More than 4,515,000 pageviews from 160 countries


Friday, August 23, 2019

Joe Biden In 2011 Revealing His Misunderstanding Of Policing And Crime Prevention

     On October 19, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden told a reporter from Human Events that if Congress failed to pass President Obama's Jobs Act, "...murder will continue to rise, rape will continue to rise, all crimes will continue to rise." When confronted by the reporter's skepticism regarding rising crime rates, Biden told him to check the crime statistics for Flint, Michigan, pointing out that when police officers were laid off in that city, rape rates went up.

     According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the number of rapes in Flint, Michigan declined from 2009 to 2010. In 2008, the city employed 265 sworn police officers. In 2010, there were 144. So, in Flint, as more and more officers were laid off,  the incident of rape, according to the FBI's statistics, dropped. Flint's chief of police, Alvin Lock, said this in September 2010: "A smaller police force doesn't automatically mean more crime. There's been years when we had 300 officers and we still had more homicides."

     Because police officers generally react to crime rather than prevent it, there is little relationship between policing and crime rates. This is particularly true with regard to crimes like rape and homicide. If an escalation of police manpower and weaponry affected crime rates, we would have won the drug war twenty years ago.

     Let's assume that the Obama administration had given the city of Flint enough federal money to double their police force. How would the police department have used those funds? They probably would have hired more patrol officers and bought more expensive weapons and SWAT gear. The money would not have been used to solve rape or other cases. The crime lab would still have had a two to three year DNA analysis backlog, and there still would have been a shortage of forensic nurses, rape kits, and trained sexual offense investigators.

     Rape is primarily a crime committed behind closed doors involving people who know each other. Having ten heavily armed patrol officers on the street in front of a house where a rape is being committed would not prevent the assault.

The Hope Of Fingerprint Pioneers

     In 1901, Scotland Yard became the world's first law enforcement agency to routinely fingerprint its arrestees. Fingerprint identification came to America in 1904 when the St. Louis Police Department established its bureau. Before fingerprinting, arrestees in Europe and America, beginning in the late 1870s, were identified by sets of eleven body measurements, a system created by the Frenchman, Alphonse Bertillon. By 1914, the year of Bertillon's death, fingerprinting had replaced anthropometry in every county but the United States where, in several jurisdictions, the outdated, cumbersome identification system stuck around until the early 1920s. Until Alphonse Bertillon and the fingerprint pioneers came up with methods of scientifically identifying criminals, law enforcement remained in the dark ages. For this reason, Alphonse Bertillon is considered one of the founding fathers of modern policing.

     Beyond the use of fingerprint science to maintain and classify arrest records, and to identify arrestees who are wanted in other jurisdictions, crime scene fingermarks, so-called latent fingerprints--constitute one of the most common forensic techniques of linking suspects to the sites of their offenses. While latent prints can be made visible by various chemicals, iodine fuming, superglue, and laser technology, the most common method of bringing out and preserving this type of crime scene evidence, particularly on hard surfaces, involves the application of a fine powder and lifting tape. (This explains the phrase, the latent was lifted from the scene.)

     In 1911, a  Chicago judge, in a first of its kind case, allowed a latent fingerprint into evidence as proof of the defendant's guilt. Since then, forensic crime scene latent fingerprint identifications have sent tens of thousands of criminals to prison. The beauty of crime scene fingerprint examination involves the fact it doesn't take high technology, or great skill and education to recover this form of trace evidence. Moreover, the comparison of crime scene latents and known fingerprints does not require an advanced degree in science. Jurors can look at a courtroom exhibit in the form of side-by-side, enlarged photographs of the two prints depicting their points of joint identify. Unlike DNA identification which requires a leap of faith in science, the matching of a known and unknown fingerprint simply requires good eyesight, and faith in the integrity of the evidence. (Granted, there have been lapses in the fingerprint integrity aspect of latent fingerprint identification.)

     Today, crime scene latents can be fed into a supercomputer--the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)--and matched with single, rolled-on fingerprints stored in the computer's massive data base. Identifying unknown crime scene latents this way is one of the few instances where forensic scientists can solve and prove cases. When AFIS became operational in the late 1980s, crusaders for the professionalization of criminal investigation, and the increased use of forensic science in crime solving, envisioned the dawn of a new era in law enforcement much like the introduction of fingerprint science at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

     America's forensic science pioneers of the Twentieth Century hoped for a future in which the police would defeat crime through latent fingerprint identification and other forms of forensic science. These early crusaders for scientific crime investigation could not have foreseen how the massive war on drugs would drain law enforcement resources away from forensic science and criminal investigation. These men would have been shocked and dismayed by the low status of criminal investigation in modern law enforcement. Well-trained investigators and crime scene criminalists are being replaced by drug war SWAT tanks and M-16 carrying shock troops schooled in busting down doors.

Lizzie Borden's Acquittal

 In 1893, In Fall River, Massachusetts, Lizzie Borden got off murdering her father and stepmother with a hatchet because the all-male jury didn't think young women from good families were capable of committing gruesome homicides. After the Borden trial, no one was ever arrested for the double killing. Lizzie Borden lived the rest of her life in Fall River under a cloud of suspicion. Only the bravest kids would knock on her door for Halloween candy.

Serial Killer Ted Bundy On Murder

Murder is not about lust and it's not about violence. It's about possession. When you feel the last breath of life coming out of the woman, you look into her eyes. At that point, it's being God.

Ted Bundy

Graphic Gore in Horror Fiction

Bloody acts of violence need not be graphically described…My position is simple. I detest the Vomit Bag School of Horror--books and stories featuring gore for gore's sake, designed strictly for the purpose of grossing out the reader.

William E. Nolan, How To Write Horror Fiction, 1990 

The Biographer's Impossible Mission

Biography is a vain and foolhardy undertaking. Its essential conceit, that the unimaginable distance between two human beings can be crossed, is unsupportable; each of us is inherently unknowable. The biographer may be able to locate his subject in place and time--to describe the clothes he wore, the food he ate, the jobs he had, the opinions he expressed--but that subject's inner essence is, by its very nature, forever inaccessible.

Jonathan Yardley, Misfit, 1997

The Longevity Of Children's Literature

It's striking how long children's book can last. One explanation may be the way in which they're read. They become part of our emotional autobiographies, acquiring associations and memories, more like music than prose. Another explanation may lie in the fact that children's books are designed with re-reading in mind. For all children's writers are conscious that his or her books may be re-read by children themselves.

S. F. Said, The Guardian, February 16, 2015 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Bobby Woods Jr. Murder Case: The Banality Of Evil

     In August 2015, 17-year-old Bobby Woods Jr. was living in his family's house in Lufkin, Texas with his girlfriend Billie Jean Cutter and her son, Mason Cutter, a 3-year-old boy fathered by another man. When Billie Jean informed Bobby that she was pregnant with his child, the couple decided to murder Mason. With three families living under the same roof, there was simply not enough room for Mason.

     On August 15, 2015, Bobby Woods took the 3-year-old boy to a pond on the family's property and pushed him into the water. As the boy struggled to survive, Bobby Woods turned and walked away. The terrified child drowned. The next day, Mason Cutter's body was removed from the pond.

   When questioned by detectives, Bobby Woods confessed to killing Mason Cutter and doing it with Billie Jean Cutter's consent. The boy had become excess baggage and had to go. As it turned out, the murder wasn't necessary because Billie Jean was in fact not pregnant. Poor Mason, however, was still dead.

     A month before the August 2019 murder trial, Bobby Woods' attorney filed a motion to have his client's confession excluded as evidence on grounds it had been acquired by police coercion. The defense attorney explained that Bobby had signed the Miranda warnings waiver under the belief that only guilty people needed lawyers.

     The judge denied the defense motion, ruling that Woods' confession had been given voluntarily. As a result, it could be entered into evidence at his trial. This decision sealed the defendant's fate.

     On August 16, 2019, following seven days of testimony, the Angelina County jury found Bobby Woods Jr. guilty of capital murder. The judge sentenced the 21-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

     Billie Jean Cutter, in exchange for her guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, received a sentence of 20 years behind bars.

      The fact that people like this walk among us is more than a little disturbing. Moreover, the fact this case received so little attention in the national media reveals that we are now beyond being shocked and horribly disgusted by evil of this magnitude. Mason Cutter was just another kid who died because he was born to a degenerate mother who had a moronic, murderous boyfriend.

     And so it goes.

     

How People Kill Each Other

The most common way American's commit murder is with a gun. The second most popular murder weapons are knives or other devices designed to cut or pierce. Strangulation comes in third. Murder by poison is far down on the list. Murder victims are also thrown off boats, cliffs, and buildings; run over by vehicles, beaten to death, and suffocated. Let's face it, Americans are not very nice to each other.

Lack Of Impatient Treatment For The Mentally Ill

     A severe shortage of impatient care for people with mental illness is amounting to a public health crisis, as the number of individuals struggling with a range of psychiatric problems continue to rise....A study published in the journal Psychiatric Services estimates 3 to 4 percent of Americans--more than 8 million--suffer from serious psychological problems.

     The disappearance of long-term care facilities and psychiatric beds has escalated in the past decade, sparked by a trend toward deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients in the 1950s and 60s....

