Crime and Punishment

Thinking About Lethal Force – Part 3

This is my third post in a series of ruminations about lethal force. Part 1 discussed the basics of what might or might not be self defense, and in Part 2 I discussed how participants and witnesses report and distort what happens, and in this part, I’ll be exploring how the news gets out, and […]

Believing Victims

In the Washington Post, Zerlina Maxwell insists that, despite the way the UVA fraternity gang rape story seems to be falling apart, when it comes to accusations of rape: In important ways, this is wrong. We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor […]

Thinking About Lethal Force – Part 2

This is my second post in a series that explores how we can think about news stories about people using lethal force in an act of claimed self defense. Part 1 discussed the basics of what might or might not be self defense, and this part expands the discussion to cover witness reliability. I want […]

The Special Case of Darren Wilson

In response to my earlier post about the grand jury in the Michael Brown case, Jack Marshall posted a lengthy comment. Events have somewhat overtaken that post, but I wanted to address a few points Jack makes. (He wrote his comment before the grand jury decision came out.) I don’t find the fact that a […]

The Drunk Under the Street Lamp Meets Saddam Hussein

Ferguson is breaking my heart. I’m not talking about the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown. I pretty much expected that. What’s breaking my heart is the magnitude of the destruction going on during the protests. I paid pretty close attention to the earlier batch of protests, […]

Awaiting the Grand Jury…

We keep hearing about police plans to respond to protests in Ferguson, Missouri if the grand jury investigating Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown decides not to return an indictment. On the other hand, if the grand jury decides to indict Wilson, there would be a warrant for his arrest, and that would mean […]

Thinking About Lethal Force – Part 1

We’ve heard a lot of argument about whether or not George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin was murder or self defense, and more recent controversial shootings such as that of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri have raised many of the same issues. Some of the disagreements represent a genuine clash of values, […]

What If We Eliminated Plea Bargaining?

Scott Greenfield is complaining about people who propose simplistic solutions to the ills that infest the criminal justice system. This time it’s the Economist, and their solution is the ever-popular one of eliminating the problems of plea bargaining by eliminating plea bargaining. Scott’s not happy with that for the usual reason criminal defense lawyers aren’t […]

You Can’t Trust a Killer

We just had Elliot Rodger’s rampage in Isla Vista, and we’re now seeing another horror story from Waukesha, Wisconsin, in the form of two 12-year-old girls who stabbed another 12-year-old child, supposedly to benefit a supernatural entity known as “Slenderman.” Slenderman is an entirely fictional creation of recent vintage: He is Slenderman, a menacing, faceless […]

Elliot Rodger’s Motive Says Very Little About Anyone Except Elliot Rodger

A young man named Elliot Rodger apparently killed six people Saturday in Isla Vista California. I say “apparently” because the story is new enough that it keeps changing. When I first heard it, he had shot six people dead, but now it appears that three of them were stabbed, according to a recent version of […]

Crime and Incentives

In response to my post about some of economist Gary Becker’s views on crime, “russ” leaves a comment with a couple of interesting points: I would think the failure of the war on drugs is the evidence AGAINST Becker’s idea that increased punishment reduces crime. Just because criminalizing drugs hasn’t made them go away completely […]

Death Doesn’t Have to Knock: A Modest Proposal

In the past few years, the states have been facing increasing difficulties obtaining the drugs they need to carry out their death penalties. This is in part because manufacturers have been refusing to make the drugs available for use in executions. So instead of using the traditional three-drug sequence, states have been experimenting with new […]

SORNA Challenge Update

Last summer, I expressed my doubts about scientific aims of the SORNA Challenge. By asking for proposals for “innovative” ways to measure the costs and benefits of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act, I felt that the National Institute of Justice was implicitly admitting that the widely accepted methodologies of sociology, criminology, and economics […]

Lessons in Allocution and Acquitted Conduct

Apparently yesterday was sentencing hell day at Simple Justice. First up, Scott reminds us of the case of Antwuan Ball, Joseph Jones, and Desmond Thurston who were accused of engaging in a massive drug dealing conspiracy. The case went to a jury trial, and they beat all of the conspiracy charges. The jury only found […]

Law Enforcement

Now here’s a Facebook meme that makes sense. It’s from Filming Cops, but the true adversary here is not the police officer: This isn’t some paranoid, whack-job, cop hating-nonsense. It’s an accurate description of how all criminal laws are enforced. Even a minor violation such as loitering can have a penalty of several hundred dollars, […]


I was driving home from a trip to the grocery store this morning when I spotted my local Chicago Police beat car ahead of me, and I noticed he had a curious bumper sticker, on which I could make out the letters “YPOSHOT”. When I got a little closer, I could see a message about […]

Knowing Harm When We See It

One of the themes I keep visiting here at Windypundit is that when you harm someone, the magnitude of the harm you do that person is not dependent on your reason for doing it. Punch a guy in the face, and it doesn’t matter if he’s an innocent stranger on the bus or a push-in […]

Suspicions About the SORNA Challenge

Apparently something called the National Institute of Justice is offering prizes for whoever comes up with exciting and innovative ways to study cost and effectiveness of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The appellatesquawk quotes from the breathless email announcement: NIJ CHALLENGE: COST-BENEFIT OF SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION LAW Are you up for the […]

Nothing to Say About the Zimmerman Trial

I’ve written very little about George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin, and I have nothing to say about the trial. It’s a lethal-force incident, with a claim of self-defense, and in years of reading about such incidents, I’ve learned a few important lessons: (1) These cases are very fact-specific: Guilt or innocence can turn on […]

Fighting Crime the Easy Way

Apparently, iPhone theft is a big enough problem in San Francisco that police have come up with a special solution: …these cops are taking a different approach than just running after iPhone robbers and cuffing them. Instead, they are going after the buyers of the stolen products, in a scheme that they call “cutting the […]