August 20, 2007

Forensnips II: More news roundups

Innovative counseling program for prisoners

California's San Quentin State Prison has created a one-of-a-kind drug and alcohol counseling program. Brian Smith, a lifer now 24 years into his sentence, is part of a rigorous training program turning prisoners into certified drug and alcohol counselors. The story is featured on National Public Radio.

Thanks to Celeste Fremon at Witness LA for bringing this story to my attention.

Teaching police empathy toward the mentally ill

The criminalization of the mentally ill is nothing new. New York City's Rikers Island is now the largest psychiatry facility in the country, and probably in the world. But the issue is getting more and more public attention lately.

Now, Time Magazine is weighing in with an article about programs to teach police how to treat mentally ill people with more empathy. Police are taught to speak softly, repeat themselves, and show an empty hand rather than a gun.

Commentary on the article is available at the Mind Hacks blog.

Collateral consequences of a sex offense conviction

Public awareness is also on the rise about the secondary consequences of a criminal conviction; that's a topic I plan to post about at greater length soon. Especially in the news these days are the collateral consequences of sex offender convictions, which can include lifetime registration and monitoring, housing restrictions, and the like. One of my subscribers, Barry Levy, just alerted me to a web site on this topic that's worth checking out. It's got lots of information and links:

Families for Fairness