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December 8, 2007

Reviewing California's prison problems

This AP story provides the latest update on California's continuing prison woes.  Here are excerpts:

When California adopted its criminal sentencing code 30 years ago, a state appeals court marveled that it was virtually incomprehensible, comparing it to income tax forms and insurance policies. The appellate judges wondered if the Legislature had used "some long departed Byzantine scholar to create its seemingly endless and convoluted complexities." 

Since then, California has added more than 1,000 felony sentencing laws and more than 100 other changes that can lengthen prison terms.  As a result, the state's prisons are so dangerously jammed that there is a possibility federal courts could cap the population, potentially forcing the early release of some inmates.   The number of inmates in California prisons has soared, from nearly 25,000 in 1980 to more than 170,000 this year. The state has an incarceration rate of 475 per 100,000 residents, well above the national average of 445 per 100,000.  So far, political efforts to simplify the convoluted process have failed....

Proposals by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers to create a commission to review sentencing collapsed this year amid partisan infighting. Some feared that a commission could open prison doors too wide.  "We are jammed up with this situation right now because we have fallen in love with one of the most undocumented beliefs: That somehow you get safer if you put more people in jail," Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said this spring....

December 8, 2007 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

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Why?

Many young black men in Oakland are killing and dying for respect

Along with the Christmas trees and family gatherings, there's another end-of-the-year ritual in Oakland - a candlelight vigil for the murdered.

The body count is woven into the civic consciousness here - a number chased by homicide inspectors, studied by criminologists, lamented in churches, reported by journalists. Every mayor leaves City Hall on broken promises to quell the violence, and the killings continue. An additional 115 have been killed this year, putting Oakland on pace for another gruesome record.

Posted by: George | Dec 9, 2007 11:24:14 AM

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