Monday, December 31, 2007

Jamie Lynn Spears Part OMIGOD

The real father is a NICKELODEON producer? It's not only statutory rape, it's yucky, too.

Happy New Year.

Here's to a Happy New Year

And in the words of the immortal Sgt. Phil Esterhaus: "Let's be careful out there."

As You Consider New Year's Resolutions

Four very good posts on the likely do-ability of dealing with climate change here, here, here, and here. They’ll get you up to date (I hope you’re wearing your Depends) on what the thinking is right now. The key point for us here in corrections sentencing is, again, that no one in that field is spending any time at all thinking through the ramifications of the policy and fiscal changes that will occur on state and local government spending capacities. It’s not surprising that “hard” science guys would be clueless, but one of the reports referred to specifically looks at “social” impacts without apparently factoring things like corr sent. (Remember when reading the Romm piece that one of his solutions, mentioned a couple of months ago, was just for everyone to change out the cars they drive. Just like that.) It’s impossible to read the outlines of what’s expected and not see impressive change just down the road for all areas of social policy. It’s especially impossible when what’s down the road for corrections sentencing is scary for those who would see even if the status quo roughly holds. The people who insist we can keep blindly throwing money at our crime and victimization problems because it makes us feel better when we do are going to have the hardest time, but all of us will be swept up on this. It’s time we all started talking seriously about this, with the “hard” science guys and with ourselves.

[And when you’re done with them and have changed clothes, you might want to gander at this:

Why the era of cheap food is over

Think we should be putting some serious thought in those New Year's Resolutions???]

Is Lolita Ever to Blame, Too?

Okay, I have a really hard time with two guys being sent to prison for having sex with a 16-teen-year old who actually researches (but gets wrong) that she’s old enough to consent to do it.

A 16-year-old girl whose sexual activity already landed one man in legal trouble now has a second partner facing a tentative sex-assault charge.

The girl's mother told police last week about the more recent alleged assault involving a 19-year-old Fond du Lac man, according to a police report.

The girl said she had consensual sex with him Dec. 16 in his Fond du Lac apartment, the report said.

She told investigators she thought she could legally have sex with him because she researched the matter following the previous incident and thought she could give consent to the man, the report said.

She said she studied the legalities of the situation after she had sex earlier this year with a Mayville man, the report said. That man, now 20, faces a charge of second-degree sexual assault of a child.

Police said they would refer to the district attorney's office a charge of sexual intercourse with a child 16 or older for the 19-year-old Fond du Lac man.

Reentry in AZ

Good reentry article from AZ where they’re trying some interesting new things.

In Arizona and across the country, a burgeoning number of people are being released from prison each year, the by-product of a 40-year trend of increased incarceration. In 2006, one in every 284 Americans was on parole. Nationwide, parole entries have crept up in every year except one since 2000. In Arizona, the number of felons on parole, called community supervision in this state, has more than doubled in the past 16 years. Arizona inmates typically serve 85 percent of their sentence behind bars and 15 percent on community supervision.

An Arizona Republic analysis of nearly 5,000 convicts on community supervision found they are living in virtually every Valley ZIP code, from the wealthiest in Paradise Valley to the poorest in central Phoenix.

With that come new efforts to help them become productive members of society. In Arizona, money now is being deducted from inmate wages to fund transition programs for certain drug offenders. Prison officials also are overhauling pre-release preparation and have launched a pilot program to better ease the transition for at least some of those coming out of prison. The programs already are showing promise, with early recidivism rates lower than state and national averages.

"Focusing on the sentence alone does not give our state all of the protection it deserves," said Dora Schriro, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections. "The sentence is a finite period of time, and then it's over. And when it's over, they come home. The question we should ask is: How do we want them? You don't just want them not committing new crimes. You want them civil and productive."
Corrections Director Schriro has been working for four years to transform Arizona prisons into a "parallel universe" where inmates engage full time in activities that mirror the outside world. Schriro said the goal is to make inmates successful "because we want the community to be safe.

"Re-entry preparation and support is part of that, and it starts with education, vocational training and substance-abuse counseling the moment a person is incarcerated.

Three initiatives show early signs of success:

• Level 1 beds for minimum-security inmates within two years of release have been opened at the Perryville, Tucson and Douglas prisons. Inmates who have earned their GEDs and completed work-based education and job training work full time during the days, then spend their evenings planning their transitions back to the community and taking classes on topics such as cultural diversity, parenting skills and conflict resolution. During fiscal 2006 and 2007, 1,588 men and women completed the program. Only 22, about 1.4 percent, have returned to prison with new felony charges. That is a dramatic decrease from the state's overall recidivism rate: 16.2 percent of inmates return to custody with a new felony conviction within two years of release. By the third year, the recidivism rate is nearly one in four. Nationwide, the recidivism rate for parolees was 16 percent in 2006.

• The Fast Track program, begun in September 2006, is geared toward minimum-custody inmates sentenced to fewer than six months in prison. The Fast Track units at Perryville and Florence immediately focus on discharge planning and try to instill "life-coping, get-along skills."

There also is a push to get a GED.

Arvizu, who is on his fourth stint in prison, said the small yard, individual attention from counselors and high expectations have made a difference.

No full-scale evaluation done yet apparently, but this kind of detail points toward a good one down the road. Likely to prove success to boot.

(h/t Crime and Justice News)

The Danger of Gotcha

Made2Measure has a cautionary post up on the value but dangers of performance measurement from an organizational perspective, in this case how courts can be whacked for data taken out of context or put forward with an incentive to improve. One of the very biggest problems for performance-based system is the fear, too often legit, as this post shows, that honest and transparent data, when revealing problems, will lead to getting hammered, not being offered assistance and resources to improve. If in corr sent we ever get to the point of identifying which sentences are effective or not, will the judges and prosecutors responsible for the ineffective ones look forward to cooperating with that system? Nice to have the advice of someone who’s already thought it through.


I’m always talking about how our unbalanced (in many ways) approach to criminal justice funding and priorities ends up robbing Peter to pay Paul and harming the public we say we’re protecting. Here’s an excellent example from Stateline.

Law enforcement officials across the country are lambasting the federal spending plan approved by President Bush on Dec. 26, warning that a 67-percent decrease in funding for targeted state and local criminal justice initiatives imperils public safety.

The $555 billion compromise appropriations bill for fiscal 2008, which Bush signed after a months-long standoff with Democratic congressional leaders over spending priorities, cuts to roughly $170 million — from $520 million last year — the money available to states and localities through the
Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

The grant program, administered by the Department of Justice, helps pay for a host of law enforcement initiatives in states and cities, including drug task forces, anti-gang units and overtime for police officers.
The substantial drop in this year’s federal funding for the grants means “we’ll have to lick our wounds in each state and see how we can survive for a year,” said Jim Kane, executive director of the
Delaware Criminal Justice Council, which distributes the federal funds to localities in that state. Kane, who is no relation to Michael Kane, said law enforcers will have to put “a finger in the dike” until funding increases.

“Let there be no room for doubt, communities everywhere will see the effects of this bill and its cuts to criminal justice funding. A cut to the JAG program is a cut to local law enforcement and victims of crime everywhere,” said David Steingraber, president of the
National Criminal Justice Association, a network of state officials that is organizing efforts to restore funding next year. “Congress has just made the job of every police officer in this country more difficult.”

TX Top Ten

Grits for Breakfast summarizes the year with a Top Ten state cj stories list for 2007. A quick and dirty (it is criminal justice, after all) compilation of the special wondrousness that is TX criminal justice done in Grits’ inimitable style. Who wants to do CA?

Knowledge Isn't Automatically Used

Our friend Teri Carns from AK (Alaska, not Arkansas) sends along a couple of NY Times articles that we missed yesterday, not directly corrections sentencing but definitely warning us of the limits that still exist even when you move to evidence-based practice, which is something we desperately need to do in corr sent. This article describes the nonsense that the feds are now enforcing against checklisting before surgeries to stop infections, with some crap about how the record-keeping invades patients' privacy and may harm doctors by pointing out which ones aren't washing their hands the way they should (!!!). This article talks about how expertise can stifle innovation by blinkering students and practitioners into set ways of thinking and perceiving, making necessary "outside the box" approaches even harder. (I've always wondered if historians will agree that the massive higher education approach we've adopted in recent generations would prove to be a good thing, compared to the past when innovation and invention in so many areas seemed so much more widespread, precisely because we've truncated our imaginations so badly.) In any case, both articles point out how hard it is to get and keep new practice going, even when it's demonstrably proven to be better. A lesson to be remembered if/when we ever do get evidence-based practice rolling in what we do.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Didn't Really Plan It That Way

I didn't purposely stick all the TECHNOCORRECTIONS stories in a row below. I've just been adding posts through the day as I run across stuff, but doesn't it say something that so many different angles and stories on TECHNO are coming out, gathering momentum? We can keep pretending that our world will continue to be the basic options of probation, prison, mandated treatment with traditional techniques, whatever, and just let all this come on us from outsiders. Or, we can recognize that the status quo is eroding at its base and be prepared to lead and guide where these changes go. One thing we won't be able to do--claim we didn't see it coming.


