Lunch Links

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

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58 Responses to “Lunch Links”

  1. #1 |  BamBam | 

    If the jogger had shot the dog to protect themself, would they have been charged with murder because that dog is not just a dog any more, it’s a State sanctioned thug?

  2. #2 |  Mike | 

    @BamBam Charged with assault on a police officer at the least. The unsaid yet inherit hypocrisy in that story is just so wrong and sad.

  3. #3 |  Omega |

    Here’s another interesting story for you straight out of our backyard….

  4. #4 |  M | 

    The rate would be higher too if police prosecutorial misconduct were counted as crimes.

  5. #5 |  Mannie | 

    Charged with assault on a police officer at the least.

    That’s an urban myth. It’s a seperate offense.

    I’ve found police dogs to vary greatly in temperament. Some are outstanding, but many are ill tempered, ill trained, out of control beasts – just like their handlers.

  6. #6 |  Mike | 

    Aren’t dogs who attack humans unprovoked automatically put down?

  7. #7 |  Aresen | 

    German shepherd named Haras

    Anyone else notice the irony in that name?

    @ Mike | February 14th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    IIRC, dogs are allowed “one bite”. After that, it’s the syringe of lethal barbituate. (Ordinary people’s dogs, that is.)

  8. #8 |  Aresen | 

    Here’s a good piece on eyewitness identification. In the lead anecdote, the eyewitness points to a juror as the murderer. They convict the guy, anyway.

    They later arrested the juror as an accomplice.


  9. #9 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    it could be significantly higher if there were more of an effort to document crimes committed in prisons.

    Scumbag USA. Imprisons you for crimes. Does nothing to stop those same crimes in the place they imprison you.

  10. #10 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Potato chips: there are probably literally thousands of such stories in the USA. No, I haven’t counted them. But, I’ve been using these examples against Republicans and Democrats for a couple decades. Oh, you can’t “win” or enlighten but you get to see how they deal with failure. Most justify it like “Well. Actually. That makes sense because potatoes and jobs.”

  11. #11 |  Roho | 

    Well, the precedent was just set that you’re not allowed to defend yourself against the police, even if they are acting outside the law. Can’t see why that wouldn’t apply to a police dog. Just let yourself be mauled, and then let the courts work their magic.

    Also, it is bitterly amusing to see that the same leeway cops get (“I thought the soda bottle was a shotgun!”) is applied to the police dogs (“He thought it was a fleeing suspect!”) God forbid one of us lower lifeforms ever mistake a situation.

  12. #12 |  Pablo | 

    “God forbid one of us lower lifeforms ever mistake a situation.”

    Like this?:

  13. #13 |  awp | 

    I was a juror in a civil case. Assault all around. Guys were suing a bar because they started an altercation and got their asses kicked (justifiably, or at least that is what we found) by the bouncers. One of the witnesses/bouncers/involved parties for the defendants “POSITIVELY” identified a lawyer for the plaintiff as one of the parties involved in the altercation. The ridiculous thing is that the lawyer looked nothing like any of the three guys(ridiculous meatheads), except for the being vaguely hispanic. The bouncer was also hispanic.

  14. #14 |  Mike | 

    I wanted to post this link before, if you have ever visited you know the site is about people who write their secrets on a post card and send them in. There was a police officer who admitted he planted evidence all the time.
    Here is a LINK to the thread discussing the planting evidence post card. I don’t know if the cop or some of the comments scare me more.

  15. #15 |  Balloon Maker | 


    Hipster runoff wins again

  16. #16 |  (B)oscoH | 

    So now Balko isn’t just the only journalistic badass taking on police militarization from his iconic multi-pillared living room with a guitar on the wall, he’s tall enough to be the next unexpected superstar of the Knicks. Lovely.

  17. #17 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Prisoners] are the victims of an ideological system that dehumanizes an entire class of human being and permits nearly infinite violence against it. As much as a physical space, prisons denote an ethical space, or, more precisely, a space where ordinary ethics are suspended.”

    I watched one if those Lockdown shows lately and a prisoner
    said he wasn’t going to fight back anymore after reading the Scripture.
    All hell broke loose, administrative dilemma for the prison, a human who refused to go on as an animal.
    They moved him to adseg then solitary then double secret
    solitary. Amazing what happens when you refuse to be an animal
    for the Roman Guards and take a higher ground based on principle.

  18. #18 |  Ahcuah | 

    I have to admit that the Loving story (bonus points for unintentionally appropriate name) brought a tear to my eyes, even this many years after.

  19. #19 |  Robert | 

    “Osabam bin Laden loved Whitney Houston.”

    In a “Murder her husband and claim her as one of my wives” kind of way…

  20. #20 |  Juice | 

    Anyone catch a thing on PBS last night called “Slavery by Another Name”?

    Pretty darned interesting to say the least.

  21. #21 |  strech | 

    The cop caught on tape was, of course, exonerated, and some additional dash cam video from the incident was mysteriously lost.

  22. #22 |  strech | 

    (And I mean “exonerated” by an internal investigation and not held accountable, not that he didn’t actually do what was caught on video).

  23. #23 |  Deoxy | 

    Crime and Prison

    From the article:

    Crime has not fallen in the United States—it’s been shifted.

    In other words, “PRISON WORKS.”

    Seriously, I understand that we put people in prison far too easily and for stupid things (like drugs), but the crime rate OUTSIDE of prison is the one we primarily care about – that’s why we put people in prison, to keep them away from the rest of us.

    Seriously, if you want to make arguments that prison are bad, or that we put too many people in prison, this is absolutely the wrong argument to make.

    In fact, it very very strongly reinforces putting people in prison, and even partially excuses putting innocent people there! How? Easy:
    -This argument says that crime is not prevented, that criminals commit crime wherever they are
    -Innocent people outside of prison will be victimized unless we lock them up
    -A few innocent people in with them will also be victimized, yes, but
    -FEWER innocent people (and certainly a lot fewer of us out here) will be victimized on the whole.

    Fewer innocent victims. QED.

    Now, I’m not saying I buy into all of that, necessarily, but anyone who has any hint of “crime is committed by criminals, so we need to lock those particular people up for a long time to keep them away from us” mentality is going to see it that way quick and easy.

  24. #24 |  omar | 

    @#22 | Deoxy

    Aren’t all victims of crime innocent by definition? Just because you commit one crime does not make you deserving of being a victim of another.

    On the flip side, everyone commit crimes. Being outside of prison does not make you “innocent.”

  25. #25 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    You put your finger right on my personal problem. I need the State to protect me from predators. I’m a fifty year old with bad teeth and gout, and I can’t shoot worth a damn. Oh, I could buy a gun and practice, but I have serious doubts about hitting the broad side of a barn while standing inside in any situation with significant tension. My reflexes have been middling-poor all my life (I’m a bookworm), and it seems unlikely they’ll improve now.

    So I want the cops to catch criminals, and the courts to put them away. On the other hand, I DON’T want innocents imprisoned as part of some half-assed “Lawr ‘n Owdah” parade. So I want to see lying cops, thug cops, and cheating prosecutors hit with the full weight of the law. A policeman or prosecutor who participates in trumping up charges on somebody on a capitol case should be tried for conspiracy to commit murder.

  26. #26 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    that’s why we put people in prison, to keep them away from the rest of us.

    Well, maybe that’s why those of you who never advanced beyond a preconventional level of moral development do it.

  27. #27 |  (B)oscoH | 

    @Deoxy: You obviously never caught the Freakonomics movie… There is a surprising competing explanation for why crime rates dropped precipitously in the early 90s.

  28. #28 |  Eric | 


  29. #29 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    that’s why we put people in prison

    If you’re going to take on the massive responsibility of putting people in cages, you have to also take on the massive responsibility of taking care of them.

    THIS was the lesson to be learned in Escape From New York. Snake Plissken makes the establishment realize they’ve made a mistake (HUGE) in how they are treating convicts.

    Honestly, aren’t people watching the classics anymore?

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    And Adrienne Barbeau boobs.

  31. #31 |  JOR | 

    #22, Whatever is wrong with the argument in question, the fact that it alienates amoral chickenshits who are okay with locking up innocents/nonviolent offenders with hardened thugs to make themselves a little safer is a feature, not a bug.

  32. #32 |  JOR | 

    #24, Societies without anything we’d recognize as states have taken a variety of approaches to dealing with predators besides some kind of libertoidal “everyone for themselves, and devil take the hindmost” strategy. That kind of thing is more a product of aristocracy than statelessness. Systems of uniform law are usually more a product of cultural egalitarianism than centralized authority (notice how whites and fringe liberal/conservatives are being treated more and more like colored folks and political radicals always have been as the dynamics within white mainstream America become more sharply defined as “Cops vs Everyone Else”, even as much of the legal system becomes more centralized).

  33. #33 |  BenSix | 

    Osabam bin Laden loved Whitney Houston.

    From the link…

    He explained to me that to possess Whitney he would be willing to break his colour rule and make her one of his wives.

    Arguably he’d have been a less destructive influence than Bobby Brown.

