Thursday, September 30, 2010
Technology and Property Crime Decreases
Everyone and his grandmother have been taking credit
for the decreasing crime rates of the last several years, but the
major factor may not have a voice. Turns out that improved
technology and the ability to track and predict “hot spots” and so
on may deserve the most applause, as this
article points out:
“Growing use of technology once accessible only to a few large agencies allows officers to conduct real-time analyses of burglaries, petty thefts and car thefts. Departments can redeploy officers to threatened areas, known as "hot spots," to stop potential crime sprees.
Rob Davis, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, says the "technology gap" has narrowed to a point where communities of all sizes are reaping the benefits, helping to drive property crimes and some other offenses to their lowest levels in two decades.
"We're using technology in a different way," he says. "We're getting information faster because people are calling from their cellphones as things are happening, not waiting till they get home to use the phone, and we're moving our resources faster."”
Impact on corrections? Well, in Oklahoma at least, we’ve seen a decrease in the inmates in for property crimes over the last few years, meaning more bedspace for the violent offenders, which is always the greatest public safety concern. So, good on ya, technology. Keep up the good work.
Several kind readers sent along the notice below
of Pew’s latest sentencing and corrections reports, this one on the
collateral social costs of incarceration.
Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility
Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility is a collaborative effort between the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project and its Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP). The report examines the impact of incarceration on the economic opportunity and mobility of former inmates and their families.
In addition, Collateral Costs examines the prison population by race/ethnicity and educational levels. It finds that incarceration reduces former inmates’ earnings by 40 percent and limits their future economic mobility and that one in every 28 children in America has a parent behind bars, up from one in 125 just 25 years ago.
The report’s findings are based on research by Professor Bruce Western of Harvard University and Professor Becky Pettit of the University of Washington.
View the press release.
View Full Report: September 23, 2010 - Collateral Costs: The Impact of Incarceration on Mobility (Adobe PDF).
The “tough on crime” folks regularly lament that victims’ costs are not calculated into the costs of criminal justice or prison policy, but this report indicates that we should also figure the community costs as well. In truth, the “costs” and “benefits” arguments always can end up in “infinite regress” as new and secondary impacts of both crime and dealing with it are realized. IOW, no one is ever likely to come up with a calculation that will satisfy everyone, but this report adds to the factors we have to legitimately consider.
And coincidentally (maybe) comes this
report on the impact of incarceration of a father on his
kids’ later illegal drug use:
“Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample of adolescents in schools in 1995, who were periodically followed into their early to mid-20s, this new study examined the association between having an incarcerated biological father and marijuana and other illegal drug use. Over 51% of young men, and almost 40% of young women, whose biological fathers had a history of incarceration reported using marijuana, compared to 38% and 28%, respectively, of comparable men and women whose fathers were never incarcerated. Youth with incarcerated fathers also exhibited elevated trajectories of marijuana usage that extended into their mid-twenties, compared to other youth whose marijuana use peaked at about age 20. Biological father's incarceration was also found to be associated with elevated use of other illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines.
Given that having a father in prison is an increasingly common event, this study's findings suggest that a substantial number of young people in the USA are at risk for drug use. Increased drug use is closely linked to a number of adverse outcomes, including illegal drug market activity, increased crime and incarceration rates, lost work productivity, and costly substance abuse treatment. "Long-term drug use may exacerbate many other problems faced by disadvantaged youth, including mental health issues, delinquency, dropping out of school, domestic violence and poverty," says the study's lead author, Dr. Michael Roettger, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Center for Family and Marriage Research. Roettger notes that "this is of particular concern within poor and minority communities where incarcerations are disproportionately located."”
Which may or may not be related to this research on how the urge to get and retain above-average popularity is a major factor driving teen substance abuse:
“The study, which is to be published during the next year as part of a collective work, was conducted on more than 500 French- speaking students at three separate moments of their lives: at ages 10 to 11, 12 to 13 and 14 to15. It took into consideration the popularity of the child and their friends and tracked their consumption of alcohol, marijuana and hard drugs.
The findings showed an increase in consumption, as the child got older regardless of their popularity level. However, the more popular a child and their friends were, the greater this consumption was. There was a two-fold between increase between ages 10 and 15 for the most popular kids who also had very popular friends. However, this trend did not apply to popular kids whose friends were not as popular.”
This Week at NCJRS
And while we’re talking research, don’t forget to head over to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service before this week is over in order to check out the great new research abstracts they’re providing over there. Here are a few titles to tempt your fancy (whatever that is):
- Perceived Effects of Precursor Laws on Domestic Methamphetamine Production
- Job in the Joint: The Impact of Generation and Gender on Work Stress in Prison
- Effect of Gender on Violent and Nonviolent Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis
- Deprivation, Importation, and Prison Suicide: Combined Effects of Institutional Conditions and Inmate Composition
- Toward a Systematic Foundation for Identifying Evidence-Based Criminal Justice Sanctions and Their Relative Effectiveness
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
New Vera Report
Who’s Vera, you ask? Just the Vera Institute of Justice, with a notice of this interesting report:
Fall Issue of Vera’s Newsletter and a Report on Sentencing Policy Trends
The latest issue of our quarterly newsletter, Just ’Cause, is now available online. Download the PDF to read about
- the changing course of juvenile justice in New York City and State,
- a new project bringing together law enforcement and immigrant victims of crime, and
- how corrections officials are reconsidering the use and value of placing incarcerated people in long-term isolation.
Every issue of Just ’Cause also includes information about staff developments, recent publications, and a letter from Vera’s director, Michael Jacobson.
Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections has
published a new report, Criminal Justice Trends: Key Legislative
Changes in Sentencing Policy, 2001-2010.
Developed as a reference for legislators, their staff, and other interested policy makers, this report describes sentencing legislation over the past decade, focusing on
- redefining and reclassifying criminal offenses, often resulting in lower offense severity and shorter sentences;
- strengthening alternatives to incarceration; and
- reducing prison terms.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
It’s How You Count That Counts
We’ve noted here periodically that much of the data and info that we use to analyze and justify correctional decisions and programs must be analyzed and justified themselves. Arrests, for example, so frequently used as measures of recidivism, are so dependent on the policies of law enforcement that you really should have corroboration from other sources before you reach any conclusions about offenders or effectiveness. And crime counts themselves? Well, here’s a nice example of how St. Louis may be playing the “we’ll reduce how bad our crime looks by changing how we count it” game, but don’t just blame St. Louis. The temptations and opportunities are there for everyone who has to report. Data users, caveat emptor.
“Emerging Adults,” Psychiatric Disabilities, and Criminal Justice
A friendly reader sends along the notice below about the impact of criminal justice involvement on “emerging adults” with psychiatric disabilities, which has clear implications for corrections and mental health treatment therein.
Emerging Adults With Psychiatric Disabilities Involved
With the Criminal Justice System
Stephanie W. Hartwell, William H. Fisher, and Maryann Davis
Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2010; 54(5): p. 756-768
Experiencing serious psychiatric problems during the transition from adolescence to adulthood intensifies the perils emerging adults confront. Emerging adults whose childhood and adolescent experiences include significant contact with the public mental health or criminal justice systems have numerous additional hurdles to overcome. Disruptions in education, few opportunities for involvement with nonpsychiatrically involved peers, and limited life experiences reflect difficulties developing normative social control, skills, and networks. This article examines the impact of age and multiple stigmatized statuses by comparing an emerging adult and older cohort of psychiatrically disabled offenders. It explores whether there are features (demographic, clinical, and criminal ) that distinguish emerging adults that should be considered in creating appropriate community services for treatment and prevention and subsequent desistance from continued criminal involvement.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Too Much Stuff for All the Posts
LOTS of interesting things for you to spend your entire day on (WORK-RELATED!!!), but too many to have separate posts for. So we’ll do our best to tempt you with brief descriptions and leave your surfing . . . serious investigation . . . to you.
Interesting NIDA awards here,
tipping us off to the latest pharmaceuctical breakthroughs to deal
with substance abuse addiction and treatment.
Pediatricians reminding us that the media are our biggest educators of our kids on substance abuse, calling for ending tobacco advertising, and nothing that “"Parents have gotten caught up with all the hard drugs -- cocaine, steroids -- but they fail to realize that tobacco and alcohol are still by far the leading drugs among teenagers," Strasburger, also of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, told Reuters Health.”
Several Science Daily pieces, one on how stress hormones can affect relapse and recovery in substance abusers, one on how nearly a third of juveniles admit to violent behavior in the last year and the factors associated with that (good thing they’re worried about prison time), and one on how “Increasing the costs to consumers of beer, wine, and hard liquor significantly reduces the rates of a wide range of alcohol-related deaths, diseases, injuries, and other problems, according to a new study published in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health and scheduled for inclusion in the November print edition.”
A very interesting analysis of “sociopathic dementia,” complete with brain pictures and descriptions of people who lost their ability to know and control right and wrong and the consequences of that.
A comparison in Australia of risk assessment instruments for sex offenders with replacing planks on ships while they’re traveling, with definite implications not just for civil commitment of offenders who’ve served their time but of risk assessment for sentencing purposes in general, especially Static-99: “In the latest of a string of cases, Justice John McKechnie has rejected an attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions to civilly commit a convicted sex offender based on the man's high Static score. In his ruling, the judge criticized the "uncritical acceptance" of actuarial risk tools, saying they do not take into account reductions in risk that can accrue from prison-based treatment programs.”
Thursday, September 23, 2010
. . . Just Another Furlough Friday . . .
No posts tomorrow as the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will be closed for the most part for a furlough day to offset the budget cuts it took for FY 2011. Back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.
Sentencing/Corrections Atlas Arrives
Thanks to all the kind readers who passed the notice below along about the Justice Mapping Center’s recent birthing of its National Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections. It’s really cool, although it does take a little work. A great resource for the future, especially if they’re successful in keeping its funding going for regular updates. Check it out. IT’S WORK-RELATED!!!
Justice Mapping Center Launches First National Atlas of Criminal Justice Data
Mapping Center recently launched the National
Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections—an online tool
that shows a neighborhood-level view of where prison inmates,
probationers, and parolees are from and where corrections spending
The atlas serves as an invaluable tool for policymakers, the media, researchers, and members of the public looking for neighborhood-specific criminal justice data. Drilling down to single ZIP codes, users can learn the number of people in prison, the number released from prison each year, the number on probation or parole, what share of the state's total population this data represent, and the total dollar amount spent on corrections.
Reentry program planners will find the atlas useful in identifying the target population for their reentry initiatives. Also, Second Chance Act grantees can use the information to focus supervision and treatment resources on a specific geographic area.
The atlas highlights the concentration of incarceration rates in disadvantaged communities across the country. Corrections data are supplemented by data regarding income level, employment status, the number of single-parent households, and racial demographics for each of the thousands of jurisdictions spotlighted.
Specific findings include the following:
- In New York City, neighborhoods that are home to 18 percent of the city’s adult population account for more than 50 percent of prison admissions each year.
- In Pennsylvania, taxpayers will spend more than $40 million to imprison residents of neighborhoods in a single ZIP code in Philadelphia, where 38 percent of households have incomes under $25,000.
- In Austin, Texas, although neighborhoods in three of the city’s forty-one ZIP codes are home to only 3.5 percent of the city’s adult population, they grapple with more than 17 percent of people returning from prison each year.
By enabling users to identify the percentage of
prison admissions that result from revocation of the terms of supervision,
the atlas underlines the crucial role that parole and probation revocations
play in returning the same neighborhood residents back to prison.
For example, the atlas shows that in Wichita, Kansas, probation and
parole revocations account for more than two-thirds of the city’s
admissions to prison each year.
Corrections departments from twenty-two states provided data to populate the atlas, which represents more than two years of research and planning. The project was supported by the Ford Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Open Society Institute.
This Week at NCJRS
And now that you’re in that “gee, what more new can I learn about my field???” mood, head over to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service to check out its latest research abstracts, the titles below of which only a small sample of its multitude is presented. (This is where your mood becomes “Huhhh?”)
- Exploring Risk: Potential Static, Dynamic, Protective and Treatment Factors in the Clinical Histories of Female Sex Offenders
- Cents and Sensibility: A Case Study of Corrections Reform in Kansas and Michigan
- Race, Concentrated Disadvantage, and Recidivism: A Test of Interaction Effects
- Desistance and Attitudes Towards Sex Offenders: Facilitation or Hindrance?
- Bad Moon on the Rise?: Lunar Cycles and Incidents of Crime
C’mon. You gotta go check out that last one, right?
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Crime News and Research
Interesting items related to crime that you may
find helpful. Or not. This
one gets you the details to this:
“The most-stolen car in the United States last year was a 1994 Honda Accord, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. That’s followed by the 1995 Honda Civic, the 1991 Toyota Camry, the 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup, the 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup, the 2000 Dodge Caravan, the 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size), the 1994 Acura Integra, the 2002 Ford Explorer (‘02), and the 2009 Toyota Corolla.”
We’ve heard it’s because the parts are still so useable, but if you have a better explanation, let us know. And this one on the relationship between “mixed-use” neighborhoods and crime:
“Mixed-use neighborhoods that combine residential and business development may help lead to lower levels of some types of violent crime, a new study suggests.
The results were just as true in impoverished neighborhoods as they were in more affluent areas, offering one possible way of improving blighted areas, according to the researchers.
But the findings come with an important caveat. In a sparsely populated neighborhood, increases in business-residential density actually leads to higher levels of violent crimes, at least for a while. However, after building density reaches a certain threshold, some violent crime begins to decline.”
This one tells us yet again that young people excessively punished don’t tend to turn out well. Good thing that doesn’t apply to adults excessively punished. And finally this one notes that discovery of the actual impulse control center in human brains may allow us to have corrections-related results:
“Children who have difficulty learning to control a response often have behavioral problems which continue into adulthood, says Professor Cella Olmstead, the principal investigator on the study. She notes that impulsivity is a primary feature of many disorders including addiction, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder and gambling. Identifying the brain region and mechanism that controls impulsivity is a critical step in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.
"In conditions where learning does not occur properly, it is possible that it is this mechanism that has been impaired," adds co-investigator neuroscience Professor Eric Dumont.”
Have fun with all the reading. What are you waiting for? Start clicking.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
One more report on the increasing costs of dementia in the future to remind everyone that aging offenders are already costing us more than we normally plan or budget for and will do even more so in the future as Alzheimer’s and other dementias of the Baby Boom inmate population build up. Just remember: one inmate 50 or older = three younger inmates as a rule. So you would have to release three younger ones to equal the costs of the new 50 or older you just received. See how this can lead to lower prison populations and increasing correctional costs nevertheless? Might wanna make sure policymakers do, too.
