Wednesday, September 12, 2007

News of the Day, Wednesday, September 12, 2007

  • Interesting analysis of Project Ceasefire in KC, the high recidivism rates of the weapons offenders, caught on tech violations. Nice point that the hardline conditions of their incarceration give the offenders no incentive to participate in in-prison treatment programs. Then we’re amazed when they screw up when they do get out. Would have liked to have seen the other numbers the reporter refers to but doesn’t quote when he says that “The recidivism numbers are substantially higher than those posted by federal offenders in general. Even the worst criminal defendants in the federal justice system are more likely to finish probation successfully than Project Ceasefire defendants, data show.” Did he actually see the data or was he told this? Of course, they’re worse than general offenders. How were the “worst criminal defendants” defined? Sounds like he just took a sound bite from an official. Still, the overall article is better what you usually find.
  • The horrible triple murder in CT did bring out the knee-jerks and just the jerks, but it’s also touched off a pretty mature analysis of what should be done. The immediate calls were for a CA-style (aka, lunatic) “three strikes” provision which has helped all the wonders that are the CA prison system now. But analyses, like this one by their nonpartisan legislative analysis bureau, has already got people backing off that bazooka approach and considering either more nuanced “three strikes” or investment in an improved assessment system. Neither will guarantee triple murders from happening completely there in the future, but both are better than what most states would do or have done in the face of these tragedies. And it’s nice for once to see neutral, reality-based analysis actually play a role in a state’s deliberations. Is there any way we could make that a virus and spread it around?
  • Scientists have discovered an area of the brain active in self-control and that that area varies among human beings. Do I need to say it, especially to you defense types out there? TECHNOCORRECTIONS alert!!!
  • Here’s one you probably never thought of. IN clinics give addicts methadone they can take home. Do addicts in KY or OH, where treatment is apparently less available, come to KY to get the drug? Should IN be paying for this, even if it proves effective for their own addicts? Don’t worry. Legislators are involved now so things are bound to get better.
  • On the subject of addictions, looks like a common amino acid you can get at a health food store may help cut the urge to gamble, which is driven by neurochemicals that also may affect other addictions. Judges ordering offenders to GNC in the future? Do I have any money for a stock purchase? (And, concerning another area of frequent substance abuse, turns out that chocolate is NOT addictive, just a craving (which might apply to drugs as well?). Hearts resume beating across America.)
  • MI may be looking at a $1.7b. (yes, billion) shortfall in its coming budget, and is talking about cutting state troopers and public health inspections. But those prisons will maintain “public safety.” (And it looks like all state funding for higher ed. Man, wouldn’t you feel safe in a state where poor kids can’t afford the gigantic tuition that’s required? Gotta be a good place to live!!)
  • If you ever want a good example of “dueling data,” check out the battle going on in ME between the gov who wants to consolidate state jails into the state prison system and the sheriffs who don’t. The gov used DOC numbers to justify the move in terms of cost savings, but now it turns out they may have used bad proxies. The sheriffs are going to do their own study which, by gosh, just might turn out to say that closing their jails would be a bad idea. Which old saying applies best here, the one about how you’ll never convince someone of something his salary depends on him not believing or the one about how for every Ph.D., there’s an equal and opposite Ph.D.?

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