Make Money from Home: Earn $1,000 per Month for NOT Killing People!

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It was a dark and stormy night when the suspected killer, a 17-year-old, hopped inside a car driven by an ex-con who hid the teen and his crime from the police.

With the engine purring and the radio playing softly in the background, the convicted felon slipped the kid a thousand dollars in cool cash. He told the young man that he’d make his crime “go away” if he promised to not use a gun while committing other crimes, an improvement of his current lifestyle.

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The former bad guy eyed the butt of pistol protruding from the teen’s waistband, but said nothing. The youngster thought for a moment and then nodded his head in agreement. The two made a deal—for a guaranteed sum of $1,000 each month, the kid agreed to not kill another person. Not even one. Nor would he be permitted to use a gun while committing any other crime. Because if he did, the convict would cut off his free money. The kid pocketed the ten $100 bills and the pair drove off. The police were not informed of the arrangement.

The next day, just after the sun began to peek above the rooftops of the Big Money condos at the eastern edge of the city, and the thick fog was beginning to break up, the ex-con was busy rounding up four members of the Kill-em-All Gang, a notorious group of murdering drug dealers. One by one the heavily-tatted group piled into the former crook’s car, and when the last one tossed his bag into the trunk and was seated in the back with two others, the driver sped away, heading for the airport.

The four gang members, each with ten crisp $100 bills in their respective pockets, hugged their driver and said their goodbyes. Then they proceeded through security and finally boarded a plane bound for South Africa by way of London.

The driver of the car watched as their plane lifted into the sky and then drove back to town. It was time to find the next shooter. The thick wad of $100 bills in his pocket was in need of a new home.

Does the above crudely-written narrative sound a bit ominous? Scary perhaps (the tale, not the horrid, quickly cobbled writing)? Weird? Odd? Fictional?

Well, hang on to your hats … because the story is true. Yes, in Richmond, Ca., one of the most violent cities in the country, per capita, violent people are earning $1,000 per month ($12,000 per year) to NOT kill anyone.

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That’s right, officials have hired ex-cons to mentor and supervise violent teens who have killed or could be preparing to murder someone. These “supervisors/mentors” drive city-owned cars and have the authority and city backing, and the funding, to pay violent teens the $1,000 stipend each month as long as they abide by the one simple rule—DO NOT KILL.

These violent kids are often sent on pleasure trips to places such as South Africa, Mexico, and London for the purposes of seeing new things, easing their tensions, and to make new friends outside of their inner circle of fellow criminals.

The police are not a part of the program, nor are they privy to the inner goings-on. In fact, suspected murderers have been brought into the program as a means of hiding their crimes from law enforcement officials.

The city of Richmond is claiming success. They say the homicide rate has dropped significantly since they started the program. However, there’s no real monitoring system in place. No official statistics. And no real way of knowing if the program has a true affect on the crime rate.

The Richmond program began by asking 21 gang members to attend a meeting at city hall. They did and each attendee was rewarded with $1,000 in cash, no questions asked and no strings attached. The program leader hired mentors, men who’d served time at San Quentin for crimes involving the use of firearms.

The program also sets aside an additional $10,000 per participant for travel expenses so they may visit other states or countries. The only stipulation required to use the travel money is that the participant partner with someone they’d tried to kill, or with someone who’d tried to kill the participant. The purpose of this unusual stipulation is so they can see that other people are just like them, not a wicked and evil enemy who must be destroyed.

So, what do you think? Should we pay people to not commit crimes? Or, would those funds be better spent by supplementing the already strained budgets of police departments? Or none of the above?

* Other cities are considering adopting this or a similar program. The next could be your hometown, where your hard-earned tax dollars could be used to purchase an all expense paid trip to London for the kid who shot at you while you were crossing the Piggly Wiggly parking on your way to pick up a gallon of milk and the latest copy of True Detective: Tales of Greed, Lust, and Murder. Now doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? When’s the last time you were offered a free trip to, well, anywhere?

