Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Budgets, Furloughs, and Criminal Justice
Here’s another story of the fiscal impact on the states of the current recession, highlighting the states that have gone to or may go to furloughs to address budget shortfalls (complete with table of each state’s actions) and the impact that will have on public services. Including criminal justice:
“In Hawaii, some criminal trials will likely have to be rescheduled because public defenders are being furloughed — or forced to take unpaid days off — three Fridays a month. In New Jersey, about 5,000 parolees went unmonitored for a day in May and June as their parole officers were forced to stay home.
In Georgia, state prosecutors have been furloughed at least one day a month since September, with each day off causing a backlog of about 500 criminal cases. Meanwhile, petty, nonviolent criminal charges are in danger of being dismissed.
“We’re getting critically close to not being able to look at every case,” said Rick Malone, the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia. “There’s only so much time in the day … Certainly we will have to screen (cases) more carefully, more finely.””
Although corrections isn’t explicitly mentioned, it should be clear by now that what happens to courts and prosecutors will impact corrections as well.
Dog Bites Man?
Is this news? Researchers have discovered that teens who believe they are going to die young are more likely to engage in risky behavior. And the other way around. Here’s the key blurb:
“In the first set of interviews, nearly 15 percent of adolescents predicted they had a 50/50 chance or less of living to age 35. Those who engaged in risky behaviors such as illicit drug use, suicide attempts, fighting, or unsafe sexual activity in the first year were more likely in subsequent years to believe they would die at a young age. Vice versa, those who predicted that they'd die young during the first interview were more likely in later years to begin engaging in these same risky behaviors and have poor health outcomes. Notably, these teens were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS just six years later, regardless of their sexual preference.”
It varied by race, though:
“Nearly 25 percent of youth living in households that receive public assistance and more than 29 percent of American-Indian, 26 percent of African-American, 21 percent of Hispanic, and 15 percent of Asian youth reported believing they would die young—compared to just 10 percent of their Caucasian peers.”
The researchers called for more emphasis on instilling positive future perspectives in young people and more attention to indicators of pessimism by health providers. Is it pessimistic to be pessimistic about the likelihoods?
Inmate on Inmate Success
This piece is by an inmate who speculates about the likely reentry success of a fellow inmate about to be released. What’s interesting about it (well, maybe not to you) is that the release-to-be has basically been the ideal inmate, clean record, got his GED, all that, but the poster feels that it’s exactly that sterling record that indicates that the guy will very probably fail on the outside. A different perspective that might need consideration for those doing reentry.
So If We Take Actifed . . . ?
Research here on the role of histamine in drinking frequency and how blocking the receptors for it might end up regulating alcohol consumption. Might also influence how much pleasure is obtained from the alcohol. At least in rats. (Which raises all kind of strange questions about hay fever and rodents that we’ll leave for another day.)
A friend sends along a notice of info available at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Here’s the blurb if you think you might be interested:
SAMHSA announces FY 2010 guidance for
submissions to National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides guidance for those interested in submitting programs and practices to its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). The FY 2010 guidance notice was published in the June 23, 2009 Federal Register. NREPP is a voluntary rating and classification system designed to provide the public with reliable information on the scientific basis and practicality of interventions that prevent and/or treat mental and substance use disorders, including suicide prevention.
For more information http://tinyurl.com/mcrgdw
New substance abuse and mental health
data available for analysis
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA) provides free access to the most current and comprehensive national data on substance abuse and mental health. SAMHDA promotes the access and use of the nation's preeminent substance abuse and mental health research data by assuring accurate, public use data files and documentation to support a better understanding of this critical area of public health. SAMHDA is an initiative of the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/SAMHDA/index.html
Monday, June 29, 2009
The Dangers of Good Data
Interesting story about Memphis’ complaint that the city only looks bad crime-wise because it does a much better and more thorough job of reporting its crime data than other cities that may have as much or more crime. Not in a position here to verify the claim, but it does reflect a problem common to more in criminal justice than just law enforcement data. AND it explains why so many in corrections and other areas are so hesitant to report their data, especially if they are among the first or the best. (h/t The Crime Report)
How Alcohol Affects the Brain
You might think we (including most college students) already know that, but we’re talking here about new research that has identified how alcohol actually causes the reactions that we’re so familiar with. Why is that important to those of us in corrections?
“Having the location of a physical alcohol-binding site important for GIRK channel activation could point to new strategies for treating related brain diseases. Using this protein structure, it may be possible to develop a drug that antagonizes the actions of alcohol for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Alternatively, "If we could find a novel drug that fits the alcohol-binding site and then activate GIRK channels, this would dampen overall neuronal excitability in the brain and perhaps provide a new tool for treating epilepsy," says Slesinger.”
Surely you have to go read the whole article now to find out what “GIRK” is???
NCJRS Abstracts This Week
As always, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service has a slew of abstracts of good research articles up this week that might be of interest and use to you. To tempt yo to visit the site (work-related!!!), here are just a few of the titles available:
- Evidence-Based Practice: Principles for Enhancing Correctional Results in Prisons
- Institutional Responses to Self-Injurious Behaviors Among Inmates
- Vulnerable Populations, Prison, and Federal and State Medicaid Policies: Avoiding the Loss of a Right to Care
- Delinquent Development in a Sample of High-Risk Youth: Shape, Content, and Predictors of Delinquent Trajectories From age 12 to 32
- Evaluating the Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes of Incarcerated Adolescent Females Receiving Substance Abuse Treatment: A Pilot Study
Back Awaayyyy from The Transformers
Nothing’s sacred, apparently.
“Drugs shaped like Snoopy, Transformers and President Barack Obama’s head recently showed up on Kansas City area streets, adding to a trend that worries police and health experts.
