Monday, September 24, 2007

News of the Day, Monday, September 24, 2007

  • Biggest news—violent crime up 1.9% last year, mainly murders, robberies, and arsons, getting close to back to 2002 levels before the steep crime drop occurred. These, by definition, can’t be the guys who went in for violent crimes over the last 5 years or so because we’ve sent them away for longer and forced them to serve more time, either through 85% laws or highly restricted parole (except in CT apparently). These are guys who, if reoffending, more likely went in as nonviolent and came out otherwise (and yes, I know some nonviolent have violents, I can even give you numbers) or, more likely, guys who really don’t know or care about those laws because they’ve deduced, clever as they are, that their odds of getting caught, with the general lack of resources in law enforcement compared to prisons, aren’t that high. Probably haven’t been that high . . . up until now. In either case, it’s clearer than ever before that filling our prisons is not going to stop violent crime. We need to put violent guys away but stop turning nonviolent ones into violent, and we’ve got to funnel our scarce resources into the front end, into juv justice and cops and specialty courts and prevention efforts, and into back end measures that have much better demonstrated payoff on reduced crime, like substance abuse treatment, than prison has been shown to have. Let’s find the people who just can’t be out or they’ll hurt people and make sure they’re the ones locked away in the space we can afford. If they’re coming out, then we can’t keep messing up like this. Reentry efforts have to be intensified, and release supervision has to be adequately funded. Of course, there’s always the future of TECHNOCORRECTIONS. That’ll be much better.
  • I’ve traveled along the Canadian border before and often wondered this myself. What if all the traffic across the border--immigrants, terrorists, drugs--doesn’t conveniently go through our checkpoints?
  • CT really does seem to have problems with its parole screening process, and the gov there has enforced her own priority assessment criterion—violent offenders don’t get parole.
  • If you missed the “60 Minutes” piece on pot shops in CA, you can get a written version as well as the original here.
  • AZ is bringing in $8 m. in fed dollars to help with meth treatment programs.
  • Speaking of drug treatment, Naltrexone has been shown to have some moderate impact on alcohol dependence, but some doctors think that, given the different ways drugs affect people, it may have even more benefit for those more predisposed toward it (duh), such as those with a family history of dependence. Initial studies are indicating they’re right.
  • Mayor of Powell, WY, decided to try out ankle bracelets for four days. Was able to water ski (!!) but: "I tell you what," Mangold told the paper, "I don't want to be a criminal and have to wear one of those." I’d say that’s a good example for other policymakers, but I’m not sure how many would want their whereabouts tracked for 96 straight hours. (h/t
  • Meanwhile, AK (Alaska, not Arkansas) is adding bedspace, needing 2000 more beds in 5 years. Won’t that pretty much mean, like, everyone living in AK? (Just kidding, Teri.)
  • State reactions in AL (Alabama, not Alaska) to the duel between the good prosecutors there and the bad one who sits in the AG chair. Prosecutor actually does the right thing, refuses to seek death for a murder accomplice who didn’t actually pull the trigger since the triggerman can’t be executed. Wants proportionality in punishments, imagine that. AG says that it would be justice for the offender’s family to suffer the government’s killing of a loved one who didn’t end anyone’s life while the murderer lives. Steps in to reverse the DA’s decision, brings on deluge of “who’s in control here?” State DA association supports their own. Conclusion of those interviewed for the story: Politics, just politics. Shocker. The thing is, it wasn't politics until the AG stuck his nose in. Wonder who's running for governor there someday?
  • We tend to forget that not only do prison guards have to get by on low pay (in most states) and put up with crap none of the rest of us could stand, but occasionally they pay the ultimate price. I’ve worked with enough of these guys now to know how hard the job is and how great the loss when one goes down. Take a moment, if you have time.

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