Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Around the Blogs 12-12-06

This is as or more important than that recent research that marijuana is not a unique "gateway drug." Comes from Prevention Works Blog, which as I mentioned yesterday, has been on fire lately. Economists looking at the long-term impact of incarceration on crime find that harsher treatment is more likely to produce later recidivism, challenging the popular notion that severe punishment is necessary to stop crime. Pretty nice research design, taking offender assessment scores at intake and tracking them (against control groups) into lower to higher security level facilities. No surprise to anyone who really understands anything about prison, but the higher the security level the offender was housed in, the more likely to commit more violent crimes once out of prison. The whole article is worth your time, but good work again, Prevention. There are some truly momentous studies coming out right now if we have ears to hear and eyes to see. Don't count on everyone to do so. . . . Via Sentencing Law and Policy, we hear more of the revolt in IA against the countereffective and ineffective child sex offender zoning restrictions. Here are a couple of quotes from the exec director of the state's DA association: " Good public policy needs to protect children. This residency requirement doesn’t do that” and "We find no correlation between where an offender resides, or sleeps, and whether that offender might re-offend." Or this from the president of the state's sheriff's group: "Before this law went into effect, I had 99 percent of (sex offenders) registered." The effect for him under this law: Now he devotes three members of his 10-person staff to tracking where sex offenders are living. He said that takes resources away from other areas, such as drug enforcement. The sad thing is that, not only was this predictable, it was predicted. And, as we noted the other day, experience in UT a decade ago points the same fate for all the other legislation that we're zooming into now. But, as they say, those who don't know hysteria are doomed to repeat it. . . . Want to know what they're proposing as an alternative in IA? It's not bad, at least in comparison. Sex Crimes Blog has it here, if you missed it in "News" below. . . . Sex Crimes has been earning deserved praise from Doug Berman lately with its posts, including this one on experiments with sex offender policies in NY and VA, as well as the feds. NY is adopting the lie detector testing of sex offenders recommended by Kim English and her knowledgeable folks at the CO Statistical Analysis Center. VA is talking about registering offenders' e-mails as well, so you can send them e-cards for the holidays. Not to say these new policies are wonderful, but, given what we've been doing before, it's good to know people haven't stopped thinking about doing things differently. . . . Want a nice example of how pouring money into prisons hurts other aspects of crim just and endangers public safety (except where money grows on trees)? Check out what's happening to TX jails, courtesy of our usual tour guide of the state, Grits for Breakfast. . . . Here's a harsh critique of private prisons, as they get consideration in AL (Alabama, not Alaska). For those of you considering private prisons yourself, I'd recommend talking to states that use them extensively. Here in OK, 25% of our inmates are in private beds and have been for years. Experience is there to draw on. One thing the article didn't touch on, amazingly, was that, with the growing national need among states for bedspace, competition for private beds is driving their price up. That's bad enough, but the worst part is the willingness of the private vendors to kick out inmates from one state when they get better offers from other states. (Not that that's happening in OK with CA and CO inmates available or anything.) (h/t Real Cost of Prisons, again) . . . . From Real Cost of Prisons, we learn that St. Paul (the city, not the saint) has decided to stop requiring job seekers to reveal their criminal records. There are jobs and situations where this is necessary, but not to the extent we do it, not if we want to give these offenders the chance of the Prodigal Son. Reentry dies and recidivism lives if there are no jobs worth having for those who try to turn their lives around. Wouldn't think it's rocket science, but apparently it is.

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