 

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Voting Rights: Your Opinions, Please

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In April of this year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons, a move that circumvented the Commonwealth’s Republican-run legislature. Many of those against the order claimed the governor overstepped his legal authority by committing a transparent effort to win votes for Hillary Clinton in the November election, a move that would help sway Virginia in her direction.

Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, struck down the governor’s order, saying McAuliffe did indeed overstep his powers under the state constitution. Chief Justice Donald Lemons wrote in the majority opinion, “The assertion that a Virginia Governor has the power to grant blanket, group pardons is irreconcilable with the specific requirement in Article V, Section 12 that the Governor communicate to the General Assembly the ‘particulars of every case’ and state his ‘reasons’ for each pardon.”

Therefore, according to the state constitution (the law), the governor of Virginia does not have the legal power to issue a blanket order to restore rights to all ex-offenders who are no longer incarcerated or on probation or parole.

McAuliffe’s response? He’s he thumbed his nose at the state’s high court by vowing to sign individual orders to restore voting rights to each of the 200,000 convicted felons, starting with those who’ve already registered.

So my questions to you are:

  • Do you believe that convicted felons should be allowed to vote? Or, should their voting rights be restored after serving their sentences and probation/parole? Or, as in Virginia, should their voting rights be taken away permanently.

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Speaking of the rights of convicted felons, specifically nonviolent offenders, who’ve served their time and have returned to their communities, and have lived and functioned with no problems whatsoever … should all of their rights, or some, be forever withheld … permanently? An example of the rights and privileges withheld are:

  1. Voting
  2. Traveling abroad (some countries deny admission to convicted felons).
  3. The right to own or possess guns
  4. Jury service
  5. Employment in certain fields
  6. Public social benefits and housing – they are are not allowed to apply for federal or state grants, live in public housing, or receive federal cash assistance, SSI or food stamps, etc.
  7. Parental benefits
  8. Financial assistance for college

Heres a point to ponder – How is it possible for former offenders to live and function and survive if they’re denied housing, employment, education, and food? And there’s no dignity when someone’s learned their lesson, paid their debts to society, and is trying their best to work toward goals and to be proud of themselves once again and of their country, all when they’re denied the simple right to vote. Some people make mistakes. Some people are guilty of the same offenses, or worse, but aren’t caught. Yet they still enjoy their basic freedoms and rights. Don’t people (again, I’m speaking of people convicted of non-violent crimes) deserve a second chance?

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What say you, loyal readers?

*Please, no bashing of politicians, religion, race, gender, cops, etc. Let’s discuss this rationally since the topic affects each of us.

I know, Clinton was mentioned in the opening paragraph, but only to set the stage for the information that followed regarding the rights (lack of) of convicted felons. I am not publicly endorsing any candidate. None. Zip. Nada. So please do not read between the lines. Again, the name was mentioned merely for informational purposes.

 

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Murder: Who’s Pulling the Triggers?

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I’ve received countless requests to have me comment or offer an opinion regarding the connection between race and murder and gun control in the U.S. However, as most of you are aware, I typically do not offer opinions on this site. This topic is no exception.

So, with that in mind …

Not so long ago, law enforcement officials were able to reduce the number of illegal guns in the pockets of bad guys using methods such as the very legal and Supreme Court approved “stop and frisk.”

However, due to public outcry and that some have determined the practice was offensive to criminals and criminal suspects, even though it is perfectly legal and makes communities safer, especially for police officers. So many areas have all but abandoned the practice as a “go-to” tool for helping to rid the streets of illegal guns. Therefore, officers in those areas are now unable to conduct those important stops, and they basically have no real means of locating and removing those weapons short of waiting until the Bonnie and Clyde wannabes blast their way into a corner liquor store, or worse.

Keep in mind, though, that Terry Stops (stop and frisks) are absolutely legal and are still used everywhere in country. It’s just that in certain cities, lawmakers and police administration have reduced its use as a blanket tactic.

With that bit of information out of the way and left for you to ponder, what I will do as it relates to the questions I’ve received, is this … post official government other trusted data.

