Mental illness and juvenile justice
I regretted not being able to attend a juvenile justice policy discussion at the Texas Public Policy Foundation yesterday (I had to spend my afternoon performing tasks someone would actually pay me for). However the Daily Texan covered the event in an article titled "Screening for mental illness prevents jail time." House Corrections Committee member (and former chairman) Jerry Madden, Juvenile Probation Commission boss Vicki Spriggs, and LBJ School instructor Michele Deitch were the featured speakers.
What are conservatives saying about criminal justice reform?
Also from TPPF, check out this remarkable document (pdf), "What Conservatives Are Saying About Criminal Justice Reform?" It's a two-pager consisting of quotes from leading conservatives supportive of criminal justice reform. For example, here's an interesting reframing of an old canard they took from North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble: "I still embrace the theory of locking the cell door if an offender has been convicted of a crime. But I don’t say throw the key away. I say, keep the key handy, so the same key that locked that door can also unlock it.”
Drugs and US Border Policy
MexiData has excellent extended coverage of the recent drug policy conference in El Paso.
More Willingham coverage
The Houston Chronicle called John Bradley's appointment to chair the Forensic Science Commission a "Smoke Screen." The President of The Justice Project has an editorial on the scuttling of the Willingham investigation in the Huffington Post. From DogCanyon, "Forensics Expert Beyler Planned Public Airing; Perry Tried to Kill Agency Funding."
'Building Our Way Out of Crime'?
I'll have more on this when I've had a chance to read the whole document, but DOJ just put out an interesting if lengthy new primer titled "A Policymaker's Guide to Building Our Way Out of Crime" (pdf). I've always thought some of the smartest writing on crime prevention I've ever seen came from folks like Jane Jacobs, the godmother of urban planners, so I'm inclined to sympathize with arguments that development decisions affect crime patterns. I couldn't agree more with this statement, for example: "In a battle metaphor, police can take ground against durable crime but rarely can they alone hold that ground for very long. Developers, however, can physically alter that ground—change a place where crime has persisted and make it highly resistant to crime without necessitating heavy police deployment." But this document goes well beyond suggesting anti-crime features for developments, judging by the introduction, to advocate "the purposeful, formal, strategic linkage of police and community developers," whatever that means. More to come on this one.
The hidden costs of stop-and-frisk
The New York Times has an item on the rise of "stop and frisk" as a proactive tactic to prevent street crime, documenting more than one million such police encounters last year. But there is a hidden opportunity cost to focusing police resources that way:
After my experience being stopped and questioned last year for "babysitting while white," I'll admit to having an instinctive negative reaction to using Terry frisk authority not to reduce risk to officers but merely as an excuse to intrude when it would otherwise not be legally justified. But the SCOTUS court precedents are pretty bad on this, so the best argument against the tactic may not be protecting rights but David Harris' argument: It's just not cost effective.
David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on street stops, said few searches yield weapons or drugs. And the more people are searched, the more innocent people are hassled.''The hit rate goes down because you're being less selective about how you're doing this. That has a cost. It's not free,'' Harris said.