Friday, July 27, 2007

News and Blogs Together, Friday, July 27, 2007

  • The good folks at Prevention Works are reminding us that August 7 is National Night Out, the annual event at which community express their united efforts to provide neighborhood safety. Self-governance is the best corrections sentencing policy, both for would-be offenders who control themselves and for the societies that take responsibility for themselves without relying on others to stop transgressors. Of course, PW has links to all the details so get yourself prepared and good luck.
  • Slate posted a piece by an American Enterprise Institute scholar and a colleague denigrating the idea that addiction is a disease that’s going around now. I’ve made clear, I think, that I’m suspicious of any “The Devil Made Me Do It” explanation of drug use that both users and enforcers use to explain away their reactions, but I’m also suspicious of ideological agendas being pushed as “science.” The folks at Mind Hacks have a really good response to the Slate article if you’re interested. I’d just note that this is again an area where our narratives drive our policies. People who see humans as basically incorrigible (except themselves oddly) go for individual responsibility and punishment while people who see humans as basically improvable end up seeing more environmental and community obstacles to self-optimizing. Practically every policy position they take ends up being grounded in these stories, unless they have actual experience and then you may get some nuance and tuning into the gray world of Planet Reality. I’m not ready to call “addiction” a disease. I’m actually still waiting for the medical community to set out what an “addiction” is (are gamblers addicted? Sex fiends? Video gamers? Harry Potter readers?). Anyone asserting certainty before that’s complete is someone to keep a sharp eye out for.
  • Relatedly, new evidence that a drug called N-acetylcysteine works to reduce the cravings associated with cocaine use (notice I didn’t say “addiction”). The drug apparently has been used previously as a mucus-dissolver. I think I just figured out how it works to stop ingestion . . . of anything.
  • So is malt liquor the true gateway drug? Oh, wait. It can’t be. It’s legal.
  • Is it wrong that I’m not going to mention Nicole Ritchie’s 90-hour sentence for her DUI?
  • AFTER already having major problems that received admittedly inadequate supervision and AFTER already agreeing to send more inmates to private facilities in TX, the ID DOC chief decides to go look at the new contracted facilities. Right.
  • From Science Daily, “A new study reveals that girls in juvenile detention centers face surprisingly different psychological issues than average teen girls and, in some ways, more severe problems than incarcerated boys. In a four-state survey, researchers found that girls are twice as likely as boys to be aggressive, and just as likely as boys to have problems with alcohol or drug use.”
  • This NY Times article points to an ongoing problem for reentry plans, making sure offenders qualifying for fed benefits get them in time when they leave prison so they don’t return. An important issue, good to see it getting attention from both the media and the policymakers.
  • Man, first Grits and now Berman. I’d fear for where the corr sent blogs may be going except I seem to be going blind.

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