Criminal justice trends: key legislative changes in sentencing policy, 2001-2010 | Vera Institute of Justice

By , October 31, 2010 8:32 am
Direct expenditures by criminal justice functi...
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Since 2001, many state legislatures have changed their criminal sentencing policies, increasingly emphasizing approaches that are “smart on crime.” The three main areas of legislative reform involve redefining and reclassifying criminal offenses, strengthening alternatives to incarceration, and reducing prison terms. This report is a reference for legislators, their staff, and other policy makers who may be considering or implementing similar changes in sentencing statutes and policies.

via Criminal justice trends: key legislative changes in sentencing policy, 2001-2010 | Vera Institute of Justice.

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Interactive feature: The continuing fiscal crisis in corrections | Vera Institute of Justice

By , October 30, 2010 10:57 am

This page shows corrections appropriations in 44 states for fiscal years 2010 and 2011. You can view those states’ corrections allocations and recent changes in funding sources, including stimulus monies from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections collected this data for the report The Continuing Fiscal Crisis in Corrections: Setting a New Course. Budget appropriations are shown only for the 44 states that participated in a survey Vera conducted in the summer of 2010.

via Interactive feature: The continuing fiscal crisis in corrections | Vera Institute of Justice.

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR

By , October 30, 2010 10:55 am

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

“The gentleman that’s the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger,” Nichols said. “He’s a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman.”

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

“They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community,” Nichols said, “the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate.”

But Nichols wasn’t buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz.

Laura Sullivan/NPR

Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz., says two men came to the city last year “talking about building a facility to hold women and children that were illegals.”

“They talked like they didn’t have any doubt they could fill it,” Nichols said.

That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law.

via Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR.

YouTube – Franklin Zimring: The decline in crime New York City

By , October 30, 2010 10:51 am

YouTube – Franklin Zimring: The decline in crime New York City.

Ten Lessons from the Criminalization of Dissent

By , October 15, 2010 10:20 am

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In the aftermath of the 2000 Republican National Convention, I was charged with multiple felonies and accused of assaulting several police officers, including then Philadelphia Police Chief John Timoney. I approached my case with the attitude that the only way to stop the attempts to criminalize me – and dissent in general – was to organize more effectively than the forces of the state that wanted to shove me into prison. Largely due to successful organizing strategies and community solidarity, I was acquitted after three-and-a-half years. Today, we face similar challenges and must adopt similar strategies in fighting those who wish to put our comrades behind bars and criminalize our visions.

Right now, the state is sending a message to radical environmentalists [as well as radicals and anarchists in general - MW] around the country. It is using its power in an attempt to dismantle our networks and neutralize our militancy. How will we use our power and resources to oppose this force? How are we going to frame our message? What alliances will we build to support our imprisoned comrades?

We can’t let intimidation and fear outweigh our commitment to solidarity. We need to challenge the armchair “radicals” who rationalize the conviction of our comrades as an inevitable result of state repression. Our success in achieving social and environmental victories – in this situation and all others – depends upon the ability of passionate activists to gain the support of ordinary people.

via Ten Lessons from the Criminalization of Dissent | People Of Color Organize!.

Death by a Thousand Cuts: Miranda and the Supreme Court’s 2009-10 Term

By , October 13, 2010 5:08 pm
The United States Supreme Court.
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A leading Miranda scholar recently concluded that “[t]he best evidence now shows that, as a protective device, Miranda is largely dead. It is time to ‘pronounce the body,’ as they say on television, and move on.”[1] And that was before the Supreme Court’s 2009–10 term.

In a trilogy of decisions from that term,[2] the Court eviscerated Miranda safeguards, reversed state and federal decisions finding violations of Miranda, and, in the view of dissenting justices, “turn[ed] Miranda upside down.”[3] As an attorney for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers lamented, “[a]t this rate, what’s left of Miranda will be only what we see on TV.”[4]

In this essay, I analyze the Court’s Miranda decisions from the 2009–10 term. Part I provides an overview of the three cases, highlighting how the Court narrowed longstanding interpretations of Miranda in each case. Part II discusses the implications of the decisions. I show that the Court created new rules that make it harder for suspects to assert their rights while making it easier for police to question suspects without the presence of counsel and for prosecutors to introduce inculpatory statements into evidence. I also consider the potential impact on police interrogation tactics and what the new decisions suggest about the future of Miranda given the current composition of the Court. Regrettably, my conclusion echoes prior assessments of the state of Miranda.[5] That is, although the Court has not overturned Miranda, it has whittled away at the decision bit by bit, transforming a bold effort to protect suspects’ constitutional rights into a hollow ritual. In many ways, I conclude, that is a fate worse than death.

Harvard Law and Policy Review » Death by a Thousand Cuts: Miranda and the Supreme Court’s 2009-10 Term.

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It goes against our nature; but the left has to start asserting its own values | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

By , October 13, 2010 12:18 pm

So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.

The acceptance of policies that counteract our interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st century. In the US blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without healthcare, and insist that millionaires pay less tax. In the UK we appear ready to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest. What has happened to us?

The answer, I think, is provided by the most interesting report I have read this year. Common Cause, written by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF, examines a series of fascinating recent advances in the field of psychology. It offers, I believe, a remedy to the blight that now afflicts every good cause from welfare to climate change.

Progressives, he shows, have been suckers for a myth of human cognition he labels the enlightenment model. This holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. All that has to be done to persuade people is to lay out the data: they will then use it to decide which options best support their interests and desires.

A host of psychological experiments demonstrate that it doesn’t work like this. Instead of performing a rational cost-benefit analysis, we accept information that confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them. We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change.

via It goes against our nature; but the left has to start asserting its own values | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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