Monday, December 18, 2006
Around the Blogs, Monday, Dec. 18, 2006
Sex Crimes Blog has several good posts up right now on the unreliability of sex offender registry info and the possibility that highlighting pedophiles may make the offense even more exciting and enticing. Don't know about the latter, but the former gets at one of the dirtier secrets of crim just policy--the horrible state of our data in most cases, due to data entry error and indifference, among other things. People wouldn't put nearly the confidence they do in laws and policies based on our data if they could, like laws and sausages, see how they're made. . . . Ken Lammers at CrimLaw Blog points us to a multi-part series on the sad, sad Richmond jail (which unfortunately doesn't sound all that unique). . . . Grits for Breakfast left this good comment to a post lower down that deserves to be elevated. "The voluntary mind control stuff is just freaky, and you're right, probably right around the corner. What's still missing is a 'diagnosis' to say criminals are 'sick' so they can justify it as 'treatment.' We already require the mentally ill to take meds as probation and parole conditions. To someone who's bipolar, what's lithium but 'mind control'? Indeed, that's precisely why many go off their meds. Interesting stuff to think about." (Grits also requested the change in the way we title these updates to ease ability to keep them all straight. Hope it helps.) . . . And what's a blog update without reference to posts at Sentencing Law and Policy? Lacking, I tell you, lacking. So here are a couple of many worthy links Doug Berman has up right now. This one notes an innovative sentencing program in OH that makes jail on holidays and birthdays a condition of probation. One point Doug doesn't make about this--this is actually a very nice example of the "therapeutic shaming" that we've talked about here. It not just incarcerates and denies freedom, it brings the offender's wrongdoing back into highlight with loved ones at precisely the right time and in the right way. "Shaming" doesn't have to involve the whole community. Restoration makes sure the offender knows what s/he has done to the people who care for him/her as well as to the victims. This gets at the point well. I'll put some bets down on how many offenders repeat. And this post notes the recent moves in AL and CA to get effective sentencing policy underway, partly with the help of a new sentencing commission. With my reentry training last week, I missed CA's governor's call for a sentencing commission there. I've made my points about that here before and wish them well. I'd just point one more time to this fact--I've been involved with commissions in three states (OK, MD, and WI) and none of them succeeded in dealing with the problems for which they were created. Problems similar to but on a lesser scale than CA's. (I realize that I could be seen as the common denominator, but we're not going there.) Maybe the threat of worse (results and/or interventions) will empower CA commission, but, without supportive prosecutors and victims, and without strong judge leading way, I just don’t see how traditional commission works. Commission promoters are very dedicated and have successes to point to, but solid analysis of failures and misses has seldom been done except as case studies. Bringing in witnesses to discuss failures may have been more important than bringing in the far fewer successes. CA needs to be realistic about the history of all commissions and understand that very special factors aligned to make MN and NC work. And MN at least now failing by its own standards and NC is still building prisons. Time wasted on failing commission there will hurt the state and delegitimize commissions all over the country, since it’s CA. But I could be wrong. Been there before. Like the times I thought commissions in OK, MD, and WI would work.