Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Miscellany: SAVIN face

The U.S. criminal justice system is definitely operating on the edge, and nothing makes it more apparent than stories like this:

Crime victims register confidentially online or by phone to track a particular inmate and Appriss notifies them whenever the prisoner is released, transfers to a new facility, or manages to escape.

The system grew out of the 1993 murder of Mary Byron, who was gunned down in Louisville on her 21st birthday by an abusive boyfriend. He had been released from jail, but somehow the authorities had failed to warn Byron. The resulting public outcry led local officials to develop the first automated victim notification system, which has spread nationwide.
I think it's a good idea to notify victims when a convict is released, but it brings up the main deficiency of incarceration - you're locking someone up, but you may or may not be changing them for the better. In Byron's case, her boyfriend might have just been made angrier by his experience in the slammer. If he was such a danger to her, it seems silly to release him. But I suppose there's not enough jails to imprison everyone.


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