Friday, March 16, 2007

For Your Weekend Enjoyment

  • Let's see. A study that alcohol use during pregnancy has long-term negative impact on fetuses who grow up, just like those "crack" baby reports that fueled the War on (Some) Drugs in the 80s and early 90s. And another story on how March Madness gambling is now the premier STARTER for gambling addictions and subsequent crime. So, we have a substance endangering fetuses and their development and we have a behavior that is the STARTER for worse behavior of a similar nature. It sounds so . . . familiar somehow. But, no one's being punished severely for it, so it must just be my imagination.
  • This story on the looming inadequate numbers of care-givers for the growing elderly population is bad enough for us Baby Boomers, but then add to that that Baby Boomers are the fastest growing segment of our prison pops, too. Looks like we'll have to add labor shortage to the sky-high expenses of that group. OTOH, seems that at least some nations are making special allowances for the . . . needs of us oldtimers already. Discounts at brothels in Germany. You just can't make up stories like this.
  • Registry questions again. Here we read at Sex Crimes Blog of a debate in MD over putting juveniles on the state's registry, and here we hear new efforts at a violent offender registry in CT. The logic of registries really doesn't preclude any offense or offenders being included. But once again, let's have random, localized action overtake us with fait accomplis.
  • Getting seriously weary of posting state after state doing sex offender residency restrictions, but I decided to link to this AZ story because of the comment of the leader of one of the top victims' advocacy groups in the country on the topic: "A national hysteria about sex offenders has led to illogical public policy that has not been proven to make children safer, said Nancy Sabin, executive director of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, a victim advocacy organization in Minnesota. 'There's an awful lot of legislators going for the feel-good, quick fixes to enhance their own careers and reputation,' Sabin said. 'We need to marry policy with science-based tools. Stop having lay people figure out goofy things that don't work, like green license plates, pink license plates, e-mail registries, chemical castration and residency restrictions.' Instead of enacting public policy such as residency restrictions, more resources should be spent on preventing sex crimes in which the victim and perpetrator know each other, which make up the majority of such crimes, Sabin said. But what do they know? They're just the victims.
  • Great review at The Situationist of a Harvard Law conference on Law and Mind Sciences. Both the blog and a few law schools are taking the lead in getting the technocorrectional concerns on the public agenda. Maybe if sentencing commissions and correctional organizations would get in line, we could start the dialogue that's so vital among all of us. Some great quotes on how people actually think (not the way the law assumes), the importance of fairness instead of sanctions in getting people to obey the law (yes, it was Tom Tyler talking), how prejudice gets processed in our heads (whether we think we're prejudiced or not), and the need for more social science and situationism in legal study and action. The whole post is worth your time and let's hope this isn't the only conference.
  • Really sad story of the WA review of its probation and parole system and all the problems there that have recently come to public outroar. I'm afraid WA's the only state the light is on right now. Much of the story could be written about most state systems.
  • Since FEAR is the major driver of our corr sent policy, maybe we should pay attention to this NYU study that finds "Humans acquire fears using similar neural processes whether they've personally experienced an aversive event or only witnessed it." IOW, the brain acts the same way whether it actually experiences a fearful event or if they just watch it. Does that mean our violent and abusive media and in your face personal behavior help to set the stage for the culture and corrections sentencing policy we've created in the last decades? Does it seem that silly??
  • Finally, let's end with some guts (h/t Talk Left). NM Gov Bill Richardson is going to run for President in all likelihood. And he's getting ready to sign the new med marijuana bill in his state. Isn't he like the rest of the gutles . . . cautious field of Dems, worried about how reasoned and informed positions will "focus group"? Well, here's what he said: "So what if it's risky? It's the right thing to do." Oh. My. God.

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