US News & World Report gets it. Its latest issue plots the best careers of 2008, including those "on the cutting edge" occupations they foresee. Wanna know one of the best? You've been getting advance promos for months here now (note the bolding after the heading, which I added):

The dawn of clinical genomics. Decades of basic research are finally starting to yield clinical implications. Just months ago, it cost $1 million to fully decode a person's genome. Now it's $300,000 and just $1,000 for a partial decoding, which, in itself, indicates whether a person is at increased risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and 15 other conditions. Within a decade, we will probably understand which genes predispose humans to everything from depression to violence, early death to centenarian longevity, retardation to genius. Such discoveries will most likely give rise to ways to prevent or cure our dreaded predispositions and encourage those in which we'd delight. That, in turn, will bring about the reinvention of psychology, education, and, of course, medicine. In the meantime, the unsung heroes who will bring this true revolution to pass will include computational biologists and behavioral geneticists.


There is no quick remedy for what ails the pharmaceutical industry: a tougher environment for drug approvals and a dwindling pipeline of new medications.

But these twin challenges _ evidence that the heyday of blockbuster drug-development is over _ are forcing the industry to ponder big changes in the laboratory. The biggest, analysts say, is likely to be a shift toward finding treatments for patients with rare diseases, or unusual strains of common afflictions.

By focusing on boutique medications, analysts say, drug makers will arouse less scrutiny from regulators, who have become extra sensitive to the potentially fatal side effects of widely prescribed medications for ailments such as arthritis and diabetes. The growing need to market niche treatments is also dictated by the reality of the business, in that there are fewer widespread maladies for which a popular pill doesn't already exist.
Most recent biopharmaceutical breakthroughs have been for drugs to treat smaller patient groups.

Biotech powerhouse Genentech Inc. has successfully developed cancer treatments tailored to patients' specific genetic makeup. Meanwhile, Cambridge, Mass-based Genzyme Corp. has built a multibillion-dollar business around expensive treatments for rare diseases.
Several major pharmaceutical companies are already spending more on innovative biotechnology.

In the last year, Roche Holding Ltd. and Merck separately agreed to pay $1 billion for the rights to research drugs designed to silence genes that trigger certain diseases. The companies are banking on the research yielding personalized medicines with fewer side effects.

Investors still aren't on board for the experimental yet, though. Someone's going to have to step forward from both the drug side and the corrections sentencing side to show that the environment is ripe. Will that window open or not?

Good Drug into Bad Drug

Heroin itself isn't the problem. It's how it turns into morphine in your body. But we solved that problem by making both illegal. But what if there's a drug that turns into GHB, the so-called "date rape" drug? Well, there is. So do we outlaw the legal drug, too, now?

(Actually, the blogger notes that the substance's effects are more like alcohol's than GHB, and also points out that the former is really the "date rape" drug:

GHB is usually described as a 'date rape drug' despite the fact that it is barely used in 'date rapes', unlike alcohol, which is used in the vast majority of cases and is a much better candidate for the 'date rape drug' label.)

But that's okay because alcohol's legal.

Health Issue, Not Corrections Sentencing

Which means a health care solution through pharmaceutical and bioengineered TECHNOCORRECTIONS will resolve much of the entire overincarceration problem. If we can just change our paradigm, write off our sunk costs, create a new infrastructure, and tame the egos of the substance abuse warriors. Piece of cake.

Scientists have for the first time identified brain sites that fire up more when people make impulsive decisions. In a study comparing brain activity of sober alcoholics and non-addicted people making financial decisions, the group of sober alcoholics showed significantly more "impulsive" neural activity.

The researchers also discovered that a specific gene mutation boosted activity in these brain regions when people made impulsive choices. The mutation was already known to reduce brain levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The newly found link involving the gene, impulsive behavior and brain activity suggests that raising dopamine levels may be an effective treatment for addiction, the scientists say.
"Our data suggest there may be a cognitive difference in people with addictions," Boettiger said. "Their brains may not fully process the long-term consequences of their choices. They may compute information less efficiently."

"What's exciting about this study is that it suggests a new approach to therapy. We might prescribe medications, such as those used to treat Parkinson's or early Alzheimer's disease, or tailor cognitive therapy to improve executive function" she added.

"I am very excited about these results because of their clinical implications," Fields said. "The genetic findings raise the hopeful possibility that treatments aimed at raising dopamine levels could be effective treatments for some individuals with addictive disorders."
"Our data suggest there may be a cognitive difference in people with addictions," Boettiger said. "Their brains may not fully process the long-term consequences of their choices. They may compute information less efficiently."

"What's exciting about this study is that it suggests a new approach to therapy. We might prescribe medications, such as those used to treat Parkinson's or early Alzheimer's disease, or tailor cognitive therapy to improve executive function" she added.

"I am very excited about these results because of their clinical implications," Fields said. "The genetic findings raise the hopeful possibility that treatments aimed at raising dopamine levels could be effective treatments for some individuals with addictive disorders."
"We have a lot to learn," Boettiger said. "But the data takes a significant step toward being able to identify subtypes of alcoholics, which could help tailor treatments, and may provide earlier intervention for people who are at risk for developing addictions."

The bigger picture, she added, is that her study provides more evidence that addiction is a disease, something even some of her peers don't yet believe.

"It's not unlike chronic diseases, such as diabetes," she said. "There are underlying genetic and other biological factors, but the disease is triggered by the choices people make."

"It wasn't that long ago that we believed schizophrenia was caused by bad mothers and depression wasn't a disease. Hopefully, in 10 years, we'll look back and it will seem silly that we didn't think addiction was a disease, too."

Venality on Display

I don't know if Doug Berman planned it this way or not but he's listed four consecutive pieces of evidence of our current policy malaise and the failure of policymakers to deal with reality with knowledge or courage, with this post on women and the death penalty, OH sex offenders, ongoing crack irresponsibility, and Democrats and the death penalty. Don't eat before you check them out.

More NCJRS Abstracts, December 30, 2007


NCJ 220734
Michael Fischer; Brenda Geiger; Mary Ellen Hughes
Female Recidivists Speak About Their Experience in Drug Court While Engaging in Appreciative Inquiry
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Volume:51 Issue:6 Dated:December 2007 Pages:703 to 722

Female drug-court participants examined current and past experiences to assess their program and envision future program innovations. From these 11 women’s perspectives, the strongest component of the drug court they were enrolled in was being surrounded by many caring people who listened to them and who were genuinely concerned about their progress. These women did not mind the intensive supervision and graduated and immediate sanctions as long as they were imposed fairly by people who sought to educate rather than punish or humiliate them. Essential components of a successful program were seen as wraparound services, resources, and referrals, treatment facilities that accepted children, and individualized treatment plans. Despite the small and selected sample of women who engaged in this appreciative inquiry in one drug court in Northern California, this research expands one’s knowledge in the field by showing the benefits of a drug-court program from female participants’ perspective. The study shows the invaluable data obtained by conducting qualitative evaluations of drug-court programs. References

NCJ 220663
David Lyon
Surveillance, Security and Social Sorting: Emerging Research Priorities
International Criminal Justice Review
Volume:17 Issue:3 Dated:September 2007 Pages:161 to 170

This article focuses on investigating the surveillance practices and processes that are involved in national security initiatives while describing them in a broader context of human security in which liberty and privacy are significant. The problems surrounding the desire to control immigration, to eliminate terrorism, and to combat international organized crime have consequences that appear to cross-cut older social and regional divisions and raise questions about citizenship, human rights, and civil liberties. This article addresses two aspects of post-9/11 security and surveillance: proliferation of new airport security measures and the emergence of the globalized identification (ID). Analysis of biometric passports, national ID systems, airport screening, border checkpoints, and international policing protocols revealed certain social practices that occurred beyond as well as within nation-states, and prompted questions about social movements and citizenship that transcend conventional administrative and academic boundaries. The focus of the article investigates the surveillance practices and processes that are involved in national security initiatives, and places them in a broader context of human security in which freedom of movement and responsible uses of personal data are particularly significant. New remote networking for police cooperation across national borders in relation to national security is a fast-growing trend in several global regions. Sharing information is seen as key to the possibility of concerted action. Security requirements have been raised to a high level of priority in nations around the world following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Among other outcomes, the resulting increase in the routine surveillance of citizens, and especially of travelers, raises questions of sociological interest regarding the intensified means of technology-dependent governance common to many countries. The study includes matters of governance, human rights, and civil liberties in a world where certain cultural aspects are rapidly transcending specific territorial boundaries in a world that consists of things fundamentally in motion using computer networks while creating new social spaces and practices that go beyond conventional sociological analysis. Notes, references

What's Missing?

