Friday, January 05, 2007

News of the Day, Friday, January 5, 2007

A hopeful article from CO on its possible new sentencing commission (h/t Sentencing Law and Policy). Why hopeful? Well, it's clear people there have figured out the problem, but mostly because the state DA association rep says things like "The reason this hasn't been solved is because it is a complicated issue, but it's clear that we cannot keep the status quo. We need to keep the public safe and look at better coordination and funding of resources so we can turn down the faucet on the front end and not just build a bigger bucket." He also emphasizes the importance of good data to have an accurate picture of what they're facing and the importance of reentry focus. With good prosecutors like this, commissions do have a chance of overcoming the needless and self-impressed damage that can be done. Good luck to them. They may not need as much of it as we thought. / / / / Sex Crimes Blog alerts us to a couple of good stories, one on the strange cases of elderly sex offenders and their growth in the prison populations (and the Baby Boomers are still to come!!) and one on the continued insistence of IA policymakers on putting residence restrictions on child sex offenders even though law enforcers in that state have taken the national lead in opposing the restrictions. Sex Crimes is right about the state being a “litmus test” on this. Some really good efforts are being made right now to marshall the evidence and make the case about the residency restrictions to policymakers and the public. But IA is a case of the evidence being there, the enforcers shouting it loudly, and still being ignored. It may be time to move onto attack, to develop a narrative incorporating the demonstrably better public safety of realistic programs and the counterproductive effects of what’s being done. And time to challenge the Councilor Sallens of the world to explain why they want to endanger more children and waste taxpayer dollars. Until there’s a cost to pay by every opponent using faulty evidence or logic to produce more victims, they will keep this nonsense going. The reformers have too often been on the defensive because they don’t have an effective competing narrative—“not cost-effective” not powerful against “see this swing? A little girl would be playing here except for that sex offender.” Realists still have to show how more swings will be empty doing what these determinedly ignorant policymakers want to do. The reformers are not dispositionally inclined to engage in the world of sophistry and rhetoric, which is why we’re still in this mess. There need to be louder voices and better warriors for the reform cause. A major political leader or two would be good, but the professional community has far more power and voice in this than they have been aware of or willing to use. Until we can show that what we know works better proves we care more about that little girl in the swing and will protect her better, we’re shouting into the wind. / / / / It appears that the word is finally seeping through in TX as these three articles show. This one shows that Republicans and victims groups there have joined the cause to limit the residency restrictions because they've clued in on what that will actually do. This one shows bipartisan support for more bucks for rehab there while reforming what's done with probation, although the unfortunate prosecutors there still sound clueless. And this one focuses on the realization, again bipartisan, that the buildup there was at least semi-headless. Money quote? "The tragedy, during the buildup, was that we did not provide more funds for rehabilitation," said Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas. "Now we end up with prisoners who, upon their release, are no more skilled, but meaner and tougher than when they entered." What is scary, after considering TX compared to states on the same path but not having reached the same condition yet, is this—will all those states on the same path have to get as far gone before their former leaders down that path actually see it leads to a cliff? / / / / Prevention Works has been one of the best stops on the web lately, even if your taste isn't strictly corrections sentencing. This Matthew Bowen post includes a link to recent research showing the relationship between child abuse and later crime activity by the abused kids. The problem? The only programs with good evidence of preventing abuse are pretty costly. But still, more costly than prison costs later??? / / / / Wouldn't you love to be a citizen of a state with this headline this morning? "Alabama: 45th in helping kids, No. 1 in paying coach." You would? . . . uh, you probably don't care then about the prison problem there either. Sorry to have bothered you. / / / / Finally, more potential for technocorrections. MRIs of frontal lobe activity indicate that reduced activity there is highly related to impulsivity and both are related to alcoholism risk and maybe drug us. Screening and monitoring might become more practical with these folks, and the research is heading toward identifying genes (and we know where that can go, don't we???) Sleep well this weekend.

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