Thursday, December 30, 2010
Happy New Year
OK DOC offices closed tomorrow for the holiday, so no posts. To tide you over the weekend, try out these thought-provokers. A story on the P&P scandal in Massachusetts and what they’re (finally) doing there to turn the situation around, an object lesson for everyone in corrections. Or this story on Aristotle’s (yes, that Aristotle) insight into addiction and its diagnosis and treatment with his distinctions between voluntary, involuntary, and nonvoluntary. Or this story on the problems with the “completely innocent victim” and the “completely guilty offender” story that underlies the way we look at the world and how it might impact our actual grasp of the reality of social interactions, not to mention crime and punishment.
This Week at NCJRS
And, if that’s not enough to keep you busy while that boring old football is on tv, you can always head over to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service where you can find a plethora of interesting reading, including these tasty morsels as but a few examples:
Increasing Public Safety Through Successful Offender Reentry: Evidence-Based and Emerging Practices in Corrections
Woman's Life Before Serving Life: Examining the Negative Pre-Incarceration Life Events of Female Life-Sentenced Inmates
Risk and the Female Offender: An Analysis of Classification and Supervision Issues
Avoiding Failures of Implementation: Lessons From Process Evaluations
Impression Management and Self-Report Among Violent Offenders
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Addiction Inbox Top Ten for 2010
One of the best blogs for those of us in corrections is Addiction Inbox, which conveniently has a list up of its Top Ten Most Viewed posts for the year. If you read here regularly, they’ll be familiar to you, but it won’t hurt to review. If you don’t (and why not?), then you can get familiar. In a good way. And just in case you need to be reminded why addiction is the problem it is, here’s a good story (relatively speaking) on the fastest growing drug problem in the US—legal prescription drugs, complete with details, data, and sad tales. Something to talk about with your friends at the parties Friday night.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Hot Stuff at The Crime Report
Kinda slow at work this holiday week? Lookin’ for something work-related to read on the Net? Head over to The Crime Report and catch the story on a start-up Federal re-entry program that’s showing some initial success. Or the op-ed from Bill Burrell who runs APPA’s Perspectives journal on the recent Pew survey of public attitudes about crime and crim just reform. Or the summary and link to the Urban Institute’s latest handbook on the children of incarcerated parents and how we might keep them from being the “parents” in the updated version in a few years. Or, finally, the report of criminologists’ views of the recent drop, overall anyway, in homicides in the US and where that trend may be leading (no definite predictions but some good overviews of homicide causes and impacts).
Monday, December 27, 2010
Uh . . . That’s Not What the Story Says
Kinda weird story here with a headline indicating that violent crime dropped in Oklahoma City in the first six months of this year when the story says it actually went up almost 4% (assault was way up, more than offsetting drops in murders, robberies, and rapes). But . . . violent crime actually DID go down in Tulsa overall, despite a humungous increase in robberies. In any case, glass half full or half empty? (Who put that glass there anyway???) Of course, UCR crime rate numbers aren’t the only indicators of crime, particularly drug crime. Deaths from overdoses tend to give us a different sort of clue, and they’re up, both prescription and illegal, across all age groups, not just former hippie Baby Boomers, as this article will depress you. And this story on the declining confidence in social institutions actually has more relevance than you may initially think to the crime rate story as well, given that some researchers have linked both general respect for social institutions and specific confidence in economic conditions to later increases or decreases in crime rates. Gotta wait on those news stories for a bit longer, though.
Following the old journalism adage that you get readers by giving them stories about crime and puppies, we follow the crime story above with a puppy story. A nice article about an Oklahoma halfway house program that has female inmates training to become animal groomers. What’s particularly interesting in this excerpt below is the offenders’ own questioning about why so many of her colleagues keep coming back to prison and how the inmates themselves can sometimes take control of that process themselves:
“Adrieanna Ralph started the program when she was a resident at Turley. She was serving her second prison sentence on drug-related charges.
"Everyone I knew was back and I wondered, why are we all back here?" Ralph said.
Ralph examined her own choices and listened to the stories of her fellow inmates.
Financial problems were among the top pressures mentioned by women who had become re-offenders. Many said the low-paying paying fast-food jobs were not enough to raise their families.
"We didn't have a real money-making career," Ralph said. "A lot of us went from having a way to support ourselves and families to nothing. I relapsed, and that's how I ended up going back. I kept seeing that there was no career to fall back on. You can't feed a family on minimum wage."
Ralph had been a dog groomer before entering prison and decided to train others with that skill. She worked with the Turley Residential Center warden to develop a curriculum.
Because pets were not allowed at the facility, the women practiced grooming on stuffed animals.
The curriculum involves the study of different animal breeds, types of grooming, animal handling skills and reading a pet's body language. It is also a job that doesn't require a state license.
"It's better to give a criminal a career," Ralph said. "It's something no one can take from them. Only they can lose it."
Groomers may start out earning about $15,000. But some large pet companies and boutique shops will pay up to $60,000 for top groomers, said Christy VanCleave, co-founder of Muddy Paws with Ralph.
Muddy Paws has placed 13 of its graduates with area grooming shops. Currently, it has five employees and four in training, said VanCleave.
VanCleave had served three years in a California facility on drug offenses more than a decade ago. She was working for a national pet supply store recruiting groomers when she met Ralph.
"We have shops call us now asking if we have people finishing," VanCleave said. "We can't meet the demand right now."
Each morning before work begins, the women gather for a devotional. They say having ex-offenders as the co-founders and leaders gives them hope because they can relate to their plight coming out of prison.
"It's an inspiration to be in an environment with positive people, positive things going on and positive people in recovery who understand what you are going through," Eastteam said. "It's an awesome opportunity."”
Read the whole story for all the details.
While we’re lauding innovative programs that help inmates avoid return, let’s not overlook the established ones, such as prison library programs, such as the ones extolled in this piece by a guy who used to run one. Here’s one of his thought-provoking . . . uh, thoughts:
“People tend to see a prison as a monolithic institution, a place solely dedicated to locking criminals up. But many inmates experience prison in a more dynamic way, as a clash between institutions. And what I experienced every day was that, in the collision between the institution of prison and the institution-within-the-institution, the library, something constructive and potentially long-lasting was being formed.
Prison libraries aren’t miracle factories. The day-to-day was often far from inspiring. Glossy magazines and mindless movies were, for many, the main attraction. Pimp memoirs were among the most frequently requested books. And yet, even an inmate motivated by nothing more than a desire to watch “The Incredible Hulk” in the back room of the library was much more likely to come across something educational — a book, a program, a mentor — once he entered the library space. Just as important, this inmate was becoming a loyal patron of the library, something he could carry with him to the outside world, and perhaps pass on to his children.
In prison, I saw inmates literally run to the library. I wondered then, as I wonder now, how much we might gain from thinking ambitiously, creatively, how to harness the energy that currently fills this little institution-within-an-institution — and find ways to cultivate it more deliberately, to direct it over the prison walls and back into the lives of our neighborhoods.”
And for your own reading edification in this usually slow work week or for the coming new year, here’s an article recommending some of the “innovative reading” in management and policy that you could do. After the bowl games and Super Bowl, naturally.
Ecstasy to Fight Meth??
To file in your “Huhh . . . ?” file, researchers are discovering that Ecstasy has its effect by triggering oxytocin, the “cuddle drug” that mommas load up with when they have their slimy . . . their sweet newborns shoved on them after delivery. It also turns out that oxytocin can decrease craving for meth and is being tested to see if the same effect occurs for cravings for alcohol and pot. One anti-alcohol drug already showing success, baclofen, is known to affect oxytocin levels as well. (The article also notes how autism, also implicated in oxytocin levels, may be treatable by increasing those levels.) So be prepared to hear treatment providers tell you that offenders you recommend to them for recovery will need to take X. After the bowl games and Super Bowl, naturally.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow . . . and the Next Day
Holiday vacationing (and not because of furloughs so that means getting paid!!!) so no posts for the next couple of days. We’ll be back on Monday, so be warned.
More Good News
Not that we won’t be here tomorrow but to follow up on yesterday’s report of lower crime rates. This time, the feds report that correctional custody overall dropped across the nation in 2009 compared to 2008.
“The number of adults under correctional supervision in the United States declined by less than one percent during 2009, dropping to 7,225,800 (or 48,800 fewer offenders than at yearend 2008), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. This was the first measured decline in the total number of adults under correctional supervision since BJS began reporting these populations in 1980.
One in 32 adults, or about 3.1 percent of U.S. adult residents, was under correctional supervision at yearend 2009, down slightly from the rate of supervision in 2008.”
Oklahoma’s prison population increase in that period was only in double digits, reflecting the same influences, but 2010 saw a giant leap over 2009. Let’s hope that’s not true nationally, too.
Do These Genes Make Me Look Addicted?
More evidence for a genetic base for substance abuse and addiction, this time a finding that some white folks carry a genetic trait that leaves them THREE TIMES more susceptible to coke addiction (cocaine, not soda . . . it may be worse for soda, who knows???).
“This genetic variant, characterized by one or both of two tiny gene mutations, alters the brain's response to specific chemical signals. In the study, led by Ohio State University researchers, the variant was associated with a more than threefold increase in the odds that carriers will be susceptible to severe cocaine abuse leading to fatal overdosing, compared to non-carriers.
Among whites, one or both mutations were found in more than 40 percent of autopsy brain samples taken from people who had abused cocaine, compared to 19 percent of samples from people who lived drug-free. Overall, one in five samples from whites in the control group and one in two to three samples in the cocaine overdose group contained the genetic variant, compared to one in eight African Americans, in whom the variant is less prevalent.
The mutations -- either alone or in combination -- affect how dopamine modulates brain activity. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is a chemical messenger vital to the regular function of the central nervous system. Previous research has established that cocaine blocks dopamine transporters from absorbing dopamine after its release, leaving the chemical outside the brain cells and creating a feeling of euphoria.
In people who carry one or both of the mutations, the function of a gene responsible for transmitting dopamine signals in the brain is altered. Researchers speculate that this altered gene function sets up a vicious circle of chemical signals that could lead to a craving for a substance that can maintain elevated levels of dopamine in the brain.
The researchers say many questions about cocaine abuse susceptibility remain unanswered: Do the mutations increase the chances someone will try cocaine in the first place? Or do they deepen the cocaine craving and lead to heavy abuse? And how strong is the overall effect of this trait?
But what the research does show is the first strong connection in brain tissue between the mutations and the presence of severe cocaine abuse.”
Click here for all the details.
This Week at NCJRS
Start your holiday season with a visit to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service where you’ll find the usual tasty offerings, including these appetizers to get you to the full menu:
Innovative Courts Programs: Results From State and Local Program Workshops
Cost-Benefit Analysis and Crime Control
If Brain Scans Really Detected Deception, Who Would Volunteer to be Scanned?
Differences Between Adolescents Who Complete and Fail to Complete Residential Substance Abuse Treatment
NYPD's Compstat: Compare Statistics or Compose Statistics?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Good News on Crime
The FBI has released its preliminary UCR stats (remember: does NOT include drug crimes) for the first half of 2010 and the decline of crime continues:
“Some of the preliminary findings:
- Reported incidents of violent crime as a whole decreased in all four regions of the country—falling 0.2 percent in the Northeast, 7.2 percent in the Midwest, 7.8 percent in the South, and 7.2 percent in the West.
- In the Northeast, reported incidents of murder were up 5.7 percent, forcible rapes were up 1.1 percent, and aggravated assaults were up 2.4 percent.
- Reported incidents of property crime as a whole declined in all four regions of the country—dropping 0.2 percent in the Northeast, 2.5 percent in the Midwest, 3.6 percent in the South, and 3.1 percent in the West.
- In the Northeast, however, reported incidents of burglary rose 3.9 percent.
- Population-wise, cities with 500,000 to 999,999 residents saw the greatest decline in reported violent crimes (8.3 percent) and in property crimes (4.8 percent).”
