Friday, February 23, 2007

Thought Provocation for Your Weekend

  • This won't surprise you, I don't think. Turns out that meetings with everyone contributing actually shut down the range of options and possibilities that would have occurred had the members just thought about things on their own. The researchers speculate that when a group of people receives information, the inclination is to discuss it. The more times one option is said aloud, the harder it is for individuals to recall other options, explained Krishnan, associate professor of marketing at Indiana University. Another contributing factor is variation in learning and memory styles. People store and retrieve information in myriad ways, so in a group situation, the conversation could cause individuals to think about the cues differently than they would if they were alone. Well, now we understand what happens to sentencing commissions.
  • Haven't checked in at Judging Crimes in a while and have missed some good stuff. Joel Jacobsen has a great analysis and takedown of the ridiculous nonsense on "24" showing how everything that's done on that show is, surprise, counterproductive when attempted in, you know, reality and the best interrogation techniques are, you know, exactly the opposite. And here we have a fun little presentation on a study showing that the only grad program in which pessimists outperform optimists is law school. Really, good times.
  • The Swedes have come up with a demonstrably effective program to cut the alcohol abuse among high risk college students. So maybe it'll work in MN.
  • Another story about overcrowded prisons and a state looking at more effective and less costly alternatives, this time in NV. The strange thing about this story is that so much of their overgrowth is from CA overflow, like 20% of the state's prisoners. I've told you that CA affects everyone else. And here's a fear that we really haven't talked about in relation: Department of Corrections Director Howard Skolnik said the overcrowded prisons have created dangerous working conditions and a staff that is "just plain tired.""I left my previous state because I attended five staff funerals in 18 months," said Skolnik, who used to work in Illinois prisons. "I swore to myself I'd never do that again. I'm probably not going to be able to keep that promise to myself unless we do something about crowding in our institutions."
  • You a prosecutor who's worried about DNA tests showing that you've sent the wrong guy to prison? Want to do the right thing and admit you're human and try to make up for the errors in the future? Well, not in TX. Dallas DAs are getting defendants to "agree" to destruction of DNA evidence in order to get a plea bargain, after suffering their 13th exoneration. Outraged? Well, Houston's been doing it for a while now. Grits says it's "morally abhorrent." Sorry, Grits. That doesn't even come close to covering it. This is pure CYA and substituting the worst form of human evil for justice. Next thing you know, people will get years added to their sentences for behavior they were acquitted of.

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