Tuesday, January 09, 2007

News of the Day, Tuesday, January 9, 2007

This is real criminal justice policymaking. "States Shifting Focus to the Young." IN's governor claims that it is "an absolutely irrevocable commitment." And corrections shows up nowhere in this story on the issues claiming state attention right now. Uh, folks, the backup of inmates who normally would have gotten out by now if not for the man-mins, three strikes, and longer sentences has only just begun, and their numbers are growing in geriatrics, whose costs amount to 2 or 3 younger inmates. It's hard to take policymakers seriously who ignore that wave coming right at them, but there might be light a few decades down the road if the commitment truly is "irrevocable." / / / / Remember my recent post on the work release jail proposed in Madison, WI, and the inmates who think it can make a difference in their lives? Well, tough noogies. Major case of NIMBY flared up in the Berkeley of the North. (I'm waiting for your response, Andy. Or Jim.) / / / / While in WI, let's gander at their bank robbery increase this year. I know a little something about the sentencing guidelines for such things there, but they don't seem to be effective at deterring or protecting. Maybe if we widely publicized the punishments they can expect, those guys would stop. / / / / I talk here pretty frequently about the noble but naive hope that corrections sentencing policy would change for the better if we were just better at getting our message out. Here are a couple of stories making clear why I consider it naive. This one, not dealing with us specifically, will nevertheless be filed by all who hear it and hauled back out whenever we make claims to objectivity in our work. To those who live by "for every Ph.D., there's an equal and opposite Ph.D," all they need is evidence that someone somewhere has been biased and they can apply it to all of us. And this is not really a news story, but a transcript of LAPD Chief Bratton's presentation to the 2006 NIJ conference last June. I'm a Bratton fan, even have his autograph (I have no life, really), but he's a classic example here of the so-called advocate of research and data who in fact have no use for either if they can't be used to further his desired actions and recs. Yes, he developed COMSTAT, but that's management, not research. And he can't accept any research that doesn't conform to his "experience," such as the fact that Canada saw very similar declines in crime rates as his NYC did in the 1990s without going "broken windows." Now, we silly research types see this as evidence that something was going on that affected everyone, regardless of what they were doing and claimed success for. He simply ignores that fact and blasts those crazy academics who've never busted anyone in their lives. We can "get our message out" better and better but the Brattons of the world will never buy in unless their precious pet projects get glowing reviews, reality or not. We have to confront that, not invite these guys into our conferences to spew their silliness. Stick to your day job, Chief. / / / / The NY Times tells us that Congress may "revisit" the federal guidelines now that the Democrats have the committees. There has clearly been backtracking, even among the Republicans. With key committee chairs no longer in power, maybe the window is opening a crack or two. Oops. Really shouldn't say the "crack" word too soon, should I? / / / / Finally, this headline: "Senator Proposes Drug Tests for Would-Be Candidates." Please feel free to keep your punchlines to yourself.

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