Monday, September 20, 2010
For You Correctional History Buffs
You know who you are. Go here to find info and links to a very interesting discussion of the US’s first “narcotic farm,” AKA our first prison exclusively for drug addicts. Always good to see where the ideas we have today came from and it sounds like most of the ones from this place are still useful.
News from the Weekend
Bunch of quick hits for you but don’t let the brief notices make you think there’s not meat when you click those links. Here’s a good story on the recent Pew release of public attitudes about how to deal with rising correctional costs. Here’s one on how exercise, diet, and meditation have proven to be effective supplements to any good drug treatment program. Here’s one on a program linking inmates to horse care which seems to pay off for both parties. Here’s one casting doubt on the effectiveness of standardized violence prevention programs for teens, but here’s one on the effectiveness of standardized pub closing times on violence prevention, in Australia anyway.
Mentally Ill Inmates as Correctional Priority
Here’s a notice of a new story on correctional priorities in tough budget times and where mentally ill inmates fit in those priorities. The comment at the end is the editorial from the friendly reader who sent this in, and with which we agree.
“A newly published report of priorities reported
by state correctional administrators listed “Mentally Ill Offenders”
as a close second only to “Budget Cuts.”
The issues that are identified as the top priority current issues for agencies are issues and problems that have the greatest impact on both operations and budget. The top priority, state budget cuts, is a current driving factor for the current issues. The other top rated issues relate back to budget: housing mentally ill inmates has a significant operational impact that affects budget; inmate health care costs, like all health care, continue to spiral and limit the ability to control costs; the unknown cost impact of PREA continues to be an ongoing issue of concern; and sentencing reform can impact the number of inmates in custody and help to control the cost of corrections. These are the operational and cost issues that are currently affecting corrections.”
Unlike other issues that some surveyed states reported were not a problem for them, “It is striking that no responding agencies say that dealing with mentally ill inmates in prison is not an issue/problem.”
Thursday, September 16, 2010
. . . Just Another Furlough Friday . . .
No posts tomorrow as the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will be closed for the most part for a furlough day to offset the budget cuts it took for FY 2011. Back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.
Plethora of Items for Your Weekend
Assuming you’re a DOC employee on the above furlough. Try these stories out:
- Those impressive criminal profiling shows and all the books on its effectiveness? Not so much.
- How and why people work their minds around “scientific consensus” when reality is telling us things we don’t want to hear, including management issues and criminological studies results.
- How coke hijacks our brain’s reward systems to make recovery less likely and relapse more likely.
- Want to find out which potential new employees are good at the multitasking you’re going to want them to do? Turns out there’s a new tool to assist you in that while you’re doing 14 other things at the same time.
- Sure, older workers may be a little slower, but they have compensating qualities that can still make them among the best workers you can find. Truly, not just because we’re “older” ourselves.
- Prescription drug abuse now considered the biggest substance abuse problem in North Carolina. Good thing we don’t have those problems in Oklahoma.
- Finally, did you know it’s National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month? What, you missed all the news coverage and local parades?
This Week at NCJRS
And if the post above didn’t give you enough to read in the next few days, head over to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service for its usual potpourri (plethora and potpourri in one day!!) of interesting research abstracts this week, including the titles below which are but a mere sampling of what’s available. Seriously.
- How Damaging is Imprisonment in the Long-Term?: A Controlled Experiment Comparing Long-Term Effects of Community Service and Short Custodial Sentences on Re-Offending and Social Integration
- Sanctions in Family Drug Treatment Courts
- Policy and Program Evaluation: Recommendations for Criminal Justice Policy Analysts and Advisors
- Comparison of Psychopathy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Brain Dysfunction Among Sex Offenders
- Low-Intensity Community Supervision for Low-Risk Offenders: A Randomized, Controlled Trial
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Oklahoma Follow-up on Crime Rate Report
On Monday, we posted (see below a few posts) on
the recent FBI crime report showing decreases nationally in both
violent and property crimes, although drug arrests were up. Here’s
a story on Oklahoma’s contribution to all that, with the key points:
“There were 18,474 violent crimes reported in Oklahoma in 2009, down from 19,241 in 2008. That represented a 4 percent drop from year to year; the nation overall had a 5.3 percent decrease in violent crime from 2008 to 2009.
The state actually had increases in a majority of the categories of crimes reported, including murder and manslaughter, forcible rape, burglary and larceny-theft. The decreases came in robbery, aggravated assault and motor vehicle theft.”
Why did crime come down nationally another year? Well, the experts really don’t know, and the fact that some states saw increases in categories if not necessarily overall rates would seem to negate finding any one specific cause anyway. But at least it keeps some of the academics employed and out of our institutions. Of course the BIG problem is, what if there’s not really more crime, just better record-keeping, as Baltimore is now reporting about its “Rape” totals? How much policy and decision-making should we be basing on ANY of this?
Over at The Crime Report
Speaking of crime reporting, over at the ever-useful The Crime Report you’ll find links right now to thought-provoking stories on sentencing findings, such as Missouri’s move to provide judges info on correctional costs of proposed sentences BEFORE the decision is made and such as a Michigan judge sentencing a vehicular homicide offender to reading “Catcher in the Rye.” Wonder how officials there deal with supervising that? While there, also look for stories on prosecutors going to court to block “frivolous lawsuits” from an inmate and a prosecutor trying to get people to take heroin deaths seriously by compiling a book of their photos. Just because they’re not “corrections” doesn’t mean they don’t end up affecting us.
Health Care and Corrections Costs
We’ve highlighted reports recently on the impact of aging offenders on correctional health care budgets, but that doesn’t mean the aging ones are our only concerns. This op-ed from the guy overseeing California’s resolution [sic] of its prison health care lawsuits details the progress he thinks he’s made but also raises the consideration of whether prisons should be in the health care business at all. Which should raise a few prison eyebrows, right?
Well, We Could Put Them All on Ships
One of the more, uh, creative proposals you sometimes hear for dealing with prison overcrowding, along with fencing off the Dakotas. Actually, it’s been done, as this story shows, and, as it also shows, the results probably wouldn’t pass constitutional muster these days. But the rationales behind using the ships sound somewhat current, and it’s an interesting look at a past pass on solving [sic] the perennial problems if you’re into that “history” stuff.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Links from Mind Hacks
One of the more entertaining and interesting blogs out there (a rare combo) is Mind Hacks, which talks about cognitive issues that fairly frequently could have correctional applications. Here are a couple of stories it has linked to to prove the point. This one goes over some of the treatment approaches to alcoholism beyond abstinence, including use of pharmaceuticals such as naltrexone which may prove attractive to drug courts and treatment providers in the future. And this one discusses studies showing the extensive mental mechanisms available that we can use to keep reality from interfering with those nice illusions and delusions we tell ourselves about ourselves and how the world works, which would seem applicable in corrections in everything from turning offenders around to implementing change in an organization to understanding why some of your workmates are such morons (no, not you). Go over and check out all the good stuff.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Good News Déjà Vu
“Violent crime reports in the U.S. dropped last
year for the third consecutive year, the FBI said today. There were
5.3 percent fewer reports of violent crimes and 4.6 percent fewer
reports of property crimes than in 2008. It was the seventh straight
year of decline for property crimes, defying predictions by some
that such offenses might rise during a time of economic recession.”
Details and links here.
One More Reason to Thank Baby Boomers
As Baby Boomers have gone through our country’s
history, their greater-than-every-other-generation’s numbers have
always caused excesses, including as they’ve gone through drugs and
through prison systems. As this
story relates about Britain’s version of the lose . . . generation,
they’re not slowing down on either drugs or prison sentences as they
supposedly grow older and wiser. Change the country referred
to and you can talk about the U.S. with the same words. Wait
. . . you don’t have to. Here’s
an almost identical story from here, along with some of the related
“The report notes demographic shifts that suggest these patients are less economically stable:
• Unemployment rose from 19.4% in 1992 to 31% in 2008.
• Homelessness increased from 15.9% in 1992 to 19.5% in 2008.
• Patients reporting having no principal source of income increased from 11% in 1992 to 28.8% in 2008.
These older substance-abuse patients may also be dealing with loneliness, the report suggests.
• The percentage of patients who were married decreased from 33.3% in 1992 to 21.5% in 2008.
• The percentage of those never having been married increased from 13.2% in 1992 to 30.3% in 2008.”
Check those factors out for their point totals on basically every risk/need assessment. Not real promising for correctional planning.
Oh, and Their Effect on Corrections Budgets?
Another day, another story about aging inmates’ large and growing impact on corrections budgets, particularly health care. This time from Idaho. Nothing new, just another state checking in. Add it to your folder and hope your server has enough space before the stories quit coming.
Those Crazy Germans
This link directs you to new investigation of the differences between U.S. and German perspectives of sanctions and offenders. Here’s the abstract to get you thinking and interested in the whole article:
The gap in harshness between American and German criminal punishment represents a moral disagreement between the two societies: American criminal punishment expresses a belief in the concept of human evil, while German criminal punishment denies that belief. This paper, after giving the concept of evil some philosophical definition, develops that thesis with six lines of argument. First, contrasting American and German responses to major crime, the paper argues that American criminal law routinely banishes its worst criminal offenders, while German criminal law almost never does. Second, as to minor crime, American law treats misdemeanors as portents of worse things to come, while German law treats them as errors. Third, in the context of recidivism, America punishes the person, Germany the act. Fourth, with regard to community reintegration, American law approaches ex-cons with a concept this paper terms “residual criminality,” while German law adopts norms of full forgiveness. Fifth, as to capital punishment, America treats the right to life as alienable for wrongdoing; Germany treats that right as inalienable. And sixth – turning here from interpreting criminal doctrine and practice to analyzing the historical record – the paper shows that various players in the American criminal system have given voice to the belief in criminal evil, while major players in the German system have expressly denied that belief. The paper concludes by asking which system is more just, arguing that German criminal law is naive for denying the existence of evil where it should be acknowledged, while American criminal law is reckless for rolling genuine evil together with mere error and failure and punishing them all alike.
