Monthly Archives: March 2006

fruits of Justice

prison labor made an unlikely appearance in a times report on the immigration debates. u.s. representative dana rohrabacher* opposes any sort of guest worker program. mr. rohrabacher dismissed the arguments of president bush and business leaders about the nation’s low-wage labor shortage:

Let the prisoners pick the fruits,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “We can do it without bringing in millions of foreigners.”

as the orange county republican is well aware, there are plenty of prisoners in california. while there are few no-brainers on the complex immigration issue, reprising the convict-lease system is unlikely to solve california’s problems. if nothing else, we’d need a five-fold increase in incarceration to replace the labor of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. and, of course, collective amnesia about the abuses of prison labor in this country and elsewhere.

*judging by his age, voting record on defense appropriations, and the greenish beret in the picture, i expected to find a duke cunningham-like record of distinguished military service in mr. rohrabacher’s bio. nah, turns out he’s a tough-talking, no-nonsense surfer, with a master’s degree from usc in american studies.

fruits of Justice

prison labor made an unlikely appearance in a times report on the immigration debates. u.s. representative dana rohrabacher* opposes any sort of guest worker program. mr. rohrabacher dismissed the arguments of president bush and business leaders about the nation’s low-wage labor shortage:

Let the prisoners pick the fruits,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “We can do it without bringing in millions of foreigners.”

as the orange county republican is well aware, there are plenty of prisoners in california. while there are few no-brainers on the complex immigration issue, reprising the convict-lease system is unlikely to solve california’s problems. if nothing else, we’d need a five-fold increase in incarceration to replace the labor of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. and, of course, collective amnesia about the abuses of prison labor in this country and elsewhere.

*judging by his age, voting record on defense appropriations, and the greenish beret in the picture, i expected to find a duke cunningham-like record of distinguished military service in mr. rohrabacher’s bio. nah, turns out he’s a tough-talking, no-nonsense surfer, with a master’s degree from usc in american studies.

and the winners are … john braithwaite and friedrich lösel

john braithwaite of the australian national university and friedrich lösel of cambridge have been awarded the 2006 stockholm prize in criminology. they share the award for their “achievements in developing theory and evidence on the prevention of repeat offending.”

i believe the prize is one million swedish krona (currently, about $127,000), which i’m sure the winners will put to good use. while both are quite deserving, i’m especially happy to see john braithwaite recognized for his important work on reintegration, restorative Justice, and regulation of corporate misconduct.

since graduate school, i’ve seen john braithwaite as a model on many fronts. let me begin to count the ways…

1. he has impressive range as a criminologist, writing on a great diversity of topics, from regulating nursing homes to conceptions of Justice in japanese and maori culture to the relation between social class and crime.

2. dr. braithwaite is a public criminologist who seems equally at home speaking to and writing for sociologists, corporate board members, delinquent kids, government officials, and the good folks running tiny non-profit restorative Justice programs. many practitioners know and practice braithwaite’s ideas every day.

3. he makes strong and consistent contributions to empirical criminology but also makes big conceptual breakthroughs. his bifurcation of labeling ideas into stigmatizing and reintegrative shaming, for example, and his republican theory of criminal Justice (with philosopher philip pettit) have proven immensely useful for scholars and practitioners.

4. he is an optimist who unapologetically devotes his efforts to making the world a better place. his writing has a what’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding? vibe to it, with a consistent concern for the good and a sincere effort to reduce social harm.

5. in every setting in which we’ve interacted, dr. braithwaite presents himself with humility, grace, and good humor.

on the latter point, i had the good fortune to write a scholarly exchange with professor braithwaite as a 3rd-year grad student. my very first publication was “Reintegrating Braithwaite: Shame and Consensus in Criminological Theory” in Law and Social Inquiry. i was actually even snarkier back then (can this be possible?), and not far removed from my creative writing courses. i asked whether his new integrated theory of crime, shame, and reintegration adequately reconciled the competing assumptions of its constituent models. i was absolutely horrified to learn from howie erlanger that professor braithwaite was writing a reply — in fact, i remember being horrified to think he might actually read my piece. fortunately, his “Pride in Criminological Dissensus” was even-handed and supportive. i then wrote a brief rejoinder (“Beyond Calvin and Hobbes: Rationality and Exchange in a Theory of Moralizing Shaming“).