  34. #34 |  albatross | 


    To be fair, Osama might have been a better husband than Bobby Brown.

  35. #35 |  Burgers Allday | 

    another alleged poor police announcement case

  36. #36 |  Burgers Allday |

  37. #37 |  albatross | 


    This is also the theory behind some mental institutions. I don’t get what’s barbaric about it. If there are people we can identify, who are an ongoing large threat to those around them, it makes sense to lock those people up someplace where they can’t hurt others. That place should be as humane and decent as possible, and we should be damned careful not to lock harmless people up (other than for deterrent effect), but I flat don’t see what else we can do with super dangerous people.

    For example, the nut who shot Gabrielle Gifford is, by all accounts, too crazy to really be blamed for what he did. But the only sensible thing I can see to do is to make sure he stays locked away from other people from now on, because we don’t want any other people murdered by this nut. If we someday find a way to treat him so he’s no longer dangerous, then we can release him. Until then, we want him confined, not because we want him tosuffer (mental illness is worse punishment than anything we’d do to him), but because he is demonstrably dangerous to leave running loose. If we were a much poorer society, we’d probably have to kill him, because we couldn’t afford to keep him up. But we’re more than rich enough to feed and clothe and medicate the guy, so that’s what we will and should do.

    I just don’t see what more humane alternative exists for us.

  38. #38 |  Jim Wetzel | 

    @ #36: ” … and we should be damned careful not to lock harmless people up (other than for deterrent effect) … “/i>

    Huh? Did you write that harmless people can justifiably be locked up for “deterrent effect?”

  39. #39 |  Jim Wetzel | 

    A preview function here would maybe save me some embarrassment …

  40. #40 |  Deoxy | 

    Thank you, JOR (among others), for completely missing the point of my post. Oh, and the dripping condescension was nice, too (Stormy Dragon, in particular – I suppose those of you who have “advanced beyond a preconventional level of moral development” just kill miscreants and have done with it? Or is perpetual violence by known actors who keep being violent to those around them a feature to you?!?).

    ALBATROSS gets it. Thank you. The point was that the argument being made (that violent crime has just been shifted) argues very strongly that there are certain people who are predators and want to be violent. Such people are going to be violent where ever they are, so for a non-violent society, such people need to be locked up or otherwise disposed of.

    It was NOT just that prison is a happy fun place, or any that we should toss anyone we like in there, or that prosecutors and police should be allowed to run amuck, etc. – to even read that into there requires some personal issues, or prehaps severe problems with reading comprehension.

  41. #41 |  Deoxy | 

    Oh, and the “stranger breaks into home, does housework” story – I think this deserves mention for police non-brutality, as it appears the officers involved treated him decently.

    It is a sad day when “treated him decently” is worthy of mention, eh?

  42. #42 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    #7 | Aresen | February 14th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    They later arrested the juror as an accomplice.


    Nah. Obstruction of justice.

  43. #43 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    This is also the theory behind some mental institutions. I don’t get what’s barbaric about it.

    I wasn’t referring the detention of actually dangerous people. By preconventional morality, I was referring to Deoxy’s attitude that it’s okay if prisoners are victims of violent crime because as long as it stays in prison it won’t happen to him. The idea that things are right or wrong based solely on whether or not they hurt you specifically is barbaric.

  44. #44 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    I suppose those of you who have “advanced beyond a preconventional level of moral development” just kill miscreants and have done with it? Or is perpetual violence by known actors who keep being violent to those around them a feature to you?!?'s_stages_of_moral_development

    My complaint wasn’t with your conclusion about what should be done, but your justification for why it should be done. The “meh, if prisoners brutalize each other, it don’t affect me” attitude is what I was deriding, not the specific conclusion that dangerous people need to be controlled.

  45. #45 |  Delta | 

    Corrections Corporation of America sends letter to 48 states offering to buy prisons, in exchange for 20 year contracts at guaranteed 90% fill rates:

  46. #46 |  Miranda | 

    Another reason prisons are so violent is the kind of people who work there. I worked in the Texas prison system for years, and a lot (if not most) of the guards who worked there couldn’t care less if the inmates kill and main each other. The attitude was that, because they are in prison, they get whatever is coming to them. None of these jackasses ever considered that a lot of the inmates weren’t in for violent offenses. Or they didn’t care. Car theft, drug possession, non-violent property crimes, murder, rape – it was all the same to them.

  47. #47 |  DarkEFang | 

    #44 – Delta:

    Only 90%? CCA is really lowballing it. The prisons CCA currently owns all cut deals with local PDs to keep them at 100%+ capacity.

