Monday, June 18, 2007

News of the Day, Monday, June 18, 2007

  • When I talk about the guys I could be talked into putting away forever, these are the kinds of people I’m talking about.
  • And while speaking of pedophiles, let's be sure to create a policy that ensures that homeless families (more common in the foreclosure wave here and still growing) get to bunk their kids in the new homeless sex offender shelters:
    Nearly three years after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state could post the names, addresses, and photos of the most dangerous sex offenders on a public website, sex offenders released from prison now often end up in homeless shelters, where it is difficult to track them, and a range of potential victims sleep nearby.
    In a recent review of 77 Level 3 sex offenders -- the category the state uses to define those with a high risk of committing sex crimes again -- who list addresses in Boston on the state's online registry, the Globe found that 65 percent reported they were living at homeless shelters.
    Level 3 sex offenders are required by law to register their addresses with police.
    City and state officials, police, and homeless advocates say the system meant to ease the transition from prison is broken.
    They say the glut of sex offenders listing shelters as their address raises questions about whether they have anywhere else to go, whether they are more likely to commit additional sex crimes, and whether they list shelters as their address to evade registration.
    "This is a critical issue of grave concern," said Jim Greene , director of the city's Emergency Shelter Commission. "Large, crowded homeless shelters are a militantly anti therapeutic milieu for people with mental health or other behavior problems. They're just not a place for a Level 3 sex offender to reintegrate into society."
  • More on the tragic moral panic of "repressed memories" that we got hysterical over and sentenced people to prison a couple of decades back:
    Recovered memories are inherently tricky to validate for several reasons, most notably because the people who hold them are thoroughly convinced of their authenticity. Therefore, to maneuver around this obstacle Geraerts and her colleagues attempted to corroborate the memories through outside sources.
    The researchers recruited a sample of people who reported being sexually abused as children and divided them based on how they remembered the event. The memories were categorized as either "spontaneously recovered" (the participant had forgotten and then spontaneously recalled the abuse outside of therapy, without any prompting), "recovered in therapy" (the participant had recovered the abuse during therapy, prompted by suggestion) or "continuous" (the participant had always been able to recall the abuse).
    Once all of the information was gathered, interviewers, who were blind to the type of abuse memory, queried other people who could confirm or refute the abuse events (other people who heard about the abuse soon after it occurred, other people who reported also having been abused by the same perpetrator, or people who admitted having committed the abuse him/herself).
    The results, published in the July issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, showed that, overall, spontaneously recovered memories were corroborated about as often (37% of the time) as continuous memories (45%). Thus, abuse memories that are spontaneously recovered may indeed be just as accurate as memories that have persisted since the time the incident took place. Interestingly, memories that were recovered in therapy could not be corroborated at all.
    Although the absence of confirmation that the abuse had happened does not imply that the memory is false, the findings of this study show that memories recovered in therapy should be viewed with a cautious eye, as "the therapy context often involves an explicit effort to unearth forgotten memories and thereby raises the opportunity for suggestion."
  • Stateline does a too quick but generally decent overview of the ways states are trying to deal with their prison problems and the ways they drain budgets of anything else worth having. Grits for Breakfast is right that these numbers don’t tell the whole story of costs. Many states, like TX and OK, have lower costs than others because of steep budget cuts in recent years, with impacts on programming and promising long term needs for more prison building in the future. Still, good of Stateline to keep a focus on this situation.
  • A MI advocacy group says that "If you're mentally ill, break the law and end up in your local county jail, chances are you'll not only be unable to get the mental health services guaranteed by Michigan law, but even the state's watchdog system won't be able to help you." Some overview but the best part, for anyone interested, is the set of rec's at the end of the article.
  • Finally, we started with truly reprehensible people so let's end with an upbeat story. This is a great example of the kind of story I was talking about the other day, about rehab programs and the people successful in them that is needed to begin to get the idea that these programs stop crime, not just warehouse it until it can be released again. This time, a WA program and a nice tale of a woman who made it through. Her name should be on our lips every time we argue for programs that stop crime.

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