March 21, 2007
Politics still trumping policy in California reform debates
This latest news report on reform development in California highlight yet again that political rhetoric still seems more important than sound policies to California's lawmakers. Here are excerpts:
Legislative Republicans called Tuesday for quick action to resolve the state's prison overcrowding crisis, but they suggested they're ready to throw up a fairly substantial roadblock to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to add more than 16,000 beds to the system.
Appearing at a news conference with his GOP colleagues, state Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, said he could not support any expansion plan unless it also included a method to mitigate the effects that inmate population growth would have on surrounding prison towns. "We frankly think it's inherently unfair for the state of California to dump its prisoners into small rural towns and not consider the adverse affect prisons have on nearby communities," Cox said, citing local issues such as traffic, sewage and schools....
At Tuesday's Capitol news conference, Republicans voiced support for moving inmates into vacant cells they said are available at some private prisons in the state. They also endorsed Schwarzenegger's out-of-state transfer plan, and they said they are adamantly opposed to early releases for any inmates. "There really is no such thing as a nonviolent offender when it comes to the issue of state prisons," said Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster....
Following the news conference, Ackerman said in an interview that his party opposes a sentencing commission along the lines of the one proposed last week by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles. Her commission would establish sentencing guidelines that could be overturned only by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. "She's trying to divert power to the sentencing commission," Ackerman said. "And that's the Legislature's purview."
Romero implored the Republicans "to cut the rhetoric" and sit down with Democrats and the governor to work out a plan before three federal court judges contemplating population limits for the state do the job for them. "Let's recognize that we will not get out of this prison crisis by doing business as usual," she said.
Ackerman said legislative leaders and the governor are continuing to try to resolve their differences. An accommodation is all but mandatory by the time the state's first court briefs on legal motions on the population caps are due by the end of this month, Ackerman said. "Things need to be done right now if we're not going to have a catastrophic meltdown in our prison system," he said.
I have seen and heard a lot of heated rhetoric in sentencing reform debates, but I think "There really is no such thing as a nonviolent offender..." may take the top prize.
March 21, 2007 at 06:34 AM | Permalink
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Tracked on Mar 22, 2007 10:53:13 AM
"There really is no such thing as a nonviolent offender..."
Maybe he means by the time they get out of Gladiator School, but even that would be a lie. Maybe he means those who are beaten, robbed or raped in prison participate in violence.
Or maybe he was thinking of Oscar Wilde:
“Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.”
Posted by: George | Mar 21, 2007 4:43:05 PM