27 May 2010

School Out And More

* In the Denver Public Schools another school year ended today for kids (teachers work tomorrow as well, and yes, I know that there are exceptions in the district where kids are on a different calendar).

* In recent news that I noticed, but didn't blog, crime is down for a third year in a row, more or less across the board nationally, despite the recession, and car theft is again down dramatically.

* Recidivism in Colorado has been up for several years, something that new bills signed into law are designed to change. A little more than half of convicted felons ultimately commit a crime again, but each year of release without reoffending greatly reduces the likelihood that an offender will reoffend.

In the first year out of prison for the most recent year for which statistics are available, about 33% released prisoners reoffend. Those who don't reoffend have a roughly 20% chance of committing a crime in the second year after their release. Those who don't reoffend in the first two years have a roughly 10% chance of reoffending in their third year after release. Those who haven't reoffended in the first three years have roughly a 6% chance of reoffending in their fourth year after release. Those who haven't reoffended in the first four years after their release have roughly a 4% chance of reoffending in the fifth year after their release. They don't keep statistics on those who don't reoffend for five years, but it is a safe bet that those who do not reoffend in the first five years have less than a 4% chance of reoffending in subsequent years.

* From the testimony of U.S. Attorney Sally Yates to the U.S. Sentencing Commission in its hearings on mandatory minimum sentences:

The federal prison population, which was about 25,000 when the Sentencing Reform Act was enacted into law, is now over 210,000. And it continues to grow. Much of that growth is the result of long mandatory sentences for drug trafficking offenders. While these and other mandatory sentences have been important factors in bringing down crime rates, we also believe there are real and significant excesses in terms of the imprisonment meted out for some offenders under existing mandatory sentencing laws, especially for some non-violent offenders. Moreover, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is now significantly overcapacity, which has real and detrimental consequences for the safety of prisoners and guards, effective prisoner reentry, and ultimately, public safety.

The administration wants to keep mandatory minimums, with some reforms (particularly those related to cocaine), particularly because the Sentencing Guidelines are no longer mandatory, is considering other reforms and wants to make re-entry reforms. The basic tone in incremental to the point to being almost impotent despite a clear recognition that the current system is flawed.

* Harvard Law School alum Hope Yen, writing for the Associated Press, wrote a virtually innumerate and ambiguously written article with quotes from a so called expert that don't make sense given the facts, on the fairly interesting subject of the latest census data on interracial marriage. In fairness some of the flaws in the short article may be an editor's fault, but since I suspect from apparently contradictory language in the article that there is at least one incorrect factual statement in it, and I can't find the source in a quick look online, I'm not going to quote it. Interracial marriage is significantly more common than it was a decade ago. Most of the increase in the rate is due to more Hispanic-white marriages and black-white marriages. More Asian-Americans and Hispanics Americans are marrying foreign born people. Black-white marriages are much less common that Asian-white and Hispanic white marriages which are similar in frequency.

* The Denver Post reported this week on the latest round of statistics showing huge variations in the percentage of graduates who go to college from each of the public high schools in Denver, and the much smaller percentage of graduates who go to college without needing any remedial work (e.g. 1% of graduates from West High School). This year's article didn't merge this data with the differences in graduation rates between Denver's high schools which further exacerbate the trend. The basic story is the same as it was when I blogged it last year.

* They finally stopped oil from seeping out of the ground in the big Gulf of Mexico oil rig spill, but it still the biggest oil spill ever.

* West Denver lost water pressure yesterday and has to boil its water due to a water main break.

* Scott McInnis (who is one of two Republican candidates for Governor in Colorado) is very annoyed that people are saying he sold out Colorado Springs during the waning days of his term in Congress on a water issue because he wanted to curry favor with future employer Hogan and Hartson which was lobbying on the opposite side of the issue. He has flip flopped on the water diversion proposal issue.

* Jane Norton is going to make it onto the Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate via petition despite not winning much support in the Republican caucus process which she chose not to participate in. Her opponent Ken Buck, got 77% support at the Republican convention. The Republican state convention also produced a host of weird votes on policy positions that are seemingly contradictory and deeply out of the mainstream of Colorado politics.

* In a May 26 article, it was reported that granny flats are popular in Seattle and are an important part of that city's affordable housing scene.

* A law cutting maximum rates on payday loans in Colorado is expected to close about half of the payday loan jobs in the state, about 800 jobs. Good riddance.

* Various people in various parts of the world are being murdered in low grade civil wars in numbers big enough to make world news, just like last week.

* There are also nasty disasters taking place in the world like a bad earthquake in the Pacific near Vanuatu, and this year is likely to have a worse than usual hurricane season.

* North Korea is being bellicose again for no particularly good reason.

* Heroin purity in the U.S. has dramatically increased causing more overdose deaths.

* "Don't ask, don't tell" repeal is making progress in Congress.

* The Biblical Philistines were recent Greek refugees resettled in the general area of the Gaza Strip by the Egyptians.

* From a website set up by House Republicans to solicit policy ideas:

"A 'teacher' told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish! . . . And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story."

Grass root efforts are underway, meanwhile to undermine science teaching in Grand Junction, Colorado regarding global warming.

Texas conservatives particularly doesn't like science or any other legitimate academic research and control the board that says what should be in Texas school books. California is making a counterstrike by insisting that its schools not use nutty Texas textbooks. Honestly.

* Denver's Chamber of Commerce hates Doug Bruce's three anti-tax proposals that will be on the ballot this fall.

* I'll be away from the Internet for the next few days.


Kevin Dickson said...

Here's a link to the Granny Flat article FWIW:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Thanks. I hunted a little for it but had trouble finding it.