Monday, July 25, 2011

Californians: Cut Costs, Release Prisoners

This year California plans to spend $9.8 billion on prisons, making it the third-highest general fund expenditure, behind education and healthcare, according to the Los Angeles TImes. Californians are fed-up with the enormous expenditures on incarceration.

A survey by the Los Angeles Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, shows a clear shift in attitude by residents forced to confront the cost of tough sentencing laws passed in recent decades.

More than 60% of respondents, including majorities among Democrats, Republicans and those who declined to state a party preference, said they would support reducing life sentences for third strike offenders convicted of property crimes such as burglary, auto theft and shoplifting.

Nearly 70% said they would sanction the early release of some low-level offenders whose crimes did not involve violence.

About 80% said they approve of keeping low-level, nonviolent offenders in county custody — including jails, home detention or parole — instead of sending them to state prisons. The same percentage favors paroling inmates who are paralyzed, in comas or so debilitated by advanced disease that they no longer pose a threat to public safety.

Only 12% of respondents said they'd be willing to accept less state spending on healthcare or education to pay for more prisons. And less than a quarter of voters want to pay higher taxes to build prisons or ship inmates to private lockups in other states to comply with the courts, reported The Times.

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1 comment:

shepherds7 said...

I am the wife of a firefighter inmate, who drove under great emotional and psychological duress while intoxicated and did $600 damage to a vehicle's bumper--an amount he could easily have made in one day's pay at the television studio at which he worked. Yet, he is serving 4 years' time for this offense. He has already served over 2 1/2 years. He was given no credit for the 3 months total time he spent in rehabilitative hospital/clinical living settings. That leaves me home with 7 children, two of which have autism. Imprisoning a husband essentially imprisons the whole family. We have lost a minimum of $70,000 of yearly income. And the state has lost the taxes on that money. It is unbelievable to me that the 3-judge federal panel would allow the California Department of Corrections and the Governor to not release the low-level offenders who have committed non-violent, non-sexual crimes, but that they can reduce their population strictly by giving lighter sentences to those who do the same crimes from October 1st onward. They do this because they want to keep the firefighter slaves, which make up about 4,300 people. They tell you about how much money this saves the state of California, but they don't tell you how many families that puts at living at the poverty level and needing food stamps and other resources of the state. They don't tell you that the expenses of the fire program have to do with paying CDCR union salaries. Send these low-level offenders home, Governor. The prisoners are subjected to cruel and unusually harsh punishments, except those in the firefighter camps. But, you push those guys too hard, as well. I know of one guy there where my husband is held who had to push himself harder and harder to keep up with the demands on his body, and he died of heart failure, while running on the track at approximately 6:30 in the morning. He was younger than my husband, who is 56 years old.

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