this exchange proved important in getting my career started, so i’m forever indebted to john braithwaite. he wrote an inspiring and provocative book and he didn’t crush me like a bug when i critiqued it. while i was struggling to publish anything as an assistant professor, i could always joke: “yeah, but i’m freakin’ huge in australia.”

though some aspects of the stockholm prize have kicked up controversy in criminology circles, the committee has surely identified very deserving winners in its first year.

    tuesdays with al

    i’m tentatively scheduled to discuss locked out on al franken’s air america show at 12:30 this tuesday.

    i say tentatively scheduled because it is not uncommon to bump the pencil-necked profs from such shows when a big news story breaks. in politics, a lot can happen over a weekend.

    i’m excited about the interview, which should be more engaging than other appearances. mr. franken is erudite and progressive, but he doesn’t affect the frowny-faced earnestness of other lefty journalists. he is a plenty tough ex-wrestler, but he doesn’t affect the wannabe tough-guy act of right-wing talkradio.

    because mr. franken loves to riff, anything can happen. i won’t know until halfway through the interview whether i’m playing lead or rhythm guitar, but i’ll show up ready to play.

    tuesdays with al

    i’m tentatively scheduled to discuss locked out on al franken’s air america show at 12:30 this tuesday.

    i say tentatively scheduled because it is not uncommon to bump the pencil-necked profs from such shows when a big news story breaks. in politics, a lot can happen over a weekend.

    i’m excited about the interview, which should be more engaging than other appearances. mr. franken is erudite and progressive, but he doesn’t affect the frowny-faced earnestness of other lefty journalists. he is a plenty tough ex-wrestler, but he doesn’t affect the wannabe tough-guy act of right-wing talkradio.

    because mr. franken loves to riff, anything can happen. i won’t know until halfway through the interview whether i’m playing lead or rhythm guitar, but i’ll show up ready to play.

    and the winners are … john braithwaite and friedrich lösel

    john braithwaite of the australian national university and friedrich lösel of cambridge have been awarded the 2006 stockholm prize in criminology. they share the award for their “achievements in developing theory and evidence on the prevention of repeat offending.”

    i believe the prize is one million swedish krona (currently, about $127,000), which i’m sure the winners will put to good use. while both are quite deserving, i’m especially happy to see john braithwaite recognized for his important work on reintegration, restorative Justice, and regulation of corporate misconduct.

    since graduate school, i’ve seen john braithwaite as a model on many fronts. let me begin to count the ways…

    1. he has impressive range as a criminologist, writing on a great diversity of topics, from regulating nursing homes to conceptions of Justice in japanese and maori culture to the relation between social class and crime.

    2. dr. braithwaite is a public criminologist who seems equally at home speaking to and writing for sociologists, corporate board members, delinquent kids, government officials, and the good folks running tiny non-profit restorative Justice programs. many practitioners know and practice braithwaite’s ideas every day.

    3. he makes strong and consistent contributions to empirical criminology but also makes big conceptual breakthroughs. his bifurcation of labeling ideas into stigmatizing and reintegrative shaming, for example, and his republican theory of criminal Justice (with philosopher philip pettit) have proven immensely useful for scholars and practitioners.

    4. he is an optimist who unapologetically devotes his efforts to making the world a better place. his writing has a what’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding? vibe to it, with a consistent concern for the good and a sincere effort to reduce social harm.

    5. in every setting in which we’ve interacted, dr. braithwaite presents himself with humility, grace, and good humor.

    on the latter point, i had the good fortune to write a scholarly exchange with professor braithwaite as a 3rd-year grad student. my very first publication was “Reintegrating Braithwaite: Shame and Consensus in Criminological Theory” in Law and Social Inquiry. i was actually even snarkier back then (can this be possible?), and not far removed from my creative writing courses. i asked whether his new integrated theory of crime, shame, and reintegration adequately reconciled the competing assumptions of its constituent models. i was absolutely horrified to learn from howie erlanger that professor braithwaite was writing a reply — in fact, i remember being horrified to think he might actually read my piece. fortunately, his “Pride in Criminological Dissensus” was even-handed and supportive. i then wrote a brief rejoinder (Beyond Calvin and Hobbes: Rationality and Exchange in a Theory of Moralizing Shaming“).

    this exchange proved important in getting my career started, so i’m forever indebted to john braithwaite. he wrote an inspiring and provocative book and he didn’t crush me like a bug when i critiqued it. while i was struggling to publish anything as an assistant professor, i could always joke: “yeah, but i’m freakin’ huge in australia.”

    though some aspects of the stockholm prize have kicked up controversy in criminology circles, the committee has surely identified very deserving winners in its first year.

      don’t be smug, egghead: minnesota probationer voting bill

      senate file 1752, which would restore the vote to felony probationers in minnesota, passed out of committee and will now be heard by the full senate. it has a long way to go, but the bill is alive for the moment. plus, i learned a good public criminology lesson.

      people responded well to my testimony, i think, though the crime prevention and public safety committee seemed less sympathetic to this bill than did the elections committee. the crime folks appeared to frame it as aiding “criminals,” whereas the elections folks framed it as aiding “voters” or “democracy.” a couple highlights:

      1. i sat in stunned silence when a senator asked whether the bill would restore voting rights to someone convicted of treason who is not sent to prison. as of now, exactly zero of the state’s 40,107 felony probationers are serving treason sentences. to my knowledge, there has not been a treason case in minnesota for at least 50 years. moreover, i can’t imagine, say, zacharias moussaoui, being sentenced to straight probation rather than prison. i just stared blankly and let senator hottinger and tom johnson (of the council on crime and Justice) field that one.

      2. a senator more sympathetic to the bill was concerned about probationers convicted of sex crimes and other violent offenses. the most common offenses for minnesota felony probationers involve drugs and theft (see pp. 32-33), but all major crime categories are represented. within any category, of course, probationers are convicted of less serious offenses than those who are sent to prison. aside from special consideration of voting offenses and election fraud, i dislike the idea of linking voting rights to the type of offense committed.

      floor testimony comes only from the senators themselves rather than folks like me, so my senate testifying is over. right now, i’m trying to update my report on felon disenfranchisement in minnesota and the racial impact of the proposed change. if i can finish in time, i’ll try to get someone to read it. i’m not sure what’s up in the house at this point, but representative keith ellison will likely bring something forward. i promised i’d send him a book yesterday, so hopefully i’ll have some updated minnesota numbers for him soon as well.

      oh yeah, here’s the public criminology lesson i learned yesterday: don’t be smug, egghead.

      i felt a little exasperated and know-it-allish when the topic turned to treasonists on probation. as a professor, i often get to dictate the terms of the debate and “rule” on what constitutes a big problem or a little problem. while magnitude counts for a lot in social science, it doesn’t mean beans in law and politics (or in the culture?). i didn’t know how to respond without lecturing or somehow talking down to the committee — defining the extent and nature of probation, detailing the sorts of offenses for which minnesotans receive probation, distinguishing it from parole and prison, etc.

      when discussion turned to sex offenders, i wanted desperately to remind the committee that we weren’t talking about releasing treasonists and sex offenders from prisons, we were talking about voting. moreover, the bill would only let them vote after a judge decided they were safe to live in the community in the first place. i’m pretty sure that such “reminders” would have been counterproductive, so i’m glad i shut up. [aside: after hearing this discussion, i'm even more convinced by the findings in our harris poll -- efforts to restore voting rights for current prisoners will meet with much greater public and legislative resistance.]

      in any case, i fought the urge to speak in a smug or dismissive or snarky way. otherwise, it would have undermined all of the social science information that i presented. i’ll try to remember to respond earnestly to questions and to be well-prepared to speak outside of the narrow issue at hand. and, to wipe that smug little professorial smirk off my face…

      don’t be smug, egghead: minnesota probationer voting bill

      senate file 1752, which would restore the vote to felony probationers in minnesota, passed out of committee and will now be heard by the full senate. it has a long way to go, but the bill is alive for the moment. plus, i learned a good public criminology lesson.

      people responded well to my testimony, i think, though the crime prevention and public safety committee seemed less sympathetic to this bill than did the elections committee. the crime folks appeared to frame it as aiding “criminals,” whereas the elections folks framed it as aiding “voters” or “democracy.” a couple highlights:

      1. i sat in stunned silence when a senator asked whether the bill would restore voting rights to someone convicted of treason who is not sent to prison. as of now, exactly zero of the state’s 40,107 felony probationers are serving treason sentences. to my knowledge, there has not been a treason case in minnesota for at least 50 years. moreover, i can’t imagine, say, zacharias moussaoui, being sentenced to straight probation rather than prison. i just stared blankly and let senator hottinger and tom johnson (of the council on crime and Justice) field that one.