Notice any state and local budget-eating topic missing from this lament by two of our "learned statesmen" about where the country is right now? Bridges and roads underfunded? Check. Horrible fiscal policies? Check. "Rebuilding our physical and human capital"? Check. The elephant in the middle of the room that sucks down all the dollars to fix those things? Uh . . . . Two more clueless, self-impressed politicians who'll issue a report, hold a news conference, and wonder why nothing's changed?


Not Thinking That

this is going to help CA a whole lot as it tries to avoid fed intervention into its prison health care system.

Don't You Just Hate When This Happens?

A burglary suspect who gave a false home address to police after his arrest didn't count on one thing _ getting robbed himself.

Police say 22-year-old Daniel Cabral was arrested Wednesday and charged with burglarizing a University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth building. He was arraigned and released until his next court date.

Hours later, he was robbed at gunpoint while walking home from a bar. He reported the robbery to police, this time giving them his real address instead of the phony address he reported earlier in the day, according to authorities.

Police arrested two suspects and a man accused of being an accomplice after the fact. They also obtained a search warrant for Cabral's real address and found computer equipment that had been taken from the UMass building as well as power tools that had been reported missing from a local theater.

Cabral was released on his own recognizance. Police were not sure if he had an attorney, and there was no telephone listing for him in New Bedford.

What a surprise.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

MO Scores Again

Great, great, great AP story on MO's successful and model juvenile justice approach that smart states (both of them) would do well to emulate. It's always interesting to watch the flows of come together in special ways occasionally to make a state a leader in something good, for a while anyway. WI had "The Wisconsin Way" once, VA gets there in management regularly still, WA has its precedent-setting Institute for Public Policy, CA threw its model education system away in the name of lower taxes and locking up everybody and his brother. Right now, there's no state doing more and better than MO, and I'm not just saying that because I went to school there, my son was born there, he went to school there and still lives there, and MU's going to kick Arkansas' butt on New Year's . . . . sorry. Just read the article and you see what I mean. Here are a few teasers:

With prisons around the country filled to bursting, and with states desperate for ways to bring down recidivism rates that rise to 70 and 80 percent, some policymakers are taking a fresh look at treatment-oriented approaches like Missouri's as a way out of America's juvenile justice crisis.

Here, large, prison-style "gladiator schools" have been abandoned in favor of 42 community-based centers spread around the state so that now, even parents of inner-city offenders can easily visit their children and participate in family therapy.

The ratio of staff to kids is low: one-to-five. Wards, referred to as "clients," are grouped in teams of 10, not unlike a scout troop. Barring outbursts, they're rarely separated: They go to classes together, play basketball together, eat together, and bunk in communal "cottages." Evenings, they attend therapy and counseling sessions as a group.

Missouri doesn't set timetables for release; children stay until they demonstrate a fundamental shift in character — a policy that detainees say gives kids an added incentive to take the program seriously.

Those who are let out don't go unwatched: College students or other volunteers who live in the released youths' community track these youths for three years, helping with job placement, therapy referrals, school issues and drug or alcohol treatment.

The results?
_About 8.6 percent of teens who complete Missouri's program are incarcerated in adult prisons within three years of release, according to 2006 figures. (In New York, 75 percent are re-arrested as adults, 42 percent for a violent felony. California's rates are similar.)

_Last year, 7.3 percent of teen offenders released from Missouri's youth facilities were recommitted to juvenile centers for new offenses. Texas, which spends about 20 percent more to keep a child in juvenile corrections, has a recidivism rate that tops 50 percent.

_No Missouri teens have committed suicide while in custody since 1983, when the state began overhauling its system. From 1995 to 1999 alone, at least 110 young people killed themselves in juvenile facilities nationwide, according to figures from the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives.

Does this "law-and-order" state know something others don't?

Hardly, says Mark Steward, who, as director of the state's Division of Youth Services from 1987 to 2005, oversaw the development of what many experts regard as the best juvenile rehabilitation system in America.

"This isn't rocket science," Steward says. "It's about giving young people structure, and love and attention, and not allowing them to hurt themselves or other people. Pretty basic stuff, really. It's just that a lot of these kids haven't gotten the basic stuff."
Many states are trying to bring down high rates of repeat offending by juveniles.

Wisconsin now treats some repeat offenders with mental health counselors in hospitals, instead of corrections officers in jails.

Illinois offers them drug treatment, job placement — or an expedited return to custody.

And Washington state targets kids at risk of becoming its most serious offenders with early, intensive anger-management, drug and family therapy.

Research guided these approaches. One 2006 study, for example, found that anger-management, foster-care treatment and family group therapy cut recidivism drastically among teens, resulting in taxpayer savings up to $78,000 per child. Programs that tried to scare kids into living a clean life were money losers, according to the study, conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Missouri employs similar carrot-and-stick techniques. But it takes rehabilitation one step further by normalizing the environments of children in custody, says Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, a nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif.

"It's a pretty simple concept: The more normal the environment, the more likely these young people will be able to return home and not be sucked into a criminal subculture," he says.
It had tried the traditional approach: From 1887 to 1983, young offenders from truants to attempted murderers were confined either at the Boonville Training School for Boys, or the Chillicothe Training School for Girls.

Boonville warehoused 650 boys, most of them minorities, in grim, two-story brick structures. There was rape and other brutality by guards, and a solitary confinement room atop the facility's administration building known as "The Hole," until judges demanded its closure.

"You had rural, white staff with inner-city kids of color, thrown in together with kids from all across the state who were disconnected from their families and neighborhoods," recalls Steward, the former director of youth services. "It wasn't a terribly successful formula."

Which is why conservatives such as John Ashcroft, the former Missouri senator and U.S. attorney general, and state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Limbaugh, a cousin of radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, joined with liberals such as the late Gov. Mel Carnahan to stick by systemwide reforms initiated in the late 1970s.

"What is remarkable about Missouri's system is that is has been sustained by conservative and liberal governments," says Krisberg, of the national crime and delinquency council. "They've seen that this is not a left-right issue. In many ways, its a commonsense issue."

A common-cents issue, too — since it costs states between $100 and $300 a day to keep a juvenile in so-called "punitive" correctional facilities, according to a 2005 report by the Youth Transition Funders Group, a philanthropy network.

Missouri's per capita cost of its juvenile rehabilitation program is $130 a day.

"The fact is that most kids from punitive states get out, get re-arrested, and get thrown back into correctional facilities," Krisberg says. "What amazes me is that taxpayers in these punitive states put up with such rates of failure."

Miriam Rollin, vice president at Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., with a membership of 3,500 police officials, prosecutors and crime victims, agrees:

"Twenty years ago, people threw up their hands and said, 'We don't know what works.' But now, we actually do know ... We're just not doing it — or not doing enough of it."

We know "what works" adult-wise, too, but most of us are too silly to adopt it. Except MO is taking the lead there, too, with evidence-based policy and data for judges. All it takes is one state to be so overwhelmingly and undeniably successful that even the biggest lunkhead policymakers can't resist. The good money's on MO.

(In the Cotton Bowl, too.)

More NCJRS Abstracts, December 28, 2007


NCJ 220668
Murray Lee
Inventing Fear of Crime: Criminology and the Politics of Anxiety
Willan Publishing

This book examines how fear of crime has been created as a problem, how it has assumed an empirical validity and a social scientific respectability, and how it became normalized as a socio-cultural term. After a historical account, two propositions are made regarding the nature of the fear of crime. First is that crime fear increased as a result of escalating recorded crime rates and general political disorder, or at least the perception of increasing crime. The second proposition suggests that crime fear had always existed but that it was only through the development of new methods of detecting and calculating it, of the evolution of technological and social scientific innovation, that the problem was identified. This set of propositions suggests a historical rupture of monumental proportions. However, both of these propositions or interpretations are suggested to be flawed because the question of “what is fear of crime” remains unanswered. This book has attempted to apply a new approach and subsequently a new set of questions to the issue of crime fear. These questions are (1) through which forms of knowledge or power has fear of crime become an object of social scientific enquiry and criminological concept; (2) how has this discourse of fear of crime subsequently come itself to have power effects; and (3) through which rationalities and mentalities are the power effects of fear of crime able to be exercised and what are the consequences? In the past few years, the difficulty of reducing fear of crime and concerted critical attacks on its legitimacy have seen it become a slightly more marginal concern for criminology. This book asks how and why fear of crime retains this cultural, political, and social scientific popularity despite criticism of its utility. Part one of the book traces the historical emergence of the fear of crime concept, while part two addresses the issue of fear of crime and political rationality, and analyzes fear of crime as a tactic or technique of government. References and index

NCJ 220732
Paul J. McCusker
Issues Regarding the Clinical Use of the Classification of Violence Risk (COVR) Assessment Instrument
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Volume:51 Issue:6 Dated:December 2007 Pages:676 to 685

This article presents the results of a development study and a validation study on the Classification of Violence Risk (COVR) assessment instrument for classifying hospitalized psychiatric patients. The Classification of Violence Risk (COVR) assessment instrument, when applied to a new sample of subjects, was unable to demonstrate predictive power on a par with that shown in its development study. The results of the development study and the validation study reviewed here do provide some evidence that the COVR, when used to assess civilly hospitalized psychiatric patients in the United States, will provide a better estimate of violence risk than would be obtained by simply predicting to base rates. However, it is concluded that until additional research clarifies uncertainty about the instrument, clinicians would do well to be very cautious in utilizing COVR results to make judgments as to violence risk. The MacArthur Study of Mental Disorder and Violence undertook the Herculean task of examining 134 established or proposed risk factors for violence and identifying those factors or groups of factors that would most accurately classify the hospitalized psychiatric patients in the study sample into subgroups representing the patients’ levels of risk for future violence. The explicit goal was to create a risk-assessment scheme for clinicians. Hence, the MacArthur Study produced the COVR. The COVR has been computerized and is now commercially available to clinicians. The developers of the COVR conducted a validation study on a new sample of hospitalized patients from three facilities. This article presents issues related to both the development study and validation study and the clinical use of the COVR assessment instrument. References

NCJ 220733
Hung-En Sung; Linda Richter
Rational Choice and Environmental Deterrence in the Retention of Mandated Drug Abuse Treatment Clients
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Volume:51 Issue:6 Dated:December 2007 Pages:686 to 702

This study proposes a rational choice framework in which treatment retention for drug-abusing offenders is viewed as a decisionmaking process that involves calculation of costs and benefits of remaining in treatment. Results from the analysis corroborate the criminal sanction and employment hypotheses, suggesting that the potential penal costs and the prospect of economic hardships associated with dropping out of residential treatment might be effective deterrents against premature treatment termination. The broader social context in which the treatment of drug-abusing offenders took place mattered; it had a direct impact on clients’ decision to stay or leave treatment. This analysis represents the first step in the exploration of the utility of the rational choice model of retention among criminal justice clients of drug abuse treatment. Previous drug treatment retention research has been limited by a restricted range of explanatory variables. In this study, the analysis of treatment retention is cast within the tradition of a rational choice model and presents three environmental hypotheses that may help explain the potential influence of environmental factors on mandated clients’ treatment experiences. Retention data from 1,984 drug-abusing felons diverted for long-term residential treatment were analyzed to test the 3 hypotheses that criminal sanctions against drug offenses, violence in local drug markets, and lack of legitimate job opportunities act as deterrents against premature termination of treatment. Tables, references

Berman's Serving Up Good Links

Strongly recommend that you head over to Doug Berman's confines today to hit some links to SSRN articles and news hits that include drug war commentary and thoughts on Hobbes, prosecutorial discretion, and (in my mind, still very problematic) costs of crime and why getting to high-risk juvies will have a giant payoff for the adult system. Should keep you busy and well informed through the bowl game commercials.

Friday, December 28, 2007


A three-pound Chihuahua mix named Tink helped police put a fugitive in the clink.

The dog's Christmas Day adventure began when four suspects who were fleeing police crashed a stolen minivan into a hillside in this Sierra foothill town east of Sacramento, and one of them fled.

Tink, a Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix, found him hiding under a neighbor's motor home and chased him into the woods, said Wendy Anderson. The dog belongs to her son.

Her son and husband directed a law enforcement helicopter to where the 20-year-old man was hiding.

"The Chihuahua gave him up," California Highway Patrol officer Jeff Herbert said.

Putting Off Investments

What happens when you party for years on your seed corn, indulging your dramas and pretending the future will always be like the past.

Huge increases in water and sewer bills are on the way in many places as cities and towns try to repair aging pipes and correct artificially low prices.

New York, Detroit, Tampa and Atlanta are among cities facing large rate increases. Many of the nation's 70,000 smaller systems — from Monterey, Calif., to Charleston, W.Va. — are imposing major price hikes, too.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the nation's water and wastewater systems need an investment of up to $1.2 trillion over 20 years. Also, arid states such as Arizona, Texas and Utah, where water costs more to provide, have fast-growing populations.
Many people, however, will see much larger increases because of the quirky pricing policy of water and sewer systems. Already, some communities are getting scalded by price hikes of 50%, 100% or more.

The problem: Many municipal owned systems have treated rate hikes like tax increases and avoided them for years. The Government Accountability Office estimates that 29% of water systems and 41% of sewer systems charge customers less than the cost of the service.

These money-losing systems have no way to finance expensive repairs without delivering a rate shock to customers.

"About the only time customers hear from water systems is when they want increases, and that makes people furious," says Missouri Public Service Commission Chairman Jeff Davis.

Wanna be the policymaker who asks voters to support more funding for public safety and corrections sentencing on top of this? How high will you have to raise the "fear factor" to get them to do it?

New Year's Eve Cheer

Didn't really think you'd get away from this year without at least one more "global warming is going to mess up everything, including corrections sentencing" post, did you? Here's a good one, I promise. It demonstrates historically what's likely to happen as we approach CO2 levels like those that set off one of the big meltoffs. It also shows again what we talk about here when we point out that, because it's nonlinear and because it deals with experience and data that we've never had before in human history, we don't know how to model it. That doesn't mean that the deniers and obstructionists in global warming are any more right than those we have in corrections sentencing. In fact, it means that our models will likely prove to be too optimistic (as they already are). Those of us who have projected prison pops know how much our success in prediction depends on how well the future models the past data we have. If we don't understand the situation and/or our data are inadequate, it's just luck if we come out close in the end. A bad deal when projecting prison bedspace needs, a global nightmare when projecting warming and the drain it will cause on all our other efforts and resources. Like I said--this is another "global warming is going to mess up everything, including corrections sentencing" post.

Happy New Year.

You Can't Beat Me, Yung!

In a shameless attempt to steal my preeminence in all things corr sent and Jamie Lynn Spears, Corey Rayburn Yung has come up with a great link to suggestions that the latest coming Spears progeny really was fathered by a guy old enough to get nailed on statutory rape charges and that the guy they're claiming is the father is getting a nice payoff to pretend paternity and claim the DNA tests, if run, back him up (who would have standing to challenge them?). Is it true? Who knows, as Corey points out, but it sure is fun typing this stuff up.

Native Americans and Meth

We pay way too much attention proportionately to the fed level of corr sent ("the light's better here"), some but not enough to the state level, less to the county and municipal, and virtually none to the tribal nations we have in our midst. But here's a good story on the national effort of tribes to address meth and its harmful impact on the tribal memberships. So you get to learn in a couple of different new areas. No need to thank me.

Good on 'Em . . . Really

A good idea that should spread. Like now.

A handful of Hutchinson prison inmates are helping warm the homeless with old prison blues.

The inmates are recycling used prison clothing to make blankets and have teamed with the Salvation Army in Hutchinson to distribute the thick twin-bed-sized blankets to those in need.

