Thanks for Having Me

I've been an avid Talk Left reader since the Rave Act days in the early 2000s, so I'm thrilled to be posting here for the first time.

A little bit about me: I've been writing about street crime and criminal justice policy for about a decade now for publications such as the Guardian, New York, and Mother Jones. I'm also the author of a couple of books: Queens Reigns Supreme--about the drug trade in Southeast Queens and a money laundering case against hip-hop record label Murder Inc--and Snitch, which exposed the dangerously unregulated world of federal cooperating witnesses and informants. [More...]

In 2007, I moved to New Orleans after living in New York City for nearly 15 years. I came to New Orleans to write my third book--about an Iraq vet involved in a big murder suicide case down here--but also because I've been completely taken with the city since I first visited way back in 2001.

So: I hope to be writing here about the numerous issues--affordable housing, transparent government, etc -- facing post Katrina New Orleans as well as criminal justice policy more generally. I'm particularly interested in federal sentencing policy, prison overcrowding, the rising body count from the battles between Mexican drug cartels and, of course, the disastrous criminal justice system down here in New Orleans. As some of you may know, conviction rates for murders are in the single digits down here and we've also got the highest murder rate in the nation.

Thanks again to Jeralyn for having me--can't wait to get going here...

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    Thanks... (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Ethan Brown on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 12:53:23 AM EST
    for the comments--looking forward to this...

    Welcome (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by joanneleon on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 06:20:01 AM EST
    I look forward to reading your posts and discussions.  I learn a lot here at TL and have a ton of respect for the writers and commenters here, even though I don't always agree with them :)

    Thanks, Jeralyn, for adding another new voice and for all your work in hosting and maintaining this blog.  We have a lot of work to do and we need good, honest and courageous voices, perhaps now more than ever.

    Wow (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:11:46 AM EST
    It sounds like you are in New Orleans.  Sounds like you are also a "find" for this blog.  With Democrats running things for awhile this is the time for the area of the legal concerns you have championed to take center stage.  Look forward to it.  I'm just about done looking back, that's for damn sure.

    Topics of great concern to me... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:28:02 AM EST
    Welcome and hold no punches bro...let the police state have it!

    Recently, (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Lil on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:51:44 AM EST
    my 70 year old mother said one can tell how bad things are by how the citizens are treated by the police. She was not encouraged. I didn't think my mother would be the type to notice such things. In a weird way, it gave me some hope that "typical" folks were taking notice of the police state and its abuses. Welcome, Ethan; love that name.

    Many younger (none / 0) (#19)
    by eric on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 10:04:30 AM EST
    folks have been pretty well conditioned to accept and comply with the police state.  I think that your 70 year old mother probably notices things because she hasn't been trained.  And good for her.

    I love this topic of discussion, btw, and I hope to see more of it.


    And that treatment... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 10:30:21 AM EST
    unbefitting free American souls all stems from a garbage heap of bad misguided criminal law passed by misguided self-serving legislators and signed by misguided self-serving presidents...which is not the fault of cops.

    Hell yeah, there are dirty cops and excessive cops and criminal cops...but the root of our police state problems lie in the statehouses and Washington D.C.


    Thanks for joining us (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Amiss on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:35:02 AM EST
    I don't post much, mostly quiet, but always welcome a new face and a different perspective.
    Especially from someone living in the South.

    Down & outers keep score in my region (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by wurman on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 12:42:31 PM EST
    The joke among racial minorities, recreational drug users, & street people is "Cops 14, [insert appropriate slur] _____ zero.

    This is an on-going bodycount of unarmed, non-violent citizens shot & killed by police officers in this locale.  The number doesn't include 3 mentally ill people who may have gone berserk & were summarily executed.

    The police review board ruled that all 17 deaths were justified.

    It seemed as if the swat team raid on the wrong house that resulted in the shooting of a 70+ year black man sitting in a recliner with a dangerous TV remote in his hand could have gone the other way.  But it didn't.

    Oh well, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, & the cost of uniformed eternal vigilantes is a few random deaths, here & there.  C'est le vie or c'est le morte.

