Friday, March 30, 2007

Your Required Weekend Reading Assignments

  • Great article on yet another pass at Second Life, which I've speculated could be a land for sentencing and corrections simulations and controlled experiments (IRBs, grow up and let progress reign!!!). Seems that disgusted pioneers are becoming terrorists against the commercialization of their virtual homeland. Which means policing, which means punishments, which means . . . are we going to have this happen without us, anyway? So shouldn't we be stepping in with assistance now? And, as for those breakaway virtual worlds in which the participants can set things up new the way they want, couldn't we be working with them to get some conditions included that allow us to test our theories and beliefs? This is what I mean: "unhappy Second Life users were moving to sites such as Multiverse, which provides technology to create your own virtual world. Through Multiverse, Second Life detractors can delve into themes such as science fiction or Shakespeare, said co-founder Corey Bridges. 'We get Second Life denizens who say, "I want to create a virtual space that is much more rich than Second Life," ' he said. 'They want to control more of the variables.'" This is going to get past us and the window will close if we don't hurry. I don't have the skills to do it, but surely someone is geeky enough in corr sent to give it a try.
  • A MI Real Cost of Prisons). Its call: "With a record 51,500 inmates and one of the nation's highest incarceration rates, Michigan spends nearly $2 billion a year, or $5 million a day, on prisons, more than it spends on higher education. The state can no longer afford it. Granholm can and should use her rightful authority to make a small dent in Michigan's costly and bloated prison system."
  • Crime & Federalism highlights the inadequacy of the usual systemic response to prosecutorial abuse by judges and misconduct boards. In truth, there doesn't seem to be much realistic balance to these regular problems. Again, our current trial system encourages "win at any cost" by all parties involved with no concern about social principles, and any legitimacy it might get from a public wanting fairness and justice, while irrelevant to what those parties are indoctrinated in law school, gets lost, along with a subsequent cultural insistence on obeying rules and laws, much less support for rational policy and spending. Change will have to come from outside the practice since the players have such a hard time seeing the forest the taxpayers are paying for.
  • Grits for Breakfast alerts us to a new blog: Eyewitness ID Blog. Which will keep us informed on issues of DNA, testimony, false confessions, etc., etc., etc. Looking forward to it.
  • On the heels of candy-flavored meth, we get the cutesy, sweetsy malt beverages. Just in time for proms and graduation parties. There is a protest being organized, but, good lord, where's the political outrage on this, with our righteous concern about drug abuse and child abuse???
  • Finally, at NIC's Corrections Community blog, news of a Canadian report that steers us to how to judge quality research and evaluation in corr sent policy, sex offender research in this case, but with application to most areas we deal with. This is one of the hardest areas for corrections practitioners to get their arms around, in my experience, and this study is a quick and readable intro to what needs to be done. Good to see. Have a good weekend.

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