  48. #48 |  omar | 

    Another reason prisons are so violent is the kind of people who work there.

    Reminds me of the most honest and surprisingly well-articulated thing ever said to me. “Being a prison guard is great. I like the feeling of power I get when I beat up prisoners.”

    What a shitbag.

  49. #49 |  John Regan | 

    The cop CAN make stuff up and frame him. Even the SCOTUS doesn’t care. See Pottawattamie County v. McGhee:,

    and see updated portion of this post:

  50. #50 |  supercat | 

    #37 | Jim Wetzel | //Huh? Did you write that harmless people can justifiably be locked up for “deterrent effect?”//

    I would guess/hope that he was referring to situations in which people have committed crimes for which they need to be punished. Being “harmless” does not imply being innocent.

  51. #51 |  albatross | 


    Yes. For example, I’m okay with embezzlers getting jail time (in humane jails, not supermax 23.5 h/day solitary, or someplace where they’ll get raped twice a week) entirely for the deterrent effect, because I think we will have a lot more embezzling going on if the penalty is limited to, say, a big fine and a lawsuit. Many crimes are rational ones requiring some premeditation: stuff like embezzling, wire fraud, insurance fraud arson, identity theft, etc. Many of these are also fairly hard to catch in practice. So we probably want the punishment to be unpleasant enough to deter the crime.

  52. #52 |  Jim Wetzel | 

    I have to disagree with you there. If punishment exceeds what is actually deserved for the offense committed, the punishing entity is itself criminal. Just think: if ten-year prison stretches deter a certain amount of embezzling, wire frauds, and so forth, won’t twenty-year stretches deter even more? Maybe twice as much? How about life (in humane prisons, of course)?

    My point is: if the imprisonment is “entirely for deterrent effect,” as you put it, there’s no particular reason to imprison the person who actually does the crime. Imprisoning me, or you, will work just as well. Entirely for deterrent effect, that is.

    Unless the state owns you, it is completely wrong for the state to coercively use you for any purpose not your own. Deterrent, organ donor, or pistol practice target for cops — the principle’s the same. Or so it seems to me.

  53. #53 |  StrangeOne | 

    #49 albatross

    There is no such thing as a long lasting deterrent effect, for any crime. All crimes are committed with the assumption of not getting caught, from the guys who plan their crimes meticulously to the guys who are simply too stupid to think ahead, no one ever runs a cost profit analysis on the payoff of a criminal act vs. the probability of capture and average jail time. Look at our current system, American prisons are horrible and (some) drugs produce ludicrous sentences for selling them. But we still have crack-dealers, and crack dealers don’t even make that much money. The street peddlers usually make less than minimum wage. Even in less civilized societies where the death penalty was abundant for a variety of crimes, we still saw such criminal activity.

    The simple truth is that human are not psychological disposed to making those kinds of long term calculations. Human behavior is far more dictated by the immediate surroundings and circumstance of a crime than anything else. For instance, did you know that in many psychological studies its been shown that people are far less likely to cheat at games if a pair of eyes is watching them, even from something like a movie poster? You could do more to deter theft by painting a pair of eyes in a changing room than you could by giving the death penalty for shoplifting. It’s almost kafkaesque, but sadly that’s just the way people are.

  54. #54 |  supercat | 

    #51 | StrangeOne | “no one ever runs a cost profit analysis on the payoff of a criminal act vs. the probability of capture and average jail time.”

    People probably don’t run such an analysis accurate to five significant figures, but there is a definite consideration of which risks are worth worrying about and which risks aren’t. The fact that many criminals will abandon a crime in progress if they sense they might get caught demonstrates that they have a desire not to get caught. Such desire is almost certainly motivated by a belief that being caught will have unpleasant consequences. If criminals knew there wouldn’t be any unpleasant consequences for their actions, they wouldn’t have to abandon a crime in progress to avoid it.

  55. #55 |  albatross | 


    What’s the right level of deterrence? What’s a just length of time to be put in jail for, say, identity theft and fraud that involved you getting $100K and another $500K loss being imposed on everyone else as a result? I don’t think there’s any clearly-right way to get to an answer here.


    Do you have evidence for this? Because it seems like an extraordinarily strong claim, to me. For example, if the penalty for drunk driving increases dramatically (say, from a fine to mandatory loss of license and a much bigger fine), is it really the case that the rate of drunk driving will stay unchanged?

  56. #56 |  albatross | 


    David Friedman runs through some calculation like this in _Law’s Order_ (which is a wonderful book you should go read), webbed here.

