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DEAR ATTY GENERAL BONDI: ABOUT GARY BENNETT

(This Op-Ed, by yours truly, appears today in Florida Today newspaper.)

 

Dear Attorney General Pam Bondi:

Gary Bennett is entering his 34th year of a life prison sentence for a crime he did not commit. As diligent as our justice system must be to seek justice against criminals and keep our communities safe, we must be equally as diligent ensuring we do not mistakenly rob an innocent person of his/her right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But Florida hasn’t done that, particularly prosecutors of the early 1980s in Brevard County

I’m sure you know about the Gary Bennett case. It has been exposed in newspapers for decades, most especially in recent years by FLORIDA TODAY as deftly investigated and recorded by reporter John Torres.

I’ve reviewed the so-called “evidence” in this case and have reached the same conclusion as Torres and others: A horrible crime has been committed and Gary Bennett is the victim.

My view comes with a degree of credibility. I spent the majority of my 30 years with Miami-Dade police as a homicide investigator and later, captain. I investigated, supervised or oversaw over 1,000 murders. Never did I — or did the Dade

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LEGALIZE POT? THINK ON IT LONG AND HARD.

LEGALIZE POT? THINK ON IT LONG AND HARD

By Marshall Frank 

     (This editorial appears in the April 28 issue of Florida Today)

Legalize marijuana?  Well, there are plenty of pros and cons to go around.

As for me, my 30-year police career in Miami-Dade and my personal trials and tribulations have taught me that marijuana may have some positive points, but that doesn’t mitigate the harmful aspects. One of them is the gateway dilemma for graduating into drug abuse, especially among the youth.

Let’s start with the story of Bowen. This boy had the misfortune of being born into a family where his young parents would divorce and the mother retained custody of the child. I say “misfortune” because the mother was a flower child who thought the dangers of pot were overblown. She smoked pot regularly among friends and little Bowen. She even offered a joint to the 12-year-old child, telling him, “Here, you don’t have to do this behind my back.”

With tacit approval, Bowen not only became a regular user, he used to steal some of his mom’s weed and sell it at school. By the time he reached ages 16 to 17, he had graduated

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AFTERTHOUGHTS

In my 2015 book release, The Way Things Oughta Be, I offer numerous chapters with analyses and suggestions for improving the world, whether it be politics, science, education, criminal justice, family issues, love and romance and so much more. At the very end of the book, I present a chapter titled, “Afterthoughts” which is a list of one-liners, without essay or analysis.

     I thought some folks might be interested…so I extracted this chapter and created a short blog.  (With the author’s permission, of course) See what you think.

                                                            AFTERTHOUGHTS

Sometimes, a simple answer can identify a question.  According to your author, here are a few one-line reflections on – The Way Things Oughta Be:

  • Smart people should think twice about the long-range consequences before blanketing their bodies with tattoo ink.
  • Parents who sit with their kids at restaurant tables engrossed with tablets and smart phones tell me they’ve lost the ability to communicate.
  • I’m a fan of space travel, but I also wonder if the enormous costs outweigh the benefits, and those billions of dollars could not be better funneled to more pressing needs.
  • Abolish car alarms. They are useless costs added to the price of an auto.
  • Schools,
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A BETTER WAY TO LOOK AT SEX OFFENSES

(This Op-Ed – by yours truly —  appeared in the March 10th issue of Florida Today)

‘There must be a better way’ to look at sex offenses”  Marshall Frank

“Let’s be honest here:  Sex is condoned directly or by inference to kinds by the millions. Then the law plays the morality card when it’s easy to secure a conviction”

 

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), there are 843,260 registered sex offenders listed in the United States. Some will spend five, 10 or 40 years in prison, but in truth, when they get out and reenter society, offenders are doomed to a life sentence without bars.

I’m no bleeding heart. I put hundreds of criminals in jail for serious crimes in my 30-year career, including sex crimes. Anyone who commits a violent sex act against a child (or adult) should be duly punished. Those who have shown a proclivity for stalking or violating children should be restricted from contact with kids. No argument.

My concern is with the offenders who, in reality, have shown no real danger of predatory behavior, yet still fall under the broad brush of all of sex offenders, thereby subject

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EX-CONS: THE FORGOTTEN MINORITY

(This column, by yours truly, was published in today’s issue of Florida Today.)

Ex-Cons: Florida’s Forgotten Minority

In 1971, I arrested Richard Leichtman, age 31, for committing five rapes at gunpoint, one a week for five weeks, posing as a fund raiser knocking on doors. Three months prior, he was released from serving a prison term for robbery. His criminal record dated back to his juvenile days, spending 80 percent of his adult life behind bars. More later about Leichtman.

The criminal justice system is in need of reform…in a big way. We are dealing with costs over $200 billion tax dollars a year, which does not consider the economic losses that cost victims $14.3 billion in 2015. This omits the staggering costs in mental and physical trauma that victims suffer from 1.2 million violent crimes a year. (FBI) Then there is recidivism. A study by the National Institute of Justice reveals that three-fourths of inmates released from prisons are rearrested within three years. What are we doing wrong?

It is doubtful any such criminal justice reform will be enacted in the near or distant future for three reasons: 1) Public apathy, 2) money and 3) the enormous complexity. In

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JANET RENO – ONE OF A KIND

 janetreno

One of a kind.

     Her primary focus was on justice; not power, not politics and not image.

     Former Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno died this morning, after suffering for many years with Parkinson’s Disease.

     I knew Reno. When she was the Dade County State Attorney, I headed Miami-Dade Homicide in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The first time we met, I found myself awkwardly looking up and shaking hands with a woman standing 6’2”, while I stood 5’9”.

     On important matters we worked together. She was a major figure during the investigation and prosecution of several police officers who beat 31-year-old Arthur McDuffie to death after a long inner-city chase in Miami. The racial overtones were as harsh and sensitive as any such case today. I headed that investigation. I remember Reno going out of her way to approach me personally to tell me I had done an “excellent job.”

     If our political world would follow the examples of pure integrity that Janet Reno stood for, we would have no political divide in this country. She was a common lady, a brilliant mind and a solid American. She was so conscious about fairness, she would not

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POLICE VIOLENCE: FACTS AND FIGURES

According to the Bureau of Justice, 1,574,800 inmates are housed in America’s state and federal prisons. Only 7 percent of those are female.

     Is that fair? Why do men face such lopsided discrimination? If police and courts did their job properly, shouldn’t women comprise 51 percent of prison inmates?

     That’s a question I would like to have posed to Fox News Analyst, Julie Roginsky, who confronted Eric Trump on “Outnumbered” recently, citing how blacks make up only 13 percent of the population, but they are subject to 31 percent of police shootings. There they go again, I thought, making police officers out as violent Negro-hunters, comprising an evil cabal to target and shoot down black males. I was sorry that Eric wasn’t armed with the facts and figures, because it would have made Ms. Roginsky look like an idiot.

     The reason women are incarcerated so much less that men, is because men commit the overwhelming majority of serious crime. That’s a well-known fact.  

     Of course blacks are subject to violent police confrontations in America, because they are responsible for a highly disproportionate number of violent crimes. Like it or not, that’s also a fact. It has nothing to do with

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