Monday, August 31, 2009
Furloughs, Garage Sales, and Morale
Stateline has a
piece up updating where states are on furloughing employees to
meet budget declines, including state-by-state details and recommended
options for your strategy to deal with these things yourself. Here’s
a bit of the piece, but you need to check out the whole article and
“Still, as states’ financial woes worsen, personnel cuts will get deeper and experts say most states will not likely return to pre-recession workforce levels in the foreseeable future. As a result, some are concerned that productivity-enhancing human resource practices will fall by the wayside and government services will suffer.
According to Pattison, states may cut their overall payrolls by about 7 percent this fiscal year, but schools, corrections and health care will be largely spared. To make up the difference, administrative agencies could see cuts of 20 percent or more, he said. “Frankly it comes down to what’s more politically justifiable.””
Yikes. To offset the revenue declines, some state and local governments are attaching more or higher fees to practically everything or holding the equivalents of mega-garage sales. In the meantime, you can read here and here about the impact all this is already having on the lives of state employees and their families. And to end on a down note, as Stateline points out, the trick is how to do all this without killing employee motivation and morale, a tough line to walk at any time, especially in light of research that demonstrates “the downward spiral process which is triggered when an employee experiences perceived injustices at the work. Such events create a major stressor which may potentially lead to damaged psychological well being and extreme emotional exhaustion, which directly affect a worker’s ability to cope with workload demands and performance-related expectations.
These individuals are also likely to feel singled out within their work environment and may start to feel unhappy about their jobs as a whole, leading to a change in job-related attitudes and behavior. This in turn leads to a general depletion in their sense of commitment to the organization, and in the worst-case scenario, an increased risk of voluntary termination and high turnover within organizations.”
Looks like a bumpy ride.
Faith-Based Jail Program
Those of you in faith-based reentry and rehab programs might be interested in this Pennsylvania effort that seems to be having success. At the very least you find out that the Heinz Foundation is supplying money for projects like this. Check it out.
This Week at NCJRS
The research abstracts posted again this week at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service are full of great stuff. We’ve listed a few of the titles below, but, as we always say, you need to go check them all out yourself because you know how clueless we can be about what you really need here.
- Crossing the Line: A Quantitative Analysis of Inmate Boundary Violators in a Southern Prison System
- Impact of Punishment and Rehabilitation Views on Organizational Commitment Among Correctional Staff: A Preliminary Study
- From the "Streets" to "Normal Life": Assessing the Role of Social Support in Release Planning for HIV-Positive and Substance-Involved Prisoners
- Consolations of Going Back to Prison: What 'Revolving Door' Prisoners Think of Their Prospects
- Parole Violations and Revocations in California: Analysis and Suggestions for Action
- Effect of Participatory Management on Internal Stress, Overall Job Satisfaction, and Turnover Intention Among Federal Probation Officers
- Gender-Specific Factors Associated with Community Substance Abuse Treatment Utilization Among Incarcerated Substance Users
Friday, August 28, 2009
New E&A Reports on Website
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Evaluation & Analysis unit has posted two new reports to its webpage (see all reports and data here). One is a new White Paper on Homicides in Prison, and the other is an analysis of DOC receptions from FY 2002 through FY 2009. Check them out when you have a chance.
Speaking of Reports
Your department ready for the next run of possible Swine Flu epidemic? Not likely, according to this APPA report, which, coincidentally, can help you get ready for the next run of possible Swine Flu epidemic. (h/t The Crime Report)
Time to Think
Got enough of it? Not likely, according to this analyst writing in GOVERNING. And blocking off even 5% of your time for the different kinds of thinking he describes will help you with your work and planning. He thinks.
The Legal Drugs
New report on the doubling of use of antidepressants from 1996 through 2005. Here are some of the findings:
- “Women are twice as likely to use antidepressants as men (female 13.4% vs male 6.7% in 2005); the ratio was the same in 1996. Studies consistently find that Western women are about twice as likely to report suffering from depression and anxiety disorders as men are. But these kinds of studies rely on self-report so this could merely mean that women are more willing to talk about their problems. This data suggests that they also seek treatment about twice as often.
- The peak age bracket for antidepressants is 50-64, with 15.5% yearly use. This is more than double the rate in the 18-34 bracket. This surprised me, maybe because of the influence of books like Prozac Nation (tagline - "Young and Depressed in America"). So, it looks like the increasing use of antidepressants is not because younger people, having grown up in the "Prozac Era", are more accepting of them.
- Antidepressants are a white thing - 12.0% of whites take them vs. about 5% of blacks and Hispanics. But it would be interesting to see a regional breakdown here. Are blue-state or red-state whites more likely to be medicated?
- Family income was not correlated with antidepressant use, but the unemployed were twice as likely to use antidepressants: 22% in '05. This might be because unemployment is bad for your mental health, or because mental illness is bad for your employment prospects. Or both.
- One of the questions in the survey asked people to rate their own mental health. Over 90% of Americans said it as "good", "very good" or "excellent" - including 80% of antidepressants users. This really surprised me, and suggests that these drugs are being prescribed to people who are not, overall, very unwell.
- The % of antidepressant users also using an antipsychotic drug rose from 5.5% to 8.9% in 2005. Given that the number of users also doubled, this means the number of Americans using an antipsychotic as well as an antidepressant increased by a factor of more than 3. This is, frankly, extremely troubling, since antipsychotics are by far the worst psychiatric drugs in terms of side effects. There is evidence that some antipsychotics can be of use in depression as an add-on to antidepressants, but there is better evidence for other alternatives, such as lithium.”
What’s the big deal for corrections if they’re legal? Well, do legal drugs substitute for illegal, affecting our crime rates, or combine with or lead to the illegal, affecting our crime rates? And if the legitimacy of drug use is growing, what will that say about control of illegal drugs in the future? Fun questions for your weekend, we’d say.
“I Know I Confessed, But . . . .”
Don’t college professors have less mean things to do than get some experiment participants to confess they didn’t do or accuse others of things they didn’t do after seeing a tricked-out video? It must be part of getting that Ph.D. Good thing we don’t rely on eyewitnesses or confessions in criminal justice.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Employment and Reentry
The Joyce Foundation has produced an interesting report on employment programs created through the Second Chance Act that might be applicable to your own reentry efforts. Give it a look and see if you agree. (h/t The Crime Report)
In the Mood for a Book Report?
Well, what if it’s about that Iowa case on faith-based prison programs and it details things you might need to consider as/if you plan your own programs? It’s not very long, so don’t worry about snoozing. It’s informative, trust us.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Later Parole Does Not Reduce Recidivism
That’s the finding in this
article on a Michigan evaluation of parole and later return to
prison in that state. Go read the whole article, but here are
some of the key findings:
• While 18 percent returned to prison with a new sentence within four years of their release, only 4.5 percent were returned for a new crime against a person. Returns for larceny, drugs and burglary were by far the most common.
• Re-offense rates vary widely by crime type. Criminals who commit financially motivated crimes are the most likely to return to prison; 3 percent of sex offenders returned for a new sex offense and less than 1 percent of homicide offenders returned for another homicide.
• Overall, 61 percent were released when first eligible but that also varied widely by offense. About 30 percent were kept one or two additional years, then released. Prisoners with the lowest re-offense rates were most likely to be denied parole.
• Length of time served was not associated with success upon release, although older age, lack of prior prison terms and good institutional conduct were.
The Lansing-based group, which advocates policies that prevent crime and rehabilitates offenders, estimates that if everyone denied parole for up to two years had been released when first eligible, on average, it would have saved more than 2,300 beds a year.
Make Sure You Explain Why
Or those inmates you deny consideration for early release for may have a case in the federal courts.
Chicken or Egg?