    One thing I’ve always wondered about: Would it be possible to replace parole boards entirely or mostly with insurance underwriters? I visualize something like this:

    Fred committed an armed robbery at age 18, and he is now 24–probably six years in prison is more than enough deterrence for almost any crime committed by an 18 year old. So what we really want to know is whether releasing this guy back into the world makes sense. That centers around three questions:

    a. How much is his continued confinement going to cost us taxpayers.

    b. How much other damage/harm is done by his continued confinement (mainly to him, but also to his family).

    c. How much damage/harm is he likely to do if released?

    Now, (a) can be calculated directly, and the prison system has people who know that number. (b) is impossible to calculate objectively, but we can surely come to some kind of reasonable notion of what another year of confinement is worth, probably something that’s just $X/year or something.

    (c) is the sort of question you’d like to answer by getting someone to write an insurance policy for it. Let’s say the total cost of keep him confined (including the cost to him) is $Y per year, and we have someone willing to write an insurance policy to re-emburse both the state and his victims for any crimes he commits after he’s released (probably for some limited time, like three or five years) for less than $Y. Then, we buy the insurance policy and release him.

    The advantage of this is that insurance companies would be betting their own money on getting the answer right, and they would get and incorporate feedback from their decisions over time into future decisions. A second advantage is that there’s a mechanism for re-embursing victims of recidivism. A big potential downside is that there would be a financial incentive for blaming the recent ex-con over the new criminal for some crime–the new criminal is likely judgment-proof, whereas the recent ex-con has an insurance policy that will pay for whatever harm he has caused.

    I imagine that to work at all, this would need to happen within some sentencing limits–you get sentenced to A-B years in prison, and after A years, the insurance companies can decide to write an insurance policy on you or not, and you go free as a result. The minimum sentence is to ensure meaningful deterrence (and might be 0), the maximum sentence is to ensure some limit to your confinement (and might be life).

  57. #57 |  Deoxy | 

    I was referring to Deoxy’s attitude that it’s okay if prisoners are victims of violent crime because as long as it stays in prison it won’t happen to him.

    The “meh, if prisoners brutalize each other, it don’t affect me” attitude is what I was deriding, not the specific conclusion that dangerous people need to be controlled.

    Actually, I’d rather the crimes not be committed at all, but to achieve that would require simply killing certain individuals who keep committing them, or otherwise completely removing them from all human contact for the rest of their lives. As neither of those is really on the table (perpetual solitary is viewed as cruel, libertarians in particular are largely opposed to the death penalty, for at logistical reasons – the state does the job poorly), such crimes WILL continue. As such, it’s best if such people perform said crimes ON EACH OTHER than on anyone else (who would YOU prefer, Stormy Dragon?).

    That’s not only what I meant, it’s a reasonable reading of what I wrote, as I said “keep them away from the rest of US” not just “me”.

    Having checked your link, I would point this out right here:

    Because of this level’s “nature of self before others”, the behavior of post-conventional individuals, especially those at stage six, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventional level.

    This would be why many principled libertarians are viewed are simply selfish bastards (“pre-conventional”). The more I am around libertarians on the web, the more I find that they tend to view those whose principles they disagree with in the same fashion. Thanks for helping to clarify that.

  58. #58 |  Deoxy | 

    Bloody crap, I screwed up the blockquoting there. Is there some mod who can fix that? Duhhh, I really can do this inter-web thingamajig sometimes…

    There is no such thing as a long lasting deterrent effect, for any crime.

    HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

    Tell me another one!

    Seriously, “crimes of passion” are not as deterred, sure (that’s the whole point of the designation – letting your emotions overcome your mind at the time), but even those have been going down in recent years. Either it’s because we’ve locked up most of the people who do them (an argument no one here really likes) and they can be “deterred” by just removing those people from society, or SOMETHING else is deterring them.

    It’s particularly easy to see in what kinds of crime get committed where, and how that changes as laws change. The most obvious example, in my opinion, is how self-defense laws change the nature of burglary.

    “Home invasion” style burglary, that is, breaking into a home when the residents are there, is vanishingly rare is some places in the world. It’s utterly and amazingly commonplace in others. In fact, some of those places have changed in the last 20 years… want to bet on where?

    The UK has an ENORMOUS problem with that now, and they didn’t 20 years ago. What changed? Self-defense laws. Well, that, and how likely people are to actually go to jail for it.

    Check the stats on home invasion burglary in the US, in particular as states have adopted “Stand your ground” type laws. Spoiler: the rates go down. A lot.

    SOME things the rational mind thinks should deter criminals certainly don’t, but your quote at the top is just laugh-in-your-face wrong.