Monday, April 16, 2007

News of the Day, Monday, April 16, 2007

  • Interesting piece on the shifting political strategies of the CA Correctional Peace Officers, the powerful union that has so much sway over any possible corr sent reform there. Some detail on the reforms they're proposing, including the sentencing commission more powerful than the one the gov's suggested because it has authority to set sentences unless overruled by the legis. Which makes me wonder if the underpinning of the commission has them very confident that no real change in sentencing will occur. I do know that Barb Tombs, one of our best sentencing policy people, has been working with them closely on this, so I'll withhold judgment until I see the final product. The whole story is a nice example of the politics that drives everything there.
  • A couple of related stories on ME's continuing prison growth problems which, while mild compared to most states, are serious in that part of the country. Here, we hear of the difficulties officials have drumming up political support to end prison overcrowding, given the lack of sympathy for offenders, but correctional officers are the ones who have to deal with the resulting problems. They don't really deserve it. And here, we hear of the state's decision to ship inmates out of state, thereby greatly enhancing the likelihood of having them return to crime when they get back to the state, despite efforts to only take volunteers, out-of-staters, and people whose families don't seem to visit much anyway.
  • Meanwhile, out West in WY, they're bringing female inmates home to incarceration after having been held out of state. Hopes that it will improve chances of successful reentry. Of course, they were the ones with the good records to start with, that's what got them shipped out. Has anyone done the study we need yet on the recidivism rates and how long they stay out of the "good" offenders selected by the out-of-state private prisons, "good" offenders not selected, and the rest? It would really add something to policy right now.
  • IA is testing a new security classification system for its female inmates to see if more can be moved successfully to minimum security, also in hopes of moving them on out more safely and easily.
  • The news media in SD finally discovered the Pew Trusts' prison population projections that show the state one of the nation's leaders . . . in prison increases. The DOC types have said that Pew's data were out of date and things are improving. That's what we say, too. Maybe it'll be true. If you need a reminder of Pew's basic findings, it's not a bad article.
  • Finally, a lot of the time, a state's problems with prison population are structural and major legislative changes will have to be made to get through any blowups. Other times, the mechanism for relief is right there but people are afraid the pull the trigger. MI is in the middle of a major recession, its budget is in tatters, its prison population needs to be reduced by 5500, and 16,ooo inmates are eligible for parole. And nothing's happening. I'm sorry, you MI readers. It's just hard to be sympathetic, but good luck to you.

No comments: