Archive for the ‘Philadelphia’ Category

Will Smith from Fresh Prince used to call Philadelphia the City of Brotherly Love. But is it really the City of Brotherly Love? How can it be such a city with so much crime. In 2007 the crime rates in Philly rose so high, so high that its nickname was “Kiladelphia.” In 2007, the murder rate was more than a murder a day. “88 % of the cities in the US are safer than Philly, which is a high percentage. Annually, there is a total of 20,902 violent crimes in Philadelphia (phillycrime.org) and 60,931 property crimes. So many of the crimes were cold blooded murders, rape crimes, robbery and assault.

Last week, April 20th, a man suspected of a string of Philadelphia robberies was murdered. Though unarmed, the man was shot in the Upper Darby region after a confrontation with the police. Aikee Holloman, 23, was shot after hours prior allegedly stealing two vehicles and holding up five people at a location. In speaking about the standoff, which occured at an ATM, the Upper Darby superintendent of police, Michael J. Chitwood said “His day was filled with violence and robbery, and ended with his subsequent death”.

The account reads that after three attempts to get Holloman to show his hands, he was shot by Upper Darby Officers Dave Snyder and Randy Desrosiers. However, a report also finds that when confronted that Holloman dropped to the floor and attempted to crawl behind the courter, where he was later shot. Now the Delaware County has begun investigations, while Snyder remains on desk duty and Desrosiers remains on active duty.
See CBS take and reporting of the story for more information.

The reality of the death penalty is one that continues to plague and hurt the American criminal justice system. This week in Philadelphia at the third US circuit court of appeals revealed the issues with capital punishment. The third circuit court found that the instructions for the sentencing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther party member and death row inmate, were unclear. However, the focus did not revolve around innocence or guilt, the case did focus on race and the death penalty.

The details of the prior case are the following:

  • December 9, 1981 Abu-Jamal’s was pulled over by Philadelphia officer Daniel Faulkner in his brother’s car William Cook
  • Shots were fired and both the officer and offender were shot; however, the officer died and later Abu-Jamal was found guilty of murder.

The issue later with this case was and is that the judge, Judge Albert Sabo, who presided was known to be an outright racist. In fact, in a court stenographer found that Sabo said, “ I’m going to help them fry that n***r.” Since then, there have been various investigations that have led to appeals and re-trial for Abu Jamal. Unanimously, the US Supreme Court did find that he did not receive a fair and just trial. Yet, Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams has decided to appeal the decision, finding that, “the right thing for us to do is to ask the US Supreme court to hear this and to make a ruling on it.” Due to this newest ruling, Abu-Jamal may receive a new sentence, where he would most likely be moved from solitary confinement on death row.

One last interesting twist to this case has been Abu-Jamal’s past and present. As a journalist, the ex-black panther has found many of his rights denied the same as he would in the outside world. In one instance, Abu-Jamal called into a program to describe his own personal story; however, the phone was quickly removed, as were his rights. Nonetheless, he continues with journalism with radio weekly broadcasts and even lectures and speeches at universities through the prison. The case remains open and Mumia Abu-Jamal’s fate remains unclear. 

Check out this blog for more details and commentary on this major case.

Philly has Mobs????

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Philadelphia

More than 120 “mob figures” were arrested this year thus far. Officials in Philadelphia continue to gather evidence in an investigation of the local mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi along with his associates. There have been “senseless slayings, violent extortions, arson, labor racketeering, and drug dealing…” said The Inquirer. Law enforcements have been working to get rid of this mob mentality, they have fanned out across four states and italy. U.S Attorney General Eric holder commented that “this is one of the larger single-day operations against Mafia in the FBI’s history. This is the largest in terms of the number of dependance arrested and charged and the severity of their criminal activity.

This is very surprising to hear about considering that many thought that Mobs/ Mafias were gone. Many thought organizations such as these were dead, but instead the Mafia has proved resilient. Many thought these type of things only existed on TV, but according to the the Philadelphia Inquirer, mob figures are still being arrested. What does mobs do for Philadelphia? Based on the reputation of mobs, for them to e evident in Philadelphia will only add to the violence and will move Philly in a direction that is not towards improvement.

Zone Courts and Court Reform

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Philadelphia

In 2010, court officials and politicians sought to reform the court system and address the public safety issue by grouping cases into neighborhood zones. Termed as Zone Courts, these courts would be divided into six neighborhoods and meant to avoid the collapses of the Philadelphia criminal justice system. This would ensure that police witness would avoid the hassle of traveling from location to location for hearings. In essence, the new initiative would allow for greater attendance and participation in courtrooms around the city.

These initiatives come after countless complaint and investigations by media, such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Philadelphians. In early 2010, the newspaper found in a four part investigation that justice was “Delayed, Dismissed, Denied.”

Cases remain closed with nothing filed. Witness remain intimidated and fail to appear in court. Fugitives escape scotch free. In one article, the writer finds,

    Only one in 10 people charged with gun assaults is convicted of that charge, the newspaper found.

        Only two in 10 accused armed robbers are found guilty of armed robbery.

        Only one in four accused rapists is found guilty of rape.

        Prosecutors win only 20 percent. 

Seeing this, citizens realized the inefficiency of prosecution and court system. Thus, this initiative began to change this statistics and charges found in the newspaper. Top Philadelphia judges were quick to address the failures and even embraced them.

Now in 2011, the issue still appears to be a problem. The collaborative efforts between members of the criminal justice system have contributed to these problems. Recently in March, the head of the Defender Association of Philadelphia complained of being left out of reforms to the courts. Here are some of the issues:

 Under rules changes spearheaded by Castille and McCaffery, victims in many property-crime cases need       no  longer testify at these early hearings. Instead, police take the stand on their behalf, testifying that the victims had reported items stolen.

Still even in the presentation of these arguments, there still remains many vague factors. For more info follow the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Police Standoff With Armed Man

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Philadelphia

Today, April 18th,  police were involved with an armed standoff in Southwest Philadelphia. The individual with a knife barricaded himself on the 2500 block of Carroll Street around 11:00 a.m. for a report of a woman. However, when the police arrived they found a man armed with a butcher knife and no woman stabbed.

These type of police standoff have been consistent throughout the years.

See all these incidents

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-27-3906502271_x.htm

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-12-22/justice/pennsylvania.police.shooting_1_police-officers-officer-tanya-standoff?_s=PM:CRIME

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/crime&id=8026619

http://www.topix.com/forum/philly/TNAPGU4A7LGQCPIVV

With all these incidents, citizens must wonder the effectiveness of police for these trainings. Consistently, officers and offenders end up injured and the circumstances remain vague and unprofessional. In some ways, an outsider views the ineffectiveness and corruption of the criminal justice system. They also view the lack of journalism in the crime field to investigate and force leaders and police officers to answer to incidents like each of the aforementioned. In the end, one sees how the lack of citizen involvement can lead to overlooked and corrupt problems in the justice system, particularly police.

As Mayor Nutter’s term comes to an end, citizens and politicians alike are asking whether he has deterred, stopped, or decreased crime activity in Philadelphia. When the Philadelphia native took the job, Mayor Nutter promised change and big gain on the fight against crime. However, citizens remain unconvinced of his claim and his execution. As Fox News put it the answer is “Yes and No.”

He promised a 30-50% reduction in crime in Philadelphia.  Crime really hasn’t decreased, at least at the scale Nutter promised. It is true that crime has decreased by 12.5% and murders down by 22%, but not enough to uphold Nutter’s claim. Furthermore, the increased severity of the decreased crimes in some ways take away from any of his achievements.  In fact, for example, homicides have gone from 114 in 2007 to 87 in 2008 to 78 in 2009 to 81 in 2010 to 96 in 2011. If you really look at it, crime isn’t being tackled effectively and you have to ask yourself why?

He’s cut the police task force greatly, but failed to do the same with murder rates. No excuses Mr. Nutter because if we look to New York city the same efforts were made, but with drastically better results. The Huffpost New York found that overall crime has decreased by 3.5% just within the first quarter of 2010. This trend has continued throughout 2011, though their rape rates increase. All of this was done as the police force was significantly reduced. However in Nutter’s case, he has blamed a reduced police force for the lack of decreased crime. Nutter said,
“we’ve had reduction in force- from attrition, retirements, and three, we have fewer police officers today than we had the day I was sworn in…” Nonetheless, Nutter could take notes from the policies and practices of New York City. Like Philadelphia, New York City could not accommodate as great a police force with the budget the economy has provided them. So they reduced, but effectively.

He’s kept a consistent and effective police commissioner, but at pay raise detrimental to taxpayers.  Now, there’s no denial that Commissioner Ramsey has been there and done it all and with discipline and results. BUT… I don’t know if Philadelphia think he’s done so much as to reward him with a $225,000 pay in comparison to his previous $195,000. Even Ramsey admits here, “We’ve done a lot but we’ve got an awful lot more to do,”  “This is still not the city that any of us would envision it to be 10 years from now, five years from now. It can be a lot better, a lot safer. And I want to be a part of that.” So, if Ramsey feels that way, Philadelphians feel that way, and the statistic seem that way, why is he being rewarded?

Yes, Ramsey was in works to leave Philadelphia for Chicago, but to lure him back did Nutter need to put a $30,000 raise on the table? After, all isn’t the increasing safety and decreasing crime the goal, not increasing payroll and maintaining mediocrity and excuses.

So, after all these promises, fulfilled and unfilled, Philadelphia remains crime ridden and now it’s citizens must hold the government and its leaders accountable for change and significant results.