     A 2012  report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization that works to remove treatment barriers for people with mental illness, found the number of psychiatric beds decreased by 14 percent from 2005 to 2010. That year there were 50,509 state psychiatric beds, meaning there were only 14 beds available per 100,000 people....As a result, many people who experience a serious mental health crisis end up in the emergency room....Between 2001 and 2006, 6 percent of all emergency department patients had a psychiatric condition.

Samantha Raphelson, "Here and Now" NPR, November 30, 2017

Thornton P. Knowles On Spoken Word Pollution

Thanks to cable news and talk radio, the world is polluted with the spoken word. There was a time when words silently lifted off the page and drifted into our minds. Today, the air is filled with talk-- conversations, discussions, debates, and commentary. The subjects include sports, crime, politics, the weather, celebrities--you name it. The talking never stops. For many it creates frustration, anger, anxiety, depression, envy, and fear. It rips at the fabric of our society, splits us into groups, makes some people a little crazy. My father used to say, "silence is golden." He had no idea how right he was.

Thornton P. Knowles

Journalism Beats working

Being a journalist, I never felt bad talking to journalism students about the profession because it's a grand, grand job. You get to leave the office, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories. That's not going to retire your student loans as quickly as it should, and it's not going to turn you into a person who's worried about what kind of new car they should buy, but that's as it should be. I mean, it beats working.

David Carr, The Independent, February 13, 2015 

Not All Bestselling Novels Are Well Written

" 'Are you ready?' he mewled, smirking at me like a mother hamster about to eat her three-legged young."

E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, 2012 

No Secret Formula For Writing a Bestseller

The fact that nobody has even been able to reduce the elements that go into the fashioning of a predictable best-seller has long been illustrated by the classic story of an expensive book-business survey that produced the three kinds of books that had always proved most popular: books about Abraham Lincoln, books about doctors, and books about dogs. The only thing predictable about the survey was that some publisher was bound to act on it, and not long after the survey some publisher did. He brought out a book called Lincoln's Doctor's Dog. It was--predictably--a disaster.

Jerome Weidman, Praying For Rain, 1986 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

America: The Land Of Litterbugs

     Modern cars and truck are smart. They give you directions to unfamiliar places, remind you to fasten your seatbelts, alert you to a cracked door, a low tire, or a problem with your engine. Some day the things will drive themselves. It's too bad some genius hasn't invented an automotive feature that prevents occupants from littering our roads, streets and highways with their trash.

     Notwithstanding ad campaigns against littering, laws against it, and millions of trash containers, our country is buried in garbage chucked from cars and trucks; 51 billions pieces of it every year. The debris generated by our modern lifestyle is not only ugly, it can be carried by storm drains into local waterways. At $11.5 billion a year, it is also costly to cleanup. Littering is a huge problem and a national disgrace.

Littering in the First-Degree

     In August 2019, Sergeant Stephen Wheeles of the Indiana State Police, while cruising I-65 in Johnson County, was startled when a dirty diaper tossed out of the vehicle in front of him slapped loudly against his patrol car.

     Officer Wheeles activated his emergency lights and pulled over the car carrying a passenger seated next to a child in the back seat. The litter suspect, while acknowledging that the soiled diaper had originated from that vehicle, blamed wind blowing though the vehicle.  It was a nice try, but the trooper wasn't stupid. He issued the subject a ticket for littering. If Indiana had a law on the books called first-degree littering, this incident would have qualified.

     Since all of the Keep American Beautiful measures have failed to stop motorists from despoiling our streets, roads and highways with trash, we will just have to wait for the Automatic Automotive Anti-littering (AAA) feature we so badly need.   

America's Fifteen Most Corrupt Cities

In 2018, the top fifteen most politically corrupt cities were: Washington, D.C. (no surprise here); Chicago, Il; Philadelphia, PA; Baltimore, MD; Miami, FL; Houston, TX; New York, NY; Detroit, MI; New Orleans, LA; Newark, NJ; Richmond, VA; Los Angeles, CA; Wichita, KS; Cleveland, OH; and Las Vegas, Nv.

California's New Deadly Use Of Force Law

In 2017, police officers in California killed 162 people. (In 2016, the number was 157 and in a study I conducted in 2011, California police killed 102.) In August 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom sighed a bill into law that only justifies deadly force in cases where it is necessary to prevent the suspect from killing or seriously hurting the officer or another person. The old law also allowed the use of lethal force to prevent an armed suspect from resisting arrest or fleeing apprehension. The new legislation is one of the most restrictive laws of its kind in the country. Given the number of legally justified but unnecessary police-involved shooting cases in the United States over the past several years, other states will probably follow suit.

Thornton P. Knowles On Not Knowing Thyself

To write compelling fiction you have to become other people; people worse than you, people better than you, people you like and people you don't like. I think I know some of my characters better than I know myself.

Thornton P. Knowles

Biographies Should Be More Than A Collection of Facts

Research is only research. After all the facts have been marshaled, all the documents studied, all the locales visited, all the survivors interviewed, what then? What do the facts add up to? What did the life mean?

William Zinsser in Extraordinary Lives, edited by William Zinsser, 1986 

What is a Fable?

A fable is a brief tale, in prose or verse, to illustrate a moral. Often involving unusual or supernatural incidents, fables sometimes contain animals, as in Aesop's Fables, Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, and George Orwell's Animal Farm. 

Rod L. Evans, The Artful Nuance, 1997 

The Classic Short Story

There is something about the pace of the short story that catches the tempo of this country. If it is written with sincerity and skill it portrays a mood, a character, a background, or a situation. Sometimes it is not only typically American, it is universal in its feeling; sometimes its inherent truth is not a thing of the month, but of the years. When this is true, that short story is genuinely a classic as any novel or play.

Edna Ferber, One Basket, 1964 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Ahmed Elgaafary: The Uber Driver From Hell

     In February 2018, Uber driver Ahmed Elgaafary, an Egyptian citizen, picked up a heavily intoxicated young woman at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in eastern Pennsylvania's Chester County. At two-thirty that morning, the 27-year-old driver from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, instead of directly delivering his alcohol impaired passenger to her home fifteen minutes away, detoured to a dimly lit road in Charlestown Township. At that remote spot, Elgaafary climbed into the back seat of his GMC Yukon and raped the unconscious woman.

     While sexually assaulting his victim, the Uber driver kept the meter running.

     Fifty-three minutes after the rape, Elgaafary dropped the woman off at her residence. In addition to the taxi fare, the driver charged her $150 for vomiting in his SUV.

     When she awoke later that day, the Uber rape victim discovered bruises on her thighs. She didn't remember what happened in the SUV, but suspected the driver had violated her sexually.  For that reason, she went to a hospital where a nurse used a rape kit to gather and preserve the physical evidence of sexual intercourse. The kit was submitted to the authorities for forensic analysis.

     When questioned by detectives, Ahmed Elgaafary denied any sexual contact with his accuser. However, when confronted with physical evidence that contradicted his denial, he changed his story. Elgaafary said that while he had sex with the passenger, it had been consensual.

     Charged with sexual assault, indecent assault, and the rape on an unconscious woman, Elgaafary went on trial in August 2019. The prosecution's case rested primarily on the testimony of the victim and the rape kit evidence connecting him to the act.

     Ahmed Elgaafary took the stand on his own behalf and claimed that he had been seduced by the accuser. He said the sex had been consensual. He did acknowledge, however, that his passenger had been intoxicated at the time.

     The jury of eight men and four women didn't accept the Elgaafary defense, and after only three hours of deliberation, found the defendant guilty as charged.

     Following his sentencing, Ahmed Elgaafary will be deported to Egypt where he will serve his time.
   

What The Jeffrey Epstein Case Has Taught Us About Criminal Justice In America

Perhaps the most important lesson of the Jeffery Epstein sex trafficking case is that the American criminal justice system does not come close to our founding fathers' concept that we are all equal under the law, and that no one is above the law. Moreover, it reminds us of the decadence of the rich and powerful in this country. Unfortunately, it has always been this way and will probably remain so. This criminal justice double standard will continue because the rich and powerful control our politicians. In other words, certain privileged criminals and degenerates will always avoid justice.

The Black Market For Pot In California

In California, the black market for marijuana in 2019, notwithstanding the legalization of pot, continues to flourish. That's because, due to hefty sales taxes and marijuana distribution fees, illegal pot can sell for 40 percent less than the legal stuff. Politicians, in pushing for legalization, lied when they promised that legalization would put an end to the illegal drug trade. But that shouldn't surprise anyone. When did a politician ever tell the truth about anything.

Charles Bukowski's Autobiographical Fiction

Bukowski claimed the majority of what he wrote was literally what happened in his life. Essentially that is what his books are all about--an honest representation of himself and his experiences at the bottom of American society. He even went so far as to put a figure on it: ninety-three percent of his work was autobiography, he said, and the remaining seven percent was "improved upon." Yet while he could be extraordinarily honest as a writer, a close examination of the facts of Bukowski's life leads one to question whether, to make himself more picaresque for the reader, he didn't "improve upon" a great deal more of his life story than he said.

