Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Justice Research and Policy

Another journal with an issue out that may interest you. Justice Research and Policy, done by former (almost said "old") colleagues at the Justice Research and Statistics Association, has a new issue hot off the presses with some really good analyses and one other. You'll find a nice piece on how prosecutorial plea bargaining changed in AZ in response to the passage of mandatory drug treatment laws there, a study of the Expanded Syringe Access Program in NY state (with no increase in heroin use, drug injection, or criminal activity), and an interesting review of research on the use of cost-benefit in evaluations of policing (there needs to be more). JRP is specially intended to be of use to both scholars and practitioners, and this edition shows it off well. Abstracts of all its past articles are on JRSA's website, and membership would also bring you its regular Forum, which usually also runs a couple of articles and reviews as well as updates on state cj agency news.

Shameless plug for the journal, especially when I note that the final article is one by myself and Andy Wiseman and Dan Fischer of the WI Sentencing Commission on "conventional number preferences" in judicial decision-making. I wish it were an original idea, but Brian Ostrom and the National Center for State Courts folks followed up a research note of Francis Galton in 1895 (!) that judges (in MI in Brian's study) tended to sentence only to a few given sentences that were multiples of each other (6 mos., 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 60, 84, 120) rather than the full panoply of possibilities. Ostrom et al., found the same in MI and we did as well in WI. The article has implications for prison costs (if judges sentenced in multiples of 5 rather than 6, would a 50 month sentence be demonstrably worse than a 60 month one but at lower cost?) and for structured sentencing (coincidentally, judges tend to diverge from the informal set sentences about 10%-35% of the time, the same as good rates of compliance with formal guidelines). In other words, judges in WI have structured sentencing; it's just done by their cognitive schemas, not law. Anyway, the whole article thankfully gets the point and others across better than this snapshot will. Give us some feedback on it if you find the time. And stay up with JRP. It fills a special role between academic and practitioner that few other cj journals do.

No comments: