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A recent spate of shootings has Savannah crime back in the news, but it’s hard not to be cynical about public officials pledging renewed efforts.
We’ve heard this song before, after all, and the loss of lives and livelihoods has continued.
Crime in Savannah has declined significantly over the long term, but the rates of both violent and nonviolent crime are far too high.
I’ve lived for nearly two decades right on the edge of one of the biggest red circles on the interactive crime map available via the Savannah-Chatham metro police website.
The most recent shootings have been elsewhere, but the densest area of crime has for years been in the neighborhoods more or less west of Bull Street between Anderson Street and Victory Drive.
We took a detailed look at the demographics of the rapidly gentrifying area a few weeks ago in this column.
The area is plagued with reported crimes, but the most obvious activity doesn’t even show up in the data. Residents have largely given up reporting the street level prostitution and drug dealing that obviously opens the door for other crime.
Just last week, riding my bicycle well before sunset, I passed a prostitute at Barnard and 42nd streets. While showing an interested party around the neighborhood after a column about the city’s planned new Central Precinct, we wandered past a drug dealer working openly just off Jefferson Street.
City officials seem to think a new precinct at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 33rd Street will reduce crime in the neighborhood, but how will a station in that location have any greater effect than the current one at Bull and 32nd streets?
Everyone already knows that drug dealers and prostitutes are operating routinely and openly in the area.
Street level dealing and solicitation might be tough to prosecute, but how can more serious crimes be policed when other criminals — those who want to buy illegal drugs and hire prostitutes — have an open invitation to come into the neighborhood?
Street crimes like these are not “victimless” crimes as I hear argued routinely. Neighborhoods are destroyed by criminals involved in illicit selling and buying of whatever.
We can and should focus on community outreach, education, poverty reduction and other initiatives. And on rooting out police corruption.
But we aren’t going to see significant reductions in crime if we continue to tolerate so much of it right out in the open.
The neighborhood I’m talking about will eventually see reduced crime through an ugly sort of attrition. As it becomes more gentrified, the criminal activity will be pushed out.
But that activity will likely resurface elsewhere if we don’t deter it.
City Talk appears every Sunday and Tuesday. Bill Dawers can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Send mail to 10 E. 32nd St., Savannah, GA 31401.
Drug Bust Nets Two Arrests in Wayne County; Third Hospitalized after Heroin …
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — Two people were arrested Monday on drug charges in the Kenova area, and a woman was taken to the hospital after she swallowed four alleged bags of heroin, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department says.
Two Arabs Targeted in Jerusalem Hate Crime
Yeshiva World News
mish Two residents of Beit Haninah, both 20, were in nearby N’vei Yaakov on Friday night. They explained to authorities that one of them lost his identity card from work and they retraced their steps to the train station in the hope of finding it. At …
Watch: High-speed chase comes to end on busy Renton street
At one point near the end of the chase, the silver sedan tore through a parking lot and hit a couple of parked cars as it tried to get away. The man’s run didn’t last much longer; police boxed him in at Taylor and Rainier Ave. S in Renton. Deputies …
U.S. Congressman Timothy Walberg (R-MI-7) has introduced H.R. 5212, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2014, legislation seeking to improve personal property rights by reforming federal asset forfeiture laws. While not as far-reaching as Senator Paul’s FAIR Act, in some respects (Sen. Paul’s bill would do more to end the incentives driving the abuse of civil forfeiture laws), the bill does feature a number of laudable reforms.
Some quick thoughts on what the bill would do and where it might be improved.
1.) It would require that the Government inform you, with its forfeiture notice, that you can petition the court for a free lawyer or discounted legal services to defend against a federal civil forfeiture action. The instances where the court would appoint such a lawyer are limited (mostly involving real property where the forfeiture victim is using the real property as their primary residence or where the Government has concurrent criminal and civil prosecutions) but the burden is on the claimant to petition and most don’t even know that they can petition the court for a court-appointed lawyer. Congressman Walberg’s legislation would be an improvement. Better would be if the Government were required to inform you that you can receive a retroactive award of all your legal expenses if you substantially prevail in an adjudicated forfeiture case or (even better) if the Government was simply required to provide an attorney to the indigent in federal forfeiture actions. Forfeitures are complex, quasi-criminal actions that present extensive opportunities for criminal liability. Ideally, no one should have to face a federal forfeiture action without a competent forfeiture attorney. At a minimum, though, everyone should be informed of their options.
2.) Like the FAIR Act, Congressman Walberg’s bill would raise the Government’s burden, for a civil forfeiture, to that of a clear and convincing evidence standard. The current standard is generally a preponderance of the evidence standard. It’s debatable how much difference a clear and convincing evidence would make in most forfeiture cases. Raising the standard is a good thing, though, regardless.
3.) Congressman Walberg’s bill would improve the innocent owner defense by altering who has the burden when the innocent owner defense is affirmatively raised. Under current law, the claimant has the burden of proving that they are an innocent owner by a preponderance of the evidence. If Rep. Walberg’s bill were passed in its current incarnation, the Government would have the burden of proving that the claimant knew or reasonably should have known that the property was involved in the illegal conduct giving rise to the forfeiture.
4.) Under Rep. Walberg’s bill, it would become the Government’s burden to show that a property owner had or should have had knowledge of criminal activity giving rise to a forfeiture instead of the property owner’s burden of demonstrating that the property owner lacked knowledge of alleged criminally activity. We’ve seen plenty of cases like the attempted Motel Caswell forfeiture where prosecutors attempt to unfairly exploit a property owner’s inability to prove a negative. This would be a smart reform.
