Wednesday, March 21, 2007

News and Blogs Together, Wednesday, March 21, 2007

  • Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy notes that the rhetoric against sentencing and corrections reform in CA is turning up to full blast and that one legislator's comment that "There really is no such thing as a nonviolent offender" won his top prize for heat. I think the comment flows from the historical give and take evolution of the rhetoric. The “tough on criminals” folks argued everyone in prison was dangerous so the “tough on crime by actually doing things to stop it better than prison” folks looked up how many were in on nonviolent offenses. Large number. Then the “TOC” folks looked at the full criminal histories of the “nonviolent” and found a significant number with prior violent offenses. If you assume everyone convicted of (actually, usually just charged with) a crime is the same “bad guy” as everyone else, as “TOC” folks tend to do, then that meant everyone in prison had violent offenses, they just hadn’t been caught yet. Truth is, not that anyone really cares when the rhetoric is in full boil, is that many “nonviolent” offenders really aren’t, but also that the “violent” offenses they have on their records could just as easily not have been there since they often include assaults that could have been overlooked, evading or escaping, etc. Nevertheless, both sides need to admit that nonviolent guys are not always nonviolent but that many of them are. Of course, that would ruin the fun everyone’s having while their house is burning down around them.
  • Sex Crime Defender points us to this Public Defender Blog update on the VT teacher so questionably convicted of showing porn in class, only now it seems it was just not getting the machine turned off quickly enough. The major new note was how cynically invested in hammering her the local newspaper is. Which reminded me of David Anderson's classic Crime and the Politics of Hysteria, which detailed a local paper's similar hyping in the 90s. It's also the book that coined the term “expressive justice” and showed how the “Willie Horton” model got set for the rest of the country. Great book.
  • A membership drive over at Think Outside the Cage. They've been doing some of the best work on the web in corrections sentencing so go give them some support, especially you CO types.
  • Norm Pattis at Crime and Federalism responds to my reaction to his assertion that innocence is unimportant in criminal processing. I don't want a flame war or lose a good reader whose own work I do value. My conception of justice, our common obligations to it, and the importance of its community perception to the fundamental legitimacy and maintenance of criminal justice and corrections sentencing differs from his. I hope we can find more common ground on other topics in the future.
  • CO puts its money into cost-ineffective public safety and now has to choose between judges to hear criminal cases and roads. And the roads are winning. Once again, if we take money from "certainty" of punishment in the name of "severity," how much crime control do we really get?
  • More nationalization of our prisons. The OK situation now finds the state seeing over 3000 of its own offenders being moved out of state private prison beds to make room for offenders from 5 other states, states now using OK land and resources to outsource their offenders. At what point do we cease thinking of prison systems as bordered by state boundary lines?
  • Crime and Consequences notes a technocorrections effect that we really haven't noted much here, the possibility of using drugs to prevent traumatic memories from forming . . . and likely making it harder to get good prosecutions of traumatizers. The balancing of priorities won't be easy.
  • You get used to great posts at Prevention Works, but let's not become complacent. Here's another one. Debra Eisenman tries to work out the questions and issues associated with the MD bill to put 13-year-olds on sex registries. She’s not comfortable with her answers and asks for help. Wish I could. Maybe you can.

1 comment:

Gideon said...

Julie Amero (the schoolteacher convicted of failing to cover up the porn on her pop-up riddled computer) is from CT, not VT.

I wish the conviction weren't in CT, but it is...