News of the Day 6-5-13

Inside the Silo News
“ACLU Reports Marijuana Enforcement Targets Blacks, States Pay Price”
STATELINE does its usual fine job summarizing and detailing the implications of the recent report on arrest disparities that we noted as the best proof yet of the problem of using arrests as independent variables in our analyses and policies in Corrections Sentencing. Of course, some might say there could possibly be some moral issues involved, too. The piece cites the estimable David Kennedy and his call for better approaches in arrest policy, the way the feds drive this disparity with yet another franchise funding program, like VOI/TIS, criminal history, and Justice Reinvestment, that pays favored consulting firms for inputs and outputs without ever examining the negative outcomes and impacts (actually we added that last part), and the potential for states following WA and CO down the decrimin/legalization path to get away from many of the incentives for this abuse (until, naturally, the feds decide to crack down and work their wonders on that option, too).

“National Violence Report Increase Issue: Has U.S. Hit Crime-Rate Floor?”
Raises important questions. As we cut everything more than we cut prisons, including law enforcement and treatment, that is, the stuff that has a better return on public safety investment than incarceration, will we start seeing consistent increases in crime again? Will we hear how even more spending on prisons is the answer, or will law enforcement finally break the political linkage to claim its more effective share? Will we really need more prisons if there’s nobody to arrest, to prosecute, and to convict? The Perfect Storm isn’t going to be easy, folks.

“Corrections Budget Cuts Put Spotlight on King’s Absence”

Nasty little name-calling game going on in Kansas over the cuts in the state corrections budget detailed therein that will cut its latest feint at reform dramatically (fool me once, fool me twice, fool me . . . what, infinity??). Once again Reform 1.0 takes passage of program legislation as the relevant performance measure, once again Reform 1.0 not just inadequate but wrong.

“New Jersey Gun Laws Don’t Curb Violence in Camden”
Yet another case of the gap between passing legislation and Reality. The best part of this article is its demonstration that excluding offenders, such as young men who use guns in NJ, from your consideration of any law or policy change or development is just foolhardy, with the policymakers passing things that would deter or scare them but not the people whose behavior they’re trying to change. Gap, legislation, Reality, lather, rinse, repeat.

“Can Congress Cure the Disorder in Mental Health?”
Of course, the short answer is no, but despite the error in its thought, the piece itself is useful for its depiction of the controversies and messes associated with the diagnoses problems going on in the field, shown by their “Bible” problem we’ve talked about here from time to time. The best part for us is that he describes well why this is a problem for those of us outside the battle but dependent on their resolutions for much of what we end up doing, researching, defending. The guy seems to think Congress is capable of constructive things so he may have a special categorization in the new DSM-% all by himself.

“Crystal History”
For those of you who’ve always wanted to know the history of meth, especially the parts about Nazi guards . . . okay, moving along now . . . .

“Wisdom about Life from an Alcatraz Prison Guard”
The draw might be hearing from a max security guard, but we found the questions and education of the psychologist asking the questions more interesting and worth disseminating. Here’s a little evidence of that:

What happens once you get to prison?
When you first arrive, it's frightening. After a while you get used to it.
The human capacity to adapt to difficult new conditions enables us to survive, just like plants and animals have to adapt to new climate and other conditions.
It's not a place though that anybody would want to go. No one would wake up and say today I want to go to jail. Everything is taken away from you. Every choice too. Some one else makes all the decisions for you, when you can go to bed, when you have to wake up, when you can watch TV.
How easily Americans can forget to cherish freedom. We're at risk for taking our freedoms for granted, like clean air and fresh water, which so many around our globe also lack.
Everyone who reads your blogpost should take a tour.
I'm an advocate of restorative justice, where wrong-doers meet those they've injured, have to apologize to their victim, learn from their mistakes and pay society back. I've long regarded jails as dreadful places. In fact though going and looking instead of just assuming sounds like a good idea to consider.

“What Price Vengeance”

A professor type goes through the research on how much closure we actually get from administration of the death penalty and speculates how hard it is to forgive when the one you need to forgive is in the ground. (Okay, okay, not everything on this blog can be cheery.)

“Here’s What 9,000-Year-Old Beers Taste Like”

No, not technically Corr Sent, but cool. (They didn’t find it in a bottle in a pyramid or anything . . . and, no, I wasn’t churning the vat when it was made.)

Outside the Silo News
“The Understanding”
We’ve noted regularly law’s lost legitimacy when it’s so clearly selectively enforced, as yesterday’s report on the vast overrepresentation of blacks in pot arrests, but this guy really puts it better than we so without even trying. And his last paragraph makes you wonder why he’s not spending life in prison, until you realize the point he’s making is actually proven by that, too. Imagine a black guy saying an equivalent to a judge.

“Yousef Khanfar and Invisible Eve”
Speaking of better understanding of life behind bars, the good folks at OK Policy have run a post on “Invisible Eve,” the photography book on incarcerated OK females which we posted on a few months back and have a link to high in the left column there on the side. What their post has that ours didn’t is the photographer’s statement of purpose with the book that is worth consuming just on its own. Click the link and see why.

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