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Jim Tedisco, the New York State assembleyman whose premature decision to bolt Albany for a Congressional position he would never win drew the ire of left-leaning commentators, has recently introduced a bill designed to charge wealthy criminals for their state-provided room and board. The so-called "Madoff Bill" proposes a "sliding scale [to] determine how much convicts would have to pay, based on their assets," with those on the lower end of the spectrum (those folks with net worths below forty grand) paying nothing while the Martha Stewarts and Michael Vicks of the world would be responsible for their respective tabs in their entirety.

I wonder how penologists will take the suggestion.

Street Gang Leader Tries to Take Over Chicago Punk Scene

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From Reuters:

"The founder of a street gang that administered beatings and made threats in its drive to control the punk rock music scene has been charged with extorting a Chicago performer, authorities said on Tuesday."

"Pull My Strings And . . ."

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In one of the more thought-provoking articles I've come across lately, Time Magazine's Steven Gray discusses a nascent trend in academic circles: the selling of sponsorships to support classes for which sufficient funding does not exist. As an academic myself, I have seen first-hand the ways in which dwindling enrollment and budget restrictions can adversely affect both students and instructors, so I was not quite as appalled by the prospect of "TD Waterhouse Marketing 101" as I feel I should have been when I first heard the suggestion. I mean, libraries are often named after donors and sports stadiums frequently bear the names of various corporate sponsors, right?

Then again . . .

Any such move brings with it the threat of sponsors affecting the content of the courses on which their names appear. After all, if Daddy Warbucks knows his coffers keep a particular course breathing, he has a certain degree of power over what is covered (or covered up) in that class. Likewise, instructors may feel pressure not to rock the boat or otherwise upset a sponsor for fear of losing a coveted sponsorship for his or her department, which could result in detrimental self-censorship and other equally negative behaviors.

This is not to say that instructors are not already aware of how their conduct in a classroom may affect their job security or their standing within their respective departments, but it does add another, potentially sinister layer of possibilities. One need look no further than our elected officials whose campaigns were financed by special interests to see the reality of the threat. Few gifts are truly free and money almost always comes with strings attached. . .

In the most ideal scenario, naming rights could be a boon to schools, enabling them to keep intellectually valuable courses in their catalogues without much compromise. I mean, ironists could potentially have a field day with naming rights, too: having Frito-Lay sponsor a nutrition class or Halliburton sponsor a course in Middle Eastern studies, for instance. In most other scenarios, however, a sense of humor will not be enough to undo the potential threat to academic integrity.

So, here's a suggestion: sentence corporate criminals to pay for classes as part of their punishments. Drop the whole sponsorship thing and earmark fines for education. That could help a bit, no?

"Fairly Monstrous" Cop Goes to Jail

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John McFadden, a 42-year-old former police officer from Bearsden has been convicted of the sexual abuse of three young boys attending a martial arts club the man had established in the 1980s, including one boy who testified before the court. According to the BBC, McFadden "befriended the boy, invited him to stay overnight and told him that demons and spirits would kill him and drag him to hell unless he carried out sex acts." The victim, now 32, told the court that McFadden "dressed in a black cloak and used a crucifix with a skull and crossbones and an onyx ring, which he claimed gave him power, to terrify the youngster into keeping the abuse a secret."

The abuse continued until the victim "joined the Royal Marines and moved away," though charges were not laid against the officer until 1999, when two additional victims revealed that they had been molested in a similarly horrific manner.

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