The California Research Policy Center has just published the executive summary of a study of drug testing in three California probation departments. (Full text should be available in a week or so.) If you find it depressing reading, I can assure you that writing it was even worse.
Most probationers weren’t being drug-tested at all, and about a third of those called for testing either failed to show up at all or tested “dirty” for one or more drugs, partly because the system was not set up to deliver predictable consequences for breaking the rules. The only bright side of the picture is that Propostion 36 (California’s treatment-not-prison-for-drug-offenders initiative) couldn’t really make things any worse; this is how things looked before the new law went in effect.
A TOPICAL HAIKU:
(Click the link and scroll down to see the picture.)
| Drifting toward the earth
| Like cherry blossom in Spring,
| Bush’s numbers fall.
(With thanks to Mike O’Hare for advice on natural history and scansion.)
MAGNA CARTA, IT AIN’T: The Administration’s effort to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act in order to get the military more fully involved in homeland security seems to have hit a brick wall. Maybe that’s a good outcome. But let’s not get too misty-eyed about the Posse Comitatus Act as some sort of sacred tradition: that was the law that ended Reconstruction and ushered in the era of Jim Crow.
All right-thinking people know that Joseph Biden’s proposed “RAVE Act” is a piece of mean-spirited foolishness. But here’s an argument that, once again, all right-thinking people might just possibly be wrong.
DUKENFIELD’S LAW OF INCENTIVE MANAGEMENT: W.C. Fields said, “If a thing’s worth winning, it’s worth cheating for.” Designers of incentive-management systems ignore that principle at their peril. What high-stakes school testing and stock options for CEO’s have in common.
ON PREVENTIVE WAR: Going to war with Iraq might be a terrible idea — I think it probably is — but you couldn’t really call it “unprovoked,” could you? Or have we suddenly decided that France shouldn’t have resisted the German remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936?