Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Around the Blogs 8-9-06

At Governing's blog, Josh Goodman has a good post up on the second part of the crackdown on meth ingredients, warning us not to let partial success blind us to other problems. Yes, keeping me from getting my Actifed has led to decreased lab seizures. But the National Association of Counties is reporting that robberies and burglaries, domestic violence, and other meth-related concerns are way up. The temptation to declare victory should be resisted for a while. . . . Via Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy, a MN study of the effects of victims' impact statements finds that the statements don't affect sentence duration so much as the conditions attached, such as probation terms, no-contact orders, etc. When I was in MD, we were one of the few commissions to ask for victims' info and to do analysis of victims' impact impact. As I recall, we found a sentence relationship, which got larger if the statement was in person compared to written. I also recall we didn't have a good sample, but I'd be interested if things have improved (listening, Dave Soule?). . . . The Real Costs of Prisons has an interesting piece on the increased use of shaming sentences, maybe because of a low 9% probation violation rate among recipients (pretty clear this was not a classic experimental design). One thing that might slow it down: it takes a lot more work than usual probation. Plus, it doesn't really lead to treatment alternatives as a rule. Sounds like an entrepreneurial opportunity for creative stock makers, though. . . . Also from Real Costs, stories on the international increases in the numbers of imprisoned women (exercising global leadership there, OK!!!) and on some really good editorials in CA deconstructing the bizarrity of the state's current correctional situation, with excellent brief histories of the buildup and possible solutions, including a sentencing commission. With due respect, no commission has ever had to deal with an officers' union with the power of CA's. Without exceptionally strong political leadership and public will, the commission will just shout into an increasingly dry wind. And if CA had those two things, it probably wouldn't need a commission. Still, something to watch and a job opportunity for some super hero from the NASC conference (although the stocks idea will make you richer, I think, and have more success). . . . CrimProf Blog directs us to a couple of SSRN articles of value, one on the "tunnel vision" of criminal justice practitioners that taints the whole process and another on the death penalty and the "McVeigh Factor" that justifies execution as being the only possible crime for some crimes so heinous. I feel the need to note, as someone blown up by Timothy McVeigh, I, speaking only for myself among the 1995 bombing survivors, did not agree with his execution, on grounds that it was too good for a young man and gave him what he wanted (and, I swear, a posthumous "Che"-like reincarnation at some point in the future). Left to a cell by himself for the rest of a long life, with Manilow music piped in (as some Australian cities are doing to high hanging-out areas now), would have been my choice. The article is interesting, though, and we echo the rec on it. . . . Finally, from CrimLaw blog, a cite of an editorial taking KY to task for its failure to fund a county Family Drug Court with demonstrated positive results. The beating the editorial dishes out is pretty impressive, but overall it just depresses. I've never forgotten a quote from Wendy Kaminer's book in the mid-90's, It's All the Rage, "Knowledge isn't power in criminal justice debates; knowledge is irrelevant." Maybe Kim's right below and evidence-based decision-making can become a reality in our policymaking. In the meantime, there's a Guinness in the frig. It cures anything.

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