Friday, December 29, 2006

News of the Day, Friday, December 29, 2006

One of the things that gives me such well-ground teeth in the corrections sentencing policy debates is the furor that erupts when someone on early release, home detention, parole, whatever commits a crime is the well-supported fact that those who serve their entire terms have much higher recidivism rates as a rule. This article about a reentry facility in CT not only describes the program well but also provides the numbers to support it (h/t Real Cost of Prisons). Of those released in 2000 and tracked for 6 years, recidivism overall was 39%. But it was 47% for those who released directly from prison versus 24% for those who had to go through reentry housing. Yes, 24% were back in 6 years, enough for more than a couple of blaring headlines or 3-minute spots on idiot local news, but the guys who didn't get the support did twice as bad. For some reason unknown to me, reporters aren't interested in reoffenders who did all their prison time, just the ones we tried and failed with in the community. I know why opportunistic politicians and victims demagogues focus on the community guys, but the inexcusable failure of the media to do its job on this just reinforces keeping guys from getting the release programming . . . and doubles their rate of return to prison. . . excuse me, have to go get my rubber mouthpiece now, back in a second. . . . . . . . . . Okay, that's better. On to other enlightening stuff. I know others have commented more lucidly on the frightening and ridiculous debacle of the Duke lacrosse case, now with the putrid DA there getting state bar charges filed against him. I won't add anything to what those others have said, but I would appreciate it if you remember this case every time I talk about prosecutorial abuse, the "ethics" behind their obsession with "winning" against "bad guys," and all the other motivations behind their opposition to demonstrably effective corrections sentencing policy proposals. As I've said, I've worked with some great prosecutors who have a sense of both justice and the public good, but there's something about that office that brings out far too much of this reprehensible behavior, in my experience anyway. . . . The US DOJ reports that domestic violence dropped sharply from 1993 to 2004, although some categories of women (Native American and native Alaskan) were much more likely victims than other demographics you can think of. The overall number fell from 5.8 per 1000 (above 12) to 2.6, more than half, and the homicides decreased by almost 30%. Good news for the greater part. Let's see if we can keep up the promising work. . . . A couple of Wichita Falls editorials that (gasp) denounce the TX prison build-up and recommend alternatives for non-violent offenders, courtesy of Grits for Breakfast. Next thing you know, ice fields the size of 11,000 football fields will be breaking away from Canad. . . what? Uh-oh. . . . The NORML folks can't be real happy about this story. Experts say marijuana pills work better for most patients, even the ones insisting on their tokes. . . . Common problem for corrections officials and policymakers in the states--do you just add on to an existing facility or build a new one? This time, the deliberation's in ND, but the arguments apply just about everywhere. . . . And a common problem for jails in states with overcrowded prisons, reimbursement rates not keeping up with expenses of state inmates being backed up. This time, the problem is in TN, but the arguments apply just about everywhere. . . . Civil commitment of sex offenders keeps rolling. This time, the deliberation's in VT (where they seem to think available fed dollars will always be there), but the arguments apply just about everywhere. . . . Peggy Ritchie over at Corrections Community alerts us to a U of CA-Irvine report on female offenders that apparently gets at a number of the special questions that have to be address with that population. A little light reading for your holiday. . . . Speaking of which, we probably will only post a time or two over the long weekend. Our numbers took a big hit over the Christmas week so we'll save any earth-shattering tomes for you after the break. So enjoy the festivities, don't do anything I'd do, and come back safely to us. (Or . . . organize "Corrections Sentencing" read-alongs at your New Year's parties!! Yeah . . . !)

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