Howard Sounes, Charles Bukowski: Locked In The Arms Of A Crazy Life, 1998

Science Fiction Began in Magazines

From its earliest days, when Hugo Gernsback first inserted stories in the monthly Electrical Experimenter, the primary outlet and market for science fiction was magazines. The Experimenter was the size of Life. So was Amazing Stories, the all-fiction magazine Gersback launched in 1926. In the thirties, the pulp magazines shrank to standard quarto, but doubled in thickness as publishers used the cheapest paper around.

John Baxter, A Pound of Paper, 2003

The Rhyming Children's Picture Book

Rhyming! So many writers think children's picture books need to rhyme. There are some editors who won't even look at books in rhyme, and a lot more who are extremely wary of them, so it limits a literary agent on where the manuscript can go and the likelihood of it selling. These books are also particularly hard to execute perfectly.

Kelly Sonnack in 2013 Children's and Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2012 

Boring Dialogue

     Letting a scene drag is one of the worst mistakes a writer can make. [Unless he is an established "literary" novelist.] Bringing two or more characters together and letting them chat on and on about nothing is inexcusable. The problem is many writers aren't even aware that their characters are doing this, even when it's in front of their noses. They're sitting right there writing the story and fail to see they're boring their reader to death with going-nowhere-fast dialogue.

     There are many reasons dialogue scenes bog down. The main one is that we clutter them with so much added narrative and action that the reader has to muddle his way through and the going becomes a little clunky. Sometimes, the scene is weak when it comes to tension and suspense, and the reader is yawning….

Gloria Kempton, Dialogue, 2004 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Murdered in Honduras

     Beauty queen Maria Jose Alvarado, as Miss Honduras, represented a country that has the world's highest murder rate for a place not at war. From 2005 to 2013, the murder of Honduran woman and girls increased by 263 percent. The 19-year-old university student resided in Teguigalpa, the Honduran capital. She had been participating in beauty pageants since she was a young girl.

     In Latin America, where beauty pageants are popular, winners often become celebrities and TV personalities. While Alvarado hoped to become a diplomat after graduating from the university, she worked as a model on the popular Honduran television game show "X-O Da Dinero." In her spare time she played volleyball and football (soccer).

     On the night of November 13, 2014, Maria Alvarado was at a resort/spa outside of Santa Barbara, a city 240 miles west of her home. She was there to attend a birthday party for her sister's boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz.

     That night, after the party, Alvarado, her 23-year-old sister Sofia Trinidad Alvarado, and Plutarco were seen getting into a champagne colored car.

     The next day, when Maria failed to board a plane for London to participate in the early rounds of the  120-contestant Miss World pageant, she and her sister were reported missing.

     On Tuesday November 18, 2014, officers with the Honduran National Bureau of Investigation arrested Sofia Alvarado's boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz. Pursuant to the arrest, the officers seized a champagne colored car and a pickup truck. They also recovered a .45-caliber pistol.

     Under police interrogation, Ruiz confessed to murdering his girlfriend and her sister, the beauty queen. After he and the women left the party, Ruiz and Sofia got into a heated argument regarding the fact she had been dancing with another man. At some point, out of a jealous rage, Plutarco pulled the .45-caliber handgun and shot her in the head. He shot Maria twice in the back as she tried to flee the scene.

     Ruiz and an accomplice loaded the two corpses onto the back of a pickup truck and hauled them to a remote spot along the banks of the Aguagual River near the town of Arada 25 miles from Santa Barbara.

     On Wednesday November 19, 2014, police officers recovered the bodies lying on top of each other in a shallow grave near the river. Maria Alvarado was wrapped in a brown plastic sheet.

     Officers with the Honduras National Bureau of Investigation, on the day they arrested Ruiz, took five suspected accomplices into custody. The officers arrested Aris Maldonado Mejia, Antonio Ruiz Rodriguez, Ventura Diaz, Elizabeth Diaz, and Irma Nicolle.

     In June 2017, after a jury found Plutarco Ruiz guilty of double murder, the Honduras judge sentenced him to 45 years in prison.

Murder Fascination

     To say that as a society we take an interest in murder is an understatement. From today's headlines to tomorrow's books, TV, and movies, murder reigns supreme. And as if the more that half a million real-life murders a year around the globe (some 12,000 in the United States alone) somehow constituted a lack of violent death, we make up for that lack in fiction--adding a never-ending supply of made-up stories of murder and mayhem to the count.

     To paraphrase P. D. James [an English crime novelist], our fascination with this worst of crimes--a crime against the very humanity of our fellow humanity--perhaps lies more with our desire to restore order than it does with the despicable act itself. At any rate, fascinated we are--and remain.

A Miscellany of Murder, The Monday Murder Club

Making The FBI's Top Ten

Things I wonder about the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" criminals: When they catch a guy and he comes off the list, does number eleven automatically move up? And does he see it as a promotion? Does he call his criminal friends and say, "I made it, Bruno. I'm finally on the list?"

George Carlin

Charles Bukowski On The Typewriter Versus The Computer

With a typewriter it's like walking through mud. With a computer, it's ice skating. It's a blazing blast. Of course, it there's nothing inside you, it doesn't matter. And then there's the clean-up work, the corrections. Hell, I used to have to write everything twice. The first time to get it down and the second time to correct the errors. This way, it's one run for the fun, the glory and the escape.

Charles Bukowski

Mickey Spillane's Hardboiled Mike Hammer

I lived to kill the scum and the lice that wanted to kill themselves. I lived to kill so that others could live. I lived to kill because my soul was a hardened thing that reveled in the thought of taking the blood of the bastards who made murder their business. I lived because I could laugh it off and others couldn't. I was the evil that opposed other evil, leaving the good and the meek in the middle to live and inherit the earth.

Mike Hammer in Mickey Spillane's One Lonely Night, 1961

The Writer's Day Job

There's a difference between a vocation and a profession. A vocation is a calling--something you are called to. A profession is something that you practice...In the states, I think about 10 percent of the novel writers actually make a living out of their novel writing. The others have the vocation, but they can only partly have the profession, because they have to spend the rest of their time making money in order to keep themselves in their habit. They are word junkies. They've got to pay for their fix. I chose university teaching because there is a long summer vacation, and also because you could fake it.

Margaret Atwood

Teen Horror Fiction

     Horror is an extremely popular genre in teen fiction. It's easy to see why. A good horror story will take a relatively normal individual, Our Hero, and pit them against a malevolent, often mysterious enemy, The Monster. Our Hero must struggle to understand this monster, its strengths and weaknesses. Then he must face it. Often, Our Hero conquers the unknown beast, sometimes not, and until some understanding of The Monster is found, Our Hero, faced with the unknown is often powerless against it. Teens deal with parents, teachers, peers, and a world full of rules they have yet to fully understand.

     Teen fiction, at its best, examines these confusing emotional issues; therefore, the coming-of-age theme is essential. Characters face the unknown and take steps to gain power over it. They are forced to make life-defining decisions by examining who they are and taking actions that set the stage for the adults they will become.

     This is what makes horror so compelling for a teen audience (besides the cool monsters, of course). Horror looks at issues of death, alienation, insecurity, physical changes, loss of faith, and the inherent fear of the unknown. On some level, horror fiction shows teens that even the greatest obstacles can be faced and survived. The most well-known example of this comes from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which the idea presented is that high school is, quite literally, hell.

Thomas Pendleton in On Writing Horror, Mort Castle, editor, 2007 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

"Evil Evan" Ebel: The Violent Death Of A Dangerous Parolee

     In February 2011, the governor of Colorado appointed Tom Clements to the position of Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Clements left his job as Director of Operations for Adult Correctional Facilities in Missouri to head up the 6,000-employee department. The 58-year-old corrections administrator, his wife, and two daughters resided in Monument, Colorado, a rural, upscale community in El Paso County 45 miles south of Denver.

     At 8:37 in the evening of Tuesday, March 19, 2013, a member of the Clements family called 911 to report a shooting at the Monument Colorado home. Deputies with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office found Tom Clements lying dead in his front doorway. According to the family member, he had been shot when he answered the doorbell.

     Sheriff's lieutenant Jeff Kramer told reporters that the Clements murder didn't appear to be the result of an attempted robbery. Moreover, it didn't have the markings of a random act of violence.

     On Thursday night, March 21, 2013, a Montague County Sheriff's deputy in northeast Texas near the Oklahoma line, pulled over a black Cadillac with Colorado plates. It was a routine traffic that turned into a violent crime. The driver of the vehicle, a 28-year-old paroled Colorado gang member and white supremacist named Evan Spencer Ebel, shot the deputy twice in the chest, and with a third bullet,  grazed the officer's head. The downed deputy had been wearing a bullet-proof vest therefore was able to call for help and describe Ebel's car.

     Following a high-speed police chase, Ebel slammed his Cadillac into an eighteen-wheeler in Decatur, Texas thirty miles south of the traffic stop and shooting. The Colorado parolee bearing the tattoos "hopeless," and "Evil Evan," climbed out of his damaged car firing at the police. The officers gunned him down on the spot. He died at a hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

     Homicide detectives in Colorado believed that Evan Ebel had murdered Tom Clements. Inside the wrecked Cadillac, police found a Domino's Pizza uniform jacket and a cardboard pizza box. This discovery suggested that Ebel had murdered a 27-year-old pizza delivery man named Nathan Leon in Denver on March 17, 2013.

