California prisons aren't considered healthy enough for prisoners. But prisoners released on the street aren't safe for Californians. Why doesn't that matter?
Citing an overcrowded prison system that has led to inadequate health care for inmates, a panel of federal judges has ordered California to reduce its prison population by 40,000 over the next two years. That reflects a roughly 27 percent cut from the current population of 150,000.
The New York Times, which has a PDF of the court order, reports that "judges said that reducing prison crowding in California was the only way to change what they called an unconstitutional prison health care system that causes one unnecessary death a week."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to transfer almost half that number to federal custody because they are illegal aliens. So almost 13% of California's prisoners are known illegal aliens. How many others are illegal aliens but not yet identified?
He has also proposed transferring as many as 19,000 illegal immigrant inmates to federal custody for deportation and updating grand-theft laws to keep pace with inflation, which would reduce felony convictions.
What the federal judges should have done: order construction of a formidable barrier along the US border with Mexico to keep out illegals. Then order real effective enforcement of immigration laws in California and the US Southwest. That would so lower the demand for prisons, police, taxpayer-subsidized health care, and schools for immigrants that the state of California would have more money and fewer prisoners. Soi the remaining prisoners would have more money to spend on their health and imprisonment.
California's prison population is already 12,000 below a 2006 peak in spite of a growing population.
That has local state Sen. John Benoit upset.
"The mortality rate for prisoners in California is below the national average," says Benoit. "There's a strong argument that there does not exist a problem on the scale the judges have based their decision on."
I think Jerry Brown's time spent as mayor of Oakland has grounded him in the reality of criminals. Jerry Brown does not want the prisoners released.
Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he intended to appeal the ruling. “Eventually, we’re going to have to go to the Supreme Court because I think the California prisons are spending about $14,000 per year per inmate,” Mr. Brown said, adding that the changes the judges ordered would cost more money, which the state does not have.
Jerry wonders what happens when released criminals commit more crime. How about "4 strikes and you are out again"?
"The courts are ordering the state to come up with a plan to release all these prisoners, but the question is: Which prisoners? Release to what -- halfway houses, GPS monitoring? And what happens when they commit another crime -- do they come back? There's a lot that is not clear," Brown said.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2009 August 06 09:41 PM Civilizations Decay|