Later On

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

Archive for December 12th, 2012

The US prison problem

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2.3 million Americans locked up in prisons: a higher incarceration rate than any other country in the world. States going broke trying to pay for prisons. It’s insane. John Tierney has an article on the topic in the NY Times:

Stephanie George and Judge Roger Vinson had quite different opinions about the lockbox seized by the police from her home in Pensacola. She insisted she had no idea that a former boyfriend had hidden it in her attic. Judge Vinson considered the lockbox, containing a half-kilogram of cocaine, to be evidence of her guilt.

But the defendant and the judge fully agreed about the fairness of the sentence he imposed in federal court.

“Even though you have been involved in drugs and drug dealing,” Judge Vinson told Ms. George, “your role has basically been as a girlfriend and bag holder and money holder but not actively involved in the drug dealing, so certainly in my judgment it does not warrant a life sentence.”

Yet the judge had no other option on that morning 15 years ago. As her stunned family watched, Ms. George, then 27, who had never been accused of violence, was led from the courtroom to serve a sentence of life without parole.

“I remember my mom crying out and asking the Lord why,” said Ms. George, now 42, in an interview at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee. “Sometimes I still can’t believe myself it could happen in America.”

Her sentence reflected a revolution in public policy, often called mass incarceration, that appears increasingly dubious to both conservative and liberal social scientists. They point to evidence that mass incarceration is no longer a cost-effective way to make streets safer, and may even be promoting crime instead of suppressing it.

Three decades of stricter drug laws, reduced parole and rigid sentencing rules have lengthened prison terms and more than tripled the percentage of Americans behind bars. The United States has the highest reported rate of incarceration of any country: about one in 100 adults, a total of nearly 2.3 million people in prison or jail.

But today there is growing sentiment that these policies have gone too far, causing too many Americans like Ms. George to be locked up for too long at too great a price — economically and socially.

The criticism is resonating with some state and federal officials, who have started taking steps to stop the prison population’s growth. The social scientists are attracting attention partly because the drop in crime has made it a less potent political issue, and partly because of the states’ financial problems.

State spending on corrections, after adjusting for inflation, has more than tripled in the past three decades, making it the fastest-growing budgetary cost except Medicaid. Even though the prison population has leveled off in the past several years, the costs remain so high that states are being forced to reduce spending in other areas. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 December 2012 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Frank Sinatra: Fly Me to the Moon

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He does like to play with the beat, doesn’t he?

Written by Leisureguy

12 December 2012 at 10:43 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Sociopaths in action

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The two articles by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post about the physical evidence proving Jeffrey MacDonald’s guilt and the reconstruction of the crime based on that evidence is chilling. Equally chilling, and also fascinating, the case recounted by the prosecutor William Rand Stevens in Deadly Intentions (inexpensive secondhand hardbound editions at the link). This was a case in Arizona, which has a law that makes it a crime to plan and attempt to carry out a crime, even if no crime is committed. Needless to say, prosecutions under this statute are rare because of the problem of proof, and many states have no such law. As is stated in the book, it’s a kind of law against conspiracy where it’s a conspiracy of one.

Nonetheless, Stevens did charge, prosecute, and convict a man for the crime of plotting to kill his ex-wife. (Not sure that they were divorced, but certainly had gone their separate ways). How the guy was caught and the entire story of their relationship are both fascinating and chilling. The man, also a doctor, was clearly a complete sociopath, and the prosecutor’s detailed account is amazing because of the incredible long-term plans the doctor had made toward this goal, going back years. Toward the end, I realized that the reason the prosecutor was writing the book, though he never states it, is that this guy is going to get out of prison in a couple of years, and the prosecutor has good reason to fear him. The book struck me, looking back over it, as a “If anything happens to me, look at this guy.”

Highly recommended for people who enjoy mysteries.

Written by Leisureguy

12 December 2012 at 10:17 am

Posted in Books, Law

Another BBS shave, this time with a Sheraton

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SOTD 12 Dec 2012

Yet another extremely nice shave. I think I’m getting the hang of it. The Omega 533 badger brush brought forth the usual “Wow! Excellent lather today!” lather from my D.R. Harris Lavender shave stick, which has a very good fragrance.

Three passes with the Gillette Sheraton holding a Kai blade, and the result was total smoothness. For some reason, I was in the mood this morning for the alum block, so a quick application of that, rinse, dry, and a good splash of Saint Charles Shave Bulgarian Rose with Lemon. Good for the day.

Written by Leisureguy

12 December 2012 at 9:38 am

Posted in Shaving

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