Thursday, December 27, 2007

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.

No comments: