Monday, July 16, 2007

Around the Blogs, Monday, July 16, 2007

  • Corey Rayburn Yung makes a great point at Sex Crimes Blog regarding the ability of the DA in the Genarlow Wilson case to happily and maliciously distribute copies of the video showing Wilson’s carnal knowledge of another teen. Under the Adam Walsh Act, defense is limited to viewing the child porn in question for fear of “revictimizing” the victim but the DA in GA believes that he can use it to sway votes in the legislature and in public opinion. The levels of hypocrisy are rarely on better display.
  • While talking about BS and intellectual dishonesty, via Psychology and Crime News, we hear of research that thoroughly debunks the “research” of the Chicago Police Department, independently done by one of their own, that claimed to discredit criticisms of their eyewitness identification procedures that had led to many of the convictions blown away by the Innocence Project in IL. One problem with moving to the “evidence-based” world is that nothing removes the politics or the incentives for dishonesty that leads to these bogus “studies” whose sole purpose is to be a counterweight to legit science. We need to be aware of this crap and willing to take it on aggressively if we want reality to have any say in what we do at all.
  • Along a similar line, research found by Deception Blog indicates that accusatory interrogation styles are not as good at soliciting info or uncovering liars as their proponents may think. An info-gathering style with close examination of the resulting transcript is the best way apparently to figure out when what someone in interrogation is saying is false. But, really, how much fun is that?
  • Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy notes an article in an OH paper on the impact of incarceration on the state’s budget and says that it seems inevitable that more states will have to look at alternatives. This supports the arguments we always make here (but do not necessarily endorse) for the move toward TECHNOCORRECTIONS, the use of increased surveillance tech, pharmaceuticals, and bioengineering to alter offender behavior. To the extent those means can be portrayed as both effective and punitive (whether they are demonstrated so in reality or not), their much lower costs will make them tempting to the law-and-order folks and to people concerned about the implications but desperate for funding for other vital needs as well. Whether the private prison folks, who need crime to continue to succeed, will be on board will depend on the partnerships they form with the TECHNO companies. A key point will be whether anybody attaches requirements for evaluation and feedback of effectiveness to these things and, even if they do, if anyone listens. The most important thing, as this similar article from MI shows, dealing with the people who insist that public safety is compromised when you don’t send offenders to Crime College Prison and keep them there longer than they might otherwise go. Again, the evidence for that for most offenders is not just weak, it’s been proven wrong, but it dominates the discussion and will likely kill any changes Doug might see unless directly confronted.
  • If you’ve ever been interested in exactly how the bioengineering part of TECHNO works, the actual monkeying (technical term) with the genes, Mind Hacks has a good post here that’s readable and understandable. Just glad I’m not the one doing it.
  • Pam Clifton has a lot of good stuff up at Think Outside the Cage, including this post on correctional industries in CO, a community reentry program in Denver, and a depressing story of yet another person in prison because of the self-righteous obstinacy of the people who could put him there and refuse to listen to evidence that he’s innocent.
  • Real Cost of Prisons has a sad catch on how CA’s governor keeps taking two steps back for every step forward in dealing with public safety in the state, in this case recommending cutting a demonstrated effective program for keeping the mentally ill from being homeless. After all, there’ll be all those new prison beds. Good plan.

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