Colorful Ecstasy pills started showing up last year shaped as Homer and Bart Simpson, Ninja Turtles and other characters. As more of the pills that look like vitamins or candy go out locally and nationwide, they put children at great risk, police and experts said.”
At least they haven’t made them look like Flintstones Chewables. Yet.
Friday, June 26, 2009
If There Aren’t Any Cops, Can There Be Corrections?
Story here on the cutbacks that police departments are facing in the budget crises facing local governments. It’s not just patrols and investigations. Jail staffs getting hammered, too. As well as the prevention programs and training academies:
“In El Monte, layoffs forced the department to shut down programs such as one in which officers served as mentors to young people likely to get into trouble.
"Now we're going to be responding when a kid slaps his mom instead of having him in a program where they can teach him to respect his parents," said Lt. Charles Carlson.
In Kansas City, Mo., only 45 police officer jobs have gone unfilled, but there is a very real possibility that the 31 cadets scheduled to graduate in August will be laid off before they can even start work.”
Do severe punishments deter anyone if no one’s around to catch them?
According to this story, alcohol is behind 1 out of every 25 deaths around the world. (In the former USSR countries, it’s 1 out of 10.) And “5% of years lived with disability are attributable to alcohol consumption.” One reaction:
“Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: "This study is a global wake-up call.
"We need an international framework convention for alcohol control, similar to that on tobacco, as soon as possible, to put into practice the evidence-based measures needed to reduce alcohol-related harm.
"These include increasing the price of alcohol, reducing its availability and banning advertising, and the action needs to start now."”
Any efforts to decriminalize or legalize any or all other abuse-able substances would obviously need to take this info into consideration.
Mapping Cocaine and Pot Use Globally
At the end of this story on the UK’s (proud?) residency for more coke users than any other European nation are a couple of good global maps that block out for you clearly the prevalence of lifetime coke and pot using young people around the world. (You can guess where the US is on both maps, percentage-wise, not physically. Although I was at least surprised at how much the Aussies apparently prefer their Foster’s.)
Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Schizophrenia
With so many of the people under correctional supervision nationally having mental illnesses, news of this sort that the frequently employed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is ineffective against schizophrenia and relapses in bipolar disorders and not much better against depression may be of use and interest to our mental health colleagues, who are better placed to judge the validity of the findings than we are. A couple of the major points:
“The authors noted that not a single trial employing both blinding and psychological placebo has found CBT to be effective in schizophrenia and surprisingly few well-controlled studies of CBT in depression.
"The results of this review are important because in March NICE re-approved CBT for use in all people with schizophrenia. The Government is also investing millions of pounds to provide CBT for depression and anxiety in 250 dedicated therapy centres across England," said Professor Laws. "Yet the evidence here is that the effectiveness of this form of therapy may be less than previously thought, to the point of being non-existent in schizophrenia."”
Watch Out for Tornadoes
Can’t find homes for released sex offenders? Buy a trailer, stick it next to your prison, and put the offenders in it. That’s what North Dakota is doing.
“The trailer, which is located east of the penitentiary
near Bismarck Expressway, can hold up to seven homeless men who are under
state supervision for sex offenses until they find permanent accommodations
on their own, said Leslie "Barney" Tomanek, director of the
DOCR parole and prohibition division. . .
The men will pay a $7 daily fee to live in the trailer, which has four bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. They also will have to wear a GPS locator at all times while abiding by a set of rules, such as no alcohol, pornographic material and curfews, Tomanek said.
"They can be very closely monitored, they'll be on GPS supervision," he said. "There, we don't have to worry about interfering on any residential areas."
The trailer cost $28,100, said Dave Krabbenhoft, director of administration for the DOCR. Coupled with water and other services, the trailer so far carries a price tag of about $35,000, he said.”. . .”
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Honey, I Shrunk the State Budget
Story here on the (some would say) creative ways that states are finding to reduce their state budgets in the current fiscal crisis. The whole thing is fascinating in a “rubber-neck the motor cycle accident” way, but here’s part that deals specifically with corrections:
“* Prison Cuts:
Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington have closed prisons this year as a cost-cutting measure.
New York State and Kentucky changed sentencing laws and bolstered substance abuse programs to keep more drug offenders out of prison. New York expects its changed regulations to save the state about a quarter of a billion dollars a year.
The U.S. has the world's largest prison population with one in every 31 adults in the corrections system, which includes jail, prison, probation and supervision. States spent a record $51.7 billion on corrections in fiscal 2008.”
And here’s some related info:
“Kentucky ended its sales tax exemption on alcoholic beverages.
California is mulling legalizing marijuana and charging a $50-per-ounce tax on it along with the state's sale tax. California lawmakers have further proposed increasing sales taxes on sexually-explicit content.”
A quick review of a couple of books on the perspectives of Generation Y and the Millenials who are beginning to make up our workforce and on how that may affect managing that workforce. Here’s a taste to get you to swing over to the story for the full reviews:
The challenge of managing Generation Y, or the Millennials -- born between 1980 and 1999 -- has spawned a small industry of expertise and literature, including "Keeping the Millennials," new this month, and "Y in the Workplace," due out in July.
Both books argue that the newest generation is making waves in the office that must be addressed and tended. Some 40 million Millennials work in corporate America, a figure expected to hit 58 million by 2014.
Tech-savvy and fast-working, Millennials are also impatient and indulged, the product of hovering parents and educations that never let them fail, the books say.
And they communicate differently from the rest of us -- tweeting and texting and writing "CYL" for "see you later."
"Y in the Workplace" (Career Press, $15.99) cites an impasse between a Generation Y worker, working at home, and her older boss. "I'm only texting today, not talking on the phone," she wrote. He replied: "Well, I'm only talking on the phone."
