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Monday, June 30, 2014

Amazing prison news

You know that prisons are filled with non-violent and drug offenders.

And you know that prisons are costing us tens of billions of dollars every year.

So it is not surprising that prison populations are thus decreasing.

But you probably don't know that "Longer Prison Sentences Make Incarceration More 'Contagious.'"

Such is the finding of a study recently summarized in the Smithsonian magazine.

Incredibly, the authors found in a simulation that the difference between a 14-month sentence and a 17-month sentence (for example, between a white offender and black offender sentenced for the same crime) would, over time, explain the difference in incarceration rates between blacks and whites.

Why? Peer contagion. That is, eventually, prison becomes the norm and is learned as part of normal life for those who go and spend more time there.

This is an amazing piece of research that is thankfully getting some media coverage.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Does listening to the radio make you stupid?

Some of us listen to NPR to learn about what is going on in the world. It is a reliable, non-biased source that is listener supported and thus non-profit.

Studies find its listeners are among the most informed people. See for yourself.

But every once in a while, you might want to listen to some music, and for those of us who do not have satellite radio, we get stuck with popular music stations owned by corporations. What do they cover?

Well, celebrity news. Scandals. And silly stuff.

Does that make us stupid? I'd bet it does.

And what kind of music do they play? This kind of stuff.

In case you don't know, these are the lyrics:


I'm that flight that you get on, international
First class seat on my lap girl, riding comfortable

'Cause I know what the girl them need,
New York to Haiti
I got lipstick stamps on my passport,
You make it hard to leave

[Jason Derulo:]
Been around the world, don't speak the language
But your booty don't need explaining
All I really need to understand is
When you talk dirty to me
Talk dirty to me
Talk dirty to me
Talk dirty to me
Get jazzy on it

[Jason Derulo:]
You know the words to my songs
No habla inglés
Our conversations ain't long
But you know what is

I know what the girl them want,
London to Taiwan
I got lipstick stamps on my passport
I think I need a new one

[Jason Derulo:]
Been around the world, don't speak the language
But your booty don't need explaining
All I really need to understand is
When you talk dirty to me
Talk dirty to me
Talk dirty to me
Talk dirty to me

[Jason Derulo:]
Uno, met your friend in Rio
Dos, she was all on me-o
Tres, we can ménage à three though
Quatro, ooh (2 Chainz!)

[2 Chainz:]
Dos Cadenas, close to genius
Sold out arenas, you can suck my penis
Gilbert Arenas, guns on deck
Chest to chest, tongue on neck
International oral sex
Every picture I take, I pose a threat
Bought a jet, what do you expect?
Her pussy's so good I bought her a pet
Anyway, every day I'm trying to get to it
Got her saved in my phone under "Big Booty"
Anyway, every day I'm trying to get to it
Got her saved in my phone under "Big Booty"

[Jason Derulo:]
Been around the world, don't speak the language
But your booty don't need explaining
All I really need to understand is
When you talk dirty to me
Talk dirty to me (you you you)
Talk dirty to me (yeah yeah)
Talk dirty to me (talk to me)
Talk dirty to me (oh yeah)
Get jazzy on it

What? I don't understand!

Remember when you used to have to buy the music to hear this? Now it is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Iraq all over again?

This is the very definition of irony and a self-fulfilling prophecy:

... the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatens to attack the capital of Iraq. ISIS said it had executed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers, and posted photos online Sunday appearing to show some of the killings. [from CNN, The New York Times]

ISIS is what we wanted to prevent by invading Iraq. ISIS only exists because we invaded, removing the one man who prevented such a group from ever operating in the country. Be sure to thank Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, George W. Bush, and company.

Now, is this reality in the news?

Nope. In fact, the people who called for and made the war a reality are at it again.

And they are all over the news.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A solid OPINION piece based on facts

CNN's article, "U.S. right wing extremists more deadly than jihadists," is an op-ed, meaning it is opinion. But it is based on facts, and the authors offer their sources:

... "since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).
"'Since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies...have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology.'
"By contrast, terrorists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology have killed 21 people in the United States since 9/11.
(Although a variety of left wing militants and environmental extremists have carried out violent attacks for political reasons against property and individuals since 9/11, none have been linked to a lethal attack, according to research by the New America Foundation.)"
So, I cannot wait to see what the rest of the media say about these facts.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More shootings, more shootings, more shootings ...

And more mass killings.

But Fox News ignores them, since they were not committed by Muslims. I mean, read it and see what you think!

Meanwhile, if these folks were Muslims, we'd call it terrorism. So why don't we?

After all, "according to the New America Foundation, as of April of this year, 21 people had been killed in the United States in attacks motivated by Islamic extremism since 9/11. Meanwhile, 34 people had been killed by right-wing extremist attacks during the same time period." See?

Looks to me like even school shootings are a greater threat than terrorism!

This map shows every school shooting since Sandy Hook

Monday, June 9, 2014

I've been saying this for years

And finally a news organization agrees.

Too bad it's in Canada!

Sun News Network is treating a mass shooting like no other major North American outlet.

After a shooter murdered three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and left two others in critical condition in New Brunswick, the Canadian network refused to show his name or picture. The network ran an editorial Friday to give the reasoning behind the decision.

"It's easy to report on the life of the killer, to scour his deranged Facebook page, to speculate about motive, but doing so could actually encourage the perception that his heinous acts are somehow justified," the editorial reads. "We will not help give this killer his blaze of glory."
Interestingly enough, Sun News is known as a conservative network, called "Fox News North" by its detractors (though the network has pushed back against that comparison).

