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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ronnie Was Put To Death For A Crime He Committed As A Minor

http://www.huffingt craig-haney/ hiding-from- the-death- pen_b_659940. h

July 26, 2010 | 06:04 PM

Hiding From the Death Penalty
Craig Haney

Last month, Utah prison officials took a death row prisoner named Ronnie
Gardner to a specially designed room, strapped him tightly into a chair, and
draped a black hood over his head. By a prearranged signal, a group of five
volunteer executioners aimed their Winchester rifles at a target placed over
his heart, and opened fire.

I met Ronnie Gardner more than 10 years ago, when his appellate attorneys
asked me to analyze his background or "social history" to see whether the
early trauma and abuse that he had suffered helped explain the tumultuous path
his life had taken, and to form an opinion about whether that kind of analysis
should have been presented in his capital trial. This past June, I testified
during a clemency hearing on his behalf. Our efforts were rebuffed, and
Ronnie's request for clemency was denied. A few days later, the state of Utah
killed him.

Twenty-eight people were put to death in the United States this year, before
Ronnie Gardner's execution. Aside from the method by which it was carried out,
his was unlikely to have drawn much public or media interest. But Ronnie's
case garnered international attention when his words -- "the firing squad,
please" -- spoken at a court proceeding in April, brought the true nature of
capital punishment back into clear focus. For a short time, those words and
the event they foreshadowed forced death penalty supporters and opponents
alike to reflect on what it truly means for the state to take the life of one
of its citizens.

Ronnie Gardner's choice to die by firing squad pierced what Albert Camus
called the "padded words" with which we have smothered and hidden capital
punishment in our society, preventing us from seeing clearly what it "really
is" and honestly debating its legitimacy. "The firing squad, please," came as
close as humanly possible to showing the nation, and the world, what Camus
described as "the machine" of the death penalty, making us "touch the wood and
steel" of it.

The truth is that many of the ugly realities of capital punishment are still
covered up in our society, described with euphemisms that make the death
penalty seem deceptively palatable. We understandably focus on the terrible
crimes that capital defendants have committed, but we refuse to examine the
origins of their violence. Thus, we are still a nation that largely ignores
the plight of desperately poor children, does little to alleviate the
suffering of those who are traumatized by neglect and abuse, and turns a blind
eye toward underfunded, incompetent, and sometimes callously cruel juvenile
institutions that frequently do more harm than good to troubled and vulnerable
young people. Instead, we rise up in indignation when one of these profoundly
poor, chronically ignored, and badly mistreated children grow up to become, as
Ronnie Gardner described himself, a "nasty little bugger," only then paying
much attention, with many clamoring for the death penalty to be imposed.

Although this part of his story got comparatively little media attention,
Ronnie Gardner lived exactly the same kind of life that many capital
defendants have, one filled with precisely the sort of turmoil, trauma, and
tragedy that we now know leads to extreme forms of violence. He was exposed to
virtually every form of child maltreatment there is -- including abject
poverty, profound neglect, and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The
state of Utah did little or nothing to prevent this maltreatment, and mostly
exacerbated its mounting effects. When the cruelty, criminality, and
institutional mistreatment to which he was subjected finally took their toll,
Ronnie began to express his anger and pain outwardly, using aggression to keep
a hostile world at bay.

By then, Utah authorities had thrown up their hands, claiming they had no
alternative. They put Ronnie in adult prison, although he was still a
teenager. With no help forthcoming from correctional staff and facing dangers
from much older and stronger prisoners, Ronnie's problems only worsened. He
was eventually sentenced to death for the 1985 murder of attorney Michael
Burdell, whom Ronnie shot and killed during a courthouse escape attempt.

In theory, the jury that decided Ronnie Gardner's fate in his capital trial
was supposed to hear the story of his life, presented as comprehensively as
possible, and to take it into account in choosing between life and death.
After all, as we are often told, our legal system goes to great lengths and
spares no expense to insure that only the truly deserving are condemned to
death. Our courts use padded words -- terms like "super due process" and
"death is different jurisprudence" -- to describe these procedures, ones that
death penalty proponents claim are so elaborate, careful, and time consuming
that, if anything, they provide these worst criminals with "too much justice."

