Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fewer Veterans Incarcerated in 2011/12 than in 2004

A new report from the federal government indicates that in 2011–12, an estimated eight percent of all inmates in state and federal prison and local jail were military veterans, this is a decline from 2004.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), "between 2004 and 2011–12, the number of veterans incarcerated in prison declined 6 percent (down 8,500 veterans), while the number in local jails declined 25 percent (down 16,500 veterans). In 2011–12, the total incarceration rate of veterans in the United States (855 per 100,000 veterans) was lower than the rate for nonveterans (968 per 100,000 U.S. residents). "

Veterans in prison were more likely to be convicted of a violent offense but have fewer priors than nonveterans. 64 percent) of veterans in prison were sentenced for a violent offense compared to about 52 percent of nonveterans in prison.  Veterans also tended to serve longer sentences than nonveterans. 

The report said, "more veterans (16 percent) in prison were serving life sentences than nonveterans (14 percent) in prison. Fewer veterans (17 percent) in prison than nonveterans (21 percent) were serving sentences of less than 4 years. "

Other findings of BJS were:

"Veterans in prison were an average age of 49, 12 years older than nonveterans in prison who were an average age of 37; veterans in jail were an average age of 43, 11 years older than nonveterans who were an average age of 32."

"Half (50 percent) of veterans in prison were white compared to more than a quarter (27 percent) of nonveterans; 44 percent of veterans in jail were white compared to 31 percent of nonveterans.
Black and Hispanic inmates made up a significantly smaller proportion of incarcerated veterans, compared to incarcerated nonveterans."

"A larger proportion of nonveterans than veterans were in prison for property (17 percent for nonveterans compared to 12 percent for veterans), drug (19 percent compared to 14 percent) and DUI/DWI (4 percent compared to 3 percent) offenses. "

Read the full report here: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5480

Monday, December 7, 2015

Federal Government Report about Police Nonfatal Use of Force

According to the federal government an average of 44 million American residents "age 16 or older had one or more face-to-face contacts with police from 2002 to 2011."  Of this group "an estimated 1.6 percent experienced the threat or use of nonfatal force during the most recent contact. About three-quarters of those who experienced force described the force as excessive." Nonfatal force is characterized as "shouting, cursing, threatening, pushing or grabbing, hitting or kicking, using pepper spray, using an electroshock weapon, pointing a gun or using other force." 

Just a little more than half (51 percent) of the contacts were initiated by police. 7.6 percent of "street stops" ( what was called a 'ped stop' when I was an officer in Philadelphia), where an officer temporarily detains someone, involved nonfatal use of force. Only 1.6 percent of "traffic stops" involved nonfatal use of force.

The report also said, "Among those who had contact with the police, blacks (3.5 percent) were 2.5 times more likely than whites (1.4 percent) and 1.7 times more likely than Hispanics (2.1 percent) to experience the threat or use of nonfatal force. Also, blacks (2.8 percent) were more likely than whites (1.0 percent) or Hispanics (1.4 percent) to perceive the nonfatal force as excessive."

Here is the rest of the report summar taken directly from the press release:

The analyses show that police use of nonfatal force varied by race and Hispanic origin. Blacks (4.9 percent) experienced nonfatal force during police-initiated contacts at a rate nearly three times higher than whites (1.8 percent) and nearly two times higher than Hispanics (2.5 percent). Additionally, blacks (14 percent) were more than two times more likely than Hispanics (6 percent) to experience nonfatal force during street stops. 
Blacks (1.6 percent) were more likely than whites (0.6 percent) to experience verbal force. Similarly, a higher percentage of blacks (1.6 percent) experienced physical force than whites (0.7 percent) or Hispanics (0.9 percent). Blacks (1.3 percent) were more likely to perceive the use of physical force to be excessive than whites (0.5 percent) or Hispanics (0.7 percent). 
The perception that the force used was excessive varied by the type of police action taken. Persons who were hit or kicked were more likely to perceive the police action to be excessive (97 percent) compared to those who had a gun pointed at them (81 percent), were pushed or grabbed (79 percent), were threatened with force (76 percent) or were shouted or cursed at (49 percent). In addition, those who were injured were more likely to perceive the force as excessive (94 percent) than those who were not injured (74 percent).
Among residents who experienced force, 87 percent believed the police did not behave properly. However, during contacts that did not involve force, 90 percent of residents believed the police behaved properly. Blacks (84 percent) were less likely to believe the police behaved properly during contacts without force than whites (91 percent) or Hispanics (88 percent). 
Other findings include—"
  • "Males and persons ages 16 to 25 were more likely to experience police contact and the use of nonfatal force than females and persons age 26 or older. 
  • Persons in urban areas (2.1 percent) were more likely than those in suburban (1.5 percent) or rural (1.2 percent) areas to experience nonfatal force, although rates of police contact were similar across all areas.
  • Residents who experienced the use of force (44 percent) were more likely to have had multiple contacts with police than those who did not experience force (28 percent).
  • Traffic stops involving an officer and driver of different races were more than twice as likely to involve the threat or use of force (2.0 percent) than traffic stops involving an officer and driver of the same race (0.8 percent).
  • Blacks (1.4 percent) were twice as likely as whites (0.7 percent) to experience nonfatal force when also experiencing a personal search during their most recent contact. "
Here is the link: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5456

Michael P. Tremoglie

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Lesson about police work from San Bernardino massacre

The cell phone video of the San Bernardino police officer, taken during the terrorist massacre said a lot about the nature of police work.

