Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Italy’s Advanced, Effective, Humane Law & Order System Also Adopted By City Of New York

Posted by Peter Quennell

New York City.

The main characteristics of the Italian system are (1) a large and visible national and local police presence, (2) a low crime rate even by European standards, and even more-so by American standards, and (3) a very low rate of incarceration that is only 1/6 that of the US.

Pretty well the exact opposite of what you’d suppose if you read only Frank Sforza and Raffaele Sollecito and Bruce Fischer and Saul Kassin and Steve Moore and of course Mario Spezi. Read only them, and one might be excused for thinking Italy’s is a huge, horrible system the Italian population desperately needs them to save it from.

Get a life!

An extremely misconceived campaign if the real purpose (we do wonder) is to do anything helpful for in particular Amanda Knox. The average Italian in the street likes and respects and is proud of their system. Polls repeatedly show that the institutions of that system are the most trusted and respected in Italy.

The general mood is probably toward a bit less concern about all perps and a lot more concern about all victims.  But essentially the system is liked for what it is. Conspiracy theories don’t fly.

New York is now the safest big city in America. It is following a route that is not only almost identical to Italy’s - it is being watched and emulated elsewhere across the US. All of John Tierney’s important report in last Friday’s New York Times is worth a read, for this could represent a huge sea-change.

These are the openings paras. 

Now that the United States has the world’s highest reported rate of incarceration, many criminologists are contemplating another strategy. What if America reverted to the penal policies of the 1980s? What if the prison population shrank drastically? What if money now spent guarding cellblocks was instead used for policing the streets?

In short, what would happen if the rest of the country followed New York City’s example?

As the American prison population has doubled in the past two decades, the city has been a remarkable exception to the trend: the number of its residents in prison has shrunk. Its incarceration rate, once high by national standards, has plunged well below the United States average and has hit another new low, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced recently. And crime in the city has fallen by more than 75 percent, almost twice as much as in the rest of the country.

Whatever has made New York the safest big city in America, that feat has certainly not been accomplished by locking up more criminals.

“The precise causes of New York’s crime decline will be debated by social scientists until the Sun hits the Earth,” said Michael Jacobson, a criminologist who ran the city’s Correction and Probation Departments during the 1990s and is now the president of the Vera Institute of Justice, a criminal justice research group. “But the 50,000-foot story from New York is that you can drive down crime while decreasing your jail and prison population “” and save a huge amount of money in the process.”

New York’s singular success has attracted attention across the country from public officials whose budgets have been strained by the prison boom. The 2.3 million people behind bars in America, a fifth of the world’s prisoners, cost taxpayers more than $75 billion a year. The strict penal policies were intended to reduce crime, but they have led to a historic, if largely unrecognized, shift in priorities away from policing.

“The United States today is the only country I know of that spends more on prisons than police,” said Lawrence W. Sherman, an American criminologist on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Cambridge University in Britain. “In England and Wales, the spending on police is twice as high as on corrections. In Australia it’s more than three times higher. In Japan it’s seven times higher. Only in the United States is it lower, and only in our recent history.”

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I will never forget my first visit to New York, New York!

Standing on steps of the 42nd St Port Authority Bus Terminal, I was wondering why it is called Big Apple. Something to do with porn shows on the 42nd St? Well, I have never seen anything like that before.

One young girl walked upto me and pinned a badge on my pocket: it read, with an illustration: “Koch Sucks!”- and asked me for 5 dollars.

Then I knew why it is called Big Apple.

Manhattan is ok but other boroughs need some attention still. But in some way, New York has some strange spirit that is lacking in other cities of America. New York is strangely different. Somehow the people do not give up. Refuse to lie down. In New York, spirit is not volatile.

One hefty black man came and asked why I am standing like a fool. I should be socializing!

I am on the network tonight.

You have come a long way, baby!

Posted by chami on 01/29/13 at 09:28 PM | #

Okay… thats funny!

One police development is in the use of police horses. Much of the US has cut back on them but NYC finds them highly effective. They are found to be calming and cut down on crime. In the evenings there are usually half a dozen of them in the Times Square area - having their noses rubbed and being photographed with tourists.