In fact, however, as is still true in far too many capital trials, Ronnie
Gardner's legal defense was shockingly inadequate. His original lawyers badly
botched the only part of his 1985 capital trial that really mattered -- the
portion where they were supposed to explain the meaning and significance of
their client's troubled life in order to mitigate his punishment. They
proceeded haphazardly and incompetently, with no coherent strategy to save him
from the death penalty. They called only a handful of ill-prepared witnesses
and never bothered to place his criminal behavior in the larger context of the
trauma he had suffered earlier. Ronnie Gardner's jury was never given a
meaningful chance to weigh the horrible details of his life against the awful
things he had done. The scales of justice, in this case and many others like
it, were never remotely balanced. Indeed, just a few weeks before Ronnie was
executed, several of his original jurors came forward to say that if they had
known about the horrible upbringing that his trial lawyers' incompetence had
kept hidden from them, or if they had been given the option of sentencing him
to life without parole, they would never have voted in favor of the death
penalty. But it was far too late to make any difference.

Ronnie Gardner's case was painfully instructive about another aspect of the
death penalty that our society labors mightily to keep hidden. The term
"lethal injection" describes the execution process now in widespread use in
most parts of the United States, a method we have been reassured allows
state-sanctioned killings to be carried out "humanely." It is a bland,
denatured term, one that conjures the image of an antiseptic, medical
procedure more than anything else. In this way, of course, the padded words
with which we cloak the process -- "lethal injection" -- brilliantly belie the
violent outcome it is designed to bring about. This seems to explain why the
Gardner execution drew so much media attention and pubic interest. After all,
why would someone reject an obviously more humane procedure in favor of one
that seemed so brutal, even barbaric?

In fact, Ronnie had carefully read the Utah "lethal injection" procedure, one
very similar to those in use in many other states, and it terrified him. He
did not trust the procedure and feared it could not be carried out correctly.
He worried that he would be left lying motionless on a prison gurney --
literally paralyzed -- and publicly put on display for a prolonged, perhaps
unbearably long period of time, possibly in excruciating pain, but unable to
move or express any feeling, as a group of strangers watched him slowly but
imperceptibly die. For him, the firing squad seemed far less inhumane,
degrading, and cruel. For those who witnessed the event, of course, and for
others who stopped to contemplate what actually happened, it was another
matter entirely.

And this seems to underscore the primary -- perhaps only -- advantage that
lethal injections have over more seemingly primitive ways for the state to
kill: their ability to hide the ugly truth of what we are actually doing. Yet,
for a brief moment last month, the spectacle of a firing squad shooting to
death a strapped down, hooded man in Utah reminded us of what the death
penalty is really about.
- - - - -
Craig Haney, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa
Cruz, is a leading expert on capital punishment and the author of Death by

/ / / / /
Steve Hall
512.879.1675 (o
512.627.3011 (m
Skype: shall78711
shall@standdown. org
www.StandDown. org

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kids Held In Maryland Jails

Children held in Maryland's jails are often placed in overcrowded, sometimes physically deteriorating facilities. Although some jails make efforts to separate juveniles from adults, to some extent children have contact with adult inmates in every detention center visited by Human Rights Watch. In all jails, children complain that they are hungry; one youth in the Baltimore City Detention Center told Human Rights Watch that he avoided exercising out of fear that he would use up needed calories.

Some 150 youth, between one-half and two-thirds of all children held in adult detentions centers in Maryland, are placed in the Baltimore City Detention Center, a crumbling, century-old facility equipped with woefully inadequate light and ventilation and infested with cockroaches and rodents. Maintenance at the jail is irregular. The staff relies heavily on the confinement of detainees to their cells, sometimes for extended periods, as a method of behavior management. As a result, both juvenile and adult detainees must endure appalling conditions of detention.

Girls in adult jails are faced with the prospect of near-total isolation, often left with only each other for company. Human Rights Watch investigators touring Baltimore's jail saw the two girls then in detention standing at the door to their section, their faces pressed to the window and schoolbooks clutched in their arms. When we entered the section, they demanded to know when somebody would come to take them to school, telling us that they had not been to classes for three days. "We thought maybe they forgot about us," one said; they reported that they rarely had contact with guards apart from meals and the times they were taken to and from school.
Baltimore City Detention Center

With portions of the Men's Detention Center dating to 1809, Baltimore's city jail is the oldest pretrial facility in use in the state of Maryland. LaMont Flanagan, commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services's Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, referred to the jail as an "artifact" and described the facility as "your old-style jail that you see on television."An imposing structure in its own right, the jail is adjacent to the Maryland StatePenitentiary and across the street from the state's new supermaximum security facility.

Approximately 150 juveniles are in detention in the Baltimore City Detention Center on any given day. The vast majority are male, with no more than five to ten girls in detention at one time. (There were only two girls in detention at the time of Human Rights Watch's visit in May 1999.)

Many remain in detention for six months or more. Commissioner Flanagan noted, "According to the statistics, the average stay is seventy-six days. But that's only an average. We have some that stay nine months. Some are up to two years. These juveniles have complicated cases, and they do not plead guilty."

Juvenile defense attorneys confirmed that children tried as adults spend more time in pretrial detention than their counterparts in the juvenile court system and are detained longer than most adult inmates. Attorneys who represent children charged as adults noted that children who face criminal charges have more incentive to contest the charges against them rather than accept a plea bargain. A significant number secure acquittals or dismissal of charges. According to Flanagan, "Fifty percent are released after a prolonged period of time."

Figures reported by the Division of Pretrial Detention and Services demonstrate that juveniles are held in pretrial detention for very long periods. For the period January through October 1996, on average fifty-eight juveniles each month have spent more than three months in pretrial detention. In each of these months, at least two juvenile inmates had been in the detention center for more than one year while awaiting trial; in March 1996, thirty-nine juveniles, 23 percent of the total juvenile population, had spent more than one year in detention pending the resolution of their cases in the circuit or district court.

Male juveniles in the Baltimore City Detention Center are housed in single or double cells in the Men's Detention Center, called the "steel side" by some inmates. Female juveniles are housed in a dormitory in the Women's Detention Center.
The Boys' General Population Section
The general housing area for male juveniles is L Section, located on the second floor of the North Building. Formerly used for inmates on lockup status, the section has a total of sixty cells divided into two sections, each with an upper and a lower tier of fifteen cells each. Bars along the front of each row of cells open onto a passageway; no cell faces any other cell. Exposed pipes, many with torn insulation, line the passageways. The only natural lighting in the section comes from the four or five large windows in each passageway. At the time of our visit in May 1999, most of these windows were partially blocked by plywood or covered by opaque plexiglass or translucent plastic sheeting. Most of the glass panes were broken where the windows were not covered. Each side of the section has two telephones and a dayroom. The single shower room for the section has six shower heads; according to the guards on duty when we toured the section, two shower heads were not working at the time of our visit.

Originally designed for single occupancy, most of the cells in L Section have two bunks and a combination sink and toilet. The majority of the cells measure about eight by seven feet and have eight-and-a-half-foot ceilings; two cells, the first on each side of the upper tier, are slightly larger. The section has two isolation cells with heavy metal sheets completely covering the bars, blocking all natural light from entering the cells. According to the detention center security chief, these cells are not used; he stated that the detention center was in the process of having the metal sheets removed from the bars. We were unable to confirm that no children were held in these cells in L Section.

L Section housed sixty-nine children on the day of our September visit and seventy-one on the day of our May visit. This number is close to the average daily occupancy in the section since the beginning of 1998. Before 1998, the section routinely housed in excess of one hundred, reaching its maximum capacity of 120 in June 1997.
We heard a number of complaints from children held at the Baltimore City Detention Center that their court clothes, stored in lockers at the entrance to each section, were often dirty when they were retrieved in preparation for court dates. "They only let us have one court outfit," Jerome T. said. "They put them in these unsanitary lockers. Mice be pissing on your clothes.

Jail staff across Maryland cited security as the reason for requiring juveniles to wear uniforms. Since youth in most juvenile facilities wear ordinary clothingsuch as t-shirts and shorts or pants, there is a real question whether there is an actual security justification for the uniforms. In the absence of actual incidents of violence directly related to clothing or a similar justification, the validity of requiring youth to wear stigmatizing, institutionalizing, and often uncomfortable clothing is questionable. In Baltimore, the fact that adult inmates are not required to wear such uniforms casts further doubt on the security rationale advanced by jail officials.
Those who can't afford commissary items go hungry unless they are able to get commissary items from others. "If somebody don't eat something, you can give them a cup of soup or chips from the commissary, or you trade the things you don't eat," explained Sam H., in the Washington County Detention Center.192 Often, children told us, they lose their commissary items to theft or coercion. "Some folks here, I've never seen order commissary," Michael T. observed, "but then I see them with commissary stuff."

The U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty provide that youth in detention must receive food at normal meal times and of a quality and quantity to satisfy the standards of health and hygiene Youthcorrections specialists concur that children need more food than adults do. "Young people require at least 3,000 calories per day, including frequent opportunities to eat, both meals and snacks," writes Barry Glick, a corrections consultant and former associate deputy director for local services with the New York State Division for Youth. The National Commission on Correctional Health Care estimate is even higher-up to 4,000 calories per day or more for teenagers who are still growing or very active.Our impression that officials at adult jails did not understand the dietary needs of their juvenile inmates was confirmed when an official at the Baltimore City Detention Center told us during a meeting of detention center staff that the facility served its inmates "2,200 to 2,800 calories per day, depending on the population. The NCCH standard is at 1,800; others are 2,000 calories. We're well within the dietary requirements. That's not unusual in any correctional setting." Asked about children in detention, he replied, "The juveniles would get that higher caloric intake because of their needs." However, he was not able to explain how the meals served to juveniles differed from those offered to adults. Indeed, the meals we saw served to juveniles appeared to be identical to those offered to adults-the portions served to juveniles appeared to consist of the same items, to be the same size, and served on trays that were not marked to distinguish them from the meals offered to adult inmates.
125 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.
126 Human Rights Watch interview with LaMont Flanagan, commissioner, Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore, Maryland, May 11, 1999.
127 Human Rights Watch interview with LaMont Flanagan, Commissioner, Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore, Maryland, May 11, 1999.
128 Ibid.
129 Figures are taken from tabular data provided by the Maryland Division of Pretrial Detention and Services to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, January through October 1996.
130 See 1993 Revised Consolidated Decree, Duvall v. Schaefer, Civil Action No. K-76-1255 (D. Md. July 9, 1993), Appendix B., pp. B-1 and B-2.
131 Human Rights Watch interview with James L. Drewery, security chief,

Saturday, July 10, 2010

14 Year Old Being Held In Adult Jail

July 6, 2010
Accused shooter, 14, moved to adult jail

From staff, wire reports

A 14-year-old Madison boy who was certified to stand trial for murder as an adult Friday was later transferred from the juvenile detention center to Madison County Metro Jail.

Hammad Memon, accused in the slaying of his Discovery Middle School classmate Todd Brown, is being held in isolation under suicide watch, authorities said.

Brown was shot to death in the hallway of the school on Feb. 5.

Hammad Memon is the son of Dr. Iqbal Memon, a pediatrician who practices in Athens, and Safia Memon. The family lives in Madison. Until 2009, Dr. Memon wrote occasional columns on childhood ailments for The News Courier.

No one answered the phone Friday at Memon’s Athens practice or at his Madison home when a reporter called from The News Courier.

Madison County District Judge Lynn Sherrod ordered Hammad held on a $75,000 bond during a closed court hearing. Memon, a duel citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom, must surrender his passport to be released.

According to WAFF in Huntsville, Hammad’s attorney Bruce Gardner said Dr. and Mrs. Memon are concerned about the slight 14-year-old boy being held in an adult facility. Gardner said he would have preferred Sherrod send Hammad to a mental facility or back to the juvenile center.

The boy has been in custody at a juvenile dention center since the shooting, which took place in a hallway between classes with other students nearby. Under Alabama’s youthful offender law, the boy’s name was withheld until certified to stand trial as an adult in criminal court.

Sherrod’s hearing on certification was private. District Attorney Robert Broussard and defense attorney Bruce Gardner confirmed afterward that he had been certified as an adult.

Brief History Of Juvenile Court

A Brief History of Juvenile Court
Juvenile Courts were conceived at the turn of the century to end the long-standing practice

of trying (and imprisoning) children side by side with adult criminals. There were two reasons

for this. There was the commonsense legal theory that children ought not bear the same

statutory responsibility as grown-ups because of their immaturity (psychological, emotional and

developmental). And there was growing public sentiment that punishing children in the same

way as adult criminals was immoral, an opinion fueled by media coverage of harsh and

inhumane treatment of children in state penitentiaries — and occasionally on death row.

The original juvenile courts were informal civil tribunals. The accused were no longer called

criminals or defendants facing trial and sentence — they were “delinquents” facing

“adjudication” and “disposition,” giving rise to an entire system of euphemism that persists to

this day. This supposed removal of stigmatizing labels (along with closing hearings to the

public) was intended to protect children. But it also permitted the removal of any meaningful

scrutiny of the works of the juvenile court, along with most of the constitutional and legal

protections commonly enjoyed in adult criminal court. In the new system, children were not

entitled to legal representation, nor were prosecutors on hand to represent the interests of

the state and public safety. Usually, a juvenile court judge (many of whom had little or no legal

training) would confer with the equivalent of a social worker, then decide how best to deal

with a wayward child. In most jurisdictions, there were no transcripts, no formal presentations

of evidence, no cross-examination of witnesses, and no right of appeal. The intent of all this

was to remove procedural and legal obstacles, so that the court could quickly move in to

protect a child in danger. The result juvenile justice system, however — as the U.S. Supreme

Court noted in a landmark 1967 opinion, In Re Gault — was often little more than a kangaroo

court with unlimited power over children and families. The lack of scrutiny left the system

open to horrendous abuses and whims. Gerry Gault, for instance, was sentenced to up to

seven years in a youth prison for a prank phone call. So the high court scrapped the informal

nature of juvenile justice, one in a series of rulings that ultimately conferred all the same legal

rights on juveniles as adults possess (except for the right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers,

for obvious reasons).

Once again, a laudable intent — protecting childrens’ rights — did not produce the desired

result. Today’s juvenile courts focus most of their energy on legal ritual — proving or

disproving charges, litigating the constitutionality of searches and confessions, maintaining the

papery machinery of justice with its appetite for subpoenas, warrants, motions and writs. In

other words, the unanticipated result of the Supreme Court’s Gault decision was to shift the

focus of Juvenile Court from the child to the facts of the crime the child committed. Only

after the legal issues are dealt with, after many weeks, months, or sometimes years pass, does

the court belatedly turn its attention toward what should be done to help a child — far too

late in many cases. The child’s rights are protected, but the child is not. And given the fact

that most accused juveniles remain free while their cases slowly pass through the system,

society is not protected, either.

The problems inherent in this shift in focus are now coming to a head as youth violence has

reached crisis proportions. In recent years, with juveniles increasingly responsible for major

and violent crimes, public sentiment in support of a separate justice system for children has

been waning, replaced by frustration at the system’s inability to quickly and resolutely deal

with out-of-control delinquents. This frustration has led many jurisdictions to shift more

resources into monitoring and incarcerating the most serious juvenile offenders for longer

periods of time. This has had a paradoxical effect: Fewer resources are left to deal with

minor, younger offenders — those youths most amenable to rehabilitation, and the ones

juvenile court was originally designed to help. Instead, these kids on the cusp are largely

ignored — until they commit more serious offenses. Only then, when they are hardened

offenders unlikely to reform, do we throw time and money at them — too late for them, too

late for their crime victims.

This self-defeating trend is now being carried to its logical extreme — the wholesale

dismantling of major portions of the juvenile court system, as state after state has passed

laws allowing many juveniles to be tried and sentenced as adults. Championed as a reform,

this practice is actually a throwback to the Nineteenth Century, when a criminal was a criminal,

no matter his or her age.

In 1980, every state kept its youth criminals in juvenile court.