Wednesday, December 20, 2006

News of the Day, Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A DC advocacy coalition has issued a report identifying "gender nonconformity" as a factor in at least 50 hate murders, mainly of blacks and Hispanics. A majority of those crimes remain unsolved, compared to only a third or so of all homicides. They're asking that these offenses be treated more seriously, but it may take a little more than that. . . . Continuing their good recent work, Prevention Works notes that study indicating that participation in AA is associated with decreases in murder rates. Good links to related material, as usual. . . . We can all name "demented drivers," I'm sure, or at least know them when we see them, but the term is being applied to drivers who are truly demented. And there are more of them now than ever, with the problem looming as a major concern once the Baby Boomers get older and hunched over the steering wheels. Right now it's a health care issue, but we've already seen numerous cases lately of elderly plowing into people, parades, and houses. What will we do when it's as common an occurence as DWI, coming at us from behind, somewhat slowly and weaving a bit, but something we have to deal with? . . . Speaking of dangerous driving, HA is implementing a new law come the new year requiring that, if you get stopped with .15 or higher, you are "highly intoxicated," (pause here for "DUH"), license immediately gone, driving privileges lost for 6 months, just like repeat offenders. We'll check back for stories of impact. . . . Turns out MO thinks, maybe, it ought to, you know, inform the relatives of mentally retarded offenders in state group homes that some of their roomies are sex offenders, after all. . . . In NC, not satisfied with going after registered sex offenders, the General Assembly there wants to strengthen other child-sex offense penalties, promising more prison-based treatment programs as well. The state has done better than most in providing treatment options, but where exactly is the constituency for this treatment if the state's treasury hits some turbulence? One more thing to keep an eye on. . . . Speaking of treatment, OR may move some tax dollars from liquor sales into more alcohol and drug treatment programs, $17 m. to start, plus another $3.5 m. for drug courts. The money is coming from surplus, not increased taxes so, again, let's see what happens if revenue turns down. . . . As we consider marijuana offenses and the seemingly unending supply of the weed (No. 1 cash crop in America!!), here comes some Mexican weed that is hybrid, growable year-round and impervious to pesticides. Still in Mexico right now, but becoming popular more broadly. Just what we need--more and cheaper pot year-round. But let's not let that force us to actually think if what we're doing makes sense. . . . A FL task force says "let's have more faith-based prisons" and calls for 6 more. It might be nice to have some independent research on these things' effectiveness since most of that so far isn't all that impressed. Still, it gets guys into some kind of treatment and does seem to occupy them enough (like any programming will) to reduce misconducts for prison officials. I think they've established themselves now. It's just a question of how much state control of their activities will happen (h/t Real Cost of Prisons). . . . Finally, add MI to the states with a cigarette lighter going on over its head concerning the impact of prison spending on anything else the state may need to do (another h/t Real Cost). Says an op-ed, "Michigan needs fewer people in prison and more people working in productive citizens. That goal should be the basis of a bipartisan policy at the Capitol in 2007." Uh-huh, and how did that sentencing commission you used to have work out for you, there? Are you paying attention, CA??

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