Media Bytes

April 6, 2006

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A compendium of condensed articles that appeared in the media during the last few weeks quoting members of the SFU community.

Youth data suggests system works
London Free Press, March 29
The number of young people in jail dropped by half in the year after the new Youth Criminal Justice Act came into effect and experts say that shows the law is working. Statistics Canada says that in the year after the new law replaced the Young Offenders Act in April 2003, the number of 12-17 year olds admitted into custody declined sharply. A key objective of the Youth Criminal Justice Act was to keep young offenders out of jail except for the worst, most violent offenders, or habitual re-offenders. Ray Corrado, an SFU criminologist, was a critic of the act to begin with. He thought it too complex and unwieldy. “The law has worked,” he said. “Even for a critic like me, I acknowledge that it has (worked) and it's actually quite encouraging.”

Ferry sailing on borrowed time
Vancouver Sun, March 23
Although it was an older vessel and lacked modern safety features, the Queen of the North wasn't an accident waiting to happen, experts said the day after the vessel sunk during a routine voyage from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy. It wasn't clear whether a ship with multiple compartments would have handled the accident better. “B.C. Ferries has high standards of maintenance,” said SFU geographer and transportation expert Warren Gill. “This ship and the Queen of Prince Rupert have been running on these runs, largely without incident, for decades. It's like the crash protection in your car - side airbags, front airbags, all these things - if there's a catastrophic mistake, are they going to save you? Maybe not. They improve your chances somewhat.” While it's not yet clear what happened to the Queen of the North, experts say it would be one of three things - weather, mechanical problem or human error.

Hypothesis examines genes' brain war
United Press International, March 22
Researchers from Britain and Canada have devised the so-called “imprinted brain hypothesis” they say explains the evolutionary genomic causes of autism. The hypothesis suggests that competition between genes from an autistic child's parents leads to a brain imbalance that results in poorer social skills while often boosting mechanical abilities.  “The imprinted brain hypothesis underscores the viewpoint that the autism spectrum represents human cognitive diversity rather than simply a disorder or disability,” said SFU researcher Bernard Crespi. “Indeed, individuals at the highest-functioning end of this spectrum may have driven the development of science, engineering and the arts through mechanistic brilliance coupled with perseverant obsession,” he said.

Police strike team leads overtime list
Vancouver Sun, March 21
A crackdown on drug selling in the Downtown Eastside and a small group of officers working 75 to 100 hours of overtime a month are among the factors in Vancouver's recent sky-high police overtime bills, says a new report.  The preliminary report by SFU criminologist Curt Griffiths goes to Vancouver city council as the city and its police department attempt to grapple with the staffing and overtime crises that have caused major friction in recent years. “The high levels of overtime among these individuals suggests that the respective police managers should re-examine the decision-making processes that led these individuals to work such high levels of overtime, in such high-stress positions, where officer fatigue may have serious consequences,” noted Griffiths in a summary of his findings.

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