Quick hits (part II)

1) Just a nice montage of typical Fox News sexism.

2) I have actually noticed that Kudzu isn’t really quite the invasive species everybody makes it out to be.

3) Our local minor league soccer teams makes the New York Times because it’s ownership is caught up in the FIFA scandal.  Personally, I really hope they can get new owners because it is a great way to see some reasonably high-level soccer in a fun environment at a great price.

4) NC Republicans not such big fans of a clean environment.

5) Sorry, but the too many law students thing never gets old for me.

6) Chait on Bernie Sanders, #blacklivesmatter, and the new PC:

The trouble with p.c. culture is not, as its defenders tend to sneer, that it oppresses white males. Many of its targets are not white males; anyway, oppression isn’t the main issue, per se. Political correctness is an elaborate series of norms and protocols of political discourse that go well beyond the reasonable mandate of treating all people with respect. Its extravagant imagination of mental trauma lurking in every page, its conception of “safety” as the absence of dissent, and its method of associating beliefs with favored or disfavored groups: They all create a political discourse that is fraught at best, and at worst, inimical to reason…

Of course, anti-rape activists are right to change the culture of male sexual entitlement, and anti-racism activists are right to challenge entrenched biases in the criminal-justice system and other structures. Black Lives Matter has had enormous success in driving police reform and raising awareness of racism, and has, on the whole, changed the country for the better. Liberals believe that social justice can be advanced without giving up democratic rights and norms. The ends of social justice do not justify any and all means. When we’re debating which candidates are progressive enough to be allowed to deliver public speeches, something has gone terribly wrong.

7) Apparently there were virtually no real women at all using Ashley Madison.  Thus, if you know someone in the Ashley Madison database, there’s a super small chance they actually used the site for a successful assignation.

8) The telling priorities of NC Republicans in the most recent budget compromise.  Not big fans of public education.

9) Just to be clear, “anchor babies” (like most consequences of immigration) are good for the economy.

10) Not a bad list of suggestions for students to be successful in college.

11) Vox’s German Lopez on the fact that there’s thousands and thousands of needless gun deaths we don’t talk about because there’s no video.

12) And Kristof on the Virginia shooting and how we need to take a public health approach on guns:

Gun proponents often say things to me like: What about cars? They kill, too, but we don’t try to ban them! [emphasis in original]

Cars are actually the best example of the public health approach that we should apply to guns. Over the decades, we have systematically taken steps to make cars safer: We adopted seatbelts and airbags, limited licenses for teenage drivers, cracked down on drunken driving and established roundabouts and better crosswalks, auto safety inspections and rules about texting while driving.

This approach has been stunningly successful. By my calculations, if we had the same auto fatality rate as in 1921, we would have 715,000 Americans dying annually from cars. We have reduced the fatality rate by more than 95 percent.

Yet in the case of firearms, the gun lobby (enabled by craven politicians) has for years tried to block even research on how to reduce gun deaths. The gun industry made a childproof gun back in the 19th century but today has ferociously resisted “smart guns.” If someone steals an iPhone, it requires a PIN; guns don’t.

We’re not going to eliminate gun deaths in America. But a serious effort might reduce gun deaths by, say, one-third, and that would be 11,000 lives saved a year.

The United States is an outlier, both in our lack of serious policies toward guns and in our mortality rates. Professor Hemenway calculates that the U.S. firearm homicide rate is seven times that of the next country in the rich world on the list, Canada, and 600 times higher than that of South Korea.

13) Home school parents go nuts and have been able to fend off all sorts of common-sense regulations that would help protect kids and their right to a decent education.

14) On the law and meaning of consent in rape cases.

15) Watched War Games with my oldest yesterday (currently streaming on Netflix).  Great for Cold War Nostalgia.  Not so great for plot holes you could drive an ocean liner through.  Didn’t seem to notice those so much when I was 11.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Really  looking forward to reading this book on the modern history of Autism and Aspergers and the doctors who defined (and mis-defined these diseases).  It’s not too far a stretch to say Leo Kanner, the doctor who was the autism expert, made my older brother’s life, far, far harder than it should have been.

2) Nice summary on all the damage total Republican control has done to NC.

3) I love that NC State researchers have created a vomiting machine to study Norovirus.

4) When liberals go too far, they should be called out.  As Drum does with those who think there shouldn’t be Chik-Fil-A in an airport.

5) Can’t say I’m surprised to learn that surgery for the most basic form of breast cancer apparently does nothing to improve a woman’s life expectancy.  I’m also not surprised that cancer surgeons are arguing that they should still be doing it.  I am sad for all the women who needlessly go physically and emotionally traumatic unnecessary treatment.

6) Jordan Weissman on Rubio and Walker’s plans to replace Obamacare:

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this idea. But it only works if the federal government sets acceptable guidelines about what sorts of plans insurers are allowed to sell. Otherwise, it would almost certainly spur a harmful race to the bottom, in which companies would flock to states with the loosest regulations, and offer cut-rate insurance offering little protection. The likely result, as the Congressional Budget Office argued years ago, is that young, healthy customers would opt for the least expensive options available, while older, sicker Americans would end up paying morefor coverage. Meanwhile, many of those invincible-feeling twentysomethings would find their health insurance wasn’t worth much once they actually needed it. And the chances are that a Walker or Rubio administration wouldn’t do much to stop that from happening…

But the big takeaway is that the establishment GOP contenders are edging toward a consensus alternative to Obamacare, a three-part plan that would potentially make insurance cheaper for the young, more expensive for the old and sick, and depending on how tight-fisted Congress felt, unaffordable for the ill. Thankfully for them, nobody should notice for a while. Everybody is still paying attention to Trump, after all.

And Jon Cohn’s take while I’m at it.

7) Nice explanation of exactly what the deal is with Hillary’s email.  Should she have done what she did?  Oh, surely not.  Is it actually that big a deal?  Not really.

8) Awesome, awesome open letter from a gay man to his future in-laws who are unwilling to attend his wedding.

9) Cory Booker admits what so few politicians are willing to– we cannot solve mass incarceration simply by easing up on drug users and non-violent felons.  We also need to admit that violent felonies are not as cut and dried as they may seem.

10) Really interesting piece in the Federalist on the Republican Party and white identity politics.

11) Love this from a former CIA analyst on how to help undermine ISIS by scamming them on the internet.  Seriously.

12) Can’t say I’m surprised to learn that science now has MRI evidence to show that it is good to read to your young kids.  But, if that convinces more people to something all parents should be doing, then that’s a good thing.

13) I was telling my son David about a new colleague and how you can just instantly tell he was a person of great warmth.  Then David asked me to define emotional warmth.  Trickier than I realized.  Here’s the first take I found.  And I think this quora take is pretty good.  Here’s my own simple definition I came up with after thinking about it: a readiness to share positive emotions with others.

14) Interesting take on the strength of Trump’s support in the polls:

In poll after poll of Republicans, Mr. Trump leads among women, despite having used terms like “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” to denigrate some of them. He leads among evangelical Christians, despite saying he had never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters. He leads among the most frequent, likely voters, even though his appeal is greatest among those with little history of voting.

15) Personally, I find it quite disturbing that the solid majority of pre-natal Down’s Syndrome diagnoses lead to abortion.  And it’s great politics to try and pass a law– as Ohio is attempting— that bans abortion if a Down’s Syndrome diagnosis is the reason.   But this is so blatantly unconstitutional under Roe and Casey.  A Constitutional right based on the right to privacy does not mean you have have to provide an appropriate reason to exercise it.

16) Matt Taibbi on Donald Trump and the unleashed stupidity in American politics.  Pretty much a perfect combination.  Read this one.  (edits for language below by me)

Why there’s suddenly this surge of hatred for immigrants is sort of a mystery. Why Donald Trump, who’s probably never even interacted with an undocumented immigrant in a non-commercial capacity, in particular should care so much about this issue is even more obscure. (Did he trip over an immigrant on his way to the Cincinnati housing development his father gave him as a young man?)

Most likely, immigrants are just collateral damage in Trump’s performance art routine, which is an absurd ritualistic celebration of the coiffed hotshot endlessly triumphing over dirty losers and weaklings.

Trump isn’t really a politician, of course. He’s a strongman act, a ridiculous parody of a Nietzschean superman. His followers get off on watching this guy with (allegedly) $10 billion and a busty mute broad on his arm defy every political and social convention and get away with it. [emphasis mine]

People are tired of rules and tired of having to pay lip service to decorum. They want to stop having to watch what they say and think and just get “crazy,” as Thomas Friedman would put it.

