Monday, October 30, 2006

Around the Blogs 10-30-06

Doug Berman and Joel Jacobsen each have dual thought-provoking posts, so stay away if you don't want provoked thoughts. Doug first points to an LA Times story on the unintended impact of IA's sex offender residency restriction law (unintended but very predictable if people had bothered to think the thing through before rushing to action). Basic problem of making things worse instead of better, as we've discussed before, but one more piece of evidence. Then Doug asks why there aren't prior good works guidelines built into the fed system. He has a nice comment thread going, with some pointing out how state systems sometimes do have explicit mitigators built in. In WI when I was there, we proposed changes in the guidelines worksheets to shorten them in hopes of getting better submission rates. But to do that, we trimmed mainly mitigators, and the judges were so clear in their opposition to the removal that we left them in. (WI asks for the factors, good/bad, pro/con, that factored into the judge's decision. Staff there are finishing up an NIJ grant we obtained to do in-depth analysis. It will be finished this summer so maybe we can say more about this then.) In the meantime Talk Left asks the same basic question regarding sentence shortening for inmates fighting fires in CA. . . . Joel Jacobsen also has two posts to provoke thought. One gives attention to the meaning of that CBS poll we mentioned below indicating public disapproval of more political control of fed judges, asking why a Supreme Court that could give us Dred Scott, the Slaughterhouse Cases, and Plessy shouldn't be subject to control now and then. The other links to several items concerning the whys and wherefores of so many depressed, substance-abusing attorneys. It really is an interesting piece, subject matter aside, although the sociology of lawyers might be a degree in itself. . . . Then Crime and Consequences checks in with one post on the problems with UCR data when cities don't report (this is important to corrections sentencing because, if you want to do good evaluation of sentencing and influences on it, you have to have good call-for-service and arrest data or you're only measuring the closed barn door). And Kent Scheidegger alerts us to the Duke rape case prosecutor admitting that, over 7 months later, "I haven't talked with [the accuser] about the facts of that night. . . . We're not at that stage yet." Huuuuhhhh? Makes you just plain tired of having your thoughts provoked and move straight to the bottle, doesn't it? (Does that make all of us depressed and substance-abusing?)

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