Monday, June 18, 2007

Around the Blogs, Monday, June 18, 2007

  • This quote reflects what was probably the greatest insight I got from my initial dip into criminal justice policymaking many moons ago, watching lawyers mess with each other as the rest of us tried to do rational policy:

    Yes, this is a great symptom of denialism, showing what John McCarthy called 'lawyers's science'. You start with the position you want to prove, and search for evidence, however thin or dubious, to support it. The result is the jumping from one easily debunked argument to another.
    The surprising thing is the persons exhibiting this behavior often don't allow themselves to realize what they are doing.

    John McCarthy, via Only In It For The Gold

    To a researcher, being able to cite a 95% or 99% confidence level for something is a good thing, something to base a policy on. To an attorney, it’s proof that there’s “reasonable doubt” and therefore should never have policy based on it. It’s very dispiriting to watch all the lawyer cross-exam tricks being played out on a commission or public discussion, with all the straw men, ad hominems, “alternative” explanations, and so forth that are used in the lawyer games they’re so proud of their mastery of, while real needs and problems go unresolved. Now I have something to call it—“lawyer’s science.” That might be “sticky” enough to make some headway against their diversionary obstructions when we need to get things done.
  • Some interesting posts over at Empirical Legal Studies on social networking, its applications and potentials. The methodology has promise in corrections sentencing not just in trying to figure out terrorist networks or distribution of stolen goods but also in identifying the links between correctional officers and probation/parole officers who might supervise the CO’s “clients” after release or between judges and P&P officials or treatment providers (or the lack of networking, which also tells an interesting tale). Network analysis is part of the overall study of complexity and its impacts, which will be the next paradigm shift in cj studies if some bright scholar will ever bridge the gap. Maybe someone in the ELS school. Good stuff.
  • A different take on the Duke lacrosse case and the disbarment of the DA in it over at blackprof. It again emphasizes the importance of perceived procedural fairness in maintaining an atmosphere of allegiance to law obedience. It also highlights that the DA’s behavior was not that exceptional in the eyes of minorities, who wonder now why there’s such a fuss when it’s white guys who were treated unjustly. Well, actually, they don’t wonder.
  • Prevention Works remains the Web source for id theft news and advice for your own id protection, with another great post here.
  • Nice post about university/corrections partnerships by Jonathan Simon at Governing Through Crime, with the payoffs and even some “faces” of success that could be used when we try to make our arguments for these programs “stickier.”
  • Finally, at BoingBoing, links to a thorough analysis of the reality of online sexual predation, which, surprise, is rarely what the media or opportunists portray it as:

    So first fact is that the predominant online sex crime victims are not young children. They are teenagers. There’s almost no victims in the sample that we collected from – a representative sample of law enforcement cases that involved the child under the age of 13.
    In the predominant sex crime scenario, doesn’t involve violence, stranger molesters posing online as other children in order to set up an abduction or assault. Only five percent of these cases actually involved violence. Only three percent involved an abduction. It’s also interesting that deception does not seem to be a major factor. Only five percent of the offenders concealed the fact that they were adults from their victims. Eighty percent were quite explicit about their sexual intentions with the youth that they were communicating with.
    So these are not mostly violence sex crimes, but they are criminal seductions that take advantage of teenage, common teenage vulnerabilities. The offenders lure teens after weeks of conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance, adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to encounters that the teams know are sexual in nature with people who are considerably older than themselves.

1 comment:

Michael Tobis said...

Hi and thanks for the link!

I feel compelled to note that your quotation is due to Paul Dietz discussing McCarthy's opinions, and not McCarthy himself.

John McCarthy is a renowned computer scientist. He was an active participant in the usenet group sci.environment in the early days, along with myself and Dietz, before that group deteriorated into the childish food fight it is today.

I am unable to find a direct quote from McCarthy about "lawyers' science" though I am convinced he deserves credit for the phrase. Dietz remembers it the same way I do, and so his quote is what I found.

I disagree with John McCarthy on many things, but I consider it an honor to have had any conversations with him at all.

Michael Tobis (Only In It For The Gold)