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February 6, 2007

Politics and Folsom prison blues in California

Unsurprisingly, as detailed in this article, political posturing has quickly become a focal point of  sentencing and corrections reform debate in California:

Legislative Republicans accused Democrats on Monday of delaying action on prison construction in the hope that the federal courts will engage in "a complete takeover" of California's correctional system.  In a press conference outside Folsom State Prison, GOP members said they will fight for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's bid to add tens of thousands of new beds to the state and local correctional systems as the best way to solve the prisons' overcrowding emergency.

They said they would oppose any sentencing commission proposal that looks to them like it would result in early releases. They also decried court-ordered spending on prison health care as an "unaccountable" intrusion into legislative spending prerogatives.

Would Johnny Cash be proud of this remake of Folsom Prison Blues?

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February 6, 2007 at 07:41 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Couldn't a retro-active Cunningham fix help some with over crowding while providing political cover to those not as inclined to shorter sentences?

Posted by: | Feb 6, 2007 10:05:33 AM

I have been told that prison construction costs have been increasing at a rate of 5% per year and the cost per cell today is about $120,000. If we assume on average double occupancy that would be about $60,000 per bed and 10,000 new beds would cost $600 million. The population of California is 33.8 million so the per capita cost is $17.80. They can afford that but the real issue is their correction policies seem to be the outcome of ideological warfare.

Californians should be asking where do these prisoners come from and why do so many return? I have been searching for prison commitment "hot spots" using home zip codes of prisoners (the complete home address is confidential) and the are Iowa zip codes where the prison commitment rate is more than 1% (with 30% returnees) and the zip codes are much too coarse a geographical resolution. In some communities the hot spot can be a single apartment complex. If they had some facts they might be able to develop some effective measures to reduce the return rate.

Posted by: John Neff | Feb 6, 2007 10:33:07 AM

If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that the criminal mind often refuses to take responsibility and blames others. In government, the word for that is "politics."

Posted by: George | Feb 6, 2007 2:43:53 PM

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