So here’s the data as it relates to the murder rate in the U.S., by race/ethnicity, in the year 2013. I did not include age and sex. No one seems to be concerned about that particular aspect.

Keep in mind that criminals are the people who’re murdering other people. Good, honest, law-abiding folks are not. The color of someone’s skin cannot pull a trigger. Nor can a gun fire itself.

So, here goes …

*Remember, this is FBI data from 2013, not 2016. Current numbers would be noticeably higher.

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Line 1. (below) – Total murders by race.

Line 2. – Percent of distribution (numbers are rounded which explains a tally not equal to 100%).

Line 3. – Murderers under the age of 18.

Line 4. – Murderers under the age of 22.

Line 5. – Total murders committed by offenders over the age of 18.

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Part two of the popular question relates to the population of the U.S. Here’s the population data for the same year, 2013.

The current U.S. population, by the way, is 324,118,787.

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Total percentages of U.S. population by race/ethnicity is …

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*Source of above chart – The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

*Please keep in mind that there’s a margin of error when using data from different sources.

And, when we compare the homicide rates of 2015 to only the first half of 2016 (Source – The New York Times) …

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*Please, please, and PLEASE … this post is not my attempt to sway opinions one way or another. This is not the site for racial arguments, politician- and cop-bashing, quarrels about whose religion is better than another, and gun control rants. I merely posted data. By the way, you’d probably be amazed if you knew my feelings on the issues, but it’s not my duty to post personal opinion. I’m here to help writers by presenting facts, therefore I don’t take sides, as if there should be “sides” to take.

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A List of 20 “Eye-Rollers”

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  1. Being a writer is like being a politician. You get to make up @#$! and your fans love it.
  2. Being a writer is like being a plumber. Somewhere around the middle of the job you find yourself elbow deep in @#$!
  3. Writers are like prostitutes. They do it for money but the income arrives in small amounts at random times.
  4. Agents are like pimps without the purple suede leisure suits and feathers in their hats. Oh, wait …
  5. A good book is like a side effect of “the little blue pill.” It keeps you up all night.
  6. Sitting at a keyboard while clacking away at random characters is something an illiterate chimp can do. Much of today’s media is proof that chimps are better at it.
  7. Spellcheck is great, except when it isn’t.
  8. A great book is a like a fine statue. Their creators started with an idea and then carved away everything that didn’t help tell the story.
  9. Writers are like cops. They like coffee, and whiskey, and telling tall tales … and whiskey.
  10. A bad story is like a snow skier. They’re both start at out on a slow upward climb toward the summit. Then it’s all downhill from there until they reach the end, which is totally uneventful.
  11. The words of a good book remain forever. The words of a politician remain only until the next big donation comes along.
  12. If real-life bad guys would simply take the time to read a mystery book they’d know the good guys always win in the end.
  13. Good books are like the bed in a by-the-hour motel. Lots of action between the covers.
  14. Great ideas make great books, except when they don’t.
  15. Social media can be like a cancer. No punch line. It truly can be like a cancer.
  16. The bravest men and women in the world today are currently sitting at home, ranting and raving away on Facebook, telling people just how brave they are. Then they get up and go to their day jobs, greeting customers at Weirdmart, or selling fries at Booger Joe’s Burger Emporium.
  17. Lone literary agents at writers conferences are like the innocent fawns that tiptoe through the forest—they both know the attack could come at moment. This is why experienced agents travel in packs.
  18. A firefighter and a police officer enter a bar at a mystery writers conference. They’ll know better next time.

Finally …

Two drunks and a writer enter a bar during a writers conference. Three drunks come out.

20. Have you got a zinger you’d like to share? If so, please do. (no foul language, racism, cop-bashing, etc., please.).

 

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Sex on a Grave, and Stolen Bones

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An assignment working homicide cases is, without a doubt,  a first class ticket to the bizarre and all things macabre.