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Prison Population Map
This link will get you to a site with a world map colored by incarceration rates and a bar graph of the major nations and their rates. Good example of effective data mapping and resource to have at hand if needed.
Good question. Turns out, according to this research, that the effectiveness of competition on improving performance is affected by the number of competitors. Want to decrease performance? Have more competitors. Depends to some extent on whether you compare yourself to others much, but even then increasing the size of the competition pool tends to decrease successful performance. So next time we give employment tests in big rooms and groups? Maybe we should think twice. Next time we have a position open and want candidates to show actual capability? Same thing. (h/t Neuronarrative)
The Crime Report Today
Interesting posts up at The Crime Report right now. You’ll find links to a new report from the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission calling for new and better standards for dealing with prison rape, research indicating that “shaken baby syndrome” symptoms are not as definitive as “experts” at trials made them sound and we may have a whole lot of innocent people sitting in our prisons, and allegations that the FBI’s definition of rape is too narrow to accurately reflect the total activity occurring. That’s not all, but it should be enough to get you to go explore. And remember: IT’S WORK-RELATED!!!
Monday, June 22, 2009
A friend sent along notice of this National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse report on the impact of substance abuse (alcohol and tobacco don’t get free rides) on federal, state, and local budgets. Extensive coverage. One of the major findings is that, for every dollar spent on prevention and treatment, we spend almost $60 “in public programs shoveling up the wreckage.” Makes recommendations on how to change that ratio, at least to some extent.
Speaking of Addictions
News here of a new experiment to model human gambling and to test treatments for addiction. Sounds promising, with clear implications for criminal justice:
“"This new model is an important next step because the neurobiological basis of gambling is still poorly understood and few treatment options exist," adds Winstanley, noting that gamblers experience higher rates of divorce, suicide and crime than non-gamblers. "It brings us a step closer to the goal of drug-based treatments for people suffering from gambling disorders."”
No word of what you should do if rats start turning up at your poker table.
There’s No “I” in “Team”
Or guarantee of doing better either, apparently, despite the oodles of books praising their superiority in decision-making and getting things done. Why not? New research says it depends on how the teams handle pressure and senior team members:
“[The researcher] found that teams under more pressure to perform tended to defer to their more senior members, rather than those members with the most knowledge of the client. Unfortunately, these teams performed worse in the eyes of the client - which is ironic, since impressing the client was the impetus for pressure in the first place.”
This Week from NCJRS
A lot of good research with abstracts posted over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week. Among the many good references you’ll find there are these with the following titles:
- Investigation Into the Effective and Ethical Interviewing of Suspected Sex Offenders
- Mentoring Formerly Incarcerated Adults
- Implementing Evidence-Based Practice in Community Corrections: The Principles of Effective Intervention
- Crime, Cash, and Limited Options: Explaining the Prison Boom
- Outcome Trajectories in Drug Court: Do All Participants Have Serious Drug Problems?
- Free to Burglarize: The Effects of Pretrial and Preincarceration Release of Burglars in Burglary Activity
- Aggregating to Versatility?: Transitions Among Offender Types in the Short Term
- Drug Abuse, Treatment, and Probationer Recidivism
- Physical and Property Victimization Behind Bars: A Multilevel Examination
Friday, June 19, 2009
Stop Signs, Smiley Faces, Sheeple, and Switchblades
Nope, not a “Jeopardy” answer. (I would have said “Carnac” but who would still remember what I’m talking about?) The types of people in organizations described in this interview, along with strategies to keep them from subverting you and your operations. Don’t worry. None of the terms refer to you.
Story on a Washington state prison that is one of only four in the “Sustainable Prisons Project,” which pretty much describes the project. Emphasis on recycling and saving resources. Here’s one example of what they’re doing:
“About 59 percent of the 1,200 tons of trash generated at what amounts to a small, isolated city is recycled, including food waste, shoes, cardboard, metal, pallets, paint, paper and clothes.
“I think zero waste is achievable,” prison facility manager Mike Tupper said.
The recycling program saves the prison budget more than $100,000 a year, prison Superintendent Pat Glebe estimated.”
Check out the full details on the whole program here.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
New Reentry Reports
The good folks at the National Institute of Corrections link us to new work by the Urban Institute on inmate reentry. Here’s their blurb with the necessary links to the individual and very interesting-sounding reports.
“The Urban Institute's Returning Home longitudinal study of prisoner reentry is continuing to produce reports of findings from its study. Three recently posted reports examine several aspects of reentry findings in Houston. Community Perspectives "explores prisoner reentry from the perspective of Houston stakeholders and community members." Women on the Outside addresses the experiences of women returning from Texas state prisons and state jails. When Relatives Return "examines the challenges of incarceration and reentry from the perspective of family members on the outside."
And be sure to check out the other latest entries in NIC’s Corrections Community postings while you’re there. It’s a good (and work-related!!!) place to visit to catch up on the issues and research.
Corrections Today on Professional Development
And while we’re directing you to professional reports at correctional sites, be sure to check out, if you haven’t already, the Corrections Today articles available online at the American Correctional Association site. This issue is on professional development in corrections and here are the articles you can access if you hurry over:
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Check in with The Crime Report Today
Here’s some incentive to do so—a few of the many good items you’ll find more details on when you visit. First, news of a new national crime initiative: National Network for Safe Communities. This is the description of the effort:
“A “unique coalition of police chiefs, prosecutors, community leaders and scholars, all committed to building a new standard of practice aimed at reducing violent crimes, eliminating overt drug markets, promoting racial reconciliation between minority communities and law enforcement and reducing high levels of incarceration.””
Notice anyone missing? Like . . . corrections??? Bueller? Bueller?? Good luck with repairing a body while leaving off one leg.