      2. a senator more sympathetic to the bill was concerned about probationers convicted of sex crimes and other violent offenses. the most common offenses for minnesota felony probationers involve drugs and theft (see pp. 32-33), but all major crime categories are represented. within any category, of course, probationers are convicted of less serious offenses than those who are sent to prison. aside from special consideration of voting offenses and election fraud, i dislike the idea of linking voting rights to the type of offense committed.

      floor testimony comes only from the senators themselves rather than folks like me, so my senate testifying is over. right now, i’m trying to update my report on felon disenfranchisement in minnesota and the racial impact of the proposed change. if i can finish in time, i’ll try to get someone to read it. i’m not sure what’s up in the house at this point, but representative keith ellison will likely bring something forward. i promised i’d send him a book yesterday, so hopefully i’ll have some updated minnesota numbers for him soon as well.

      oh yeah, here’s the public criminology lesson i learned yesterday: don’t be smug, egghead.

      i felt a little exasperated and know-it-allish when the topic turned to treasonists on probation. as a professor, i often get to dictate the terms of the debate and “rule” on what constitutes a big problem or a little problem. while magnitude counts for a lot in social science, it doesn’t mean beans in law and politics (or in the culture?). i didn’t know how to respond without lecturing or somehow talking down to the committee — defining the extent and nature of probation, detailing the sorts of offenses for which minnesotans receive probation, distinguishing it from parole and prison, etc.

      when discussion turned to sex offenders, i wanted desperately to remind the committee that we weren’t talking about releasing treasonists and sex offenders from prisons, we were talking about voting. moreover, the bill would only let them vote after a judge decided they were safe to live in the community in the first place. i’m pretty sure that such “reminders” would have been counterproductive, so i’m glad i shut up. [aside: after hearing this discussion, i'm even more convinced by the findings in our harris poll -- efforts to restore voting rights for current prisoners will meet with much greater public and legislative resistance.]

      in any case, i fought the urge to speak in a smug or dismissive or snarky way. otherwise, it would have undermined all of the social science information that i presented. i’ll try to remember to respond earnestly to questions and to be well-prepared to speak outside of the narrow issue at hand. and, to wipe that smug little professorial smirk off my face…

      mo’ felon voting testimony

      i’m scheduled to testify on felon voting again at 3 today in the minnesota senate, this time for the crime prevention and public safety committee.

      the bill (s.f. 1752) is near the top of the agenda, but things can and do get moved around. i’ll bring the 936,518-page book manuscript that i’m currently reviewing, though i will likely be too caught up in discussion of the other bills to get any work done.

      i’m excited and honored to testify, but need to give myself a pep talk to overcome the perceived opportunity costs — missing a good talk in the department and pushing aside other work and pressing deadlines. let’s see…

      at least i’ll be able to bring some fresh information back to my delinquency and deviance classes next year. there is always room for new examples in teaching moral entrepreneurs and rule creators. these courses already take up the sociological implications of many of the bills — dna evidence, inmate health care, sex offender notification, drunk driving, and chemical dependency treatment.

      these experiences should also help my research and writing. i’m giving a plenary presentation in a session titled “Can Criminology Strengthen Democratic Institutions?” in november. i was planning to focus mostly on the public criminology aspects of the felon voting issue — the johnson v. bush case, op-eds, and information sharing. the legislative experiences will really add some depth if i can get a few notes from the sessions. whether things go very well or things go very badly for me today, it will only help the presentation in november.

      cool, now i’m good to go. nothing peps one up better than a nice research opportunity.