The shirts, pants and blanket-lined jean jackets worn by inmates already are made within the state’s prisons. Now, when the clothes wear out, they’ll get a second life, said Hutchinson Correctional Facility Warden Sam Cline.

“The idea came up after Governor Kathleen Sebelius encouraged all state agencies to recycle whatever they could,” Cline said. “We threw away a lot of fabric.”

The blankets project began earlier this month and has been a learning process, said Chris Merritt, the prison’s business manager and engineer of the project, who also quilts as a hobby.
The first blanket weighed about 40 pounds, Merritt said. Its top and bottom were made of pieced jean material, with two blankets in between.

Now each blanket includes a top made of recycled shirts, a bottom of material from inmate pants and coats — as well as some khaki material from correctional officers’ retired pants — and an old sheet and a recycled blanket in the middle.

The process starts by ripping apart and sorting the old clothing. Some inmates then square up the pieces, while others lay them out in a pattern on the concrete floor of the prison’s receiving warehouse.

The inmates piece together a top and bottom, add decorations, and then sew the blanket together.

The inmates have produced about two blankets a day.

“We have a steady flow of fabric, with 1,800 men here,” Cline said.

More NCJRS Abstracts, December 28, 2007


NCJ 220715
Jennifer L. Boothby; Lorraine Y. Overduin
Attitudes Regarding the Compassionate Release of Terminally Ill Offenders
The Prison Journal
Volume:87 Issue:4 Dated:December 2007 Pages:408 to 415

This study examined college students’ attitudes toward the compassionate release of terminally ill offenders and general attitudes toward prisoners and fear of AIDS. Results suggest that undergraduate students have an overall negative attitude toward compassionate release of offenders. Specifically, students reported only marginal agreement that dying prisoners should be treated with compassion and agreed with statements that community members should be notified if an offender is released to die at home. Also, students were neutral about the provision of medical care to prisoners that is comparable to treatment available to individuals in the community suggesting a lack of support for equal treatment for medically ill prisoners. Fear of AIDS, however, was not associated with negative attitudes toward compassionate release of offenders. The results suggest that undergraduate students have a negative attitude toward both compassionate release of prisoners and prisoners in general. Compassionate release, or medical parole, allows the early release of terminally ill offenders so that they may spend time with loved ones. Such programs have received little attention from researchers. This study examined attitudes of undergraduate students toward compassionate release and factors that affected these attitudes. A total of 163 participants completed questionnaires regarding attitudes toward compassionate release, attitudes toward prisoners, and fear of AIDS. Tables, references

NCJ 220716
Kevin E. O'Grady; Timothy W. Kinlock; Thomas E. Hanlon
Prediction of Violence History in Substance-Abusing Inmates
The Prison Journal
Volume:87 Issue:4 Dated:December 2007 Pages:416 to 433

This study examined the relationship of various developmental factors, drug abuse history, and current adjustment with history of violent criminal activity in 183 drug-abusing inmates. Results extend previous findings on the development and prediction of violent criminality among incarcerated offenders. The results suggest clear differences in the criminal behavior patterns of the three participant groups, with those involved in the most serious types of violence (murder and attempted murder) displaying the most precocious, varied, and frequent crime. In addition, those who had committed murder and/or attempted murder had a disproportionately high tendency to deliberately hurt animals during their formative years. Inmates who had attempted or committed murder committed their first crime, on average, as preadolescents, whereas inmates who had not committed violent crimes committed their first crime, on average, in their midteens. Inmates who attempted or committed murder were raised in families considerably more deviant than families of the other two groups. Lastly, commission of violent crimes is associated with a higher current level of anxiety. Proponents of the criminal career perspective emphasize that there are different dimensions of criminal activity, such as type, onset, participation, frequency, and seriousness and that each dimension may require a separate explanatory model. The purpose of this study of 183 drug-abusing inmates from Baltimore, MD was to determine factors that discriminate among offenders who (1) have no history of violent criminal behavior, (2) have a history of violent criminal behavior but have never attempted or committed murder, and (3) have attempted or committed murder. Specifically, three questions were addressed regarding violent criminal activity. First, what is the relationship between various early family and developmental factors and the adoption of a violent criminal lifestyle? Second, can a drug abuser’s drug use history predict violent criminal activity? Third, are there different patterns of psychological functioning in violent than there are in nonviolent criminals? Tables, references

NCJ 220665
Ann Rudinow Saetnan
Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear?: Assessing Technologies for Diagnosis of Security Risks
International Criminal Justice Review
Volume:17 Issue:3 Dated:September 2007 Pages:193 to 206

This article examines parallels and differences between the assessment of medical and forensic technologies. The article determined that when discussing forensic identification technologies, similar assessment procedures as those recommended for medical technologies should be followed. Amid the high demand for surveillance technologies, it is often assumed that these technologies would accurately identify only those guilty of crimes. In terms of measuring the accuracy of surveillance technologies as diagnostic tools, surveillance technologies have not been tested for accuracy in the manner that have come to be expected for medical diagnostic technologies. Medical technologies are designed to address sensitivity, or the number of those affected by a disease that the test can identify, and specificity, or the number of unaffected by the disease the test show as healthy. Even for medical tests with more than 90 percent sensitivity and specificity, the majority of test positive results are false. Using value estimates for the forensic identification technologies of facial recognition and DNA identification, this article estimates the vast majority of test positive results would be false. Following the procedures used for assessing medical technologies for the forensic technologies would allow for analysis of the consequences of the inevitable inaccuracies: the consequences for those falsely accused of crimes, the consequences if the guilty are not found, the determination for further investigation, exoneration of the falsely suspected, and the correct identification of the guilty. Assessments of forensic technologies have focused more on effectiveness than on protection of the innocent, more on sensitivity than on selectivity; assuming that the majority of citizens are law abiding, selectivity might be a more important issue as the possibility for mistakes could provoke those with “nothing to hide,” into a stance that promotes a reason to hide from surveillance. Tables, notes, references

Going Bi-Coastal

The LA Times has yet another piece up on the rolling, slo-mo fiscal train wreck taking down CA because of its conspicuous inability and/or unwillingness to address a prison population explosion that, as the article explains, will get even worse as the coming med bills come due. And, just to rub it in, the Boston Globe picks up the story, too, so east coasters can count themselves lucky in the coming New Year.

Real Drug Dealers

Grits for Breakfast has a very interesting post up on the possible connections between drug trade and the Export-Import Bank of the US. Read it before your "oh, no, conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory" alarms go off. That's the usual knee-jerk, pseudo-intellectual reaction, like calling suicide bombings "cowardly" (they're many evil things, can't we just call them those instead of hollow mouthings that lose legitimacy through their clear misuse?). In the real world, there are people who cheat and people who want to get and/or keep power and control, and when people who cheat and who want to get and/or keep power and control act, they often conspire. It's why we have "conspiracy" laws. The question isn't whether conspiracies happen, it's how good the evidence is. The evidence here at least deserves consideration in my humble conspiratorial opinion.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

News of the Day, Thursday, December 27, 2007

  • Stateline has labeled child sex laws one of their "hot topics" for the states in 2008, with this story to outline briefly the basic details of why. Not much new, but maybe they'll be right. One of those "believe it before I see it" things for me, I'm afraid.
  • Ditto to a San Diego paper's claim that 2008 will be the year CA is forced to deal with its prison pop problems. That could have been said in the last several years, and there's plenty of space left across the country to build private prisons to house their rationality. You've got some really determined people out there, as the story quotes.
  • In IN (love typing that), an appeals court has decided that registry laws can't be applied retroactively. Sounds like the journey still has a ways to go there, though. If it holds up and is applied nationally, might relieve the workloads of cops in UT where they're, like in other states we've reported, finding that the resources to go into hunting these guys down go beyond the payoff, especially when other priorities have to be set aside.
  • Finally, successful TECHNOCORRECTIONS in MO, those anklet monitors that test your sweat for alcohol content in this case. (Doesn't it seem like that state's been monopolizing the "successful" for quite a while now?)

Latest Bimbette Train Wreck

I wonder if this will get me as many hits as Paris and Jamie Lynn did. I need to convince possible advertisers quick.

