David Menschel Profile picture
Criminal defense attorney, social activist, documentary filmmaker, movement strategist, foundation director.
Blake Feldman Profile picture Lemondrop Profile picture 4 added to My Authors
28 Jul
1. Once again, the New York Times Metro section – as part of a long history of crude, sensational journalism – publishes a blatant falsehood in order to stoke and exaggerate crime fears. nytimes.com/2020/07/27/nyr…
2. The NYPD does not separate data into “violent” and “non-violent” categories, but if one looks at the data they do provide, several different ways, it’s clear that that statement (which is also in the sub-headline) is false.
3. If one looks at the seven major felony offenses – murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny, & GL auto, crime is **DOWN** in NYC this year.

I know that’s not what the press is telling you, but it’s right there on the NYPD website. www1.nyc.gov/assets/nypd/do…
Read 29 tweets
21 Jul
1. Here’s the thing about the politics right now: Trump desperately wants it to seem like there’s a conflict between protesters and *federal officers. And actually that’s exactly what Democratic mayors want as well. But it’s mostly a misunderstanding — or a hijacking — of things.
2. In truth in many large American cities, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, there has been weeks of conflict between largely peaceful protestors and *local* police. And the local police have been caught on camera being extraordinarily violent over and over again.
3. This puts ostensibly liberal mayors — who run police departments — at odds with their own constituencies. These mayors love policing believe in it through and through and are terrified of the idea that they might be pressured into reining in their police.
Read 12 tweets
19 Jul
1. If you’re reading national media portrayals of Portland as dangerous, you really ought to read this thread. Other than a few blocks (almost exclusively at night), Portland is a quiet, friendly, safe place. Safer from violence than any time in the past three decades.
2. And in that downtown area that does get violent at night, the violence is almost entirely police violence waged on overwhelmingly peaceful protestors.
3. Yes there’s been protestor graffiti. Yes early on, many weeks ago, there was significant property damage & some looting. Yes these days there are isolated protestors who throw water bottles at police or light small fires. But the overwhelming bulk of protestors are nonviolent.
Read 10 tweets
8 Jul
1. When I read these arrogant whiners at Harpers complaining essentially about experiencing criticism for the garbage they write and having the gall to call that “cancel culture,” I’m reminded of the dangers – not that long ago – of speaking out against mass incarceration
2. When I helped to exonerate a client a decade ago, the local defense counsel told me he couldn’t come to the press conference if we were going to talk about prosecutorial misconduct because such talk would injure his ability to work in the county.
3. When friends and I began a blog about prosecutorial misconduct, after much discussion, we decided to use pseudonyms because – even though we knew that would limit our credibility – it would have been impossible for some to work if our identities were public.
Read 9 tweets
10 Jun
1. It seems to have been lost down the memory hole, but last year the Plain View Project examined the Facebook pages of 1000s of police officers from several police departments around the country. The findings were extraordinary. buzzfeednews.com/article/emilyh…
2. The project found 1000s upon 1000s of racist, bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic posts; posts that glorified and reveled in police violence; posts that fantasized about killing protestors; posts that mocked the constitutional rights of citizens. nytimes.com/2019/06/03/us/…
3. Here is one posted by a police officer in Philadelphia. plainviewproject.org/data/philadelp…
Read 11 tweets
7 Jun
Slogans are always imperfect. I’m not sure “defund the police” quite captures what I would imagine. Maybe it would be more like “disband/rebuild police departments, dramatically shrink policing and build community.” Something like that. Solve problems rather than policing them.
But so long as we’re talking about what the “defund the police” movement could mean in practice – in addition to cutting budgets – here are some ideas.
First off, shrink the footprint of policing. That can include flat out decriminalizing some things. Marijuana should be taxed and regulated. Other drugs can be decriminalized.
Read 20 tweets
13 Apr
1. Jails and prisons are becoming the epicenter of the coronavirus in America. And it's hard to overstate the degree to which the corrections profession has failed.
2. The infection rate at NYC's Rikers Island jail is 8x higher than NYC itself. And NYC is the world-epicenter of the coronavirus. slate.com/technology/202…
3. In Philadelphia, the jail infection rate is twice as high as the infection rate of even the most infected Philly neighborhoods. philadefender.org/covid-philly-j…
Read 84 tweets
10 Apr
1. One might ask what the fuck has been going on in Americans prisons all these years that all of a sudden I’m reading report after report of no goddamn soap in the middle of a global pandemic.
2. These places have long been death traps — prisoners die at young ages all the time from viruses/bacteria — and none of the very esteemed corrrections leaders ever said, “hey, maybe we should make sure that the prisoners have ready access to soap?” Are you fucking kidding me?!
3.Corrections has gotten so fucking lazy. They just invoke “security” and that’s it. That’s their answer to everything. Just saying that allows them to sit on their lazy asses and do nothing. (Even as they are awful at actually creating secure environments.)
Read 9 tweets
19 Mar
1. I just want to point something out about why releasing people incarcerated in prisons in jails is so important. It's not just about the health and well-being of the prisoners themselves. And we need to stop thinking about the problem purely that way.
2. Because of the infectious nature of viruses, the danger to the prisoners is by definition a danger to other system actors, most especially the corrections officers, sheriffs' deputies, and other staff who interact directly with the prisoners and share tight spaces with them.
3. And again, because of the nature of viruses, the danger to the corrections officers, staff, etc. is by definition a danger to those they interact with and live with, like spouses, also elderly relatives they may care for etc.
Read 19 tweets
13 Dec 19
1. Fuck all of my progressive friends and allies who are attacking this governor who perhaps with one exception used the pardon power as it SHOULD BE USED.

*You my friends and allies are exhibiting the very worst of the politics of mass incarceration. Shame on you.
2. If you want to take issue with a pardon where there is some specific allegation of corruption — and there appears to be at least one where there is an allegation of a donor getting favorable treatment — that’s fine. Go for it.
3. But on their face at least the overwhelming majority of these 400+ clemency grants — at least 99% — seem totally legit. And PARDONS/COMMUTATIONS ARE AFFIRMATIVELY GOOD THINGS AND WE NEED OODLES AND OODLES MORE OF THEM.
Read 17 tweets
12 Dec 19
1. On his way out the door, the Kentucky governor issues 428 pardons. One appears suspect – like it might reflect favoritism to supporter's family. Yet the journalists write an article amplifying pro-carceral voices designed to disparage the whole lot.
2. For far too long reporters have depicted clemency – once UTTERLY COMMONPLACE in virtually every state in America – as *presumptively illegitimate.
3. This journalistic approach to clemency is utterly wrongheaded. Clemency is a core gubernatorial function and absolutely central to the proper functioning of any sane criminal justice system. In this sense reporters have helped to fuel mass incarceration.
Read 7 tweets
17 Nov 19
1. On the day a federal judge struck down Mayor Bloomberg's policy of **5 MILLION** unconstitutional stops of black and brown people, the mayor "struck a defiant tone" about the system of apartheid he had created in a major American city. nytimes.com/2013/08/13/nyr…
2. In fact, like the segregationist politician response to Brown v. Board of Education, Mayor Bloomberg suggested he would defy the court ruling. He said: "You’re not going to see any change in tactics...."
3. To justify the apartheid he had created, Bloomberg invoked a classic fearmongering pose: "I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a lot of people dying.”

As it turned out, stop and frisks decreased more than 98% and VIOLENT CRIME WENT DOWN.
Read 16 tweets
13 Nov 19
1. A long time ago now, less than two weeks after I was admitted to the bar, I went to court on behalf of a man on death row with an active execution date who said he was innocent who wanted post-conviction DNA testing on items from the crime scene that could prove his innocence.
2. At the time it just astounded me that the prosecutors were opposing the testing. My client had been requesting DNA testing for some time. The case had already spent decades winding its way through the courts. So a delay of a couple of months would hardly have been a big deal.
3. And we were willing to pay for the testing, so it wasn't going to cost the state a dime.
Read 19 tweets
12 Aug 19
1. A few words in response to Attorney General Bill Barr’s speech today, lambasting reform prosecutors.
2. I think Barr, other so-called “tough on crime” prosecutors, and the media get some critical things wrong about our prosecutor reform movement and what it stands for.
3. They want to depict us as “soft on crime,” lawless –or, more charitably, in favor of balancing “safety” with “justice.” This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what we stand for.
Read 31 tweets
6 Aug 19
1. I feel like @mjs_DC is one of the only ones saying something that I very much believe – and that applies far more broadly than this piece (which is about guns). It portends a very dark future for American democracy. slate.com/news-and-polit…
@mjs_DC 2. It's really a two-level argument. First, even as progressives (or at least Democrats) represent a larger and larger share of the American electorate, that won't be reflected in our elected officials.
@mjs_DC 3. There's a lot of reasons for that. Some are constitutional-structural. The Senate is a thing (Wyoming has the same number of senators as California – though the latter is 60x larger than the former). The electoral college is a thing. Etc.
Read 15 tweets
18 Jul 19
1. Wow. So much this.