     Evan Ebel, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, was scheduled for parole on April 13, 2013 but was released early to the custody of his father, Jack Ebel, a Denver area lawyer. The parolee's violent crime history dated back to 2003 when he was convicted of robbery. In 2008, he was found guilty of assaulting a prison guard. 

The Execution Of Walter Storey

     Missouri carried out its first execution of 2015. The state executed 47-year-old Walter Storey who was sentenced to death for the murder of 36-year-old Jill Frey, a neighbor. Storey murdered the victim with a knife on February 2, 1990. He received a lethal dose of pentobarbital just after midnight on February 11, 2015 in the execution chamber of the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.

     As the lethal injection took place, Storey turned his head toward family members and began to sing or chant until his breathing stopped.

     Storey, on February 2, 1990 had received a divorce petition from his estranged wife. At the time he was living with his mother in a St. Charles, Missouri apartment complex. After a heavy night of drinking, Storey ran out of alcohol and decided to rob his across-the-hall neighbor, Jill Frey, a special education teacher.

     Storey grabbed a knife from his kitchen and climbed up to Frey's balcony and entered her apartment through an unlocked sliding glass door. He brutally beat Frey to death, inflicting no fewer than twenty blunt force blows. He broke the victim's ribs, stabbed her in the abdomen, and slashed her neck. After the murder, he stole the victim's purse and car.

     The next day, Storey returned to Frey's apartment and attempted to wipe down the scene to cover up evidence. He cleaned under the victim's fingernails using her own toothbrush. Storey tossed physical evidence of the murder in a dumpster and threw Frey's car keys in the lake behind the complex.

     The day after the crime scene clean-up, co-workers discovered Frey's body after she failed to show up for work….

"Missouri Carries Out Execution of Walter Storey," missourinet.com, February 11, 2015

Thornton P. Knowles On Exploratory Surgery

I asked my doctor if he could recommend a good surgeon. "For what?" he asked. "I want him to open me up to see if I have any more books in me." Without cracking a smile he replied, "If you do, do you want them removed?"

Thornton P. Knowles

Are Manic-Depressives Better Novelists?

     A surprising proportion of novelists are manic-depressive. The psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, one of the foremost experts on manic-depression, has explored this phenomenon in depth…The work of Jamison and others shows that novelists are ten times more likely to be manic-depressive than the rest of the population, and poets are a remarkably forty times more likely to suffer from this condition...

     Although most writers who have been successfully treated for depression find that their work begins to flow again as their mood improves, paradoxically, a few writers have linked their desire to write to their depression…

     One justification for such a position is that an artist must suffer to create, and what more effective way to suffer than through mental illness?..

     Other writers argue that depression is not necessary for creativity directly, but is an inevitable side effect of the mechanism that produces elated creative states…Several more writers have described how their desire to write disappeared as their depressions lifted, but blame the antidepressant--not the loss of their depression--for their decreased creativity.

Alice W. Flaherty, The Midnight Disease, 2004 

The Reluctant Novelist

The anxiety involved in writing is intolerable. And the financial rewards just don't make up for the expenditure of energy, the damage to health caused by stimulants and narcotics, the fear that one's work isn't good enough. I think, if I had enough money, I'd give up writing tomorrow.

Anthony Burgess, The New Yorker, June 14, 2004 

The Short Story Is Not A Slice of Life Piece

A basic distinction between an episode in real life and a short story is that the story does have an author, who creates his characters, selects his actions, and directs them in the exploration of some meaningful idea. Any episode in life is filled with irrelevancies of many kinds which confuse our understanding; in the story only those elements are included which serve to focus the overall effect, which is the story. The helpful author is present, then, in the creating selecting, and focusing of the materials of his story.

Jarvis A. Thurston in Reading Modern Short Stories, edited by Jarvis A. Thurston, 1955

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Jessica Hernandez Police-Involved Shooting Case

     In Denver, Colorado at six-thirty in the morning of Monday January 26, 2015, two police officers responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle. The officers knew that the parked car, occupied by five people, had been reported stolen. According to the police version of the story, as the officers approached the vehicle, it lurched toward them. Both officers opened fire, hitting and killing the driver who turned out to be 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez. The car struck one of the officers in the leg.

     Bobbie Diaz, the mother of a 16-year-old girl who was in the stolen car at the time of the shooting was in bed when she heard four gunshots followed by a man yelling, "Freeze! Get out of the car! Get down!"

     When Diaz went outside to investigate, she saw police officers pulling young people from the car. They yanked Jessica Hernandez out from behind the steering wheel and handcuffed the unresponsive girl. One of the teens in the group screamed, "She's dead! She's dead!"

     Another witness to the police shooting, neighborhood resident Arellia Hammock, told a reporter she heard three gunshots that morning. In referring to the teenagers involved, she said, "They shouldn't have stolen a car. But the cops are too fast on the gun. You've got stun guns. You've got rubber bullets. Why do they have to shoot all the time?"

     One of the occupants of the stolen car offered a version of the incident different in a very important way from the official police account. According to this witness, the vehicle didn't move toward the officers until after they killed the driver.

     The Denver chief of police, pursuant to departmental policy in such matters, placed both officers on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into Hernandez's death. The inquiry was . conducted by three separate agencies: the Denver Police Department, the district attorney's office, and a civilian oversight organization called the Office of Independent Monitor.

     At a vigil held that night for Jessica Hernandez, residents of the neighborhood critical of the police  held signs protesting the shooting. One of the signs read: "Your Badge Is Not a License to Kill."

     Two days after the fatal shooting, 200 angry protestors gathered outside Denver's District 2 police station. An official with the independent civilian oversight organization reported to the media that in the past seven months Denver police officers had fired four times at vehicles they perceived as threats.

     According to the Denver Police Department's use of deadly force guidelines, officers in cases like this are urged to step out of the way of approaching vehicles rather than to open fire. Moreover, if the driver of the vehicle is hit, the car or truck could become an unguided missile.

     Because Denver police cars were not equipped with dashboard cameras, shooting investigators would have to rely on witness accounts of the incident. It would have been helpful to detectives if the incident had been caught on a neighborhood surveillance camera.

     Not long after the fatal shooting, Jessica Hernandez's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

     In June 2016, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey decided there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges against the police officers involved in Jessica Hernandez's death. The officers were returned to duty.
   
     In April 2017, the city of Denver and Jessica Hernandez's family settled the wrongful death lawsuit for $1 million. 

The Animal Cruelty Case That Sparked Public Outrage

     In April 2019, a man rummaging through a dumpster in Coachella, California made a startling discovery. Inside a white plastic bag he found seven live, three-day old Terrier mix puppies. The dogs, having been exposed to 90 degree heat, were rushed to an animal hospital where they were found to be in remarkably good health. From there the puppies were taken to an Animal shelter.

     Surveillance video footage showed that prior to the discovery of the hapless puppies that day, a car had pulled up to the dumpster and a woman had gotten out carrying the bag of dogs. She dropped the package into the dumpster and drove off.

     Investigation revealed that the woman in the video was 54-year-old Deborah Sue Culwell.

     A Riverside County prosecutor charged Deborah Sue Culwell with 14 counts of animal cruelty. She pleaded not guilty to the charges.

     In August 2019, following Culwell's guilty plea, the judge sentenced her to one year in which she would have to spend 275 days behind bars. Culwell would serve her remaining time pursuant to a work release arrangement followed by seven years of probation during which time she could not own an animal.

     Although a misdemeanor, the cruelty of Culwell's crime and the vulnerability of its victims sparked outrage in the southern California community. The judge obviously shared this view of Culwell's behavior.

     Perhaps there should be a registry for animal abusers.

Thornton P. Knowles On Cruelty To Animals

I am soft on animals, particularly pets. Defendants convicted of animal cruelty should be punished as though they have committed their crimes against children. There is no moral or legal justification for animal cruelty. A person who intentionally hurts an innocent and helpless animal is capable of physically abusing a child. While these sadists belong in Hell, very few of them even go to prison. As one of the few people from West Virginia who could never shoot a deer, the sentencing of animal abusers is a criminal justice reality that brings out the vigilante in me.

Thornton P. Knowles

The Mystery of Evil

The concept of the psychopath is, in fact, an admission of failure to solve the mystery of evil--it is merely a restatement of the mystery--and only offers an escape valve for the frustration felt by psychiatrists, social workers, and police officers, who daily encounter its force.

Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer, 1990

Charles Bukowski On Not Selling Out

Writing can trap you. Some writers tend to write what has pleased their readers in the past. Then they are finished. Most writers' creative span is short. They hear the accolades and believe them. There is only one final judge of writing and that is the writer. When he is swayed by the critics, the editors, the publishers, the readers, then he's finished.

Charles Bukowski, The Captain Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship

What is Literary Narrative?

Narrative is the representation of an event or series of events. "Event" is the key word here, though some people prefer the word "action." Without an event or an action you may have a "description," an "exposition," an "argument," a "lyric," some combination of these or something else altogether, but you won't have a narrative. "My dog has fleas" is a description of my dog, but it is not a narrative because nothing happens. "My dog was bitten by a flea" is a narrative. It tells of an event. The event is very small one--the bite of a flea--but that is enough to make it a narrative.

