Patterico's Pontifications

5/12/2006

Federal Judge: Jail Conditions Appalling — Too Few Television Sets

Filed under: Crime,Judiciary — Patterico @ 10:34 pm

The L.A. Times reports:

Declaring that Los Angeles County officials have been housing inmates in ways “not consistent with basic human values,” a federal judge Thursday called for speedy reforms at the cramped and crowded Men’s Central Jail.

What are the problems at Men’s Central? Well, it’s overcrowded, to be sure — and that’s a valid concern, I suppose. But among the concerns that the judge found serious enough to mention to the Sheriff’s Department was the lack of access to television sets:

Pregerson spent three hours touring the jail Wednesday and said he came away concerned about the amount of time inmates spend locked in their cells without daylight or recreation. Unlike many other jail facilities, Men’s Central Jail has no day rooms where inmates can gather to watch television or socialize.

. . . .

One of the comments Judge Pregerson made during his tour was about the absence of televisions or the opportunity for inmates to get out of cells. We took that to heart and want to do something about it,” [Sheriff’s Cmdr. Dennis] Conte said.

I hope you do, Cmdr. Conte!

I for one am outraged. These inmates have a constitutional right to 500 channels, including Playboy. As the U.S. Supreme Court has said: “There are few activities in our society more personal or private than the passing of urine.” Wait . . . they did say that, but that’s not the quote I was looking for. I’m pretty sure that they have also said TV for criminals is in the Fourteenth Amendment somewhere. Everything else is.

I sure hope Judge Pregerson gets to the bottom of this. No televisions, no peace!

Schiavo (or His Ghost Writer) Blogging at Kos

Filed under: General,Schiavo — Patterico @ 9:53 pm

Michael Schiavo is blogging at Kos. (H/t Malkin.) Or, more likely, his ghost-writer is ghost-blogging there.

Go say hi.

LAPD Blog

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am

The LAPD now has a blog. This was reported in yesterday’s L.A. Times, which gave a non-working address for the blog: LAPDblog.org.

It remains to be seen whether the blog will be bland and institutional, as you would naturally expect it to be (and as the first post is), or whether it will ever be worth reading. Bratton says he will use it to respond to critics on occasion:

“I see the blog, which is first and foremost a department blog, as an opportunity to communicate with the public and educate them about what we are doing at the LAPD,” Bratton said Thursday.

“But I also see it as an opportunity for me to respond to those issues where I feel the department is being misrepresented,” the chief added.

That could be interesting.

If you want an honest, ground’s-eye view of what it’s like to be a street cop, you probably won’t get it at the LAPD blog. You’re better off reading the articles of Jack Dunphy. Still, this blog is probably worth keeping an eye on, if for no other reason than to see how they handle and respond to comments.

P.S. In discussing the blog’s launch, Kevin Roderick says:

Bratton also spent a couple of hours schmoozing among media types and bloggers such as Mickey Kaus, Patterico, Cathy Seipp and the LAT’s Bob Sipchen at the last monthly gathering of Scott Kaufer’s group at Yamashiro.

Well, sort of. I’m almost positive Bratton didn’t say two words to Kaus, Seipp, or Sipchen, and he barely said two words to me — and I was sitting right next to him. As I said on Sunday, Bratton “looked a little like he wanted to be somewhere else.” I’m sure he’s a nice enough guy, and his wife is wonderful — but he wasn’t really “schmoozing” with anyone that night.

Zillow: Stupid and Inaccurate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:09 am

I didn’t want to talk about this when I had a condo on the market, but Zillow.com sucks. You may have heard of it — it’s an online tool that purports to estimate the market value of any home in its database. But don’t believe it. Zillow provides wildly inaccurate estimates of home values.

When we had our condo on the market, Zillow claimed that our condo was worth $85,000 less than our asking price. (We got asking price.) At the time we bought our current house, it claimed that it was worth some $450,000 more than we paid for it. (Now that our sale price is reflected on the site, Zillow’s estimate of our home’s value has edged back down to only $190,000 more than we paid.)

Don’t get me wrong — we felt like we got a good deal on both ends. But not that good a deal.

P.S. Where Zillow does come in handy is in invading your neighbors’ privacy. Want to know what your neighbor paid for his house? No problem! You need not befriend him and ask personal questions. Just stick his address into Zillow! You’ll have instant online access to records that were previously available only to those who paid a long and bureaucracy-filled visit to the recorder’s office.

It’s a brave new world.


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