- GROSS: So I want to talk a little more later about how the brain, neurochemistry, biology, affects somebody's predisposition to crime. But let's just pause here for a second and talk about in terms of, you know, murder and psychopathology. If you have a brain disposition to that, how should that be taken into account at your trial and how society decides to punish you?
- RAINE: The key question is this: Simply put, if bad brains do cause bad behavior, if brain dysfunction raises the odds that somebody will become a criminal offender, a violent offender, and if the causes of the brain dysfunction come relatively early in life - and that's what I argue for; there's a whole host of factors we can go into here - but if that's true, then should we fully hold that adult individual responsible when the root causes of its behavior came early in life, well beyond its control?
- Now, I've got to be careful here. There's no destiny here. Biology is not destiny, and it's more than biology, and there's lots of factors that we're talking about here. And one factor, like prefrontal dysfunction or low heart rate, doesn't make you a criminal offender. But what if all the boxes were checked? You know, what if you had birth complications and you were exposed to toxins and you had a low resting heart rate, and you had the gene that raises the odds of violence, et cetera, et cetera, stuff happening early on in life, and you're not responsible for that?
- Then how in the name of justice can we really hold that individual as responsible as we do do, and punish them as much as we do, including death? That's the question that neurocriminology, this emerging body of evidence, is posing for the judicial system who are increasingly becoming interested in the interface between neuroscience and the law?
Vasquez testified in federal court in the case of a former inmate, Ernesto Lira, who was gang validated in part based on a drawing that included an image of the huelga bird, the symbol of the United Farm Workers. While the image has been co-opted by the Nuestra Familia prison gang, Vasquez testified that it is “a popular symbol widely used in Hispanic culture and by California farmworkers.” Lira’s validation was one of a handful to ever be reversed in federal court—though not until after he was released on parole, having spent eight years in the SHU. And though the court ruled that the huelga bird is of “obscure and ambiguous meaning,” it continues to be used as validation evidence.
Gang evidence comes in countless forms. Possession of Machiavelli’s The Prince, Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, or Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has been invoked as evidence. One inmate’s validation includes a Christmas card with stars drawn on it—alleged gang symbols—among Hershey’s Kisses and a candy cane. Another included a poetry booklet the inmate had coauthored with a validated BGF member. One poem reflected on what it was like to feel human touch after 14 years and another warned against spreading HIV. The only reference to violence was the line, “this senseless dying gotta end.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has indefinitely delayed Tuesday evening’s planned execution of Willie Jerome Manning, who was scheduled to die for the 1992 slayings of two college students.
Manning was originally scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. CDT at the state prison in Parchman. But as the execution time loomed, the high court said the execution should be delayed until it rules further on the case.
Manning has always said he did not commit the crime; in fact, he says he was at a club on the night of the murders. For years, he’s been trying to convince the state to test DNA from the crime scene. As gruesome as the murders were, there should be lots of biological material to test. One of the victims, Tiffany Miller, was shot twice in the face at close range. One leg was out of her pants and underwear, and her shirt was pulled up. Her boyfriend John Steckler’s body had abrasions that occurred before he died, and he was shot once in the back of the head. A set of car tracks had gone through the puddles of blood and over Steckler’s body.
Already the Mississippi State Supreme Court has denied Manning’s request to have DNA tests done that were unavailable in the early 90s. Now, Manning’s attorneys have produced information that shows the Federal Bureau of Investigation erred in its testimony in Manning’s case. In a letter to Oktibbeha County District Attorney Forrest Allgood, who prosecuted the case, U.S. Justice Department officials state “that testimony containing erroneous statements regarding microscopic hair comparison analysis was used” in Manning’s case.
Another black man in a Confederate state about to be put to death because he got a rotten trial and the appeals process is inept and the judges on the case are political operators who don’t care about justice.
This is what it means to be a nigger in the USA today.
Tell Governor Bryant to commute his sentence to life in prison if he won’t / can’t grant him a retrial. And there is this form to send in a message.
Lynne Stewart, in the vindictive and hysterical world of the war on terror, is one of its martyrs. A 73-year-old lawyer who spent her life defending the poor, the marginalized and the despised, including blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, she fell afoul of the state apparatus because she dared to demand justice rather than acquiesce to state sponsored witch hunts. And now, with stage 4 cancer that has metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs, creating a grave threat to her life, she sits in a prison cell at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is serving a 10-year sentence. Stewart’s family is pleading with the state for “compassionate release” and numerous international human rights campaigners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have signed a petition calling for her to be freed on medical grounds. It is not only a crime in the U.S. to be poor, to be a Muslim, to openly condemn the crimes committed in our name in the Muslim world, but to defend those who do. And the near total collapse of our judicial system, wrecked in the name of national security and “the war on terror,” is encapsulated in the saga of this courageous attorney—now disbarred because of her conviction.
Harborside Health Center, the largest cannabis collective in California — and by extension, the nation, the world, the universe, etc. — will appear in court on Nov. 1, when United States Attorney Melinda Haag will ask a judge to forfeit the dispensary’s Oakland property to the government. Among Harborside’s sins are its size, according to Haag. The fact that the dispensary has 108,000 patients means its somehow violating state law — although Haag hasn’t yet identified specific violations.
The Jackson case is relevant because it lays to rest a contention made by law enforcement: That in order to be a legal, bona-fide nonprofit collective, a dispensary must have each and every one of its members participate in the cultivation of cannabis. Such a requirement would lead to the ludicrous scene of wheelchair-users and wasting AIDS and cancer patients sticking shovels in soil or trimming fresh-cut bud. The court dispensed with that argument and ruled that collective members need not participate in growing.