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Did Florida's justice system fail miserably?
February 6, 2004 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Joseph P. Smith had a criminal record dating back to 1993, now suspected of kidnapping and murdering eleven year old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Smith had a history of "second chances." How typical is this, or is this just a case of hindsight being everything?
posted by SentientAI (23 comments total)

 
So drugs now lead to murder-kidnapping? Just say no.
posted by smackfu at 7:55 AM on February 6, 2004


Actually, battery, concealed weapon and attempted kidnapping charges were part of Smith's criminal record as well, but not mentioned in the TBO piece.

WTKS in Orlando had a great spoof of The Reagans miniseries with Nancy Reagan revealing to Ronnie her new "Just Say No" campaign. Can't find a downloadable copy of it, sadly.
posted by SentientAI at 8:03 AM on February 6, 2004


As the second link points out, hind-sight is 20/20, but I think as a general rule, if someone gets busted for drug possession and has no history of violence in their record, treatment is probably the best option. Joseph Smith obviously would not fall into that category.
posted by gwint at 8:05 AM on February 6, 2004


I seem to be missing the point of this post. Are you suggesting we put more people in jail? Judges are idiots?

The guy was a petty criminal who turned murderous for some reason. I don't see anything other than that here.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:09 AM on February 6, 2004


The post was mostly to see if this happens all the time, or are we Monday morning quarterbacking with these types of deals?

Part of me is naive, I'm sure, but couldn't have this been foreseen, or prevented by enforcing this man's punishment? For goodness sakes, one judge let this guy serve his sentences on the weekends only!

This is not to say I have the answers, just curious about others' opinions, really.
posted by SentientAI at 8:15 AM on February 6, 2004


Well, as a Floridian living just a few miles north of this madness I can see how this will resonate with the FL legislature next session. Say goodbye to drug treatment programs. Say hello to more minimum mandatory sentences. What's truly tragic is that a sicko like this guy will create a sea change throughout the FDLE and probation programs that legitimately help people.
posted by photoslob at 8:23 AM on February 6, 2004


I'm confused, this Thomas P. Smith has been convicted of murdering this girl?
posted by eastlakestandard at 8:28 AM on February 6, 2004


I really am confused, I mean Joseph.
posted by eastlakestandard at 8:28 AM on February 6, 2004


Smith's suspected of murdering Carlie Brucia.
posted by SentientAI at 8:33 AM on February 6, 2004


Actually, battery, concealed weapon and attempted kidnapping charges were part of Smith's criminal record as well, but not mentioned in the TBO piece.

That makes all the difference.

Are you suggesting we put more people in jail?

I suggest we put (and keep) the right ones in jail. The attemt to blame this crime on drug use, thus pumping up hysteria, is kinda transparent. He's a sicko and He uses drugs. Lots of sickos use drugs. That does not mean drugs make them sickos.

If we eased up on mandatory minnimums for drug crimes, we could have more cells to keep assholes like Joseph P. Smith and this guy off the street.

It's not rocket science.

I'm confused, this Thomas P. Smith has been convicted of murdering this girl?

This is not a court of law, and we're not a jury. We're going with what we know and we're free to conjecture away.
posted by jonmc at 8:39 AM on February 6, 2004


SentientAI, I wouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions here. The guy's just a suspect, has one instance of kidnapping in his past, but who knows why he allegedly might have killed someone. I don't think his priors show any really violent past.

Remember Richard Jewell? I wouldn't be so rash to jump to conclusions that laws should be changed based on a suspect that has just been announced.
posted by mathowie at 8:44 AM on February 6, 2004


Smith's suspected of murdering Carlie Brucia.

Isn't this discussion a little premature then? From the article it appears that the only evidence against him is his housemate's police tip and the tattoos on his arms.

Let's not convict him just because he has a criminal record.

Authorities searched Smith's home and a field behind it Wednesday and found nothing immediately linking him to the girl's disappearance, a law enforcement source involved in the investigation said.
posted by eastlakestandard at 8:45 AM on February 6, 2004


> I'm confused, this Thomas P. Smith has been convicted of murdering this girl?

No, he hasn't been convicted, so you're perfectly free to have him babysit your daughter if they let him out again, which isn't impossible or even unlikely.
posted by jfuller at 8:49 AM on February 6, 2004


I suspect you could find thousands of people with the same criminal record who've never killed anyone.

The idea that we need to put more people in prison on the off chance that they might kill someone at a later date is draconian and wrong.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:50 AM on February 6, 2004


from the article:

When Smith tested positive for cocaine, one of a half-dozen tests he failed last year, his probation officer didn't send Circuit Judge Harry Rapkin an arrest warrant, as many DOC officers do for violations, Rapkin said.

Instead, she wrote Rapkin that Smith was getting drug treatment at a local nonprofit center.

``It basically said, `Judge, this happened - we're taking care of it,' '' Rapkin said. ``I said, `OK, fine.' ''


That sounds appropriate...I mean, our judges aren't "Judge Dredd", you know? If a probation officer says "I'm on top of it", well, fine.

Also, Rapkin's a good judge. I've actually had him for something, heh. No, not traffic court.
posted by taumeson at 8:52 AM on February 6, 2004


Good point, Matt. Good thing I won't be called up for a jury, though, as I'm already tainted.

Local news around here, however, has mentioned DNA evidence in Smith's car, and the body was found early this morning (between 12:45 a.m and 1;00 a.m.), but it has not been said where information leading to the body originated from.

I am glad to have posted this, my few, previous links were so much fluff. It's a good thing to hear all sorts of viewpoints.
posted by SentientAI at 8:54 AM on February 6, 2004


If we eased up on mandatory minnimums for drug crimes, we could have more cells to keep assholes like Joseph P. Smith and this guy off the street.

Word.
posted by maggie at 9:31 AM on February 6, 2004


It's true that he hasn't been convicted yet but a quote from this article makes him look pretty guilty.

Investigators found the body after negotiations with Smith, said a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier, authorities had said Smith was not cooperating.
posted by whatever at 10:29 AM on February 6, 2004


Investigators found the body after negotiations with Smith

What is this "negotiation" style that requires genital clamps and a car battery*? I wish I'd known about this last time I refinanced.

*just speculatin'
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:42 AM on February 6, 2004


We can only hope, ssF.
posted by mojohand at 12:36 PM on February 6, 2004


I'm worn out on horrific crime links, perhaps because horrific crimes are so exceptional and rare these days, that's why we hear about every single one ad nauseaum. Don't feed the fear. Crime is at an all time low. The fearful are too willing to give up liberty.
posted by Slagman at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2004


they found her body this morning, he admitted to it.

i live just a few miles from where this all has happened and it's really sent the community off the deep end. it's really sad.


i hope jeb fires up old sparky for this motherfucker. oh, yeah and to the people in here who say they'll do away with drug treatment because of this guy- huh? the governer's freakin daughter's one of the treatment kids. very unlikely

ohhh its time to head down to starke and fire up ol' sparky!!@ yeeahaw!
posted by shadow45 at 4:23 PM on February 6, 2004


italics denote jebspeak
posted by shadow45 at 4:29 PM on February 6, 2004


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