Although we know that should translate into fewer inmates, we in corrections also know that new offenses are only part of the triumvirate with revocations and longer times served for existing inmates that drive our populations. And we also know that the older that inmate population gets every day (and it does), the more our costs go up to care for them even if the other drivers of our populations go down. But still, good news overall as we hit this holiday season and hope for a better New Year.
Restorative (??) Justice
Thought-provoking piece here on the use of restorative justice techniques in Texas, even if you are already well-versed in the process. Good discussion not just of that process but also of the problems of “closure” for crime victims and how offenders may get/want more out of it than the victims. Also notes that, even where its advocates have gained some recognition and funding, the process is still waayyy underused not just in Texas but around the country. However, as you read, ask yourself how this might be an alternative or supplement to our existing approaches as prison budgets continue to tighten in coming years.
And Along That Line
Of offender recognition of their offenses, here’s a story of a faith-based prison program in Tennessee that talks about impact on inmates. You won’t see any real policy analysis of actual impact or comparison to other programs, such as Oklahoma’s (which appears much more structured and less challenge-able constitutionally), but it at least points out some possibilities. And it got media attention in a positive way, which is always a plus.
Dónde Está el Baño?
Word here of Kentucky’s efforts to get its state workforce more bilingual in the Spanish sort of way. Indications that it pays off in efficiency and effectiveness overall, which might be especially important in states like Oklahoma where the fastest growing inmate group by race/ethnicity is Hispanic/Latino. And that question that just popped into your head?
“How do you deal with those who think English should be the only language spoken in the U.S.?
You do hear that, but it's usually from people who don't work with the public. If you work with the public, to function and do your job, you have to be able to communicate regardless of what the language is. So these comments were few and far between. I think, honestly, that that mentality is starting to subside some, so we really didn't hear that too much. I think what helped was [the program] was based on customer service. To be a good customer service provider, you have to be able to communicate.”
Monday, December 20, 2010
The Sum of the Parts
Interesting article here for you to consider the next time you expect big things (or don’t) from a committee or team put together to deal with important problems. The basic finding is that it’s the overall “collective intelligence” of the group, not its smartest member or the average intelligence of each member that is important to success. Here’s more and better detail:
“A group’s motivation, satisfaction, and unity were unimportant. Instead, the researchers found that when a group had a high level of collective intelligence, the members tended to score well on a test that measured how good they were at reading other people’s emotions. They also found that groups with overbearing leaders who were reluctant to cede the floor and let the others talk did worse than those in which participation was better distributed and people took turns speaking. And they also found that the proportion of women in the group was a predictor of collective intelligence — a factor they believe was likely influenced by women’s generally superior social sensitivity.”
Also appears to mean that all those biographies extolling the supreme leader of an org really ought to be paying more attention to all those little people s/he had to step on on the way to the top. But, of course, us “little people” sorta knew that all along, didn’t we? Go read the whole thing to be sure you know how to max out for your next committee.
More Drugs Fighting Drugs
Yet another in a long line of recent research pieces demonstrating the effectiveness of pharmaceutical remedies for substance abuse, which, despite the seeming contradiction, will likely be the way we finally manage to get out of the fixed loop we’ve entrenched ourselves in. Here are some highlights to get you to click the link:
“The Cochrane review finds that the medication naltrexone -- brand names are Depade and ReVia -- when combined with counseling or interventions like Alcoholics Anonymous, can help cut the risk of heavy drinking in patients who are dependent on alcohol.
Naltrexone works by blocking the pleasurable feelings, or "high," a person gets from drinking alcohol, thereby reducing motivation to drink. Naltrexone can be taken daily as a pill and is available as a long-acting injection. . . .
Soyka and colleagues examined the results of 50 previously published high-quality studies on naltrexone and alcohol dependence. Overall, the studies enrolled nearly 7,800 patients diagnosed with alcohol dependence. Of these, about 4,200 patients took naltrexone or a similar drug called nalmefene. The rest of the patients took a placebo or had some other type of treatment. Treatment with naltrexone ranged from four weeks to a year, with most patients receiving about 12 weeks of treatment. Most patients also received counseling.
Researchers found that patients who received naltrexone were 17 percent less likely to return to heavy drinking than were patients who received a placebo treatment. "That would mean that naltrexone can be expected to prevent heavy drinking in one out of eight patients who would otherwise have returned to a heavy drinking pattern," Soyka said.
Naltrexone also increased the number of people who were able to stay abstinent by 4 percent.
While at first glance that might not seem like a miracle cure for alcoholism, Soyka said that the effectiveness of naltrexone is on par with medications used for other psychiatric conditions.”
Thursday, December 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.
Not All Drug Smugglers Created Equal
Very interesting story here on a sea captain type who didn’t have the money to pay for his wife’s medical bills and found a new job smuggling coke. Paid the bills apparently, but didn’t make him like it, as his relief when finally caught indicated. You’ll get new insight into some of the motivations in the trade, a better idea of why some in the drug trade don’t score high on need assessments for substance abuse, and a clearer understanding of how employment in the drug trade operates. A Tri-Fecta!! Definitely worth your time. (And it’s work-related!!)
Impress Your Friends at Holiday Parties
With these fascinating, counter-intuitive tidbits from Science Daily that also may have some corrections-related relevance. First, it may just be good to Internet surf at work because having a positive attitude seems to increase one’s creativity, such as explaining to your boss how this article should get you off the hook for doing it. Second, worried about violent video games causing violent adolescent behavior? Well, don’t. At least not in the adolescent is Hispanic/Latino. And third, it seems that . . . oh, shoot, the headline says it best:“Submerging Your Feet in Alcohol Will Not Get You Drunk”
Okay, maybe not all that “may have some corrections-related relevance,” unless you’re creative (see the first one again).
This Week at NCJRS
And while on the topic of interesting, work-related research, don’t forget to check out the latest offerings of research abstracts at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Here are a few tempters to get you to click on the link:
Risk Principle in Action: What Have We Learned From 13,676 Offenders and 97 Correctional Programs?
Assessing Released Inmates for Substance-Abuse-Related Service Needs
Statistical Risk Assessment: Old Problems and New Applications
Myths and Realities of Prison Violence: A Review of the Evidence
Validity of Criminal Justice Contacts Reported by Inmates: A Comparison of Self-Reported Data With Official Prison Records
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Right on Crime
News here of a new organization of Texas conservatives who want to de-emphasize prison use, which they see as having a less than impressive record, at least recently, and more emphasize cost- and public safety-effective alternative sanctions. Got some impressive national supporters from the Right, such as Edwin Meese, Newt Gingrich, and Grover Norquist. Should be interesting to see what happens in tough budget times when these “Nixon Goes to China” types get behind de-prisonization.
Dog Bites Man. Twice.
Report over at The Crime Report that basically reiterates two things we already knew but getting new research support. First, people already with “criminal justice involvement” are more likely to get criminally justicely involved than those without. And second, putting those people in jail or prison doesn’t really seem to stop them from more “criminal justice involvement” when they get out. This report was from New York City, but it’s doubtful that this is one of those “NEW YORK CITY????!!!!” things that the rest of us can just kiss off.
Pot More Than Cigarettes
Latest study of teen drug use finds that more teens smoke pot now than cigarettes, that Ecstasy is still growing in use, and binge drinking is down. The Fed drug people are using this to hype more law enforcement that, you know, doesn’t seem to be working according to this very report, while pot legalizers are noting that at least legalized sellers would check I.D., which it’s sorta doubtful will happen soon under the current system. Meanwhile, back on the farm, that is, Mexico, pot growers there are using techniques learned from the US, such as hydroponics, to churn out a more potent level of pot. Seems like the same “law enforcement” versus “government control of product” arguments just might pop up here, too, doesn’t it?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
More Gen X, Gen Y Stuff
Yesterday (see posts below) we mentioned that the utility [sic] of frequent meetings has come under serious questioning by members of the Gen X and Gen Y generations. Is that the only management impact area where we see such shenanigans? Why, no, actually. Here’s a whole blog piece on five other areas that Baby Boom managers of these odd creatures need to be aware of. Just a bit to get your attention and have you click on the link:
“In essence, the younger careerist wants to help create social change through business and finance rather than merely profit from it. "In a broader sense, the most important finding is that students seem to be taking a more holistic view of the role of business in society," says Nancy McGaw, deputy director of the Aspen Program. "But the findings also suggest that while students may have these values, many of them sense those beliefs are not valued by employers or linked to career opportunities." For example, only 50 percent of students who were surveyed felt that recruiters placed a high value on personal integrity, and only seven percent said they think recruiters place high value on their understanding of sociopolitical issues.”