A lot of recent reports have found brain development differences in teenagers and attributed their more offensive behavior (so to speak) to that incomplete development, with obvious implications for punishments of said teens. However, this research indicates that, in fact, the more reckless teens appear to have brains more like adults and that experience may play enough of a role in development to cast doubt on the idea of uniform teenage brain development. IOW, maybe it’s the environment that determines brain development as much as or more than the normal genetic outplaying. Who’s right? Not clear yet, but it IS clear that it’s not clear yet, which should say something about those “their brains are different” assertions.
A reader sends along a reminder of the ABC Primetime report tonight (9:00 CST) on mental illness and the movement to get the mentally ill off their medications, despite the tragedies that have occurred (see here). Given the increasing use of incarceration to house and treat our mentally ill population, this show is obviously of interest to more than just those immediately affected.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Another Fine Meth
This story is getting a lot of play, how to make meth the Reader’s Digest way. We can judge the wisdom of it in our meth receptions in prison over the next 12 months. You should probably be aware of it in any case, useful for some stats it provides and the possibilities of flame balls.
How Many Balls Can You Juggle?
The more you try, the worse you do, apparently. That’s
the conclusion of this
research on multitasking, which says the people who do it most
do it worst. Why?
“"They couldn't help thinking about the task they weren't doing," lead author Eyal Ophir said. "The high multitaskers are always drawing from all the information in front of them. They can't keep things separate in their minds."
The next step is to look into what multitaskers are good at and see if the difference between high and low multitaskers is one of "exploring" versus "exploiting" information.
"High multitaskers just love more and more information. Their greatest thrill is to get more," he said. On the other hand, "exploiters like to think about the information they already have."”
So the answer is to do less and think about it more? Why does “Wally” in the Dilbert cartoons suddenly come to mind?
This Week’s Research at NCJRS
As always, the National Criminal Justice Reference
Service has some really good stuff up in its Research
Abstracts section. We’ll list a few of the titles to tempt
you, but there’s so much there, we’re bound to have missed something
you’d like. Go check the whole thing.
It Ain't Happening Here: Working to Understand Prison Rape
Reentry, Reintegration, Rehabilitation, Recidivism, and Redemption
Resumption of Smoking After Release From a Tobacco-Free Correctional Facility
Brief Motivational Intervention to Reduce HIV Risk and to Increase HIV Testing Among Offenders Under Community Supervision
Autism in the Criminal Justice Detention System: A Review of the Literature
Victim-Offender Racial Dyads and Clearance of Lethal and Nonlethal Assault
Rational Choice, Agency and Thoughtfully Reflective Decision Making: The Short and Long-Term Consequences of Making Good Choices
Black Beauties, Gorilla Pills, Footballs, and Hillbilly Heroin: Some Reflection on Prescription Drug Abuse and Diversion Research Over the Past 40 Years
Monday, August 24, 2009
Prisons and the Aging
Some increased talk lately about increasing the use of medical furloughs for inmates with short lifespans and big medical bills on the horizon (although that Scotland thing likely has put a kilt in that for a while). Problems that can arise even when approved are detailed in this Alabama story, where the releases have been few, while programs like hospice are being used and getting praised in places like Louisiana.
How (Not) to Brainstorm
Turns out the benefits of brainstorming
sessions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when the participants
either groupthink or hold back ideas for fear of being shot down or
penalized. How to do it better? Well, this article
might help you figure out ways:
“Inspiration for ways to get around these problems comes from the research on electronic brainstorming. Gallupe and Cooper (1993) found that electronically mediated brainstormers generated more high quality ideas than face-to-face brainstomers.” Click the link to find out how.
The Ultimate Alternative to Incarceration
No need for prisons or jails at all, if you follow this proposal from one of academe’s most distinguished economists. Just straight from courtroom to chair to (maybe, maybe not) release:
“. . . one of Gordon Tullock’s characteristically quirky proposals for reform was to institute the death penalty as the sanction that any crime would meet in the criminal justice system. However, there was a twist, because although any criminal would receive a death penalty, not all criminals would actually be executed. Specifically, all criminals would be strapped to the chair, but there was only a probability that the button would be pressed, the probability depending on the severity of the crime. Because of risk aversion and a tendency to overestimate probabilities (and for the Draconian symbolic value), this scheme would put an effective end to much crime.”
IOW, 2% chance of death for running a red light, 30% for burg II, 99.9% for murder I. You either die or walk. No expensive incarceration or alternatives or even probation. Think of the impact on plea bargaining rationales and calculations. Sentencing guidelines for real.
Or would appellate courts be flooded? Offenders kept in cells until appeals exhausted, de facto 10-15 year sentences for every appeal . . . .
Question of the Day: Would you be scared to live on the same planet as most economists?
Friday, August 21, 2009
Reds v. Rockies
Baseball game? Sometimes. But also apparently, and weirdly, new gang signals. Not that we let bangers wear baseball caps inside our walls, but it might be something some of us in corrections should at least be aware of.
Arnold’s next movie after leaving the California
governor’s chair? Well, maybe, really who knows? But it’s
also the title of this report on targeting supervision of high-risk
offenders that you might be interested in. Here’s the promo:
“At a time when states are facing historic budget deficits, state leaders can prevent a large share of the nation’s criminal activity and cut corrections costs by helping probation and parole agencies focus their efforts on higher-risk offenders, in higher-risk neighborhoods, at higher-risk times through a strategy of targeted supervision.”
And here’s the link.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Possible Special Session
The Oklahoma legislature may be meeting again soon if the governor and legislative leaders can work out the details of a special session to address the sudden revenue shortage facing state government here. Here’s a bit of a longer article you obviously need to read completely:
“Legislative leaders, the governor’s office and budget officials have been in talks to decide how to deal with the revenue shortfall and the likelihood that tax collections will continue to come in below what legislators budgeted to fund state agencies.
Legislators have several options. They could use some of the Rainy Day Fund, which has nearly $600 million. The state constitution allows up to three-eighths of the fund, or $223.7 million, to be used upon a revenue shortfall declaration by the state Board of Equalization. The other 37.5 percent can be used to stabilize the budget in another fiscal year; the remaining 25 percent may be spent on projects labeled as emergencies.
Lawmakers could use some of the approximately $600 million in federal stimulus money still available. The governor’s office and legislative leaders had set aside that money to use for the next fiscal year.
Or they could make budget cuts to state agencies.”
Nationally the focus from the latest report on DUIs in the US is on the growth of female DUIs. However, here in Oklahoma it looks like we need to be focusing on males as well since we tied Kansas for the largest growth in DUI deaths among males last year. And that would obviously involve consideration of greater penalties and requirements for treatment, which would obviously affect those of us in corrections.
The Answer for Heroin Is . . . Heroin???
According to this research, it is:
“"Methadone, provided according to best-practice
guidelines, should remain the treatment of choice for the majority
of patients," Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes of the University of British
Columbia and colleagues wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.
But when that does not work, they said, giving heroin's active ingredient, diacetylmorphine, appears to be an effective alternative. Methadone treatment fails in 15 to 25 percent who seek care.
Oviedo-Joekes and colleagues studied 226 addicts in Montreal and Vancouver. Only 54 percent of those who got methadone stayed in treatment for a year, they found.
But 88 percent of those who got diacetylmorphine shots did. And those who got diacetylmorphine cut back on illicit drugs by 67 percent, compared to 48 percent who got methadone.”
Read the whole article to get all the details.
Maine Releases the Terminally Ill
Details of a new
law in Maine that allows release of terminally ill inmates demonstrated
to no longer endanger public safety. Given that most states
are faced with similar concerns, you might find some useful info
here. What, you intelligently ask, about their costs and care
when early released?
“Sheriff Ross says there's always the question of how and where terminally ill inmates will be cared for after release, but the Volunteers of America, he says, have been a help.
"Here in Penobscot County we have a contract with Volunteers of America for release of inmates back into the community," he says. "And so that's a supervised community confinement program, basically, where we have somebody checking in on them. But we can set up conditions on inmates that are released to hospitals, or to homes and have them checked on by our VOA staff."”
Will We Live Long Enough . . . .
. . . to see the day when these
findings and recommendations are
actually put into effect in state government? Like the
finding that Europeans, with so much more vacation time than we have
here in the US, actually maintain comparable productivity levels? Or
that powerpoint presentations get deadlier the more you put into
them, especially with those ever-popular bullet-points? Since
the findings that brief afternoon naps raise individual productivity
levels were so well implemented when they came out a couple of years
ago, let’s all hold our breaths.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Baby Boomers’ Numbers Still High
Some folks may think that our aging inmate problem
is only due to longer prison sentences. In fact, though, many of
our older offenders are really just starting their prison careers, and
the Baby Boom, as it provided large numbers of potential inmates when
they were young, continues to do the same as it ages. Case in point: this
story on the continued drug abuse of Boomers despite their increasing
inability to see clearly even when not high.
“The rates of people aged 50 to 59 who admit to using illicit drugs in the past year nearly doubled from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007 while rates among all other age groups are the same or decreasing, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported.
"These findings show that many in the Woodstock generation continue to use illicit drugs as they age," SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said in a statement.
"This continued use poses medical risks to these individuals and is likely to put further strains on the nation's health care system -- highlighting the value of preventing drug use from ever starting."”
As a Baby Boomer, I would like to apologize to all following generations. For basically everything.
Reports, Reports, Reports
Some excellent reports out with immediate relevance. Here’s one recommending caution (not elimination) on the use of risk assessment in criminal justice, which might, you know, affect what we do in corrections. Here’s one looking at earned time policies in the states as a means of reducing prison costs. And here’s a 2009 update of that tremendously important “return on investment” analysis done by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy back in 2006 that, if you haven’t read it, why haven’t you?
can find the latest award winners among criminal justice programs that
you might be interested in, courtesy of the National Criminal Justice
Association. This will give you a taste:
“. . .The Berks County, Pa., Community Reentry Program was cited for helping offenders, reducing the recidivism rate, and increasing public safety. The Iowa Jail-Based Substance Abuse Program was honored for treating problems “associated with both substance abuse and criminal thinking.” More than 90 percent of participants had not been arrested after a year.
Harriet’s House Transitional Housing for Female Ex-Offenders in North Carolina was praised for helping 128 women obtain and maintain permanent, safe, and affordable housing. The Crystal Judson Family Justice Center in Washington State got an award for helping victims of domestic abuse and their children. . . .”
And here’s a program that didn’t get an award but is getting a story in Washington state that you also might find useful:
““The state Department of Natural Resources last year
cut funding for an inmate firefighting crew based at Belfair's Mission
Creek Corrections Center for Women. Fifty of the approximately 180 inmates
at Mission Creek were left with a lot more time on their hands.
"It was a struggle to think, 'what are we going to do with 50 women?' " said Wanda McRae, Mission Creek's superintendent.
They then looked locally.
Mission Creek officials had already established a community-service crew, so they basically expanded it, McRae said. And the partnerships have blossomed.
In one of the most successful partnerships thus far, inmates have teamed up with the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, which works to restore salmon habitat.
Each Monday, groups of eight women are taken to rivers and streams around the Hood Canal, where they work all day spraying knotweed, a noxious weed that can destroy salmon habitat.””
Click on the link for details. Speaking of saving food, here’s a story on the use of inmates to go into harvested fields to retrieve edible crops for food banks. Finally, here’s an op-ed from GOVERNING describing efforts to bring wiki and social communication tech to public info campaigns that you might be able to adapt to your department or unit:
“But many state and local government agencies are still strangers to wikis and blogs and social media sites, though some government leaders and agencies are jumping on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. They're using them to publicize state and municipal happenings, receive comment from residents and sometimes just toot their own horns.
Some critics say those sites were not built with government in mind and that governments aren't looking for "friends," but to engage civic-minded people in serious discussions. Others say governments should use whatever social networking sites work, and use as many as possible. After all, they're free. Of course, there's always a danger that a few opinionated people could dominate the discussions. But that's true in person as well.
The advantages of electronic participation over town hall meetings are many. It's a greener alternative than requiring people to drive to a central place to participate in government. It also allows shift workers and others who can't attend a meeting to offer their insights. And it provides a "safe" environment for those too nervous to stand up and speak. "Citizens hate to get up and look stupid," says Kim Patrick Kobza, president and CEO of Neighborhood America, which provides enterprise "social software." "We're all afraid of public speaking or looking uninformed."”
Again, the whole article is worth your time.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Good piece here on the problems most states with a rapidly growing aging inmate population, focusing on Florida but relevant to us all. If you’d like to see a moving graph of the aging of the US population generally through 2050 which may help to explain at least part of the situation we’re facing, check this out.
Want Some More Depression?
Then read this story on the impact the closing of state prisons has on the communities that they leave. And obviously more than one state is covered.
Quote of the Day
From the management guru Henry Mintzberg:
“I talk about what I call “the inevitably flawed manager.” We’re all flawed, but basically, effective managers are people whose flaws are not fatal under the circumstances. Maybe the best managers are simply ordinary, healthy people who aren’t too screwed up.” (h/t Organizations and Markets)
Monday, August 17, 2009
Don’t Sniff That Bill
There might be cocaine on it. And not just if
it’s US currency. Here’s
“You probably have cocaine in your wallet, purse, or pocket. Sound unlikely or outrageous? Think again! In what researchers describe as the largest, most comprehensive analysis to date of cocaine contamination in banknotes, scientists are reporting that cocaine is present in up to 90 percent of paper money in the United States, particularly in large cities such as Baltimore, Boston, and Detroit. The scientists found traces of cocaine in 95 percent of the banknotes analyzed from Washington, D.C., alone.
Presented at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, the new study suggests that cocaine abuse is still widespread and may be on the rise in some areas. It could help raise public awareness about cocaine use and lead to greater emphasis on curbing its abuse, the researchers say.
The scientists tested banknotes from more than 30 cities in five countries, including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, China, and Japan, and found "alarming" evidence of cocaine use in many areas. The U.S. and Canada had the highest levels, with an average contamination rate of between 85 and 90 percent, while China and Japan had the lowest, between 12 and 20 percent contamination. The study is the first report about cocaine contamination in Chinese and Japanese currencies, they say.”
Check out the whole article for more details.
Six of One, Half Dozen of Another
Fairly well-known that early age pot use can hurt bones, but turns out now that later age pot use can help against osteoporosis. Of course, there should be other issues involved in the decisions of senior citizens.
New report on public attitudes concerning appropriate punishments for a variety of offenders and offenses. The basic findings:
- “A majority of US adults believe that some crimes, for which offenders are currently incarcerated, do not demand time behind bars.
- Eight in ten (77%) adults believe the most appropriate sentence for nonviolent, nonserious offenders* is supervised probation, restitution, community service, and/or rehabilitative services; if an offender fails in these alternatives, then prison or jail may be appropriate.
- Over three-quarters (77%) believe alternatives to incarceration do not decrease public safety.
- More than half (55%) believe alternatives to prison or jail decrease costs to state and local governments.
- US adults more often think alternatives to incarceration are more effective than prison or jail time at reducing recidivism (45% vs. 38%).
- Respondents cited a variety of reasons they believe justify sending fewer people to prison or jail, including expense, overcrowding (danger to guards, danger to inmates), the ability of proven alternatives to reduce crime, and the fairness of the punishment relative to the crime.” (h/t California Correctional Crisis)
And here is a new report on determining the risk of and strategies against organized retail crime, which is becoming a larger threat in these tough econ days and therefore something corrections will likely deal with, too, in the near future. (h/t The Crime Report)
Comprehensive Healthcare Re-entry Program
That’s the name of a Colorado
program run by non-profits committed to getting services to released
offenders with mental health needs. Here are some details if
“. . . the Comprehensive Healthcare Re-entry Program, launched last fall by SET Family Medical Clinics and several other local non-profits, provides him mental health treatment and medications.
The program hinges on the belief that a healthy ex-offender with easy access to medical care is more likely to get and keep a job. It will take three years to determine if it meets its goal of reducing recidivism, but cases like Tatro’s have staff optimistic that it will be a success. . . .
Zelna Joseph, president and chief executive officer of SET, noticed ex-offenders were struggling to get adequate medical care, and started the program.
“They’re members of our community, and they’re going to be members of our community, and they’re going to be our neighbors,” said Jeff Lujan, the program coordinator. “The more we can do to assist them, the better.”
The strategy could save money too, Joseph said. Many ex-offenders resort to visiting emergency rooms, where taxpayers cover unpaid bills. Others end up back in state prisons.
Joseph hopes the program becomes a model for other communities.
“We’re hoping the data is clear enough to approach the government for funding,” said Joseph. “We feel like this is a huge concern for the nation.”
More than 440 ex-offenders have joined the program so far.
It was initially funded by a $375,000, three-year Catholic Health Initiatives grant. A grant given by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last month provides $475,000 over four years, allowing the program to expand.
The program has been getting 50 new enrollments each month, Lujan said. The goal is to serve as many ex-offenders as possible, and with no limit on how long they can use the services. Some have dropped out after getting jobs with health benefits.” (h/t Think Outside the Cage)
This Week from NCJRS
As usual, a bunch of abstracts of
interesting articles at the National Criminal Justice Research Service. Here
are a few titles, but you just know we missed the one you’d really like,
so go check them all out:
-Violence Prevention and Corrections-Related Activities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
-Do Fairness and Equity Matter?: An Examination of Organizational Justice Among Correctional Officers in Adult Prisons
-Impact and Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Anchorage Wellness Court
-Investigating the Longitudinal Relation Between Offending Frequency and Offending Variety
-Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R): A Useful Risk Assessment Measure for Australian Offenders?
-Prediction of Recidivism Using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised and the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles Within a Forensic Sample
-Public Attitudes Toward Sexual Offenders and Sex Offender Registration
-Child Sexual Abusers' Views on Treatment: A Study of Convicted and Imprisoned Adult Male Offenders
Friday, August 14, 2009
Kudzu Is the Answer
What’s the question, you’re asking? We
doubt that your first thought was “what plant may provide ingredients
for an effective alcohol-reduction
and relapse-prevention medication?”
“"Alcoholism is a medical disorder, not just a problem of will power," he said. "Physicians treat medical disorders in order to prevent harm, while not necessarily curing the disease being treated – for example, drug treatment of hypertension, statins for high cholesterol, insulin for diabetes – and the same will become true for treating alcoholism. Heavy drinking causes harm. We need to prevent heavy drinking in order to prevent harm."
Diamond added that relapse may be the biggest problem facing physicians today. "We are talking about a patient who has the motivation to undergo a very unpleasant detoxification to try to stop drinking, and then gets into trouble afterward," he said. "Nearly 80 percent of abstinent alcoholics or addicts relapse within a year. Current therapies for alcoholism help, but we can do much better."
"Extracts of various parts of the kudzu vine have been used in many Chinese herbal medicine formulas and are said to be helpful in treating a variety of maladies, including alcoholism and intoxication," said Ting-Kai Li, a professor in the department of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, and former director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Recent research has found that several compounds of the isoflavone family – puerarin, daidzin, daidzein – in the kudzu extract decrease alcohol intake in experimental animals."”
Now go read the rest. And plan your retirement schemes around buying up all the kudzu that’s available.
Welfare Reform and Reentry
GOVERNING has a
piece equating welfare reform’s efforts at forcing clients to get
jobs, any jobs, with what should be emphasized in reentry efforts. Focuses
on a Montgomery Co., MD program where staff belittle the notions that
training is important or that having a criminal record is a hindrance
and basically demand that participants find work and keep finding it
until it takes. Lots of good authoritative quotes from scholars
and observers on how effective and worthy all the tough love has been. (You
can almost see Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as the leads in the
Okay. So let’s ignore the studies of welfare reform that indicate that getting a job is the gateway to other government benefits that support the single mothers who are held up as the standard of that success or how much of that success hinged on the growing economy at the time or the minority who fell further behind because they failed in the reform. The article makes no mention, for example, of whether the former inmates do or will get similar benefits. Nor does the article actually bother with statistics, you know, like the actual recidivism rates of participants compared to matched sets of nonparticipants. Or give us an idea of the offenders’ risk levels to judge how well they compare to the people we’re trying to place in jobs. (To its partial credit, it does offer this: “Nothing is conclusive here,” says Kim Hendrickson, who recently wrote an article on work-first reentry programs in City Journal. “But there are so many enticing things that point to this as the one thing that cuts recidivism and gets guys back on their feet.”) “Enticing things.” Real evidence-based evaluation.
But here’s the sentence in the article that should set “BWAH!!!!, BWAH!!!!, BWAH!!!!” going off in your heads as you read: “Half of the residents there were convicted of felony offenses.” Half. HALF??? That’s going to convince state prison practitioners.
It’s nice that GOVERNING got interested in what we do and that it’s calling attention to programs and offenders and the true and real importance of jobs in effective reentry. Maybe next time they can go beyond a sample of one and find some programs that those of us with 100% felons would be able to replicate. Let’s make ourselves available for the interviews.
Funny how a little thing like the worst econ
downturn since the Depression can change the accuracy of predictions. Like
all those predictions of public employee shortfalls as Baby Boomers
hit retirement age. Turns out that that’s slowed down with the
economy. This will
give you an overview of how/why that’s both a problem and an advantage
right now, complete with some insights into successful and unsuccessful
buy-outs and how the younger workers who expected promotions are dealing
And while on management concerns, here’s an article on something many female supervisors may unfortunately have experience with:
“Women who hold supervisory positions are more likely to be sexually harassed at work, according to the first-ever, large-scale longitudinal study to examine workplace power, gender and sexual harassment.
The study, which will be presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, reveals that nearly fifty percent of women supervisors, but only one-third of women who do not supervise others, reported sexual harassment in the workplace. In more conservative models with stringent statistical controls, women supervisors were 137 percent more likely to be sexually harassed than women who did not hold managerial roles. While supervisory status increased the likelihood of harassment among women, it did not significantly impact the likelihood for men.”
There are details at the link if you want more.
That’s the estimated cost to California of its recent prison riot. Details here. TIME also covers the riot, noting that California’s real costs will come when the results of all the cuts it is making in its rehabilitation efforts come due. Shouldn’t have to wait that long.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Making Executions Scientific
Article here on
Ohio’s efforts to bring professionalism and science to their methods
of execution in the late 19th-early 20th century. Interesting
stuff if you’re into correctional history, especially how yesterday
feeds into today’s practice. Here’s just a bit to get you to
hit the link:
“"Professionals influenced the execution in two distinct – if ultimately inseparably linked – ways," Linders states in the paper. "First, because they were middle-class, they infused the understanding of executions with a new emphasis on propriety, dignity and decorum. And, second, because they were professionals, they expected executioners to be competent, the equipment to work, and the proceedings to be efficient. In combination, these two elements, which we might call taste and efficiency, were key components in the production of the modern, rational execution event where speed and efficiency are of essence and mishaps, visible signs of pain, and emotional outbursts in the audience are signs of failure," writes Linders.”
Assistant DOC Deputy for Energy Conservation?
Maybe a more
common position in the future as we all search for the savings
in our correctional budgets. Maine’s already testing it out,
and here’s a little on what they’re trying (but you know you want
to read more):
“Some of those initiatives are run-of-the-mill and include switching out light bulbs for more energy-efficient ones, she said. But others would help the state reduce its dependence on foreign oil by using more homegrown alternatives, such as heating with wood pellets instead of or in addition to heating oil. The state is now completing a contract to use wood pellets at the Mountain View Youth Center in Charleston, Lord said.
"Improvements will be good for our state's economy and for our environment," said Commissioner Martin Magnusson of the Maine Department of Corrections in a press release.
Corrections officials also see the chance to swap out oil for wind energy, at least at the Charleston Correctional Facility.
"It's the only one located in an area where we think there's sufficient wind to justify an investment," Lord said.
She said that the department is working with Unity College now to estimate wind power potential in Charleston.
The state also is looking into ways to "significantly reduce" the use of water for laundry, Lord said, which some other correctional facilities have done using new technology.”
Prisoner to Poet
former inmate who used his time in prison (and a lot of solitary, apparently)
to read and focus on becoming a poet. Not the usual career path,
admittedly, but it’s worked for him. He’s just published his
first book. That’s called successful reentry.
This Week’s Research at NCJRS
A little behind this week on catching you up on the latest research abstracts posted over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, but we’ll make up for it now. A lot (and we mean A LOT) of good stuff over there this week, of which the portions below are just the tip. Go see what we mean.
- Test of the Importation and Work Environment Models: The Effects of Work Ethic. Importance of Money, and Management Views on the Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment of Correctional Staff
- Effective Interventions and the Good Lives Model: Maximizing Treatment Gains for Sexual Offenders
- He Versus She: A Gender-Specific Analysis of Legal and Extralegal Effects on Pretrial Release for Felony Defendants
- Explanations of American Punishment Policies: A National History
- Do You Get What You Pay For? Assessing the Use of Prison From an Economic Perspective
- Examining the Role of Lifestyle and Criminal History Variables on the Risk of Homicide Victimization
- Perverts and Predators: The Making of Sexual Offending Laws
- Repairing the Rupture: Restorative Justice and the Rehabilitation of Offenders
- Victims of Crime in Policy Making: Local Governance, Local Responsibility?
- Mandating Treatment for Drug Possessors: The Impact
of Senate Bill 123 on the Criminal Justice System in Kansas
Self-Control, Gang Membership, and Victimization: An Integrated Approach
- "Boys Will be Boys" and Other Gendered
Accounts: An Exploration of Victims' Excuses and Justifications for
Unwanted Sexual Contact and Coercion
Quote of the Day From GOVERNING:
"It’s really bad that we have to legislate logic."
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who pushed a measure signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn prohibiting motorists from sending text messages while driving.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
More on State Prison Budget Pictures
You may have already seen on some other sites the Stateline story on the 23 states that are cutting correctional spending this year, and premonitions about what that number will be for FY 2011, but here it is if you haven’t. You may not have seen this post that gives you a couple of more juicy morsels to add to the picture (not sure what metaphor is being mixed there). You can find out the percentage of state spending is going to corrections in your state and how much it’s grown over the last two decades as well as the percentage of total correctional spending in your state is picked up by the state. All compared to the states that you feel legit for your state to be compared to (follow that?).
Here’s a money-making
opportunity for states, at least those able to empty some prison
beds in the last few years, such as New York or, in this case, Michigan. Pennsylvania’s
looking for a place to put some of its inmates, and it’s willing
to pay. As soon as Michigan takes all it can, the story makes
clear, from California and the feds. Elsewhere, work is being
done to determine the most cost-effective way to deliver desired
levels of public safety. Via a friend who sent this along, this
Canadian study replicates the great work of the Washington State
Institute for Public Policy on the best “return on investment” of
public spending for reducing crime and victimization. Like
the Washington study, this study finds substantial benefits over
costs by investing in correctional program areas, almost three dollars
for every dollar spent, with the exception of education and employment
program areas. And here we
hear of a crime victim in Massachusetts who became disillusioned
with the impact of a special law passed after the death of her daughter. Like
most specially passed legislation, the impact on actual crime reduction
was minimal. The mother is now working with the Rand Corporation
to get funding raised for a foundation “to study the issue of recidivism
the way scientists study disease: objectively and with an eye toward
prevention. The goal is to provide research based on scientific evidence
that would guide policy makers and community activists as they draft
legislation or strategies to deal with violent perpetrators.” Here’s
a little more:
“Through the partnership, Casanova said she hopes to provide a clearinghouse that will disseminate reliable research to both legislators and other citizens who want to know whether the laws in their own state or county are effective.
Greg Ridgeway, RAND’s director of safety and justice research, said the plan is to raise about $2 million a year to analyze existing research and conduct new research. The Ally Foundation will help raise funds and raise awareness about the effort.
“They are an unusual victim’s family, in that they recognize that there are serious problems in the system and they simply didn’t want another piece of legislation with Alexandra’s name on it that solves one little loophole,’’ said Ridgeway. “They wanted to do something bigger. They noticed there are tens of thousands of families like them, and they want to do something broader, that has an impact.’’”
Neuroscience and Corrections
Neuroscience is revolutionizing the way we perceive humans and their behavior, which includes most of us. If you’re interested in where they are right now on topics like free will and the implications for criminal justice and punishments, you might like to check here, here, and here when you have some time.
And Speaking of Punishment
More research on when it’s effective and when it’s
not. Not so much for juveniles, as this bit from the Crime
“Researchers have found that rather than rehabilitating young delinquents, juvenile detention — which lumps troubled kids in with other troubled kids — appeared to worsen their behavior problems, reports Time. Compared with other kids with a similar history of bad behavior, those who entered the juvenile-justice system were nearly seven times more likely to be arrested for crimes as adults. And those who ended up being sentenced to juvenile prison were 37 times more likely to be arrested again as adults.
“It’s much worse than we would have expected,” says Richard Tremblay, a psychology professor at the University of Montreal and a co-author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. “By having them live together, they form relationships. It’s more likely to increase the problem.” The 20-year study followed 779 low-income youth in Montreal with annual interviews from age 10 to age 17, then tracked their arrest records in adulthood.”
And here’s some research about the adult system presented at the latest American Psychological Association meeting:
“U.S. prisons are too punitive and often fail to rehabilitate, but targeting prisoners' behavior, reducing prison populations and offering job skills could reduce prisoner aggression and prevent recidivism, a researcher told the American Psychological Association.
"The current design of prison systems don't work," said criminal justice expert Joel Dvoskin, PhD, of the University of Arizona. "Overly punitive approaches used on violent, angry criminals only provide a breeding ground for more anger and more violence."”
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Experience Strategy
“A few years ago the city manager of a medium-size city was getting frustrated with his department heads. The manager kept hearing from residents who were upset by the city's long, tedious processes for obtaining services, permits and information. He passed on those complaints, but the department heads just got defensive. "The citizens don't understand that we are required to use a certain process," they protested. "We're bound by federal and state laws and regulations." It was all true, but that didn't make any difference. The department heads weren't willing to get creative, and the city manager wasn't getting through to them.
So he tried something different. He sent the department heads on a scavenger hunt. He formed three-person teams and gave each team the task of applying for something that the city offered: a building permit, a parks-and-recreation program, a business license and the like. They had to navigate the entire process, document the steps they took and the time required, and note their experiences dealing with the various city employees.
A month later, the very same department heads who had been so unwilling to consider change were now demanding it!”
A column in GOVERNING is calling this “the experience strategy,” that is, having staff actually working on the line and in the field to get a clear picture of what is going on rather than acting on their assumptions, and recommending its practice. The payoff?
“When staff have the experience of working in
other agencies or units, they start to see the work world through a
different lens. They gain insights into how communications between
the units could improve, and inevitably they start to see how their
work fits into the larger scheme of things. Rotations, like the other
examples of the experience strategy, help people learn why things work
as they do. Such experiences also leave most people hungry for change.
Smart leaders will tap that hunger and provide direction for the change.”
The Practice of Evidence-Based Government
Interesting article here on the use of scientific research and evidence in government operations. Doesn’t take the usual “oh, politics never listens to science” approach, but discusses the conditions under which policymakers and practitioners are most likely to do so. The problem, of course, is that the research on that really isn’t done much and not much evidence is available on the topic of evidence:
“Prewitt is chairing a committee of the National Research Council that's charged with improving the use of social science evidence in the policy process. In an overview of its mission, the committee says it hopes to answer a series of basic but vital questions, including: "What are the best ways to measure quality and promote improvement of research? How much evidence of various sorts is necessary (or sufficient) to support programs and policies? What happens if the evidentiary standard is set too high or too low? How can research evidence contribute to improved policy and practice decisions? What types of policies are most amenable to various types of research and how are research results best communicated to decision makers?"
