Friday, December 22, 2006

News of the Day, Friday, December 22, 2006

Next time we talk about the increase in violent crime in many cities in the last year or two, also keep in mind that DC is looking at its lowest homicide total (not rate) in over two decades. . . . Here's a novel idea for reducing our jail and prison populations, offered by a former drug agent. He's selling a video on how to hide drugs so guys like he used to be could never find them. Of course, this could never receive an official endorsement. . . . While on the "new idea" idea, this is a connection between id theft and corrections that I doubt you've seen before. Be sure to read all of it. (Have to link to it, not going to tell you.) . . . More evidence of our good neighbor policy. Here we see how the new Mexican (not New Mexican) administration is going after its drug cartels, including that super-weed that grows year-round and laughs at pesticide I mentioned the other day. I'm willing to take bets on who wins this one. . . What? No takers?? And here, Ecuador and Venezuela are getting PO'ed at Colombia and its renewed insistence on taking pesticides to coca crops, pesticides that don't respect borders and kill off legit crops in the other countries. At least those countries always get along and will surely work all this out peaceably. And at least we don't have to actually exercise self-government (by "we," I mean drug users and government officials) and stop doing stuff that harms other people needlessly. . . . Excellent point made by the folks over at Sex Crimes (not technically a News item, I know, but whose blog is this?) As much trouble as the residency restrictions for child sex offenders are already proving to be, they will still likely be less costly and legally contestable than civil commitment for those same offenders, not to mention the political acceptability. The fact that the restrictions are counterproductive and cut into resources that could be sent to actually effective victim-prevention efforts will likely not matter. We'll say, "look at what we're doing, isn't it tough???" and pay no attention to the actual impact, just like most of what we do in crim just policy. We didn't get where we are by really paying attention, you know. . . . And finally, more details on the "reform" being proposed for corrections sentencing in CA. Here are the key points that, frankly and unfortunately, tell you everything you need to know about how effective the proposed sentencing commission will be: (1) "a 17-member commission that would include four legislators, the attorney general, the corrections secretary, a judge and representatives of law enforcement and crime victims' groups'--but no defense? no academic experts? no budget or business people, public or private?, no citizens with no dog in the hunt?, (2) "it will not have authority to make changes in the law"--which no existing commission does, but no existing commission could have an impact on CA's problem, (3) "its membership tilts heavily toward police, prosecutors and victims' relatives"--yeah, I just pointed out the problem with that, but it's so obvious that even the newspapers can figure it out, and (4) "Schwarzenegger said he would not favor a softening of the three-strikes law"--which isn't the major problem with their corrections sentencing but is bigger, and will get even bigger in the future, than the law's advocates will ever admit. And it also shows that the necessary attitude that "everything is on the table" that will be required to deal with this Gordian Knot isn't even there over something secondary to their problems, much less the more immediate problems. I'm sorry. I've talked with some very serious, intelligent, and dedicated people there who could actually do something about the demented future CA faces, and I wish them well and hope I'm as far offbase as I was when I thought Brad Johnson still might have one more good full year in him. But, as someone who's invested over a decade watching commissions starting off far better, both in composition and environment, and end up dead in the water, I'd rather put my money on the Mexican government defeating its drug guys. Of course, if they did that, maybe CA's problems would be solved, too. Or maybe they could buy a lot of that guy's videos for their offenders.

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