Trump’s campaign is giving people permission to do just that. It’s hard to say this word in conjunction with such a sexually unappealing person, but his message is a powerful aphrodisiac. F**k everything, f**k everyone. F**k immigrants and f**k their filthy lice-ridden kids. And f**k you if you don’t like me saying so.

Quick hits

1) Shankar Vedantam on cognitive biases, shorter showers, and low-flow toilets.

2) Josh Vorhees on how Trump getting specific with policy proposals is bad for the GOP.  I think he’s right as this will pull candidates who can win further to the right than they want to be for the general.  To wit, we’ve even got Jeb saying “anchor babies” now.

3) The Connecticut Supreme Court with a strong argument against capital punishment.

4) How gender bias in academia is a very real thing.  My personal fight against it?  Cutting and pasting descriptive phrases from previous recommendation letters irrespective of the gender of the person I am recommending.

5) I’m sure Upworthy has sanitized this version, but it’s pretty clear that treating heroin addiction as a disease to be treated instead of a felony is a win-win, policy-wise.

6) Why is Black Lives Matter going after Bernie anyway?  Jamelle Bouie explains (short version: stategery).

7) Physician Ben Carson doesn’t really seem to understand abortion and emergency contraception all that well.

8) Seth Masket went to both a Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rally last week:

 And then, of course, there was the music. Clinton’s team played Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” to warm up the crowd before the candidate’s appearance. Trump’s team played ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” I don’t know what this means, but it’s entirely possible that whoever chooses songs for Clinton is a perky, empowered woman in her 20s and whoever chooses songs for Trump is a middle-aged guy with hair issues who longs for the ’80s. Or maybe they’re just trying to reach out to those demographics.

9) Are you smarter than other NYT readers?  Damnit, I wasn’t.  But my response showed some minimal intelligence.

10) Are you gluten sensitive?  Perhaps you should find another blog to read that is not so enamored with science.  And as long as we’re talking diets, I always enjoy a good takedown of Paleo (Vox style).

11) My stepmom is convinced Carly Fiorina would be a great president.  Why?  Fiorina’s daughter is her bible study.  Also, she thinks Fiorina is a great businesswoman.  Evidence says otherwise.

12) Fortunately, I have not had to spend too many nights in hospitals.  But Good God they need to find a way to let people sleep better at night without constant interruptions.

13) This new female libido drug seems as flawed as anything that’s ever made it to market.  Serious side effects for .5 more sexual episodes per month.  Sure doesn’t pass the cost/benefit test (though, many husbands surely feel otherwise during that extra session of sex every two months).  I’ve read enough to think this is a real issue that could potentially be improved with the right medication.  This drug isn’t it.

14) Call me crazy, but I don’t think national parks should be wide-open shooting ranges.  I’m okay with preserving limited, regulated areas for that purpose.  But you shouldn’t have to fear for your life (or hear constant gunfire) just because you want to go hiking or camping.

15) And your long read for the day… great, great GQ profile on Stephen Colbert.  What an amazing human.

Quick hits (part II– after all)

Ended up with a ton of open tabs this weekend.  So, here’s a late quick hits part II.

1) Is parenthood worse for your happiness than divorce or death of a partner?  The latest research says that at least during the first year of parenthood, this is the case.  In a less busy week, I would’ve read more of this because I am a bit skeptical of such a strong hit (though chronic sleep deprivation surely matters).

2) Fertility clinics destroy embryos all the time (much like an early abortion).  Why aren’t conservatives after them?!  Maybe something like this:

The disparity between how the law treats abortion patients and IVF patients reveals an ugly truth about abortion restrictions: that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women’s bodies. Both IVF and abortion involve the destruction of fertilized eggs that could potentially develop into people. But only abortion concerns women who have had sex that they don’t want to lead to childbirth. Abortion restrictions use unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for “irresponsible sex” and remind women of the consequences of being unchaste: If you didn’t want to endure a mandatory vaginal ultrasound , you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place .

If anti-choice lawmakers cared as much about protecting life as they did about women having sex, they could promote laws that prevent unwanted pregnancy. Yet the same conservatives who restrict abortion also oppose insurance coverage for contraception and comprehensive sexuality education. They view contraception, like abortion, as a “license” to have non-procreative sex. Women, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee assures us, don’t need contraception — they just need to “control their libido.”

I also think it is largely simply politically untenable to attack fertility clinics (as I’ve mentioned in the case of the Catholic Church leaving the issue alone despite the clear, strong violation of Catholic teaching).

3) Less than a decade ago, Republicans seemingly favored voting rights.  What happened?

4) Hopefully you know about the mindset research of Carol Dweck.  If not, John F. recently shared this excellent summary.  Honestly, I feel like I’ve done pretty well in life for having a fixed mindset.

5) Think it is barbaric to lock human beings in solitary confinement.  Even better, many states regularly do this with juveniles– “for their own protection.”  Certainly not the protection of their sanity.

6) A solid majority of Americans under 50 think they will not get a social security benefit.  That’s nuts.  They will.  At worst, it will be somewhat reduced.  In other news, most Americans under 50 don’t really understand social security or American politics.

7) I cannot even imagine working at Amazon.  Fascinating workplace culture.

8) I doubt that Obama will finish all these books on his vacation.  But I love his love of good books and reading.

9) Should have been a few more, but one of the kids closed all my open tabs– despite repeated admonitions not to do so– and I swear some were missing from my history.

Quick hits

So, had such the busy vacation this week that I probably did only a quarter as much (if that) of my usual on-line reading. Thus, you get a short, one-day quick hits.

1) So, in Kentucky they seem to think it appropriate to handcuff  8 and 9 -year old  kids with ADHD to get them to behave.

2) Not exactly photos, but a pretty awesome collection of movie stills (thanks, JP).

3) Are Republicans shooting themselves in the foot over abortion?  I actually don’t think so, but there’s a good case to be made for it.    The Vox take.   Drum has a provocative take:

Here’s an interesting recent poll question:

There’s not much need to tell you I just made this up. If it were real, this bill would get 0 percent support. Everyone who saw it would be immediately appalled at the idea that someone could be casually murdered if they were born as a result of rape or incest.

But if you ask this same question about abortion, this is roughly what you get. Very strong majorities, even among Republicans, support an exception to an abortion ban for rape and incest. Among other things, this is why I don’t believe most people who claim to believe that abortion is murder. If you support a rape or incest exception, it’s pretty obvious you don’t really think of abortion as murder.

4) I’m with this take on #blacklivesmatter and Bernie.

5) I love that Vox has so many articles about the ethics of meat-eating.  This one asks if there is a moral case for eating meat.  Let’s just put it this way… we damn sure owe our mean animals a much better life than we give them.  I wish we could do that as a society at minimum.

6) The Economist with (another) nice piece on gun ownership in America.

7) Conducted a little real estate during my recent vacation.  Had never actually heard of Redfin before a few weeks ago.  I’ve always thought many Real Estate agents earn way too much money.  My poor agent in Lubbock, Texas labored just as hard (if not harder) to sell us a $77,000 home as my dad worked to sell similar $400,000 homes in Northern Virginia (yet would earn less than 1/4 as much from that sale).  Glad to see that Redfin is bringing some meaningful disruption to this model.

8) John Oliver on Sex Education.  Of course it’s awesome.

9) Low fat versus low carb not at all settled by this research, but it does suggest that low carb does not have the metabolic advantages many believe.  The real secret?  Whatever helps the given individual best reduce calorie intake.

10) Now that’s what you call headline writing, “Carly Fiorina Comes Out in Favor of Kids Getting Measles.”

11) Chris Christie likes to pretend he is Mr. Truth-Teller/tell it like it is.  When it comes to taxes, he’s no better than other Republicans.

At that time, federal revenue is projected to equal about 19.4 percent of GDP absent any policy changes. There is, in other words, a vast budget gap that will need to be filled. Unlike his opponents, Mr. Christie has proposed specific benefit cuts that would narrow the gap somewhat. But neither his proposals, nor any other, can close the gap entirely in the absence of increased revenue. Trying to do so would leave the government paying pensions and rising interest costs (as it borrowed more and more) and devoting little or nothing to the other things Americans expect from government: defense, roads, bridges, basic scientific research, national parks and more.

Political bravery would be admitting this reality — not just the attenuated version the GOP base wants to hear — and refusing to pre-reject an entire range of policy options to deal with it. Some candidates have managed this. Though no fan of raising taxes, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, for example, has never signed the pledge through several previous campaigns for office. That is the only responsible position. To sign a pledge is to make a reckless promise that locks politicians into an arbitrarily restrictive budget policy, no matter what circumstances time brings, and ignores the reality that is bearing down on the nation.

12) I feel so much safer knowing that state law enforcement arrested a bunch of people for LSD, etc., at a nearby Phish concert.

 

 

 

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) Excellent Josh Marshall on the declining marginal value of crazy in the Republican Party:

In a crowded field, for almost everyone but Bush, it’s critical to grab hold of the mantle of anger and grievance. But the Huckabees and Cruzes simply cannot compete with Trump, who is not only willing to say truly anything but also has – whatever else you can say about his nonsense – a talent for drama and garnering press attention honed over decades. With a mix of aggression, boffo self-assertion and nonsense, Trump has managed to boil modern Republicanism down to a hard precipitate form, shorn of the final vestiges of interest in actual governing.

2) Actual scholars of international conflict are way more skeptical of war than the American public.

3) The research on small class size is not quite what you think it is and certainly should not be used to eliminate teaching assistants in early grades.

4) What not to say to people who struggle with infertility.  Definitely good advice.

5) In general elections, debates really don’t matter all that much.  They are surely more important in primaries (where voters don’t have the Party ID cue to rely upon) and Thursday’s was probably especially important for shaping the Invisible Primary.

6) On why it is a good idea to make college education available to prisoners.

7) Inkjet printers are one of the biggest scams in the marketplace (the ink is priced like a precious metal).  Fortunately, we switched to a laser ages ago.  David Pogue on a new Epson that actually charges you what the printer costs but doesn’t horribly screw you over on ink prices.  The big question is whether consumers are smart enough to think beyond the initial purchase price.

8) People complain about teacher’s unions, but seems to me that police unions create way more problems.  Seems like they believe police never do wrong.

9) You’ve probably seen all the reporting on how the formula for setting workplaces too cold in the summer is based on 1960’s men.  I appear to have a metabolism similar to women and I hate the workplace in the summer.  I’ve been known to use my space heater in July.

10) This is from a while back, but new to me: how gothic architecture took over college campuses.  As a Duke alum, I found this particularly interesting.  I was always told a story that they purposely used stone in the stairways that would wear away extra fast from foot traffic to make it all appear older.

The American college campus, and its Gothic filigree, seem timeless, pristine constructions. Nothing could be farther from the truth: They are historical eruptions, made possible by philanthropic economics, continental envy and racism. That doesn’t detract from their inherent beauty: Rather, to think more clearly about colleges, we should recognize and adapt ourselves to their history and their contingency.

11) A friend recently shared a Richard Thaler graduation speech it’s good stuff.  Especially on the economics of doing what you enjoy.

12) I get so tired of the “Democrats did it, too!” you hear from NC Republicans.  I’m not alone.

13) Yes, lawns are evil.  Especially when you live in west Texas where it rains less than 20 inches a year (my previous home) or you live somewhere with a bunch of rain, but your soil is clay and all covered up by big oaks which provide great shade (now).  I could have a nice lawn if I wanted to spend hours every single week on it.  I don’t.

14) Having health insurance is great.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually save the country money on overall health expenditures.  That said, the non-dollar benefit of peace of mind and better health that come from actually having health insurance seem plenty worth the added cost.

15) Loved this Ezra Klein on the absolute shamelessness of Trump.

16) Picky eating among children is linked to adult anxiety and depression.  When I think about the psychology of picky eating, I’m not all surprised.  I guess I’m unusual for being a picky eater but as psychologically stable as they come.

17) Nice Op-Ed on school vouchers and the enemies of public education.

18) Maybe teenagers hanging out on social media all the time isn’t really so bad.

Where is the doom and gloom?

A new report on “Teens, Technology and Friendships” from the Pew Foundation puts an unusually positive spotlight on the online lives of teenagers as they build friendships and connections in a digital world. Teenagers aged 13 to17 are finding ways to strengthen their relationships with real-world friends as well as making new friends through social media, video gaming, messaging apps and other virtual connectors.

This is not the usual story of teenagers in the online realm. Where are the dire warnings about how the online world is depriving our teenagers of their opportunity to learn the skills needed to interact with people instead of screens while exposing them to all manner of bullying and cruelty, and tempting them to fritter away endless hours playing video games?

19) I don’t like beer.  At all.  American or otherwise.  That said, I did find this article on why American beer is so weak to be fascinating.

20) After listening to a Fresh Air interview with Sarah Hepola, I realized that I didn’t truly understand an alcohol induced blackout.  You are conscious and functioning (though, impaired), but stop laying down long-term memories.  Freaky.  That means a person can say “Sure, I want to have sex with you” and climb into bed, but then “wake up” under somebody else and have absolutely no idea how they got there.  Of course acquaintance rape is a real and genuine problem, but I cannot help but wondering how many times a blackout is mistaken for a lack of consent.  And here’s the Salon piece on Hepola’s memoir of excessive drinking.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) In what’s really no surprise, an absurdly small number of people have an absurdly huge influence over American elections.

2) The case for giving a man a fish instead of teaching him to fish (I’m a proud donor to Give Directly myself).

3) Will Saletan catalogs the inconvenient truths admitted to in the Republican debate.  Reihan Salam on how Trump is not going away and part of a larger, international populism.  Fred Kaplan on how the GOP candidates showed shockingly little knowledge of foreign policy.

4) I learned the difference between i.e., and e.g., year ago and it is proved helpful on myriad occasions.

5) Two theories of CEO pay– I’ve got a lot of confidence in the “CEO Pay is basically irrational” theory.

6) Don’t look to the 8th Circuit for solid legal reasoning on abortion.

7) Very nice column on what we do wrong in criminal justice and how we can do better.  Also, a great Fresh Air interview with the author:

We need to quit wasting time trying to sort out who deserves blame and get out of the payback business. Instead, we should focus on remedying the harm, rehabilitating the criminal, discouraging others from taking similar actions, and treating the conditions that precipitated the crime in the first place.

Most important, a public-health model of crime allows us to shift resources from punishment to prevention. A reactive criminal-justice system, like the one we have now, is doomed to always come up short. There is no execution that can compensate for a victim’s murder. There is no appeal process that can restore the lost years of a wrongful conviction. In the future, our major tools for fighting crime will not be police officers, trials, and incarceration, but better prenatal intervention, improved schools, and widely available mental-health care. That will make for duller episodes of Law & Order, but it will leave us far safer and more just.

8) The latest research on choosing the right running shoe (just pick the one that is the most comfortable– seriously).

9) How Jon Stewart changed media.

10) The expert witness who never met a police shooting he didn’t like.

11) Kristof with a nice column on the absolute absurdity of Republicans trying to cut family planning funding.

12) Nice infographic on the deadliest drugs.  The top three are all legal.

13) For some reason, people keep being surprised that I still use the Netflix DVD service.  It’s still far and away the most economical way to see most of the movies you’d actually want to see.

14) On how John Roberts has been fighting against the Voting Rights Act for his whole career.

15) Probation sounds pretty easy, but it can end up being a very harsh (and often arbitrary) punishment.

16) I ignored the links to this for a while, but I did enjoy this paramedic arguing in favor of the high minimum wage for fast food workers.

17) Some nice Ayn Rand satire from McSweeney’s.

18) Nice take on the war on public education in North Carolina.

19) Really, really good James Fallows in the Iran deal.  Short, but really hammers home some key points.

20) How poverty damages the brains of young children (maybe we should try harder to do something about it).

21) Found this history of Google + to be really interesting (also make me think a lot of Hooli Nucleus).

22) Really nice Marshall Project report on life without parole (and just how non-sensical it can be)

Prisoners like Rodriguez represent a paradox for parole boards: Older inmates who have committed the most serious crimes, and served the longest terms, are the least likely to commit new crimes upon release.

One Stanford University study of 860 murderers paroled in California found only five returned to prison for new felonies, and none for murder.

This is especially true for older prisoners. Recidivism rates drop steadily with age. And older prisoners are more expensive: The average annual cost per prisoner doubles at age 55 and continues to climb thereafter.

Still, these prisoners are consistently the least likely to be paroled. Though they pose a low risk of future violence, the political risk of releasing them is huge. Parole board members are routinely pilloried in the news media and chastised by the public. Many have lost their jobs for releasing people whose crimes were violent.

“There’s some offense conduct you just can’t outrun,” said William Wynne, a member of the Alabama parole board.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 637 other followers

%d bloggers like this: