Thursday, February 08, 2007

News and Blogs Together, Thursday, February 8, 2007

  • In my time in WI, I was impressed with the proactive and far-sighted folks in La Crosse (and loved the town) trying to get their justice and resources appropriately balanced, especially compared to the rest of the state. Here's a really nice article on their Day Reporting program. The DA there is okay, not a good one we praise here or a bad one we taunt. Here's his quote:

    "There's a place for jails," said La Crosse County District Attorney Scott Horne.

    Horne, however, acknowledged that day reporting has worked well so far and that there has not been a single instance of an offender committing a serious crime at a time when he or she would otherwise have been behind bars.

    "I can't say there has been a disaster," he said. "I'm trying to keep an open mind."

    Given what the town could have, that's probably good enough. . . .
  • OTOH, they could have the DA the folks in Arapahoe County, CO, have. This is really a very good job of corrections sentencing reporting. Those of you who sympathize with zealous, steam-rolling prosecutors will likely find things to nod to while those of us who see them as ultimate threat to our Constitution in the name of their delegation by God nod the other way. Also, some good coverage on the pro and con data for prison emphasis. Very good work and very good catch by Think Outside the Box (as usual).
  • Prevention Works follows up a report we didn't do the other day on teen victims of physical dating abuse with its usual great links to resources for those young folks. If you know someone who might need them, please pass this on.
  • Maybe in the line of "water is wet" research, but a Child Development article finds that, even if not in the home with their teenage children, fathers who stay involved in their kids' lives help them stay out of trouble.
  • I've been enjoying the new Situationist blog, including this post applying cognitive thinking and situational contexts using “Good Samaritan” and drawing implications for legal use. Good blog if you're inclined to the cognitive and neuro.
  • We focus so much on the giants like CA that we sometimes miss that other states, like NV, may also find themselves under federal court control if they don't do something about prison overcrowding. One way to view US history in my lifetime might be to cite how elected policymakers dither and bluster and leave intractable problems for courts to issue edicts about that the policymakers can then bluster more about to get themselves reelected. The problem is, the courts really can't do this job well, as US history has also pretty much shown. But it may be the only way, at least the only credible pressure.
  • First blush at an article on proposals to let med-marijuana users be fired for failing drug tests might make you mad or suspect an Onion effort. But actually, this OR story goes into interesting detail that makes you realize that the issue is truly complicated and can't be knee-jerked. Well, all right, it can be knee-jerked, but it shouldn't be.
  • Just up the road from OR in WA, Republican legislators and victims reps are calling for better community supervision of released inmates and the Dem gov and allies there are somewhat sympathetic. The problem, of course, will be funding as much as compromise, but the Senate Republican leader did have this quote: "What we're doing now just isn't working. ... Our prisons have become revolving doors." From such insight, lesser things have bloomed so let's wait and see.
  • A different twist on the way most of us see teen gangs, with LA spotlighting the need for international efforts against Latino gangs.
  • Our friend David Wilstermann in TN sends this story along of a single mother going to jail and losing custody of her 17-year-old daughter to foster care for enabling the daughter's truancy. Guess they have plenty of space and money in TN. But David's question is the best part: "so a parent of a kid who is almost 18 can be put in jail for the child's truancy, yet if the child committed a crime could be tried as an adult? does that seem odd?" Well, if you're insisting on rationality, I guess maybe it could.
  • Finally, Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy links to a FL article on how retirees aren't just filling up the beaches down there. They're filling up the prisons, too, all that implies for a growing group generally considered to cost 2-3 times what the usual inmate costs, meaning you can't just look at the population projections for the prisons there and elsewhere. You have to look at the proportion that will count like 2 or 3 offenders all by themselves. This is one thing I mean by the prison population crisis not even reaching its peak yet, and this article doesn't even deal with the mentally ill, another special need/higher cost group. What we have right now is just the tip of an iceberg, an increasing tip, but we have decades to go before this works it's way out even if we cut back right now. (See "NV" above for the likelihood of that.)

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