Take Their Earned Credits or Give Them More?
Colo. inmates escape jail, buy meth, return to cells
After all, if we take credits from them, won’t that encourage them not to come back next time????
Friday, September 10, 2010
Fruit, It’s What’s for Dinner??
On a reeaaallllyyyyy slow news day for corrections material, we’ll send you off for the weekend with this article, which may have some kind of relevance for corrections, headlined below:
CDC: U.S. adults eat less fruit, not enough veggies
Wanna guess which state eats the least fruit? Remedy that this weekend.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Good News on the Aging Front
We reported yesterday on a piece from Virginia on the impact of aging inmates on corrections budgets there that could apply to practically every other state, and that may have depressed you a little. So, here’s a medical report on some progress being made dealing with Alzheimer’s through administration of types of Vitamin B, which wouldn’t be that costly to systems, you would think. The bad news? Alzheimer’s really hasn’t been a major driver of the problems that have been discussed in these types of articles . . . yet.
Ritalin, Not Just for Kindergartners Anymore
Turns out that cocaine’s close cousin, Ritalin, can help brain function and task performance in coke abusers. Doesn’t get them off the drug or prevent relapse but keeps them from being as debilitated. Which ought to help with addiction treatment, right? Just don’t ask yourself what’s going on in the brains of those kids on the Ritalin, okay?
Speaking of Functioning
Scientists using the new brain imaging tech
differences in brains of multiple DUI offenders compared to
“"First, we found that second-time DUI offenders have a poorer performance on the IGT test than their matched counterparts," said Kasar. "The IGT is used in many studies investigating decision-making cognition in problems related to alcohol. Deficits in many neuropsychological testing may not necessarily reflect daily living problems associated with alcohol abuse, as some of the abusers could perform fairly well in conventional neuropsychological testing. That's why problems related to neurocognitive impairments in real-life situations might be better detected by tests such as the IGT which simulate real-life decision-making situations -- which our results confirm."
The second finding was a lack of differences between the DUI recidivists and their counterparts using conventional neuropsychological testing and TCI scores. "These findings suggest that second-time DUI offenders do not suffer from motor impulsiveness, that is, a lack of impulse control in 'here and now' situations. Rather, they suffer from cognitive impulsiveness, which depends on associating negative experiences with possible negative consequences and related to a specific decision-making deficit."
In other words, said Nutt, "there are brain reasons for why people make poor choices regarding DUI."
"Perhaps our results will increase awareness about brain mechanisms implicated in alcohol-related behavior," said Kasar. "We found a deficit previously shown to be associated with dysfunctioning in particular brain circuits and this may help to change public awareness towards DUI recidivism. Our findings might also influence the framework of psychoeducational programs, and suggest that neurocognitive testing include decision-making tasks such as the IGT as a routine part of the evaluation process."”
Turns Out There IS an “I” in Team
According to this interesting management advice
piece, in these complex times needing broad cooperation across
and within organizations, the nations with too much “I” and too
much “us” might run into problems. Since the US is by far
ranked the highest “I” nation, the advice might be helpful to
you as well. Here’s little bit to convince you to click
“When you're leading a group with members from different units/organizations, keep this in mind: your team's success will rely, in part, on its ability to meet the members' needs for both autonomy and for connection. To be more specific, ask yourself and the team certain questions.
To help meet the "me" needs:
- Do we know what skills and knowledge each member brings to the task?
- How well are we utilizing their individual skills and knowledge?
- Are some members being asked to play specific roles that tap their strengths (e.g., convener, number cruncher, analyst, benchmarker, marketer, etc.)?
- Does everyone get credit for the team's accomplishments?
And, to help meet the "we" needs:
- Are we planning some early, visible wins (which grows the team's confidence in itself)?
- Are marking our progress and celebrating successes?
- Are we talking about our team and its distinct identity/characteristics?
- Are we publicizing the team's progress to other stakeholders and senior leaders?
Collaboration is vital, difficult, but learnable.
Meeting people's needs for both autonomy and connection will go
a long way toward overcoming the challenges of working together.
There is no "I" in Team," but there is a "me."”
This Week at NCJRS
Those kind folks at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service have provided another treasure trove of interesting research abstracts for your perusal here. Head on over and do so and don’t count on us deciding the sample titles below are the only ones you’d like to see:
- Role of Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation in Evidence-Based Real World Community Supervision
- Role of Probation and Parole Officers in the Collaborative Response to Sex Offenders
- National Surveys of State Paroling Authorities: Models of Service Delivery
- "That’s Not Who I Am:" How Offenders Commit Violent
- Psychological Narrative Analysis: A Professional Method to Detect Deception in Written and Oral Communications
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Question of the Day
What happens when you only fund 70% of the state’s authorized level of correctional officers?
