Thursday, December 21, 2006

News of the Day, Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sorry, don't have much left in the tank after a long, long day. Let's just hit these news items and I'll try to revive over the holiday, I promise. This teen drug survey finds fewer teens drinking or using illegal drugs but more use of prescription drugs and stimulants. This is what was interesting to me: 8th graders--12% used marijuana, 33% alcohol; 10th graders--25% marijuana, over 50% alcohol; 12th graders--31%, 67%. Now tell me again, which is the "gateway drug"? . . . Christian Science Monitor has a nice analysis of the recently reported 9.7% increase in robbery, complete with suggested explanations, including weakened police departments, inmates returning from prison, meth, and the baby boom echo pumping a new round of 15-25-year-olds into our communities. One suggestion is the statistical link between increases in poverty rates and robbery rates historically. None of these would be a sufficient explanation, of course, and the article is smart enough to get into that. Overall, a nice job. . . . A couple of studies to report on. This one in Injury Prevention demonstrates a statistically significant drop in gun deaths (homicides and suicides) after Australia's gun control law went into effect. This study in the Journal of Neuroscience has located the area of the brain that distinguishes people's preferences for delayed versus immediate reward. Given the problem so many offenders have with delaying gratification and spontaneous, impulsive pleasure, this should have relevance for studying a wide range of offenders as well. . . . Good story on Delaware's efforts to entice businesses to hire felons by offering tax incentives. Thorough and informative. . . . A story on VA's assault on Internet neutrality under the guise of protecting us from the child porn that has become the number one crime in the universe. . . what? It's not? It's just the crime du jour that will leave more mandatories and opportunism in its wake? Clearly I don't understand the Forefathers' warnings that those who buy into "security" to protect "freedom" will preserve neither. . . . A couple of stories on CA's latest proposals to deal with its corrections nightmare and with the political power of its prison unions to stop serious reform. This one details how the latest corrections directors there (3 in less than a year???) saw the handwriting and quit despite working for a "terminator" (h/t Sentencing Law and Policy, and while you're at Doug's, check out his post on how, this time around, it looks like the feds' cutting DOJ spending may get the brunt of the attack over recent crime rate increases). And this story goes over much the same ground, but includes more background on the actual elements of the “reform,” including a super-powered sentencing commission that will ride in and save the day. Oh, and $10 b. more in prison beds. Uh . . . never mind. Too tired. Just somebody save this so we can pull it out in 5 years and see if we end up shaking our heads.

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