Patterico's Pontifications


Three Gitmo Inmates Commit Suicide — We Have to Shut it Down Now!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 8:08 pm

The L.A. Times reports:

Washington — Three Middle Eastern detainees being held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, committed suicide Saturday morning, military officials said, becoming the first captives to take their own lives at the prison and prompting new calls for an immediate shutdown.

Islamic extremists committing suicide . . . why, it’s unprecedented! We have to shut the whole place down!

Good thing prisoners at normal American jails and prisons don’t commit suicide, or we’d have to shut down those facilities too.

I’m happy to see that these detainees are finally getting their fundamental constitutional rights to commit suicide. Maybe I won’t have to file that civil rights lawsuit after all.

Zarqawi Killing: Not in Jeralyn Merritt’s Name

Filed under: Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 7:18 pm

Jeff Goldstein reports that Jeralyn Merritt is not happy about Zarqawi getting killed. She has said:

Killing Zarqawi and three women in the house with him was not an act of war. It was an act of retaliatory terrorism. By our government. And I don’t want it to be in my name.

I don’t think it really was, anyway, but just in case — send Bush the memo. Killing Zarqawi was not in Jeralyn Merritt’s name.

I’d say it could be in my name, but it might look a little strange for the killing of Zarqawi to be in the name of a blogger with a goofy pseudonym. Whose name should it be in, then? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Yet Another Example of Why We Need the Three Strikes Law

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 4:28 pm

LAPD Officer Kristina Ripatti was shot a week ago by a robbery suspect named James Fenton McNeal, 52. The L.A. Times reports today that she is paralyzed from the chest down, and doctors say she is unlikely to walk again.

Ripatti is a 10-year veteran of the LAPD and the mother of a 15-month-old girl. Peers call her one of the Southwest Division’s highest-performing officers, admired by colleagues for her acumen, drive and superb physical fitness. Tall and lithe, Ripatti is married to another member of the department, Southeast Division gang officer Tim Pearce.

And if you want to know why our sentencing laws are better today than they were in the 1970s, you need only look at the criminal history of her assailant, as revealed in the Times story today:

McNeal had a 33-page rap sheet that includes a conviction for a second-degree murder in 1973 and a robbery in Inglewood five years later, followed by other prison sentences and robberies, [LAPD spokeman Lt. Paul] Vernon said.

Read that again.

A conviction for murder — and a robbery five years later.

That’s what it was like in the ’70s, folks. People would commit murders, get convicted, and walk out of prison, all in less time than I had braces on my teeth.

And some of these folks are still walking the streets today. Yeah, maybe they’re in their 50s — but as McNeal’s example illustrates, some of them are still quite dangerous.

By the way, from an earlier story on McNeal and the shooting, we learn this:

A Police Department spokesman said McNeal most recently was released from the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo on Aug. 18, 2002, after serving nine years for attempted robbery.

The paper doesn’t say whether he served nine actual years, or instead served a nine-year sentence, which means less than nine years’ real time. If he served nine actual years, that means he would have been sentenced in 1993.

That’s a year before the Three Strikes law was passed.

If McNeal had been sentenced on his attempted robbery case after the Three Strikes law passed, he would have been eligible for a 25-to-life sentence. With murder and robbery on his record from the 1970s (both strikes), an attempted robbery would have subjected him to a 25-to-life sentence. (Incidentally, this would still be the case even if the pending proposition to reform Three Strikes were to pass.)

Bottom line: if we’d had the Three Strikes law a year or two earlier, Kristina Ripatti might not have been shot. She’d still be able to run around with her 15-month-old daughter.

Something to keep in mind when you discuss the merits of the Three Strikes law.

P.S. I’m hoping to help collect donations for Ripatti and her family in the upcoming week. Stay tuned for details.

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