Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good News, Dumb News from the Star Tribune

First the good news: Minnesota's trial run of specialty courts for chronic drunk drivers has resulted in substantially lower recidivism rates, saving both money and lives. Offenders who go through the experimental court underwent an intensive program, and were more likely to complete the programs than DWI courts nationally.

Then the weird news: people in the inner-ring, expensive suburb Edina (located on the southwest corner of Minneapolis) are opposed to adding sidewalks to their fair town. Not only that, they're said to be "up in arms" about it. What are they afraid of? Well, shoveling, I suppose. But it sounds like Edina is even planning to clear the sidewalks of snow in some areas. (Which makes me wonder why that isn't a thing everywhere. What message does it send to pedestrians that roads are important enough to clear with tax money, but sidewalks aren't?)

And then there's this, which isn't exactly weird, but isn't good either: A DFL member of the State Legislature wants to increase the sentences for people who assault nurses while they're on the job, mirroring the penalties for assaulting a police officer. Supposedly there has been an increased number of assaults on nurses lately. I doubt that, from a statistical standpoint, or if it's true, whether it's not just a random blip. And I also doubt that increasing sentences would have any deterrent effect. People who assault nurses are not in their right minds, obviously. In this age of over-incarceration, any move to increase sentences is the wrong direction, in my opinion.

The example given in the story makes my case:

On Nov. 2, an el­der­ly pa­tient at St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood attacked and in­jured four nurses with a metal bar. The pa­tient, who suf­fered from de­lu­sions, died as po­lice officers worked to hand­cuff him three blocks from the hos­pi­tal, officials said.
How would increasing the penalty have prevented that attack? The bigger question is, why is violence increasing (if it is), and how do we prevent it?

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