Prewitt says it's become clear that the science base doesn't yet exist to answer those questions definitively and to put forward a solid report about how research is acquired and used by policymakers. The lack of authoritative findings in this regard is impressive; Prewitt says he can't now document, for example, whether policymakers are more likely to use social science the government pays for than science that comes in "over the transom" from other sources. "Therefore, I think we have to sort of clear out the underbrush ... and start fresh by doing some serious social science about what is actually happening in the interaction between getting knowledge and using knowledge," Prewitt said.”
Still, worth your time if you have ever wondered these same sorts of things. Or have answers and want to get famous.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Do We Need a Commission to Study Commissions?
Although boards and commissions are popular state policy tools and can frequently lead to good outcomes, they have their critics. For example, GOVERNING has a column this month on a move to reduce their prevalence. Here’s a bit of the logic to tempt you to read the whole thing:
“Over in the state of Washington, the governor’s staff
was checking out the state’s 470 boards and commissions to see if there
was any potential to save some money by eliminating any that were no
longer needed. They found, among other things, a great deal of duplication.
Five different commissions were all dealing in some way with pesticide-related
issues. “The governor was pretty clear in saying ‘Do we really need 470
boards and commissions to help us run state government?’” Robin Arnold-Williams,
director of the governor’s Executive Policy Office, told us.
Arnold-Williams says it’s important to realize that there are lots of indirect costs of commission activities. “We’re hoping to help people to understand that it’s not the cost of travel, per diem and refreshments. It’s the human-capital cost. It’s the indirect cost, which is the staff preparation that goes into preparing for the meeting and getting the materials out.” . . .
Even when ineffective commissions don’t actually cost money, there’s a symbolic expense. When an entity is set up and continues to exist—even if its state of activity approaches zero—it sends a message to everyone and anyone involved in its mission: Government really isn’t in the business of solving problems—it’s just pretending to do so.”
What this says for the future of sentencing
commissions and criminal justice advisory councils isn’t definite,
but in these tough fiscal times, some unease for those involved might
be warranted, like in Washington
state. Of course, some
states will use a commission to study the question.
Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit?
Research here showing that, depending on your place on the power pole, you have a more or less flexible view of morals and following rules.
“In determining whether an act is right or wrong, the powerful focus on whether rules and principles are violated, whereas the powerless focus on the consequences,” states the study “How Power Influences Moral Thinking,” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “For this reason, the powerful are also more inclined to stick to the rules — irrespective of whether this has positive or negative effects — while the powerless are more inclined to make exceptions.” . . .
Whatever the reasons for the phenomenon, the realization that a person’s relative level of power influences moral thinking is a valuable one. As the researchers note, many conflicts are between individuals with different levels of power: employer/employee, teacher/student, traffic cop/driver, etc.
In such cases, they write, “high-power parties may appear rigid and unbending to low-power parties. At the same time, low-power parties may appear irresponsible and too much focused on immediate implications in the eyes of the powerful.” The result can be two people talking past one another, while each claims the moral high ground.”
This would tend to play out in more hierarchical
organizations so it probably doesn’t have any relevance to corrections
Friday, August 07, 2009
National Directory of Programs for Women Offenders
The National Institute of Corrections and the Women’s
Prison Association have combined on a new
document that you should find helpful. We’ll let them tell
you about it:
“The National Institute of Corrections, in partnership with the Women's Prison Association, has developed an online directory of programs for women offenders. This nationwide resource provides profiles of programs and services for women at all stages of criminal justice involvement, both in correctional facilities and in the community. Link here to view the National Directory of Programs for Women with Criminal Justice Involvement. Click on the "Contact" tab on any page of the Directory for a form to recommend additional program listings.”
Why Those Women Offenders Need Programs
Although it now appears that the lede of this story might be wrong (the driver was a diabetic and may have had a stroke, not been drunk or stoned), the topic of increasing incidence of DUI among females is still useful. Here are a couple of the stat tidbits sprinkled throughout the piece as you decide whether to click on the link:
“Nationwide, the number of women arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was 28.8 percent higher in 2007 than it was in 1998, while the number of men arrested was 7.5 percent lower, according to FBI figures that cover about 56 percent of the country. (Despite the incomplete sample, Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist, said the trend probably holds true for the country as a whole.)
"Women are picking up some of the dangerously bad habits of men," said Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. . . .
One federal study found that the number of women who reported abusing alcohol (having at least four drinks in a day) rose from 1.5 percent to 2.6 percent over the 10-year period that ended in 2002. For women ages 30 to 44, Schuler's age group, the number more than doubled, from 1.5 percent to 3.3 percent.”
Research That Might Help Those Programs
New ideas and treatments on the horizon for addictions, including those too co-occurring addictions of smoking and alcohol. Pay attention to the pharmaceutical possibilities here because that is the way the National Institute on Drug Abuse is heading. Here’s a White Paper that we posted at the Oklahoma DOC not long ago to give you a broader background as well.
Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way
Bad economy brings out entrepreneurialism. But not in a good way. Counterfeiting is an increasing danger, with bills done so well they even fake out those detector pens you wish you had. So what does that say for our prison populations down the road?
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Innovations in Prison Visits
No, not in efforts to smuggle contraband. We’re referring to some interesting programs being tried out to improve visit processes in our facilities. This one, for example, details a system being used in California to speed the actual processing of visitors:
“To solve this problem, Santa Clara County introduced a Web-based self-service system that allows potential visitors to register for an inmate visit via the county's SCCgov portal. When a user registers, the Department of Correction runs a warrant and criminal background check on the potential visitor and approves or denies the visitation request. The registrant receives an e-mail notification of the request's approval or denial. Once approved, the user is able to pre-schedule inmate visits up to three weeks in advance via the county's Web site. Kiosks are also provided at the department offices for the public to register for and schedule visits.
The change has been dramatic.
In effect for three years, the system has made it possible to nearly double the number of visitors. On average, of the roughly 10,000 inmate visits each month, over 55 percent are now self-scheduled by members of the public. These visitors are pre-screened, so when they do arrive, processing them into the facility is much easier. Rather than allowing visits on only two chaos-filled days per week, the system now accepts visits six days a week. Furthermore, the reservations system has brought the department into compliance with both federal law and the California Corrections Standards Authority's mandate regarding inmate visitation rights.
There are other benefits to the system. In addition to scheduling visits, the system also provides a secure way for family and friends to obtain hearing, booking and bail information. The system reduces the number of phone calls to the department regarding court developments, and interested parties can more easily visit an inmate, post bail for an inmate, or attend an inmate's court hearings.”
Reducing the need for those phone calls may help reduce the need to jam cell phone signals, which this article questions, supporting detection efforts instead:
“Currently, several state corrections departments
want to jam transmissions to cell phones by installing equipment to blast
radio static over cell phone frequencies inside of prisons. This, however,
violates the Federal Communications Act of 1934 which specifically forbids
any interference with radio transmissions.
The two bills of the “Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009” (HR 560 and S.251) would change all this, allowing prisons to bypass the FCC restriction.
The trouble is that not only will jamming ultimately be two to four times more expensive than detection, but it can spread out beyond the prison walls. It can affect legitimate cell phone use in areas near the prison, such as offices, restaurants, residences and sidewalks.
In a perfect environment, jamming could be confined. However, as it stands now any change to that environment (like someone walking through a hallway or moving a file cabinet) might deflect the jamming signal in unintended directions. Even worse, some public safety communications bandwidths are immediately adjacent to cell phone bands and might be blocked by a prison’s jammer. . . .
The biggest problem with jamming is that it does not detect cell phones, and thus doesn’t allow us to leverage this problem to our benefit. And it’s not foolproof – some phones may be able to work through jamming, perhaps aided by software that filters out jamming signals. In the end, jamming may create the illusion that the problem has been solved, while in reality doing relatively little to limit criminals’ ability to communicate outside of the prison walls.
Jamming is illegal for good reasons. It poses serious problems and yields no usable intelligence information. Cell phone detection is a better solution as it identifies phones inside the prison as soon as they are turned on, allowing corrections staff to quickly discover, track, and confiscate them.”
And here’s a Pennsylvania story on “virtual visits,” or using video tech to allow inmates far from loved ones who can’t get to them to maintain something of a more regular contact:
“The idea for the program started in 2001, when prison
officials identified dozens of inmates who hadn't had a visit in a year,
says the prison society's executive director, Bill DiMascio.
Some relatives simply don't want to visit, hardened over fractured relationships, he says. For others, the lack of cars and limited public transportation to the state's prisons keep them away.
"We know that, especially when it comes
to reentry, if ex-offenders have strong family support, their chance
of success is greater," DiMascio says. "It's in our self-interest
to help people be in a better frame of mind when they come back into
the community. If we don't, chances are they will act out and get in
The program was initially funded through a three-year federal grant. Now the Department of Corrections picks up the tab - $93,000 last fiscal year, a tiny fraction of its $1.6 billion budget.”
Ewwww. The word makes you want to run
and hide, right? Well, don’t. Turns out it’s one of the top
career choices right now with organizations private and public
realizing that, especially in tough economic times, the people who
can get and analyze the data that allow you to make cost-effective
decisions rather than just blindly doing the same old could actually
be valuable and earn their salaries back several times over. Too
late for you maybe, but remind your kids that they could be the next
Bill Gates. . . . okay, don’t.
States Dealing (and Not) with Their Fiscal Problems
Tough times bring out a wide range of ideas, don’t they? Definitely true right now in corrections. Here’s a story on how some states are trying out charging their wealthier inmates for their keep. Yeah, most inmates aren’t going to be able to pay much or anything, but there is that Madoff guy. OTOH, Texas has doubled down on its treatment spending and has now managed to eliminate its waiting lists, in case you’re wondering how you could do the same. OTOH OTOH, Michigan’s politics is raising its successful prison pop reduction efforts to a controversy over public safety even as crime rates there go down. And Illinois is considering how that $20 m. cut to counties to pay for probation supervision might affect its public safety.
Finally, an article from California challenging the prediction made here yesterday that the state would take its federal defeat on prison funding to the US Supreme Court and win. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
The Brains of Psychopaths
Scientists doing those maps of human brains of different types of people have found that people selected for behavior judged psychopathic do indeed turn out to have significantly different structures in some parts of their brains.
“The research investigated the brain biology of psychopaths with convictions that included attempted murder, manslaughter, multiple rape with strangulation and false imprisonment. Using a powerful imaging technique (DT-MRI) the researchers have highlighted biological differences in the brain which may underpin these types of behaviour and provide a more comprehensive understanding of criminal psychopathy.
Dr Michael Craig said: 'If replicated by larger studies the significance of these findings cannot be underestimated. The suggestion of a clear structural deficit in the brains of psychopaths has profound implications for clinicians, research scientists and the criminal justice system.’”
Really? You think so? We’ll leave the “Minority Report,” creative defense strategies, and other scenarios to your imaginations, as well as the lawsuits for law enforcers blamed for not stopping a horrible crime before it happened. As well as any thoughts about leaders, entertainers, and wide receivers that may have also entered your mind.
Mentoring Matters and Other Management Issues
A survey reported here finds that all but one of the female corporate leaders questioned identified a male as the one person who helped them most to their success. Here’s some of the logic:
“One reason the path to success for some women almost always leads through men may be the sheer matter of numbers: There are only 29 Fortune 1,000 companies with a female CEO and not enough other women in very high-ranking positions to do the mentoring.
So what do these mentors have in common besides standing on the other side of the gender divide? One thread appears to be that they often have a daughter. Others have had a strong female influence in their lives. Female CEOs say their male mentors believed in them enough to push them beyond their comfort zones. The best mentors won't waste their time on women unless they see a strong desire for success, says Laura Wellington, CEO of The Giddy Gander Co.
The best male mentor won't be the guy who is nicest to you in the office, but the one who is wise enough to know that there is no one more loyal than the women he champions, says Sen, who names as her key mentor BJ's Chairman Herb Zarkin.
"Early on, I recognized that women were not interested
in the games that men play, the politics or the sports analogies that
were endemic in the male workplace," says Zarkin. "Women were
interested in getting the job done."
"Men have the power to make women great," says Laura Herring, chairwoman of human resources consultants Impact Group. Juliet Huck, founder of a communications consulting firm, says her key mentor, Dan Winter, had "more confidence in my talent than I did." . . .
Of course, many women may flinch at statements that give any one person credit for their success — whether it is a man or not. And sometimes older men will mentor younger women for the wrong reasons. "Shocking, I know," deadpans Andréa White-Kjoss, CEO at Mobis Transportation/Bikestation, a small company with 20 employees that designs, builds and manages facilities that encourage cycling. Even so, "I have found female champions to be rare," says White-Kjoss, who says men have been her key mentors, and she can think of only one woman over 15 years whom she would include on any list of mentors.
Catalyst, an organization whose mission is to expand opportunities for women in business, released a study of male mentors to women in May called "Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know." Men who impeded or who were indifferent to the progress of women viewed the workplace as a zero-sum game where promotions of women came at the expense of men. Catalyst found that if there is one thing that stands out among male champions of women, it is a strong sense of fairness.”
Want more semi-counterintuitive findings? Well, turns out there are two kinds of perfectionism, one that drives you productively to do better and one that drives you (and those around you) crazy and keeps you from finishing anything but does let you feel like a failure. The first seems to be considered the best:
“Perfectionists, research shows, can become easily discouraged by failing to meet impossibly high standards, making them reluctant to take on new challenges or even complete agreed-upon tasks. The insistence on dotting all the i’s can also breed inefficiency, causing delays, work overload and even poor results. Perfectionism can hurt health and relationships, too. It is associated with anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, writer’s block, alcoholism and depression. Such problems may be prevalent: a 2007 study that evaluated more than 1,500 college students revealed that nearly one quarter of them suffered from an unhealthy form of perfectionism.
And yet in recent years, some psychologists have amassed evidence suggesting that perfectionism encompasses positive qualities, including a drive to succeed, an inclination to plan and organize, and a focus on excellence. Why else would people brag about the trait in job interviews? Healthy perfectionists embrace the trait’s sunnier side while minimizing its darker features. Hilary Bowen, a straight-A senior at Northwestern University who made the U.S. World Cup lacrosse training team, considers herself a perfectionist. She sets the bar at the highest notch when it comes to athletics and academics. But Bowen’s goals, though ambitious, are realistic, and she does not let mistakes get her down. “If I get a good grade, maybe it wasn’t 100, but it was a good grade, then I see it as, ‘That’s awesome, that’s what I wanted to do,’ ” she says. “But at the same time, I still push myself. I’m like, okay, I still want to get even better.”
In recent years researchers have developed tools to parse and measure the beneficial, along with the detrimental, aspects of perfectionism. In addition, they are developing treatment programs that push perfectionistic tendencies in a more positive direction. Perfectionism is not an official psychiatric illness. Nevertheless, therapy not only may make the afflicted happier and more successful but may even help ameliorate associated mental illnesses, from anorexia to anxiety disorders.”
more. But is it really surprising to learn that the promises
your organization makes to you aren’t as important as whether they
follow through with what you think you should be getting? If
so, this should shock you:
“In a study to be published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the authors found that the influence of promises has little effect on employee’s emotional reactions toward the organization, their intentions to stay with the organization, and intentions to engage in citizenship behaviors.
People care more about what they receive from
their organization, not what they were promised. Contrary to much of
the research in this area, employees still feel like the psychological
contract has been “broken” even in the absence of any promises made
and when they don’t get what they think they should from their organization.”
