Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Around the Blogs 8-15-06

The Real Cost of Prisons brings us to an In These Times article on NM's move to private prisons as a means to deal with its population growth and the possible politics behind it. The article is interesting for saying that the private prison pitch to policymakers has turned from the superior efficiency of privatization (as those claims are disproven by studies) to the provision of jobs in needy communities. What's doubly interesting is yesterday's citation by Real Cost of the Washington State study showing that rural communities are actually often harmed in the long run by the arrival of a new prison of either public or private type. Real Cost didn't make the connection, but we're on top of everything here. . . . Judging Crimes links to, believe it or not, New York Supreme Court Criminal Term Library and a Wash Post op-ed by David Kennedy of the John Jay School of Criminal Justice. Kennedy spells out the disturbing return of killings in major cities, stories of which we have noted multiple times in less than a month of blogging, and the prevalence of victims in lower economic classes. The latter comes complete with a table showing that, if you make less than $15,000 a year, your murder rate is over twice that for folks making over $75,000. The people in the middle are slightly higher than the latter. Kennedy calls for renewed federal efforts to partner with state and local agencies to counter the increase now. As we've said, if the increased murder rates are precursors to another crime increase, all the treatment programs, reentry efforts, and anything else between probation and prison will wither, as they did in the late '80s and '90s, simply because they are the easiest to cut and the hardest to defend to the public and policymakers. (See #148 at Judging Crimes.). . . . Finally, Ken Lammers at CrimLaw has a cool letter that he gives to clients to explain everything that's going to happen to them (and to CYA himself from their later claims that they didn't know). It's not really corrections or sentencing, directly anyway, but I thought you might be interested. Back in another lifetime when I taught American Government, I spent a day or two on the criminal justice process, even though it was a foreign topic in text books. I guess because it was clear for a lot of my students, it would be their closest encounter with government up close and personal. I wish I'd had this. And probably some of them do, too.

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