My wife was quite stunned recently. She works one block east of the Empire State Building. A renegade office worker who had been laid off turned up with a gun and I think shot his boss and then emerged on Fifth Avenue. Law enforcement response (she said) was immediate and really huge. There must have been 50 cop cars in the area. Thats apparently their routine until they know the perp is not a terroroist.

I saw something similar years before. I was walking across town after work just before Christmas. There by the curb was a black town car (a sort of limo) with two dead bodies on the ground. The two cops present were taping off the area. I have to admit the half dozen of us there were quite cheerful. Suddenly sirens went off all over the city and the police presence jumped to maybe 50. This was Paul Castellano the head of the Gambino family gunned down by lieutenants of John Gotti.

Mafia seems long gone. 42nd Steet is now nice movie theaters and Disney. Women often walk alone at night in Central Park. Nice that it got so much safer. We used to lock our car doors when driving in Harlem and Brooklyn.

The Machine here introduced me to the books of Steven Pinker and this book holds out some hope that as a race, humans might actually make it, even without “help” from Steve Moore and the rest of the gang that cant shoot straight. Despite all the wars, violence keeps going down. 


Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/29/13 at 11:55 PM | #

Interesting point. For such a big city (18 million in greater NYC) it was thankfully extremely unusual.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/30/13 at 12:29 AM | #

Peter, I can’t help thinking you were brought to the scene of John Gotti’s assassination of rival Castellano for a powerful reason, predestination. Maybe you were meant to be involved in helping solve an Italian crime, in this case Meredith’s and one of international interest in view of UN ties. Was it a minor coincidence that it was near Christmas time when you spotted the body of Gambino guy roped by police tape, which is roughly the time between Meredith’s murder and her birthday. Very, very interesting. As my son says in old Anglo-Saxon: “Wyrd beith full arayed”, or Destiny is fully prepared already.

Take heart. One “bad comment” doth not a disaster make or I’d be already gone, ha!ha! And opinions are the stuff of debate. Get back on your feet soon from injury. Wish I could translate French so well, the language I took in college.

New York, the SAFEST big city in the world, with crime plummeting. I love it. Thanks to all who commented on their trips to NYC. I see in today’s Yahoo headlines Ed Koch has died. He started the huge ticker tape parades in 1978 when New York Yankees beat LA Dodgers. Now we rarely hear of riots, blackouts, and the kind of news that scared me silly of NYC when I was young.

Good people up there, resilient and seemingly patient with the crowds in their own way.

They turn lemons into lemonade, and sell it by the Plaza, ha!ha! Good on them.

Case in point: The Krim family whose nanny killed their two children a few months back. Now the Krims are taking a Winnebago road trip from LA to NYC, reclaiming their power. They post photos on Facebook of their healing journey, and they’ve set up a fund called Lulu and Leo to help other children through art and science education. The Krims are healing through art and joy despite their losses. What courage of these New Yorkers.

When I was young, mom’s cousin went to New York City to practice medicine. I thought he was crazy to face that terrifying place, but that was not the reality of NYC. It has ENERGY. He went on to make a marvelous success, his wife sang opera at the Met and in Europe, he is now retired on Park Avenue. Now kudos to him, a rare shining success story in our modest family.

The reason for the drop in crime? my personal theory is the resurgence of Christian ministries around Times Square. Pastor David Wilkerson saw a photo on the cover of TIME magazine of four young black guys caught in crime. He said his heart was broken when he saw it. He slept that night in his car in a dangerous area. Soon God led him to start a ministry in NYC to the hopeless. He was ennabled to buy a property near Times Square and his son still operates the church and outreach today, World Challenge. Paula White the female evangelist held many rallies in the Big Apple. The Word of God who is Jesus Christ goes forth to break down strongholds, to set the captives free. Crime drops because hearts are changed. People learn how to sow seed, not steal.

When I attended the 2009 Macy’s parade, I saw one guy walking in parade. He was wearing a tee shirt that said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” I remember him now as clearly as all the floats and balloons.

Posted by Hopeful on 02/01/13 at 08:06 PM | #

Hopeful, you are right, there is a connection. I dunno if its metaphysical but you decide. 

I was leaving work at UN HQ at an unusual time (I had a late meeting with a UN guy from Rome) and I walked up Second with the guy as far as 46th, a cross street I never normally used, I usually used 44th. The hit’s location was between Second and Third (outside Sparks Steakhouse).

