Tuesday, December 12, 2006

News of the Day 12-12-06

A kind reader pointed us to this Stateline report I missed this weekend on the state efforts on child sex offender residency restrictions and the movement that is growing to bring some sense to the process in different states. KS listened to IA folks and turned its back on the trend, and other challenges are in the courts. As a researcher for the Center for Sex Offender Management explains, "People are very, very fearful of strangers being near their children, and most of these laws are based on a knee-jerk reaction to that fear." . . . And it looks like IA folks may be listening to IA folks as well, with possible easing of the state's hallucinogenic zoning restrictions. The agenda that may replace it is still very tough, just more do-able. . . . Catch-22 for sex offenders? To get parole, you have to get the therapy but to succeed in therapy, you have to admit you're a sex offender, which, unless prosecution of sex offenders is miraculously different from other offenses, some inmates might not really have done anything but will have a confession on the record. Cases in MN are testing whether and how it will all play out. . . . And in VA, you might soon be able to exchange e-mails with sex offenders. That could be a good time. No potential at all for abuse of that. And evasion that will once again render it superfluous. (Hadn't said "superfluous" in a while. Thanks for your patience.) . . . Brain scans are finding that the brain really does function abnormally when people have "hysteria," just like Freud said, usually brought on by trauma. I realize this only has direct relevance to corrections sentencing in diagnosing people, dealing with abuse victims or qualifying for a mental health court, but you long-time readers will see it as yet one more example of a future possible application for technocorrections and various legal strategies. No word yet on brain scans and cigars. . . . Teens do such idiotic things because they're so impulsive, they just act without considering consequences, right? Well, no. Turns out that they actually spend more time than older people, who have more experience and get to judgments about courses of action more quickly. Surely that would be a useful piece of info in crim just. But that's not really why I'm pointing out this article. As a throwaway at the end, it also notes that the same researcher has found, relatedly, that "doctors make better decisions by processing less information and making sharper black-and-white distinctions among decision-making options." She adds, "This leads to better decisions, not only in everyday life but also in places like emergency rooms where the speed and quality of risky decisions are critical." Here's my question--does this also apply to other judgment situations? Like when judges sentence? Does it mean that quick decisions are better than longer ones, that having more info and spending more time considering will actually lead to poorer decisions? Shouldn't we find this out before we invest tons of money in data and info systems to improve sentencing? Does it verify that we really only need one or two pieces of info about most offenders to reach decisions that will turn out to be about as good as they can be? Does this female researcher realize that she's potentially messing us up really bad???? . . . Headline: "Queen Bee Promiscuity Boosts Hive Health." Not really related to anything here, but sounded cool. (Here's the link if you really want to read it.) . . . A fed judge in CA has delayed slapping a cap on the state's prison population . . . for 6 months. Not a real subtle ultimatum. Like I've said, the state needs to slice its Gordian Knot and judges have the sword to do it. Not a good long-term resolution, but it might give everyone the scapegoat they need to take the necessary action but not the resulting blame. We'll see. Court orders don't implement themselves, and past court prison decisions in states have taken very long times to effect change, even with judicial power. . . . CO next year will be the first state to launch a version of Canada's Lifeline program for "lifers," giving them a second chance and the state its own chance to start whacking at its own prison population problem that would rival CA's if the states were the same size. . . . Our next new crime? Distracted driving does as much damage as driving under influence, it appears. I'll join any posse hunting these annoying and dangerous idiots off the road and into prison for the rest of their . . . sorry. Better stop and lie down now.

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