Monday, July 02, 2007

Around the Blogs, Monday, July 2, 2007

  • Via Real Cost of Prisons, this should help our foreign tourism. A New Zealand paper has a long article on the US prison buildup and calls it a “gulag.” Poor CA is the main target but there’s enough to go around. I’m betting there are some New Zealanders with some cash to invest looking up CCA, Geo, Avalon and others on the ‘Net today. That should make up for some of the lost visitors’ money.
  • blackprof has a thoughtful post up on alcohol, rape, and “multi-partner sexual encounters” among college students that challenges us to come up with better legal ways to deal with the aftermaths.
  • Speaking of paying attention to important matters, good advice, as usual, from Prevention Works, this time on campus crime, complete with resources, as usual.
  • Pam Clifton at Think Outside the Cage has the details of yet another absurdity in the Genarlow Wilson case in GA. The DA there has generously offered him a plea deal for 15 years, 5 in and 10 out, for an offense that is now a misdemeanor, thanks to the uproar over the original sentence of 20 years. At this point you have to believe that that office, entrenched in their “righteousness” and inability to admit making a mistake, has just given up seriously thinking or caring about justice or what this does long-term for respect and legitimacy of the law.
  • Grits for Breakfast notes a speech applying chaos theory to criminal justice that caught his attention. I concur. As we’ve noted here regularly, particularly in some of the books reviewed, the proper paradigm for us as practitioners and academics is one of a nonlinear world with tipping points, emergent events, and predictably unpredictable patterns. The model comes from the “hard” sciences (which limit study to just a few controllable variables rather than what we have to work with with people and then call themselves “hard”), so it’s understandable that it’s only now starting to work its way into crim just study. Once some bright young academic bridges the gap and some bright young practitioner starts seeing applications, things will get better in both our understanding and our results. But for now, it is good to know that people are starting to pay attention.
  • Speaking of Grits, I know he’s talked about this before, but what’s his reaction to this story on the semi-reform of the sex offender classification system in TX? It sounds like they’ve gone about a third of the way needed. Is that close?
  • Day 12 of the NO POSTS FROM STEPHEN SMITH watch over at Sex Crime Defender.
  • Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy found a couple of interesting stories on ineffective state corr sent policies. This one details how our insistence, despite no supporting evidence, on punishing for committing a crime within a half-universe of anything “sacred” like schools, parks, churches, etc., means that a low-level drug offender can get hit with multiple convictions for one single offense, further loading our cells and coincidentally (?) with minorities more likely to be in these areas. The other one is one of many over the weekend highlighting a CA DOC report on the greater cost-effectiveness for the state to move low-risk offenders out of cells and into alternative punishments. The problem for CA, though, as for most states, is as Carole D’Elia and the Little Hoover Commission so well put it in their report several months ago—CA and all of us have all the reports we need. We don’t need anymore. Action, that’s what’s needed, and there’s frankly no reason to believe this report will get any more of that than the last Commission report did. Note the quote at the end from their enlightened chair of the Select Committee on Prison Construction and Operations: "We are already way too generous with incentives.”

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