Mischa Barton arrested for DUI

Around the Blogs, Thursday, December 27, 2007

  • Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy has an intriguing stream of posts going on how offenders may use the Second Amendment to challenge their gun sentences. And trust me, if normally "law and order" folks can oppose regulating "cop-killer" bullets and gun checks for potential terrorists, they will support these offenders. I hadn't thought about it before, but this challenge really can be used for a "camel's nose under the tent" of government gun regulation for everyone. But the post I liked most (hmm, poetry) there was the link to NPR's story on how, surprise, surprise, our Drug Czar was once again full of hooey (although he stands by his statements) just as we predicted when he started claiming big drops in coke supply and increases in prices. NPR surveyed the cities he cited and, oops, not happening. Do we really need to make the point that, when so much of what our government authorities tell us about drugs turns out to be bushwah, it makes the legit and necessary info that we can really use to deter drug use and deal with its aftermath equally suspect? It's been true since I was a kid listening to Sonny Bono tell me that pot would make me think my face was melting and it explains so much about why we've failed so miserably in attacking a real social problem. Gov't drug folks? Next time you feel the need to say anything at all about drugs publicly, just say no, okay?
  • Empirical Legal Studies leads us to a Chicago report on the city's felony courts that doesn't apparently shock but reaches conclusions that apply most places and need to be shouted out regularly: For example, the legislature criminalizes more and more behavior without sufficient attention to the costs; there is a problem with patronage jobs in staffing the courts (patronage in Chicago?); and the drug war is overburdening the courts (“The courtrooms hear more than 28,000 cases per year, half of which are non-violent, drug-related charges.”
  • Sex Crimes Blog has a depressing link to a sex crime conviction in which the only proven evidence was that the defendant hugged the victim to her breasts. She got over 6 years in prison. Back in the 80's we went hysterical over day care center abuse and horrendously abused more people than any decent nation could ever be proud of. Now we're doing it with a different version of the same hysteria. And 20 years from now we'll do it again with some new version. I know you psych folks have a formal definition of psychoses but I think this story will actually do the job better.
  • Finally, can anyone tell me if these stats, cited in a post on overincarceration, are accurate? We always harp on how the final justification for incarceration, after the deterrence stuff always falls through, is that we incapacitate and prevent the crimes that the offenders would have committed (although we never consider whether alternative punishments would have done as well or whether the offender ends up committing even more crimes than s/he would have if we had not incarcerated, just because prison is so good at Crime College). But this is the first time I've seen numbers on the number of crimes committed by the real offender while the guy we imprisoned instead was locked up. It's pretty impressive if it's true. The Innocence Project counts 210 people, mostly minorities, who have been exonerated post-conviction by conclusive DNA results (350 people have been exonerated including non-DNA related exonerations). Fifteen of them spent time on death row for crimes they did not commit. The average age at the time of their convictions was 26 years old. The average time served was 12 years. The total number of violent crimes that were committed because the real perpetrators were free while the innocent were imprisoned was 74.

Brain Abnormalities and Behavior Disorders

Here's the research:

Using new approaches, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City has gained a view of activity in key brain areas associated with a core difficulty in patients with borderline personality disorder—shedding new light on this serious psychiatric condition.

"It's early days yet, but the work is pinpointing functional differences in the neurobiology of healthy people versus individuals with the disorder as they attempt to control their behavior in a negative emotional context. Such initial insights can help provide a foundation for better, more targeted therapies down the line," explains lead researcher Dr. David A. Silbersweig, the Stephen P. Tobin and Dr. Arnold M. Cooper Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and attending psychiatrist and neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Borderline personality disorder is a devastating mental illness that affects between 1 to 2 percent of Americans, causing untold disruption of patients' lives and relationships. Nevertheless, its underlying biology is not very well understood. Hallmarks of the illness include impulsivity, emotional instability, interpersonal difficulties, and a preponderance of negative emotions such as anger—all of which may encourage or be associated with substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors and even suicide.
But what was really interesting was what showed up on fMRI.

"We confirmed that discrete parts of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex areas—were relatively less active in patients versus controls," Dr. Silbersweig says. "These areas are thought to be key to facilitating behavioral inhibition under emotional circumstances, so if they are underperforming that could contribute to the disinhibition one so often sees with borderline personality disorder."

Here are the conclusions:

"The more that this type of work gets done, the more people will understand that mental illness is not the patient's fault—that there are circuits in the brain that control these functions in humans and that these disorders are tied to fundamental disruptions in these circuits," Dr. Silbersweig says. "Our hope is that such insights will help erode the stigma surrounding psychiatric illness."

The research could even help lead to better treatment.

As pointed out in the commentary, the research may help explain how specific biological or psychological therapies could ease symptoms of borderline personality disorder for some patients, by addressing the underlying biology of impulsivity in the context of overwhelming negative emotion. The more scientists understand the neurological aberrations that give rise to the disorder, the greater the hope for new, highly targeted drugs or other therapeutic interventions.

"Going forward, we plan to test hypotheses about changes in these brain regions associated with various types of treatment," Dr. Silberswieg says. "Such work by ourselves and others could help confirm these initial findings and point the way to better therapies."

Let's see, remediable physical brain malformation, behavior less controllable than legal theory postulates, punishments determined on free will and ability to self-govern . . . hmm, sounds like it might have a little to do with corrections sentencing, doesn't it?

More NCJRS Abstracts, December 27, 2007


NCJ 220657
Lori Brunsman Lovins; Christopher T. Lowenkamp; Edward J. Latessa; Paula Smith
Application of the Risk Principle to Female Offenders
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume:23 Issue:4 Dated:November 2007 Pages:383 to 398

This article tested the risk principles on a sample of female offenders involved in community corrections. The findings suggest that the risk principle is applicable to women as higher risk female offenders who participated in residential treatment showed lower probability of recidivism than a risk-controlled comparison group, while lower-risk women increased in likelihood of rearrest after exposure to the same treatment; the risk principle is relevant to female offenders. The study compared female offenders who received intensive residential services with women paroled to the community with limited supervision and treatment options. On average, despite termination status, those women who were exposed to intensive treatment experienced lower rates of rearrest than those in the comparison group. Residential treatment appeared effective at decreasing the likelihood of committing a new offense for the female offenders sampled. In terms of recidivism, higher risk women who are exposed to intensive interventions experience significant benefits from treatment whereas low-risk women increase the likelihood of recidivism, particularly rearrest, when exposed to residential treatment. The implication is that higher risk female offenders should be the target population for intensive treatment and supervision programs, including placement in a residential correctional facility, and low-risk women should be diverted from intensive correctional interventions when possible. The sample consisted of 1,340 female offenders served by halfway houses or community-based correctional facilities across the State of Ohio. The study was limited by its 2 year followup period; a longer followup period might have yielded different results. Further limitations of the study are discussed in detail. Tables, notes, references

NCJ 220662
Christine S. Schloss; Leanne F. Alarid
Standards in the Privatization of Probation Services: A Statutory Analysis
Criminal Justice Review
Volume:32 Issue:3 Dated:September 2007 Pages:233 to 245

This research examined Missouri statutes that address private probation guidelines and compared them with States that authorize private probation. Analysis found statues [sic!!] lacking in standardization both between and within some States, but because the amount of detail within the statutes varied enormously, a comprehensive comparison could not be provided. Most private probation agencies supervise misdemeanor and municipal offenders; however, budgetary constraints in some States may push felony offenders into the hands of private providers as well. Probation supervision as a joint effort between State and private agencies could provide more extensive services with the cost at least partially paid by probationers. Mandating a set fee for supervision, and ensuring that all agencies charge at least the lower limits of the fee structure would also even out the requirements of supervision. If the fees were set and enforced, there would be a lower likelihood of agency competition for monetary compensation, and more focus on the actual services provided. A concerted joint effort could lower costs, encourage rehabilitation, mandate restitution, and increase community safety. In standardizing such guidelines and practices, extreme care should be taken to ensure that big business and political lobbyists do not influence legislators, and support company profits over the interest of the client or the general public. Through a statutory review of Missouri private probation guidelines, Missouri was found to have no statewide standardized guidelines for private agency approval, no requirements to provide any verification of fees collected, and an absence of educational and training requirements for private probation staff. Private probation agencies in Missouri are not required to carry insurance, and the current standards in place allow for wide discretion, inconsistencies, and possible conflicts of interest with treatment services provided by probation agencies. Other comparison States lacked standardization in offering private probation services. References

NCJ 220714
Kevin N. Wright; Laura Bronstein
Organizational Analysis of Prison Hospice
The Prison Journal
Volume:87 Issue:4 Dated:December 2007 Pages:391 to 407