“A federal study of sexual assault in prisons and jails found inmates in Oklahoma are reporting more assaults than the national average.”
Next question: What happens when federal courts decide corrections departments aren’t offering constitutionally protected levels of personal safety for offenders?
It’s Tough Getting Old
And it’s tough to pay for old people when
you’re a corrections department. This
story is about the impact of aging inmates on Virginia’s correctional
system, but you could substitute practically any state name in
the country and not be much off. Just a tad to get you to
read the whole thing:
“Some parolees are sent to local nursing homes. Others find long-lost relatives willing to care for them. And about twice a month, inmates die here -- days, months or years away from their scheduled release dates.
"We let the families come in, we let them sit on the bed with their loved ones," Davis said. "We try to be as respectful as we can."
At moments like that, even the warden doubts the logic of geriatric incarceration: "You see that kind of human frailty, and it's hard not to question what we're doing here."”
A couple of good articles online right now dispensing
useful info for correctional managers seeking help in these difficult
fiscal times. This
one talks about the frequent misalignment of organizational mission
and message with actual practice (c’mon, you know exactly what we’re
talking about) and gives some ideas on how to make that alignment
less “mis.” A little bit:
“Take this little test:
- Do you tell your people to look for ways to save money, while your budget system takes away any unspent money at the end of the year and reduces the base budget the following year?
- Are you trying to discourage empire building, turf and bloated staffing patterns while your job classification system awards more points based on the number of people supervised?
- When purchasing services, do you encourage your people to get the best value (results for the dollar) possible while your procurement and contracting systems pay for units of service (such as consulting hours) and not for results achieved?
- Do you tell your people that results are important while 95 percent of your organization's accounting system measures inputs, like full-time equivalents, space or travel, and its ability to measure results is minimal?
Each "yes" answer highlights an administrative
system contradicting your stated strategy. Believe me, the administrative
systems win every time.”
And this one understands that “wise” leaders and managers are confident but not sure. Huh? Well,
“To underscore the point once more, I will steal a phrase from Silicon Valley futurist Paul Saffo, who has long argued that the best leaders and the best organizations have strong opinions that are weakly held. Strong opinions reflect and instill confidence, and also provide clear guidance about the direction that people should try to go right now. But, since those opinions are weakly held, they don't stand as barriers to change when better information comes along. This ability to feel, express, and act on strong beliefs without clinging to them irrationally — the state of mind that Tom Petty captured in a well-sung line — is the common refrain in Bonny Simi's problem-solving, Andy Grove's decision-making, and Frank Hauser's sound advice to every kind of director: "Don't dither; you can always change your mind later."”
TUESDAY, September 7, 2010
A friendly reader passes along the notice below of interesting training availability on addressing addiction in individuals and families for those of you interested and available yourselves:
Current Trends and Strategies in Addressing Addiction
in Individuals and Families
by Hal Vorse, M.D.; Rita Crockett, LPC, LADC; Julie Myers, LPC, LADC Candidate; Trent Hancock, LPC Candidate & LADC Candidate
Friday, October 1, 2010 • 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A $40 fee applies to participants who are prepaid by midnight on Wednesday, September 29. On-site registration or enrollment after midnight, September 29, is $60 per person. NOTE : Psychologists early registration fee is $80 with a $100 late or on-site fee.
Prescription drug abuse is not a new problem, but one that deserves renewed attention. Hal Vorse, M.D., Medical Director from A Chance To Change Foundation, along with other staff, will update behavioral health professionals on current trends in addictions, intervention, treatment options, and how to best help individuals and families dealing with substance abuse and other addictions. Discussion will include how enabling and codependent behaviors complicate matters and create chaos in marriages and families. Read more …
Register online by midnight, Wednesday, September 29, or complete the printable form and mail it (with payment, if applicable) to:
Sheila Cahlik, Symposium Coordinator
Crossings Community Church
14600 North Portland
Oklahoma City, OK 73134
Faxed registrations are also accepted at 405-302-1292.
NOTE: Online registration closes at midnight on Wednesday, September 29.
On-site registration ($60 for non-psychologists or $100 for psychologists) is available the day of the Symposium.
While We’re Talking About Addressing Addiction
Here are some recent reports related to substance abuse and/or its treatment. This one talks about the impact of stigmatizing abusers and their subsequent openness toward and use of treatment resources (hint: not good). It includes these takeaways:
“If public and professional stigma has the power to prevent addicts from entering treatment (as it formerly held a similar power over the mentally ill, and before that, the disabled), what can be done about it? Lloyd makes several concrete suggestions, most of which center, predictably, on education:
--Drug education in schools should focus on the causes and the consequences of active addiction, rather than relying on scare stories.
