Monday, February 26, 2007

News of the Day, Monday, February 26, 2007

  • USA Today has discovered the problems associated with sex offender residency restrictions, the unintended consequences, and the "false sense of security" that they're giving. Good overview with several states mentioned, and Kim English of CO specifically referenced, so it's well-based. While you're there, check out this op-ed on the Duke LaCrosse case and the DA there again who managed to pervert the law and his profession while making a bunch of drunk, probably less than socially sensitive young men look like victims. No winners at all in that sad tale.
  • A National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study discovered "reduced brain growth among alcohol-dependent individuals with a family history of alcoholism or heavy drinking compared to those with no such family history." The researchers found "the average ICV of adult alcoholic children of alcoholic parents was about 4 percent smaller than the average ICV of adult alcoholics without family histories of alcoholism or heavy drinking. Family history did not affect the frequency, quantity, or other aspects of drinking behavior of the alcoholics themselves, suggesting that differences in ICV between family history positive and negative alcoholics are not the result of different drinking patterns. The researchers also found that adult alcoholic children of alcoholic parents had IQ scores that averaged 5.7 points lower than IQs of alcohol dependent individuals with no parental drinking, but that were still within the range of normal intelligence."
  • A University of Alberta study shocks us with its findings that "boys aged 13 and 14 living in rural areas are the most likely of their age group to access pornography, and parents need to be more aware of how to monitor their children's viewing habits." Boys and girls were, again shockingly, a little different in their consumption, "with boys doing the majority of deliberate viewing, and a significant minority planning social time around viewing porn with male friends.Girls reported more accidental or unwanted exposure online and tend to view porn in same-gender pairs or with mixed groups."
  • More faulty eyewitness testimony, via this U of VA study. The older you are, the more likely you'll get it wrong and be sure you got it right. The implications for corrections sentencing? "There are potentially significant practical implications to these results as confident but mistaken eyewitness testimony may be the largest cause of wrongful convictions in the United States,” said Chad Dodson, the study’s lead researcher and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. “Given that older adults will constitute an increasing proportion of the U.S. population, there may be a corresponding increase in the occurrence of wrongful convictions based on the testimony of highly confident but mistaken eyewitnesses.” And, "This finding suggests that this is not simply a case of poorer memory among older adults, but that there may be some other mechanism leading to the high rate of confidence,” Dodson said. “We believe the high confidence comes from the detail that they believe they remember. Because the detail seems sharp, they are highly confident that they are correct in their recollection, even when the recollection has been suggested to them rather than actually witnessed. This pattern of behavior is particularly worrisome, given the influence of eyewitness confidence on jury decision making.”
  • Tell me again about cost-benefit and teenage thinking? "Slowly but surely, American kids have gotten the message that cigarette smoking is stinky, smelly and a hazard to your health. Now, if only they would believe the same about cigars. While cigarette consumption declined in the United States by 10 percent from 2000 to 2004, cigar consumption jumped 28 percent, according to a recent report published in the American Journal of Public Health. Other studies have found that teens who smoke cigars are definitely behind some of that increase. For instance, a 2004 survey conducted in Cleveland found that 23 percent of the 4,409 teens polled preferred cigars, compared to 16 percent choosing cigarettes. And the increase may not yet have peaked."
  • In ME, a National Alliance for the Mentally Ill report notes marginal improvement of treatment of mentally ill inmates in the state's county jails, but criticizing the state's program for their fragility and inadequacies. This comes as the state is recognizing its failures to deal effectively with its growing state prison populations. Its former DOC director and sentencing commission chair calls it "a creeping paralysis" and says simply, "I think they've now got a crisis. And they're going to have to deal with it."
  • Meanwhile, far to ME's south, SC is seeing the same overcrowding despite past efforts to deal. Jail backups, nowhere to put these guys. And it's had a sentencing commission. Sorta.
  • And in WA, second thoughts about that "three strikes" thing, although, frankly, the state, like all but CA, really hasn't been hit as hard as earlier predictions had claimed. Primarily due to the refusal of practitioners to apply it. I like this quote though: "It’s not just one prison, it’s the parade of prisons." Parade of prisons. I may just steal that one.

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