New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 6, 1987, New Braunfels, Texas
Dave Kramer. Editor and Publisher Jim Webre. Managing Editor
Page 4A Herald-Zeftunp, New Braunfels, Texas Friday, February 6,1967
'Good time' vs. what the jury intended
Disparate sentences assessed recently by Comal County district court juries aren’t confusing at all. Just. as it were, what the traffic allows.
Prosecutors like our own District Attorney Bill Schroeder are hamstrung in some cases and must take what they can get. More to the point, even sentences that make victims feel better, long prison terms for violent crimes, aren’t really what they look like when they shout from newsstands.
Dallas County District Attorney’s office provides the unsettling figures below. As readers can see, a sentence that seems to fit the crime in the de jour sense isn t at all what you might think it is de facto.
Put yourself in the place of Comal County DA Bill Schroeder. You have a defendant who likely will not serve any where near the prison term you might get through a costly and perhaps unsuccessful prosecution But on a plea bargain, a nasty word in any prosecutors vocabulary, you can be assured of at least some hard time for this criminal.
Keep in mind, now, that we daily read reports about how many people we must let out, not put in prison to keep Judge William Wayne Justice off our correctional system’s back. For a prosecutor, the whole affair is frustrating. There are thieves and habitual assailants who are literally on a first-name basis with law enforcement agencies. This is a sad commentary And now Texas State Teachers Association opposes using some of its plethora of retirement funds to build new prisons.
The correctional system part of criminal justice is a bluff, at least in many cases. No one wants to go to prison, but if you’ve been there before and know how to play the game you tend to think in terms of tradeoffs. If you figure a two-year sentence will mean three months in jail at state expense, it’s almost like a paid vacation to a veteran inmate.
It’s a sorry state of affairs, to be sure, but until we as citizens make a committment to paying for what we need in the way of prisons and creative correctional alternatives for non-violent offenders, we will be faced with the same problem time and again.
The chart below shows likely actual time served vis a vis sentences passed. The figures assume an inmate becomes a “trusty” while in TDC and accrues “good time”. The sad part is that that good time inside the joint should have been manifested outside. We need to make sure we know the difference and those who prey on honest people don’t take advantage of it.
3 VHr*............................................. .....3 months, 7 days
I Years........................................... 4 months, 36 days
4 Years...................... 6 months, IS days
5 Years.................................................. « months, 3 days
4 Years..................................................v months, 21 days
7 Years.................................................ll months, 16days
• Years.......................... ..................I year, 0 months. 28 days
♦ Years.......................................... I year, 2 months, IS days
IO Years.......................................... I year, 4 months, adays
30 Years.........................................2 years, 8 months, 18 days
IO Years..........................................4 years, 2 months, 0 days
40 Years.........................................5 years, 4 months, 27 days
SO Years..........................................6 years, 9 months, 3 days
OO Years to Life...................................8 years, o months, IO days
Gov. gill Clements
The President of
the United States
The White House
Austin, Texas 78711
1400 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D.C. 20500
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith
United States House
State. Sen. William Sims
SOf Cannon House
P.O. Box 12041
Washington, D.C. 20515
Austin, Texas 78711
U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen
United States Senate
Room 240, Russell Bldg.
Texas House of
Washington, D.C. 20510
Representatives P.O. Box 2910 Austin, Texas 78749
U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
U.S. Rep. Mac Sweeney (Guadalupe County) United States House
State Sen. Judith Zaffirini
P.O. Box 12048
House Office Bldg.
Austin, Texas 78711
Washington, D.C. 20515
'Biomes leaving the ship; sir- i Sues that leaves^ amp me.'
Diversity, federalism and what's obscene
WASHINGTON - In this bicentennial year of the Constitution, we will be hearing a lot about federalism, and a lot of what it used to be. But out in Oregon, to judge from a recent court case there, the doctrine is alive and well.
The case involved a raid by police on an adult bookstore in Redmond. Officers seized almost the entire inventory of the store, including 73 magaines. 142 paperback books and nine films. The store s owner, Earl A. Henry, was charges with possession of obscene material in violation of a state law. A jury found him guilty, and the trial judge sentenced him to 60 days in jail and a fine of $1,UU0.
A couple of weeks ago the case reached the Supreme Court of Oregon. There the conviction was overturned and Henry was freed. The interesting point is that the case turned not on the U S Constitution but on Oregon's state constitution.
The U.S. Constitution proscribes any law “abridging freedom of speech or the press." Article I. Section 8 of Oregon’s constitution is much broader. It says that "No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right."
