Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blog Roundup 8-2-06

Alan Greenblatt of Governing has a post up on the mag's blog, "The 13th Floor," describing the difference in effective oversight of Boston's "Big Dig" compared to its "Boston Harbor" cleanup. Besides the first being a catastrophic failure and the second a major success, he attributes the differences to different groups to whom each group answered. According to Greenblatt, the private oversight on the "Big Dig" had to be more mindful of shareholders so profits didn't go into necessary maintenance enough whereas the cleanup had its greatest obligation to the public and protections were greater. This isn't a statement of public always being better than private, but it does raise issues that should be considered when privatization in any public policy arena is discussed, including corrections or sentencing. . . . Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy has a very interesting link up to a recent opinion written by Federal District Judge William Young, the guy who presaged the Aprendi and Ring decisions, this time detailing the impact of 17 years of unconstitutional federal sentencing. . . . Another law prof of note anytime he blogs is Michael O'Hear of Marquette Law School, who has a good post up at PrawfsBlawg, on the coming WI advisory referendum on the death penalty that throws in that guilt or innocence will be based on DNA results. He's not thinking it's a sound idea, and, if he doesn't think so, you should pay attention. . . . CrimProf Blog links to a couple of articles of interest on jails. One details the overcrowding in Dallas jails due to a variety of factors, including state prison backups, probation revocs, and delays in transport and drug testing prior to trials. Sooooo, once again the city is considering early release of low-risk inmates, the dismantling of which is coincidentally another reason for the overcrowding. The other refers to a coming Kentucky Law Journal article criticizing the misuse of jails in the state's run-up of its prison populations. The author is predicting predictably bad results if action isn't taken. . . . Crime and Federalism rips on court reform in CT, not that it is being done but that the governor has chosen to do it via a . . . commission. Says Norm Pattis, "What to do if you want to delay making a simple decision? Create a commission," then goes on to show why he feels that way. The parallels to saying you're doing something about the problems caused by sentencing in your state seem . . . well, you get the idea. . . . Via Crime and Consequences, we get a The Scotsman story on a Scottish study questioning the validity of fingerprint evidence, saying that "experts" have been swayed by background information on the case, aka "biasing context." The implications for cases there are enormous, as they would be here if we ever paid attention to things from Scotland. . . . Finally, ReutersHealth reports that The Cochrane Library has a study from the University of the West of England (!!!!!) on the effectiveness of school-based violence prevention programs. A meta-analysis, the work found that prevention classes do help children exhibiting or at risk of exhibiting aggressive behavior, well known as a risk factor for later criminal behavior as adults. Efforts to improve relationship and social skills were deemed more effective than teaching "avoidance" techniques. The study apparently ended with the famous "we call for more research to verify these results," bringing back cold chills of grad school for everyone who read them.

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