Monday, November 27, 2006

News of the Day 11-27-06

USA Today's news blog alerts us to a story on criminologists in Philadelphia developing a risk instrument to predict likely murderers among city probationers. I'm a fairly big supporter of assessment tools, as long as the users don't become obsessed, but there's something way too "closing the barn door" about this story. . . . Doug Berman spent yesterday cataloguing the worthy news stories on Sunday so we would have them in a tidy pile. The KS story is, to me, a nice demonstration of the knowingly counterintuitive political mindset that prevents effective action in corrections sentencing and cements us to a "solution" with high recidivism rates and more victimization in the name of public safety and crime prevention. The TX article shows why the pressures and needs for "technocorrections" have the potential for exponential growth. All the stories are worth your time. Thanks, Doug. . . . Speaking of TX, here's a headline from San Antone that may rock you back--"State Looks at Alternatives to More Prisons." If you haven't had a primer on TX corrections sentencing policy before, this will serve. Repubs and Dems alike are realizing that the money can't flow to prisons forever, and, if not, why not start developing the next choices now before you completely tank? Of course, substance abuse treatment's already basically null there, and few can get parole anyway, but maybe the wind is shifting. As an analyst for a conservative state think tank says, "There's an alliance on both the right and the left. There's a consensus we need to do something besides build more prisons." If they do figure something out, maybe they can talk to those KS folks. Then CA. Jeez, wouldn't Texans love to lord it over Californians that they got to a solution first? And how long would CA hang its collective head in embarrassment? . . . Maybe NV would listen, too, facing the "huge prison increase" this story details (h/t Real Cost of Prisons). . . . The NY Times hops on the bandwagon of stories we saw this weekend outlining the difficulties in enforcing zoning laws restricting child sex offenders. . . . This Science Daily piece tells of a Canadian study indicating that heroin isn't really the opioid of choice among abusers in Canadian cities. Things like Oxycontin, Demerol, Percodan, and Tylenol 3 or 4 are. The researchers recommend that law enforcement refocus their priorities. Of course, it's just Canada so nothing to see here, just move along. . . . Finally, this is more blog update than news item, but the prescient and important new blog Neuroethics & Law notes that the new series 3 Lbs just ran an episode in which a defense attorney used his client's brain abnormality found in an MRI to try to get the guy found not guilty. And the lawyer noted that the legal system needed to keep pace with science!! Can I get an "Amen, TECHNOCORRECTIONS!!"??? If we don't want television defining our issues and policies with its usual precision, insight, and seriousness, we better get on the stick here, folks.

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