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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 03:13 PM
Original message
In the Penal Colony
Why do so many people think the crime rate has gone up over the last five years when it hasn't? What do citizens really think of our punitive society? A new survey is out:

Here are some of the findings:

58% of the public rated police performance excellent/good compared to 37% for judges, 32% for prosecutors, 25% for prison authorities, and 15% for officials who write the laws.

When asked which item their tax dollars should be spent on, 76% said funding for jobs & treatment and 19% for building prisons (and as large a percentage wanted to decrease prison spending as increase it).

Regarding rehabbing offenders, 79% said that many can turn their lives around and 16% said little can be done.

For priorities in dealing with crime, comparing 2006 to 2001, 37% in 2006 said prevention compared to 36% in 2001, 22% v. 17% for rehab, 19% v. 20% for punishment, and 20% v. 19% for enforcement; so the only real change was a currently greater priority on rehab.

56% said judges should have more leeway in sentencing while only 36% said mandatory sentences were a good idea.

Asked how often alternatives to prison should be used for non-violent offenders, 51% said often, 37% sometimes, and 10% hardly ever/never.

Among the often above, respondents favored compensation for victims 66%, treatment for mentally ill offenders 65%, mandatory education/job training 63%, treatment/counseling for offenders under 25 61%, and treatment/counseling for drug offenders 56%.

For sentencing reform, 81% wanted to make sure the punishment fits the crime, 72% keep violent offenders in prison longer, 69% ensure fairness/equality for all groups, 61% put more non-violent offenders in treatment/job programs, and 38% reduce prison population.

As you ponder these results, know that 60% of the respondents think crime has gone up in the last 5 years. As I visited Ben Franklin's grave in Philly, I could have sworn I heard a loud spinning.


http://correctionssentencing.blogspot.com/2006/08/publi...


Republicans and Democrats are to blame for the misunderstanding of the public perception. So why is the "tough on crime" stance so strong and effective? Because they get their news from the news! They too probably think crime is up and the only answer is prison, prison, prison. The People don't think so. They are hip to FauxNews and sensationalistic "journalism" now.

Thanks to Sentencing Law and Policy for providing the link

http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy...
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Taxloss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 03:15 PM
Response to Original message
1. Hooray for Kafka references!
That is all.
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. It's a great story.
One of my all time favorite short stories. Another is Jackson's "The Lottery."
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yurbud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 03:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. this is another area where corruption trumps reason and the public good
people are being sold on the need for more prisons, that someone profits from building, then the prisons are privatized so someone can profit from running them.
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
3. many argue
that the tougher sentencing is part of the reason FOR the fact that crime rates have gotten lower

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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. They are wrong. Don't make me Google it. :)
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. i think it's A contributory factor
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 04:03 PM by sgxnk
criminologists, cops, and lawyers have varying opinions.

it's not simply a googlable fact. it requires interpretation of course due to arguable interpretations of causal and correlative influences. but imo, it's a contributory factor

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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. That makes sense.
However, if you include crimes committed in prison, it might be even higher than it was. Studies done on the California Three Strikes Law found the crime rate fell equally or MORE in states without Three Strikes. The states with the lowest drop emphasize rehabilitation.

http://www.prisonsucks.com/scans/rehab.html
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. the problem is
with isolating stats and diferentiating relative importance of factors. california has a whole host of factors, and a very high %age of california is crimes committed by illegal immigrants and gang members. specific deterrence tends to work on gang members, but not general deterrence . and with illegals, since many don't even understand english, knowledge of harsher penalties is doesn't get recognized... the stats on the %age of prison inmates who are illegals is astoundingly high. so, again the issue is more complex. not to mention that "prisonsucks.com" aint exactly the most unbiased site

one thing that is well accepted in the cj community is that fear of apprehension is more motivating as a deterrent vs. increased punishment, but that both work symbiotically together - so that if u don't have the 1st, the 2nd is not particularly helpful

MADD has used this approach with some very good results.

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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:44 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Success?
MADD: http://www.duiblog.com/2005/05/04

Also:

Conversely, the over 30 age groups were the only groups to display net increases in both violent crime and total felony arrests during the post Three Strikes period. In other words, the age group that is most likely to be sentenced under Three Strikes witnessed increases in felony arrests and violent crime. Therefore, the age group that should have been the most affected by Three Strikes showed no deterrent or selective incapacitation effect":

http://www.cjcj.org/jpi/onemillion.html
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:06 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. is this DUI blog cite
supposed to MEAN something?

