Several stories appeared this week that may be of interest:
1. The News and Observer ran this article, headlined “Lawyers Take on Net Predator Law,” about defense attorneys’ efforts to challenge G.S. 14-202.5. The statute makes it a felony for a sex offender to “access a commercial social networking Web site where the sex offender knows that the site permits minor children to become members or to create or maintain personal Web pages.” The article indicates that at least 75 defendants were charged under the law last year, but that it is now being challenged on First Amendment grounds in Durham County, with a ruling expected sometime this month. Stay tuned.
2. In these tight budgetary times, suggestions abound for addressing crime in a cost-effective manner. A new set of ideas is delineated in this Wilson Quarterly article, entitled “The Economist’s Guide to Crime Busting.” It isn’t a primer on how economists can don capes, masks, and utility belts and fight bad guys, but some of the suggestions, such as taxing alcohol more in order to reduce consumption, are interesting. One of the authors, Philip Cook, is a Duke professor, so there’s a bit of a North Carolina angle to the story.
3. Speaking of alcohol, I was floored when I stumbled across this story, which reports on a Nebraska man who was arrested for the ninth time for DWI as he drove away from a court hearing on his eighth DWI charge. He was sipping a beer as he drove and had a BAC above .23, apparently. But maybe nine DWIs shouldn’t be all that surprising. In looking for the story again today, I also found this North Carolina story about a nine-time DWI offender, and this Texas story about a man sentenced to life in prison after nine DWIs.
4. Law enforcement officers may be especially interested in this piece, which discusses the pros and cons of the $200,000+ Lenco BearCat G3, a 10-officer, 16,000 pound armored vehicle designed for police use that can absorb repeated hits by a .50 caliber gun. These tanks can apparently often be obtained at no cost to local agencies: they “can easily qualify as a necessary tool under several different [federal] grant programs, from disaster response to crime fighting. In just the past year, federal grants bought BearCats for police and sheriff’s departments from York County, Penn., to Pasadena, Texas, to Sparks, Nev.” I wonder if there’s a grant program that covers criminal law academics, because showing up at conferences in one of those would be a heck of a way to make an entrance!
5. Finally, everyone knows that the General Assembly is back in session. I posted last week about a few bills of interest, but you may also be interested in the fact that several bills have been introduced to ban synthetic cannabinoids like Spice and K2. Check out HB12 (SB9 is identical) and SB4.