Following our recent post on the stronger poppies
being grown in Afghanistan and elsewhere as the climate has warmed
in recent decades, here’s a story on an increase in the use
of heroin back to the level of the 1970s. Somehow this doesn’t
sound like good news for our bedspace and treatment success in coming
One More Unplanned Correctional Expense
Turns out that when non-profit shelters for sex
offenders close down, you and your department may end up getting
to pay for them even though they’ve done their time. That’s
what’s happened in Colorado:
“Now, the DOC will be forced to go to the families of sex offenders and ask them to take these men in. If that doesn't work they will be forced to put them in motels.
Hand said the Dept. of Corrections will have to look at their budget because the money comes out of their general fund and they were not prepared for Crossroads' closing.
In response to questions regarding tracking men under their watch, Hand said all 70 sex offenders registered at Crossroads had some form of electronic monitoring device.”
Courts and California’s Prisons
If you’re in this field, you’ve probably already heard about the federal court telling California to release over 40,000 inmates over the next two years because crowded prisons deny protected health care rights. Not headlining or making a big deal of it here because it will go to the US Supreme Court and who’s really betting that California won’t win there? The real question is, how much authority will federal courts have after that coming decision to even intervene in any way with how any state or local government operates, not just corrections?
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The Good Old Days
Sometimes when we get critical of how things are today,
we forget what criminal justice was not really all that long ago, history-wise. Here’s
a nice example from trial records now available through Britain’s National
Archives, with a bit of the piece to get your interest piqued:
“Executions were public spectacles, with the wealthy hiring balconies to get better views, and it did not take much to book yourself a spot at the gallows.
Being in the company of gypsies for a month, damaging Westminster Bridge, cutting down trees, stealing livestock - or anything worth more than five shillings (£30 today) for that matter - would do it.
The death sentence also applied to pickpockets, the destruction of turnpike roads, general poaching, stealing from a shipwreck and being out at night with a blackened face, which made people assume you were a burglar.”
Who knows? A couple of tv shows or movies sensationalizing these sorts of things, or local news during Sweeps Months, and we may be seeing them again in our contemporary prisons. Especially that “in the company of gypsies” thing. Imagine the tv promos to get you to watch at 10!!!
One Good Thing about Global Warming
If you’re a drug trafficker or user, anyway. Turns out that poppies, you know, where opium and heroin come from, have become twice as potent in the last few decades, and scientists are attributing that to changing climate. And if it keeps changing, the potency might increase more. Which will make our treatment programs that much more vulnerable to failure.
And speaking of drug effects, here’s a piece describing precisely how marijuana can cause memory damage. Don’t run off from the link, you might forget it and we know what that would show, don’t we?
And speaking of all these illicit drugs, want to know the % of illegal drug use besides pot in your state in the last year among those 12 and older? How convenient to have this map, then. And yes, those of us in Oklahoma, we’re one of the highest states. So to speak.
And speaking of states having to deal with substance abuse, this is actually a surprisingly good story on a new report in Maryland on the inadequacy of funding and treatment spaces there. Here’s some info that might be of use to you from it:
“For adults age 26 and older, about 1.44 percent nationwide didn't get the substance-abuse treatment they needed, according to the 2006 and 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The figure was 1.6 percent in Maryland, which puts it at average levels.
Maryland spends an average of $117 million - 0.64
percent of the state's budget - on substance-abuse prevention, treatment
and research, which ranks it third in the nation for per capita spending.
Yet out of every $100 spent on substance abuse in Maryland, only about $4.53 goes toward prevention and treatment efforts.
That results in "a substance-abuse system which struggles to stretch its resources to meet the need for treatment of current abusers, with little left to make effective strides in prevention," the report stated.”
Lead Us Not
Looks like temptation is much more complex than we might have thought, especially our (in)ability to resist it. Researchers have found some interesting results in experiments, with implications for the kind of self-control that is relevant both to crime and public safety as well as to correctional management. Here’s some of the article, which should . . . tempt . . . you to read it all (see if the research works!!!):
“Whether it's highlighted in major news headlines about Argentinean affairs and Ponzi schemes, or in personal battles with obesity and drug addiction, individuals regularly succumb to greed, lust and self-destructive behaviors.
New research from the Kellogg School of Management examines why this is the case, and demonstrates that individuals believe they have more restraint than they actually possess—ultimately leading to poor decision-making.
The study, led by Loran Nordgren, senior lecturer
of management and organizations at the Kellogg School, examined how
an individual's belief in his/her ability to control impulses such
as greed, drug craving and sexual arousal influenced responses to temptation.
The research found the sample, on average, displayed a "restraint
bias," causing individuals to miscalculate the amount of temptation
they could truly handle, in turn leading to a greater likelihood of
indulging impulsive or addictive behavior.”
Arts and Rehab
For those states with any dollars at all left for rehab, you might be interested in this piece on an arts program in Britain that features playwriting and tells you of links to get you and offenders more information. What’s particularly interesting is how the program can be used to promote crime prevention as well.
Monday, August 03, 2009
An article here on studies showing that it’s not necessarily intelligence that pays off. It’s “grit.” Also known as perseverance, or sticking with your goals until you get them done. Here’s a bit of the article to get you to click over to the whole thing:
“While stories of grit have long been associated with self-help manuals and life coaches - Samuel Smiles, the author of the influential Victorian text “Self-Help” preached the virtue of perseverance - these new scientific studies rely on new techniques for reliably measuring grit in individuals. As a result, they’re able to compare the relative importance of grit, intelligence, and innate talent when it comes to determining lifetime achievement. Although this field of study is only a few years old, it’s already made important progress toward identifying the mental traits that allow some people to accomplish their goals, while others struggle and quit. Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success.”
As part of that article, there was a sidebar discussing the research on impact of preschool education on long-term life outcomes. The really good preschools show payoff in terms of reduced unemployment, crime, other bad social outcomes, but researchers were puzzled why when the “IQ” increases associated with the programs seemed to wear off within a couple of grades. Well, turns out it was the “grit” the preschool kids learned, not the “knowledge.” This fits well with research on inadequate self-control being a major force behind criminal behavior. It also should remind you of related research we’ve cited here indicating that confidence isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence either. In fact, it may be the opposite:
“. . . as a famous paper by Kruger and Sunning showed, people who are bad at what they do are generally also incapable of understanding that they s*ck — and this directly contributes to inflated self-perception. So, incompetence tends to make people cocky and people prefer cocky judgements [sic] over demonstrated expertise, which is pretty much the worst of both worlds.”
Grit and humility. Who would have thought those would ever prove valuable characteristics?
Why Has Crime Gone Down?
After the post above, you should obviously be wary of anyone too cocky with an explanation. And that’s essentially the point of this piece, which goes through all the theories given but decides that we really don’t know why crime has gone down overall, some crimes haven’t, and not everywhere is seeing the same decreases. Good overview of the evidence, but definitely shouldn’t leave you feeling cocky.
Something Unusual in Journalism
A long and thoughtful article on why and how the corrections folks in New Hampshire have gone about developing and implementing plans to reduce their prison populations in these difficult fiscal times. Unusual because journalism doesn’t really pay that much attention to us unless something bad has happened and because the piece is long and thoughtful. Might give you some ideas, confirm some you’ve had, just generally provide some helpful info. Check it out.
This Week at NCJRS
Once again the National Criminal Justice Reference Service has some great articles this week abstracted for your perusal and use. Here are a few of the titles up right now but we may have missed some you would have liked:
- Violent and Sexual Offenders: Assessment, Treatment and Management
- Psychotherapies for Trauma and Substance Abuse in Women: Review and Policy Implications
- Psychopathy in Adolescence Predicts Offical Reports of Offending in Adulthood
- Ecological Model of the Impact of Sexual Assault on Women's Mental Health
- Who's Who?: The Biometric Future and the Politics of Identity