Thursday, February 15, 2007

News and Blogs Together, Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sorry. Trying to get this done before "Ugly Betty" comes on so there may be some typos. (And sorry to be revealing these things.)
  • Very disappointed in the national media's response to the Pew Trusts report on prison pop projections. As I feared yesterday, I didn't see anything on it on the webpages of NY Times, LA Times, WaPo, CNN, or other major news sites. (Maybe I just missed it--please tell me where I'm wrong.) It did get USA Today coverage yesterday and today from (what I've seen anyway) Boston Globe, Huntsville Times, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Baton Rouge Advocate, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dayton Daily News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Times Argus (Barre/Montpelier), and Hartford Courant today. What was the norm? Well, in OK where the prediction is a 13% increase in a bursting prison population in 5 years, the front page of Tulsa World featured legislators who exercise and a proposed merger of local car rental firms. The Daily Oklahoman had couples who decided to marry on Valentine’s Day and how vests protect rodeo cowboys from bulls. Your modern US journalism, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Reuters did sorta touch on it in passing during its own story about the possibilities for explosions (real and metaphorical) in CA's prisons. Here are some good quotes: California inmates, officials and courts are all sounding warnings that prison overcrowding poses a growing danger and is undermining California's stated objective of rehabilitating inmates after they have served their time."The majority of these guys are getting out; they are going to be in your neighborhood," said Rollo, 54, who admits to committing "a terrible crime" but believes overcrowding will only make inmates more hostile. "Do you want less crime or do you want retribution against criminals?" And a point that most people outside of corrections just never consider, adequate water supplies and keeping them healthy-- "Residents of Ione say that excess waste water going into the prison treatment system has even polluted local wells." A great simile (or is it a metaphor?): "A system that has over a 70 percent recidivism rate is a failure," said Hanes, an intense, well-spoken man who is serving a 15-year-to-life sentence for second-degree murder. "Building new prisons is like getting a fat man new pants." And the clincher: "Warden Rich Subia argues that overcrowding keeps him from providing better rehabilitation training, which he believes will ultimately benefit society far beyond the prison walls. 'I'm not providing them with effective programs,' he said. 'Do you want them back more productive or do you want them worse than when you sent them to me?'"
  • Methadone abuse in Tulsa. Not just by former heroin addicts, and with overdose deaths rising in OK. Part of increased abuse of prescription drugs by teens? (They're not using marijuana as much right now so that means, the gateway closed, we'll have fewer addicts in the future, right? Putting money on that?) At least they won't be getting the heart problems now being associated with meth use, according to an American Journal of Medicine article.
  • Technocorrections applications. Turns out traffic surveillance cameras can show research-backed effectiveness. That's really not the question, though, with this or any techno issue (which always offer benefits). This is the problem: Opponents say the cameras deny drivers their right to confront their accusers in court and are a ploy by local governments to raise revenue. "There is a lot of money to be made with them," says Howard Bass, a Minnesota attorney who successfully challenged Minneapolis' red-light camera system in a case that will be argued before the state Supreme Court next month. "Ultimately, this is an issue that may have to be decided in the court of public opinion rather than courts of law. It's a public policy issue of how much surveillance creep we will tolerate in the 21st century." Meanwhile in NJ, a judge has basically thrown out breathalizers and their results, denying that the possible false positives make the benefits questionable. Your technocorrections future.
  • Prevention Works runs a good post on the dangers associated with laws requiring your ISP to keep data on you, pointing to Europe as the model to follow (so we won't) and showing how, even if perfectly effective and benign, the laws won't solve the problems they're designed to stop.
  • From Corrections Community, we get links to reports from the Council of State Governments and the National Institute of Corrections on mental health collaborations between corrections folks and their MH colleagues.
  • WY has increased penalties for those convicted of incest or of knowingly harboring unregistered sex offenders. Sorry. The odds of the latter doing any good rather than making things even more likely to fail just don't seem high to me. I've been wrong before, though, as I'm sure you've noticed.
  • Finally, from my old stomping grounds in WI, the gov there can't come up with the cash to fund all the GPS tracking of sex offenders that last year's legislation required, as the legislature was told at the time. I was there. Very predictably, the legislator complaining is WI's version of the one reporters always run to to get the extremist reaction. As I said, he ignored that there wasn’t money for this, played the politics anyway and is now reaping the benefits with constituents. I'm actually sure that he believes in what he’s doing but he’s been shown as well as told over and over he’s wrong. Nevertheless, he consistently insists that his constant errors prove he’s right. And reporters still go to him as representative of Repub sentiment there as a whole although I have personally seen traditional Repubs roll their eyes at the mention of his name. Deservedly.

Gotta go. The show's about to come on. Don't see women like this on tv much anymore. No, not the "ugly" one. The transsexual. Rebecca Romjin.

You're heading for the tv now yourself, aren't you?

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