      Chair: Sen. Leo Foley
      3 p.m. Room 107 Capitol

      Agenda: S.F. 2540-McGinn: Bloodborne pathogens collection and testing procedures.
      S.F. 2380-Ranum: Child pornography offenders conditional release terms.
      S.F. 3038-Higgins: Voter challenges prohibition.
      S.F. 3039-Higgins: Elections deceptive practices prohibition.
      S.F. 3049-Hottinger: Financing statements judicial review expedited process.
      S.F. 1752-Hottinger: Convicted felons civil rights and voting eligibility restoration.
      S.F. 3252-Higgins: Voters rights modifications and registration facilitation.
      S.F. 2684-Johnson, D.E.: Corrections contracts with jail facilities with access to chemical dependency treatment programs authorization.
      S.F. 3047-Rest: Mentoring programs BCA criminal background checks request authorization.
      S.F. 3374-Ranum: DWI first degree offenses provision modification.
      S.F. 3520-Ranum: Sentencing guidelines commission recommendations adoption.
      S.F. 3517-Foley: DWI provisions modification.
      S.F. 3100-Neuville: Governor background checks authority for residence employees and appointees.
      S.F. 3101-Neuville: DNA data and specimen destruction upon acquittal of felony provision modification.
      S.F. 3102-Neuville: Criminal sexual conduct victim notification requirements provision modification.
      S.F. 2919-Foley: Criminal and juvenile Justice information policy group task force modifications.
      S.F. 3170-Fishbach: Uniform fire code appeal procedures modification.
      S.F. 3051-Fishbach: Fireworks displays operator permits suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew certification appeal authority.
      S.F. 3008-Skoglund: Comprehensive incident based reporting system data access authority expansion.
      S.F. 3231-Foley: Corrections Department medical director inmate health care decisions.
      S.F. 3251-Ranum: Inmate health screening requirements.
      The committee will continue past 5:30 p.m. if necessary.

      mo’ felon voting testimony

      i’m scheduled to testify on felon voting again at 3 today in the minnesota senate, this time for the crime prevention and public safety committee.

      the bill (s.f. 1752) is near the top of the agenda, but things can and do get moved around. i’ll bring the 936,518-page book manuscript that i’m currently reviewing, though i will likely be too caught up in discussion of the other bills to get any work done.

      i’m excited and honored to testify, but need to give myself a pep talk to overcome the perceived opportunity costs — missing a good talk in the department and pushing aside other work and pressing deadlines. let’s see…

      at least i’ll be able to bring some fresh information back to my delinquency and deviance classes next year. there is always room for new examples in teaching moral entrepreneurs and rule creators. these courses already take up the sociological implications of many of the bills — dna evidence, inmate health care, sex offender notification, drunk driving, and chemical dependency treatment.

      these experiences should also help my research and writing. i’m giving a plenary presentation in a session titled “Can Criminology Strengthen Democratic Institutions?” in november. i was planning to focus mostly on the public criminology aspects of the felon voting issue — the johnson v. bush case, op-eds, and information sharing. the legislative experiences will really add some depth if i can get a few notes from the sessions. whether things go very well or things go very badly for me today, it will only help the presentation in november.

      cool, now i’m good to go. nothing peps one up better than a nice research opportunity.

      Chair: Sen. Leo Foley
      3 p.m. Room 107 Capitol


      Agenda: S.F. 2540-McGinn: Bloodborne pathogens collection and testing procedures.
      S.F. 2380-Ranum: Child pornography offenders conditional release terms.
      S.F. 3038-Higgins: Voter challenges prohibition.
      S.F. 3039-Higgins: Elections deceptive practices prohibition.
      S.F. 3049-Hottinger: Financing statements judicial review expedited process.
      S.F. 1752-Hottinger: Convicted felons civil rights and voting eligibility restoration.
      S.F. 3252-Higgins: Voters rights modifications and registration facilitation.
      S.F. 2684-Johnson, D.E.: Corrections contracts with jail facilities with access to chemical dependency treatment programs authorization.
      S.F. 3047-Rest: Mentoring programs BCA criminal background checks request authorization.
      S.F. 3374-Ranum: DWI first degree offenses provision modification.
      S.F. 3520-Ranum: Sentencing guidelines commission recommendations adoption.
      S.F. 3517-Foley: DWI provisions modification.
      S.F. 3100-Neuville: Governor background checks authority for residence employees and appointees.
      S.F. 3101-Neuville: DNA data and specimen destruction upon acquittal of felony provision modification.
      S.F. 3102-Neuville: Criminal sexual conduct victim notification requirements provision modification.
      S.F. 2919-Foley: Criminal and juvenile Justice information policy group task force modifications.
      S.F. 3170-Fishbach: Uniform fire code appeal procedures modification.
      S.F. 3051-Fishbach: Fireworks displays operator permits suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew certification appeal authority.
      S.F. 3008-Skoglund: Comprehensive incident based reporting system data access authority expansion.
      S.F. 3231-Foley: Corrections Department medical director inmate health care decisions.
      S.F. 3251-Ranum: Inmate health screening requirements.
      The committee will continue past 5:30 p.m. if necessary.