Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The exercise of discretion in the probation service and Bottoms’ model of compliance

Jake writes about compliance in probation in the Early Career Academics Network Bulletin of the Howard League for Penal Reform. He concludes that "although the move towards compliance was seen positively by offender managers and there is evidence of them exercising discretion after a period of very limited discretion, the fact that the move thus far has been set within a managerialist framework means that the kind of compliance achieved is short-termist and might work against normative compliance as proposed by Bottoms."

Managing references

Do you ever feel disorganized? Don’t know which paper you found so useful earlier? Do you dread the prospect of adding the reference list at the end of your paper or thesis? I felt like that last year. Then someone pointed me to this really useful program, called Mendeley. It helps you manage your pdfs and references and it really pays off if you start using it as early as possible.

Here is why I recommend it:

It’s FREE! (as opposed to EndNote, for example)

It has a lot of useful functions, including a pdf-viewer, the option to mark documents as ‘favorite’, ‘read’ or ‘unread’, or ‘needing review’

It can often extract the reference information from a pdf, such as author, title, year, etc. (Though I recommend reviewing the information of each article when you add it)

Your library is synchronized to an online storage space. When I bought a new laptop, I only had to re-install Mendeley and all my papers were there!

With a Word-plugin, you add citations and when you’re done, you can generate the bibliography with a click of the mouse, matching your preferred citation style! When I’ve done that, I copy the bibliography to WordPad, so that I can make changes (funny things happen when I try doing that in Word) and then I copy it back to Word

In addition there are online features, like groups and paper recommendations based on your library. It’s also useful for collaboration apparently, although I haven’t tried that myself.
That’s not to say that it’s a perfect program yet – they are working to make it better and compared to a year ago, it has improved a lot. Luckily you get the updates for free, and the developers welcome any feedback!

It’s worth trying out this program to see how it can help you. If you have any questions you can e-mail me (efjcv2 [at] cam [dot] ac [dot] uk), since I’m a Mendeley advisor (volunteer position, I have no commercial motivations to promote it!)

On Saturday 29 October at noon, I will be in the Clare Hall meeting room to give a brief demonstration of the program and provide some tips based on my own experience. This would be a good opportunity to ask questions. I would also like to invite people who have used other programs, or anyone who has tips on managing articles and references. Let’s help each other out!

For more information, you can check: (A comparison of Mendeley to other reference managers) (An overview of Mendeley’s features) (Here you can download Mendeley!)

Happy writing!

Perception of Science: in popular culture vs. actual science

What do you think of science and how does that stroke with the public perception? Wonderful comic

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Festival of Ideas: does prison work?

Next Tuesday the Festival of Ideas starts with several events, including two that are particularly relevant for us as criminologists! Hopefully there will be many of us to get involved in the debates:

036 Does prison work?
Friday 21 October, 6:00PM - 7:15PM
How can institutionalisation be prevented, are there effective alternatives to prison and what circumstances discourage repeat offending?
Speakers include Jennifer Rubin from RAND, John Podmore, Offender Health, Department of Health; Charles Young from the London Anti-Crime Education Service, Professor Larry Sherman, Institute of Criminology and the chair, Professor Hugh Wilmott from the Judge Business School.

071 How to stay out of prison
Saturday 22 October, 12:30PM - 1:30PM
Is it possible to deter people from crime? The London Anti-Crime Education Service gives a presentation of its work including a mock-up prison cell and talks by mentors who work with young people.
Charles Young from the innovative London Anti-Crime Education Service demonstrates the brutal reality of life in prison and how he and his mentors deter young people from committing crime with the aid of a pop-up prison cell.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization, dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States, released their new report, No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration. It presents evidence to demonstrate that incarcerating children does not work:
Youth prisons do not reduce future offending, they waste taxpayer dollars, and they frequently expose youth to dangerous and abusive conditions. The report also shows that many states have substantially reduced their juvenile correctional facility populations in recent years, and it finds that these states have seen no resulting increase in juvenile crime or violence. Finally, the report highlights successful reform efforts from several states and provides recommendations for how states can reduce juvenile incarceration rates and redesign their juvenile correction systems to better serve young people and the public.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Offender Desistance Policing and Operation Turning Point in West Midlands

A new randomised control is about to start in the West Midlands. It is designed to test whether prosecution in the courts or a police managed contract to desist from offending will produce better and more cost effective reductions in offending behaviour. Offenders whom the police have decided to charge and put before the court, but who have no prior convictions, will be randomly assigned to prosecution or a "turning point" contract. For the latter group, there will be a very quick, same day, conversation with a trained police officer from the Offender Management team, which is aimed to explore the main reasons for the offending behaviour and arrive at a 'contract' to be signed by the offender. The contract will always have 2 key conditions attached - re-offending behaviour or failure to comply with the agreed conditions of the contract will always attract immediate prosecution for the original offence. Other conditions could include voluntary curfews, drug or alcohol treatment referrals, restorative justice processes and many more. Contracts will last for no more than 4 months. The Cambridge team - Peter Neyroud, Barak Ariel and Professor Lawrence Sherman - will be measuring the cost effectiveness of the approach and the level of crime harm from the treatment and control group over the following 2 years. The trial is linked to a wider programme which is also seeking to introduce a crime harm index as a triage tool in the custody process with the aim that lower risk offenders can be considered for alternatives to court sanctions, allowing Police and other criminal justice agencies to focus on the high harm few who pose greater risks. The Cambridge Stats Lab is supporting the team in the development of this part of the programme using a large sample of data which has been obtained from the Police National Computer. The whole programme is supported by the Monument Trust.
Peter Neyroud

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Jake Phillips publishes about target, audit and risk assessment cultures in the probation service

This article traces the rise of managerialism in the probation service in England and Wales before exploring the impact of these changes through reference to in-depth observation and interviews in probation. The article considers how national standards affect practice; how audits feature and their impact on accountability; and how the use of risk assessment tools are perceived and resisted in two probation teams in England Wales. The article then turns to changes implemented by the Coalition Government and highlights some tensions between managerialist occupational cultures in probation and what might occur in the near future.