United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Taking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 : hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3 ... January 19 and 20, 1995 online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JTaking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 : hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3 ... January 19 and 20, 1995 → online text (page 24 of 51)
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again. For example, in Detective Boyle's case, the man he is speak-
ing of was arrested for crimes that would be considered nonviolent,
car theft. He was arrested once. He was allowed out on prison cap.
He was arrested again. He was allowed out on prison cap. And very
shortly thereafter is when Officer Boyle saw this man riding down
a one-way street and for all that officer, all it might be is a traffic
ticket or tell the man to turn around or ask for his driver's license.


Mr. Scott. I think we have some time constraints that we are
trying to deal with, and at this point I reserve the balance of my
time. Ms. Abraham, I apologize.

Ms. Abraham. Quite all right, Mr. Scott.

Mr. SCHIFF. The gentleman from Virginia reserves the balance of
his time. Mr. Heineman.

Mr. Heineman. Thank you, Mr. Heineman.

Mr. SCHIFF. Keep that thought. On the promotion to Speaker,
that is all.

Mr. Heineman. Mr. Chairman, you have our heartfelt S3nnripathy
to you and your family.

Mr. Boyle. Thank you very much, sir.

Mr. Heineman. Again back home, we have heard from the dep-
uty attorney general the inside-the-beltline perspective, and we
reached outside the beltline and we heard two real-life attorney
generals of the States here appealing for help, appealing for relief.
Then we heard the mayor. We heard a couple of prosecutors and
the sheriff, and the names and the faces are different but the
theme is the same. They are crying out for help.

And because we, and I, push prison construction is not because
we are barbaric. Cops are not barbaric. At times they do wrong.
That is why we have a civil liberties union, people coming forward
and speaking to those issues. We had a Rodney King scenario and
the cops were wrong. And you can go across this country of millions
of confrontations between — between professional people in govern-
ment and people that end up being victims and subjects of lawsuits
and litigants. We are not barbaric on this side of the — not Speaker
but the chairman.

I think if you look back in history — and I can speak for 38 years
in law enforcement — when someone falls out on the street, it is not
your citizen that gets down and breathes into their lungs. It is
cops. It used to be — it used to be cops and now it is a little different
now with — with the way things are.

But the cops do this. And who pulls people off the roofs of houses
that are about to jump or climbs up on spans of buildings? Cops.
As tough as they can be, that is how soft they are.

And they are concerned about crime prevention. Who knows
more about crime prevention than the cops? I have been doing
crime prevention for a long time. Tell me about reaching out to talk
to people about crime prevention, and I don't look at crime preven-
tion things lightly. I look at it from a different perspective. I think
the problems of crime prevention reach into education and reach
into welfare, and we have to do reforms of both of those issues to
get to the real guts of crime prevention. We have to change people's
perspectives, and that starts — that starts from Project Head Start
and goes all the way up. We have to care for people and we have
to give them assistance.

I know. I have walked through housing developments in high-
risk areas and I have seen kids this size, this tall, 3-foot, 3V2-foot,
just as cute as can be, and you just want to pick them up and hug
them, they are that cute. And the next time you see them they are
6-foot tall and you are chasing them. Something happens between
3-foot and 6-foot.


You and I know what happens. They reach out for someone in
some place in this gradation of this physical body and those people
are there not. So what they do is, they network with the closest
person, closest to them and oftentimes they are just not the right
people to do that. We have to get parents back in the homes. That
is crime prevention.

You never saw a girl gang — or most of you never saw a girl gang,
and you ask yourself why. Because they had a mother to identify

The same in schools. We have to deal with the dropouts. In the
penitentiaries in this country, 82 percent of the inmates are high
school dropouts. Now, if you can't put that together with crime pre-
vention, then I can't do any better at explaining to you where the
problems are. And the problems in this country where crime is con-
cerned are the teenagers, and now even preteens throwing kids out
of windows, and the early twenties; that is where we have to go.

This committee has to network with other committees to right
the wrongs and give people a piece of the pie and some hope. I am
not talking like a liberal. I am talking about practicalities, the
problems of the teenagers; and we have to help them. And giving
them midnight basketball is not helping them. It is just taking
them out of the house at midnight instead of bringing them back.
I am for 4 p.m. basketball, 7 p.m. homework and midnight mass,
but that doesn't mean you have to be for that.

