Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recent Stuff of Mine

From InSight Crime, here's a two-parter on the impact of the election on crime policy. Highlights:
For a number of reasons, the organized crime issue is a pickle for policy-makers: broadly speaking, Calderon’s policies are popular, but their results -- more than 50,000 deaths over the past six years, and a doubling of the murder rate -- have been disastrous. Worse still, the links between Calderon’s strategy and the increased bloodshed are indirect and unclear. That is, radical changes to Calderon’s approach carry a definite political risk, but there is no certainty that they would bring about lower murder rates.

Consequently, the Calderon administration’s approach will likely continue to feature over the next six years. Should he win, Peña Nieto will surely seek some cosmetic changes, and he may push the philosophy underlying Mexico’s crime strategy in a new direction. But the obstacles to a different approach are enormous; as a result, for better or worse, the shifts are likely to be marginal.
And here's a piece on a misguided attempt to ban narcomantas:
The rise of the manta is a consequence of changes in Mexico’s criminal environment over the past few years. One is that the territorial dominance of criminal groups is typically far less stable -- making them far more violent -- than in the past. Many of the common uses of the manta -- from denouncing a new police chief to announcing a criminal group's arrival in a city -- reflect gangs’ responses to changing dynamics. In a more static landscape, such public relations gambits on the part of criminals would not be necessary.

The increase in mantas also demonstrates the degree to which the civilian population has emerged as a terrain for conflict between gangs. While a decade ago, organized crime was centered almost exclusively on the drug trade, today extracting revenue from the population through extortion and kidnapping is far more common. As a consequence, mantas frequently urge the civilian population to refuse to make extortion payments, in order to hurt their rivals' income stream. In contested cities, groups often use mantas to try to show themselves in a better light than their competitors, often claiming not to kidnap, extort, rob, or carry out other criminal activities that prey on civilians.

Mantas are also the favored medium of communication when a group wants to distance itself from a particularly notorious crime and avoid a government crackdown. The Gulf Cartel, for instance, used a manta to deny responsibility for the murder of Juan Francisco Sicilia, son of a famous writer turned peace activist, while the Zetas hung mantas to distance themselves from 49 mutilated bodies discovered in Nuevo Leon last month.
 Finally, here are a couple of pieces from Este País about the Euro (the currency, not the tournament, though I might have preferred the latter topic) and recent reports regarding the prevalence of jailhouse rape in the US. Highlights of the latter:
Esta creencia que los criminales merecen sufrir es entendible, pero muy equivocada. La primera razón es moral: por más mala que sea una persona, nadie debería sufrir tal desgracia. El castigo que se le impone a un convicto es tiempo en la cárcel, no la violación, y al ignorar este problema, la sociedad se convierte en un cómplice.

Para los que no les convence este argumento, es claro que todos tenemos un interés más directo en prevenir estos tipos de ataques: la gran mayoría de los que viven tras rejas van a volver a la sociedad en el futuro, y las personas que son abusadas repetidamente son más propensas a llevar trastornos antisociales y violentos. Entre más fregados deje a los convictos su experiencia tras rejas, más daño harán al acabar su sentencia. Y de ahí, se vislumbra un ciclo vicioso: los ex-reos vuelven a cometer crímenes, regresan a la cárcel, donde vuelven a ser violados o donde se convierten en los victimarios, dejando una nueva generación de convictos victimados.

Finalmente, si queremos que la cárcel sea una rehabilitación además de un castigo, deberíamos hacer más para que la cárcel no sea un infierno en el cual un reo no se puede recuperar.

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