Transgender 16-yo, transferred without charges to adult female prison, or maybe male

Since former Supreme Court justice Joette Katz has taken over the beleaguered Department of Children and Families (DCF), some weird ass shit has been going on over there. The latest is this really outrageous transfer of a transgender 16-year old male who identifies as female to an adult correctional facility.

It’s not like she’s actually arrested for anything, though. The Courant reports:

In this case, the youth was arrested at a juvenile facility in Needham, Mass., in late January for an assault on a staff member — but the criminal charge was not pursued by prosecutors in Massachusetts. No criminal charges are pending against the youth.

The police report in Massachusetts said that the assault resulted in ”apparent minor injuries” to the staff member, said [Assistant Public Defender] Connolly, who reviewed the report.

However, the incident report prepared by staff at Meadowridge Academy in Needham, does describe a violent outburst by the youth, who was upset, insubordinate and attempting to walk off campus when confronted by two staff members.

So? 16 year olds act out. There are no charges. The most galling part is that this is the very child that Commissioner Katz used as an example in her pitch for a locked detention facility:

On Feb. 14, Katz, while lobbying to open a secure treatment facility for girls in Middletown, brought up this youth’s story in testimony before the legislature’s appropriations committee. Katz didn’t name the youth, but said that a staff member was blinded and had her jaw broken in the assault. Katz said this youth would be appropriate for the locked program, which was the subject of opposition from advocates and some lawmakers. The allocation of $2.5 million was approved and the unit is now open on the campus of the former Riverview Hospital in Middletown.

A state source said that the blindness to which Katz referred was temporary, and that the worker’s sight has returned.

Advocates for children are questioning Katz’s decision to use the youth’s story to make her case for DCF’s locked treatment program, while pushing for the youth to be transferred out of DCF care and into an adult prison. DCF’s request for the transfer was filed in court on Feb. 4.

So now this child goes to the adult female prison – the only female prison, pending an evaluation. At which point, they might decide to send her to a men’s prison. Because, you know, that’s even better for this troubled kid.

This should come as no surprise, though, to people who follow the state juvenile and adult prison system. They’re quick to shove the problem off to someone else and the last thing you get in our locked facilities – be it for juveniles or adults – is the mental health treatment that so many desperately need.

Seeing is disbelieving: in spite of video edition

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This is not a trick question: what do you think has superior recall of the facts – your memory or a video of the incident?

No prizes for guessing correctly. But despite that, 5 judges in the State of Indiana went with their imaginations discretion in ruling [PDF] that a car had actually swerved into oncoming traffic despite the fact that it had not, and thus a police officer was justified in pulling the driver over for the horrifying crime of having a BAC level of 0.09.

Around 1:00 a.m. on October 15, 2011, Deputy Casey Claeys of the Elkhart County   Sheriff’s Department was following another vehicle down County Road 4. Deputy Claeys later   testified he saw the vehicle “drive off the right side, which was the south side of the road, twice.”

Okay, so that’s what the cop says. What does the video say?

[T]he trial court stated it “reviewed the video on approximately ten occasions and cannot conclude from the video that the defendant’s vehicle actually left the roadway . . . but it does show the vehicle veering on two occasions onto the white fog line.”

Are you laughing or crying? I can’t tell. I’m doing both. So the video doesn’t support the proposition that the car left the roadway. Remember the officer said that it had veered off the road. Veered. Off. The. Road. Meanwhile the video shows that maybe it touched the white line.

So how do you reconcile that? Magic and the power of being a judge:

The trial court noted, however, that it was “quite possible that the officer’s actual visual observation of the defendant’s vehicle was superior to the video camera in his car.”

Got it? The officer’s memory is that much better than a video recording of the event.

This is important because if the car hadn’t actually left the roadway or god forbid, veered across a line for a second, the officer wouldn’t have any reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop, which led to the arrest.

They need some reason – a traffic violation, say – to pull you over. Then when they notice you making ‘furtive movements’ and describe your eyes as ‘glassy’, they can arrest you for being drunk.

But this? This really just obviates the need for recording, because if the video can be superseded by an obviously biased officer’s “recollection” of the incident, then they can claim that their recollection is that you were driving with your windows down, AK-47s blasting into the air while screaming “fuck tha police” and taking exaggerated swigs of Crystal while simultaneously pissing on a photo of George Washington and wiping your ass with the American flag.

That scenario is just about as absurd as what the judges ruled in this case.

But no, you keep believing in the system.

Update: Scott wrote about this earlier in the week.

Wednesday is link dump day

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So much to read, so little time to write. So you get links that I didn’t have time to turn into posts.

Potential juror thinks defendant is guilty before trial; gets to sit on jury and find him guilty (Updated)

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Here is another in the long line of legal fictions: that you get an impartial jury of your peers. Let’s leave aside the peer part for now, because there’s already been much study on the lack of any real peers in juries selected these days and focus on the “impartial” part.

Impartial, in this context, is supposed to mean someone who doesn’t come to the trial with any predispositions. Someone who is able to be fair, listen to the evidence, and conscientiously apply the law to the  facts, regardless of whether one emotionally agrees with the result compelled by those facts.

In reality, we aren’t stone robots. Everyone comes in with preconceived notions. In these days of increasing polarity, we have ever stronger opinions about crime and criminal justice and especially those icky child molesters.

So we come to our legal fiction: rehabilitation. That’s when the judge asks an obviously biased venireperson enough questions that they eventually get the hint, no matter how stupid they are, and end up saying the magic words “I think I can be fair in this case”. Doesn’t really matter what they’ve said prior to that point, once we get to that incantation, the juror is deemed impartial and fit to serve on the jury.

You’d be a fool, however, to think that the juror has actually changed his or her views. Just ask Jose Felipe Velasco:

Jose Felipe Velasco insists Orange County Judge David A. Hoffer cheated him out of a fair trial by placing a juror on the supposedly neutral citizen’s panel after she repeatedly declared the defendant guilty before hearing any evidence.

But you knew that anyway from the title of this post. So how bad could it have really been? Very bad.

A hierarchy of offenders

Clearly, in Connecticut, it is worse to be a prostitute than it is to be a robber and assaulter. Because there really is no other way to explain this story:

A local woman faces prostitution charges after police said she reported being robbed by a man who responded to her ad offering sex for money.

Get that? A woman, who was freely choosing to engage in a contract for sexual services, is such a danger to society that she must be arrested and prosecuted, while the guy who got angry with her and assaulted her and stole his cell phone, well, who cares about that, right?

What’s more offensive is that she wasn’t arrested on the scene. Some officer took the time to go back to his or her desk, write up a warrant, go to a judge, get it signed and then go track her down again and then arrest her.

I’m sure this will fix her. Meanwhile, Mr. John is free to rob and assault as many other ‘prostitutes’ as he likes, because…well, you know the drill.

H/T: Maggie McNeil.

Revenge porn bill makes it to senate: better but still unconstitutional

The Connecticut judiciary committee has voted by a margin of 39-11 to send that awful ‘revenge porn’ bill that I warned you about to the full senate. Except they’ve made a change or two to the bill that makes it better than before but still, in my opinion, quite damn unconstitutional.

Monday Morning Jumpstart

Whaddya know: three in a row. In some places, they call this a streak. Here, we call it pushing the limits. But, I can’t force you to complain, so enjoy while it lasts before I go back to sleeping late on Monday mornings.