The statute under which Henry was convicted was drafted to meet standards established by the U S Supreme Court in what is known as the Miller decision, under this rubric, material is obscene" if (I) it depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive manner. (2) the average per
son, applying contemporary state standards, would find the work, taken as a whole, appeals to a prurient interest in sex, and (3) taken as a whole, the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
By these criteria, the evidence seized at Henry’s store was plainly "obscene" as a matter of federal law. The Oregon Supreme Court was not concerned with federal law or with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court looked to state history to determine if "obscenity" had been regarded as an exception to "freedom of expression" when Oregon’s bill of rights was promulgated in 1857.
"Oregon’s pioneers," said the court, "brought with them a diversity of highly moral as well as irreverent views. We perceive that most members of the constitutional convention of 1857 were rugged and robust individuals dedicated to founding a free society unfettered by the governmental imposition of some people’s views of morality on the free expression of others.”
In brief, Oregon’s pioneers intended to protect freedom of expression "on any subject whatever," including the subject of sex What is "obscene" under the Supreme Court’s Miller test is not obscene in Oregon. “In this state any person can write, print, read, say, show or sell anything to a consenting adult even though that expression may be generally or universally considered ’obscene.’’’
The court made it clear that obscenity might lawfully be regulated in the interests of unwilling viewers, captive audiences and minors.
Presumably the producers and participants engaged in making sexually explicit films could be prosecuted. The “nuisance aspect" of such material could be regulated, but "obscene" expression "may not be punished in the interest of the uniform vision on how human sexuality should be regarded or portrayed.”
Rex Armstrong, a Portland attorney who represented Henry before the Oregon Supreme Court, says that the free speech and free press clauses of the U.S. Constitution have become almost irrelevant in Oregon. Relying upon the state constitution, Oregon courts have held that the state cannot zone bookstores and theaters on the basis of content of expression, cannot prohibit sexual conduct in a live public show, and cannot prohibit nude dancing and similar "expressive conduct" in establishments that sell liquor.
State constitutions until recently have been relegated to the dusty attics of the law. It Is as if they had no function beyond defining the structure of state government. On questions of individual rights and criminal law, federal courts and the U.S. Constitution have reigned supreme. But just a year ago the Washington state constitution figured significantly in a case involving an establishment of religion. Other such cases keep cropping up.
My own thought is that nude dancing in an Oregon saloon stretches the very limits of "the free expression of opinion,” but so be it. Diversity is what federalism is all about.
immigrants give more than they take
By DAVID SEDENO Associated Press Writer
SEGUIN, Texas (AP) — Central Americans put more into the United States economy than they take out, panelists at a symposium on Central American migration said.
The Krost symposium, which continued today at Texas Lutheran College, has attracted immigration officials, attorneys, researchers and church officials who discussed the plight of Central Americans.
Nestor Rodriguez, a sociologist at the University of Houston, said his two-year research on illegal immigrants indicated they have a positive impact on the community.
He said there are about 300,000 native Hispanics in the Houston area along with 100,000 Central Americans and another 100,000 illegal aliens from Mexico.
“They are taking up housing that otherwise would have been left vacant There are signs that say, ’•I move-in, no deposit, free English classes,’ " Rodriguez said. "Instead of undocumented workers, maybe they ought to be called undocumented consumers."
James Loucky, who works with Central Americans in Los Angolas, said there are about 350,000 Salvadorans and 139,000 Guatemalans in that area.
He said they add dollars and culture to the community.
“They contribute much mole to the economy than they receive. They pay more in taxes and Social Security than they withdrew," Loucky said.
Stephen mume, an economic policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a Washington Debased think tank, agreed that the United States benefits from illegal immigrants.
"Immigrants don’t take Jobs.
They make jobs when they go to the store and spend money," he said.
Moore said that in 1985 he questioned 50 prominent U.S. economists and that 82 percent said immigrants, including Central Americans, had a favorable impact on the United States and 12 percent said the impact was “very favorable."
He said 75 percent responded that the immigrants have a positive
economic effect on the United States.
He said there are between 2 and 5 million illegal aliens in the United States, despite higher estimates.
Most of the Central Americans have blended into communities in Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington, panelists said.
John Abriel, deputy district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service office in San Antonio, said debates over legal and illegal immigrants envoke "a lot of emotional rhetoric."
"I fail to see any significant impact, adverse or beneficial, from
Central Americans as opposed to any other nationality." he said.
"Everyone has similar human needs."
In an earlier session, Jeronino Camposeco, a Guatemalan turned down for political asylum, said he feared returning to his country because of death squads.
He also said U.S. foreign policy in Central America must change.
"Economic assistance Is not the answer because that economic assistance is gpfag to go to the people in power," he said. "The only change we can expect is a better U S . policy to the people of