It had just happened, I missed seeing the hits by less than 5 minutes. John Gotti was believed to have been on Second managing his capos, and I might have walked right by him.

Gotti then taunted the cops for years, but the Feds finally got him, and he was sent to Marion Penitentiary the US’s toughest prison where he later died. I followed closely all of that.

I could see the mafia presence was tough on other Italian Americans, and the fact that the Soprano series was made where I live added to that. But it’s hard for some of them to speak out and they tend to keep their heads down re crime and look the other way.

Anti Italian defamation has dropped sharply in recent years, with the Godfather and mafia families and John Gotti and Sopranos all gone.  So it was ugly to see the likes of Curt Knox and Bruce Fischer and Doug Preston and Steve Moore bringing bigoted stereotypes back to life.

I think quite a few posters and readers including you want to see any stereotypes gone for good.

But I think a bigger driver by far was that so many of us felt the brutal way the undeserving Meredith was killed and then demonized on Candace Dempsey’s site and by the PR and the hassling of the hard-pressed Kercher family was indescribably unfair.

See our FIRST EVER substantive post - it was not by me:  http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/a_hearst_hosted_defense_blog_abuses_the_victim/

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/01/13 at 08:26 PM | #

@ aethelred23   “Yeah, I can understand your anger, Hopeful and Peter Quennell. Fifty years ago we could have had scum like Knox and Sollecito sent away to the asylum and have them lobotomized. What a shame we have to pretend to help them today and label them as sufferimg from “Asperger`s syndrome”.

However the argument is twofold. Fifty years ago - well maybe 70 would be even more significant - we used to have psychopathics also ruling countries,  dominating through laws and power. In the Western world this problem was a bit less acute in the latest decades compared to most of human history, but only a bit (if you consider brutalities that we actually commit worldwide).

While in the rest of the world, still severe issues are caused on a massive scale by “human scum” individuals occupying and shaping structures of power; ideologies, etc.

If we indulge in the same methods and thoughts, we would be no longer distinguishable from them; and without a taboo against the inhumane, we would easily lead our civilization to logically accept again massive-scale horrors and violence on any basis.

Posted by Yummi on 02/02/13 at 03:34 AM | #

Hi aethelreid.

Meredith’s family have always wanted fair and humane justice and thought the Massei outcome was fair and a no-brainer. They were let down by the disgraceful travesty of an appeal that happened next.

The post at the top suggests the way the US and other parts of Europe are moving and it is toward the relatively humane prisoner treatment found in Italy. The spiral of retribution has cost society a lot and as the post says, not made society really any safer. One of the sadder sights here is families of victims still demanding the death penalty - which is largely gone in most of the US.

Psychologists who have studied AK and RS from afar dont want to have to state precisely what if anything might be their mental conditions. Both were tested in 2008 and we gather the results were not entirely pretty. They were not allowed out on house arrest in part because there was a fear they might harm others.

To me Knox seems more “lost” and likely to come out in future with almost anything. I was one who thought after they were arrested that she came closest to some sort of confession - Mignini certainly thought so. Sollecito judging by his in-your-face book is a gleeful pyschopath taunting his interrogators and prosecutors in a fashion that has been well documented.

Forcible treatment in custody is thankfully pretty rare in the western counties as Yummi observes just above. Italy wouldnt ever touch it. They didnt to our knowledge receive any kind of treatment or therapy in prison other than maybe sedatives or sleeping pills they could take voluntarily.

In the American system each would be a far cry from mounting a successful psychologically impaired defense, and this was never considered by their counsel in Italy. Almost certainly it wouldnt have flown. In Norway mass killer Anders Breivek strongly resisted a psychological finding which the STATE seemed to want to impose on him to ensure he could be kept locked up for life. Right now he could be out in 20 years.

If Knox acted hard during trial Sollecito acted even harder and gave her almost no breaks except for a speech his lawyer Bongiorno made in effect saying knox was not such an evil harriden that she could have entrapped Sollecito into helping with the murder. It was a confusing intervention and its still not clear entirely what Bongiorno intended.

If RS and AK get put back inside they would face another 10 to 15 years, learn a trade, and possibly emerge to a job and a family. It may not seem nearly enough punishment, but life thereafter would not ever be easy.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/02/13 at 07:02 AM | #

When lawbreakers are put behind bars we say they are repaying a debt to society, which I find to be a curious turn of phrase. A bankrobber could, in effect repay the monies stolen. A murderer cannot bring his victims back to life.

The only redemption for them could be to fully realise, in their own hearts, the pain they have caused, to extend sincere apologies; to grow a soul.

Prison society is a world within a world, with its own rules and codes to follow. Good behaviour within that society can get the “reformed” criminal released back into the larger society (where a parole violation—a sign that you’re “not there yet”, can send you back inside.

The ‘‘punishment” in incarceration is the criminal’s removal from the larger society. (They are not free to eat kebabs and crabcakes, watch animal porn and purchase g-strings. They don’t get to choose their roommates.)

I have marvelled at the stories of murderers who, having “repaid their debts”, have gone on to marry and raise families. I don’t know how happy their children are, once they are old enough to comprehend their parents’ deeds.

Is there a fine line between mental illness and simple nastiness?  We can’t punish those who supposedly can’t help their actions, but we can’t exactly let them roam the streets, either.

Posted by mimi on 02/02/13 at 08:52 AM | #

Hi mimi.

If RS ever shows any hint of contrition it’d be a miracle. I think he’s hard-wired against it and his father has always known that. We’ve posted segments of wiretaps and bugged conversations in Capanne between RS and his father Francesco that show how after Francesco had tried everything he knew how, RS still remained errant, self-absorbed and very nasty.

To me his condition seems steady-state and dangerous and he needs to be kept off the streets and do his full time.

AK’s case may be more complicated. She has been even more grandiose about herself than RS and even more contemptuous toward Meredith and those around her. At the time of Meredith’s murder she was making a social outcast of herself in Perugia with her sharp elbows, though Meredith for one back then hoped this was a phase and AK might come right.

Then AK got this huge storm of support through trial and beyond, which has left her the now-awol leader of quite a parade. She may not like that parade or the people in it (Fischer for example is a serial loser that in a normal life she would never condescend to mix with, and there are many others like him in that parade) but the parade still has her captured.

Her mental condition was not such in late 2007 that a psychologically impaired defense could have been mounted. But what if she is going more and more downhill which we believe is what explains her present absence? It must seem impossible for her to seek treatment. Is she painted into a corner?

The AK family rustled up millions out of well meaning supporters and vilified hundreds including Mignini and us here. Suits have begun against Sollecito for criminal defamation, and far more defamation flowed from Curt Knox indirectly and from the FOA people I listed in the post directly. Are they all painted into a corner?

I wouldnt want to be any of them. Italian justice has taken its sweet time here with one huge though uncharacteristic wrong turn, but slowly and surely it is squeezing all of them now. The perps and their crazed supporters.

This slow-moving train wreck has its fascinations for sure and our reader numbers have remained high. Our main posters like James Raper and Kermit and Yummi and Machine still remain very highly motivated. We still get some amazing reader comments.

Things are slowly coming full circle FOR Mignini and his many believers and allies and AGAINST the twin cancers that are Spezi & Preston and Bruce Fischer and his gang.

We are still digging into what was behind Hellmann and Zanetti getting appointed and then dragging the appeal so crudely toward a ludicrous outcome which surely wont hold up. We are still digging into what Yummi posted a few days ago about Florence and the Monster of Florence case and what Preston & Spezi were exactly up to.

There is firm proof in Italy that Preston & Spezi DID discuss disguising themselves and DID discuss planting wrong evidence. I bet one day we wil expose all the elusive truths in this case, even if most reporters and the book-buying public for now seem to have moved on .

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/02/13 at 04:08 PM | #

Here is a fine example of Italian commitment to duty for the rightful benefit of others:


There can be hope that the same will prevail on 25 March.

Posted by thundering on 02/03/13 at 07:10 AM | #

Race surely figures into this case (most evident in the lone wolf nonsense regarding Guede). I believed I recognised racial prejudice in the attack itself, from the standpoint of 2 “white” individuals despatching a “tan” (less white, mixed-race) individual.

But then, if RG was more than the hapless patsy, or was not under threat of his own life if he did not follow orders, then we have a “black” person subjugating another person of colour. It’s awkward to suggest that there is a technical, observable hierarchy of skintone operating here, but certainly, from an historical standpoint, such thinking exists.

In any assault situation, the power lies in the mind of the assailant. I say mind, rather than hands (unless they have a gun), because it is their intention to dominate, subdue, humiliate, eliminate their victim. Had there been only one attacker, the power might have been in Meredith’s hands, as she might have been able to use her martial arts skills to turn the fight around.

I perceive power (position in society, defence of their own progeny—DNA—at the expense of all others’) to be strongly at work among the Knox/Mellas and Sollecito clans. One can only be #1 (the winner) if there is also a #2, 3, 4,etc (the losers).

Look at this nonsense over the SuperBowl. Only one team can take the title, therefore the other team must lose. Yet the 49ers rebounded, nobly, in the second half, and finally scored only a few points behind. So why the hurt feelings and long faces? And why should the two brothers fall out? Unless they co-managed the same team, one of them was guaranteed to be conceding victory to the other.“Well played, well played…off with their heads!”

We tell kids it’s about the sport (fun, exercise, developing skills) more than about who wins. We can’t all be “foxy-loxy”. Some days the sky just has to fall a little on our side of the pitch. Inferiority advertises itself most glaringly in those who can’t stand to see the competition succeed, and so must debase and destroy it, rather than enjoy and admire its magnificence.

Posted by mimi on 02/04/13 at 07:42 PM | #

Hi mimi Yes this a symptom of American hierarchy. The winners take all and nobody remembers who came in second best.

Just to underscore my point though. Nowhere in any shot, video, story board, comment section, or any writing on behalf of Knox and Sollicito do I see any black person mentioned at all. None whatsoever.

Of course the entire Knox/Mellas clan are sub human anyway. With regard to the actual murder itself though, I am convinced that Guede was set up by Knox just as Lumumba was later on. The Knox/Mellas clan and their acolytes comparatively speaking are certainly sub human.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 02/04/13 at 10:54 PM | #

Incarceration “removes’’ individuals from society, both for the safety of all those against whom they might otherwise transgress and to deny them their freedom as punishment for their “convictions”. Once inside the prison walls, there is that entirely other society, a microcosm populated purely by transgressors.

They should feel at home amongst one another, yet they often do not, because they don’t recognise their criminal actions as inherently evil, just what they did to survive, uphold their own egos, or pass the time of day. What is the old adage about having the courage for one’s convictions? (I’m sure it doesn’t allude to “if you’re gonna do the crime, you’d better do the time” or, “talk the perp talk, do the perp walk”...)

Within any society, no matter how amicably it starts out, a hierarchy will eventually develop. Someone(s) will rise to the top, and it won’t necessarily be the cream. Utopia, if you could manage to establish it in the first place, would not remain idyllic. At least not if populated by humans. Unless science discovers a cure for fear, greed and jealousy.

Curt Knox, in person, when not wearing his Marriott Campaign hat and spewing invective about the evil Mignini, appears as mild-mannered and unassuming as most other middle-aged Seattleite males going about their daily business. We would have no cause to look beyond his pudgy dimpled chin or tacky leather baseball jacket, were it not for the stream of incendiary nonsense he bilged forth into the media currents in defence of his family’s good name.

I haven’t run across him since his progeny was sprung. Last week I bumped into Deanna (likewise “hatless”). Stilicho, assuming the role of gentle mentor, reminded me not to be fooled by the sheep’s clothing concealing the wolf within. (But she was, I would best describe it, mousy.)

Love our Vivianna for always putting so succinctly what I happen to be thinking in my own little head. No, we can’t lobotomise and exterminate. We have laws, we have judicial systems (as opposed to rough justice—we are trying to disarm the posses here, Aethelred, not hand them more ammo!) It all takes time and measured, sensible action. Lest we end up as Fascists.

Posted by mimi on 02/05/13 at 06:58 AM | #

Might we move the discussion to the new post above, and suggest where we all stand on those sliding scales and any others? It would be revealing to poll them, though unfortunately we dont have any way of doing this scientifically.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/06/13 at 08:44 PM | #

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Where next:

Click here to return to The Top Of The Front Page

Or to next entry Meredith’s Perugia #33: A Great Look Around Her Chosen Italy By Helicopter

Or to previous entry Reasonable Doubt In Italian Law: How Sollecito, Hellmann, And Zanetti Seriously Garbled It.