Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Beyond Panic and Punishment: Brock Turner and the Left Response to Sexual Violence

July 18th, 2016

“The Turner case exemplifies a problematic pattern in American policymaking. The case, similar to other sensationalized instances of leniency for sexual assault, has animated calls for harsher punishments, mandatory minimums and removing judicial discretion. All of these law-and-order responses, coming particularly from the left, continue a tradition in the United States of channeling efforts to address sexual violence into demands for punishment. Far from being progressive, however, this strategy contributes to the expansion of the carceral state, which is ineffective at reducing crime, incapable of healing victims, and devastating for those caught in its web. A more substantively progressive and feminist strategy for addressing these issues is needed in order to draw the connection between sexual violence and material inequality.”

Read the article by Sarah Cate in Common Dreams.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Clemency for Joseph Allen

July 18th, 2016

Joseph’s lawyer, Paula Brown, is updating Joseph’s clemency petition. This petition will go first to the Parole Board, and then to Governor John R. Kasich.

Paula is collecting support letters to file with the clemency petition.

Here are some posts to this blog about Joseph’s case:

Many of you have developed a personal relationship with Joseph over the years.

It is not necessary to argue for Joseph’s innocence in these letters. The accompanying petition will make the case for innocence strongly.

What will be most helpful are testimonies about Joseph’s character.

Send your letters to:

Paula Brown
65 East State Street, Suite 200
Columbus OH 43215-4277

With your letter enclose a note giving Paula your contact information.

Thank you for your concern about my good friend Joseph.

-Bob Chatelle

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Program to corral ballooning sex offender registry failing

July 16th, 2016

“So-called Romeo offenders, convicted of sex with an underage girlfriend or boyfriend, exist side by side with rapists. There is no consideration as to whether a molestation occurred within a family — and thus, experts say, is statistically unlikely to reoccur outside it — or was committed by a predator snatching an unknown child off the street.

“Across the country, even offenders whose risk approaches zero can remain on the list.”

Read the article by Eric Dexheimer in the Austin American-Statesman.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

How a Plano legislator’s remarks bred strict sex offender laws

July 15th, 2016

July 1997: State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, a former schoolteacher and proponent of the state’s strict 1995 Ashley’s Laws for sex offenders, attends a conference in Bellevue, Wash., about sex offender registries. She begins her speech by noting that “putting the modern sex offender into the traditional criminal justice system is usually as successful as keeping a snake in a shoebox.”

Shapiro continues: “Sex offenders are a very unique type of criminal. I like to say they have three very unique characteristics: They are the least likely to be cured; they are the most likely to reoffend; and they prey on the most innocent members of our society.” She cites no evidence.

Read the article by Eric Dexheimer in the Austin-American Statesman.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

I’m a public defender. My clients would rather go to jail than register as sex offenders.

July 9th, 2016

“But I realize now that many of my clients would choose to take on more jail time, more fees — anything to avoid being labeled a sex offender for life. That’s because our current sex offender registration laws apply an unbending and inhumane one-size-fits-all approach that does not prevent future sex crimes and in fact makes us all less safe.”

Read the article by Rachel Marshall at

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

A Grievous Error in Judge Joseph LaPlante’s Court

June 26th, 2016

In a sentencing hearing weeks after the trial, Judge Arthur Brennan sentenced MacRae to a term of 67 years in prison – more than thirty times the two-year maximum sentence proposed to MacRae pre-trial, deals that the priest rejected citing his innocence of the charges. During the sentencing phase, he was not permitted to say a single word in his own defense while the Judge berated him for observing his Constitutional right to a jury trial.

When sentencing MacRae, Judge Arthur Brennan offered some evidence and testimony of his own: “This court has heard clear and convincing evidence that you created child pornography of your victims.” In the entire trial, not a single word about child pornography was ever raised. Eleven years later, the lead detective in the case admitted to Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal, “There was never any evidence of pornography.”

Read the post by Ryan MacDonald in These Stone Walls.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

To Reduce Recidivism Rates, Turn to Housing Policy

June 22nd, 2016

The criminal justice system has immense influence on an ex-offender’s ability to work, live, and interact post-release. Treating all sex offenders as one, rather than treating them as individuals therapeutically and programmatically, makes no sense, especially if we are interested in reducing risk, improving lives, and saving money.

Read the article by Doug Ryan in Rooflines.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Sex Offender Registration: Driven by Fear or Real Risk?

June 20th, 2016

“The fact is that we have no idea of who is going to offend or re-offend,” said Professor Heather Ellis Cucolo—an attorney, adjunct professor, and director of New York Law School’s Online Mental Disability Law Program. “The ironic part of all this is that some of the factors that might potentially lead to a greater risk [of re-offense] are the factors that are imposed as a result of registration and notification.”

Read the article by Jessica DaSilva in the Criminal Law Reporter.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Could Removing Brock Turner’s Judge Hurt Poor and Minority Defendants?

June 19th, 2016

“When we as a community reprimand or condemn a judge for engaging in such a holistic analysis and for exercising discretion, such efforts can have a chilling effect on judicial courage and compassion,” the letter states. Punishing him, the defenders explain, will “deter other judges from extending mercy and instead encourage them to issue unfairly harsh sentences for fear of reprisal.” The Santa Clara County Bar Association has also released a statement saying that removing Persky would be a “threat to judicial independence.”

Read the article by Maurice Chammah at the Marshall Project.

Friends of Justice is a personal blog. Here I speak only for myself.

Anatomy of a Snitch Scandal

May 19th, 2016

Alexandra Natapoff, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and the nation’s leading expert on the use of snitches, said the fact that Orange County officials engaged in unconstitutional behavior similar to what made headlines years earlier in Los Angeles County reveals the “entrenched” nature of the practice of using snitches in questionable ways. “We see it from the outside as a scandal that should not be repeated. But apparently Orange County officials didn’t see it that way,” she said. “They saw it as business as usual.”

Read the article in The Intercept by Jordan Smith.