H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 2002

Keep Common Experiences Out Of Your Memoir

If you write about your father hitting you on the head, you're up against a lot of competition with people who are writing about exactly the same experience. I used to tell students not to use certain subjects they seemed to gravitate to almost automatically at their age, such as the death of their grandparents--grandparents tend to die when you're in high school or college. I at least want to read about something I don't already know about. [How about: "Why my father hit my dead grandfather in the head." Just kidding.]

John Ashbery in Ian Jackman's The Writer's Mentor, 2004

Friday, August 16, 2019

The High-Profile Sanford Rubenstein Rape Allegation

     On October 1, 2014, prominent Manhattan, New York defense attorney Sanford A. Rubenstein attended civil rights activist Al Sharpton's 60th birthday party at the Four Seasons restaurant. Following the gala affair, two female party attendees accompanied Rubenstein back to his penthouse apartment. One of these women, Iasha Rivers, sat on the board of Sharpton's civil rights organization, The National Action Network.

     The 43-year-old board member's companion left the Rubenstein apartment sometime after midnight. Iasha Rivers, however, decided to spend the night with the rich lawyer. The next morning, Mr. Rubenstein's driver took her home.

     Iasha Rivers, 36-hours after being driven home from Rubenstein's penthouse, went to a hospital with bruises on her arms and vaginal bleeding. To hospital personnel, and later the police, she claimed that Sanford Rubenstein had drugged and raped her that night.

     In her police complaint, Iasha Rivers said that after her party companion left the penthouse, she began to feel "foggy" then lost consciousness. According to her account of that night, when she awoke, Mr. Rubenstein had her arms pinned and was raping her.

     The rape allegation against Mr. Rubenstein led to a three-month investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. On January 5, 2015, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance announced that after his investigators questioned dozens of witnesses, reviewed medical records, looked at surveillance camera footage, and considered toxicology results, he didn't have enough evidence to support a criminal charge against Mr. Rubenstein.

     In justifying his decision not proceed with this case, prosecutor Vance said that a toxicology test of the alleged victim's blood failed to show the presence of anything other than traces of alcohol and marijuana.

     Benjamin Brafman, Mr. Rubenstein's attorney, said this following the district attorney's announcement: "What happened in this case was consensual sex between two adults who were fully alert and fully awake throughout."

     Kenneth J. Montgomery, Iasha River's attorney, in calling the district attorney's office investigation "incredibly inept," accused investigators of ignoring evidence such as his client's bruised arms and a bloody condom that had been recovered from Rubenstein's apartment. The attorney criticized the district attorney for not presenting the case to a grand jury.

     In questioning the results of the toxicology test, Mr. Montgomery pointed out that his client did not use marijuana. "I think," he said, "they never wanted to pursue this case from the very beginning." The lawyer also announced that he had just filed a civil lawsuit against Mr. Rubenstein on behalf of his client.

     Mr. Brafman, speaking for his client, Mr. Rubenstein, said, "Rape is undoubtedly a serious offense; to falsely accuse someone of rape, however, is equally offensive."

     On January 6, 2015, the day following District Attorney Vance's announcement, The New York Daily News, citing a source within the NYPD, reported that officers had found, in Rubenstein's penthouse, a prescription for Viagra issued in Al Sharpton's name.

     Al Sharpton responded quickly to the tabloid's Viagra story. "I don't know anything about that," he said. "No, I don't know anything about that." According to the civil rights leader, this Daily News reportage was nothing more than a New York City police conspiracy to embarrass him. "If the motive of the cop was to embarrass me, at sixty years old, I am unembarassable."

     Rank and file New York City police officers had been offended by what they considered Al Sharpton's anti-cop rhetoric in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. Sharpton was considered by many to be an unrepentant race-baiter who used his clout in the black community to extort money from corporations afraid of being labeled as racist. It was not a stretch of the imagination to believe that New York City police officers would want nothing better than to embarrass this man. Al Sharpton's claim that he could not be embarrassed, based upon the history of his career, had the ring of truth.

     In March 2016, the attorney for Iasha Rivers and the attorney for Rubenstein quietly agreed to drop their clients' lawsuits against each other.

Police Officer Suicide

In 2017, there were 47,000 suicides in the United States, the highest rate in 50 years. In 2018, 159 police officers took their own lives. On August 14, 2019, in New York City, the 9th officer in 2019 committed suicide at his home in Queens, New York. The day before, a NYPD officer shot himself to death in Yonkers, New York.

Thornton P. Knowles On Reality

Humans will never comprehend reality. What the hell is it, and why do so many people want to escape it?

Thornton P. Knowles

Charles Bukowski's Dislike Of His Fellow Writers

There is something about writing that draws the fakes. What is it? Writers are the most difficult to take, on the page or in person. And they are worse in person than on the page and that's pretty bad.

Charles Bukowski

The Great American Novel Myth

The Great American Novel is as elusive as the Lock Ness monster…Mythical beasts, the both of them, but that won't stop us from setting up our telescopes and yardsticks, or from speculating: where will it surface?

Peter S. Prescott, Never in Doubt, 1986 

Finding Your Fiction Voice

The thing you are trying to find is the voice. This is the single most important thing in any novel. The voice. How it will sound. Who is telling the story? Why is he telling it? If you're sixty years old and writing in the first person singular about a sixteen-year-old high school student, beware of the voice. It may be your own, and that is wrong.

Evan Hunter in The Writer's Handbook, Sylvia K. Burack, editor, 1986 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Gary George Ritualistic Murder Case

     On August 30, 2012, police in Chester, England found 53-year-old Andrew Nall lying dead in a pool of blood on his bedroom floor. He had been beaten and stabbed 49 times. The killer, in an act of torture, had carved a hole in Nall's chest then filled the gaping wound with salt. The sadistic killer had also poured cleaning fluid into the victim's eyes.

     The ritualistic torture and killing in Mr. Nall's flat was witnessed by Christine Holleran. According to the victim's 50-year-old friend, Nall, an alcoholic, had been intoxicated at the time of his murder. He was set upon, tortured, mutilated, and killed by a homeless alcoholic named Gary George. After being taken into custody by the police, Holleran informed detectives that the 41-year-old killer had growled like a dog when he stabbed the victim. "He was like the Devil," she said.

     Ten hours after Andrew Hall's murder, the Chester Police arrested Gary George in connection with the assault of another man. Initially, George said he had killed the victim because he was a pedophile. Later, the truth came out. George admitted that the killing was a real-life re-enactment of a scene in the 2009 Australian horror film, "The Loved Ones." George said he was a horror film fanatic, and this was his favorite movie in the genre.

     On March 25, 2013, Chester Crown Court Judge Elgan Edwards, following a three-week trial that resulted in a guilty verdict, sentenced Gary George to thirty years in prison. (The same jury had found Georges' co-defendant, Christine Hollerman, not guilty.)

Gary Dotson Exonerated By DNA Thirty Years Ago

     Gary Dotson was convicted in May 1979 of raping 16-year-old Cathleen Crowell. The jury found him guilty on the basis of her testimony. He denied having any sexual relations with her. In 1985, after Crowell became a born-again Christian, she recanted. She said she had made up the accusation as a cover story for her parents in the event her boyfriend impregnated her. Prosecutors claimed that the recantation was the product of Crowell's mental derangement. As a result, Dotson stood convicted until 1989 when he was exonerated by DNA analysis. He became the first person in the United States to be so exonerated.

     Since Gary Dotson's historic exoneration, 364 people have been exonerated by DNA science.

How the Fear of Crime Affects Our Lives

Crime affects all of us. There is little we do without thinking, however briefly, that we might be victimized. Nearly every time we turn around it seems we risk being cheated, robbed, attacked, or preyed upon in some other insidious manner. Our cities turn into ghost towns at night because we fear to go out. We are afraid to keep jewelry, silver, and other precious possessions in our homes; so we must resort to safes, locks, deposit boxes, and security systems. Fearing sexual assault, women who live alone bar their windows, severely restrict where they go by themselves, and even fear to have their names on a mailbox or in a telephone book. Municipal parks and swimming pools are no longer oases in the asphalt for they have been taken over by muggers, robbers, and drug traffickers. People are threatened with weapons and even murdered so their assailants can grab a few dollars. When we shop for clothes we are inconvenienced by security precautions that limit how many items we can try on, and we are afraid to leave our own clothes in the changing rooms. We fear for our children because the public schools are beset with disorder, vandalism, drugs, thefts, and violence. [And don't forget the pedophiles.] Fear that our medicine or food will poison us is no longer a paranoid's delusion. Such things have happened from coast to coast.

Dr. Stanton E. Samenow, Inside the Criminal Mind, 1984

Thornton P. Knowles On Never Getting Old

A few months before my father went out to the barn to hang himself, he said, "Son, never get old." I was fifteen and thought he was crazy, and weak. Now I'm beginning to think that maybe he was right.

Thornton P. Knowles

Why Serial Killers Kill

The notion that male serial killers kill only for sexual purposes and that they kill only strangers is long outdated. Serial killers will also kill for power, profit, belief, and politics and some will kill friends, neighbors, and family members. And female serial killers can kill for the same reasons as males do.

Peter Vronsky, Female Serial Killers, 2007

Charles Bukowski The Loner

I never really found a friend. With women, there was hope with each new one but that was in the beginning. Even early on, I got it, I stopped looking for the Dream Girl; I just wanted one that wasn't a nightmare.

Charles Bukowski

Raymond Chandler on Writing

     Raymond Chandler (1888-1959), the British born author of bestselling hard boiled private eye novels The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, transformed the mystery genre into literature. Chandler lived many years in southern California, and wrote for the movies. The following passages are from The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters and Nonfiction, 1909-1959, edited by Tom Hiney and Frank MacShane:

...I have never had any great respect for the ability of editors, publishers, play and picture producers to guess what the public will like. The record is all against them.

American [writing style] has no cadence. Without cadence a style has no harmonics. It is like a flute playing solo, an incomplete thing, very dextrous or very stupid as the case may be, but still an incomplete thing.

When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance, it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea, or half a dozen other things. It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of the story similar to the control a great pitcher has over the ball.

I have a peculiar idea about titles. They should never be obviously provocative, nor say anything about murder. They should be rather indirect and neutral, but the form of words should be a little unusual.

The people whom God or nature intended to be writers find their own answers, and those who have to ask are impossible to help. They are merely people who want to be writers.

...you never quite know where your story is until you have written the first draft of it. So I always regard the first draft as raw material.

I write when I can and don't write when I can't; always in the morning or the early part of the day. You get very gaudy ideas at night but they don't stand up.

The detective story is not and never will be a "novel about a detective." The detective enters it only as a catalyst. And he leaves it exactly the same as he was before. [As opposed to "straight" novels where the protagonist, by the end of the book, has to have undergone some kind of change.]

A classical education saves you from being fooled by pretentiousness, which is what most current fiction is too full of.

Television is really what we've been looking for all our lives. It took a certain amount of effort to go to the movies. Somebody had to stay with the kids. You had to get the car out of the garage. That was hard work. And you had to drive and park. Sometimes you had to walk as far as a half a block to get to the theater. Then people with fat heads would sit in front of you.

...not-quite writers are very tragic people and the more intelligent they are, the more tragic, because the step they can't take seems to them such a very small step, which in fact it is. And every successful or fairly successful writer knows, or should know, by what a narrow margin he himself was able to take that step. But if you can't take it, you can't. That's all there is to it.

The private detective of fiction is a fantastic creation who acts and speaks like a real man. He can be completely realistic in every sense but one, that one sense being that in life as we know it such a man would not be a private detective. The things which happen to him might still happen as a result of a peculiar set of chances. By making him a private detective you skip the necessity for justifying his adventures.

Talking of [literary] agents, when I opened the morning paper one morning last week I saw that it finally happened: somebody shot one. It was probably for the wrong reasons, but a least it was a step in the right direction.

The only private eye I have met personally was brought to the house one night by a lawyer friend of mine....Most of his work consists of digging up information for lawyers, finding witnesses etc. He struck me as a bombastic and not too scrupulous individual. The private eye of fiction is pure fantasy and is meant to be.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Arturo Gatti's Sudden And Violent Death: Suicide Or Murder?

     On July 11, 2009, police in Ipojuca, Brazil discovered the body of 37-year-old Arturo Gatti lying in his underwear on the bloodstained floor of the villa where he was vacationing with his wife Amanda Rodrigues. The blood originated from a blunt-object wound to the back of his head. Gatti's sudden, violent death grabbed headlines due to his prominence in the world of professional boxing. Born in Italy, raised in Canada and relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey, Gatti, with a lightweight/welterweight record of 40 wins and 9 defeats, is best known for this three bouts with Mickey Ward.  Ring Magazine named the rubber match between Gatti and Worcester, Massachusetts' welterweight Mickey Ward, "Fight of the Year."

     The Brazilian authorities quickly charged Gatti's wife with first-degree murder. That she had waited ten hours before reporting his death, the fact the strap of her purse was stained in his blood, and other factors led to her arrest. However, on July 30, 2009, after ruling his death a suicide--he had supposedly hanged himself from a wooden staircase with the strap of the purse--the authorities released Rodrigues from custody.

     Twenty-four days before his death, while living back in Montreal, Gatti had changed his will, leaving his entire estate to his wife. Following the release of his widow from Brazilian custody, the Canadian government promised a thorough investigation of the death. Instead, a team of private investigators took up the case.

     In August, 2009, at a news conference in New Jersey, the private investigators announced that they believed that Arturo had been murdered. Among other evidence that didn't support the suicide finding, the purse strap was incapable of holding his body weight from the staircase. Dr. Cyril Wecht, the prominent forensic pathologist from Pittsburgh, called the Brazilian autopsy "horribly incomplete" to the point of being "deliberately bungled" in an attempt to support suicide as the manner of death.  The press conference coincided with a civil trial underway in Montreal where Gatti's mother and brother were contesting Rodrigues' claim to his $6 million estate.

     In December 2012, Arturo Gatti was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

     As of August 2019, the official manner of Arturo Gatti's death remained suicide.

Creating Crime Myths

In order for the momentum of a crime myth to be prolonged…myths must be accompanied by certain characterizations. Momentum is achieved if the crime problem has traits that either instill fear or threaten the vast majority of society in some appreciable way. Not unlike Greek mythology, modern crime myths must follow certain themes for success. There must be "virtuous' heroes, "innocent" victims, and "evil" villains who pose a clear and certain threat to the audience. Only then can a crime myth reach its potential . [There were two crime myths that dominated the 1980s: hundreds of serial killings running loose and an epidemic of stranger kidnappings of children. More recently there was the myth that a growing army of zombie meth and bath salts addicts were roaming our cities.]

Victor E. Kappeler, Mark Blumberg and Gary W. Potter, The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice, Third Edition, 2000

Female Serial Killers in the Annals of Murder

     Can you name the serial killer who struck in the back of a military helicopter flying at 4,000 feet on a mission? Or the one who, at the age of eleven, killed two victims? Or the one who danced and socialized with a California governor? Some would know to name Genene Jones, Mary Bell, and Dorothea Puente--three females. But for the rest of us, we never knew there were female serial killers. That is, except for that lesbian hooker--the one they made the movie about--Aileen Wuornos. While the names of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer, or the monikers of the Boston Strangler, Son of Sam, the Green River Killer, and BTK are familiar to all, ask us to name a few female serial killers and we usually stop right after Aileen. Were there others?

     Yes, many actually. About one out of every six serial killers is a woman.

Peter Vronsky, Female Serial Killers, 2007

An Eye For An Eye

The biblical precept, "An eye for any eye and a tooth for a tooth" belongs to an era that predates courts. It enjoins the injured party not to wreak vengeance beyond the injury he has suffered. In this sense it is the beginning of the idea of justice.

Ronald Irving, The Law Is An Ass, 2011 

The Biographer's Fascination with Their Subjects' Sex Lives

One respect in which modern biography resembles fiction is its fascination with its subjects' sexual lives. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the novel was the literary genre above all others to which readers turned for the representation of sexuality. Biography restricted itself to the public lives of its subjects--or, insofar as it dealt with their private lives, did not intrude into the bedroom.

David Lodge, The Practice of Writing, 1996 

Writing About Animals

I write about animals because I really like animals. I'm also interested in the animalistic side of human nature, and when and why humans cross over into doing very violent things. Writing about animals is a way of getting at readers' emotions. People sometimes open up their emotions to animals more easily than they do other people. You see that with the way people get so obsessed with their pets. A big thing you see in New York is a person walking their dog with a diamond-stud collar, right past a homeless person. That interests me as well. My stories are about people, but I use animals as vehicles to get at the people.

Carole Burns, Off the Page, 2008

Clifton Fadiman on Raymond Chandler

I do not think Raymond Chandler should be judged by conventional literary standards. This is not fiction in the sense that Tolstoy or Balzac or Hemingway wrote fiction. As crime fiction, it belongs to a genre whose kinship is with other kinds of pop art, including the cartoon, the old radio serial, and what is known as science fiction…Of its kind, Farewell, My Lovely is a masterpiece. It belongs to a class of writing for which we have no name.

Clifton Fadiman in Fifty Years, edited by Clifton Fadiman, 1965 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Senseless Murder And Double Suicide

     Nickie Ann Circelli and her husband Sal were divorced in 2010. Due to years of drug abuse, the 36-year-old lifelong resident of Suffern, New York, lost custody of her four children. That year, police in the town of 12,000 in the foothills of Ramapo Mountains, arrested Nickie and a man named Michael Chase in connection with the theft of $4,800 worth of power tools from trucks in a Home Depot parking lot. She pleaded guilty and spent a few months in jail.

     Nickie Circelli, a former employee of a local insurance company, moved in with her mother when she got out of jail.  But when her mother died in 2013, Nickie took up residence with her 70-year-old uncle, William Valenti. Mr. Valenti owned a house in Suffern.

     Another local drug addict, 40-year-old Gary Crockett, had also moved in to "Uncle Bill's" house. For 19 years, Gary had worked at the Mahwah Warehouse and Delivery Company in Mahwah, New Jersey. But a year earlier he quit his job after having an argument with the co-owner. Crockett didn't like being criticized for "moving too slowly." At the time, Crockett was living downtown in a apartment above the Suffern Furniture Gallery.