DUI stats and dui related deaths are down SIGNIFICANTLY and i am not aware of anybody involved in the field who does not give MADD some "mad props" for this

i can pull any biased screed out my okole to "support a POV" but the stats are darned compelling, and if u want a stats exchange so be it

as for the 2nd cite, as i explained the issue is not simple enough as u seem to think it is. like i said, increased penalties in a vacuum are relatively useless for general deterrence but very useful for specific

here's cites that come to very different conclusions

http://www.threestrikes.org/jmshepherd.htm

"Many states have recently enacted three-strikes laws to increase punishment for frequent offenders. However, only California actively enforces its three-strikes legislation. Existing studies of the impact on crime in California consider only partial deterrence: the deterrence of offenders committing their last strike. The only study addressing full deterrence, the deterrence of all potential offenders, examines the impact across all states in a model that does not consider the simultaneity of crime and the passage of three-strikes laws. I offer a theoretical model that shows that strike laws should deter all offenders and that partial deterrence measurements underestimate the laws' benefits. Theory-based empirical results indicate that strike sentences generally deter the crimes covered by the laws. During the first 2 years of the legislation, approximately eight murders, 3,952 aggravated assaults, 10,672 robberies, and 384,488 burglaries were deterred in California; however, larcenies increased by 17,700 during this period."

http://www.threestrikes.org/ThreeStrikesATaba.pdf

http://www.threestrikes.org/senatorchuck.html

the author of this article originally OPPOSED it, and he is a prosecutor. he changed his mind after reviewing the aftermath

http://www.threestrikes.org/ThreeStrikes.pdf
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:56 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. You made me seriously Google.
Edited on Tue Aug-22-06 12:22 AM by madmusic
Research by UAB criminologists Tomislav Kovandzic, Ph.D., and Lynne M. Vieraitis, Ph.D., shows no evidence that prison releases lead to a significant rise in homicide rates. In fact, in a separate study, Kovandzic, Vieraitis, and fellow UAB researcher John J. Sloan III, Ph.D., found that in states with three-strikes laws, homicide rates increase an average 14 percent within three years of passage and 24 percent within five years. The results translate to about 1,300 additional homicides over five years in the states that have such laws.

Several highly publicized murder cases and a rising crime rate in the 1980s and 1990s brought about the three-strikes laws, Kovandzic says. They were meant to make criminals think twice before committing new crimes. But they are not a panacea for the nations violent-crime problem, and, according to a growing body of scientific research, they may actually exacerbate the most serious crime: homicide. The reason, he speculates, is that to felons on their second strike, the difference in the sentence for a third-strike crime and murder would be minimal. When committing a nonlethal crime, a criminal might kill victims or others at the crime scene to reduce the chances that he or she will be apprehended and convicted, says Kovandzic.

http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=78147


Declines in drunk driving

The death rate from alcohol related traffic accidents has dramatically declined since the 1970s, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA, alcohol related deaths have declined from 26,173 in 1982 to 16,694 in 2004. While some of this decline may be attributable to improvements in car safety and emergency medicine, MADD's supporters claim the group's efforts have brought about this decline, because alcohol-related fatalities declined much more significantly than non-alcohol-related fatalities. Declining death rates in alcohol-related car accidents may have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the past 25 years. The declining number of alcohol-related car accident deaths found by NHTSA is particulary dramatic because total U.S. population and the number of drivers has increased substantially during the past 23 years.

The statistics kept on traffic fatalities were originally based upon "alcohol-caused" deaths. Critics point out, however, that these statistics were later quietly changed to "alcohol-related." This meant that a sober driver who hit and killed an intoxicated pedestrian, for example, would be involved in an "alcohol-related" incident. Similarly, a sober driver who is struck by another sober driver carrying an intoxicated passenger was counted as another "alcohol-related" death. Further, if the officer believes the driver to be intoxicated but chemical tests show he is not, the death is nevertheless reported as "alcohol-related;" if the tests indicate the presence of any alcohol at all, say .02%, the fatality is counted as "alcohol-related".

In 1999, the federal General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed the claimed fatality figures from NHTSA and issued a report stating that they "raised methodological concerns calling their conclusions into question ". The statistics, the GAO report said, "fall short of providing conclusive evidence that .08% BAC laws were, by themselves, responsible for reductions in alcohol related fatalities."

http://www.answers.com/topic/mothers-against-drunk-driv...


Note at the madd link there is some suspicion madd might be going madd: "Common criticisms of the organization deem it as using junk science to further its goals, and that it is neo-prohibitionist, ageist, and in favor of the creation of a nanny state all under the pretense of preventing deaths due to drunk driving."

EDIT:suspicion

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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. Anyway, the real point is...
Most citizens are against the penal colony. They are wise to the sensational news and to the politicians who are led by the nose because of it. The real question is why does sensationalism still sell with legislators? Why are legislators so out of tune with the public?
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. The only factor that has consistently reduced the crime rate is
wide-spread prosperity, simple as that. If work is plentiful and living easy, people don't commit crimes (excluding personal conflict of course).
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:22 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. Agreed.
It's mostly economics and opportunity. That's why good rehab works better than most anything else. People need something to lose.
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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:55 PM
Response to Original message
11. The rate of crime shown on TV has gone up. Used to be only San Antonio
had all crime news. Now every city's news is all crime, and even the national news is all crime and even the 24 hour news is stuffed with as much crime as possible. Same for TV programming--dramas, documentaries.

This gives people the impression that the world in which they live is a bursting at the seems with criminal activity.

In fact, most crime rates are down.

On the other hand, thanks to crazy drug laws that allow users and their girls friends to be incarcerated for years, the prison industrial complex is booming. And dont forget women who write hot checks to pay the rent. DAs are putting them behind bars at rates never dreamed of in the past in order to fill all those prison cells. Being Black and poor in America is enough of a crime to get you some time. It is a wonder the crime rate isnt higher.
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