The reasoning: Studies have shown that intense media coverage of celebrity suicides can lead to a copycat effect, increasing risk factors for suicide. While mass shootings are too rare to allow for a statistically significant determination of whether or not media coverage helps lead to copycat murders, some researchers theorize that the same effect is in play.
It's not difficult to see why. Many shooters express a desire for attention or fame before their killings; the two Columbine shooters hoped Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino would make a film about them. In the wake of mass shootings, media outlets descend on a community and seem to barrage the airwaves with details about the perpetrators — what they said on social media, how they dressed and what video games they played.

"With the unwitting cooperation of 24/7 media, he will become a national villain," Vox's Ezra Klein wrote about the UCSB shooter two weeks ago. "And other sick young men will see him get the renown in death that they have have never been able to receive in life."

Responsible reporting: So where do outlets draw the line between covering what is undoubtedly a major news event and not making shooters into celebrities? The National Institute for Mental Health, in cooperation with many other government agencies, has a set of guidelines for media coverage of suicide that can inform some aspects of shooting coverage.

In other cases, it comes down to exercising good news judgement. Coverage of the UCSB shooter's misogynistic motives, mainly gleaned from his online postings and videos, drove national conversations about the link between sexism, racism and violence, including the launch of #YesAllWomen — arguably welcome outcomes from such a tragic event. Reporting on gun control policy and mental health access in relation to shootings can also be vital.

Sun News exercised its judgement and decided that releasing the New Brunswick shooter's name and photo would harm rather than help the story and its audience. Even if it doesn't spark a chain reaction in U.S. media, it's still a conversation that should happen in every newsroom in the wake of such a tragedy. There are always plenty of details out there — which ones are really important?

Friday, June 6, 2014

This will ALWAYS be news. And I think the news likes it.


Shooter had bombs, zip ties

The gunman fired through his windshield, shooting a deputy in the leg before being killed in a minute-and-a-half shootout with authorities, Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said. He "came here for the purpose of occupying the courthouse."FULL STORY

Student maced, grabbed
suspect in deadly shooting

In the book, you learn that coverage of these types of events is common. I suspect that this coverage tends to make such events more common. What do you think?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What do the following companies have in common?

Phillip Morris
Massey Energy

They meet the definition of a mass murderer.

Along with many others.


Heads roll at GM over botched recall
At least some news agencies are covering it!

15 fired after probe finds negligence in ignition recall

(Do they belong in jail? As in to be incarcerated for a year or less, which is what jail is for??? Really? For killing at least 13 people!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

News about the American Dream

My criminologist friends should like this one.

A recent poll finds that nearly 60% of Americans think the "American Dream" is no longer achievable.

Young adults, age 18 to 34, are most likely to feel the dream is unattainable, with 63% saying it's impossible. This age group has suffered in the wake of the Great Recession, finding it hard to get good jobs.

Younger Americans are a cause of great concern. Many respondents said they are worried about the next generation's ability to prosper.

Some 63% of all Americans said most children in the U.S. won't be better off than their parents. This dour view comes despite most respondents, 54%, feeling they are better off than their own parents.

But, there is also good news. Sort of.

According to an article: Set your sights on this number: 113,000.

 That's how many jobs the U.S. economy needs to hit its break-even point, to finally recover all the jobs lost in the financial crisis.

Since those jobs will largely be in the service industry, don't expect people to be making enough money to achieve the American Dream.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The news media respond to yet another mass shooting

Sometimes a clip from Jon Stewart is all you need to begin to understand an issue.

Like how and why the news media respond to mass shootings in the US. Masterful, as usual.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Stories you usually do not see in the news!

To the credit of these media organizations, they are focusing, finally, on criminal justice issues that have long deserved our attention. For example:

End Mass Incarceration Now (NY Times)

In this op-ed, the editors argue that imprisonment does not work to reduce crime, that it is too financially costly, and that it imposes other costs to society (including racial biases).

Related to this op-ed is this story:

A Modern Day Slave Plantation Exists, and It's Thriving in the Heart of America (PolicyMic)

This article shows how race continues to impact criminal justice practice.

From the article:

"Angola sits 50 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. It's the largest maximum-security facility in the United States and one of the country's most notorious prisons. In the book The Life and Legend of Leadbelly, the authors wrote, 'Tough criminals allegedly broke down when they received a sentence to Angola. ... None of them wanted to be sent to a prison where 1 of every 10 inmates annually received stab wounds and which routinely seethed with black-white confrontations.'

"Angola's expanse covers a vast 28 square miles — larger than the size of Manhattan. Tucked away in a bend of the Mississippi River, it's surrounded by water and swamp on three sides. It's an isolated penal village — the nearest town 30 miles away — and it's the only penitentiary in the country where staff members live on site. Generation after generation grow up, live and die on Angola's land.

...Of about 6,000 inmates currently in custody, roughly 70% are black and 30% are white. In October 2008, NPR reported, 'In the distance on this day, 100 black men toil, bent over in the field, while a single white officer on a horse sits above them, a shotgun in his lap.'"

It looks like this:

And then there is this gem:

How to Stop Violence (Slate)

In this article, the author suggests that it is not mental illness that produces mass violence. Instead, it is emotion, and especially anger:

"In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it."

How refreshing to see stories of real import in the news media!