Letters to the Editor for Dec. 1, 2010
Civil compromises thwart the law
To the editor:
I laud you for your editorial “Law Needs Fixing” in the Nov. 26 issue. Totally separate from the Cole case the ability of any defendant in a criminal case being able to avoid prosecution through a “civil compromise” is counter-productive to the purpose of criminal statutes. I am not an attorney but I have spent the last 43 years in law enforcement in one capacity or another. Other than Oregon I have not heard of a state that permits the antiquated “civil compromise” negotiations to negate the criminal process.
As your editorial correctly noted criminal cases are pursued on behalf of the people of the State of Oregon, not the individual victim. Criminal and civil are two separate and distinct theories of law. If a victim, in any case, wishes to be reimbursed for damages suffered at the hands of another the victim can initiate legal action under civil law. The outcome of that litigation should not influence the outcome of the criminal proceeding as the criminal proceeding outcome should not impact the civil.
Let me conclude with a theoretical but very possible scenario. Suppose a situation were to occur in which a criminal case that upon conviction would require the defendant to register as a sex offender is “bought off” through civil compromise. As I understand it, with the cessation of criminal proceedings registration as a sex offender is no longer a consequence. What if the defendant relocates out of the area in which the crime occurred? What if the lack of registration as a sex offender results in additional crimes which might have been prevented had law enforcement and the public in the new area of residence been alerted to the presence of a registered sex offender? That scenario alone is ample justification for amending the law as your editorial urges.
Who voted for full access to records?
To the editor:
Before our society goes 100 percent electronic for access to federal, state, agency, academic and global information and records — keeping in mind the exponential rate at which this is occurring — it is important to consider this fact: We never voted for this.
Airport scanner threats ignored
To the editor:
What is not being told to the flying public or the TSA staff working close to Rapiscan X-ray scanners that employ the Compton back-scattering imaging process is the scientific fact that ALL ionizing radiation ALWAYS increases the risk of genetic mutation in a linear and cumulative manner. Moreover, because back-scatter radiation concentrates much higher doses of radiation in the tissue near the surface, the rate of damage per unit of genetic material is therefore much higher in these areas, such as the groin and genitalia where the last failed bomber attempted to conceal explosives.
The back scatter X-ray imparts all of its energy into the electron it strikes instead of being diffused by multiple non-ionizing interactions through deeper layers of tissue and bone, thus causing maximum potential damage to the irradiated area. Consequently, if you are over 65, or taking immuno-suppressive medications, are prone to skin cancers or have glaucoma, the last thing you need is this increased mutagenic risk. From photos of the machines in use it is clear that no proper X-ray precautions are being followed. There are no signs stating X-ray in use, no dosimetry badges have been given to the untrained scanner operators, no information is given to the person being scanned as to the dose emitted, there is no shielding for the open sides of the unit, and no shielding for the eyes of the subject in the booth. In fact, such blatant disregard for health and safety regulations would cause any medical X-ray clinic to be shut down on the spot. Thought should be given too to the inevitable, possibly hazardous doses of radiation emitted when these machines go out of calibration after being banged, bumped and moved about by unskilled and untrained TSA personnel.
It is very disturbing that alternative non X-ray scanners are not being used due largely to pro-Rapiscan lobbying by Bush’s former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff whose company the Chertoff Group represents OSI Systems, owners of Rapiscan. When did the health of the public become less important than private personal gain?
Scales of justice out of balance
To the editor:
Your editorial in last Friday’s (26th) paper was excellent. The whole story about Brian Cole and the minor female was simple and straightforward in the beginning. The police work was near perfect. Cole and the girl were found parked in the country after dark with a bottle of booze. She was charged with possession of alcohol by consumption. I believe that means that she was drinking the booze.
Then the legal profession entered the scene. Cole’s lawyer began an incredibly long series of stalling tactics but as the trial date finally neared we learn that the case has largely been solved by a legal maneuver the judge is calling “civil compromise” and only the charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor would come to trial later. In many other jurisdictions “civil compromise” would be known by another name. For instance, in Chicago it would be called bribery.
But wait. On page 3A of this same newspaper we learn that the furnishing alcohol to a minor charges have been “settled” and so the trial has been cancelled. It is not postponed. It has been cancelled. Finis!
But wait again. On page 2A of this same paper a 24-year-old male has been given a jail sentence and fined $500 for furnishing alcohol to a minor.
The scales of justice seem strangely out of balance locally.