Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Good and Bad in C.J.

The Good:

Unlikely Cause Unites Right and Left in Criminal Justice Reform:

Usually bitter adversaries, Koch Industries and the Center for American Progress have found at least one thing they can agree on: The nation’s criminal justice system is broken.

Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the center, a Washington-based liberal issues group, are coming together to back a new organization called the Coalition for Public Safety. The coalition plans a multimillion-dollar campaign on behalf of emerging proposals to reduce prison populations, overhaul sentencing, reduce recidivism and take on similar initiatives. Other groups from both the left and right — the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Tea Party-oriented FreedomWorks — are also part of the coalition, reflecting its unusually bipartisan approach.

The coalition will have initial backing of more than $5 million, with groups also spending independently on their own criminal justice initiatives.

With the huge costs to the public of an expanding 2.2 million-person prison population drawing interest from the right and the conviction that the system is unfair and incarcerating too many drug and nonviolent offenders driving those on the left, the new coalition is the most recent example of ideological opposites joining together.
Last year, Senators Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, and Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, together wrote legislation aimed at helping nonviolent offenders seal their records. This month, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, introduced legislation aimed at cutting prison populations by allowing eligible prisoners to reduce their time.
Naturally, this a lot of feel good rhetoric which, at this point, hasn't produced anything tangible yet. Whether running on criminal justice reform, rather than good old fashioned criminal retribution, actually wins elections remains to be seen.

But for today, anyway, could hope really spring eternal on this issue? Hold your fire.

The Bad:

Bid on Campus for Guns to Deter Sexual Assault:
As gun rights advocates push to legalize firearms on college campuses, an argument is taking shape: Arming female students will help reduce sexual assaults.

This year, lawmakers in 10 states who are pushing bills that would permit the carrying of firearms on campus are hoping that the national spotlight on sexual assault will help them win passage of their measures.

“If you’ve got a person that’s raped because you wouldn’t let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you’re responsible,” State Representative Dennis K. Baxley of Florida said during debate in a House subcommittee last month. The bill passed.

The sponsor of a bill in Nevada, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, said in a telephone interview: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
LOL. So, to address the point above, if you think exploiting crime for political capital is a dead horse all of a sudden, think again.

I suppose arming potential rape victims may not lead to more people filling our prisons and jails (yet), but maybe the gun advocates are on to something. Hell, if enough victims just "take out" the bad guys, then we won't need no dang prisons and jails anymore anyhow. Dagummit.

One step up, two steps back...

UPDATE: The Chronicle of Higher Ed Weighs on concealed handguns on campus:
It’s unclear, however, whether allowing concealed handguns on campuses would deter sexual assaults or perhaps even render them more likely, by making it easier for potential perpetrators to arm themselves.

Although researchers on campus sexual assault may sharply differ in their estimates of its prevalence, they generally agree on these two points: The perpetrators are most likely to be men that the victims have known and trusted, and are much less likely to have overcome a woman by pure physical force than they are to have taken advantage of one incapacitated by alcohol or drugs.

United Educators, an insurance and risk-management firm, examined 305 claims from 104 colleges it insures involving alleged sexual assaults of students from 2011 through 2013. It found that 90 percent of victims knew the perpetrator, 84 percent of the perpetrators were students, 78 percent of the assaults involved alcohol, and one in three victims were drunk, passed out, or asleep.

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