Wednesday, January 17, 2007

News and Blogs Together

CrimProf Blog alerts us to the wisdom of TX raising its head again with proposals to condemn repeat sex offenders to death, despite the opposition of some prosecutors and victims, despite the likely unconstitutionality, despite the victims who would likely be killed so they couldn't testify, all that. But Grits for Breakfast seems to have captured the brains available in the state so wouldn't be surprised if this dangerous silliness passes. . . . Meanwhile, Sex Crimes Blog links to a Crime & Consequences post about the actual lack of knowledge we have about sex offenders and what it takes to deter them. SC makes the basic point that offenders differ and can't be aggregated well in our responses to them, but I'd note one more time that it's not true that we don't know much or that Canada is the only place doing good research. Kim English and her folks at the state Statistical Analysis Center in CO have some great stuff going on and have the practitioners on hand to back it up. Please, please go check out what they have to say before we conclude that we don't know anything. . . . Having traversed much of Prince George's County in my time in MD a few years back, I was really glad to see this news of effective violent crime reduction there this last year. They're attributing it to better use of data, which we are all for here. Hope it turns out to be true and is kept up. But let me again make a point to the law enforcement folks out there who consider data use in this way "research." It's not. It's just good management. Research tests hypotheses and, if done correctly, may even come up with results that don't conform to pre-conceived or professionally-invested opinion and "experience." I noted a few days back that Chief Bratton in LA didn't seem to get the distinction. I hope Prince George's does. They happen to have the best crim program in the nation right there in their midst (h/t Governing). . . . Typical, typical, typical. Folks demand bad guys get locked up. Officials build a jail wing to answer demand. Voters reject the funding needed to get it running. Officials, after going "Hnhhh???," going back to try again. Odds not good. Old jail backing up. Our intelligence and maturity as people on display (h/t Thinking Outside the Cage). . . . I know I've talked about this before, but it remains amazing to me. A sample of Euro bills in Ireland found that 100% of them had cocaine residue. Which just thrills me when I think about the swabbing of things that goes on now. Thank God it's just Euro bills. . . . Same old sad and needlessly self-defeating story. A parolee misprocessed by a DOC ends up on the front page for murder and the whole system gets shut down, parole rates go down, no money gets provided for the backup now occurring, money gets spent on things that have less impact on crime and victimization than other activities, no one has enough tenacity to see the state through to wisdom. It's MI in this case, but bet you thought it was your state, didn't you? Every state I've ever seen has a story like this. . . . In MT, a proposal to shift funding into alternative sentences has hit a snag in the legislature. This story has the first info I've seen on the state's "goal of punishing 80 percent of Montana's convicts in alternative settings, including area pre-release centers, probation or parole, or drug or alcohol treatment prison. The state's traditional prisons would be reserved for the remaining 20 percent who are the most dangerous and incorrigible." Not done yet one way or the other, but here's the money quote that should be engraved on every corr sent type's forehead: "What you do in one part of Corrections is going to affect the other parts.". . . Finally, a story you may not see being corrections sentencing but it is, trust me. About 70% of OH inmates smoke. Causes problems for health care budgets, other things. OH DOC implements a new rule prohibiting the practice. Infractions and grievances go up. Sounds only like a corrections management thing, right? What's it got to do with prison population growth and budget explosions? Well, for every infraction, depending on the degree of severity, the inmate will have good time taken away, extending length of stay, keeping his/her bed, . . . seeing the picture now? Someday there will be a riot blamed on lack of cigs. May or may not be true, but the costs are pretty clear and DOCs are wrestling with how to deal with it. The little things you can learn from this blog, huh?

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