News of the Day 6-4-13

Inside the Silo News
“Blacks Nearly Four Times as Likely as Whites to Get Pot-Possession Arrests”
“Would Legalizing Marijuana Be a Huge Step Toward a Less Racialized Criminal Justice System?”
Tell us that one again about how arrests are indicative and predictive of criminal behavior that we can rely on in our assessments, use of criminal histories, research correlations. Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy blog gets rarely but appropriately outraged, particularly at the guys at the top of the enforcement food chain, although he still doesn’t get how this story proves that what we have is a “criminal processing system,” not one concerned about justice. This one paragraph affirms practically everything we say here about how law enforcement policy dictates who gets arrested and it’s easier to arrest some places, some people than others.

Phillip Atiba Goff, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that police departments, partly driven by a desire to increase their drug arrest statistics, can concentrate on minority or poorer neighborhoods to meet numerical goals, focusing on low-level offenses that are easier, quicker and cheaper than investigating serious felony crimes. “Whenever federal funding agencies encourage law enforcement to meet numerical arrest goals instead of public safety goals, it will likely promote stereotype-based policing and we can expect these sorts of racial gaps,” Professor Goff said.

Now let’s hear that one about how contact with the criminal processing system is the dependent variable and the behavior is the independent.

“One Inmate Shot, 12 Stabbed in California Prison Riot”

This is what “won’t allow inhumane treatment in my prisons” looks like to the new CA DOC director, what “overcrowding isn’t a problem anymore” looks like to the old, and we mean old, CA governor. Makes you glad you’re not seeing a system in trouble and needing “outside the silo” reformation, don’t it?

“Legislature Leaves Sex Offender Program Untouched”

“Pennsylvania Prison Misused Solitary Confinement of Mentally Ill Inmates, Feds Say”
Not wanting CA to be the only state begging for federal court intervention, MN keeps its “let’s not call it ‘more prison after your sentence’” civil commitment program in tact despite lawsuits, and PA gets caught in the current concerns over misuse of solitary. We talk a lot here about Gordian Knot solutions being inevitable in too many state prison systems, with CA showing how leaving it up to the state itself to get smart isn’t a viable solution for most states. Before The Perfect Storm is over, there will be a lot more states seeing knots sliced by federal swords.

“Preserving Manpower When Budgets Are Falling”’s best op-ed guy describes how to proactively reassess operations when budgets tighten in order to max safety in the institutions. Most of you probably see this as old news by now, but still some good stuff if nothing more than reminders.

“No Credible Evidence on Whether Death Penalty Deters, Experts Say”
Op-ed citing heavily the recent reports on the indeterminability of deterrence effects and calling out the earlier studies and current defenders of the death penalty as effective. Particularly egregious in their assertions of effectiveness, no surprise, were astrolo . . . economists who as usual probably should spend more time getting informed and useful about their own discipline before they colonize other peoples’. The problem for the writer is that the finding was two-way. There’s not enough evidence to prove it doesn’t deter, either. Leaving your own decision to other considerations the writer provides. Just don’t cite research at this point, which, as the economists show, demonstrates that we’re better and more credible in our approach to evidence than they are. But you already knew that.

Jail Trainings at NIC
The good folks at NIC have some info up on a couple of good jail trainings you can get to right now, one on classification, the other on planning new institutions. When they’re done with those, maybe they can come up with something to deal with the problem discussed below.

“Cat Caught Smuggling Cell Phones into Russian Prisons”
Those d*mn cats are at it again. At least their conspiracy has moved to a country that deserves them.

Outside the Silo News
“States, Localities Are Failing to Seize Their Infrastructure Moment”
“Making It Stick: Oklahoma’s Divorce Rate Remains High”
What do these two stories have in common, one on consistently insistent states that infrastructure needs get deferred and one on another case of OK policymakers, legislating divorce harder, thinking the world responds to words in statute books and not to the cultural influences and problems that generate the conditions for the problem? That is, failure to make necessary investments in long-term operations and wasting time, energy, and legitimacy on activities with no grounding on Planet Reality? How long do businesses that let their facilities collapse and try to sell unsellable products stay in business? How many of the policymakers in states like OK insist that government should be run like a business? . . . We wish.

“Nevada Gun, Marijuana Bills Pass, More Cops Tax Hike Fails as Legislature Adjourns”
Medical dispensaries okay now there, rather than trying to find your med pot on your own, which shockingly caused problems for both patients and law enforcement. Hoocoodanode?

“Smoking Leads to Five-Fold Increase in Heart Disease and Stroke in Under-50s”

See how we deal with this as an education and public health issue, with substantial success over the years, and don’t put the smokers and their dealers behind bars? Now explain again why . . . .

“Researchers Focus on a Brain Protein and an Antibiotic to Block Cocaine Craving”

More progress on this addictive front. Need to note that court practitioners, especially DAs and judges, have no excuse for not knowing about this stuff. I spoke at a judicial conference on these areas in PA a few years back. It’s there to be known. Which makes you wonder why, if the claims are to protect “public safety” and to demonstrate “justice,” we don’t see their professional organizations demanding more state action to provide the markets for these things.

“The Only Place Where They’ll Inject You with Heroin for Free”
Meanwhile this detailed article shows that Vancouver is pioneering the approach that, if “public safety” is more important than proving you’re right and they’re baaddd guys, you get the addicts off the streets and maintaining their lives under supervision. And if “evidence-based practice” is important in driving your policy decisions, there’s enough from enough places to justify it, too. Meanwhile, in the US . . . .

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