community Service means Business!

30 January 2010

Norms and the Knobe Effect

via Experimental Philosophy by Richard Holton on 1/28/10

People might be interested in a short piece on the Knobe effect that I have forthcoming in Analysis. The basic idea uses two premises:

(i) there is an asymmetry between intentionally violating a norm and intentionally conforming to a norm. Intentional violation just requires knowing violation: when one knowingly violates a norm, one is expressly not letting the norm guide one's actions. In contrast, intentionally conforming to a norm requires one to treat the norm as a guide.

(ii) in making ascriptions to agents we are greatly influenced by whether or not they  have intentionally violated or followed a norm. So, for instance, in judging whether someone has intentionally brought about some outcome, we are influenced by whether, in bringing about that outcome, they have intentionally violated or followed a norm.

The proposal then is that the various manifestations of the Knobe effect can be economically explained using these two premises. And the explanation extends not just to the original findings, but to the asymmetries that have been discovered in a host of other ascriptions. There's no new empirical work I'm afraid, but anyone interested in this interpretation of others' findings can read it here.

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

29 January 2010

Courtesy of Debra Germany:

Making the Case for Effective Re-entry Programming

Martha Plotkin, CSG Justice Center,, 240.482.8579
Jennifer Laudano, Pew Center on the States,, 202.540.6321
For Immediate Release
January 28, 2010

Congressional Leaders Take on Recidivism and
Corrections Spending

First National Summit on "Justice Reinvestment" Held on Capitol Hill

Washington, DC—A bipartisan group of congressional and state leaders and experts on criminal justice policy came together yesterday to examine how states are changing their crime and corrections policies through “justice reinvestment”—an approach that uses data-driven, fiscally responsible policies and practices to increase public safety and reduce recidivism and corrections spending.

In the past 20 years, spending on corrections has grown at a faster rate than every other state budget category except Medicaid, increasing from more than $12 billion in 1988 to more than $50 billion in 2008. The Pew Center on the States reports that more than 1 in 100 American adults are now behind bars.

Despite this tremendous expenditure on prisons, recidivism rates remain high. In many states, half of all individuals released from state prison are reincarcerated within three years.

“It's no secret that recidivism is costly and is overwhelming our prison system,” said Congressman Alan B. Mollohan, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Bureau of Prisons. “In a series of hearings our subcommittee held last year on prisoner reentry, we heard from a wide range of professionals who delivered a common message—that recidivism reduction is a challenge that we can meet and must meet.”

“The federal government must look to innovative state, local and faith-based programs to reform our broken corrections system. As the former chairman and current ranking member of the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Justice Department, I am deeply concerned about the recidivism crisis that is straining our corrections system at all levels. This summit will, for the first time, bring together the best leaders and programs in corrections reform,” said Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA).

Congressmen Mollohan (D-WV) and Wolf (R-VA) were joined at the summit by their colleagues Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), in addition to leaders from the U.S. Department of Justice and experts in state government, law enforcement, courts, corrections and community reentry. The summit was convened by the Pew Center on the States, the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Public Welfare Foundation, and the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Several states' experiences with justice reinvestment were highlighted at today's summit. In Texas, for example, the state's prison population in 2007 was projected to grow by more than 14,000 people in the following five years. Lawmakers, relying on justice reinvestment analyses, enacted policies to avert the anticipated growth and saved $443 million—of which more than $200 million was redirected to strengthen probation and parole and expand treatment services. Since these policy changes, the prison population has stopped growing, allowing the state to cancel plans to build more prisons. These developments occurred while crime rates in nearly every major Texas urban area have declined and the overall state crime rate has fallen at about the same rate as the national average.

The justice reinvestment approach has gained broad bipartisan support and unprecedented attention on Capitol Hill. In November 2009, Senators Whitehouse, John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), together with Representatives Schiff and Dan Lungren (R-CA), introduced The Criminal Justice Reinvestment Act of 2009 (S.2772/HR.4080), authorizing the U.S. Attorney General to make grants to state and local governments and tribes to help jurisdictions (1) analyze criminal justice trends to understand what is driving the growth in their local jail and prison populations, (2) develop tailored policy options to reduce corrections expenditures and increase the effectiveness of current spending and reinvestment that can make communities safer, (3) implement the proposed policies and programs, and (4) measure the impact of these changes and develop accountability measures.

The legislation reflects the strong bipartisan support for expanding justice reinvestment beyond the work currently being conducted in several states. The Justice Center, in partnership with the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, has led initiatives in 10 states, with additional support from a range of public/private partners that include the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Open Society Institute and the states receiving intensive technical assistance. The Public Welfare Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, state-based foundations and states themselves have contributed to this effort as well.

More information on the Justice Reinvestment Summit is available at Visit this site in the coming weeks to watch Attorney General Holder's comments, view panel discussions and access other conference materials.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. It provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies—informed by available evidence—to increase public safety and strengthen communities. To learn more about the justice reinvestment approach, see For more about the CSG Justice Center, see

The Pew Center on the States is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts that identifies and advances effective solutions to critical issues facing states. Pew is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. For more information, visit

The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to ensure fundamental rights and opportunities for people in need. The Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program seeks out opportunities for systems change to reduce the rate of incarceration and prison population in America while ensuring public safety. To learn more about the Public Welfare Foundation, see

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

28 January 2010

Would you like a Condom with your Government Cheese?

Welfare recipients like stray animals?


South Carolina politician is making a very public apology - and this time it's not Governor Mark Sanford.

After likening welfare recepients to stray animals,Andre Bauer, the embattled Republican's lieutenant governor, is hastily back-pedalling from remarks his rivals have called "immoral."

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals," he said during a Town Hall meeting on Thursday.

"You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."

Bauer hopes to ascend to the state's highest seat in November's election, where he would succeed the sex-scandal scarred Mark Sanford, who's affair with an Argentine mistress made him the butt of late-night talk

The 40-year-old was quickly targeted by Democratic rivals for the remarks.

"I am disgusted by these comments," said state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. "His comments were immoral and out of line."

South Carolina schools Superintendent Jim Rex labeled them "reprehensible."

No stranger to firing off intemperate remarks, Bauer has offered something of an apology.

"Do I wish I'd used a different metaphor? Of course," he said. "I didn't intend to offend anyone."

Despite his choice of words, Bauer noted he feels welfare recipients should be required to submit to drug tests and attend parent-teacher conferences if they have kids in school.

Posted via email from jimuleda's posterous

Google Voice is Working for Me!

27 January 2010

"Helpsters" Are The New "Hipsters"

Sent to you via Google Reader

"Helpsters" Are The New "Hipsters"


Has the Age of the Hipster come to an end? And if so, will "helpster" be the next word that everyone calls other people, but no one uses to describe themselves? That's the question raised in this New York Press article, which details the rise of "helpsters" — socially conscious cool kids who have stopped acting like "disaffected aesthetes with nihilistic tendencies" and started becoming "motivated and committed Samaritans."

Though they are partly to blame for the gentrification of their communities, helpsters possess a "gentrifier's guilt [that] has spurred them to want to halt any further changes, and they are increasingly working to empower and enrich their neighborhoods." So they've taken to organizing concerts by bands like They Might Be Giants to raise money for a community center in Williamsburg, launched "guerilla gardening" campaigns to create new greenspaces, held bicycle demonstrations and protests, and pushed to establish Brooklyn's own currency. Helpsters even helped New York Cares have a 30 percent increase in volunteers last year, 60 percent of whom were between the ages of 18 and 34.

The nascent helpster movement might be gaining followers, but it's not necessarily easy to convert hipsters to their activist ways. "We have a really hard time at NAG [Neighbors Allied for Good Growth] to find people who genuinely want to volunteer if there's not beer involved," said volunteer Emily Gallagher. "Seriously everything has to be like a singles event." If hipsters do embrace volunteerism, they could turn out casting it aside in a few seasons like the trucker hats of yesteryear — yet some activists remain optimistic that civic engagement might become hip.

"What would it look like to have a cultural movement that doesn't suck, that isn't 'activism'?" asked Beka Economopoulos, cofounder of the art-and-activism collective Not an Alternative. "What if Williamsburg looked t...

Jim's iPod2You


Posted via email from jimuleda's posterous


26 January 2010



After 14 years of working with all sorts of people in this crazy business, I have to admit that I rarely come across someone like Shelley Stewart. At first sight, he’s an average businessman dressed in a suit and fedora. But it was during a confusing flurry of mass introductions in a sea of handshakes among our group, that I realized what a warm, caring and inspiring person he really is. Remembering how important first impressions really are, I tried to recover from my mis-planted handshake by making a joke. It was that moment that Shelley Stewart reached out and gave me a hug...MORE

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

From San Diego County:

(Look at the structure of this policy change.)

Inmates released under new law

A new law aimed at reducing the state’s inmate population took effect yesterday and had an immediate effect in San Diego County, where about 260 nonviolent offenders were released.

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

25 January 2010

Building Bridges Second Changes Mentoring Program

FROM DEBRA MORRISON:  Divine Intervention Ministries has partnered with the PA Prison Society and the Department of Corrections to launch The Building Bridges Second Changes Mentoring Program initiative in Pgh.  If anyone is interested  in being a mentor  have them contact me at 412-303-5043.  Please see attached Flyers for more specific information.

This mentoring opportunity will appear as an Action Team item during our meeting on 29JAN2010. (see 3rd Attachment)

RSVP, if you haven’t already. Seating will be limited.

Jim Reid

412.464.4000 x4034

SouthWestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Coordinator

Mon Valley Initiative

303/305 East Eighth Ave

Homestead, PA 15120-1517

Fax: 412.464.1750

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

24 January 2010

Inmates Who Can't Make Bail...

via Think Outside the Cage by Pamela Clifton and Christie Donner on 1/23/10

NPR Part 2 of 3
On the East River just across from Rikers Island sits a barge officially called the Vernon C. Bain Center. But every judge, layer and inmate in New York knows it as The Boat — a giant, floating jail docked in the Bronx.
Sometimes when the wind blows, you can feel it list just a little.
It is here that I first meet Shadu Green in June 2009. He is locked in a day room, still

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

Wrong but Right: Good Idea, Bad Data

via Grits for Breakfast by Gritsforbreakfast on 1/21/10

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency issued a report this week titled "The Extravagance of Prison Revisited" (pdf) analyzing four states including Texas, predicting that $2.4 billion per year could be saved if the state shifted 80% of its nonviolent, "nonserious offenders" into community-based incarceration alternatives. Unfortunately, their facts about Texas and its budget are wrong: Flat out erroneous. Here's the miscalculation that blows the whole thing:
Texas spent $2.8 billion to incarcerate 80% (51,026) of nonserious, nonsexual offenders ... Alternatives are estimated to cost the state $433 million. A total cost savings of $2.4 billion can be expected with implementation of alternatives. ... Tailoring that alternative to be shorter in duration and achieving economies of scale would likely lead to a greater cost savings
I share many goals with the authors of this report and largely agree with the shift in budget priorities they're suggesting, but whoever wrote this just got their basic budget information wrong. TDCJ's entire 2009 operating budget is $2,946,892,799, even though the report authors claim that $2.8 billion (basically the whole budget) is being spent on 51,026 nonserious nonviolent offenders (about a third of those incarcerated).

The cost per prisoner figure NCCD uses for Texas is $17,100 per inmate per year (which sounds about right - here are the official stats), so if we multiply that amount by 51,026, we get $872,544,600, not $2.4 billion.

NCCD further estimates the cost of diverting those 51,026 Texans into treatment alternatives would be $433 million, which would leave the state with an estimated $439,544,600 annual savings, using this methodology. That's still a lot of savings and well worth doing, but it's not $2.4 billion per year.

Under the circumstances, I'm not sure whether to trust NCCD's (seemingly conservative, probably California-derived) figures on the cost of alternatives. But what they're suggesting - spending money on stronger community corrections instead of hard prison beds - was essentially the theory behind Texas' much-praised 2007 probation reforms. They're just advocating that Texas invest even more in community corrections and save more money by reducing the number of people it incarcerates.

On that point, I agree with them completely. I think it's basically the way we get to the point where we can talk credibly about closing prisons in Texas. I just wish they'd done a bit more due diligence before publishing this piece, or maybe hired some unemployed blogger down in Texas to fact check for them. ;)

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

Dinner Guest

via Futility Closet by Greg Ross on 1/22/10


Posted via email from jimuleda's posterous


be here-Now!

into the Gaping Void

My Friend Flickr

Talk Gone Wrong

Drop-off Box simple private sharing


Blog Archive