Cops who investigate murders for a living see it all, from poisonings to gunshot wounds to decapitation by sword. Even today, for example, headlines feature a man who used a crossbow to kill another man, and another killed a guy by beating him to death with a tire iron (tire irons are often used as weapons, by the way).

Killers are sometimes outright creative. I’ve seen people stabbed with a sharpening steel from a kitchen knife block, suffocated with a plastic grocery bag, and even one poor soul who was deliberately pushed in front of a very fast passenger train. The latter did not end well at all. Well, neither did the others, but the train…

Once in a while a killer blames his dastardly deeds on some unseen force, such as voices in his head, or as in a case I once worked, the killer blamed what he’d done—used an ax to hack his sister-in-law- to death—on aliens from Mars.

So yes, I’ve seen a few oddities over the years, including:

I knocked on Miss Evelyn’s front door, and while waiting for someone to answer I had a look around the front porch. Nothing unusual…a one-gallon vegetable can filled with sand and topped with a handful of cigarette butts, an old wooden rocking chair, five flower pots with each containing the remnants of some sort of plant—all dead, dried up, and crispy—, a well-worn, green cloth sofa, and a portable radio that was missing a knob.

As always, smack-dab in the center of the front door were three fairly fresh chicken feet that were tied together with a piece of twine and dangling from a rusty thumbtack. Nothing odd at all…for Miss Evelyn. I knocked again. Nothing had changed in all the years I’d gone there. Not a thing.

I’d met Miss Evelyn after arresting a man for burglary and, while searching his pockets for weapons and other illegal items, I discovered a small flannel pouch tucked inside his wallet. I figured the contents could possibly be drugs, probably marijuana or hash, or something of that nature, so I asked the kid to level with me so I’d know what to expect.

I was surprised to hear him say that what I held in my hand was not was I’d suspected. Instead, he said, it was his “medicine bag,” a ground up mixture of chicken bones, tobacco, human hair, and herbs. Its purpose was to keep him safe.

He’d gotten the bag from Miss Evelyn, the local root doctor. Since this was a totally new experience for me I decided to pay this so-called root doctor a visit. And, long story shortened a bit, Miss Evelyn “knew all and saw all” and she soon became one of my most reliable informants. Her customer base was massive and many were criminals, so…

A young man, Miss Evelyn’s nephew, answered the door and led me to the kitchen where his aunt stood at the head of the table, hard at work assembling her latest batch of medicine bags and other concoctions. A large black kettle was at full boil on the wood stove. I didn’t ask.

Miss Evelyn wore her usual attire, a blue bandana tied over her hair, a faded pink and blue housedress that was three sizes too big, and black pumps. If I’d had to guess I’d say she weighed in the neighborhood of just under a hundred pounds. As always, her face was wet with sweat and her fingernails were bitten to the quick. When she smiled it became instantly obvious that dentists were not a part of her clientele, nor had she ever been a patient of theirs. Her breath smelled like a rotten animal carcass. She was quirky, to say the least, and she was one of the nicest people I’d ever met.

I’d gone there that particular night to see if Evelyn could offer any insight about two bodies that had been dug up in a local cemetery. The vaults had been damaged and the caskets broken open. The grave-robbers took the same thing from each coffin…the bones from the lower right arms and hands.

She said she’d heard about a couple who used human bones as part of their religious rituals. Before exhuming remains, though, they had sex atop the grave sites.

The man and woman visited Miss Evelyn to ask if she knew where they could get heir hands on a fresh corpse because they needed the blood prior to embalming. Well, Evelyn was having no parts of their nonsense and sent them on their way. And that was the purpose of my visit. Miss Evelyn called me the second the grave robbers left her house.

I finally caught up with the couple when I discovered their car parked near a funeral home. They were planning to break in to steal someone’s dearly departed loved one. Fortunately, we stopped them before they committed the act.

So, writers, bizarre and macabre crime does not always come in the form of murder. Nor are the macabre criminals always the odd characters who reside at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, the house with the permanent thundercloud floating above it.

