Wednesday, September 20, 2006

News of the Day 9-20-06

USA Today reports that NYC had the lowest overall crime rate of the country's 10 biggest cities in 2005. Crim Prof Blog has an addendum to the piece that you need to read in order to interpret the numbers well, though. . . . Good story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on inmates getting second chances by serving as firefighters in rural areas (h/t Real Cost of Prisons). . . . The Washington Post runs a typical tale of how poor coordination of jail and court data systems leads to predictable and depressing outcomes. Three things should never be seen made--laws, sausages, and criminal justice data (h/t Crim Prof Blog). . . . Long article today on the "unexpected" budget impact of WI's legislature requiring GPS monitoring of sex offenders and increasing their penalties. This is just silly on stilts. I have some very biased opinions about the level of seriousness in WI to deal with the fiscal tsunami that's facing the state so I'll limit my comments to fact rather than opinion. WI has a legislative committee that is required to consider costs of any proposed crim just legislation--it's never met, and certainly not on this policy. It has a sentencing commission specifically mandated to help develop cost information--neither commission nor staff was consulted on this. In the '90s, the state went to 100% of sentences followed by sentences to "extended supervision" which have proven as long or longer. (At the time the legislators claimed what they do now--"we just had no idea what the costs would be," except then as now other states doing the same thing that did know what would the costs would be were just phone calls away.) To combat the impact of their 100% nonsense, the commission was supposed to develop guidelines to reflect appropriate sentences--it adopted guidelines that in their provisionary form were universally derided and almost completely ignored by state judges (which was okay because they deliberately had no accountability built into them at all). Those guidelines were the commission's only substantive action in three years of work. All this while, by officials' own admission, parts of Milwaukee are coming apart reminiscent of Detroit and DC at their worst. Here comes one mild opinion (so imagine what the worst are like)--right now it's a race between CO and WI to see becomes the next CA.

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