August 29, 2009

The State Prison Mess

Debra Saunders takes a look at how California's Democrats want to save some money.
It's true, California prisons are officially overcrowded and running at 190 percent capacity. But that's only because 100 percent capacity means one inmate per cell and single bunks in dormitories.
Earlier this month, three federal judges -- Stephen Reinhardt, Lawrence Karlton and Thelton Henderson -- ordered the release of more than 40,000 of California's 160,000 inmates. No lie: They claimed that releasing one-quarter of state inmates would not have "a meaningful adverse impact on public safety."

They also wrote, "Evidence shows that mentally ill inmates who are released do not, by virtue of their mental illness, present any higher risk than other released inmates."

These three must live in an alternate universe -- one where a quarter of California inmates, many of them mentally ill, can be freed and no one gets hurt in a meaningful way.

It helps if you ignore the fact that California's violent crimes have fallen by about a third since California passed "three strikes" legislation in 1994 -- as the inmate population grew by 50,000.

As for the judges' contention that the state can release mentally ill inmates to no ill effect on public safety: All I can say is that it helps if you don't read a 2008 report commissioned by the Department of Justice on the California parole system. It found that parolees with a record of mental health problems have a 52 percent higher risk of committing the most serious violent offenses than other inmates.

Those who argue for releasing tens of thousands of prisoners may style themselves as realists, but they live in a dream world.

As I write this, scolds have been bashing Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Baldwin Vista, because she reportedly pared back legislation to shave $1.2 billion from the state prison budget. The bill passed 21-19 in the Senate. It's part of follow-up legislation on the budget deal enacted with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Bass is expected to offer a separate bill to create a Sentencing Commission to reduce the prison population. That plan, Sentencing Commission supporters argue, may kill it -- not because of opposition from the frequently vilified GOP, but because 16 Assembly Dems are running for higher office and do not want to appear soft on crime by voting for a commission. (Bass spokesperson Shannon Murphy, by the way, insists that Bass wants a commission.)

Here's the thing: A Sentencing Commission doesn't have anything to do with the budget bill, as its creation would not save the state a dime in the next two years.



Rhod said...

"Evidence shows that mentally ill inmates who are released do not, by virtue of their mental illness, present any higher risk than other released inmates"... by itself so specious and loaded with fallacies that only a federal judge could think it's persuasive.

Unless they're lying.

powdergirl said...

There is absolutely no way on hells half acre that setting the criminally insane, or just plain criminal loose on society can fail to adversely effect that same society.

I'm really starting to understand the name of this blog because it don't make sense, it don't make sense at all.

In my part of Canada, the government shut the doors on several mental institutions, some years back. Just turned the poor crazy people loose on the streets.

These people weren't even criminals when they got cut loose, most are now.

There have been some very adverse effects as a result of this cash-grasping lunacy.

The worlds a mess.

CI-Roller Dude said...

My patrol area is only a few miles from a state prison. Many times they let some inmate out who has no place to go, so he walks until he finds something to steal or somebody to rob. One guy yo-yos in and out....and many are totally unable to control themselves in public.
What's wrong with 2 or more in a cell...they still live better than some of our military!
If you break the law over and over and over again, what should you expect?
OK, If you have to let them out. Fly them about 5 miles off shore, kick them out of the plane. If they make it back to shore...they are free! If not, oh well, shark food.

Rob said...

I love a state that doesnt want you to arm yourself and wants to let out half their prison population. I am wonderin why the refugees are not pouring out of California. Will the last American out of California please bring the flag and turn out the light.

Dillinger737 said...

Go California! That's a pretty damn big "DER!" No real biggie for the state though because many of them will probably go out of state to commit their crimes. California might as well just legalize crime. Fancy a new car, can't afford it, jack that shit nigga. Want to shoot heroin in you eyeball, get you on down the the 7/11 where you can buy a slurpee and a needle. Neighbor's dog shit on your lawn again, just shoot them both, no more problems. California, too damn poor to have a prison system, welcome to the wild wild west. What's important anyhow is that Mexicans who scurry across the border all preggers can pop that little bastard out at taxpayer expense in an American hospital and then stay on our dime.

chupacabra said...

Powdergirl is right- in the late
60s when US mental institutions were ordered to dump their patients they were both forced into a life of crime and face homelessness. Many were known to commit crimes to be reinstutionalized.

At the same time in my home state of TX the prison system at present rates of growth will bankrupt us- soon no way around it.

There simply has to be a better way.

Amusing Bunni said...

Wow, CA is even worse than IL. Thanks for letting us know about this. These nuts letting out the prisoners are crazier than they are. And, just in Chicago Thurs, a mental almost knifed to death innocent bystanders in downtown Chicago at lunch Hour, I wrote about it and put links on my blog.
The "crazies" are the MOST dangerous prisoners.
We are going to hell in a hand basket. Cali Peeps, stay safe.

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Can we just turn loose all our criminals and mentals and send them to Cuba? I mean, hell, after all turnabout is fair play.

I worked at a military prison facility many moons ago, and I still have a few contacts in the correctional and regular law enforcement community...and really, while there's some people who just don't need to be in prison, most DO need to be there.

People like Martha Stewart who just lied & cheated to get ahead on a stock deal? Jail is a waste. Make them pay restitution and do an assload of community service.

Guys who don't pay child support? Yeah, many are deadbeat scumbags but jail serves no function because they aren't working to pay the support payments while they're in jail, right? So keep them working and garner their wages. Hell, make them work overtime, with the extra $$$ going towards restitution.

Wanna clear some cells out? Stop letting these laggards on death row stay there for 20 effing years on appeals.....kill them and be done with it, and do it live on pay-per-view with the proceeds going to the victims' families.

Ron Russell said...

CA and prisoners what a joke. The state out there is in total disaray and doesn't know which way to turn---they have few options with the far left federal judges running the show. The judges, not the state set the guidelines for igorance.

FL has turned over many of its systems to private companies---a better idea, but one in which the federal courts still have the final word.

Its all really quite mad!!!

RightKlik said...

California Republic? No. Banana Republic.

Opus #6 said...

The midterm elections will see more conservatives voted in, even in CA. The reps had better watch their votes. We are looking and we are going to remember.

LL said...

And California still resists allowing citizens to carry firearms. In fact Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein (D-Senators-CA) have worked hard to disarm Californians.

If you release tens of thousands of violent, dangerous offenders, the least you can do is to authorize the common citizens to practice self-defense legally.

Or does that sound to harsh?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Rhod, Fed Judges aren't allowed to lie. There's some kind of secret oath, I think.

Anonymous said...

Powdergirl... Thank you, and you must pray that the "adverse effects" don't impact your family.

Anonymous said...


You must understand that, in California, now that we no longer mine for gold or drill for oil, dangerous felons are considered a blossoming natural resource.

Anonymous said...

Rob, you may have read that businesses are fleeing the state in record numbers. Working folks will follow.

Anonymous said...

Dillinger, you're probably putting too positive a spin on the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Chup, I have a revolutionary idea. Job opportunities!

Anonymous said...

"Wow, CA is even worse than IL"

Bunni, no need to go gettin' all Chicago on my butt! That was a mean thing to say!

Anonymous said...

Steve, it's difficult to argue with any of your points. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I've always liked the private option, but the Prison Guards Union owns the California legislature.

Anonymous said...

RightKlik, I've gotta disagree.

Banana Republic has convenient locations, wonderful customer service and value for money. California's government is 0 for 3.

Anonymous said...

Opie, I'd feel more confident if we weren't burdened by those gerrymandered districts.

Anonymous said...

LL... That is perfect common sense and logic. There's no room for any of that in Sacramento.

Anonymous said...

Dad, Creepy, spooky and crazy.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers never lie. I swear.

Down is up. Up is down. Guys who protect the nation from jihadis get prosecuted. Corrupt politicians like Richardson walk, and California sets its criminals free.

In is out. Out is in. Good is bad. Bad is good.

It's almost like Satan is real or something ...

Anonymous said...

DC, It takes all my self-control to keep from declaring Obama the... you know.

Rhod said...

DC is right.

The_Kid said...

Step 1. Legalize all drugs.
Step 2. Give the drugs to the addicts.
Step 3. Watch them OD and clean up the gene pool.

Anonymous said...

Debra Saunders is known for her hard hitting if slanted articles on the prison issue in CA; The bottom line is the Assembly COULD have made some sweeping changes, in the direction of true reforms, if they had a backbone and were not concerned about future political positions. CA has known for at least 10 years what needs to be done- numerous studies and commissions have documented the needs. CA chooses to IGNORE the recommendations- hence the prison mess...public safety is not as much an issue as is politics....sad!!

Anonymous said...

Union safety is all important. Public safety, not so much.

Ahma Daeus said...

Even if one does not ask or pretends not to see the rope and the flashing red flag draped around the philosophical question standing solemnly at attention in the middle of the room, it remains apparent that the mere presence of a private “for profit” driven prison business in our country undermines the U.S Constitution and subsequently the credibility of the American criminal justice system. In fact, until all private prisons in America have been abolished and outlawed, “the promise” of fairness and justice at every level of this country’s judicial system will remain unattainable. We must restore the principles and the vacant promise of our judicial system. Our government cannot continue to "job-out" its obligation and neglect its duty to the individuals confined in the correctional and rehabilitation facilities throughout this nation, nor can it ignore the will of the people that it was designed to serve and protect. There is urgent need for the good people of this country to emerge from the shadows of indifference, apathy, cynicism, fear, and those other dark places that we migrate to when we are overwhelmed by frustration and the loss of hope.
My hope is that you will support the National Public Service Council to Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP) with a show of solidarity by signing "The Single Voice Petition"

Please visit our website for further information:

–Ahma Daeus
"Practicing Humanity Without A License"…