Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 30th, 2010

The devastating mix of politics and crime policy

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Radley Balko at

Last year the U.S. prison population declined for the first time in a generation. That’s good news, but it doesn’t begin to offset the damage done by a 30-year incarceration binge that has made America far and away the democratic world’s leader in putting people behind bars.

The numbers are staggering. In 1970 one in 400American adults was behind bars or on parole.As of 2008, the number was one in 100. Add in probation, and it’s one in 31. The number of people behind bars for drug crimes has soared from 40,000 in 1980 to about half a million today. States today spend one of every 15 general fund dollars on maintaining their prisons. According to the King’s College World Prison Population List (PDF), the U.S. is home to 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly a fourth of its prisoners. Judging by these official numbers, America’s incarceration rate leads the developed world by a large margin, although it’s doubtful that authoritarian regimes such as China’s are providing accurate data, especially about political prisoners. But among liberal democracies, the competition isn’t even close: As of 2008, the U.S. incarceration rate was 756 per 100,000 people, compared to 288 for Latvia, 153 for England and Wales, 96 for France, and 63 for Denmark.

America’s soaring prison population has spawned much debate over issues such as the wisdom of mandatory minimum sentences, the financial burden that prisons impose on states struggling with budget shortfalls, and the degree to which incarceration explains the dramatic drop in crime during the last 20 years. But the United States has never had such a high percentage of its citizens behind bars, and we really have no idea what long-term effects the tough-on-crime policies of the last few decades will have. During the next decade, for example, we will start to see the release of nonviolent drug offenders hit with the draconian prison sentences Congress established in the 1980s. It isn’t hard to see how locking a drug offender up with violent criminals for two decades and then releasing him into the population as a convicted felon might portend some bad results.

There are other problems. We have a record number of women behind bars, many of them pregnant or mothers of small children. This is a trend state governments aren’t handling well. The prison population is aging, a problem made worse by policies like abolishing parole. Since Virginia lawmakers abolished parole in 1995, The Washington Post reported in September, the number of prisoners over 50 in the state’s correctional system has increased fourfold. If our prison habit is expensive now, just wait until taxpayers are covering medical care as the front end of the prison boom enters its golden years. (Interestingly, prison doesn’t seem to significantly shorten life spans; black men actually live longer in prison than they do outside.)

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Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

First Pilates session completed

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Interesting. I’m taking a couple of aspirin tonight. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Pepper Vinaigrette

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This Mark Bittman recipe sounds extremely tasty, though I plan to make it with roasted kabocha squash instead of sweet potato.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Here is another potato-vinaigrette combo: The red pepper dressing is tart, sweet, and spicy, with a touch of cumin. This is best served warm or at room temperature, though of course you can refrigerate and serve it up to a day later, as long as you take it out of the refrigerator beforehand to take the chill off. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

4 large sweet potatoes [or 1 kabocha squash but into bite-sized chunks – LG]
1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and ­ quartered
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (optional)
1/2 cup sliced scallion
1/2 cup minced fresh mint or parsley leaves
1 or 2 fresh minced chiles (jalapeño, Thai, serrano, or habanero), or to taste
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400ËšF. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. [If you’re using the squash, you can try peeling it. I don’t bother: the peel softens as you roast it. – LG] Put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown outside and just tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove and keep on the pan until ready to dress.

2. Make the dressing while the potatoes cook. Put the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a blender, along with the vinegar, bell pepper, cumin, and zest if you’re using it. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Purée until smooth.

3. Toss the warm potatoes with the scallion, mint, chiles, and raisins if you’re using them. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing and toss to coat, adding more if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 2:17 pm

24 hours of flights

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Fascinating video.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:51 am

The Sistine Chapel in super high-res

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Check it out.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:50 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Cool experiment for The Grandsons

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Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:49 am

Posted in Daily life, Science, Video

iKon plus Pashana

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An excellent lather from the D.R. Harris Almond stick, thanks to the Plisson Chinese Grey. And then my gold (plated) iKon smoothed away the stubble most comfortably, thanks to the Swedish Gillette blade it carried. A splash of Pashana and The Wife and I are off to Santa Cruz.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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