Reason's Superlative Prison Issue, And A Note About Anonymity

For reasons that will be evident below, I didn't push Reason Magazine's fantastic July 2011 issue, which took a hard look at America's criminal justice system. I should have sooner. If you care at all about criminal justice issues, it's well worth a read. As I've been saying for a long time, everyone should be outraged about how the system doesn't work, because it strikes at the hearts of all of our values — conservatives, liberals, libertarians, and [whatever you call the people who want to regulate Happy Meals]. It deserves the praise it has gotten. Radley Balko and the others involved (including but by no means limited to Jacob Sullum) deserve major kudos for showing what a news and commentary magazine can still do.

Let me add that I'm very proud to have been a small part of it. Radley kindly recruited me to write a blurb about the culture of prosecutorial misconduct. That was my first byline in a national publication; I'm stoked that it was in Reason.

Wow! Hey, Ken, you just revealed your secret identity! Well, yeah, kind of. But realistically the veneer of anonymity has grown pretty thin. When even a cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs twit like Marc Stephens can find me in a few minutes, and when newspapers are making the connection, and when relatively soon I expect to be further outed in a story of a successful pro bono defense of a science blogger against a SLAPP threat [watch this space], there's not a whole lot of point in making a big effort to remain anonymous. I still support bloggers who do, and still believe in my reasons, but the cat is pretty thoroughly out of the bag at this point.

It shouldn't be said, but I will say it anyway: I don't use this space to promote my law firm, and nothing here represents the position of the firm. It's all my fault. I don't plan to throw my full name around here, because this space isn't about my firm.

Seriously, go read the Reason criminal justice issue, if you haven't already.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says


    (1) my super l33t knowledge of your real identity is less l33t than it used to be

    (2) I've had that issue sitting on my table for a while and still haven't opened it. Should have!

  2. says

    This makes the fact that you just came up with a special Batman-like signal a bit anti-climactic, doesn't it? I mean, why do we need a special signal now if we know who you are and can just call collect?

    I'm puzzled, though, about your hatred of rabbits. Seems to me they've done nothing but good for society. And look at how they helped Alice figure out some of the really important things in life!

  3. says

    a) I would like to award firehat one whole internet.

    b) yeah, anyone reading that piece that reads your stuff here would be able to put together that it was you.

  4. says

    Rick, the Popehat Signal is to call Popehat's minions…I mean dear readers … for assistance. It's not to call me. The Ken signal would look like an outline of Comic Book Guy.

  5. says

    I could swear I've read that Reason piece before, and possibly recommended it to others. I have enough trouble remembering what I ate for breakfast, though, so I can hardly remember if/when I read it 5 months ago. Maybe I just feel like that because I've read it here in other forms.

    Someone on another website accidentally leaked Ken's last name several months ago. They took it down but not before it got lodged in my brain.

  6. says

    Dammit, I wanted the mystery to last forever…

    Right the next anonymous blawger of awesomeness that appears has to keep the mystery close and GOVERN THEMSELVES ACCORDINGLY!


  7. RB says

    Guess you'll have to abandon the mask, cape and tights when doing pro bono from now on. Too bad too, you're an attractive man.

  8. says

    Good luck with the new-found… 'nonymity'. (I know that's not a word, but it should be).

    I hope that this change doesn't lead to a precipitous drop in the 'snark to respectability' ratio at the 'hat. Because that would be a great shame.

  9. IGotBupkis, Sailing the Economic Seas Betwixt Scylla And Charybdis says

    >>> America’s criminal justice system

    I've long since noted that the phrase structure of the above is ambiguous.

    [adjective America's – >] [adjective criminal – >] [subject justice] [] [subject criminal] [< – subject modifier justice system]

    I've long since noted that there appears to be a tendency to put the emphasis on "criminal" when used in regard to "justice system". It does seem aimed at committing crimes against justice.

    Any system aimed at "order" as more important than "justice" kind of meets that criteria.

  10. IGotBupkis, Sailing the Economic Seas Betwixt Scylla And Charybdis says

    >>> I’m puzzled, though, about your hatred of rabbits. Seems to me they’ve done nothing but good for society.

    Clearly, you have no experience of either the Pythonoverse or the Buffyverse. Everyone familiar with them knows the dangers of bunnies. With or without big nasty pointed teeth.

  11. IGotBupkis, Sailing the Economic Seas Betwixt Scylla And Charybdis says

    >>> a) I would like to award firehat one whole internet.

    I would rather segregate all the asshats into one of their own.


    One can but dream.

  12. IGotBupkis, Sailing the Economic Seas Betwixt Scylla And Charybdis says

    *sigh* One of the downsides to using arrows without having an arrow character in the toolset. Now, the key question, can this thing handle two-byte unicode?

    [adjective America's →] [adjective criminal →] [subject justice] [←subject modifier system]


    [adjective America's →] [subject criminal] [←subject modifier justice system]

    Option 1 puts the "criminal" to the "justice system".

    Option 2 puts the "justice system" at the "criminal".

    We should have option 2 but all too often wind up with option 1.

  13. says

    Patrick's turn.

    My internet detection skills must be seriously lacking, since I failed (a few months ago) where Marc Stephens succeeded. (Is that creepy? It's not like I tried for more than a few minutes.)

    You California anti-SLAPP lawyers aren't all buddy-buddy are you?

    On the substance, it's kind of a dilemma, isn't it? I mean, "any defeat" should be taken as "a humiliating rebuke" by the prosecutor, shouldn't it, "in part because of the government’s overwhelming resources, in part because of judges’ and jurors’ tendency to defer to law enforcement, and in part because many [defendants] aren’t particularly sympathetic," and especially because the government gets to choose what cases it prosecutes? The only fact in mitigation is that "declining to bring charges in a high-profile case can be a career killer." Best not to be a prosecutor.

  14. says

    To me, Ken, you let the cat out of the bag, or the bag out of the cat, when you posted those pictures from your office on twitter. Did you know that google maps has a 3d view of LA?