Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Around the Blogs 9-27-06

Tracey George, current guest poster at Empirical Legal Studies, has an interesting post up on the % of social science Ph.D.s on staff at law schools (usual suspects rank high, but not in the order you might predict, and Harvard doesn't make the top 20). Coming out of sentencing, I find this a topic dear to my heart and one Kim and I have discussed frequently. I have great admiration for the legal scholars associated with sentencing policy, but, as I've mentioned before, I think the last couple of decades in the field would have turned out differently and better had people trained in policy been associated. Some of this is self-interest, as it's my discipline, but not at much as you might think, as I've aged out of possible academic employment now. It's more just having been on and being able to see more sides of discipline applicability than I think the legal folks have been able to do. I strongly recommend getting some of the bright young social science talent (and commission folks like PA's Mark Bergstrom or VA's Meredith Farrar-Owens) on law faculties, and hope the ELS series has an impact. (Why one of the DC-area law schools hasn't picked up Kim and/or Dave Soule at the MD commission, I just don't understand . . . and Kim didn't pay me a dime to say that. Yet.) . . . CrimProf Blog sends us stories on a couple of research findings. From the LA Times is the report that parents sitting down to eat dinner with their teen children is positively correlated with preventing drug use (a little problem with the old "correlation is not causation" concept here, I think, but not bad acvice in any case). The other is from Newsday, analyzing the legal and bureaucratic reasons why released sex offenders end up living clumped together in "clusters" within cities. . . . Finally, Grits for Breakfast has been intentionally provocative the last couple of days. (Surprised?) They've hit us with a 10-point plan for real public safety reform that is too sensible to make much headway, then followed with its take (quite pessimistic) on the shift of meth production/distribution to Mexican gangs once we deprived our local entrepreneurs of Actifed. I don't disagree that now having well-organized and financed cartels providing purer product outcome is a big negative, but, as I've noted before, we were talking about that likely outcome in WI a couple of years ago. And there are secondary positives (quite cynical) about having the meth labs in Mexico rather than in our backyards or next door. So I don't agree it's a "failed policy" or "catastrophic." It's just a complex adaptive system at work. AKA, squeeze the toothpaste tube one place, it pops up in another. Still, a post worthy of your attention and thought.

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