But we have got to get back to values in this country where we
can get back to — we can get back to "Father Knows Best" instead
of "Married With Children." I mean, that is where we came from
and here is where we are.

I am not against crime prevention. I am against throwing money
to people and telling them it is going to help them when it really
won't help them; it is just a bandaid.

So when we can come together on a bipartisan initiative and af-
fect people in those real ways, we have captured crime prevention
without having to talk about double locks on your doors and pin-
ning your windows and things of that nature.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. SCHIFF. Thank you, Ms. Lofgren.

Ms. Lofgren. Thank you very much. I am aware of our time con-
straint. I do want to mention to my colleague how interested I am
in his comments and how much I look forward to working with him
in pursuing some of those ideas as the Congress proceeds. I think
there is room for us to work together to solve the problems of juve-
nile crime.

To the district attorney, I was very interested to hear your story
because it reminded me so much of my 8 years as a defendant in
a jail overcrowding lawsuit in California. That was a State court
proceeding, not a Federal court proceeding, and it was counter-
productive. It was a nightmare. It was exactly as you have de-
scribed it. It brought back old and bad memories.

On the other hand, part of the solution, you cannot build your
way out, as I am sure you are aware, of the crime problem. But
there is a point that you do need to expand your jail. And it sounds
like you were past there and the governing body really needed to
spend some money.


California has had bond measures, voter-approved bond meas-
ures for local jail construction; and we really, as the taxpayers of
the State, stood up to the bad and put our money on the line and
did it.

Has the State of Pennsylvania done something similar?

Ms. Abraham. We certainly have in Pennsylvania. As a matter
of fact, there are probably 10,000 new cells either just coming on
line or about to come on line for our statewide

Ms. LOFGREN. Those were built by

Ms. Abraham. Taxes and some are open now and some will be
open in the next year. And also by bond measures and so forth.
Sometimes it is not always taxes, sometimes it is bonds.

Ms. Lofgren. We have done that as well.

You are aware that there is nothing in this bill that would pro-
vide funding for county jails, aren't you?

Ms. Abraham. Yes, I am.

Ms. Lofgren. Because I would be interested in your thoughts;
you don't have to give them right now, but if you had some
thoughts on how counties and States might work together.

I am a strong believer that — we focus in on State prisons and po-
lice officers, and that is not inappropriate, but if you don't have
prosecutors to prosecute the people who are arrested, the system
doesn't work. If you don't have room in your county jail to hold the
people, then having a lot of prison space doesn't help either.

I would be interested in your thoughts, maybe in writing after
this hearing, on what relationship could be arranged using this bill
between States and counties to address that issue.

Finally — I guess this is both for yourself, Ms. Abraham, as well
as Mr. Bronstein — it seems to me, there are certainly frivolous law-
suits and there is nothing inherently wrong with asking an individ-
ual who has even a civil rights claim to exhaust administrative
remedies before going to court. That is done in sex discrimination
cases and others.

I do understand your point, Mr. Bronstein, about dismissing po-
tentially meritorious cases, but it strikes me that the way to get
at the things that you have mentioned, Ms. District Attorney, and
that I had to deal with as a local government official — that was
stupid, in my opinion, in terms of real protection for inmates — real-
ly isn't through the procedures of lawsuits, but the standards that
are being applied in matters that are being brought forward.

For example, we had to go to Mac/s to buy sheets and there
were certain temperatures required. You can't keep potatoes for
adult prisoners on the same palette as potatoes for juvenile offend-
ers. Stuff that is ludicrous. And if we were to address those stand-
ards rather than bringing forth grievances, maybe we would have
a better result.

Ms. Abraham. Let me, if I may, say that with respect to the law-
suits that we have been told about, that there would be nothing
wrong and there would be nothing to prevent those cases that we
have heard about this afternoon from being taken to the courts
after the administrative remedies have been exhausted. And I
think that is one of the things that title VII does. It says, you ex-
haust your administrative remedies first; it doesn't say that you
are barred from the Federal courts.


