Thursday, July 26, 2007

News of the Day, Thursday, July 26, 2007

  • As the triple murder in CT leads folks there and elsewhere to reexamine parole procedures because the killers were parolees with a long line of nonviolent convictions, do you think anyone will reach the obvious conclusions? Incarceration did not work with these guys, we couldn’t keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives, and the likelihood is very strong, given their histories, that the violence they exhibited is in large part due to their prison experience. The best you can say is that prison clearly didn’t mediate or deter any violent tendencies. The prospect of being sent back is likely what kept the killers from just walking away, leaving the victims alive. The thing that always struck me as most tragic in the Polly Klaas case in CA was that her killer was a walking advertisement for how prison seems to enhance and worsen the criminality of far too many offenders. Yet the wise folks there used that case to send even more people there to take away even more of whatever humanity they had and to be released later even more likely to be looking for pretty little girls. Were the CT killers inevitable? Could anything have helped to stop their persistent and habitual criminality? There actually is a good argument for lifetime incarceration for some folks, if you really and truly have exhausted the other options and can do it without running out of bedspace for similar people who need to be locked up. But the surprise perpetrated by these two, who clearly assessed as low risk, isn’t just a warning shot about how well we do assessments. It’s a statement about the effectiveness of prison in stopping later escalated criminality. Unfortunately, I doubt that’s the lesson that will drive the future policy coming from this viciousness, which means, as in CA, we’ll just be dealing with more and more viciousness down the road.
  • Good news. A company in Japan has developed a technique to track individual “ink signatures.” No, not what’s written, but the chem composition of that a counterfeiter’s pen leaves, which is apparently unique enough that we can pinpoint who did the faking much more closely when that trial rolls around.
  • Don’t really plan to go after Lohan the way I sympathized with Hilton (the latter’s born rich, spoiled and shown no added value at all, the other actually has talent and really, really screwed up parents) but this article about her likely corrections sentencing future is really pretty good. Nice quotes about how the “silk-sheet” treatment programs aren’t serious and why she almost has to do some time, although she can afford the kind of defense that prosecutors don’t usually like to run up against in these cases and that most people can’t . . . and end up doing serious time, not Paris time, as a result. And this article extends the extensive critique of these boutique rehab centers which undermine public confidence in the good and effective work that serious rehab folks do.
  • If you can’t get the people in the homes growing their pot, go after the landlords. At least that’s the DEA’s new strategy. (Check out the angry mob in the picture with the article. The DEA really is taking on ATF dimensions with some folks.)
  • Complete guide to the “delayed entry program” here, agreeing to plea deals to probation on weak cases confident that a P&P agent will find something less than “beyond a reasonable doubt” to revoke the guy on pretty quickly. (h/t Real Cost of Prisons)
  • Good article out of WI demonstrating that effective action on crime and corr sent can happen not just on the state or fed level but on the local level with jails and effective community partnerships.
  • Not happening here, but Britain is taking a serious look at the problem of using snitches as chief witnesses in their criminal trials. Law enforcement denies that the ambiguous morality and outright corruption historically associated with the practice actually happen, but people on Planet Reality want to make sure abuse is limited as much as possible. (h/t Grits for Breakfast. BTW, I’ve been looking forward to the day when I meet Grits for Breakfast face to face and shake his hand, but, after this post, I’m not so sure.)


Gideon said...

If you're interested, my post about the CT triple homicides and what they really mean for the parole system and rehabilitation in prisons has sparked a vigorous debate here

Gritsforbreakfast said...

What can I say? Everybody has to have a hobby. :)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Oh, btw, you said there's not stuff happening here on snitching, and it's certainly not of the same seriousness yet as in Britain, but there WAS a Joint Congressional Subcommittee hearing last week on the topic of snitching (or "grassing" as it's inexplicably called in the UK). It grew out of the Tulia, Hearne and Kathryn Johnston episodes involving Byrne grant funded drug task forces. I had a little writeup and links to testimony from the hearing on Grits, see:

Texas' top narc to tell Congress about snitching

Congress should restrict criminal informant use to prevent wrongful convictions, police corruption

DPS Commander O'Burke: Changing outcome measures improved Texas drug enforcement