On to wiser enterprises, here we find that the US Department of Justice has an agency, the National Drug Intelligence Center, which has just issued a report which lets you see the drug networks and markets for 32 US cities, including the preferred means of transporting drugs and the highways and byways that they travel. Here’s part of what they discuss:
“. . . package delivery services are increasingly being used by drug traffickers to transport marijuana, which is typically sent in multi-pound parcels from the Southwest Border area. Many drug traffickers prefer to use package delivery services because they can monitor the progress of shipments on the Internet. More of the cocaine comes from cartels based in New York City, according to the report. Marijuana comes from Mexico through Georgia and North Carolina. Vietnamese traffickers from Toronto are the primary ecstasy traffickers in the region, while gangs bring in most of the PCP from California, often in plastic bottles in checked airline luggage.”
Last but not all of what’s there, here’s a note on a Carnegie-Mellon effort to determine how long offenders can go without recidivating and thus “score” high enough to be certified employable. Sounds wonky but it would go a long way to help correctional efforts at reentry (to communities that might like to be “Safe Communities” but don’t let us make you think that corrections should be included in a National Network to . . . sorry, got carried away). This gets at the idea, but you should check out the whole thing:
“The criminologists are using a concept called the “hazard rate,” the probability that someone who has stayed clean will be re-arrested again. For example, a person first arrested at 18 had the same arrest rate 7.7 years later as someone the same age in the general population, based on an analysis of 88,000 people first arrested in New York state in 1980. Most detected recidivism occurs within three to five years of an arrest. The criminologists are trying to identify when the risk of recidivism has declined sufficiently to be considered irrelevant in hiring decisions.”
Monday, June 15, 2009
Book Reviews: RIGHTEOUS DOPEFIEND and METHLAND
A couple of book reviews related to corrections over the weekend that you may have missed, both dealing with the folks who think meth or heroin will solve their problems or needs. Neither book sounds like funtime stuff, but they do apparently depict what some of the worst-case scenarios are that you could expect if you’re looking for a new habit. Here are a couple of excerpts, one for each book, but be sure to check out each whole review to get the full flavor:
RIGHTEOUS DOPEFIEND review:
“The book chronicles the lives of 10 drug users (in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco), developing portraits of these individuals to assess the means by which the dynamics of gender, race, and class find expression in their lives… Its gripping narrative develops a cast of characters around the themes of violence, race relations, sexuality, family trauma, embodied suffering, social inequality, and power relations. The result is a dispassionate chronicle of survival, loss, caring, and hope rooted in the addicts’ determination to hang on for one more day and one more “fix” through a “moral economy of sharing” that precariously balances mutual solidarity and interpersonal betrayal.”
METHLAND review (describing the guy you describe to your kids if you want them to stop taking dope):
“The other is Roland Jarvis, whose local claim to fame
was blowing up his mother's house in 2001 while cooking up a batch of
meth. The fireball caught him as well, melting his face and hands. Reding
describes visiting Jarvis, still using meth, in his mother's darkened
living room in 2005:
"Visible in the semidarkness were fine bones and bright, shining blue eyes around which Jarvis' skin had liquefied and reset in swirls. He rubbed at where his nose had been and coughed violently. Jarvis had just smoked a hit of meth by holding the glass pipe with his rotted teeth" and somehow maneuvering the lighter with the nubs that were once his fingers.
Jarvis -- about to head back to jail, along with his 60-year-old mother, on drug-paraphernalia possession charges -- had become a "Boo Radley" figure, spending his days out of sight and watching TV. The last time he ventured out to his old bar hangout someone had belted him to see "what it was like to slug a man with no nose." "That," Jarvis tells Reding, "kind of put a damper on my Saturday night fever."”
Seriously. You don’t want to pick up that book now?
[And if these excursions into the lives of offenders aren’t depressing enough, remember that the sequel to the 1998 documentary on the Angola prison is on PBS tomorrow night. Here’s the blurb to convince you to watch (and get a brief clip in advance):
“The film is a sequel to 1998's inmate-perspective documentary The Farm: Life Inside Angola (click to watch full doc), which was nominated for an Oscar for its portrayal of six prisoners at Louisiana's high-security penitentiary. Of those original six, four remain to tell their stories—how their lives have evolved since the first film, and how the prison facilities themselves have drastically changed.”]
Personality = Job?
Maybe a lot more than you think, more than that degree you earned or the family connections. At least according to this:
“The study, by researchers at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, showed that in many cases, personality, rather than education or the occupation of a person's parents, played a bigger role in determining what job people ended up with.
People in managerial roles tended to be more open to experience, more conscientious but less agreeable than others in different job roles.
Clerical workers were the most conscientious, but least open to change, while salespeople were the most extroverted and agreeable.
Office workers were among the least conscientious, but they had high levels of emotional stability.”
In this piece on the Justice Reinvestment initiative on data-driven reform by the Council of State Governments, the author notes the work of the Justice Mapping Center, which has a cool site showing in detail the new and provocative ways of looking at data when dispersed in maps. Here’s one example of how it could affect what we do in corrections and reentry:
“One of the most revealing maps built by Cadora's organization shows the impact of mass incarceration on low-income inner-city blocks. Cadora calls them "million-dollar blocks" because the government spends a million dollars a year to lock up former residents while the block crumbles.”
You can get the link to the Center when you go read the whole post.
Threat More Powerful Than Action?
That’s the premise behind an initiative described here to get at drug markets and the violent crime they foster. The idea is that crim just types build up strong cases on new entrants into the high crime areas and then call meetings with them, saying “okay, here’s what we’ve got, you’re going away for a long time unless you stop.” Surprisingly, perhaps, the threat of the definite punishment to come has a better chance of deterring the offenders than the vague and rare threat of actually putting these guys away, according to the research. Here’s what a crim just blogger had to say about the program:
“The economic premise behind most criminal laws is
that the punishment is the "price" for illegal activity, which
offenders should presumably not participate in unless they're willing
to "pay." However, this conception of punishment as "price" ignores
the dramatic real-world uncertainty about outcomes and what economists
call "free rider" problems. Most people involved in most illegal
drug transactions are not arrested or incarcerated, so participants in
drug markets do not perceive they'll necessarily pay a "price" for
their offenses, and certainly not for the next marginal offense where
odds of capture are statistically pretty low.
That uncertainty makes it much less likely criminal laws influence behavior because most rational risk assessors do not assume they'll pay a "price" for any given offense. But if you inform somebody (and the people around them) that the Sword of Damocles is looming directly over their head so that they perceive incarceration as an immediate risk, that "price" becomes much more real and likely to influence behavior, particularly among callow youth who aren't yet so deep in the game.”
The question for us in corrections, of course, then becomes: can we figure out ways to apply the same principle to our management of potentially high misconduct inmates in our prisons?
Prisoner Health Care and Public Health When They Return Home
The Crime Report has a note on a new report describing the impact of inmates returning home after their sentences with the illnesses, physical and psychological, that they may or may not have picked up in prison. Deals specifically with California but applies to any state. Here’s a blurb before you link to the full note and the report link:
“A new publication from the Rand Corporation looks at how behavioral and physical health care affects a former prisoner’s successful reintegration into society, and what role public health services can play in this transfer. According to the report, the prison population is “disproportionately sicker on average than the U.S. population in general, with substantially higher rates of infectious diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B and C), serious mental illness, and substance abuse disorders.””
Among the many useful article abstracts you’ll find at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week here are a few titles to encourage you to go check the whole thing out:
- Mentoring Ex-Prisoners: A Guide for Prisoner Reentry Programs
- Exploring the Determinants of Probationers' Perceptions of Their Supervising Officers
- Exploration of Treatment and Supervision Intensity Among Drug Court and Non-Drug Court Participants
- Building a Shame-Based Typology to Guide Treatment for Offenders
- Recidivism Among Child Sexual Abusers: Initial Results of a 13-Year Longitudinal Random Sample
- Comparative Study of Two Groups of Sex Offenders Identified as High and Low Risk on the Static-99
- Community Corrections Response to Domestic Violence: Guidelines for Practice
- Externalization and Victim-Blaming Among a Sample of Incarcerated Females
Friday, June 12, 2009
Bells and Whistles and Powerpoint
So you spend all that time learning how to make that little man dance across the screen for your PowerPoint demonstration, guaranteeing that the audience will stay attentive and get more out of the presentation. You wanna hear how well that theory works out? If no, skip to the next post. If yes, well, you’ve probably figured it out by now:
“Stephen Mahar of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and colleagues have explored the impact of custom animation in PowerPoint lectures and examined the idea that custom animation may, in fact, negatively impact student learning. . . .
The team found a marked difference in average student performance, with those seeing the non-animated lecture performing much better in the tests than those who watched the animated lecture. Students were able to recall details of the static graphics much better. Animated slides meant to present information incrementally actually require greater concentration, which makes it harder to remember content as well as reducing overall exposure time to the "complete" slide, the researchers found.
Although students appear to like the use of animations in lectures delivered using PowerPoint, there is now strong evidence that animation is nothing more than an entertaining distraction.”
So what about the difference in what people learn from PowerPoint at all versus, you know, just speaking and taking notes? Good thing all those class grades and organizational performance have improved so dramatically since the old ways have disappeared, we bet.
From The Crime Report Today
We tell you regularly to check out all the current news and studies highlighted at The Crime Report, but here’s some new incentive. Right now there are good stories on how an apartment complex in Sacramento, CA got turned around from a high crime haven, how retailers are reporting increases in merchandise theft (probably due to organized crime and/or the change in the economy), how national crime stats are, mmm, problematic (good thing that doesn’t apply to state and local data), and other stories that could catch your interest and help your jobs. It’s work-related, so go check it out. We won’t tell.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Some interesting reports up today on concerns that may arise in management of departments, including DOCs. This one explains why the media pundits still get listened to despite long records of failed predictions and arguable fact. Why is that important to management? Because the principle applies to group deliberations of vital departmental decisions, too. And here is the (too?) honest conclusion of the researcher:
“So if honest advice risks being ignored, what is a responsible scientific adviser to do? "It's an excellent question, and I'm not sure that I have a great answer," says Moore.”
This review of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy details the . . . different . . . perspectives of Generation Yers in their beliefs of their roles in organizations and makes recommendations about how to manage them effectively. In a time when jobs are tough to come by, though, it might be better for the Generation Yers to learn how to manage the jobs they’re given. And here’s another report on why having sick people come to work (or feel that they’ll be hurt by not showing up even if not directly told to) actually ends up costing more than it’s worth.
Females and Coke in Britain
Maybe relevant to the US, maybe not, but a new British report is showing increases in cocaine use in the 2003-2008 period, particularly among females, now almost matching male coke use. The reasons given (guessed at) by authorities (see above) are both the low price of coke as quantities increase in the country and:
“Another reason is what McVeigh calls Britain's "medicalized society" where all kind of pills can be bought on the internet for anything from increasing sexual performance to dieting.
This makes another chemical compound, such as cocaine, seem instantly more acceptable, he said.
"I think people at one time saw drugs as a homogenous group of substances which they either engaged in or they didn't ... I think now there's a lot more merging (of habits)," he said.”
Good thing we don’t have that problem in the US.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Latino Street Gangs --> Transnational Drug Mafia?
According to the author of a recent book, it could happen (or has). This post will get you an overview and details, and here’s how it starts:
“In the 1980s, few law enforcement officials had heard of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) or the 18th Street gang. Yet within two decades, these gangs metastasized from local urban-based organizations in Los Angeles and other California cities into transnational criminal enterprises operating throughout the Western Hemisphere, including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. As Mexico’s violent drug-fueled turf wars threaten to spread north of the border, many wonder whether the gangs have become integrated with Mexican drug cartels.
One way to answer this question is to ask a better one: what will these gangs look like in ten or twenty years?”
Clearly, while this seems a law enforcement issue, it’s something that correctional folks need to be aware of and prepared for as well.
Advertising Self-Regulation Doesn’t Stop Youth Drinking?
Not sure this is a shock to anyone, but this Australian study indicates that “self-regulation by the alcohol industry does not protect impressionable children and youth from exposure.” The researchers detail how the young people are exposed to alcohol messages and call for increased restrictions on those messages. Why? “Previous studies have concluded that the more alcohol advertising young people are exposed to, the more likely they are to drink, and in the US, another country where alcohol advertising is subject to self-regulation by the industry, more than 4,600 young people under the legal drinking age of 21 die because of alcohol use each year.” No mention in the story, though, of the research indicating the greater difficulty kicking alcohol for those who start young or the number of inmates and probationer/parolees under correctional supervision for alcohol offenses. But maybe it’s different if all you drink is Fosters.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Lower Sentences for Lower Quality Drug Sales?
Okay, economists do live on different planets than most of the rest of us, but here’s an intriguing idea from a couple. Rather than deal with our illegal drug problems through prisons or legalization/decriminalization, they’re proposing having lower penalties for sellers who sell adulterated (more mixed) drugs. Outcome, they say? More bad drugs = higher prices for better drugs, taking many users out of said market and out of severe drug problems, presumably. Here, let them explain it (although the whole thing clearly needs to be read for the full explanation):
“If it’s true that the market is undermined by moral hazard, then economic theory suggests policymakers could leverage the moral hazard, i.e., induce sellers to dilute more. This could be achieved through a policy of reducing the sentences of sellers who “cheat” and sell low-purity drugs. This policy would have a similar effect as increasing the wholesale price of drugs – a key objective of the war on drugs, and one that is pursued at great cost. However, the policy we propose can be implemented for free. In fact, the direct effect of this policy is to save money by reducing incarceration rates. This is a goal that is very important in its own right, of course, quite apart from any monetary savings, and that the current war on drugs definitely fails to achieve. Finally, the policy could easily be implemented with minor changes to the existing sentencing guidelines.”
Crazy, you say? Well, they said that about housing prices, too, and . . . oh, wait.
With and Without the Fed Stimulus
A couple of good graphs here forecasting where state and local governments would be fiscally by 2013 with and without the federal stimulus money. Don’t let it worry you that the forecasts still show a 4% decline by 2013 even WITH the stimulus.
Top of the (Not Exceptional) Class
Interesting article on the report of the National Alliance on Mental Illness which released a report grading the states on the quality of mental health care. Oklahoma is at the top of the class, so to speak, with a B (only two other states had Bs and no As, tough grading curve!). What’s even better about this is that in 2006, Oklahoma got a D. OK DOC chief mental health officer Robert Powitzky gets good coverage in the article, explaining the buildup and impact of those with mental health needs in our prisons, along with other state spokespeople. And there’s a quick and handy reference map that might prove useful to you in the future as well.
(And here you’ll find a recent mental health prevalence in prisons article that will give you further research background if you wish it.)
Good Stuff from The Crime Report
One of your regular daily Internet visits (besides E-Bay and the Weather Channel) should be The Crime Report. Want proof? Well, today, among many interesting articles summarized and linked to you would find results of a survey seeking appropriate sentences for minor crimes and revocations (as well as the amount saved by sending offenders to alternative sanctions to incarceration—hint: $7.2/year), a report on assaults on prison staffs as fed prisons overcrowd, and the $1.5 b. cost of North Carolina’s “habitual felon” law.
Teen-Onset Drinking and Later Alcohol Problems
May not be news, but here’s more research showing that, if drinkers start in their teens, they have more problems, including criminal justice problems, than those who start later in life. The intrepid researchers then call for more action to stop adolescent drinkers. Man, we hadn’t thought of that before. We’ll get right on it.
We all know that genetics are only partly responsible for an individual’s behavior, but, given the interest in bioengineering, this research could have an impact on corrections some day in the future.
“Boys who carry a particular variation of the gene Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), sometimes called the "warrior gene," are more likely not only to join gangs but also to be among the most violent members and to use weapons, according to a new study from The Florida State University that is the first to confirm an MAOA link specifically to gangs and guns.”
Only males though.
“The MAOA gene affects levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that are related to mood and behavior, and those variants that are related to violence are hereditary. Some previous studies have found the "warrior gene" to be more prevalent in cultures that are typified by warfare and aggression.
"What's interesting about the MAOA gene is its location on the X-chromosome," Beaver said. "As a result, males, who have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome, possess only one copy of this gene, while females, who have two X-chromosomes, carry two. Thus, if a male has an allele (variant) for the MAOA gene that is linked to violence, there isn't another copy to counteract it. Females, in contrast, have two copies, so even if they have one risk allele, they have another that could compensate for it. That's why most MAOA research has focused on males, and probably why the MAOA effect has, for the most part, only been detected in males."”
“Minority Report” anyone?