     Circelli and Crockett, while residing under Mr. Valenti's roof, had been passing forged checks to withdraw small sums of money from his bank account. Mr. Valenti gave the couple a deadline to pay back the $1,500 they had stolen. If they didn't return his money, he threatened to report them to the police.

     On Monday morning, April 28, 2014, during an argument over the stolen money, Crockett murdered William Valenti. The Rockland County Medical Examiner determined that the victim had died of suffocation. His body was discovered in his bed.

     Following the murder, the couple took dead man's Chevrolet Malibu and drove it to the Bronx, New York. They parked the vehicle and walked to the George Washington Bridge. Just before noon, about half way across the span, Circelli and Crockett jumped to their deaths.

     At the Suffern murder scene, investigators found two suicide notes signed by Circelli under her maiden name, Hunt. In the note addressed to her family, Circelli wrote: "To the four most amazing kids who the world has ever seen and ever will. I beg you to remember the Nickie that I used to be, before I was introduced to heroin."

     The second suicide note read: "I know that I'm taking the cowardly way out. I just don't want to hurt people anymore. Anything that goes into the paper, please make sure my last name is Hunt; I don't want to hurt my kids anymore than I already have." 

The Emotional Makeup of a Serial Killer

After speaking at length to more than eighty [serial killers], I have found that serial murderers do not relate to others on any level that you would expect one person to relate to another. They can play roles beautifully, create complex, earnest, performances to which no Hollywood Oscar winner could hold a candle. They can mimic anything. They can appear to be complete and whole human beings, and in some cases are seen to be pillars of society. But they're missing a very essential core of human relatedness. For them, killing is nothing, nothing at all. Serial murderers have no emotional connection to their victims. That's probably the most chilling part of it. Not only do they not care, but they also have no ability to care.

Dr. Helen Morrison, My Life Among the Serial Killers, 2004

Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

     ….How did psychiatry come to play a crucial role in criminal trials? Why do defense and prosecution psychiatrists often disagree drastically in their expert opinions? What good, if any, does psychiatry do in our courts? To begin to answer these questions, we must first look at how the insanity defense operates.
     Once the defense lawyer decides with the client to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, the attorney calls in one or more psychiatrists to examine the defendant. Even though the psychiatrists may question the accused weeks or months after the act was committed, they are expected to determine exactly what the defendant was thinking during the moments surrounding the crime. Most particularly, did the accused know what he or she was doing was against the law or wrong? If so, was a choice made to commit the crime anyway, or was the behavior beyond the defendant's control? Was he or she driven to it by mental disorder? 
     Psychiatrists have no tests to reconstruct a past state of mind, but they nonetheless offer an opinion, because they are convinced that their "clinical skills" allow them to expertly determine questions of legal sanity. If they decide the defendant was legally insane at the moment of the crime, the defense lawyer has reason to go forward with an insanity plea. If they decide differently, the defense attorney may decide to start over by hiring another psychiatrist to examine the defendant. A psychiatrist who will reach the desired conclusions can usually be found. Neither judge nor jury learns of the prior psychiatrists, only of those the defense lawyer calls to testify that the defendant was legally insane at the moment of the crime.

Lee Coleman, "The Insanity Defense," in Criminal Justice?, Robert James Bidinotto, editor, 1994 

The Language Of The Law

The minute you read something you can't understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.

Will Rogers in The Law is An Ass, Ronald Irving, editor, 2011

William Noble on Writing Styles

     When I speak of good, clean prose, of grammatically correct phrasing, I'm talking about writing that has no redundancies and no awkward, self-conscious parts. You're carried forward by the lilt of the writer's style where words and phrases have purpose, and where the music of words will create a harmony of word sounds. In simple writer-editor language, writing such as this "works."

     But remember, it's style you're really considering, and you don't want to get bogged down in a maze of rules and procedures. Your individuality makes itself known through your style, and sometimes the techniques that don't work for one writer might work for another.

William Noble, Noble's Book of Writing Blunders, 2006

Writing Humorous Dialogue

Wordplay itself is not usually funny, only clever, unless it is attached to some other psychological force in the narrative…Most of the humor I'm interested in has to do with awkwardness: the makeshift theater that springs up between people at really awkward times…Bad jokes may be an expression of that awkwardness, without being inherently funny themselves. Of course, in including humor in a narrative a writer isn't doing anything especially artificial. Humor is just part of the texture of human conversation and life. In real life people are always funny.

Lorrie Moore, The Paris Review, Spring/Summer 2001 

There's No Such Thing As A Little Funny

Humor is difficult. Other kinds of stories don't have to hit the bull's-eye. The outer rings have their rewards too. A story can be fairly suspenseful, moderately romantic, somewhat terrifying, and so on. This is not the case with humor. A story is either funny or it is not funny. Nothing in between. The humor target contains only a bull's-eye.

Isaac Asimov, I, Asimov, 1996

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Home Invading Ex-Mennonite

     While ordinary crime in America has been on the decline, pathological, irrational offenses against persons seem to be on the rise. Crime has become largely inexplicable. Young men have shot up schools, shopping malls, theaters, and even hospitals. A man in New York City was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train, while in a small town in Pennsylvania, a music teacher shot his ex-wife to death as she played the organ in church. Every week there's a new murder-suicide case in the news. To write about crime today is to write about mental illness, personality disorder, and drug abuse.

     The changing nature of crime and criminal behavior in this country reflects a population of people who are losing the ability to cope with modern life. Politicians, desperate to appear honest, competent, and useful, fall all over themselves with ridiculous, feel-good laws that are irrelevant to the sources of these social problems. Instead of more cops, SWAT teams, and gun restrictions, the country needs more psychiatrists. America is mentally ill.

     At nine in the morning on Friday, December 14, 2012, two elderly Mennonite sisters invited a nice looking young man, who said he was an insurance salesman, into their house. Both in their late eighties, the sisters lived in a brick, ranch-style home on Indiantown Road in rural Lancaster County in the heart of southeastern Pennsylvania's Amish country. (Mennonites, devoted to the plain, simple life, are more modern that their old-order Amish counterparts. Unlike the Amish, they do not practice shunning.)

     Dereck Taylor Holt, the 22-year-old man who entered the Clay Township house that morning, was not an insurance salesman. The former Mennonite, with no fixed address, chided the frightened sisters for being members of the church, and railed angrily against the religion. He then repeatedly shocked the elderly women with a stun gun, and between periods in which he read Bible passages to his victims, slapped, kicked, and punched them. Holt used duct tape to bind his captives' hands and feet, then ransacked the house in search of cash and valuables.

     During the bizarre, sadistic home invasion, an elderly Mennonite friend of the sisters came to the house and knocked on the door. Holt pulled this woman into the home where he shocked and assaulted her before binding the visitor in duct tape. Following the two-hour ordeal, Holt used household cleaning substances he took from the house to remove his latent fingerprints from the scene. Before leaving the ransacked house and the terrified women, Holt destroyed their Bible.

     At 4:20 that afternoon, the three Mennonite victims were discovered by a relative of the sisters who called 911. The women were rushed by ambulance to Ephrata Hospital. One of the victims had an heart attack, the other a broken shoulder, and the third was treated for bleeding on the brain. (The victims would survive their ordeals.)

     The next day, officers with the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police arrested Dereck Taylor Holt. Officers booked him into the Lancaster County Jail on charges of burglary, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, theft, and a Pennsylvania hate crime called ethnic intimidation. The judge set Holt's bond at $1 million.

     In May 2013, Holt pleaded guilty to all of the charges except ethnic intimidation. At his August 2013 sentencing hearing before Lancaster County President Judge Joseph Madenspacher, Holt, in a five-minute statement, said: "I'm not a heartless being. I'm not an empty carcass incapable of contributing to society. But I can't defend my actions. This was the culmination of a long, two-year addiction to substances. These actions wouldn't have happened without my alarming abuse of mind-altering prescription medication."

     Judge Madenspacher sentenced Holt to 12 to 40 years in prison where he would receive psychiatric treatment.

Is There A Causal Relationship Between Video Games And Violent Behavior?

When it comes to actual criminal violence, there's virtually no evidence that video games matter...I think we like to point to video games because we don't want to talk about other things we know that are much more likely to be relevant.

James Ivory, research director, Virginia Tech, 2019

Writing Humor Is So Hard It's Not Funny

     Humor is like pornography in that it's easy to recognize, but hard to define. Robin Hemley distinguishes comedy from tragedy this way: "Simply put, tragedy has serious and logical consequences. Cause and effect. Comedy usually doesn't. You throw a person off a tall building in a comedy, he bounces. You throw someone off a building in a tragedy, don't wait for the bounce."

