2005 July 04 Monday
Half Of California Former Prisoners Illiterate

In an article about a federal judge's decision to put the California prison system's medical care under an appointed receiver some facts about California prison inmates are revealed.

So many parole violators are returned to prison that they make up more than one third of all inmates. The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state research body that provides policy recommendations, estimated 18 months ago that the prisons spend about $1.5 billion a year on parole violators and parolees who commit new crimes.

When inmates do make it back home, they are ill-prepared, either by their stay in prison or parole programs, to hold down jobs or stay out of trouble. The Little Hoover Commission found that 10 percent are homeless, half are illiterate, as many as 80 percent are unemployed. Eighty percent are drug users.

In spite of a doubling of health care expenditures in just 7 years for California prisoners a US federal judge has just decided to appoint a receiver to take over management of the prison health care system.

California already spends $1.1 billion a year on health care for inmates -- a doubling in costs in just seven years -- but the level of care is so poor that U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson has said it violates inmates' constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. Henderson, based in San Francisco, ruled Thursday that a receiver would be appointed to order improvements.

No budget figures were discussed, but most expect costs to soar, perhaps for years, because of the system's desperate needs. In a separate area, mental health, a department consultant has estimated it could cost $1.4 billion to meet the needs of the growing number of mentally ill inmates.

Some critics see the large California inmate population as a sign of racism against blacks and Hispanics by putting them away for minor offenses. But a look at the most recent statistics for the prison system about what the prisoners are in for suggests this is not the case. About 15.5% of California's prisoners are in for murder (1st, 2nd degree, manslaughter) (PDF format). 11.1% are in for robbery and 6.7% for assault with a deadly weapon. Drug offenses amount to 20.6% of the total. Crimes against person add up to 51% of the total.

By racial and ethnic breakdown the California prison system is 36.3% Hispanic, 29.5% black, 28.4% white, and 5.8% other. {redictably whites and Asians are a lower percentage of California's population than they are for California's prison population whereas the opposite is the case for Hispanics and blacks.

The race/ethnic distribution in California shifted during the 1990’s with the White Non-Hispanic population’s share of the total decreased, while the Hispanic and Asian & Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic populations’ shares notably increased. White Non-Hispanics were 57 percent of the population in 1990 but only 47 percent of the population by 2000. The Hispanic population increased from 26 percent in 1990 to 32 percent of the population in 2000. The Asian & Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic population grew from 9 to 12 percent of the total over the same period. The shares of both the Black or African American Non-Hispanic and American Indian and Alaskan Native Non-Hispanic populations have remained constant over the course of the decade, at 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

With whites a shrinking minority and Hispanics increasing the prison population will likely continue to growth faster than the state's total population. The costs from crime, the criminal justice system, and prisons will rise along with the Hispanic population growth.

Aside: Black women are 29.8% of total imprisoned women and black men are 29.5% of the men. Okay, sounds kinda reasonable. But check out the Hispanics versus whites. Hispanic women make up only 26.6% of the total for women while the Hispanic men make up 37 percent of the total for men. Why might that be? By contrast white women are 38.6% of the total for women while white men are 28.4% of the total for men. Any idea why this might be?

The medical costs for Californa's prisoners is very high and rising.

The California Department of Corrections' healthcare network serves more than 163,000 prisoners, employs 6,000 workers and has an annual budget of $1.1 billion.

That works out to $6748 per year or $562 per month per prisoner for health care. Unless a large fraction of those prisoners are old that strikes me as a lot of money.

The system costs $7 billion total per year.

Bruce Slavin, who as general counsel for the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency is the top lawyer for the state's $7-billion correctional system, said "it will not be cheap." But he expressed hope that under a receiver, there would be better management of healthcare spending.

Is some of that spent on parole officers? If not, that cost per year translates into an astounding $42,944 per person.

A wall constructed along the entire border with Mexico combined with deportation of illegal aliens and a halt of legal immigration would eventually allow a decrease rather than an increase in California's crime rate and prison population. Also, all legal resident non-citizens should have their legal residency lifted to then allow deportation.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 04 04:20 PM  Immigration Crime

John S Bolton said at July 4, 2005 7:07 PM:

It sounds like judicial despotism, trying to empty the prisons by imposing impossible or nearly unbearable costs, on the taxpayer. The vicious judicial tyrant is for freedom for aggression, and is driven by malicious hatred of the net taxpayer's freedom from aggression. Power seekers are that way; and this is a major power grab, and thoroughly irrational.

Stephen said at July 4, 2005 7:27 PM:

The most astounding stat: 93.3% of prisoners are male. Conclusion: males have a lower IQ than females, and/or a woman has better genes than her twin brother.

after all, it couldn't be environment...

Randall Parker said at July 4, 2005 7:35 PM:


Males and females have a big swath of differences in gene expression in the brain and have different distributions of grey matter and different ratios of grey to white matter. So of course they behave differently. No, present day environment did not cause this. Evolutionary environment did.

Men have higher standard deviations for IQ and more men than women fall in the lowest and highest IQ quartiles.

If you want to read a really neat discussion of men, IQ, crime and why men do their best intellectual work when young then read Satoshi Kanazawa's Why productivity fades with age: The crime–genius connection (warning: PDF file).

I've been meaning to post on that. In an oversimplified nutshell: smart competitive men who want mates compete by doing great intellectual work. By contrast, the dumber ones become criminals. But the same drive selected for by evolution causes both forms of behavior.

Randall Parker said at July 4, 2005 7:37 PM:

Here's the abstract to Kanazawa's paper:

The biographies of 280 scientists indicate that the distribution of their age at the time of their greatest scientific contributions in their careers (age–genius curve) is similar to the age distribution of criminals (age–crime curve). The age–genius curves among jazz musicians, painters and authors are also similar to the age–crime curve. Further, marriage has a strong desistance effect on both crime and genius. I argue that this is because both crime and genius stem from mens evolved psychological mechanism which compels them to be highly competitive in early adulthood but ‘‘turns off’’ when they get married and have children. Fluctuating levels of testosterone, which decreases when men get married and have children, can provide the biochemical microfoundation for this psychological mechanism. If crime and genius have the same underlying cause, then it is unlikely that social control theory (or any other theory specific to criminal behavior) can explain why men commit crimes and why they desist.
Mark said at July 4, 2005 8:42 PM:

Stephen, that slight of hand couldn't fool a four year old watching a magician performing at a child's birthday party. If you are going to be intellectually dishonest, learn from another Stephen, Stephen Gould.

John S Bolton said at July 4, 2005 10:18 PM:

At the bottom percentiles, there is much more retardation among males than females. Illiteracy and functional illiteracy are more common among males, and this correlates with the bunching of retardatation to the male side. Nature does not play fast and loose with the life chances of females, but with males, it is another story. We're not trying to estimate the IQ's of latinos or immigrants from their crime rates. The point would be to look at the effects of ignoring gross differentials in quality of population, such as a huge prison population. The left wants you to ignore these differences, and blame the majority for the effects. Then they would have you cut hardened violent criminals loose on the innocent. Leftist bloodlust demands victims; they raise up and honor the subhuman. They want freedom to kill and maim the innocent; and expect to be honored for it. Is there any institution besides ubiquitous government schools which could allow them to imagine that this could be gotten away with?

Richard said at July 5, 2005 4:00 AM:


Would you rather listen to Beethoven's ninth or first (symphonies)?

John S Bolton said at July 5, 2005 8:43 AM:

Californians wouldn't volunteer to make their state the dialysis center for half the third world, yet an antimerit immigration policy has that sort of tendency. Assisted immigration is aggression on the net taxpayer, and selects for ever more hostile immigration cohorts. It is pretended that immigrants are not today more criminal than others, but they are, and by a large margin. By the propagandistic rhetoric used to promote hostile immigration, one would have to assume that foreign born being in prison here at several times the rate of citizens, simply means that they're being scapegoated. After all, isn't it supposed to be scapegoating if we blame immigrants for anything? A prison sentence would seem to be a rather serious case of blaming someone. Consider also how much higher the foreign born percentage of prisoners would be, if we weren't permanently deporting tens of thousands of them a year, out of the prisons.

Randall Parker said at July 5, 2005 9:49 AM:


I don't remember the 9th. My problem with a lot of symphonies is that when I got a lot on tape in years past they were paired on two sides. I'd flip them over without looking at which I was switching to. So, for example, to this day I can't tell which of Chopin's piano concertos is the first or second (and I do know the releases are opposite from the order he wrote them in). I think I like Chopin's first best. But I'd need to check to make sure.

But I'm at a loss as to the relevance of the question.

Pearsall said at July 5, 2005 11:38 AM:

Randall, do you have an age breakdown by ethnicity for California's population? What's interesting about this data is that I'm guessing that Hispanics make up at least 37% (if not more) of the state's population in the prime criminal ages (16-30) if they were 32% of the overall state population as of the 2000 census (although I'm guessing with a fair amount of confidence that their proportion of the state pop has increased in the intervening five years). I think that the representation of Hispanics in the California penal system is something of a non-story, as they seem to be there in numbers that are not far above their presence in the state overall.

What is the key, as ever, is the enormous difference between black and white/Asian incarceration rates.

Steve Sailer said at July 5, 2005 1:54 PM:

- Good observation about the gender gap among Hispanics in imprisonment. You see something similar in terms of military enlistment -- lots more Hispanic men than women joining the military, and Hispanic men are particularly concentrated in the Marines. I'd attribute this to a culture of machismo, but I could be wrong.

- As for Pearsall's claim that Hispanic imprisonment is a "non-story" because it's only a little higher per capita than average among Californians, well, I see that kind of thinking a lot. But that's not the relevant comparison for thinking about immigration policy, since black imprisonment is so extraordinarily high (7 times the white rate in California). A lot of people seem to assume in the back of their heads that when we import a Hispanic, we deport a black. Well, it doesn't work that way.

The more relevant comparisons are to non-Hispanic white imprisonment or to Asian imprisonment. The Hispanic imprisonment rate is 1.9 times the white rate, and probably about 3 times the Asian rate. If we are going to import foreigners, why not import more of the ones, like Asians, who cause less, not more, trouble than whites, and import fewer of the ones who cause more trouble, like Hispanics.

Pearsall said at July 5, 2005 2:46 PM:

Fair enough, Steve, I was meaning to correct that (in terms of immigration implications) but you've beat me to the punch.

Do you know the numbers in terms of generation? Ie are there differences in incarceration rates between American and foreign born Hispanics, and as the generations progress do matters improve or worsen?

Richard said at July 5, 2005 5:56 PM:


"The age–genius curves among jazz musicians, painters and authors are also similar to the age–crime curve."

I was pointing out a big exception.


Randall Parker said at July 5, 2005 6:05 PM:


Not all members of sets that form up into averages and into normal or other distributions lie on the mean or the median. Outliers do not disprove an argument for some factor being important. The factor may not be decisive in all cases and yet it can be determinative in many and even most cases.

But there is a reason for Beethoven's performance. Luckily for us Beethoven never married. If he had married his testosterone level would have fallen and his peak would have come sooner.

In 1801 he had wanted to marry Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, also a pupil, to whom he had dedicated the Moonlight Sonata, but she eventually married someone else in 1803. Beethoven always regretted not marrying, but even his love for Therese Malfatti in 1810 ended without marriage. On his death a letter, written in 1812, was found among his belongings. It was addressed to his "Immortal Beloved", and various suppositions have been made about the identity of the recipient (if, indeed, it had ever been sent). It seems, however, that despite his yearning for marriage Beethoven was probably too absorbed in his music and too emotionally high-charged to sustain such a relationship.
John S Bolton said at July 5, 2005 7:09 PM:

In a society committed by the aggression of officials to antimerit recruitment, classical music will have its expenditures diverted to the treatment of foreign criminals with resistant tuberculosis. There are many reasons why each immigration cohort becomes more hostile than that of the years preceding, in a welfare society of any description. The predominance of ghettoization becomes each year more likely, as proportionately fewer immigrants move to places where they can't hold to their native language and customs. Each year, they are more likely to believe that they should have their own laws. The expenditures on education and medical care, rise continually as a percentage of total production, and this is driven by immigration also. The mass immigration of those eligible for racial quotas guarantees that there will be increasing conflict, both with the majority, and with other minorities. Consideration of these obvious sources of intensifying intercommunal hostility, should cause us to see how officials must desire this very same increase in such hostilities.

Richard said at July 6, 2005 4:07 AM:


I tend to agree with your point. Bach, however, had 21 kids. I don't know what the timeline was with his work (e.g. were the Brandenburg concerti composed when young or old). Mozart, Schubert died young. Vivaldi was a priest, but taught at a girls' school.

Stephen said at July 9, 2005 5:11 AM:

Randall, I read the Kanazawa paper. I love the genius & criminal curves, but I think they could be made more generic by changing the label to "risk-taking v age".

However, there are two fundamental assumption that underlie the entire paper and yet no data is presented or referenced to justify either of them:

First, the paper assumes that being a scientist or criminal improves your chance of mating. I know a bunch of scientists, and frankly, it seems to me that they tend to get less skirt/trouser's than any other group! As far as scientists go, I think the correlation might be better expressed as "The number of inventions is inversely proportional to your assessment of your chance of getting laid on each of the evenings you are working on the inventions."

Also, I have trouble with the theory that being a criminal improves your chance of mating. Lets go back to proto-tribal man. The scope for crime is reasonably limited - in fact it probably factors down to doing things that the tribe doesn't like or doing things that someone stronger than you doesn't like. It seems to me that the tribe (ie the boss proto-human) would be quick to punish such troublemakers by beating them up, expelling them, not allowing the sharing of food or not allowing grooming etc), so being too much of a criminal isn't likely to be a successful mating strategy. Conversely, maybe being generally cooperative within the tribe would be the best mating strategy?

Then again, maybe being a troublesome teenager is actually a selfish-gene type method to get the teenager expelled ie being expelled has a gene spreading effect because it causes people to find another tribe/gene pool to mate within.

Second, the paper assumes that the window for procreation is quite long, whereas historically (particularly pre-historically), life was short and brutish. I don't have the data in front of me, but I gather that for the vast history of mankind, if you make it through your 20s you were damned lucky. Therefore, I have trouble seeing how it would be advantageous to be a criminal/genius during your prime years - basically all those years before you turn 30.

Jody said at July 9, 2005 8:15 AM:

A speculation on the racial gender imbalances - I suspect significantly more illegals are male than female.

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