Friday, December 01, 2006

News of the Day 12-01-06

Increase in violent crimes in a couple of cities--Milwaukee and New Orleans. Still not sure if this is just a blip or the start of another wave (even though, of course, we're doing the incarcerating we've done in the past that supposedly stopped it all), but at least one authority says, "My bones tell me that something is changing." So there you go. If you need incentive to drink your way through the weekend, these stories will get you there. The Milwaukee one is particularly depressing to me since I really liked my time in WI and I've worked with some of the people in the city and state desperately trying to get this disaster under control. I think Milwaukee proves my point about the cultural underpinning of crime and how it ebbs and flows because of contagion and disgust as well as anything else I could note. WI has a major prison population growth problem, it sends offenders for 100% of their sentence, and then it slaps a long "extended supervision" on top of that. It's hard to think of a place with a harder "lock 'em up" policy, . . . and yet Milwaukee. That New Orleans is in the winning state for "the most people in prison per capita" for several years running will, of course, not convince anyone capable of being convinced, but, at least if the violent crime rate shoots back up again after a couple of decades of incarceration growth, maybe those on the fence regarding the efficacy of prison as a long-term way to keep crime down will be persuaded. In the meantime, mourn for these poor cities and send your thoughts to the good people working on the margins to keep the evil as restrained as possible. . . . MT continues to hear about the alternatives to the failed policies in WI and LA. Not sure I buy all the assertions about the effectiveness of some of the sex or drug offender efforts the MT committee heard, but they're interesting to read and consider. . . . Meanwhile, NC has made it harder to deal with DWI creatively without sending offenders to prison. Going sort of "mandatory" without doing max-mins. Requires DAs and judges to report why they didn't lock 'em up. I'm all for whacking drunk drivers, but they're not burglars or rapists. This is an area in which prosecutors and judges need max discretion for innovation, especially with some "technocorrections" already available and more coming. Be interesting to see what kind of "gaming" the players will still be able to dream up to evade the requirements. . . . Started with doublets, might as well end with one. MS and OK both are awaking to the world in which busting Mom and Pop meth entrepreneurs doesn't stop a problem still on the front side of the predictable "new drug" wave. The MS article gets a little more into the ways the drug still gets into the market, but both paint a nicely balanced picture of the problem and the efforts to stop it. However, Real Cost of Prisons is unimpressed, posting an article questioning both the prevalence of meth use and the effectiveness of our efforts to restrain it. Also informs us that recidivism for meth offenders receiving drug treatment is lower than those for other drugs. Hadn't heard that before. Anyway, since I did a "he said/she said," does that make me a journalist? Would you think less of me if it did?

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