Tuesday, December 26, 2006

News of the Day, Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One of the famous stories about the limits of the federal judiciary in the "balance of powers" scheme is Andrew Jackson's purported quote that, "Chief Justice Marshall made the law, let Chief Justice Marshall enforce the law" or something like that. Courts never have less power than when they have to depend on actual enforcement by hard-pressed, recalcitrant, lazy, or whatever enforcers. Proof of that, and a lesson to all those counting on ignition-interlock devices to stop convicted drunk drivers from continuing their pastime, comes from WA state where, out of 28,000 or so convicted drivers required to get the devices, only roughly 4400 have done so. No agency to confirm the installation, apparently, or to check to see if they've been dismantled once installed. King County has one, count 'em, one full-time DA to prosecute DUI deaths, among other poorly implemented aspects of the policy. Really interesting story on the policy and its problems, if you have the time and interest in this perpetually frustrating offense (h/t Governing). . . . Here's another story to watch as we consider scarce resources. A successful drug court in AL (Alabama, not Alaska) is losing its long-time judge to retirement. And, as anyone familiar with drug courts can tell you, the judge is key to the success and continuity. We'll see if they follow up with what happens. . . . Because of the problems CA is having arranging the departure of its inmates out of state, IN may be left holding the bag. Well, not really. Always somebody else out there willing to pay. IN estimates up to $6.9 m. a year and 200 jobs just from the CA produce . . . I mean, inmates. . . . Research from MI in Personal Relationships indicates that the more masculine the face, with brow ridges, strong chins and thin lips get negative reactions compared to more "feminine" faces. Not exactly corrections sentencing, but it does add to the literature on the way brains process and react to faces based on possibly irrelevant criteria, which might be important to someone ever in, say, a lineup. . . . Finally, and yes, I know we keep repeating this, but this is a really, really good overview of the way ME is dealing with child sex offenders, the problems and the responses. Here's the part that sums up the entire way we're performing:

The public seems to accept the idea of residency restrictions as a method of keeping children safe from sexual predators. Town councilors in Oakland, for example, passed their ordinance with little or no opposition, or even much comment from residents, despite multiple public hearings on the matter.

The councilor who brought up the idea, Ralph Farnham Jr., said he did so at the request of two mothers concerned about the safety of their children. When asked if residency restrictions are likely to be an effective measure to cutting down on the number of incidents of predatory sexual behavior, Farnham said he was uncertain.

"I don't know that," he said. "I guess it's a place to start with."

Not really much to say after that, is there?

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