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!!!

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