Apr 28, 2007

Do you have a reservation??

"Facing court orders and an onerous deadline to address the state’s prison overcrowding, California lawmakers approved a construction program that would add 53,000 beds and move 8,000 convicts to other states.

But the bill did not include what Mr. Schwarzenegger, experts on prison overcrowding and many Democrats had originally called for: changes to the parole system and the creation of a sentencing guidelines board that would take into consideration how many beds are available in prisons before sending more people to fill them. "

Now, maybe its just me, but there is something about waiting for an available bed that reminds me of an emergency room. The doctors have decided to admit you, but you wait for hours until they find a room for you. Most inmates who go to prison are housed in a county or city jail before they are transferred. If they are sentenced to a year, instead of 12 months,then they remain in jail, as opposed to prison. (I'm not kidding, folks!) With this approach, which I call the ER approach, prisoners waiting to go to prison, would have to wait in already crowded jails.

In addition, most jails around the country, along with the prison's are already overcrowded. So, having inmates wait for their reservations to be arranged will remain in the jails. Personally, I find that the best solution would be to build more prisons.

Then again, I also feel that many of the inmates in prison today are there because they have violated the the three-strike rule. This could be done by breaking any federal law. Habitual offenders we like to call them. So, the junkie down the corner who is convicted of illegal drug possession, without intent to distribute, will do the same time as would an inmate convicted of murder. Perhaps in a different kind of prison, but time is time.

Each state has a drug court, or rehabilitation system, wherein a person convicted of a drug felony can complete a program which may reduce their sentence, or put them on parole. There are arguments that a felony is a felony, but many of these people convicted are just using drugs. Junkies. Not the big guy smuggling the shit into the country, or even cooking it up in their kitchens, but the user. The big-guy's marketing target, if you will.

How about a drug offender complete a rehab program before they are imprisoned? In the state where I live some counties have such a system, but you must be convicted and be put on parole, say a first offender status, violate your parole, be sent back to jail, and then are entered into the drug rehab program. Does this make sense to you? Any sense at all?

These inmates, whether in jail, or prison, are the individuals creating the need for more beds and more room. There are people still serving a sentence for possession of marijuana, not for distribution, but for their own use. And prison is one of the best places to get illegal drugs.

Perhaps it's not so much our penal system that needs correction, but our sentencing system. Marijuana is a misdemeanor, unless you have a pound or so in your possession, and heroin is a felony. Both are illegal, both are basically forms of self-medication, not a good one, perhaps, but that's what they are. Alcohol is the number one drug for anxiety. But, shit that's legal. So, am I saying we should legalize all these illegal drugs floating around on the streets, in every neighborhood, all across the US? Perhaps. We serve alcohol. Just add heroin and cocaine to the tab, and throw a hefty state tax on it, and voila! Extra revenue for the state, or federal government, all under the control of the ATF. People are doing these drugs, and it doesn't seem to be stopping, it actually seems to be getting worse.

Ok, do I want someone driving down the street hopped up on cocaine or heroin? No, but they already are. Do I want someone tooling down the road in their SUV drunk and weaving down the road? No, but they already are. That's the main reason cops carry breathalyzers.

Arnold has at least made an effort to correct the over-crowding in the state of California, except for the part about sending prisoners to other facilities out of state. But, that still is not the best answer. There are other options.


Deepak Gopi said...

I have heard that prisons in Us have become an industry.pls forgive me if I am wrong

just me said...

No, you are not wrong. It's called privatizing prisons, and it is a still a controversy. And a growing business.

Shrink wrapped scream said...

I'm so with you on that one girl! We've just built our second prison on this island, the other one is full, and we have a supposedly low crime rate. We are not governed by the UK, but have our own "parliment". (It's kinda cute, considering we only have a population of 70,000!) We are not even in the European Union yet. Up until the '50's we still held public floggings (called the birch), and I believe we still have the death penalty, but it is always automatically commuted thesedays. It's probably time we up-dated our law system, but everyone seems to be either out fishing or in the pub, to get around to it. Don't think I jest!

Enemy of the Republic said...

Oh, Lord. Now I've heard everything. Thanks for this.