It also requires that if you are bringing a claim in forma
pauperis that if you don't

Ms. LOFGREN. I know what it says. I am wondering about the
standards as compared to the ability to get yourself to court as a
vehicle for dealing with this issue.

Ms. Abraham. If I could add one more gloss to the idea of what
I am concerned about, do you know now that in our prisons, be-
sides the frivolous lawsuits of not enough peanuts in the peanut
butter, or my toothbrush did not have enough bristles, or whatever
the lawsuits are, plus the substantive issue of how prisoners are
treated in prisons, which we will save for another day, we are find-
ing an alarming rate of people in prison who are suing our victims
and our witnesses. And the prisoner is appointed an attorney right

This is a new kind of victim and witness intimidation. If it
doesn't work when you intimidate your witness on the street, you
file a lawsuit against them where the victim or witness has to come
with his own lawyer at his own expense. We have one of our vic-
tims or witnesses who has paid $30,000.

Ms. LoFGREN. There are certain remedies against the lawyer for
lawsuits, and in California you would be sanctioned for bringing
frivolous matters as a lawyer.

Ms. Abraham. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get rule XI re-
lief. On top of that, prisoners don't have any money, and unless
this Gk)vernment prevents that kind of lawsuit against

Ms. LoFGREN. My time is almost up and I would like Mr.
Bronstein to at least comment on my question if he has a moment
to do so.

Mr. Bronstein. On the question of standards or what Ms. Abra-
ham just said?

Ms. LoFGREN. To get at frivolous suits, address the standards to
which we are holding prisons and jails, as compared to the vehicle
for bringing those issues forward.

Mr. Bronstein. My point was, and is, that current law is ade-
quate. Title XXVTII, section 1915 provides that a Federal judge
may and should dismiss frivolous lawsuits. And the current version
of title XLII, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, has
a requirement in there that a judge can direct a prisoner to ex-
haust and come back in 180 days.

What I am concerned about is making it so automatic that the
kind of Keith Hudson lawsuit can be thrown out, throwing out the
baby with the bathwater. There is adequate current law and what
should be done and what is done in many districts is that they
have a pro se law clerk who reviews all the petitions and says the
case involving four packs of cigarettes, that you can dismiss with-
out any hearing. But where a prisoner says, I was beaten and I
don't know how to file a lawsuit or something, then the judge ought
to at least ask Ms. Abraham or the district attorney or the attorney
general, tell us about this. Let's have a little bit of an inquiry.

It doesn't have to be a full-scale trial. I don't have to appoint a
lawyer. There is adequate provision or power and authority for the
courts to review this.

Federal judges do not — do not jump out and look for these cases
to take over prisons. They don't want to do that. So you are right


that there has to be a set of standards. I think they exist. The Fed-
eral Judicial Center and the Judicial Conference has bench books
for the judges on how to deal with prisoner pro se lawsuits. Every
district that I know of has a pro se law clerk to deal with these
sorts of things. The courts of appeal have pro se law clerks; protec-
tion of the courts against this is there.

Ms. Abraham. I might add that there is no such thing as a little
inquiry on these matters. I understand — we respectfully disagree
with each other, but when somebody says something has happened,
there is no such thing as a little inquiry about, well, I was beaten.
It is a grand inquiry. I am not saying this is wrong. I am not con-
cerning myself with those issues, but what

Ms. LOFGREN. In my experience, that is correct, there is no such
thing as a little inquiry.

Ms. Abraham. Could you tell us about this? We are talking about
a grand-scale investigation, and if I even tried to answer — I am not
the right party, but if I am the attorney general of the State and
I say, I will look into this, and I say, I found no evidence, I would
have to start showing what I did and didn't do. It is an impossible

Ms. Lofgren. Thank you.

Mr. Bronstein. The real answer is, if prison systems had ade-
quate grievance mechanisms and grievance procedures, they would
themselves take care of 90 percent of this stuff.

Mr. McCOLLUM [presiding]. Thank you.

Mr. Bryant.

Mr. Bryant of Tennessee. In the interest of time, I wanted to as-
sociate myself with the remarks of Mr. Heineman. And I will yield
back the balance of my time.

