Tuesday, July 10, 2007

News and Blogs Together, Tuesday, July 10, 2007

  • On the heels of yesterday’s news about nalmafene, a drug that lessens cravings among problem drinkers (although its placebo did almost as well), comes this news about another drug, varenicline, which may do the same thing, as it already is with cigarette smokers. I’m not up as much as I should be on the sentences that drug court types are giving out these days, so does anyone know whether/how much judges are starting to turn to these pharmaceutical remedies? Or do the drug companies need to get their former college cheerleader salespeople hitting more courthouse steps?
  • Speaking of neuropsychopharmacology, and we were, a couple of interesting posts at Mind Hacks. This one alerts us to a massive new compendium available online on the latest research on the topic. As the Hackers say, “It's an incredibly important science, not only for the purpose of developing new treatments, but also for understanding how any drug (be it aspirin, cocaine or caffeine) has its effect.” And the other one links to a Time article on addiction and its “disease” aspects. The article apparently does do what so many don’t, though, that is, note the social context impact of substance consumption on its subsequent effect on the body and mind, a point we’ve been making here from the “cult of pharmacology” perspective. Good links, good post, good reading.
  • WV and NH today’s states in the news trying to figure out whether to build more beds or figure out alternatives. Women are the problem in NH, everybody in WV. (CA continues to have probs with all as well, but this story will get you details on their female inmate crowding).
  • At first glance this story on the questions developing on who actually owns genetic information (the individual? The individual and the family? Who all gets included in “family”?) may seem irrelevant to our concerns here, but think again as we get into the whole TECHNOCORRECTIONS field and the use of DNA, MRIs, FTEs, etc. in crime control and offender risk assessment and treatment. It’s something we need to be paying a lot more attention to. (Okay, yeah, I just threw the FTE one in there.)
  • While visiting TECHNO, more testosterone = more violence? Not necessarily, apparently. More dominance in social relations, yeah, but not necessarily through or leading to violence. If anything, it’s more violence = more testosterone. The most interesting points? Experiments showed that bumping an insulting a Southerner caused a more aggressive and testosterone-increasing reaction than bumping a Yankee and that one sure way to increase testosterone levels in any male? Put a gun in his hands.
  • Let me second Doug Berman’s rec of a couple of Grits for Breakfast posts, this one on the serious limits of GPS as a technocorrections tracking system and this one on the importance of getting your risk assessment of sex offenders right. On the latter, it’s not just that you can waste resources on programs for low risk offenders who don’t need them. As folks in the field know, with low risk offenders, the research shows that treatment may actually make them worse by associating them with higher risks and by the labeling that occurs. Grits scores again.
  • Real Cost of Prisons catches this story from Britain on the use of private prisons there. Good overview. Key quote: “An even bigger concern is the effect private prisons may have on criminal justice policy. For one thing, private jailers are paid by the prisoner. This gives them an incentive to pack in as many inmates as possible, encouraging overcrowding. Even more worryingly, the existence of private prisons may actually stop the government from taking steps to reduce Britain's burgeoning prison population. ‘What we'd like to see is a shrinking market,’ says Juliet Lyon, the director of the Prison Reform Trust. ‘But good business practice demands that you grow your market. A vested interest will develop in having a sizable prison population.’” One way to grow that market? Good old-fashioned bribery, as a good friend in AK (Alaska, not Arkansas) tips us in this story about a little fish caught with (and now in) a prison problem in a giant legislative scandal going on up there.
  • Finally, amidst an interesting post on credit card “skimming” at Prevention Works, there’s a bit about a device that can be used to do your credit card paying at restaurants at your table, rather than leaving your card unobserved in the hands of restaurant types who are apparently responsible for 70% of the “skimming.” Sounds like a good idea, already used in Europe. The things you can learn from blogs, huh?

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