Thursday, June 11, 2015

Technology (time) won't (always) trump (rural) space

I argued that rural spatiality limits law and the state in my 2014 piece, The Rural Lawscape:  Space Tames Law Tames Space.  Now we have a great example of it in the news:  the escape from the high-security Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, near the Canadian border.  Here's an excerpt from a piece on the manhunt, by North Country Public Radio:
Take a look at an incredibly detailed topographic map of Clinton and Essex counties, where the search is underway. It won't take long to realize just how difficult that search is. Incredibly remote communities scattered among mountain valleys, huge expanses of empty forest, old farm meadows and swampland. 
"We're covering a very large expansive area," says Capt. John Tibbets, one of the men leading the search near the town of Willsboro. "It's lot of low-lying brush. There's a lot of wooded areas. There's a lot of abandoned outbuildings." 
Along the dirt road, through the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, men and women in body armor move almost shoulder to shoulder across a field. A helicopter prowls overhead.
* * * 
[F]ugitives could be hiding amid the brush just feet away without ever being seen. The foliage is that dense. The only solution, state police say, is to go over this terrain almost inch by inch.
Reporter Brian Mann closes with the cliche about looking for a needle in a haystack.  The helicopter (technology) may be helping, but the men are still missing seven days on… Like I said, "space tames law tames space."  Case closed.

A related New York Times story is here.  

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