Drugs to Stop Drugs
More on the potential benefits of pharmaceutical strategies to get adults (and their fetuses) off drugs:
“A New England Journal of Medicine study published Dec. 9, co-authored by Vanderbilt's Peter Martin, M.D., director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry, found that the newer buprenorphine is at least as good for both mother and child as the standard care methadone, when both were combined with comprehensive care treatment of opioid dependence in pregnant women.
"The baby comes into the world addicted to what the mother was taking," Martin said. "And everyone who comes in touch with these unfortunate babies realizes that they are very uncomfortable and incessantly restless.
"From this study we can say that both the mothers and the babies did equally well taking buprenorphine or methadone.
"However, we demonstrated a statistically significant improvement above the standard of care in important outcomes in the babies of mothers who received buprenorphine during the pregnancy compared to those who were administered methadone," he said.”
Monday, December 13, 2010
Prison Ministry Program
Good coverage here of the female prison ministry program at our Eddie Warrior facility. Should help policymakers as they look at our inmate population, especially our female inmates, for confidence that at least some might be good risks for non-incarceration sanctions now and in the future.
Don’t Come Together for Better Work?
A couple of semi-related management articles that might have more relevance as fuel costs keep rising and we have fewer people to get more done anyway. This one emphasizes how much more satisfied tele-workers are with their jobs than folks doing the “seat-time = performance” thing in their home offices. And this one reports on surveys of Gen X and Gen Y types and their attitudes about the utility and effectiveness of meetings in general. (Hint: how many synonyms are there for “waste of time”?)
American Prospect on Mass Incarceration
Probably should note this new issue focusing exclusively on mass incarceration in the US right now. Not much new to those of us in corrections, but we all should be aware it’s out there right now as policymakers here in the state and nationally pay more attention this year.
And You Could Stop Doing Laundry
“With Washington state agencies looking for ways to save money, the Corrections Department says it's economizing by recycling inmate uniforms, switching to juice boxes and providing shorter socks.” Not kidding. And that leaves out the savings from cutting back on trash liners. Click here for the details before your excitement ebbs.
Thursday, December 09, 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.
Thanks to a very helpful reader, we’ve been perusing this very interesting site on the relationship “between brain dysfunction and disordered/ criminal/ psychopathic behavior.” The whole site is useful for those of you interested in and/or involved with this behavior, but the best part for us is the link to the regular newsletter with its links (back to 1995!!!) to related research on the subject(s). Just to give you an idea, here are a few samples, but be sure to hit the whole thing to see the treasure trove that’s waiting for you:
This Week at NCJRS
And while on the topic of good sites with access to the latest research, don’t forget to check out the article abstracts available this week at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Lotsa good stuff, including these tempters below that should just convince you to head over and check out them all:
Influence of Social Bonds on Recidivism: A Study of Texas Male Prisoners
Exploring the Relationship Between Social Support and Job Burnout Among Correctional Staff
Risky Altruism as a Predictor of Criminal Victimization
Spiritual Components of Restorative Justice
Criminal Trajectories and Risk Factors in a Canadian Sample of Offenders
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Cost-Benefiting Criminal Justice
The Vera Institute is doing some training on cost-benefiting criminal justice policy that the announcement below describes and links you to the registration.
Webinar: Introduction to Cost-Benefit
Analysis (CBA) and Justice Policy for State Legislators
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EST
With states confronting a combined $140-billion budget gap projected for 2012 and the public increasingly opposed to tax increases, policymakers need better tools for deciding how to spend their justice dollars. Too often, legislators must choose between policies and programs with little information on the return on investment of their options. By putting a dollar value on a proposal’s costs and benefits, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) can measure its fiscal impact to taxpayers, victims, and society. Used carefully, CBA can help state legislators save taxpayer dollars while maintaining public safety.
This webinar will help new and current legislators, legislative staff, and other policymakers learn about using CBA in criminal and juvenile justice. It will be hosted by Tina Chiu, director of technical assistance at the Vera Institute of Justice, with special guest speaker Senator Karen Fraser of the Washington State Senate and co-chair of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
Register for this webinar
And why might this be important? Well, this article on the use of data and analysis in “outcome budgeting” in Baltimore demonstrates how, in periods of tight fiscal stress, the availability of accurate and timely performance outcomes can ensure the dollars get sent to the right places. Check them both out when you get time.
Do These Two Things Go Together?
Here we get the usual “kumbaya” advice for organizations, talking about how stressful and difficult work environments can run off employees and bring out lower quality/amount of work from those who stay. Familiar stuff. But then we get this indicating that, when analytical decisions (as opposed to creative ones) are necessary, venting negative emotions seems to provide better outcomes. Actually, if you read both pieces, it’s clear that the two discussions aren’t as mutually exclusive as they sound, but it does indicate that there may be limits to the management consultants’ “happy talk” advice that we should keep in mind after they’ve gone.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Nice Guys Finish Married??
It’s pretty well established that offenders who get married (and truly care about their spouses) end up desisting in their offending careers more than those who don’t. But it may not just be offenders. This research indicates that not only do nicer guys end up married but getting married makes them nicer, supporting the whole marriage = better behavior concept. So should we, maybe, take some of the dollars going to criminal justice and put them into a dating service . . . ?
Confident about Your Statistics?
Short, sweet pieces describing most of what you should know about statistics to do your job effectively are pretty rare, so you should take advantage of this piece describing the ins and outs of sample sizes and confidence levels in a way that should make it all very clear to you. That way, when the stat types talk at you like you are a box of rocks, you can hit them where they live. Which can be fun in a bizarre kind of way.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Murderers Mentally Ill
May not be what mental health practitioners would agree with, but who’s going to argue with a defense attorney? Interesting perspective on both murderers and the implications for punishment if they all are truly mentally ill. You do sorta wonder if the attorney shouldn’t broaden her client pool, though . . . .
Speaking of Mental Health
Good article here on how the cuts in mental health systems in the states are affecting police departments now expected to deal with the clients of those systems. Good thing police departments don’t suffer from the same financing shortfalls. And that their decisions don’t affect us and our financing shortfalls at the same time.
Punishing Gays, Lesbians, and Bi-Sexuals More
Turns out that when you survey a group of young people 15 years ago and then again now about their behavior and whether or not they got punished for it, you find out that straight folks get punished less, including jail time, than homosexual folks behaving pretty much exactly the same.
“To investigate how lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are treated when they get in trouble, Himmelstein and her co-author Dr. Hannah Brückner of Yale University reviewed data collected from more than 15,000 teens in grades 7 through 12 during the 1994-1995 school year. The interviews were conducted in teens' homes, during which they could answer sensitive questions about sexuality and bad behavior anonymously, by entering their responses into a computer. Seven years later, participants were re-contacted and asked about their behaviors and punishments as adults.
Brückner and Himmelstein, now based at the New York City Department of Education, measured non-heterosexuality by including teens who said they had either experienced same-sex attraction, had a same-sex relationship or identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Most participants said they'd engaged in some type of bad behavior -- three-quarters admitted to minor transgressions, such as running away, graffiti or shoplifting. Thirty percent said they'd committed more serious acts, such as selling drugs or stealing. More than 40 percent admitted to violent behavior, such as fighting or hurting someone.