The media praised, and rightfully so, the police officer's declaration that he would take a bullet before those he was leading to safety would. He expressed an attitude that I wrote about for the Phila. Inquirer on the Sunday following 9-11.  Read here:


But there is one thing the media missed. It is something only people, such as I, who have a law enforcement background, would understand. 

He told everyone to keep their hands where he can see them.

He expressed two seemingly contradictory attitudes at the same time. One says he will lay down his life for them; the other says he must be sure they are who they say they are.

He is the shepherd guarding his flock who wants to make sure there are no wolves hiding among the sheep.

Such is the nature of police work.

So when you learn of a police officer shooting someone who is resisting maybe you can understand why a little bit better now than you could before.

Michael P. Tremoglie

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hold Parole Board, Probation Offices, and Judges Accountable for their Sentencing

One reason, in my opinion, for officer involved shootings is rarely mentioned by the media and obliquely alluded to by serious and credible academicians who study crime. It is the amount of violent criminals who are permitted to roam free seemingly immune to criminal prosecution or imprisonment.

Why is this? Well, one reason is that parole boards, district attorneys, probation offices and judges are not unaccountable for their actions. 

  • When a judge gives a lenient sentence to a violent defender who commits mayhem soon after being let out of jail no one says the judge should be sanctioned.
  • When a parole board releases violent criminals - even killers who kill again - they are not penalized for their actions.
  • When a DA does not ask for a strict sentence for someone who is placed on probation, neither the judge nor the DA are liable for the subsequent destruction committed by the  probation violator. Indeed, often the violator does not even serve prison time.

If you think these scenarios unlikely consider this, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2013, 9 percent of those who were on death row had a prior homicide conviction. Think about the implications of this. Nearly one in ten murderers was previously convicted of murder but for reasons the average citizen cannot understand were let loose in society to kill again. 

Now some of these murderers killed other inmates and some were prison escapees. But about 28 percent of all those on death row were either on probation or parole at the time they committed a murder.

Here is the link: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cp13st.pdf

Here are links to two more articles about Phila. police officers who were killed by those who had prior violent felony convictions


Many groups and organizations profess to be interested in criminal justice reform and collect data on police misconduct. Lawyers sue cities on behalf of those who were victims of police misconduct. But these organizations never address the needs of crime victims - unless the victim happens to be a black person unjustifiably killed by a white police officer. As we know from the data - and even the sages at the Washington Post are starting to realize it - this is a rare occurrence.

I will believe these soi disant reformers are serious about criminal justice reform when they collect data about the number of murderers who were freed by parole boards or who were on probation or who had a prior murder conviction - who killed again. I will believe their desire to improve the criminal justice system when they sue murderers and rapists on behalf of their victims.

Until then I remain a skeptic. Meanwhile I will keep pushing for symposiums and writing articles abouit holdling the parole boards, probation department, DA's and judges more accountable.

Michael P. Tremoglie

True Cost of Crime

The Roman lawyer and political theorist Cicero wrote in his dialogue De Legibus that the welfare of the people is the supreme law (Salus populi suprema lex esto).  

This is often forgotten in contemporary America as politicians, jurists and ideologues search desperately for reasons to release criminals from prisons. One reason, often advanced by the leftwing that appeals to the rightwing, are the cost savings derived by doing so.

Some social scientists, such as the University of Pennsylvania's Richard A. Berk, a person for whom I have a great deal of esteem, have developed forecasting models for this purpose. But all too often the science is usurped by the politics and the models are not followed.

But some researchers have determined the costs of crime. Rarely are these featured in "investigative reports" by the mainstream media. For example,

  • Researchers Kathryn E. McCollister, Michael French,  and Hai Fang estimated that "In the United States, more than 23 million criminal offenses were committed in 2007, resulting in approximately $15 billion in economic losses to the victims and $179 billion in government expenditures on police protection, judicial and legal activities, and corrections ....Programs that directly or indirectly prevent crime can therefore generate substantial economic benefits by reducing crime-related costs incurred by victims, communities, and the criminal justice system." (Emphasis added). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835847/

My personal belief is that crime is a hidden tax  - and a not so hidden horror - that increases the cost-of-living for everyone. It has a deleterious effect on Americans' quality of life - emotionally, socially and financially. Capital investment into the criminal justice infrastructure by constructing prisons, hiring more police, more sophisticated corrections, improving a broken probation system, and maknig parole officials accountable, will yield a tremendous dividend.

But the corollary to this is supervision. Just as a corporation needs a diligent board of directors, the criminal justice system needs diligent leaders. Solving for this variable may be the most difficult part of the equation.