--It’s time to teach health care and pharmacy staff about the medical, social, and psychological aspects of drug addiction.
--Treatment agencies need to focus on the whole person, “and not see problem drug users as solely problem drug users. Some drug addicts are also bird-watchers.”
--Users themselves, as well as their families, often benefit from a greater understanding of the mechanisms of addiction. This can have the effect of reducing “the self-blame felt by many drug users’ parents.”
--Finally, “police need to reflect on their practice in policing problem drug users at street level.””
This one emphasizes that mental illness alone isn’t generally correlated with violence, but when it’s correlated with substance abuse, then you can start having problems. This one tips us off that the black market in the easily-obtained substances used to cut illegal substances has become a major problem unto itself. And this one, slightly cheerier, offers hopeful use of psilocybin, the magic mushroom hallucinogen, as an anxiety-reducer for advanced-stage cancer patients.
Friday, September 03, 2010
OK DOC Scores in CORRECTIONS TODAY
We failed to mention yesterday in our post on the latest National Criminal Justice Reference Service research abstracts that they also have up some of the June 2010 CORRECTIONS TODAY articles, including one by our DOC’s own Kenneth Holloway on evidence-based practice in community corrections. So go on over and give all the CT abstracts a review but be sure to check out our homeboy’s first. (Yeah, we’re really too old to pull off “homeboy,” we know.)
To Labor Your Brain over Labor Day
That’s what the holiday’s for, you know. Here are some pieces that should keep your synapses buzzing despite that last barbeque of the summer. This one pulls apart the common belief that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and shows that, in fact, employing young people as they hit a natural age to stop toking is a very good way to stop drug use altogether, which is why, of course, we put them in prison, give them felony records, and make employment that much harder. This one talks about recent meta-analysis of the effectiveness of violence-predicting assessments and why their limited success rates shouldn’t be used in courts and particularly not for juveniles. Uh-oh. This one demonstrates a “biochemical pathway” that appears to link substance addiction and compulsive eating, such that a compound found to help reduce alcohol craving may also help relieve the eating compulsions. If you want to know what that compound is, you have to click on the link. And this one, via a kind reader who sent it to us, notes that isolating inmates in prison tends to increase those inmates’ mental health problems, according to psychiatrists, who not surprisingly seem to think there are better ways to do things and even offer some suggestions. For you to ponder over that dry chicken and warm beer this weekend. Enjoy!!
Thursday, September 02, 2010
This Week at NCJRS
More insightful material to get you through the long holiday weekend coming up. Where? Over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week. Among the research abstracts you’ll find there are the titles below, but you need to head over to find all the good stuff. Could keep you busy through Labor Day.
- Impact of Imprisonment on Marriage and Divorce: A Risk Set Matching Approach
- Prison Populations and Correctional Outlays: The Effect of Reducing Re-Imprisonment
- Recidivism of Offenders Given Suspended Sentences: A Comparison with Full-Time Imprisonment
- Project Safe Neighborhoods and Violent Crime Trends in US Cities: Assessing Violent Crime Impact
- Developmental Validation of the PowerPlex 16 HS System: An Improved 16-Locus Fluorescent STR Multiplex
Just try to tell us that last one won’t take the whole holiday.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
So, if drugs like cocaine and meth end up screwing up dopamine production in your brain, leading to the behaviors which keep our correctional facilities full, what will it mean when the kids who have been taking all that Ritalin, much like coke except it hangs around longer in the blood, reach adulthood?
A couple of interesting articles right now over
at GOVERNING on the use of IT and its problems in the future. This
one focuses on a memo at the fed level that highlights the frequent
planning and cost deficiencies in IT projects. Here’s a tempter
to get you to click:
“What is true at the federal level is also true for state and local governments, who have likewise suffered long, costly meltdowns of major systems. At times, frustration with the dysfunction of in-house operations has led to outsourcing efforts, but not all of these have happy endings. The Indiana welfare outsourcing didn't end well, and the latest problem in the news is the meltdown of an $863 million IT outsourcing contract between IBM and the state of Texas. According to a story in the Dallas Morning News, recriminations are flying both ways.
The trick is to identify dysfunctional projects early and stop them cold.”
And this one notes, surprise, that a lot of systems are old and getting scarily cumbersome, as this example shows:
“The EDD's system, a poster child for outdated technology, dates back to the 1970s. Besides its spaghetti-like web of COBOL programs, adding or changing information in the eligibility database is a nightmare because pieces of data must be rearranged manually. Imagine a spreadsheet with millions of columns, says Jablonsky, but none of the columns shift automatically to accommodate a new piece of information. Each bit of existing data must be moved by hand to make room.
The system's not only inflexible, it's also huge: It handles 7 million transactions daily and rivals the global Sabre airline reservation system for sheer complexity.”
What’s left really untouched by either article is exactly how states facing mega-cuts in their operating budgets are supposed to come up with the cash to deal effectively with any of the problems discussed. Oh, well.