Tuesday, August 21, 2007

News of the Day, Tuesday, August 21, 2007

  • Number of deaths in car and cycle accidents tied to alcohol was up by 12 last year, although deaths by vehicle accident went down overall. Statistically weird, more states declined than went up. Good thing we’ve got all those pot users behind bars or we’d have real public safety problems.
  • Think CA’s 53,000 new prison beds are impressive? Try 160 new prisons in Brazil. And, oh, yeah, there’s some money in their new budget for some cops and some social programs, too.
  • Sense prevailing in OR. Those boys facing sex offender status for slapping girls’ butts in their middle school ended up having charges dropped after restitution and apologies. Which (sh)could have happened in the principal’s office. This all reminds me so much of the pre-school abuse hysteria of the 80s when so many other people were injured by “moral panic” and overzealous prosecutors. And this nation seems to be one of the world’s best at this stuff. Guess being the most highly educated pays off.
  • Not sure if this is sense prevailing or not. They’ve authorized corrections officers to pursue illegal aliens in MA.
  • An interesting nicotine and other addictive substances story out of Science Daily. It gives clues as to why some folks are more susceptible to addiction than others: ". . . rats most likely to self-administer addictive drugs had a particular receptor in the brain that is more responsive than the same receptor in rats least likely to self-administer addictive drugs. This receptor, known as the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), increases excitability within in the brain's reward centers. In the animals that were more likely to take addictive drugs, the effects of these receptors were much stronger, leading to more profound excitation of the cells and pathways associated with reward. Stress, and the associated increases in stress hormones, will promote drug-taking behavior regardless of whether an animal is more or less susceptible, say the researchers. They showed that stress also increases the responses of nAChRs within the brain's reward areas. The conclusion? "This study provides valuable insight into the mechanism of addiction," says McGehee. "It raises the possibility that nicotinic receptors may be important targets for the treatment of multiple addictions, not just nicotine. Unfortunately, blocking these receptors may also interfere with healthy behaviors that depend upon the same brain circuitry. Precisely where these findings will lead drug treatment strategies is unclear, but this work provides insight into the role of nicotinic receptors in the vulnerability to multiple classes of addictive drugs."
  • Speaking of addiction, remember the story on “Internet addiction” I posted on a couple of days back? Here’s a takedown of the entire concept at Mind Hacks.
  • We’ve talked here before about how sometimes the inmates sent to out-of-state prisons are the ones showing good behavior (so where’s the incentive for that if you get sent out?) Turns out that murderers and rapists may be among those with good behavior, and that can aggravate groups in the state receiving the inmates, in this case, folks in IN getting AZ prisoners.
  • Good news in VT. Their prison pops have dropped and they have prisons under capacity. Changes in supervision practice for probation/parole types the major reason stated.
  • Congrats, Grits. TX led the nation in drunken driving fatalities last year. Did you guys ever change that law that you could drive with an open container as long as you weren’t drunk about it?
  • Here’s a prosecution I’ll back 100%. Several state Attorneys General are going after ads for “caffeinated beer.”
  • You knew it had to happen. CT’s apparently looking at CA’s “success” with “Three Strikes” as a way to react to that triple murder a few weeks back. When CA’s own law wouldn’t have affected the murderers. Not crazy enough for you? A legislator in CT is promising to figure out a way that it could have affected them, which would count all counts in one trial toward the three strikes. Start socking away all your extra cash for those prisons, CT taxpayers, and ignoring the even better public safety opportunities that are known and available.
  • And almost as if to mock CT, just file this under “ya think????” : “A growing number of California voters are becoming pessimistic about the direction the state is heading, according to a statewide poll released Saturday that also shows only a third of the electorate approves of the way lawmakers are doing their job.” But keep passing those initiatives like “Three Strikes” to send more folks to prison while you’re at it, you guys. You have no responsibility at all for where you are now.
  • Finally, we hear the stories of the innocent people sent to prison, but we rarely hear the stories of the (usually) wives who manage to keep the family together and eventually find their faith in their spouses formally verified. This story, though, is an exception and a nice way to finish off a lengthy post. Dare you not to get a warm feeling, and want to hammer some “law enforcement” folks.

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