     While I don't read that many books by humorists, I do appreciate humor in novels and works of nonfiction. Memoirs and biographies devoid of humor tend to be tedious and not worth the effort. All really good writers, I think, can write funny stuff. When bad writers try it, the results are disasterous. In the crime fiction genre, my favorite authors--Donald Westlake and Ross H. Spencer--are funny. Here's what some professional writers have said about humor:

Comedy writers have a long-running debate....It is known as the Mickey Mouse Question, and it goes like this: Mickey Mouse is not a funny character. He neither tells jokes nor does anything funny, he has no point of view, no real character, and his girlfriend is an uptight bore. Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, is a brilliantly inventive comic genius, sharp-witted, physically agile, a fearless wise guy who thinks nothing of donning a dress, producing an anvil out of the air, kissing his enemy on the lips, and in the face of death and torture calling out a cheery "What's Up Doc?" Bugs is much funnier than Mickey, no contest. Why, then, is Mickey the billionaire movie star?...Creating a television sitcom means choosing between Mickey and Bugs, between a universe of likable, not-terribly funny people and a universe of vaguely disturbing, very funny people. Networks tend on the whole, not to like funny characters very much. If they had their choice, every sitcom would be a family or group of Mickeys, with maybe a Bugs living next door. Writers, unfortunately, on the whole prefer a big group of Bugs with a Mickey around saying things like, "What's going on here?"
Rob Long

What is the secret of writing funny? If I knew, I would write my own ticket. But I venture this thought: The art begins with a sense of sadness. This is the clown's gift.
James J. Kilpatrick

Humor is the hardest to write, easiest to sell, and best rewarded. There are only a few who are able to do it. If you are able, do it by all means.
Jack London

I don't think a man can deliberately sit down to write a funny story unless he has got a sort of slant on life that leads to funny stories.
P. G. Wodehouse

Analysts have had their go at humor, and I have read some of this interpretative literature, but without being greatly instructed. Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.
E. B. White

With humor you have to look for traps. You're likely to be very gleeful with what you've first put down, and you think it's fine, very funny. One reason you go over and over it is to make the piece sound less as if you were having a lot of fun with it yourself. You try to play it down.
James Thurber

Writing comedy is quite a joy for me. There's an instant reward. If I've written a really funny line, then, for a moment, I become the audience and I laugh. I enjoy it, I know it works.
William Peter Blatty

If you have doubts about whether something's funny, play it straight. Nothing is worse than a lame joke. And if you're not sure humor is appropriate, it probably isn't.
Patricia O'Conner

Writers often have a predilection for humor based on wordplay. Caution is advised, especially when using puns. They can reek of corniness, and they don't alway work on paper.
Roger Bates

You must never make one character laugh at what another says or does....You must never offer the reader anything simply as funny and nothing more. Make it acceptable as information, comment, narrative, etcetera, so that if the joke flops the reader will get something.
Kingsley Amis

Writing humor is more difficult than delivering a punch line to a joke you tell while standing by the office water cooler. For one thing, our society is much more practiced at telling jokes than at writing them. Also, a joke written on paper has no facial expressions, pauses and emphasis to go with it. It's devoid of the most important elements of comedy--timing.
John McCollister

Cooperating With the IRS

We'll try to cooperate fully with the IRS, because as citizens we feel a strong patriotic duty not to go to jail.

Dave Barry 

Charles Bukowski On Living To Write

I never wanted fame or money. I wanted to get the words down the way I wanted it, that's all. And I had to get the words down or be overcome by something worse than death. Words not as precious things but as necessary things.

Charles Bukowski, The Captain Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship

Beware Of The Prize-Winning Novel

In later 1999 I wrote a short book called Gorgons in the Pool. Quoting lengthy passages from prize-winning novels, I argued that some of the most acclaimed contemporary prose is the product of mediocre writers availing themselves of trendy stylistic gimmicks. The greater point was that we readers should trust our own taste and perception instead of deferring to received opinion....A thriller must thrill or it is worthless; this is as true now as it ever was. Today's "literary" novel, on the other hand, need only evince a few quotable passages to be guaranteed at least a lukewarm review. It is no surprise, therefore, that the "literary" camp now attracts a type of writer who, under different circumstances would never have strayed from the safest crime-novel formulae, and that so many critically acclaimed novels today are really mediocre "genre" stories told in an amalgam of trendy stylistic tics.

B. R. Myers, A Reader's Manifesto, 2002

[This is a groundbreaking book that exposes the bad writing of, among others, "literary" novelists Don DeLillo, Annie Proulix, Paul Auster, David Guterson, and Cormac McCarthy.] 

Thornton P. Knowles On Becoming a "Literary Figure"

The moment a writer becomes a so-called "literary figure," narcissism and all that goes with it dries up the creative juices that brought this writer to prominence. This is particularly true of novelists who are not known for their mental stability in the first place. In other words, as a fiction writer, you can't win.

Thornton P. Knowles

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mass Murderers Are Evil, Not Insane

    In the summer of 2012, James Holmes' shooting rampage in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado marked the twenty-first mass murder involving six or more fatalities since Colorado's Columbine shootings in 1999. In the wake of these killing sprees, the worst being the 32 shot to death in 2007 at Virginia Tech, TV talking heads--psychiatrists, psychologists, and defense attorneys--tried to explain why someone would do such a thing. Surely a college kid like James Holmes who murdered twelve and injured 70 people in a movie theater must be insane. No person in his right mind would commit such a cruel, cold-blooded crime.

     People who called James Holmes insane were equating deviant behavior with crazy behavior. Horrible crimes that cannot be rationally explained, or understood by a normal person, are not necessarily committed by individuals who are psychotic, that is, out of touch with reality. The old law school example of psychotic, homicidal behavior is the man, who while strangling his wife, thinks he's squeezing an orange. Indeed, to be legally insane, the killer must be so mentally impaired that he's incapable of appreciating the criminal nature and quality of his actions. The popular term for this legal standard of insanity is called the right-wrong test.

     To avoid criminal culpability for a criminal homicide on the grounds of insanity, the defendant has the burden of proving (people are presumed sane), by a preponderance of the evidence, that he was so mentally ill he didn't know right from wrong. For defendants raising the insanity defense there is a problem: in reality, even in cases where the defendant at the time of his crime was suffering from some form of schizophrenia, the killer was still aware of the consequences of his act, and that it was wrong. In other words, there is no such thing as a mental sickness that produces a state of mind that meets the legal definition of mental illness. The paranoid schizophrenic who strangles his wife not only knows he is not squeezing an orange, he is aware is he killing his wife. And although the devil may have told him to do it, he knows it's wrong because the devil doesn't tell you to do good things.

     In mass murder shooting spree cases involving six or more victims, all of the killers, including James Holmes, carefully planned the attacks. Holmes had prepared for weeks before carrying out his military-style assault. This is not how seriously mentally ill people behave. James Holmes and the other killers, when they committed their mass murders, were sharply in touch with reality. They reveled in their crimes because they knew they were doing something so wrong it would shock the world. In essence, that is the motive for these atrocities, to shock and terrorize.

     James Holmes and his murderous counterparts are known as sociopaths. They are angry, sadistic, narcissists who have no empathy or feelings of guilt. While usually loners, they can be superficially charming, and are often, like James Holmes, extremely intelligent. They possess personality disorders that cannot be fixed through counseling or medication. They are probably born that way, but who knows? Because sociopaths don't walk around in baby-steps looking at the ceiling and talking to themselves, they are hard to spot. The world is full of jerks. How do you know if one is a sociopath? This is what makes these people so dangerous. Moreover, we seem to be developing into a nation of sociopaths.

     Because criminologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and other helpists hate to admit there are people they can't rehabilitate, they don't buy into the notion that some people are just bad. But that's what they are, evil. And that's how the criminal justice system should deal with them. 

Thornton P. Knowles On Mental Illness

Regardless of your race, religion, gender, or class, mental illness can hunt you down and destroy your life. It can visit God fearing people and nonbelievers; the educated and the unschooled; important people and ordinary folks; Democrats and Republicans; no one is immune. You can't buy your way out of it, talk you way out of it, pray your way out of it, pretend it doesn't exist, or kill it with pills. Mental illness comes in many forms and and strikes down the young, the middle aged, and the old. Mental illness does not respect the human race.

Thornton P. Knowles

Prison as a Lifestyle Choice

Often I meet prisoners who have committed the most terrible crimes, but repentance is rare, except in front of the parole board where it is quite common. Of course, the majority of prisoners have committed only petty offenses, small (but repeated) crimes against property, or rather against the people who own the property. They are often pathetic and inadequate individuals, thoroughly accustomed to prison life; the warmth and three square meals a day provided unconditionally in prison are for them an incitement for further crime. As for the loss of freedom, they welcome it: being told what to do all their waking hours obviates the need for thought and decision, processes which are infinitely painful for them.

Theodore Dalrymple in Crime and Criminals, 1995 edited by David Bender and Bruno Leone

The Failure of Parole

     The huge gap between the nominal sentence given and the real time served is dishonest, and is bad policy. It is dishonest because the public--especially victims of crime--is often under the impression that the sentence will be served in full, when in fact no such thing happens. It is bad policy because it puts the public at risk.

     There are several reasons why states should restrict parole practices. First, parole is based on the mistaken idea that the primary reason for incarceration is rehabilitation (prisoners can be released as soon as they are rehabilitated, so the argument goes), and ignores the deterrent, incapacitative, and retributive reasons for imprisonment. A clear and truthful sentence increases the certainty of punishment, and both its deterrent and incapacitative effects.

     Second, in too many cases parole simply does not work. Studies of the continuing failure of parole obscure the terrible human cost to law-abiding citizens.

Mary Kay Cary, in Crime and Criminals, 1995 edited by David Bender and Bruno Leone [I believe this is true today.]