Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What the press's obsession with Sarah Palin drives into obscurity

A for-profit media made up of corporate chains is not without a terrible cost. Salem suffers from a growing gang problem, and it's only likely to get worse, as the police and citizens adopt the same "war fighting" strategies that keep failing elsewhere. The Long Emergency now underway (an explosive sum of economic contraction + peak oil + climate disruption + zero-sum politics) means that all problems unwisely managed will become ever more frightening and expensive.

Imagine if the press cared more about helping the country -- meaning the ordinary people in it -- than it did about currying favor and lavishing attention on phonies like Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachmann. We'd probably know lots more about things like this:
Alternative ways to deal with juvenile offenders (h/t Reason, via Sam Smith)

Irene Sullivan, Reason - While researching a book about my nine years of service as a juvenile judge in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area of Florida, I met dedicated people all over the country who have had success deterring juveniles from crime. I reviewed the data. I found that diverting kids from criminal careers could save billions of dollars a year in prison costs while helping to create law-abiding, productive citizens, thus enhancing public safety. Here are a few evidence-based programs that work:

Civil citations for first-time offenders. - Wansley Walters earned worldwide recognition as director of Miami-Dade County’s juvenile services division by working with law enforcement and social service agencies to help nonviolent first-time juvenile offenders avoid arrest. Instead they are given a civil citation and assigned to a program that matches their needs, such as drug counseling or shoplifting prevention. Without an arrest record, it is much easier to get a job, obtain a scholarship, or enter military service. Walters diverted thousands of kids in Miami, saving taxpayers millions of dollars that otherwise would have been spent on prosecuting and detaining them. From 1998 to 2008, arrests fell by 46 percent, re-arrests by 80 percent.

Redirection - Administered by Evidence-Based Associates, a project management company in Summerville, South Carolina, Redirection focuses on more serious juvenile offenders, those who are not eligible for civil citations. By providing in-home family therapy tailored to the needs of the youth and his family, Redirection seeks to prevent institutional commitment. In four years of operation in Florida, Redirection saved the state $36.4 million in juvenile commitment costs while “significantly” lowering recidivism, according to the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. Why spend $45,000 a year committing a kid, sometimes just to give the family a much-needed break, when we can order the youth and family to cooperate with much less expensive in-home therapy that produces results?

Parenting with Love and Limits. - This nationwide re-entry program, designed by Scott P. Sells, an associate professor of social work at Savannah State University, is aimed at preparing juvenile offenders and their families for the transition from a residential commitment program back to home. In Florida, where Parenting with Love and Limits began as a re-entry program in the Tampa Bay area, PLL counselors engage the family in weekly “wound-healing” sessions while the youth is in a secure, locked-down, highly structured setting. PLL counselors continue to work with the family for weeks after the youth’s return home to ease the transition.

While early results with PLL in Florida are promising, Indiana’s PLL statistics, compiled by the Justice Research Center in Tallahassee under contract with PLL, are compelling. The one-year recidivism rate for the 189 Indiana youth served by PLL was just 16 percent, less than half the rate reported by the U.S. Justice Department based on data from eight states.