Tuesday, March 27, 2007

News and Blogs Together, Tuesday, March 27, 2007

  • Britain has finally gotten to the "let's lock up career criminals" stage, in a new Labor proposal to heighten supervision of their worst and increase treatment options for lower level types with substance abuse and/or mental health problems. Sound familiar?
  • Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy notes a couple of interesting state policy stories. One documents the problem we often talk about here, how the emphasis on shoveling finite crim just dollars at prisons ends up shortchanging other areas of the system, like prosecutors and public defenders in this case. Another cites a NY Times op-ed that calls for offender reentry plans to promote better supervision and reintegration of offenders after release, as in currently moving forward in WA. I wish the WA folks well, but reentry plans aren't a new idea. They make great sense but they're very hard to implement due to resources and geography and policymakers don't always remain committed to them when their failures to promises ratios start to rise. This story gives you a pretty good idea of the problems. But, if WA can make them work, they can truly be the model the op-ed hopes for.
  • Pam Clifton at Think Outside the Cage tells us of a case of technocorrections in Denver using those ankle bracelets that can chemically analyze the sweat coming off the offender wearing it for telltale alcohol traces. Good description of how it works both technically and operationally.
  • Speaking of substance abuse, do you think programs providing businesses discounts on their workers' comp premiums for testing employees for drug and alcohol use will be effective as a non-criminal justice alternative to offending? Seriously. Let me know.
  • Listen, and ye will hear the power of this blog!!! Not long ago, after noting a story on the dangers of addictive tanning, we called for a War on Tanning. Well, teenagers have it now, anyway.
  • CA is moving forward with its sentencing reform legislation, with its House passing a version now going to the Senate, with a Cunningham fix (that may not work, some are saying) and a proposal for a sentencing commission. What's interesting to me in the story is the assertion once again by the bill's opponents that something that might affect incarceration is anti-public safety. Unless and until we get the evidence that prison does a worse job at stopping crime than virtually any alternative for most offenses and offenders, these reform packages will continue to face far more opposition than they (or victims or taxpayers) deserve.
  • Finally, here is a classic example of why we’re screwed on reentry efforts, a hyperactive news story on offenders being employed on construction projects that get near kids and otherwise vulnerable folks. Notice ANY statement of new offenses committed? Construction is one of the few tasks offenders can get into given the lack of training we give them anymore. So how do we do reentry if any possible employer for offenders has to deal with this fear every time? Again, seriously. Let me know.

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