Shelden, Randall


Randall G. Shelden is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), San Francisco. He has contributed research and writing to numerous CJCJ reports and is also the author of “Delinquency and Juvenile Justice in American Society.”

Transferring Inmates Out-Of-State Has Negative Consequences

By Randall G. Shelden
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Currently, about 9,500 California inmates are held in private prisons in other states.  In its April 2012 correctional blueprint, CDCR recommends returning all out-of-state inmates to California by FY 2015-16, resulting in estimated savings of $318 million. CJCJ’s recent publication evaluating the potential public safety and policy merits of the CDCR proposal finds that returning inmates to California and eliminating the use of out-of-state transfers is sound public policy.

The Gateway Myth

By Randall G. Shelden
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Smoke a joint one day and next thing you know you are hooked on heroin or cocaine. I recall sitting in on a panel discussion on drugs at UNLV and a couple of the “experts” repeated the claim. One man in the audience who was apparently an ex-con told the audience something like “everyone I knew in prison who used heroin or cocaine also smoked pot.” My protests to the contrary fell upon deaf ears.

Part of this myth is the confusion of cause and effect. Most of the time those who argue in favor of the gateway myth look at all the people who have used heroin or cocaine and when they learn that most of them first used pot they assume therefore the use of pot led to the use of the other drugs. They forget that heroin and cocaine users are a very small group whereas pot users are a very large group (over half of all Americans have used pot compared to less than 5% who use the other two drugs). Most that use marijuana never use the other two drugs.