Monday, February 05, 2007

Around the Blogs, Monday, February 5, 2007

  • Doug Berman has some thought-provokers over at Sentencing Law and Policy. This one raises the issue of geographic disparity and the issue of proportionality in sentencing, the death penalty in this case. From my experience with sentencing commissions, this actually extends to consideration to all sentences. One of clearest areas of difference whenever you examine sentences comes from the split from urban v. rural v. suburban. This is usually justified by elected judges and the "good" of communities getting what they vote for. However, it plays havoc with proportionality, with setting statewide guidelines, and (I always thought anyway) with equal justice. For those of you considering new commissions, this is an issue you will be forced to deal with, whether you’re prepared or not. Here, he links to a couple of surprising items in MS journalism pointing to the need to something more than mere incarceration to get rid of crime and to stabilize budgets. I would note one thing, though, from the items. The rhetoric on this often emphasizes the prevalence of "non-violent" (and sometimes "first-time") offenders maxing out the prison pops. There are a lot of non-violent folks in there. But you have to look past the controlling offense for which they are imprisoned. Were they also convicted on lesser violent crimes (resisting arrest, some kind of assault) that didn't draw the worst penalty? Or, more importantly, do they have a long history of juvenile violence and/or violent arrests? The "tough on offenders" guys rightly complain when we don't include those factors into our calculations about our stock populations.
  • Corey Yung at Sex Crimes Blog has a very interesting book review up on Eric Janus's Failure to Protect: America's Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventive State. Worth your time for both the book summary and its critique.
  • CrimProf Blog has a post on the contribution of an ex-offender to reentry deliberations in FL. I have often regretted that we don't have more input from offenders in our corr sent policymaking. I'm on a committee on mental health and reentry right now that has two former inmates on it, and their insights have guided much of the discussion. And, when we're trying to figure out what would actually deter offenders, why do we always go with what would deter us non-offenders instead of asking the guys themselves? Yeah, you get some jerks screwing with you, but many offenders are the best sources we have. Not seeing a trend going here, but ask yourself: If you had an enrollment problem at a college, would you really develop a bunch of rec's without talking to students, especially ones who left? . . . You would? Uh, you may leave this blog now.
  • One of the biggest areas for payoff in preventing future crime is to focus seriously on juvenile justice. Logically, failure to invest is a sign that, whatever it is you're serious about, it's not stopping crime. Therefore, I think we can draw the appropriate conclusions from this Grits for Breakfast post.
  • Finally, Think Outside the Cage continues its energetic and valuable work with a couple of posts I found particularly helpful. This one describes a "one-stop re-entry center" and this one explains why you should be skeptical of "re-entry prisons" that sound better than they look. In fact, they may end up counter-productive. Of course, that would be the first time for that to happen in American criminal justice history.

No comments: