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August 27, 2007

Major paper coverage of California prison realities

Though it might just be an example of my selective perception, I think we are seeing more and more corrections stories in major papers these days.  Exhibits one and two come from two coastal Times (though both deal with California's prison woes):

  • Today, from the New York Times here, "Using Muscle to Improve Health Care for Prisoners."
  • A few days ago, from the Los Angeles Times here, "Increase in inmates opens door to private prisons"

August 27, 2007 at 06:15 PM | Permalink

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I thought that it was well known that it is not a good thing to have a federal judge hire someone to run your prison. I guess the folks in CA have been hit in the face with a dead fish to set an example for the rest of us and I hope people are paying attention.

I am undecided about the $500,000 annual salary is that salt on the wound or twisting the knife? I enjoyed the part about the CA legislator grumbling about disdainful looks. I am very happy it did not happen in my state because they would have to pay the federal master more than we pay our football coach.

Posted by: JSN | Aug 27, 2007 8:31:29 PM

The master's arrogance is stunning. He wants to force the state to release criminals, great, so can victims of these released criminals attach his salary? And the idea of backing up the Brinks truck to the state treasury is really crappy. Let's not forget that the money in the state treasury is made by hard working folks who are already taxed a great deal. And his dismissal of the people's concern about crime and the criminals that commit crime is base. It never ceases to amaze me how people think it makes them so enlightened as to tut-tut about how well we treat prisoners.

The story of the quadriplegic dying is pretty revolting. And some of the conditions seem pretty bad--however, is a wholesale reorganization of California prison medical requirements that necessary? Perhaps this master could suggest ways that quadriplegics and complete invalids can be taken out of the prison system so that they can serve their time elsewhere.

And JSN, do you really think that Thelton Henderson, given his history, gave the state a fair shake? There is no way in hell that this master's edicts would fly in any other circuit. So, what that means, is that California, a state which must deal with a disproportionate share of the costs of illegal immigration (including locking up illegal aliens who commit state crimes) has to deal with the most liberal federal court in the land. Is that fair? And what of other priorities that the state may have?

Perhaps Dianne Feinstein's support of Leslie Southwick comes a bit from seeing what out of control federal judges can do.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 27, 2007 9:25:30 PM

Here is another

Sweeping reforms of state's juvenile justice system get green light from Legislature

After years of struggling to reform California's troubled
juvenile justice system, the legislature agreed on a
potentially historic realignment that would slash by
half the number of youths in juvenile prisons and
place the inmates in their home counties, reports the
San Francisco Chronicle. The bill - passed on
Tuesday along with the long-delayed state budget - is
being celebrated by experts as a potential turning
point for a system long mired in despair and
controversy.

The measure is designed to shrink the troubled state
juvenile prison system nearly out of existence. All but
the most violent youths convicted of the most serious
crimes, such as murder and certain types of sexual
assault, would be dealt with in their home counties.
The counties generally operate an array of programs,
ranging from camps where some youth offenders are
incarcerated and treated, to strict after-school
programs providing various forms of education,
therapy and family treatment. "We've been working on
this for 20 years, some of us," said David Steinhart,
executive director of the Commonweal's Juvenile
Justice Program in San Francisco, a key player in
negotiating elements of the program. "There are bugs
that need to be worked out, but we've climbed the
mountain. It's a major milestone." The network of eight
juvenile prisons operated by the Department of
Juvenile Justice has gone from 10,000 wards, as
inmates are known, a decade ago to fewer than 2,600
now. "It's the biggest and most profound development
for juveniles in California since the 1970s," said Sue
Burrell, an attorney with the Youth Law Center, a
nonprofit advocacy group. "This is an opportunity we
haven't seen for many, many years."

Via Criminal Justice Journalists.

Their email newsletter is comprehensive.

Posted by: George | Aug 27, 2007 11:40:50 PM

Hey, federalist, quit excusing their crimes: "A federal court in the suit found an average of 65 preventable inmate deaths a year in the prison medical system, which the court ruled was tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment."

What would you be saying if an inmate was paroled and worked as a nurse and 65 people died under is care?

That's a rhetorical question. We know what you'd say.

Finally, a leader who isn't afraid to take charge. That's exactly what the state needs.

Posted by: George | Aug 28, 2007 12:03:40 AM

I find it absolutely remarkable that people think the secret to overcrowding at DOJJ (Old CYA – prison for youths) is to return them to the counties. The reason for them being sent to prison for the first place is they have exhausted all local programs. The types of wards they are returning are there for less serious crimes; but they have a long history of repeated failures of probation and out of control behaviors. It is also these types of wards that reap the most benefit from their commitments in terms of completing training programs, acquiring education and lower recidivism rates.
People who think that local programs solve all the crime problems in the state likely have never tried to get a probationer or parolee to attend treatment. We have had them fail to show up for drug treatment on a regular basis when all they have to do to enroll is cross the street from the courthouse. During the first year of Prop 36 (drug treatment) in our small county we had more people die than complete the program – and the program wasn’t that tough.

Posted by: Jeff | Aug 28, 2007 11:35:44 AM

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