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News items related to Randall Shelden

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The Gun Culture
"Police said the gunman was a 22-year-old college dropout who was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and extended clips that allowed him to fire dozens of bullets without reloading." Arizona Republic, January 11, 2011. I don't know if there is anything I can add to what has already been written in the news media and stated on newscasts and talk radio almost non-stop since the horrific events on January 8.  Here I merely want to comment on guns. There is something fundamentally sick about…
Brewer, Barbour and Justice
It's another year, but the same kinds of stories continue.  Governors Jan Brewer (Arizona) and Haley Barbour (Mississippi) may be about 2000 miles apart but their conservative philosophies are about the same -- and with similar results.  Facing a budget crisis that plagues every state in the country, Brewer, like most other governors, has proposed huge cuts in human services, most notably in medical transplant coverage .  This issue has received national attention as several residents face…
Children Left Behind
I was browsing the Internet this morning and in the New York Times there was a blog posted by Charles M. Blow called American's Most Vulnerable . He cited a report by Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund) called "Children Left Behind."  The report was about "the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) International Coordinating Centre provided the statistical results for the analysis of inequality in children's health."  It was based upon data collected by the "Organization for…
California Prison Crisis Goes All the Way to the Supreme Court
The case is Schwarzenegger v. Plata and it epitomizes the dire circumstances of the nation's penal system.  With more than 2 million locked up on any given day, including about 1.5 million in prison (not to mention the fact that more than 7 million adults are somewhere in the criminal justice system on any given day -- jail, prison, probation, parole), the country has come face to face with the inevitable result of its incessant need to punish.  Not only does the US have the highest rate of…
The Prison Industry
The Prison Industry
Proposition 19: Will the Drug Warriors Win Again?
Proposition 19, California's initiative that would legalize marijuana, is opposed by the majority of the citizens, according to the latest polls, as reported in the Los Angeles Times .  Proposition 19 "Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds,…
What is Lobbying?
What is Lobbying?
Dropping Out and Imprisonment
In a previous blog I discussed the relationship between dropping out and crime among juveniles.  In this blog I noted that that compared to high school graduates dropouts "earn lower wages, pay fewer taxes, are more likely to commit crimes, are less likely to be employed, are more likely to be on welfare, and are less healthy."  "" On my web site I expanded on this by exploring what the Children's Defense Fund has called the prison pipeline or the connection between the…
Drug and Immigration Offenses Dominate Court Cases and Prisons
The latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that drug and immigration offenses constitute a large proportion of the cases processed in the criminal justice system, along with a rising number of immigration cases.   Starting with the latest numbers from the series " Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2006 " we find that between 1994 and 2006 drug cases constituted the largest proportion of felony cases, ranging from 34% to 37%.  During the same period the proportion…
Racial Bias and Certification
A story from the Chicago Reporter is merely the most recent of a long line of studies going back 30 years documenting the racial bias of the certification process.   Certifying juveniles as adults was part of an overall conservative "law and order" crackdown on juvenile crime starting during the Reagan administration in the 1980s.   Research began almost immediately during that time documenting the disproportionate number of African-American youth who were certified.   As the studies poured…
Brewer, Arpaio and CCA
Over the summer reports started to emerge that revealed that two key advisors for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had close ties to Corrections Corporation of America .  Specifically local CBS affiliate KPOH reported that "two of Brewer's top advisers have connections" to private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Lawrence Lewis, writing for the Daily Kos , reported that "Paul Senseman, Brewer's deputy chief of staff, is a former lobbyist for CCA. His wife…
The Recession's Impact on Crime and Especially Children
The current economic crisis has already had an impact on the crime problem.  Cases of reported runaway youth have been rising, stemming directly from the current crisis.   Many states have been releasing prisoners by the hundreds, if not thousands, in order to save money.  For the first time since 1972 we saw a reduction in the overall prison population in 2009 . A survey of 233 police departments by the Police Executive Research Forum in early 2009 found that 43 percent of the…
Abusing Kids at Home
It has often been said that schools are the safest place for kids and that the most dangerous place for kids is inside their own homes.  The most recent data on child victims underscores this.   In fiscal year 2007 (the latest year available) there were an estimated 3.2 million referrals to Child Protective Services agencies alleging child abuse and neglect, involving about 5.8 million children (more than double the number -- 2 million -- in 1986).  About one-fourth of these cases were…
BP Oil - The Plot (and oil) Thickens
Is there any end in sight to this criminal act?  My previous blog focused on the fact that this was a case begging for a criminal indictment.  I neglected to mention the fact that BP Oil, along with the entire oil industry, has figured out methods of living off the public dole. As reported in the New York Times recently the platform were the oil rig was sitting on is owned by a company called Transocean a company that had moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Cayman…
BP Oil Spill -- Where's the Arrest?
Where is the arrest warrant?  Where is the indictment?   An ordinary economic crime -- burglary, auto theft -- gets immediate attention, cops putting handcuffs on suspects, booking at the local jail, an appearance in court. A crime of the magnitude as the gulf oil spill gets apologies, explanations, excuses, etc. along with checks for those who have lost homes and businesses, jobs, etc.    But 11 people died and at least 17 have been reported injured.  And the costs keep increasing.   One …
The Supreme Court and Life without Parole
On May 17, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that life sentences without the chance of parole for crimes (except murder) committed by juveniles was unconstitutional, in violation of the Eighth Amendment that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.     In the case before the court two juveniles - Joe Sullivan, who raped a 72-year-old woman when he was 13, and Terrance Graham, who committed armed burglary when he was 16 -- were sentenced to life without the possibility of…
The $100,000 bed
About a week ago someone sent me a story in the Pahrump Valley Times about a proposed new jail. For those not familiar with Pahrump, it is a town of about 25,000 located about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. The County Commissioners decided to issue $25.5 million in general obligation bonds for the project.  The proposed jail would hold about 225 people.  That turns out to be $113,000 per bed.    The report noted that the County "will take advantage of Build America Bonds under the American…
Kids with Mental Health Issues Still Languish in Detention Centers
In the early 2000's several reports began to document the existence of thousands of juveniles with diagnosed mental health issues sitting in detention facilities waiting for placement in a mental health facility.  For instance, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette surveyed 172 detention centers nationally and found that more than 40% of them "said children with mental health problems stay in detention longer than others because placements can't be found for them." The director of a detention center in…
Juvenile Justice Can be a Death Trap for Kids
We've always known that locking up kids is counterproductive, that it promotes isolation and lethargy among youths confined, and that it results in harsher treatment by decision makers throughout the process.  Terry Kupers, an expert on trauma, has observed that these institutions tend to destroy "a prisoner's ability to cope in the free world." Moreover, "a lack of rehabilitation opportunities, excessive reliance on isolation as punishment, the restriction of visits and contacts with the…
The epidemic of abuse continues
In my most recent post I said that I would continue my investigation of what I termed an "epidemic" of abuse inside juvenile institutions.  This led me first to the state of Mississippi. In Mississippi the situation has become so bad that a special web site has been set up devoted to following the issue. It is called "A Mississippi Gulag ." Back in 2002 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) began an investigation of the conditions inside the Oakley Training School in Raymond,…
An Epidemic of Abuse Inside Juvenile Institutions
At the close of my last blog ("More Abuse in Youth Prisons") I suggested doing a simple search on the Internet and type in words like "abuse in juvenile institutions" and select some states at random.  I said at the time that I would continue my search.   And so I did.   And what I found was way beyond what I expected.   I don't often like to use the word "epidemic" since it is so value-loaded and defies precise definition.   One definition from Webster's includes "widespread growth" and so I…
More Abuse in Youth Prisons
In the two most recent blogs, Dan Macallair called attention to the continued abuse being reported by the news media.  He first noted reports dating back to the 19 th century in the San Francisco Industrial School, noting that this was an institution created in an era that began with the New York House of Refuge, which was abusive in the extreme and eventually had to be closed.   Then he jumped on the proverbial "time machine" and took us to present-day Texas and California -- same story, more…
Our Punitive Society: Race, Class, Gender and Punishment in America

This text identifies the macroeconomic forces relevant to imprisonment — poverty and political powerlessness — and explores viable and humane alternatives to our current incarceration binge.

Chicago School Sociology is Alive and Well at the LA Times
As every criminology student learns, the "Chicago School" brought us a tradition of research on a variety of topics guided largely by a methodology that looks at patterns of crime as they are related to social ecology.  More specifically, this approach looks at how different types of crimes are distributed throughout urban areas.     One of the most recent examples comes from a continuing series published by the Los Angeles Times on homicide .  The latest in this series focuses on…
Media Distortions of Youth Crime
I could not help but notice the first of a series of articles appearing in the Cape Cod Times shortly after I arrived for the holidays.  The title itself ("Younger and twice as violent ") conveys a message to the reader that is not uncommon in this day of media hype and distortion.  The message seams to be that crime is being committed by people younger than ever before and, even more frightening, the crimes are getting more violent with each passing day. The appearance of this series is no…

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