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Our Prisons are Overcrowded

May 24th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the prisons in California are overcrowded; they are so overcrowded in fact that the federal court mandated that state officials reduce the number by no fewer than 30,000 inmates. There is a disturbing picture on the front page of The New York Times of an open gymnasium-style room jam-packed with inmates and what Justice Kennedy described as “telephone-booth-sized cages without toilets.”
Listen these people belong in prison and must be segregated from the rest of society – law abiding citizens; but if you see these pictures there is no question in my mind and obviously in the eyes of the law that this is cruel and unusual punishment. This I find unbelievable but according to The New York Times, an inmate dies needlessly every week because of overcrowding. California crams in more inmates into a prison facility than in any other state – 80% higher. (Don’t ask me how they figure this out.)
There are three solutions to the problem: 1. early release. We definitely do not want this; if the inmate is a violent predator, that person does not get out – period. I would consider early release or transfer to a drug treatment or rehabilitation facility if the inmate is held on possession or even distribution as long as the individual did not commit a violent crime. As a matter of fact I don’t think we should even incarcerate individuals with drug problems, we should mandate that they serve his or her time in drug rehabilitation facilities (another blog). 2. New prisons – This is the obvious and only long-term solution however 2  issues crop up – a. California is broke and has a $10 billion dollar deficit and b. No one wants a state prison in his or her backyard. My response to this is too bad and besides there is plenty of open space where we can build these prisons so that they are not literally in one’s backyard. The last  solution which is a temporary one is 3. Transfer the inmates to the county jails. Now again common sense is in order here; do not send the “Night Stalker” – Richard Ramirez to a county jail and have him bunk with an individual who is overdue on his parking tickets. Send the less violent criminals to county until the state prison facilities are built.
This is a short blog but I think I have succinctly made my point and l will certainly blog a lot more on crime and punishment.
So now it’s your turn WHADAWETHINK ?
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