Mr. McCOLLUM. All right.

Ms. Jackson Lee, you have not gone yet, have you? You may
have it. It is all yours. Mr. Bryant was kind enough to say he didn't
want to take any. It goes right to you.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I will follow
suit on a limited basis. Let me indicate to Detective Boyle that —
and you never can get away from your roots. As a locally elected
official, the heaviness of attending one more officer's funeral re-
mains with me. So I, too, thank you for your efforts and also your
willingness to be here today.

I wanted to briefly try to pursue the realism of the prison fund-
ing potential, noting my colleagues' comments about the lack of dol-
lars for the county system. Certainly, as a former municipal court
judge, I faced the fears of an overwhelmingly crowded city system
and then county system.

As an officer, do you see the value in this concept called — and I
worked with my sheriff in Harris County, in Texas — called boot
camps, and have you had any there, and have you had any expo-
sure to those kinds of forms of incarceration?

Mr. Boyle. To my knowledge, in the Philadelphia area we have
not had any form of boot camp. Maybe on the juvenile level, which
I think if you are going to start something like that, you want it
where you can get— just like if you went into the Army, 15, 18, and
19 years old, or in the Marine Corps when you are young enough
to be saved and molded. You want something like that where you


would get the juvenile offender and try and turn that person
around before they become an adult offender and repeat offender
and wind up the rest of their life in jail because they took another
human life.

Now, I am not aware of any boot camp facilities that we have in
Philadelphia. Maybe the district attorney would know better than

Ms. Abraham. May I respond?

Ms. Jackson Lee. Go right ahead. And 15 to 22 was the focus
of the program that we have, and an effective one. But you are
right. You would have to target it right in there.

Ms. Abraham. Congresswoman, I was a municipal court judge
before I was a common pleas trial judge, so I am at one with you.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has at least two boot camps,
but they have only recently opened in response to how is it that
we are going to treat our exploding rate of juvenile crime where we
have kids of 7, 8, 9, and 10 who are shoplifting and mugging and
carrying guns and drugs? And the idea would be, as you have men-
tioned, to try to save our children and avoid the possibility of using
our jails, which should be used to their maximum extent possible.

Whether or not boot camps prove to be as efficacious as we all
hope they will remains to be seen. For example, many of the States
which have experimented longer than Pennsylvania on the issue of
boot camps have found that the recidivist rate in boot camp versus
nonboot camp is almost the same. Six months — I would prefer if we
are going to have, quote, "a boot camp kind of service," or incarcer-
ation, that it not be limited to 6 months. And I think, as Officer
Boyle indicated, when I was sitting on the bench with young of-
fenders, I could always call up the local Army recruiter. Navy re-
cruiter. Marine recruiter and say. Do I have a candidate for you;
and I could arrange it so that I could send this person to the re-
cruiter to sign up for 2 or 3 or 4 years, and what I would do is
defer adjudication. I would not pronounce the person guilty. I
would call up the recruiter and say, here is your kid and go fix
him. And we can't do that anymore, which is a shame.

If we are going to have boot camps, we have to have the modern
equivalent of a long-term school, incarceration and treatment cen-
ter, because these kids cannot read and they come from tumultuous
family situations and abusive backgrounds and the whole thing.
And we know what happens in our juvenile situations.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Mindful of my time — and I hope maybe that
my office will be in a dialog with both of you at a future time —
and my frustration that I would have with H.R. 3 would focus on
many areas, but one of the particular areas would be the need for
locally focused jails, counties, and the question as to what relation-
ship the States — ^great respect for the States — would have with the
local jurisdiction in helping out that immediate overcrowding, espe-
cially when you are talking about your pretrial.

The other point I would raise, for Texas has had some very good
success stories on the boot camp, and the issue that I would raise
would be, one, lacking flexibility to do what you have just said, Dis-
trict Attorney Abraham, which would be to make it longer if par-
ticular States said, this works for us, 6 months is too short. But
the fact that these facilities would not be included.


So I have a sense of frustration there because I think there are
ways of making that work.

You are right. We cannot — there is a different style now in the
miHtary. And that is not an outlet, and resources are tough and
problems are even harsher with the kinds of young criminals that
we are seeing. But I do have a frustration that denies you that
flexibility or being able to look further at a boot camp at a longer
period of time or to help relieve you as relates to the pretrial sce-
nario. So I leave you with those comments and I thank you.

I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Mr. Chabot.

Mr. Chabot. Thank you.

Ms. Abraham, could I comment on the requirements that Federal
courts have imposed on local and State prison officials in the area
of requiring, for example, cable TV, modern weight equipment, cer-
tain square footage per cell before you can double-cell?

In Hamilton County, we dealt with a prison there and we had
to put acoustical treatment on the ceilings and walls so it wasn't
too loud. There are lots of people in my district who can't afford
cable TV and can't afford to join health clubs, yet many of these
prisoners seem to be building up their bodies and perhaps becom-
ing more dangerous, rather than maybe they ought to be develop-
ing their minds so that they could read.

Ms. Abraham. I would prefer, if it would be acceptable to the
committee, to have Ms. Vandenbraak who has chapter and verse
on that issue

Mr. Chabot. That is fine.

Ms. Vandenbraak. I think what we are seeing, not only in Phila-
delphia but across the State, is that there are many things that
prisoners are being granted not only by correctional officials but
often pursuant to pressure from Federal judges or activist judges,
that far exceed the constitutional standards.

In Philadelphia we are having debates about artwork in the pris-
on. I am sorry, but that is not an appropriate use of the Federal
judge's time to be dictating artwork. We have had in Pennsylvania
prisons — I know a recent story of where there was one cable in the
cell, and they were concerned about fights in the cell over what
channel to watch. So prison officials instead, put two cables into
the cell. It seems to me that the taxpayers would find that really

And I think that, getting back to the Philadelphia case, we have
a consent decree here that goes for 10 years in which the judge
controls every operational issue down to how many notaries for our
law libraries, to the artwork, flag poles and even Scotchguarding
judicial furniture. And maybe those are important issues, but the
question is. Should a Federal judge be deciding that or a local gov-
ernment be deciding those issues?

Mr. Chabot. Arguments could be made on behalf of prison offi-
cials that they need a mechanism to keep the prisoners occupied
so that they are not harming the guards or other prisoners, and
perhaps television goes in that direction. I don't agree with that ar-
gument, but nonetheless it is made. I think we have gone far too
far in providing some luxuries that should not be there.

I think Mr. Bronstein is chomping at the bit perhaps.


Mr. Bronstein. I don't want to engage in that discussion. I don't
know of any Federal judges who have ordered cable TV. But it is
interesting to me, Mr. Chairman — and with all due respect, I don't
see any prison officials on your list of witnesses, and I think those
are the people who could speak to many of these issues.

For example, the January 3, 1995, edition of Criminal Justice
Newsletter reports on a survey of prison wardens throughout the
country. Not a survey by the ACLU, a survey by another body that
I think you must have some respect for, the Senate — of the U.S.
Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, the folks just across the

They did a survey of wardens, and on this whole issue of prison
space, prison wardens throughout the country said that on average
they could release about half of the inmates under their super-
vision without increasing the danger to society. The prisons in this
country are filled with nonviolent, nondangerous petty drug offend-
ers, half of our prison population.

That finding was then run by the American Correctional Associa-
tion, the representative agency of all prison officials in this coun-
try, and they said — the president, Bobby Husky — those findings are
consistent with positions already adopted by the ACA involving ad-
vocacy of alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders.

If we focused on those issues, we could relieve the terrible over-
crowding problems of people, like in your jurisdiction.

Ms. Abraham. I have a real big dispute about what is a non-
violent person. The man who was let out of prison who killed Offi-
cer Boyle was deemed to be nonviolent. And I don't believe — ^and
I really get a little tired of it, that we deem drug dealers as non-
violent. A drug dealer is not a nonviolent offender. Drug dealing
means guns and killing and turf and degradation and ruination of
every /onerican city and town. And I really am very bored with a

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JTaking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 : hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3 ... January 19 and 20, 1995 → online text (page 24 of 51)