Friday, June 05, 2009
End of Year Budget Cut in Oklahoma
According to this story, state agencies in Oklahoma “State agencies will see a 1.4 percent cut in their monthly allocations in June after revenue collections in May failed to meet expectations for the fifth month in a row.” The effects shouldn’t be to dire, the state treasurer says. “He does not expect the cuts to result in worker furloughs or a decline in services to the public. Most agencies should have enough cash on hand to pay the bills, he said.
Most agencies were already bracing for a decline in their budgets. The 2010 fiscal year budget includes cuts to most agency budgets as lawmakers grappled with an expected $612 million decline in revenues for the fiscal year that begins July 1. “
Trimming the Fat by Trimming the Fat?
This article indicates that several states are making their cuts in correctional budgets by cutting the food served, quality and quantity. Good thing that inmates never have gotten agitated by food quality and quantity. That could end up costing more than the food cuts if they ever did. Oh, wait . . . .
Gordon Crews, a professor at Marshall University in West Virginia, wrote a book looking at correctional violence and said historically there have been links between food and problems behind bars. He pointed to a February riot at the Reeves County Detention Center in Texas caused in part by poor food quality.
“A lot of prisoners will see something like that as some kind of retribution against them or some kind of mistreatment,” Crews said. “It’ll be something that the correctional staff will pay the price for … another reason (for inmates) to argue and fight back.”
In Georgia, reports of inmate assaults — on both staff and other inmates — are up substantially for fiscal year 2009 over the year before, according to data obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request.
Prison officials deny the increase has anything to do with the shrinking menu but didn’t provide an explanation.
Lower Sex Sentences for Grandpa and Uncle Joe
One of the sentencing statistics that never fails to shock laypeople is the usually low average sentence given for child sex abuse. DAs and judges know, however, that, when the accused is a loved one, they can either go for a lighter sentence or risk not getting a conviction at all. This article from Minnesota will give you a very good overview of the situation and the concerns that practitioners have to deal with. Here’s a brief taste to get you to read the whole thing:
“. . . lighter sentences are given more often to defendants abusing children in their own families or households than to those who abuse outside their families, a Star Tribune analysis of nearly 1,500 child sex abuse cases shows.
From 2001 to 2007, 33 percent of family or household child sex abuse defendants facing prison time ended up with probation, compared with 26 percent of those abusing outside their families. In the most serious cases where victims were between 13 and 15 years old, the difference was even greater: 37 percent versus 24 percent. . . .
Through the 1990s, the departure rate in those "intra-familial" cases -- which do not include all child sex offenses in families -- was usually more than 45 percent and sometimes more than 50 percent, according to last year's report, the most recent available. In 2007, judges gave probation 43 percent of the time. In 2006, it was 48 percent.
Prosecutors and others in the judicial system argue that there are good reasons for that. Family members may side with the defendant. Victims can get pressure from relatives if a breadwinner goes to prison. There is seldom physical evidence. Prosecutors weigh the risk of losing the case versus a guilty plea, which they say can be healing for everyone.” (h/t Sentencing Law and Policy)
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Substance Abuse Use Report
The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has the latest edition of the results from its annual survey on drug use among respondents 12 and older (not in the military or in prison) for 2006 and 2007. Not much change from 2005. Iowa is the least into drugs apparently while Rhode Island is into high times, comparatively speaking. Fewer than 2 in 5 respondents saw great risk in using marijuana. Also has numbers on alcohol, tobacco, and mental health incidence, which also do not appear to have changed greatly. You can find the full report here and the state data tables here. A great overall data resource.
State Budgets’ Futures Down into 2011?
According to this report at Stateline, they are. Not news to those familiar with how state budgets work. Here’s part of the reason for any reader not familiar:
“But state fiscal conditions historically lag behind national economic recovery. The year after a recession ends is typically when state budgets are hit hardest. That’s because by then, Medicaid rolls have swelled as more individuals become unemployed and lose their health insurance.”
Also notes that none of this takes California’s current situation into account, nor any of the other states (such as Michigan or Nevada??) which might be on the same immediate path. Sorry to mess up your day.
Feeling Safer in Gangs
This story reveals that, yeah, you’re more likely to be assaulted, shot, or killed, but you feel better about your safety by being in gangs. Hard for those of us never so inclined to understand, at least for me, but I don’t understand “Lost” either. This research should be useful to correctional folks as well as law enforcement, and it points to possible windows which might be open for successful intervention:
“The study also highlights a possible intervention point. Because fear, which affects decision-making, generally peaks immediately following a violent action – and before the gang can organize a response – Melde said that might be the best time to try convincing gang members to quit.”
Revenge Always Sweet?
Interesting story on revenge and its actual impact on the people getting it. Here’s how it starts:
“Historically, there are two schools of thought on revenge. The Bible, in Exodus 21:23, instructs us to "give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" to punish an offender. But more than 2,000 years later, Martin Luther King Jr., responded, "The old law of 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind."
Who's right? As psychologists explore the mental machinery behind revenge, it turns out both can be, depending on who and where you are. If you're a power-seeker, revenge can serve to remind others you're not to be trifled with. If you live in a society where the rule of law is weak, revenge provides a way to keep order.
But revenge comes at a price. Instead of helping you move on with your life, it can leave you dwelling on the situation and remaining unhappy, psychologists' research finds.
Considering revenge is a very human response to feeling slighted, humans are atrocious at predicting its effects.”
Oookay. So why is this important for corrections? Well, here’s the conclusion:
“But by looking into what motivates revenge, and by increasing our knowledge about how revenge makes us feel, it might be possible to combine the best aspect of justice and revenge. For example, McKee studies ways that institutional punishment can merge with victim's wishes to participate in that punishment. Victim impact statements, where victims are allowed to describe their ordeal and offer input on an offender's sentencing, have become common in U.S., Australian and Finnish courts. That can partially satisfy a victim's vengeful feelings while also putting the responsibility for punishment on the state, protecting the victim from the rumination trap Carlsmith describes.
"Then victims sort of get the best of both worlds," McKee says.”
Impacts on punishments = impacts on corrections. So it IS worth it to read the whole thing.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Violent Crime Up in Oklahoma City
Despite the crime reports showing violent crime down nationally in 2008, violent crime in Oklahoma City rose 17% from the previous year. Robberies and aggravated assaults were the culprits, with the assaults apparently being the biggest surprise in the numbers to local officials, jumping 24%. Property crime rose 2%, primarily due to burglary and larceny increases, compared to the national decline in property crime as well. Despite the national increase in motor vehicle thefts that was reported, OKC actually saw a drop in those offenses here. Tulsa had an 8% increase in violent crime over the same period, also led by aggravated assaults, up 11% there over 2007.
Moms and Reentry
A kind reader sent along a note on this research concerning the impact on reentry success following substance abuse treatment of women expecting to return to their kids (or not). The major finding?
“Women who completed the treatment program were more likely to remain arrest-free during the first 18 months following prison, and they used drugs less frequently. Women who expected to live with their minor children were significantly more likely to enter the treatment program, but maternal role expectations had no direct effect on reentry outcomes once treatment experience and background factors were controlled.”
Mental Health and Incarceration
New report out on the numbers of offenders with mental health needs heading to incarceration. Here’s the key point:
“Nearly 17 percent of people entering jail have serious mental illnesses, says a new report from the Council of State Governments and Policy Research Associates. The study of more than 20,000 new inmates found that the percentage of women with serious mental illnesses–31–is more than twice that of males, 14.5 percent. The organizations said their count was the most accurate on the subject in more than two decades.”
More details here.
One Can Be a Crowd?
“The Wisdom of Crowds” tells us that averaging out the guesses of a group of diverse people can lead to better overall estimates than even those of experts. This article indicates that that’s because of extremes balancing out (if the group is diverse enough) and that we can individually achieve something like the same effect simply by re-guessing our own guesses after being alerted that we could be wrong and given a chance to think through why. IOW, assuming you’re wrong can make you righter. So, if you can’t pull together enough diverse people to put together estimates, you can try becoming a crowd yourself and seeing if your answers get you closer. Or something like that. Go read it yourself and decide. (But you could be wrong the first time.)
You Really Are Only As Old As You Think?
According to some creative researchers discussed here, that really may be true. The researchers came up with some simulations for folks that made their ages vague or sorta sent them back in time (go read it to find out how), with the results that the participants actually felt and acted much younger than they behaved in more traditional and contemporary contexts. Here’s one example that may show its immediate relevance to corrections:
“Most people try to dress appropriately for their age, so clothing in effect becomes a cue for ingrained attitudes about age. But what if this cue disappeared? Langer decided to study people who routinely wear uniforms as part of their work life, and compare them with people who dress in street clothes. She found that people who wear uniforms missed fewer days owing to illness or injury, had fewer doctors’ visits and hospitalizations, and had fewer chronic diseases—even though they all had the same socioeconomic status. That’s because they were not constantly reminded of their own aging by their fashion choices.”
We should also consider, with many state agencies faced with calls for early retirements and buyouts and with older employees who may be thinking twice about retirement right now, whether we can also structure work environments in other ways to produce more “Cocoon” results for those who stay. (And finally answer the eternal question of whether casual days are more productive than formal workware days??)
Monday, June 01, 2009
Violent and Property Crimes Both Down in 2008
The FBI is reporting that violent crimes were down last year 2.5% and property crimes down 1.6%. Burglary showed the only increased and motor vehicle theft was waaaayyy down. The full report here, a summary here.
Moms and Substance Abuse
Crime may be down overall, but moms going back to substance abuse after birthing are staying high, so to speak. This article gives details, but here are a couple to tempt you to read the whole thing:
“After delivery, the study found that 10% of women were binge drinking (five or more drinks within a few hours), 20.4% were smoking cigarettes, and 3.8% were using marijuana. The findings come from surveys of 68,000 women from 2002 to 2007 who were asked about substance abuse in the month before the survey.
Though the study doesn't prove women are resuming substance use after pregnancy as opposed to starting it, the large number of women who were using substances after pregnancy indicates most probably were resuming, says Peter Delany, director of the Office of Applied Studies in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the group that released the report.”
Movies and Alcohol
Maybe those moms are getting their ideas from the movies, at least the ones that show social drinking to be fun, not the ones that inevitably show any alcoholic drinking out of the gutter. Here is a very interesting post on how the movies portray the good, bad, and ugly of alcohol use and the possible impact on society. Relevant quote:
“Herein lies the irony of alcohol in films: cinema vastly differs in its portrayal of the drinking of alcohol versus alcoholism. The first is associated with excitement, pleasure, and enjoyment while the second is dramatically portrayed as devastating and horrifying. The blurry line between serious social drinking and alcoholic drinking seems to be undefined in the films. Films seek drama, and in this case miss the truth.”
Breaking Up Is So Very Hard to Do
A couple of stories on the politics associated with closing prisons in states facing tough budget times. This one gives an overall national view while this one describes one North Carolina prison’s successful efforts (so far) to keep the doors open . . . uh, locked.
Latest NCJRS Articles
Among the multitude of interesting offerings this week at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service are:
“From Prison to Home: Women's Pathways In and Out of Crime”
“Parenting Education for Incarcerated Mothers”
“Attitudes about Electronic Monitoring: Minority and Majority Racial Group Differences”
“Risk Factors for Potential Occupational Exposure to HIV: A Study of Correctional Officers”
“Enhancing Employment Opportunities for Ex-Offenders: A Survey of Idaho Employers”
Go check them and the others out when you get a chance.