Cook County/Chicago county board president Toni Preckwinkle pens letter to Mayor Lightfoot saying that she is "infuriated" by the police chief's "false narrative" that bail reform has caused gun violence in the city. chicago.suntimes.com/city-hall/2019…
2. The letter is notable for its clear and direct style.

"It’s a false narrative, and they know it, and it’s infuriating."

"We both know this is simply not true.” chicago.suntimes.com/city-hall/2019…
3. As the letter points out, gun violence in Chicago has PLUMMETED over the past few years as bail reform was instituted. The idea that bail reform is causing gun crimes is just false. Also 0.6% of people released on bond have committed violent offenses. *Zero point six.*
Read 16 tweets
23 Jun 19
1. Really interesting to watch reporters like @julieshawphilly drum up Willie Horton type fears in order to play into public misperceptions about crime in Philly. It's a master-class in mass incarceration style journalism.
2. The article seeks to link the DA's decision to divert specific gun possession cases to specific later crimes. It concedes that these decisions, of course, look completely different in hindsight. (Which makes one wonder the use of doing it.)
3. But more critically, it relies on public perceptions – and to some degree misperceptions – about gun crime in Philly. Those misperceptions are driven in large part by she and her colleagues – and the ideology of mass incarceration they are so committed to.
Read 14 tweets
5 May 19
1. This is such a good example of the thinking that produced mass incarceration. @RLSWrites's piece about domestic violence – a serious issue – doesn't consider that many impacted by DV don't cooperate w prosecutors, because don't want a loved one caged. nytimes.com/2019/05/04/opi…
2. As prosecutors have been exposed as the main drivers of mass incarceration – and have been criticized for their cruel, shameful, destructive caging of people for tiny crimes – they have sought out new ground on which they could continue lustily caging people.
3. One arena in which they have chosen to re-situate their destructiveness and proclaim that their approach is righteous/good is DV cases. They chose this ground in part because it has a patina of progressivism.
Read 17 tweets
31 Mar 19
"Was I looking at a prison, or a 19th-century battlefield?"

The NY Times received 2,000 photographs taken inside St. Clair prison in Alabama. They determined many photos were so awful, they could not be published. Below is a few they did publish. nytimes.com/2019/03/30/us/…
"He cut himself with razor blades and used his blood to write a plea for help." nytimes.com/2019/03/30/us/…
"Seeing what had been done to those people’s bodies — it just stripped away all of the numbing.... It was very painful to see that all of the suffering that I’ve been hearing about." nytimes.com/2019/03/30/us/…
Read 5 tweets
22 Mar 19
I worked on several innocence cases like this – where prosecutors refused to run a fingerprint through the database even tho it would have cost nothing and taken 5 minutes. And I had no legal right to force them to do it, so it was never was done. nytimes.com/2019/03/21/us/…
One of the biggest scandals of the criminal legal system is the impediments prosecutors put in front of people trying to prove their innocence post-conviction. Innocence Project cases often take 5-10 years because prosecutors put up endless roadblocks.
Read 2 tweets
17 Dec 18
1. This interview with retiring "tough on crime" Oregon District Attorney Josh Marquis is full of flat out lies. It's is totally irresponsible of @KOINNews to publish it. koin.com/news/local/ore…
2. But it's not at all surprising that @KOINNews would publish these flat out lies. Oregon news outlets – including people like @SteveDuin @Oregonian – have been lazily amplifying Marquis' false and deeply misleading statements for years.
3. Even though Marquis represents about 1% of Oregonians, he has long been the "go to" for lazy Oregon reporters because he's colorful and play-acts a comic-book 1990s version of "tough on crime" bluster.
Read 16 tweets