Wake Up CA Assembly! Who are You Punishing with this Prison Budget?

I don't know what they're drinking in the assembly in Sacramento, but it's not the coffee we've been offering. Assembly members stumbled out of the chamber early Friday morning without voting on a bill that would reduce prison spending; a bill that is supported by the Republican governor, the head of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and received an "aye" vote in the senate on Thursday. One of the sticking points in the assembly: the idea that we might reduce some petty thefts to misdemeanors, rather than crimes that can result in a prison sentence when charged as a felony.

Really? Assembly members are really voting against the bill because they think stealing a piece of pizza should get you a spot in California's overwhelmed prison system at the price tag of $50,000 a year? If that's what they are thinking, they can't be thinking straight. They must be under the influence of something, or more likely, some special interests. They are certainly not acting in the interest of public safety for the people of California.

The bill passed by the senate is by no means perfect, but it's an important first step in the right direction — it will only begin to get us close to the $1.2 billion in cuts needed from the prison budget and implement small but overdue criminal justice reforms. In passing the bill, the senate showed tremendous leadership and put healing California corrections and our public safety first. Doubt is currently looming over whether our assembly will match the senate's courage.

If our assembly members insist on maintaining the status quo and gutting any real reform out of the bill, the people they will really be punishing are the people most in need: the children and the poor who depend on the state's safety net. If we can't make sensible reforms to save money in our corrections system, then more children will lose their health care, more teachers will be laid off, and more health and safety programs will be cut. Inevitably, we will have more people stealing more pizza and headed off to the only government program left: prison.

It's time for our elected leaders to lead us out of this mess.

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Eric

No offense but what does this have to do with civil liberties? I'm not saying I disagree with the author but this is getting pretty far afield.

scott

aclu is responsible for that cal. girl being held for 18 years because the aclu would have said it would have been against his rights to occasionally search his house to see what he was up to.... aclu are total idiots that spend their lives protecting people like that man ,,, he should not have any rights !!!

Kathy Perry, M...

My son is doing 16 years for him and his girlfriend fighting while both were high on Meth. He's done 8 years in which time he has contracted Hep C, that cuts his life in half, Been stabbed and Air-Vac to a trauma Hospital,in the hosp. care for a week, his cellie killed. Prison didn't bother to inform the family, refused a visit or telephone call to him, while in the hospital. Was Threaten by the adminstration to give up gang member or be put back in General Population to fend for himself. Today they plan on sending him back to that prison where is life won't be worth living. Has been on Zoloft since the stabbing. This month on top of sending him back to a prison he has to watch his back 24/7...his recently new cellmate, attacked him with a weapon. In self-defense he broke his hand, was put in the Hole...No paper to write home with. They left him there with a shattered hand for 14 days without Medical treatment. Upon seeing the Doctor outside the prison for his hand he was amazed that they did nothing for him for 14 days. Now they have to re-break his hand and put pins in to put it back together and he may end up with permanent damage to it. You people don't have a clue on the cost of housing petty crimes. Or the Life behind bars. The 3 strike law was for Murder, Rape, Molesters...not petty crimes or domestic violence or drug use or stealing a bottle of vitamins, as One 3-strike victim I know. 30 years for a bottle of vitamins. At a $40.000 a year cost to taxpayers. No wonder Cate says the "Feds aren't going to tell us what to do." 40,000 prisoners at $40,000 a year income. Hmmmmmm Of course we're not adding the cost of deaths, medical, and Neglect Suits against a dyfuctional prison system that does more harm to human beings then any joke of rehabilitation. ACLU had nothing to do with that man holding a girl for 18 years. CDCR failed that girl by a probation dept. that didn't do their job.

Anonymous

I agree! Wake the hell up!!!! To begin with Prosecutors seem to push for a Felony conviction, when it clearly isn't warranted. The "Tough on Crime" position that DA's love to adopt, seems to have more to do with the record of "wins/prosecutions" a DA tries to maintain, instead of anything to do with justice. I think it's unfortunate that often it seems that it is the political ambitions of Prosecutors, rather then true common sense and justice, which dictates how a Prosecutor will file charges.

Secondly, why does the Prison Gaurd Union whealed such power in this State? I think by cutting the Prison budget, will help remind Prosecutors that they are charged with the duty of promoting justice, and not just racking up impressive conviction records.

Third, I believe by cutting the Prison Budget it will send a message that Californians are tired of hearing about the over use of the three strikes law. Prosecutor's have gone too far with a law which was designed (originally) to keep society safe from the truly dangerous and repeatedly violent. However, it has mutated into something different entirely, where prosecutor's put away for life defendants who are not truly a threat to our society. Now, prosecutors push for a felonious "petty theaft," in a defendant has prior stikes against them. This causes over crowding, and costs money.

If those resources were spent on education, job creating programs, and mental health programs, society wold be much better off. I hope our legislators, do wake up, and smell the coffe. Cutting the Prison Budgets, which has now in fact become big business (Whole other issue itself.), will send a strong message that Californian's seek justice and not overly agressive prosecution practices.

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