5.) Rep. Walberg’s bill would clarify how courts should evaluate arguments that a forfeiture is disproportional to the offence giving rise to the forfeiture by inserting that “the court shall consider such factors as the seriousness of the offense, the extent of the nexus of the property to the offense, the range of sentences available for the offense giving rise to forfeiture, the fair market value of the property, and the hardship to the property owner and dependents.” Currently, several courts only evaluate whether the penalty of a forfeiture would be in excess of the criminal penalty range prescribed by Congress–which is absurd considering the lower standard required to perfect a forfeiture. Moreover, proportionality analysis has been a mess since lower courts started interpreting Austin, Bajakajian, and then the first Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act‘s proportionality language.
6.) Rep. Walberg’s bill would increase the reporting requirements for a forfeiture.
7.) Rep. Walberg’s bill would require the office of the Attorney General to assure that any equitable sharing between the Department of Justice and local or State law enforcement agencies was not initiated for the purpose of circumventing any State law that prohibits civil forfeiture or limits use or disposition of property obtained via civil forfeiture by State or local agencies. That would be a massive improvement, if the practice was followed by the DOJ. Better, of course, would be to simply end equitable sharing agreements. Barring that, Rep. Walberg’s bill would be improved by clarifying that a claimant would have standing to challenge circumventions of state laws governing forfeiture.
8.) Unlike Senator Paul’s FAIR Act, the bill would still allow for most of the incentives driving asset forfeiture abuse by leaving in place the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture fund instead of directing proceeds to the Treasury, as the FAIR Act would do. That’s unfortunate but may be more of a statement on what Representative Walberg thinks can get passed than what Mr. Walberg thinks would be a good idea. In any case, Representative Walberg deserves plaudits for introducing substantial reforms.
We hope to have a write your Congressperson link for Congressman Walberg’s bill tonight or tomorrow morning.
2 of 3 Manatee burglary suspects arrested after car chase
MANATEE — Two burglary suspects were arrested after a car chase, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, but a third suspect remains at large. Dexter McDonald, 24, and Roman Lang III, 30, were arrested at 10:32 a.m. Monday after a burglary …
One teen is dead and another in critical condition after they crashed the car they allegedly carjacked from a man in Oakland.According to Oakland police, Kenneth Tyrone Linton, 19, of Winter Garden, and David Jones, 17, of Oakland, carjacked a man on H…
BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
A Toledo man who organizes tours of local crime scenes and gravesites has collected memorabilia of Gerald Robinson — including dirt from the priest‘s grave and photo of him in his coffin — to sell online.
Today, the Web site serialkillersink.net offered items related to Robinson’s burial as a one-time lot. Robinson was the Roman Catholic priest who was convicted in 2006 of the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980 and who died in prison on July 4.
Dan Clay, of East Toledo, had taken a photo of Robinson in his casket, dressed in priestly vestments, at the funeral home and collected dirt from Robinson’s grave, where he was buried next to his parents in Calvary Cemetery. Along with those items, Mr. Clay is offering a memorial card from Robinson’s funeral and The Blade’s July 12 front page that includes an article on the funeral. He does not have Blade permission to reprint or resell the newspaper.
The selling price is $350. Mr. Clay said he contacted Eric Holler of serialkillersink.net after he obtained the photograph of Robinson in his casket. Serialkillersink.net offered to broker a sale for a percentage of the price, Mr. Clay said, and “I did the whole setup” for gathering the different materials.
“Since Robinson was indeed convicted of murder,” Mr. Holler wrote, “we felt these items would be a good fit amongst other true crime collectibles that we offer for sale.”
Mr. Clay operates an unusual, crime-related business which he runs, he says, “to keep the memories of the victims alive.” He offers daily one- to two-hour tours of “high-profile crime scenes and gravesites,” making 15-20 stops, according to his “Grave Fixations” Facebook page.
The tours are conducted with “sincere dignity and respect,” he said. But the page says they are not for the squeamish. People call a number listed on the page, and he will arrange to meet in a parking lot “by appointment only” and chauffeur them on a 50-mile roundtrip for $18 a person, $30 a couple.
“Shame on him. Shame on anyone who bids on or buys this material,” said Claudia Vercellotti, a Toledo representative of the organization Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in a prepared statement.
“Our hearts ache for anyone who was hurt by Father Gerald Robinson, especially the family of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, who was stabbed repeatedly and killed by Father Robinson. There seems to be no end to the suffering that callous individuals are willing to heap on this wounded family,” Ms. Vercellotti said. “And now, an entrepreneur seeks to make money off of this grisly crime. Shame on everyone involved.”
When asked about the potential offensiveness of offering funeral and grave items, Mr. Clay said, “It’s a business, and people do collect all kinds of stuff, and it’s not to glorify this. … As far as it being put out there, people buy this stuff. In this day and time, people collect all kinds of things.”
Taking items from a grave, such as toys or urns, is theft, and people have been convicted of those crimes, while dirt can be harder to trace. Taking a picture at a public visitation might be considered an invasion of privacy, but it is not always prohibited.
Mr. Clay said he did not take his photograph of Robinson in the open. “I do it with hidden cameras, actually,” he said. “Some people do take photographs in funeral homes. I didn’t walk in there and take a picture” in the open. Instead, he used “my own style, just keeping it low.”
“Such activity does not deserve a response,” said Sally Oberski, the Toledo Catholic Diocese’s director of communications.