Through interviews with prison hospice coordinators, this study explores the structure and operations of hospice programs, how well they integrate within the larger prison community, and the impact that they have on the overall prison environment. Interviews with prison hospice coordinators indicate that all programs share a similar mission of attempting to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of offenders dying in prison. All programs are similar in that they employ interdisciplinary teams to pursue their mission and heavily rely on prisoner volunteers to provide the emotional connection and support to patients. Every program tends to have a core set of disciplines represented among its team members. Results also indicate that the hospice programs had been successfully integrated within the confines of a prison and medical unit within that institution. Generally, other personnel were accepting of the hospice’s presence within the institution. As a result, hospice’s presence contributed to a more generalized climate of trust, caring, and compassion. The findings suggest that when specific actions are taken in the design and operationalization of prison hospice programs, significant change can occur that affects staff, prisoner volunteers, and the general environments of institutions. Hospice (established in the late 1980s) is a humane model of treatment for prisoners who are not likely to be freed from the prison environment by means of compassionate release. The goal is to provide terminally ill inmates with effective pain management during the dying process, as well as meet their individual physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. The integration of prison hospice programs into the prison setting poses a unique organizational challenge. This survey of 14 prison hospice coordinators examined the organizational structure and operations of prison hospice programs and its impact on the larger prison community. References

White Water Rafting

I don't get into foreign events much here, for obvious topical reasons, but watching this

Pakistan's Bhutto killed in attack

makes me think way too much of my teaching the history of the Soviet Union in another lifetime and how the Bolsheviks and their peculiar misery were brought upon Russia through the chaos of events spinning out of control that the "wise" people thought they understood and could manage (those clever Germans shipped Lenin back into the country). Pakistan has nuclear weapons, so does its mortal enemy India. Pakistan houses al-Qaeda and bunches of people who helped to bring down that Soviet Union (although Tom Hanks is getting the credit now). Streams go along very smoothly for long stretches and fool us into thinking they'll never swirl and eddy again. But from where I'm sitting, the waves are getting some pretty impressive white caps.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

News of the Day, Wednesday, December 26, 2007

  • USA Today is the latest to cover the emerging fiscal crisis hitting a large number of states even before the evidence of the Christmas sales slowdown is completely clear. I could make the point again about how this affects corr sent, but the article actually does that itself, sort of: "Governors are taking action, too. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering asking the Legislature for a 10% spending cut and releasing more than 20,000 prisoners. Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons told state agencies to prepare for 8% budget cuts outside of education and prisons. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine wants to spend $261 million of a $1.2 billion budget reserve." Note that, once again, health, retirement, econ dev, roads and bridges, AND ALL OTHER PUBLIC SAFETY agencies get whacked in NV, but keep those prison beds coming on because cops and juv just and having enough courts and prosecutors aren't necessary. NV also probably thinks the best way to stop disease is hospitals . . . actually, no, apparently, because the ACLU is about to nail them with one of those inadequate prison health lawsuits that just might require even more prison spending so there goes that education exemption? (Oh, and once again don't buy the quote from the OK mayor--the state is way below original estimates of funding available for the year and OK City likely is, too. The mayor's a wonderful booster, though.) In the meantime, other stories point out individual impacts in the states, including this one on the incredible and growing increase of prison spending in CA, this one on effective juv programs getting cut as a result in FL, this one on drug task forces getting the hammer in KY, and this one on VT desperately trying to find alternatives, even if it won't spring enough cash for its own devoted sentencing commission staff while it steals from other state agencies to do the job. Some states run the equivalent of cake sales to fund their programs, like the charity helping the "Meth Project" in MT. Heaven forbid that the scarce resources be directed to programs that actually do have a long-term crime and victim reduction payoff, like cutting dropout rates. CA could see 500 fewer homicides and 20,000 fewer aggravated assaults by whacking those rates 10%. Will the state do it? Uh, State Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who created a legislative study group to investigate dropout rates, was pessimistic about immediate dramatic change. "There's no question we're not going to be able to spend new money this year," he said. "The budget problem is serious." There's all those prison beds to fill, you know.
  • Not sure how much of a typical scare story this is because crime displacement is a real phenomenon, but apparently OR with its lighter drug sentences may be becoming more attractive compared to neighboring states. However, one family case study does not an invasion make. OTOH, this could turn out like all the "tax cutting" competition by states that crippled treasuries and public investment and let us think we could get away with eating our seed corn (see a few posts below). So add this story to the first bulletpoint above, too.
  • Remember several months ago when we noted that Salvia divinorum, a plant that contains hallucinogenic elements, was becoming popular and so would likely end up being banned? (Too tired to find the link so just trust me.) Well, IL has. I guess you'll have to move to OR to get it now.
  • Bad management and administration in KY where violators who should have been revoked haven't as a result.
  • This is actually a decent story on the problems of enforcing DUI in a state, this case SC, and the problems of trying to get enough officers and resources on the problem. It shows as clearly as anything why a viable TECHNOCORRECTIONS alternative will sweep through states. But it's also a sad case of a lobbyist, the MADD rep, going completely over the edge in terms of denigrating treatment programs and insisting that resources are no object to her personal cause. Yes, drunk drivers are a menace and danger. I've argued here for tougher penalties myself, or at least starting them sooner as the drivers pile up convictions. But this woman is just displaying ignorance of both the effectiveness of treatment and of the need to sensibly allocate resources, especially in a poor state like SC. As it happens, it looks like WY has developed a very realistic and workable approach to deal with the dangerous problem that could serve as a good example rather than pretending that you're God's personal rep on the planet.
  • Finally, in case you didn't get a special present under the tree and want to get up close and personal with an offshoot of TECHNO, here's all you need to know about your own GPS tracking devices. As low as $300!!!

May Not Post Much For a While

The waitress at IHOP this morning asked me if I wanted the Senior Meal.

The Moral Mazes of Legal Practice

One of the best books you could ever read (and I'm not kidding here) is Robert Jackall's Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers. The core of the book is his demonstration of how the institutional structure and practice within which individuals work sets their moral boundaries and leads them into what would otherwise be very questionable moral behavior (to put it politely). I immediately thought of that book as I read the very tardy third part of the series The Situationist has been running on the moral world of lawyers. They're focusing on how the "moral mazes" concept works on corporate attorneys as well, how the attorneys come to tie their own behavior and moral outlook to the perspectives of the corporate managers, losing both the welfare of the actual organization and of themselves in the process.

However, it doesn't take much imagination (as demonstrated by my doing it) to translate the post into language more common to criminal justice and corrections sentencing. As I've lamented ad nauseum, too many practitioners in our criminal justice [sic] process have let the structures and process bound their sense of morality and decency to the detriment of both the larger society they're supposed to be serving and to themselves as well. Prosecutors who forget the wide range of needs of the community they're serving that must all be met and balanced as they overidentify with "good guys and bad guys" (and forget that "good guys" frequently are or can become bad guys, too, in their zeal); defense counsel who claim it doesn't matter if bad guys are let back out on the street to do more bad; judges who may play either game or just abdicate their responsibility to sort it all out--they all contribute mightily to the world of illegitimate law and cultural cheating and corruption that highlight 21st century America.

What Moral Mazes and The Situationist's post tell us is that it's usually all unintentional and virtually inevitable given the institutional structures and processes that we've arterioschlerosized (!!) over the decades and centuries. They also tell us that to expect change internally is likely a fool's game. Too many sunk costs, too many people who'll deny they're even under water so deep. The necessary change will have to come from outside, from those not immersed. But first a viable alternative has to be available to make change attractive, and the costs of doing nothing have to become so high that they can't be denied. The latter is storming over the horizon at full speed. But we have to do more work on the former, don't we.


Mind Hacks has some great links as you look for something to do in this slow short week at work. Here's an Economist article on the connections between beauty (defined as physical symmetry--yeah, I know) and outcomes such as better jobs and so on. Most of this is familiar, especially to those of us less symmetrical, but the article is most interesting in proposing an actual tie between beauty and general intelligence, the first time I've seen that. It also indicates that, yes, there is a payoff between investing in clothes, cosmetics, etc., to make yourself look good and higher incomes, but, no, the income gain isn't enough to offset the investment, despite what you always hear on "What Not to Wear." (Is it wrong that I know the last names of both Stacy and Clinton?) Why is this corrections sentencing? Well, keep it in mind when you hear the bromide that environment has no effect on how well someone does in life and what courses might be available to them.