The result of this bad behavior differed between the groups, however. Reporting in the journal Pediatrics, the authors found that nearly 10 percent of participants who said they'd been attracted to someone of the same sex had been expelled from school, versus 7 percent of those with only heterosexual feelings. Twenty-six percent of participants who'd had a same-sex relationship said they'd been stopped by the police, but only 21 percent of those with no history of same-sex relationships said the same.
When the researchers used statistical tools to equalize the rates of bad behavior among heterosexual and non-heterosexual teens, they found that those with homosexual feelings or relationships were significantly more likely to be punished for their behavior.
Why non-heterosexual young people are being singled out, however, is unclear, Himmelstein noted. "We just showed these disparities exist."”
Get the details here.
Friday, December 03, 2010
At Least We’re Not the Only Ones
Okay, Oklahoma corrections is dealing with furlough days and a coming fiscal year that doesn’t have much sunshine in it, but here’s a list of several states that are facing the same kind of difficulties, including Ohio maybe cutting 339 jobs. Misery loves company and all that. You know, to get your weekend off to a good start. No need to thank us.
Substance Abuse Woes (and Remedies?)
A couple of pieces on the whys and hows of the difficulties
that substance abusers have stopping once they get started. This
one has to do with the impact of stigma (or having people
know you’re an abuser) on the eventual seeking and success of
alcohol treatment. You’ll get all the details at the link
but here’s some of the conclusion:
“In the general population, younger individuals perceived less stigma, and also were less likely to seek treatment for an alcohol disorder. Men perceived more stigma compared to women (38.1%vs. 37.7%). Non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanic adults overall reported a higher mean stigma compared to Whites (39 % vs. 37%) and were less likely to utilize alcohol services. However, the data also suggest that individuals with more severe alcohol disorders had a greater likelihood to seek treatment. Overall, perceived stigma was significantly higher for those with lower personal income, lower education, and individuals previously married compared to those who had never married.
"People with alcohol disorders who perceive high levels of alcohol stigma may avoid entering treatment because it confirms their membership in a stigmatized group," said Katherine Keyes, PhD, in the Mailman School of Public Health Department Epidemiology. "Given that alcohol use disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the United States, the empirical documentation of stigma as a barrier to treatment is an important public health finding. Greater attention to reducing the stigma of having an alcohol disorder is urgently needed so that more individuals access the effective systems of care available to treat these disabling conditions."”
And this one on the genetics behind the individual ability to quit smoking, which we assume would have parallels with other abuses. The good news in this story is that, as researchers discover the genetic differences in individuals trying to quit, they also can target cessation efforts in better ways. Plus, the door opens to all those impressive and hard-to-understand genetic strategies being developed to tailor pharmaceuticals and other solutions to specific individuals. Still down the road, but good to have going now. Maybe that will cheer you up after the first post above.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Age, Risk Instruments, and Sex Offender Recidivism
Interesting piece here doing a quick overview of some of the problems with sex offender risk instruments and then moving into a nice analysis of the differences you get when you break the actuarial tools into age components. Basically, and we presume not surprisingly, the younger you are, the higher the risks of recidivism. Across all the risk levels. Go read the whole thing for the details and the stats.
More Things You Didn’t Know about Drug Use
For example, looks like ancient Peruvians were chewing coca leaves waayyy back when, 8000 years ago even, and not to mix with carbonated water to get a soft drink. No word on how much the chewing went down once mandatory minimum sentences were instituted. And everything you want to know about LSD trippin’ with JR Ewing? No sooner said than done.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
This Week at NCJRS
Don’t forget to check out this week’s research abstracts at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Here are a few titles to remind you why a full visit is worth the time (and, never forget, it’s work-related!).
Deconstructing Self-Blame Following Sexual Assault: The Critical Roles of Cognitive Content and Process
Telling Our Stories: The Importance of Women’s Narratives of Resistance
Effectiveness of Universal School-Based Programs for the Prevention of Violent and Aggressive Behavior
Examination of Two Sexual Recidivism Risk Measures in Adolescent Offenders: The Moderating Effect of Offender Type
Victimization, Social Support, and Psychological Well-Being: A Study of Recently Released Prisoners