    Welcome, Ethan! (none / 0) (#1)
    by JamesTX on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 12:07:37 AM EST
    I look forward to reading!

    Welcome (none / 0) (#2)
    by Tony on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 12:13:51 AM EST
    Those sound like the kinds of issues I am interested in as well.  I am looking forward to reading what you have to say.

    Yippee! Fresh meat! (none / 0) (#5)
    by oldpro on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 03:10:26 AM EST
    OK.  Just kidding.  

    New ground.  Variety.


    Welcome Ethan! (none / 0) (#7)
    by Democratic Cat on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 07:03:21 AM EST
    I look forward to reading your posts. The tragedy of NOLA is fairly well ignored in the media, and it will be good to hear what is really going on there.

    What? (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 07:58:43 AM EST

    ...the dangerously unregulated world of federal cooperating witnesses and informants.

    It would seem that these witnesses and informants are in fact regulated by federal agencies.  Would you propose otherwise?

    Welcome aboard (none / 0) (#11)
    by ytterby on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:17:41 AM EST
    I'm always interested in open discussion and honesty about sentencing and prisons, having had some experience with both issues.

    GRRRRRRREAT!! (none / 0) (#12)
    by befuddledvoter on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:21:24 AM EST
    I love New Orleans.  Favorite place for vacation.  Have not been back since Katrina. No place like it on earth. Criminal defense attorney here so looking forward to your thoughts.

    Welcome Ethan (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:33:16 AM EST
    Really looking forward to your work, and reading your books too. All I know about informants I learned from watching The Wire and Dexter. I need some real world information!

    I love Dexter (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:42:55 AM EST
    and I never knew informants got paychecks.  I couldn't get into the Wire though many on here love it.  I don't think I've ever been in a big city long enough to get the vibe I needed to relate well.

    I had no idea there was any red tape (none / 0) (#30)
    by ruffian on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:48:02 AM EST
    involved until I saw those shows. Makes sense though, when they explained it.

    I didn't watch The Wire when it was on regularly, but immersed myself in the DVDs via Netflix this summer. I'm not a big city girl either, but I found it fascinating, both from a pure storytelling and character standpoint and for the insight it provides into how things work (or don't work)  in the 'war on drugs'.


    Welcome! (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:00:55 AM EST

    Hi (none / 0) (#17)
    by SOS on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:35:11 AM EST
    I'd be interested in your perspective on why citizens chose a Stand Up Comedian for Governor.

    That's right (none / 0) (#20)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 10:15:04 AM EST
    comedians only work in the senate.

    Is this chatter? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 10:18:10 AM EST
    No, its an (none / 0) (#33)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 01:42:12 PM EST
    opening you could drive Mack truck through.

    I dunno (none / 0) (#25)
    by CST on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:16:25 AM EST
    "Kindergarden Cop" was pretty funny...

    Heh. (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jackson Hunter on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:31:42 AM EST
    "It's not a tumor!"



    Howdy! (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jackson Hunter on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 10:19:12 AM EST
    Welcome aboard Ethan!  While there is not a shortage of folks here who police the police it is definitely great to have one more.  I wish you nothing but success.  Of course, you are now expected to solve all of our problems, so get to work!  :) (Just snarking you.)

    Have fun and hit hard!


    Ethan, welcome aboard! (none / 0) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:13:18 AM EST
    Sounds like this will be a most welcome move back toward TL's roots.

    Bear in mind there are some on this blog who'll, er, "question" things. Ehem. So make sure you have your ducks in a row.

    But that only makes it interesting!

    Glad you're here!

    Welcome! (none / 0) (#26)
    by indy in sc on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:20:21 AM EST
    Looking forward to your perspective...

    WELCOME! (none / 0) (#27)
    by jedimom on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:25:51 AM EST
    it will be great to have another TL legal reporter on the beat!!

    A cordial welcome! Happy posting! (none / 0) (#31)
    by desertswine on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 12:04:07 PM EST

    Welcome Ethan (none / 0) (#34)
    by weltec2 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:09:14 PM EST
    I'm looking forward to reading what you write.