Don’t Believe Everything You Read

So it turns out that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold weren’t bullied, just psychotic. Now we can gather up all the blame that’s been spread out among the victims and society at large and deposit it firmly where it belongs: on the killers.

Will the well-funded anti-bullying industry, which has been profiting from Harris and Klebold’s murders for a decade now, edit their workbooks and return the money now? ... 

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Criminologists Say the Craziest Things, Part 4: The Economy Made Me Kill, or, Don’t Believe Everything the Crazy Guy With The Gun Says.

I realize I beat this like a dead horse the other day, but the experts are beating it like two dead horses, as evinced by this article in the Washington Post: “Some Link Economy With Spate of Killings.”  The “some” mentioned here is the same “some” mentioned in the Christian Science Monitor, noted criminologist Jack Levin, along with fellow noted Northwestern criminologist James Alan Fox.  But being noted doesn’t mean that you can’t be wrong.  It’s utterly risible to lump together these 57 murders and attribute them to the economic crash.  In fairness, it’s the journalist here who makes this claim, but Levin and Fox eagerly embroider on it:

Comparative statistics are difficult to come by, but during the past month alone, at least eight mass homicides in this country have claimed the lives of 57 people. Just yesterday, four people were discovered shot to death in a modest wood-frame home in a remote Alabama town. ... 

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Academic Criminology, Pt. 3: How to Talk About Terrorists. (Hint: Call Them Professor)

(Many criminologists don’t have far to go if they want to study the habits of domestic terrorists and other convicted felons.  A quick stroll to the faculty lounge is all that’s needed.  Students with criminal records probably have a harder time gaining access to the university than professors with the same.)

*** ... 

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Criminologists Say the Craziest Things, Part 2: Man Bites Dog. Dow Jones Implicated.

Yesterday, I wrote about some media reactions to the Binghamton mass killer.   Today, I want to take a closer look at the ways expert opinions play out in one article about recent mass killings from The Christian Science Monitor.  

In “Shootings, Murder-Suicide Raise Broader Question: Is Violence Linked to Recession?”, writer Patrik Jonsson posits the theory that the recent economic downturn may be responsible for the following crimes: ... 

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Criminologists Say The Craziest Things, Part 1: Spree Killings

The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, and other American papers with international readership frequently package stories about the horrors of America to feed the America-bashing appetites of their international audiences.  They are generously abetted in this mission by academic criminologists who stand at the ready to paint a dystopic picture of an America peopled with violent, bloated drones dragging their automatic weapons behind them as they traverse the soul-less space between their pickup cabs and the big box store.

Such stories are morality tales — the moral being that virtually everybody — except real criminals — are the real crime problem in America.  We are bad; gun-toting offenders are merely impulsive creatures channeling our rage. ... 

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What Is Your Personal “Aggregate Burden of Crime”?

On Tuesday, I wrote about the debate that’s raging over incarcerating convicts or releasing them to “community sentencing” programs of one type or another.  Proponents of community or alternative sentencing argue that we save tax dollars when people convicted of crimes get to stay at home for therapeutic or rehabilitative interventions instead of being removed from the community and sentenced to prison terms.  ... 

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Outrage of the Week: Crayons and Gym Memberships, or Incarceration? Which Actually Costs Less?

A really interesting article in U.S.A. Today on the national push to get prisoners out of jail and into community programs.  

In a hushed conference room overlooking the town’s main drag, eight convicted felons, including an aspiring amateur fighter, brandish bright Crayola markers.

Their goal is to match their personalities to one of four colors. Tim Witte, 27, on probation for evading arrest, eyes the task as if sizing up a fellow middle-weight on Kansas’ gritty cage-fighting circuit. Witte and two drug offenders settle on orange. ... 

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The Pew Center Study, Repeat Offenders, and the Real Price of Crime

From The Tennessean

Cons commit crimes after early release

Sentencing guidelines enable repeat offenders

A college student is kidnapped, brutalized and murdered. A mother looks up from changing her baby’s diaper to find a gun pointing in her face. A 62-year-old man is bludgeoned with a baseball bat in a mall parking lot. ... 

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Semi-Open Thread Friday

Following is a list of the books convicts might read in Boston’s “Changing Lives Through Literature” program to avoid incarceration for their crimes.    

I have a hard time imagining convicts settling down to read Anne Tyler, or Sylvia Plath, or Annie Proulx (maybe this is punishment), or Anna Quindlan, or Jane Hamilton, or Anita Shreve.  Yet the thought of car thieves settling in with Edith Wharton is weirdly . . . comforting. ... 

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Reading With Felons, Part II: A Blog is Worth a Thousand Words

The people over at “Changing Lives Through Literature” in Boston want you to read their blog.  They feel it will offer insight into the significance of running book clubs for people who commit crimes and have had their prison sentences deferred or reduced by participating in a book club or other taxpayer-funded, higher-education initiatives.

I think it’s a great idea to take a hard look at their blog.  After all, your federal Education Department dollars and Justice Department dollars doubtlessly support this reading experiment, either directly or indirectly (never believe anybody who says that their prisoner outreach is “funded exclusively by private resources”: the Justice Department and the states pony up tax dollars to support every prisoner initiative in some way.  Many of these programs would not exist without funding from the Justice Department’s Weed and Seed grants — federal tax dollars that are spread among the states.  All of these programs require oversight from corrections departments.  And public universities are public entities, as are the courts — it’s all on your dime, one way or another).   ... 

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Outrage of the Week: Read A Book, Get Out of Jail

An unholy alliance between politicians and bureaucrats who want to keep prison costs to a minimum, and liberal intellectuals who pretend to see in crime a natural and understandable response to social injustice — which it would be a further injustice to punish — has engendered a prolonged and so far unfinished experiment in leniency that has debased the quality of life of millions of people, especially the poor.

                                             Theodore Dalrymple, in Not With A Bang But A Whimper ... 

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