Monday, August 14, 2006

Around the Blogs 8-14-06

Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy points us to this NY Times article on re-entry that is welcomingly helpful. Coupled with Jeralyn Merritt's note of its story on the reemergence of offering inmates incentives to become pharmaceutical test-subjects again, the Times has started focusing lately a little more on the issues of concern to a lot of us. Will the other media outlets follow the lead? Is it an outlier, a freak concurrence of recent stories? We'll keep tabs and take whatever help we can get, of course. . . . The Real Cost of Prisons has links to a couple of good stories. One is a San Fran Chronicle piece on whether the success of a reentry program in IL could also work in CA. Lots of good stuff on reentry and the difficulties of implementation and of copying successful programs, not to mention an overview of the abyss CA is facing. The other is a breath-taking story (at least it took mine) about a study from Washington State University showing that not only does putting prisons in depressed areas not boost the local economies, it actually harms them more, at least the private sector. Turns out the folks making the good money don't live there and spend it there and low skill jobs are literally a dime a dozen, if inmates aren't doing them already. And then try pulling new factories or other econ dev techniques to a "prison" town. Actually, if I had a brain, I probably wouldn't have lost my breath. It's a lot like how all benefits building a new sports stadium brings to the hosting city, I guess. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in new research and in future sitings. . . . Crim Prof Blog does its wonderful job of alerting us to some SSRN research of importance. I like the latest Rachel Barkow article on the factors that bring about sentencing commissions in states (cost pressures the big one, but also competitive party politics). Her (and co-author Kathleen O'Neill's) abstract states "A narrow partisan margin, a Republican House, a Democratic governor, elected judges, a high incarceration rate, and corrections as a large percentage of expenditures are positively correlated with the presence of sentencing guidelines." Hmm. Worked in WI, I know for sure. The other article looks at the role of apology in our culture and its effect as remorse at sentencing. One of the good things about the WI guidelines work sheet was the opportunity for judges to indicate the importance of remorse in their sentences. The NIJ study the Sentencing Commission there will complete next spring should have several items like this for your interest and education. Or it will have to give the money back. . . . Finally, Crim Law's Ken Lammers points out that New Zealand is the latest to create a "sentencing council" to deal with the all-too-familiar problems we're groping with here. Good luck to them on that. I hope they come up with something good.

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