses of liberty. I mean, let’s face it, the subdivision rent-a-cops should be looking at who is out of place and more likely to commit crimes, no? And since they’re private and these are private neighborhoods, libertarians should not complain, I would imagine.

    Just google “Color of Crime” study to see some of the basic numbers on this.

  22. #22 |  Bronwyn | 

    Ryan, go read all the court transcripts, then come back to apologize. Your ignorance is embarrassing.

  23. #23 |  Steve Finlay | 

    I don’t see a fear of making a generalization in Junyo’s comments at all. He or she is pointing out, quite correctly, that you haven’t come close to demonstrating that your PARTICULAR generalization is actually “sensible”.

    Let’s suppose that a black man dressed as a thug actually is “orders of magnitude more likely” to commit a violent crime than a white man in a suit. Apparently, you conclude from this that it is appropriate to assume that NO white man in a suit is a threat, and that EVERY black man dressed as a thug IS a threat. This does not follow. The chance of the white man attacking you could be 0.001%, and the chance of the black man attacking you could be two orders of magnitude higher, at 0.1% — which is one chance in a thousand. You are not even CLOSE to demonstrating that the black man is more likely to attack you than not, and I believe that is Junyo’s point.

    If your logic were true, then every law-abiding black man should assume that any police officer who approaches him is going to arrest him without reasonable cause, fabricate evidence, and lie on the stand to convict him. After all, police officers are orders of magnitude more likely to do this to a black man than people who are not police officers.

  24. #24 |  Dana | 

    It’s interesting to see Prohibition repeatedly invoked as a reason for not ever banning any other drug again. I used to do that too, and then I read up on what the situation was like when they decided to ban alcohol.

    And, well, you know all the crime we have to deal with now because so many people get high? It was like that back then. Imagine, say, the drinking habits of your average working-class Englishman and then imagine them being with corn liquor rather than Guinness. Just like that. It was a mess. Really, really ugly. It wasn’t at all like our drinking habits are now. We’ve actually gotten a good bit more civilized, even with drunk driving deaths and that kind of thing.

    So NO, this wasn’t a case of the mean old Government being nannies or not letting anybody have any fun. It was a matter of clamping down on something that was destroying a lot of people’s lives in very unpleasant ways. Until you have had to live with an alcoholic parent or spouse or obnoxious neighbor day in and day out and had to suffer their abuse and then multiply that effect by about a thousand, maybe you’ll never understand.

    It’s for that reason that I don’t really care if they ever legalize drugs. OK, I might be all right with pot being legalized, because I’ve smoked it and it’s like alcohol without the hangover for me, but people are already rude and nasty with their tobacco-smoking habits, they already force me to imbibe their drug right along with them when they light up in front of me out in public without asking me… I would imagine they’d do that with pot too. Best to just leave it to people who would be criminals anyway and let the law-abiding people take up other, less destructive hobbies.

    There are more ways to harm a person than by merely taking their property. Maybe you should consider that in your critiques of government and so-called “collectivism.”

    That said, I agree that this man’s arrest and sentencing were just inexcusable and baseless. I also do not understand why harming a cop carries a stiffer penalty than harming a civilian, since a police officer takes the job knowing he is risking his life, but there is no such job description for civilian life. It’s ridiculous and it just props up the authoritarian state with no real benefit to anyone.