And here's a TECHNOCORRECTIONS piece they found on efforts to link a person's genes to drugs necessary to have the greatest impact on their subsequent relief from depression.

The idea is that it might be possible to predict which medications might be better for a particular patient. That has appeal, because many people have to try more than one medication in the quest to find one that is both tolerable and effective.

If a person metabolizes a drug much more rapidly than most people, then that person might need a higher than expected dose, or might need to take the medication more frequently than the usual recommendation. If a person metabolizes the drug much more slowly than most people do, then that person might be more susceptible to adverse effects; this might call for a lower dose than what most persons would take.

If I have to tell you how that makes more likely the combo of both the pharmaceutical and bioengineering efforts to remedy other psychological ailments more related to what we do in corrections sentencing, go sit in the corner until I tell you you can come out.

Making Offenders Pay

Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy caught a good story on the failure of our restitution sanction policies, in PA in the story but applicable anywhere. My former boss when I was working with the OK sentencing commission always said we should go into business as a private collection agency on fines and such, accepting a set percentage of the take (free entrepreneurial advice!!!), and this article shows why it might be lucrative, even if the offenders who could pay are as limited as the post and the commenters indicate. The basic problem, of course, is that you're dealing with many people with limited resources to begin with and then expecting them to pay fees and fines? The politicians love the ruse for obvious political reasons and lately have been playing those games more and more. It becomes an even bigger drain when failure to pay becomes a ground for revoking probation or parole, and then not only do the offenders not pay, we get to pay for them. If people can pay back financially, it's hard to argue why they shouldn't, but it's silly and self-deceptive to think much better than what we have right now would ever work, my former boss notwithstanding. Better to think up means of in-kind restitution that would help restore the victims in other ways and improve the community at the same time. Lord knows we have things that need done.

More NCJRS Abstracts, December 26, 2007


NCJ 220653
Renee Gobeil; Kelley Blanchette
Revalidation of a Gender-Informed Security Reclassification Scale for Women Inmates
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume:23 Issue:4 Dated:November 2007 Pages:296 to 309
This study examined the convergent and predictive validity of the Security Reclassification Scale for Women (SRSW). The results demonstrate that the SRSW continues to be a consistent, reliable, and valid scale for use in substantiating security reclassification decisions with Canadian federally sentenced women; security classification recommendations equaled or outperformed correctional case worker recommendations on all indices of validity. Offender classification is a process used to identify the degree of risk posed by individual offenders, both within a correctional institution and on release to the community by informing management of the assessed risk. These finding have important consequences, given that over classification can result in offenders being detained in overly secure environments and/or denied discretionary release. The SRSW is an objective, gender-informed classification instrument developed between 1998 and 2000 for federally sentenced women. Field tested from 2000 to 2003, the SRSW was implemented nationally in September 2005. Using actuarial methods, the instrument provides a recommended security classification for women, which when coupled with the caseworker’s clinical appraisal of the offender’s risk, secures a reclassification decision. The SRSW focuses predominantly on dynamic factors to assess escape risk, risk to the public if an escape were to occur, institutional adjustment and behavior, and changes in the offender’s behavior since the preceding review. The study was limited: the interviewer reliability associated with the two SRSW items that are scored by case-workers was not examined; only institutional behavior was considered in examining predictive validity; other indicators, such as escape incidents and discretionary release decisions also warrant study; and the individual items of the scale should continue to be revalidated periodically to ensure that it remains relevant to the changing Federal offender population. The sample included 448 consecutive security reviews of 298 adult women offenders in Canadian Federal facilities between 2005 and February 2007. Notes, references

NCJ 220654
Emily M. Wright; Emily J. Salisbury; Patricia Van Voorhis
Predicting the Prison Misconducts of Women Offenders: The Importance of Gender-Responsive Needs
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume:23 Issue:4 Dated:November 2007 Pages:310 to 340
This study examined the role that gender-responsive needs play in women’s adjustment to prison. Results suggest that gender-responsive needs are predictive of institutional misconducts in prison; these gender-responsive needs performed as well as, and in some instances slightly better, than gender-neutral needs when predicting institutional misbehavior. In particular, childhood abuse, unsupportive relationships, experiencing anxiety or depression, and psychosis were highly related to the likelihood that a woman might incur institutional misconducts within 6 and 12 months of incarceration. Gender-responsive risk assessment instruments are best used in treatment-intensive settings, including regional, community-based correctional centers focused on wrap-around services and facilities where inmate transition is a priority. States that reserve some facilities for intensive programming and others for more limited approaches to low-risk offenders might also benefit from these systems because the assessments also differentiate between high-need and low-need inmates. The nature of the risk factors observed in this research might also suggest that prisons potentially need to re-evaluate policies and conditions that aggravate trouble inmates. Trauma-informed policies, family reunification, improved mental health services, and enhanced staff skills for managing women offenders all appear to be warranted. Data collection and analyses were funded by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). The sample consisted of 272 newly admitted women offenders to the Missouri Department of Corrections from February 2004 through July 2004. Followup data describing the incidence and prevalence of prison misconduct were obtained between August 2004 and July 2005. Notes, references

NCJ 220656
Kristy Holtfreter; Rhonda Cupp
Gender and Risk Assessment: The Empirical Status of the LSI-R for Women
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume:23 Issue:4 Dated:November 2007 Pages:363 to 382
This study evaluated the empirical status of the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) for women offenders. Empirical evidence indicated that the LSI-R appeared to fare better when predicting the more extreme recidivism outcomes among female offenders. Women were disproportionately affected by early life events, such as abuse, victimization, neglect, and poverty. Victimization experiences as children were recurrent themes in females’ own assessment of factors that contributed to their criminality; street women and harmed or harming women shared similar backgrounds that were full with victimization experiences. Later life events were influential in female crime and recidivism as were economic and interpersonal issues. The analyses suggest that the LSI-R works differently for various offender groups and that the bulk of research used to support claims of gender neutrality was based on males. Many claims touting gender neutrality are based on research that either failed to disaggregate samples by sex or used non-representative samples of female offenders. The limited number of studies on female offenders suggests that it is simply too early to come to any definitive statement mirroring the optimistic conclusions reached in research on male offenders. Although the LSI-R does appear to work fairly well for women whose offending context may be most similar to males, the same cannot be said for women who follow gendered pathways to crime. The evaluation used in this research covered 41 studies on the performance of the LSI-R for female samples, male samples, and mixed female/male samples conducted during a 20-year research period from 1986 through 2006. Of this number, just 11 studies or 25 percent reported statistics for females; the 11 studies summarized the current empirical status of the LSI-R for women. Research designs that incorporate quantitative and qualitative methods should be advanced since continuing to simply add gender in tests of criminological theories and actuarial risk assessment may be costly to society in the long run. Table, notes, references

Running Government Like a Business

A couple of stories that might not seem corr sent-related at first but really are. This one is a nice op-ed on a subject dear and near to the heart of a former school board member such as myself--our constant and consistent failure to maintain our public infrastructure, waiting until buildings cave or bridges collapse before we put the money necessary into them, and those dollars are always a lot more than we would have had to spend if we'd just wisely kept up. One of the things we always scrambled to do when I was on my school board was to identify the coming problem areas and do our best with our limited funds to prioritize and make sure the disaster didn't happen. And here's another case of failing to invest--inner city children in the United States of America in the 21st century are infested with parasites like children in Third World countries. And those children will travel into non-inner city areas, won't they? And grow up with health problems and end up in our emergency rooms and otherwise live lives we end up paying for, lives we don't think affect us and could have stopped from having their foreseeably damaging impact on all of us if we'd just made some smart up-front choices.

You always hear politicians arguing that "we should run government like a business" and then turn around and defund the needed maintenance on our shared community resources that no successful business would ever be so stupid to do, by definition. Don't paint, the house decays. Don't shore up, the house falls in. Don't save up for the unexpected, the house predictably gets hit by something unexpected. It's really simple, but we just throw public dollars away on our self-indulgent dramas, ignoring the ways proven to provide the most effectiveness at the least cost (here we finally get to corrections sentencing) while the decay and caving in occur, ignorant to the reality that someday that unexpected will happen and then we won't have a paddle at all. Call it what you want, fiddling while the house burns, eating your seed corn, life's short so eat dessert first, whatever. It's irresponsible and stupid, not by my judgment, but by history's. And history also shows that, when the crap hits, those most responsible are the ones who wail the loudest. Too bad we won't be able to afford all the prison beds those folks will deserve.