September 18, 2006
CrimProf Franklin Zimring Criticizes Cali's New Sex Offender Crackdown
From latimes: UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law CrimProf Franklin Zimring criticizes California's Proposition 83 on the Nov. 7 ballot that would lengthen prison and parole terms for the most violent sex offenders and make possession of child pornography a felony and would ban all released sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.
The California initiative comes at a time when public concern over crime is low, surveys show. And sex crimes against children have declined in recent years, said Zimring.
Zimring added that despite the persistent myth about strangers presenting the greatest threat, only 7% of juvenile victims are assaulted by strangers, according to a 2000 report by the U.S. Department of Justice. Fifty-nine percent of victims are attacked by an acquaintance and 34% are preyed on by a family member, the report showed.
"It may just be that kids know a lot of pedophiles," Zimring said. "Or it could be that sometimes Uncle Willy gets drunk, and God knows what Uncle Willy is going to do, and to whom and where."
Over a three-year period after their release from prison, 5.3% of sex offenders were rearrested for a new sex crime, according to another Justice Department report. Sex offenders also were less likely than other felons to be rearrested for any different type of crime. "This is solid data," Zimring said, "but it is strong feelings — not facts — that dominate in this arena."
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Packed Prisons, Solution-Stalement: Is the Eighth Amendment the Answer?
Stanford CrimProf Robert Weisberg, director of Stanford Law's Criminal Justice Center says "there's a general sense of caution on anything involving crime and prisons" in California. Three months ago, Gov. Schwarzenegger urged legislators to take action to resolve California's prison overpopulation and "deplorable inmate healthcare." But at the end of August, lawmakers adjourned for the year without addressing the system's myriad of problems. And while the legislators have gone home, prison officials warn they will run out of beds by June. Already inmates are stacked on double and triple-bunks in gymnasiums and day centers.
Steve Fama of the Prison Law Office is considering a federal lawsuit contending that overcrowding conditions amount to "cruel and unusual punishment.'' If successful, the case could cap prison populations. If prison populations were capped, of course more facilities would be necessary. Schwarzenegger has indicated that he may declare a state of emergency in the prisons, allowing him to impose measures, such as shipping inmates to other states or re-opening mothballed prison facilities. Story from MercuryNews.com. . . [Michele Berry]
September 17, 2006
CrimProf Justin Brooks Featured on First Law School Podcast
From Newswise.com: In a new move to make faculty insights available to external audiences, law professors at California Western School of Law are now taking their expertise from the classroom to the iPod. On Law in 10, California Western's weekly podcast, professors provide legal analysis on current news topics, all in 10 minutes or less.
The first podcast debuted on August 24, and featured criminal law Professor Justin Brooks. Brooks--also director of the California Innocence Project--discussed media coverage, false confessions, and DNA testing concerning the 10-year-old JonBenet Ramsey murder.
The show is divided into two segments, each featuring a different legal expert and topic of interest. Listeners are able to receive a free weekly subscription using RSS feeds, with aggregators such as iTunes, Google, and Yahoo. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Delancey Street Restaurant: Serving Meals and a 2nd Chance
From latimes.com: Delancey Street in San Francisco might look like every other successful restaurant in this restaurant-obsessed city, but the menu here comes second to the mission: providing felons with a solid first step on the straight-and-narrow.
Mimi Silbert, who started Delancey Street 35 years ago, explained that the Cons are fed, clothed and paid a small stipend, all from a general fund that also provides Silbert's pocket money: She takes no salary. Delancey Street prides itself on receiving no government aid, so everything comes from revenue or donations. (Brooks Brothers and Zegna have been particularly generous of late.)
In exchange for their basic needs being met, cons promise to work—hard. They put in long hours at the restaurant, and often at one of the other, smaller Delancey Street "business training schools," such as Christmas tree lots and moving companies. They also hit the books. Besides obtaining high school diplomas and college degrees, cons complete a liberal arts survey course designed by Silbert, which includes field trips to museums, recitals and ballets.
Delancey Street is the only program of its kind in the nation, Silbert says, and she's besieged each day by people wanting to copy it. There isn't time to answer all the requests, she complains. Besides, she designed Delancey Street on the fly, over 35 years, with help from experts, scholars, gourmets, friends. Occasionally, even a con's mother will donate a secret family recipe. It would take too long—a lifetime—to tell anyone all she's learned. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
TX Votes to Allow Private Companies to Set Up Shop in Prisons
From Chron.com: Plans to allow two private businesses to hire inmates at Texas state prisons cleared the first of three hurdles Thursday, despite the objections of organized labor groups.
Currently, as many as 500 low-risk Texas inmates earn wages working for private businesses. The initiative is part of the Prison Industries Enhancement Program, a federally approved program.
The proposal approved Thursday would allow Unique Performance to set up a car shop at the Boyd Unit in Central Texas and American Image Wear to hire inmates at the Telford Unit in Northeast Texas. Union leaders are fighting the proposals, saying they could undercut better-paying jobs outside prison. The proposals now need clearance from federal and state officials.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]