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New York shooting victims get handcuffed in hospitals

HandcuffsImagine this if you can. You are shot on the streets of New York City. One minute you are walking down the sidewalk, the next you wake up in a hospital bed, days later. Forget the reason for the shooting, because even if you are merely hit by a stray bullet, you will find yourself handcuffed to the hospital bed.

This scenario happens to many people all over New York City. The reason for the handcuffing has nothing to do with the shooting itself. These people are handcuffed because the police found outstanding warrants for the victim’s arrest. The warrants range from unpaid tickets for open containers to unanswered disorderly conduct summons. The question is, should shooting victims be punished for previous, non-violent crimes while being treated for mortal wounds?

The New York City Police Department deals with criminal shootings very frequently. As one of the largest cities in the United States, New York City is not immune to crime. Therefore, the NYPD has a well-defined guideline for shooting victims. They all receive background checks in order to determine the presence of outstanding warrants. If one exists, the cuffs are slapped on until the victim goes to court.

This policy makes sense from the perspective of the law. When detectives look into the reason for the shooting, they try to find a perpetrator through researching the victim. If, for example, the victim had warrants for drug possession, the detective can start looking into known associates with drug connections.

However, this does not necessarily mean the victims should be shackled to the hospital bed while receiving treatment. When one considers that many of these patients are handcuffed for minor offenses, the policy seems superfluous. The New York City court system contains 1.2 million outstanding warrants, especially amongst African-American neighborhoods, which are targeted more often by the NYPD. The focus on low-income and racially segregated areas means most shooting victims are likely to have an outstanding warrant, and therefore end up handcuffed to the bed.

One can quickly ascertain the physical harm to restraining gunshot-wounded patients. If the physician needs to move the patient in order to assess the damage or check on the wound, the handcuff will prevent this care. Furthermore, if the victim needs surgery, the handcuff can delay the transition to the operating room.

The emotional harm is harder to gauge and more difficult to understand. For example, a victim could have a warrant for open container. They are saving money to pay off the ticket, but have not been able to yet. They get shot through no fault of their own, and end up handcuffed to their hospital bed. They cannot go to court to pay the ticket because they are undergoing medical treatment, yet cannot receive proper medical treatment because of the handcuff. A law enforcement/medical treatment catch 22 arises that only serves to confuse and annoy the victim.

This policy has no doubt kept violent offenders from causing havoc in medical facilities, as well as ensuring proper detainment procedures for serious criminals. However, as previously mentioned, the vast majority of the victims have warrants for minor crimes. In addition to the handcuff, these patients also require a police guard while at the hospital. These guards often stay with the patient while they are unconscious, keeping a police officer off the streets where they are needed most.

The policy is under review from deputies within the NYPD, and hopefully change will come from the department. Until then, shooting victims with minor warrants will remain handcuffed to their hospital beds while idle police officers waste their time guarding them.

Maryland Second Chance Act fails to pass

Background Check RequestAlthough separate versions of the bill, dubbed as the Second Chance Act, passed through both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly, it never officially passed because the exact details could not be worked out before the April 7, 2014, deadline. If the bill were to pass, it would shield certain Maryland criminal records from being viewed on a standard background check. This means that most employers and landlords would not be able to get a clear picture of some people’s criminal past. [Read more...]

Michigan allows short barreled shotgun sales with a background check

ApprovedThe Governor of Michigan signed a new law on March 28, 2014, that allows short-barreled shotguns and rifles to be sold and owned as long as each owner follows specific licensing processes that includes a criminal background check and a $200 tax. The short-barreled weapons must also be approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) because of the federal rules. [Read more...]

Murder case highlights ramifications of erroneous criminal records

GavelThe criminal record of a Vermont woman whose two-year-old daughter was allegedly murdered by her own stepfather was riddled with glaring errors, including the fact that she is not listed on the state’s online sex offender registry as required by law.

Legislative Attorney Michelle Childs testified on Wednesday before the Vermont Senate Review Panel on Child Protection. [Read more...]

Should ex-convicts be punished after they serve their sentence?

Erase CrimeWhile it is true that a person should pay for their crimes, exactly how long should they pay? The courts hand down judgments for a certain amount of jail or prison time, depending on the severity of the crime. The time is served and once complete, the offender is released back into society. Yet punishment often continues as their record follows them around and prevents access to many opportunities. This makes reintegration extremely difficult and unlikely.

Ex-Convicts and Jobs

One of the largest areas that ex-cons experience trouble in is in reentering the work force. Many jobs are denied to convicted felons, which is understandable. [Read more...]

Maryland looks to shield nonviolent misdemeanors from employers

Background CheckIf a new measure succeeds in its current bid on the floors of the Maryland State House and Senate, citizens with minor infractions on their criminal records will enjoy new protections against unfair discrimination in the workforce (and in their day-to-day lives).

The bill (designated “SB 1056″) seeks to lessen the extent to which an individual’s nonviolent misdemeanors may be used in criminal record situations, but only after that person has completed the legal sentence for that crime. Applicable criminal record items include “driving without a license,” “disorderly conduct,” and “possessing a controlled substance.” [Read more...]

Man accused of murdering former classmate had prior convictions

HandcuffsIn the small community of Kershaw County, South Carolina, local residents were shaken when it was discovered that beautiful 19-year old Briana Nicole Rabon was murdered right in their own neighborhood. This county, with under 62,000 residents, is not accustomed to dealing with murder, especially the murder of a teenager right in their backyard. This put the heat on the Kershaw County police department, who worked around-the-clock to try to find closure in this case. [Read more...]

Denver city employee accused in drive-by shooting had criminal record

GunAn employee of the Parks and Recreation Department for the city of Denver, CO was arrested on Monday, February 24, for attempted murder.

Damion Baca, 33, was taken into custody during a traffic stop and now stands accused of participating in a drive-by shooting that left a local man injured. [Read more...]

Officials offer details on foster parents with criminal convictions

HandcuffsThe officials in Massachusetts on Monday tried to talk down the concerns brought up by the public that the state had approved several hundred waivers for foster care parents who had criminal records.

There were over 500 foster homes in which the guardian had a previous criminal conviction. [Read more...]

Massachusetts approves foster parents with criminal records

FosterThe Massachusetts child welfare agency is taking some heavy criticism after confirming their decision to allow prospective foster parents with criminal records to take at-risk youths into their homes. Prospective foster parents with rap sheets that have criminal convictions for a wide range of offenses will be allowed to take at-risk foster kids into their homes. The standing policy at the Massachusetts child welfare agency could allow people with convictions for armed assault, drug dealing, manslaughter, and soliciting sex to take at-risk children into their homes. Naturally, this policy has had some serious criticism leveled against it. [Read more...]