Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Roundup: NIMBYism, Incarceration Incentives, and Len Bias' Fading Ghost

Here are a few quick, end-of-the-week links that didn't make it into full blog posts this week:

The Slow Fade of Len Bias' Ghost
That's the title of a Dallas Morning News column by Mark Osler, who says it's "pathetic" it took 24 years to reduce the crack/powder disparity in federal sentencing

Reentry Housing Inhibited by NIMBYism Run Amok
Most recently in Dallas and Houston. In Dallas short-sighted neighborhood interests succeeded in killing tax credits for four projects for reentry housing, while "without zoning restrictions in Houston there's little anyone can do to block" the project there. The Dallas News said "Tax credits, which can be sold to investors, are a main source of funding for low-income housing construction in Texas," and neighborhood opposition "counts too heavily in the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs' scoring process," according to those trying to implement these projects. The House Corrections Committee recently discussed whether all TDHCA's low-income housing credits should come with a stipulation that they not discriminate against ex-offenders.

Crime Lab News
Here's the latest newsletter from the DPS crime lab in Austin.

See You in Court
The City of Austin may be headed to federal court after the Austin City Council, under intense pressure from the local police union, rejected a settlement agreement negotiated by city attorneys over a racially charged police shooting. Debbie Russell from the Austin chapter of the ACLU has a response in the Austin Post to the city's decision.

Another Incarceration Incentive
I try to pay attention to the various institutional, financial incentives promoting mass incarceration, so I'm especially fascinated to read Scripps Howard reporting that under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, "communities compete for hundreds of millions of federal dollars by identifying illegal immigrant convicts they’ve jailed. Problem is, some 20 percent of people identified turn out to not be illegal immigrants — and many are actually citizens, according to a White House report."

FBI Agents May Have Cheated in Test on Surveillance Limits
Hundreds of FBI agents allegedly cheated on tests designed to find out if they understood legal limits on electronic surveillance. Says AP, "The inquiry threatens to be another black eye for the FBI as it tightens controls after years of collecting phone records  and e-mails without court approval. The brewing scandal has already upended management at one of the nation's largest field offices."

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