Fugitives

Fugitives

Fugitives

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 21 1997 1:18 AM

Fugitives

As is often the case on a Monday, there's no single story dominating the news. But there is sort of a crime theme. The New York Times leads with the arrest of seven Mexican immigrants on charges of smuggling into this country and then virtually enslaving dozens of deaf Mexicans selling trinkets in the New York City subways. The Washington Post leads with word that Charles Taylor, the warlord who started and dominated Liberia's seven-year civil war (estimated deaths: 150,000) is winning his country's presidential election. Taylor, the paper notes, is a fugitive from Massachusetts, where he broke out of jail while being held on embezzlement charges. At the Los Angeles Times, the big story is that state and federal authorities suspect that almost half of California's private methadone clinics are overbilling state health insurance programs. USA Today leads with the FBI's hunt for Andrew Cunanan.

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The deaf immigrants story probably has legs because NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani has made it a personal cause (he's already visited with them) and because, the NYT reports, smugglers have scammed Mexican deaf people into similar situations in other American cities as well.

The WP continues the series on mismanagement in Mayor Marion Barry's D.C. city government that it started yesterday. Today's front page story covers the featherbedding that seems to be a feature of almost all city departments. For instance, states the Post, most municipalities use one employee per about 500 to monitor the time cards of other city workers. The District has one for every eight.

The main news in the Cunanan hunt, according to USAT, is that the FBI is now warning people who knew the fugitive that his murder spree may be a matter of seeking revenge against those he thinks crossed him. Also, that the FBI is reviewing photos taken by a Brazilian woman that she claims show Cunanan together with Gianni Versace at Versace's Miami Beach estate the Sunday before he was killed. Additionally, authorities are also considering the possibility that Cunanan is now dressing as a woman. (Unfortunately, the FBI doesn't have as much expertise in this area as it used to.)

The NYT has a good front-page piece about the juvenile court system, making the point that it is so overwhelmed by the increase in juvenile crime and the breakdown of the family that almost no one believes it still serves a useful purpose. But there is also something quite interesting that the article doesn't say. At one point, the piece quotes a "Bernadine Dohrn, the director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University" as saying that high rates of prosecution of juveniles overwhelm the courts, "and when you do this wholesale, you drive kids into the system who don't belong there, and you don't find the kids who aren't in school and are getting into serious trouble. They are able to pass through for a long time without being stopped." The Times doesn't mention that once upon a time, Ms. Dohrn was in favor of young people in serious trouble being able to slip through the system like that--when she was, like Mr. Cunanan, on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List, because of her activities as a leader of the Weather Underground.

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Think that the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill is mainly just an inconvenience to those who use the parks, the subways and the public library? Well, according to an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, "Each year, about 1,000 people in the U.S. are murdered by severely mentally ill people who are not receiving treatment."