Saturday, August 20, 2011

Glucose levels affect parole board decisions

The New York Times this week had a story on decisionmaking that included a fascinating reference to a study of release decisions by the Israeli parole board, one that's almost certainly applicable here in Texas given the much vaster volume of cases considered:
There was a pattern to the parole board’s decisions, but it wasn’t related to the men’s ethnic backgrounds, crimes or sentences. It was all about timing, as researchers discovered by analyzing more than 1,100 decisions over the course of a year. Judges, who would hear the prisoners’ appeals and then get advice from the other members of the board, approved parole in about a third of the cases, but the probability of being paroled fluctuated wildly throughout the day. Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time. ...

The benefits of glucose were unmistakable in the study of the Israeli parole board. In midmorning, usually a little before 10:30, the parole board would take a break, and the judges would be served a sandwich and a piece of fruit. The prisoners who appeared just before the break had only about a 20 percent chance of getting parole, but the ones appearing right after had around a 65 percent chance. The odds dropped again as the morning wore on, and prisoners really didn’t want to appear just before lunch: the chance of getting parole at that time was only 10 percent. After lunch it soared up to 60 percent, but only briefly. Remember that Jewish Israeli prisoner who appeared at 3:10 p.m. and was denied parole from his sentence for assault? He had the misfortune of being the sixth case heard after lunch. But another Jewish Israeli prisoner serving the same sentence for the same crime was lucky enough to appear at 1:27 p.m., the first case after lunch, and he was rewarded with parole. It must have seemed to him like a fine example of the justice system at work, but it probably had more to do with the judge’s glucose levels.
There's plenty of debate over what criteria parole boards should use to make release decisions, but this study reminds us that rationality may not always be the main (or at least the only) driving factor behind who gets released, and when.

RELATED: Scott Medlock at the Texas Civil Rights Project emails to say, " If I recall correctly, there is an episode of The Simpsons where Marge bakes brownies for the parole board before they evaluate a prisoner she has taken a shine to, and, true to form, the board grants parole." Indeed he does recall correctly, though it was cookies, not brownies (macaroons, to be precise). Here's a synopsis of the relevant episode.


DEWEY said...

Hmmm... Can we somehow get the members of the Board of Pardons and Parole to overdose on glucose when our loved ones come up for parole??

Anonymous said...

I don't think our Texas Parole Board wastes any time or deep thought on reviewing the cases before them. Therefore I doubt glucose has any effect one way or another.

BarkGrowlBite said...

In Kookfornia computers decide who will be paroled by predicting future behavior, then classifying inmates as low-risk and non-violent.

How good have those computers been at predicting future behavior? Their record is dismal. There hasn't been a day gone by where one of those non-violent, low-risk parolees hasn't committed a murder, rape or robbery.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

BGB, that's complete bullshit. Computers "decide" no such thing. Instead, according to CA, "The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) conducts parole consideration hearings, parole rescission hearings, parole revocation hearings and parole progress hearings for adult inmates and parolees under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation."

No doubt they probably use some sort of computerized risk assessment tool that you might criticize (except that you provide no specifics, only a sweeping, unsupported and false generalization), but the decision is not made by computers but by human beings whose glucose levels (and thus decision making acumen) fluctuate throughout the day.

john said...

This also fits in with the standard stereotype that developed from fact over history, which is those in charge end up fat and happy.
So keep 'em fatter and they'll share a little happiness.

Maybe what's needed, since there can be no honest people in power; is to have 2 or 3 little hearings, by diff groups at diff times. Basically we'd be going for the three-"judge" affect on American Idol and other nearly-unbearable reality shows: it doesn't matter if the judge has half a brain, if there's a committee.
PLUS it seems like more committees would please the Communitarians, or you could rationalize it creates more jobs.

These are ALL band-aid patches simply required due to lack of due process, fairness, attention to jurisprudence, etc.
Would YOU want to go before one of those boards? Aren't you being held guilty until you can convince them of your innocence? And they just need a Snickers? Divas.

JohnT said...

Alexander Pope commented long ago that "wretches hang that jurymen may dine."

BarkGrowlBite said...

Grits do you seriously believe the lies put out by CA. Yes, the decision is made by the BPH, but it is based on computer predictions. If you'll follow PACOVILLA Corrections blog, you'll get the true facts on what is going on in Kookfornia, and it is a colossal disaster. And check with any police agency in that state and they will tell you that the early release decisions are based on computer predictions.

Many parolees have been placed on what is now designated as 'non-revokable parole,' meaning that they will get no supervision by parole agents.

The state has been putting out lie after lie on their early release program and in the wake of the Garrido case. And you've fallen for another one of their lies.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Let me add that the following statement describing 'Our Goals' by BPH is a typical state lie:

"To maintain a high performing parole hearing system that protects California’s communities and is fair to all adult offenders."

The true goal of the parole hearings are to reduce the state's prison population a in keeping with a federal court order to reduce prison costs.

Every newspaper, TV news outlet and police agency has pointed out that the early prison releases are putting the public safety at risk

BarkGrowlBite said...

Oops, that should be ....court order and to reduce prison costs.

sunray's wench said...

John ~ as I understand it, that's how parole decisions are currently made in Texas, although I suspect that the BPP members get to see the previous member's decisions when the file gets to them, which would be a probably cause for one sheep following all the rest.

I've said before and I'll keep saying it; use parole in a positive way by assuming a yes unless there is actual evidence that the inmate cannot follow the rules or behave. It works in so many other places, there is no reason to assume that it would not also work in TX.

Anonymous said...

I did not see the Texas Twang in this article. I mean I did not see corruption and bribes or playing second judges. You see the Parole Board members in Texas see themselves as second judges. I hope Rizzie Owens comes back to embarrass a certain politician very soon but then again he does not seem to mind making a fool out of himself. Maybe we should do what American Idol does and let callings call in and decide for themselves.


In regards to the Israeli parole board, "Lox em up and throw away the key"!