This particular couple, the grave robbers, were as normal as your neighbors. Both were professional people with public jobs. They lived in a typical neighborhood and drove a normal car. However, the contents of their trunk was a bit different than most—shovels, picks, tools for prying open caskets, and a few human and animal bones scattered about. Other than that…as normal as you and I. Well…

 

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Twenty Excuses That Make Cops Say, “Hmm….”

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Any cop will tell you that just when they think they’ve heard it all, well, along comes another excuse that tops all the rest. Here’s how some people justified their illegal activities. All I can say is, “Hmm…

1. “Why am I driving naked, Officer? Well…all my clothes are dirty so I was going to my friend’s house to borrow something to wear to work. And I was speeding because it’s cold and the heat’s not working. No seat belt? You noticed that, huh? Can’t wear the things because the material causes my skin to break out. Why is there a gun on the seat? Isn’t that obvious, sir? I don’t have any pockets available at the moment. Duh… I thought you guys were supposed to be trained observers.”

2. “Please don’t give me a ticket. I didn’t slow down for the red light because I just got new brakes on my car—they were expensive, too—and I didn’t want to wear them out already. Geez, you being a cop and all, I thought you’d understand that sort of thing. Don’t they teach you about this stuff in the police academy? A little common sense. That’s all I’m asking for here.”

3. “I had to steal that stuff, Officer. How else was I going to get enough money to pay my court fees and child support? I certainly didn’t want to go to jail.”

4. “Because I had to go to the bathroom. That’s why I was driving 95 in a 55. You don’t believe me, then look.” The wet spot on her jeans verified her claim. She still received the ticket.

5. “I threw a football and it landed on the roof of that store, officer. Honest. And when I climbed up there to get it I fell through that hole you see. The bag of burglary tools? I guess they were already up there. Must’ve fallen through when I did.”

6. “It’s not my car. That’s why I was driving so fast. The pedals are different, or something.”

7. “What? No way! I’ve got you this time. You can’t give me a speeding ticket because I don’t have a driver’s license. Joke’s on you, officer.”

8. “I must’ve fallen asleep inside the store just before they closed. The safe? No, I wasn’t trying to steal it. The door was locked so I used it to break the glass so I could get out, not in. See, I’m claustrophobic. No way I could stay in that place all night. The money. That’s mine. I had it when I went in the store. Yep, all $2,000. Every penny of it. No, I’m between jobs right now.  No, I don’t have an address. Well, not exactly. Yeah, the Union Mission over on 123rd. But only until I get a place of my own.”

9. “Yes, I have a doctor’s note, just not with me. Right, it authorizes me to NOT wear a seat belt because it pinches the skin around my nipple rings.”

10. “I was driving that fast, officer, because I’d had WAY too much to drink and I wanted to get home before I got sick. You wouldn’t want me to puke in your car, right?”

11. “I didn’t mean to shoot him, officer. I was aiming for someone else.”

12. “She’s my wife and I’ll beat her if I want to. Ain’t no law against that, now is there?”

13. “‘Cause he needed killin’. That’ why I done it.”

14. “I stole her TV because she didn’t give me none of her tax refund money.”

15. “How did I cut my hand? Not by breaking the window at the auto parts store. Oh, you didn’t mention that place, did you? I guess you got me.”

16. “I couldn’t have made those obscene phone calls because I don’t own a phone. The one in my pocket? That’s my sister’s phone and she don’t allow me to use it.

17. “I didn’t rob this store because I didn’t know it was here until I got here.”

18. “I was speeding because the needle was on E and I was trying to get to a store in a hurry before I ran out of gas.”

19. “Yeah, I robbed him. He stole my dope so I took his money.”

20. “He was already dead when I killed him.”

And that’s only twenty. The list is practically endless.

  • Bonus response. “No, I weren’t peeping in her window. My pants? I was taking a shortcut through the lady’s yard and they fell down, so I took ’em off. I was next to her window ’cause I wanted to ask her if she had a belt I borrow.”

 

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